The People We Meet: The Nelsons “Free2RV”

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One of the best things about our life on the road is the incredible variety of people we meet from all places, backgrounds and walks of life. We hear so many interesting stories and want to introduce some of them so you can be inspired by them too. We’re delighted to bring you Leslie and Troy Nelson (now full-timers) who we met at Palm Springs, CA in February. We really enjoyed hanging out with Leslie and Troy who also took us off-roading in their Jeep through Joshua Tree National Park! We had a blast getting to know these guys and hope you do too.

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1. Tell us a bit about yourselves.

We’re Leslie and Troy Nelson – high school sweethearts from the little town of Copperas Cove, TX who married way too young and by the grace of God have stayed married now for 29 years. We are in our mid 40s and spent our entire married life raising our children, mostly in the Austin, TX area. We have four wonderful adult children (2 boys and 2 girls) with one grandchild and two more still cooking in the oven – one is due in September and the other in January. We picked our own grandparent names of Pops and YaYa since we are way too young and cool to be grandma and grandpa. 🙂 We are excited about finally having a little time just being the two of us. 

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2. When did you first start RVing and when did you go full-time?

We started RVing in 2007 in a shiny brand new Dutchman TT bunkhouse. We were tent campers for years and decided we were ready to enjoy a more comfortable camping style. We are currently in our fourth RV. We have been seriously dreaming of full-time RVing for about 5 years. We took a few long term trips lasting about two and a half to three months and knew this was the lifestyle we wanted. We started our official full-time experience on July 27, 2015! 

3. Did you sell your stick and brick home?

We are currently in the process of selling our home. It’s a beautiful 12 year old, 3,600 sqf, 5 bedroom, 3.5 bath, 3 car garage house that was (at least for Leslie) our dream home – perfectly suited for our family of 6. By January 2015 all our little chicks had left the nest which left us with a huge home that was way more than we needed and frankly, too much to maintain for two people. Now that we were empty nesters we decided it best to take this opportunity to enjoy our desire to downsize and enjoy a completely different dream home with wheels. We wanted to travel and see places we had never had the opportunity to visit before. To be honest, we also wanted to enjoy a debt free life and were finally in a position to do so. 

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4. What type of rig and setup do you have and why?

Our current RV is a 1998 American Tradition 40 foot single slide diesel pusher (DP), towing a 24 foot enclosed cargo trailer loaded with our Rubicon Jeep and Harley Motorcycle. We have traveled in this motorhome for almost three years and have loved it. The main reasons for choosing this motorhome were price and it was a DP which can easily haul the trailer. This is our fourth RV and we are looking to upgrade to a newer coach after the sale of the house. We are quite comfortable living full time in our current rig, yet excited about upgrading.  

5. How do you intend to travel? 

Our “plan” is to travel slowly to as many places as we can go, including a visit to Canada in the future. We have been members of Thousand Trails for 6 years and we plan to use it frequently. We are no strangers to boondocking though, and enjoyed our winter trip to Quartzsite AZ with many other RVers. We will frequently return “home” in Texas to visit our children and grandchildren.  

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6. Who is traveling with you?

We travel with our two chihuahuas – Vinny 10 years old and Posey 6 years old. We also travel with our 18 year old African Grey Parrot “Confucius”. We have traveled with the dogs many times, however taking the parrot is a new experience for all of us. He is adjusting to his new home and habitat better than expected.   

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7. What inspired you to go full time at such a young age?

During our travels we met many couples that were either part timers or full timers and were often “mature” in years. They would share their only regret was not getting on the road sooner – telling us to do it now. We took the advice to heart, deciding not to wait for the perfect time… but instead, make our time perfect. Knowing the future is promised to nobody, we are embracing our life today.  

8. How do you make money on the road? 

We own/operate a few small retail websites. We started some of the websites 15 years ago and these continue to provide income today. Our business provides a modest income with incredible freedom. The logistical details are still being fine tuned as we transition into our new mobile lifestyle. We feel blessed by the opportunities we have received. 

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9. Tell us about your preparation and downsizing experience.

The decision to release most of our possessions was a daunting task. We donated most of our items to family or charity. We have no plans to buy another stick and brick for years, therefore paying to store these items would be a terrible waste of money. 

The amount of “stuff” accumulated over 29 years of marriage and raising 4 children filled our home. Turns out we didn’t use or even look at most of it. The challenge was deciding to release the “special” items or gifts we had received from friends and family. As we came across a cherished gift we asked if the giver would like to have the item back or if we should donate the item. Many were happy to take the items back. It was such a wonderful feeling to release ourselves from the prison of stuff. I’ve requested future gifts be consumable, due to our limited space. “Less is more” has been my motto for a long time, so living it feels right.  

The biggest surprise to me (Leslie) was how many little keepsake notes from my children or friends from years ago I had kept and realizing how difficult it would be to let them go. So I didn’t. These  were the items we chose to keep for now. It’s a small box and is currently being stored with family photos. I took pictures of my children’s “art” and returned it to them. Turns out these weren’t nearly as special to them as they were to me, but I didn’t have the heart to toss them out!

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10. What do you think you will miss most about your old life?

The unexpected visits from my children. They would just show up unannounced often which always thrilled me. The busy house with people buzzing in and out regularly. Though very distracting during the day, it will be what I miss most. I will also miss my bathtub! An odd thing to miss, but I enjoyed soaking at the end of the day in a hot bath. So we are considering a small inflatable hot tub to set up at times. 🙂   

11. What are you most looking forward in your new full-time RV life?

New places and faces! The simplicity of cleaning 320 sqf. No yard work! Living a debt free life.  

12. What are some of your favorite RV destinations and memories? 

Our favorite place for a long time was the beach in Port Aransas, TX. We love camping/boondocking on the beach. Sitting by a campfire on the beach at night listening to the stories of family or friends under a full moon are some of my favorite camping memories. We have RV’d in Florida, California, Arizona and Utah enjoying the different scenery. Last year we visited Sturgis, SD for the first time. We enjoyed riding the Harley through the Badlands and Spearfish Canyon. It was quite beautiful to see and is on the list to go back.  

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13. Where are you most looking forward to visiting in the next year? 

We are hoping to visit places where we can play with our Jeep and ride the Harley. Feel the wind in our hair as we take in the sights of new places and faces. Specific locations have not been determined. We are simply living one day and place at time and seeing where the road takes us.  🙂

14. How can people keep up with you, your travels and experiences? 

At our blog – www.Free2RV.com – where we now post regularly.

— END —

Thanks Leslie and Troy! Hopefully we’ll be seeing you again sometime in early 2016 as we make our way from Florida to Texas.

Inspired by this story? Let us know in the comments!

8 thoughts on “The People We Meet: The Nelsons “Free2RV””

  1. Hello;
    I thoroughly enjoy reading your postings about your travels, adventures, new faces and new places. However, one question that always arises for me is this:
    Do yourselves or any of the full timers you meet along the way have ill relatives such as Mothers, Fathers, etc.? I ask this because as much as we love to Rv and travel we must always consider our family and those who need long term care, emergent care, etc. Seems we always must make multiple changes to our plans because beloved family members have major health issues that require care and financing. I am speaking of such conditions as severe rigid Parkinsons disease, MS, post stroke recovery, paralysis, etc.

    My wife and I are retired, have a beautiful rig, and we have a reliable income so we don’t have to work and have plenty of time for Rving; however, our hearts and consciences constantly pull us to help family members and modify our own life plans in order to help those in need.

    I would welcome your comments as to how you manage or resolve these issues and still are able to have a somewhat “care-free” lifestyle.

    Keep the articles coming—we enjoy reading and seeing the videos you produce.

    Reply
    • HI Dan, thank you for your kind words and for sharing your situation. That is indeed a tough one. We are fortunate that all of our parents seem to be in good enough health not to need that level of care. That said, who knows if/when they may arise and we are faced with that situation. Extra complicated if it happens to Julie’s family in Australia. Yes, of course family’s needs are important and it’s wonderful that you are so available and caring for them (in terms of time, energy and financially) to help out. Every situation is different and requires a delicate balance – of setting healthy boundaries while also being available to help as and when you can… or finding a way to share the load with other family members or professional carers. Can you discuss with other family members and create a ‘schedule’ or find a way to share the load more? Honestly, it really is a tricky one… wanting to be there and support others, but at the same time, needing to live your own lives… We don’t envy the situation you are in, it must tug at your heart strings terribly. We found out in January that our sister in law (44) was diagnosed with breast cancer and was to undergo surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. We were saddened and shocked, and did what we could to support her/them from afar, as being in Colorado, it wasn’t practical for us to get back there with the coach before late spring. We made plans to return to Colorado for a couple of months late April – early July and were available to help out some, as they have 2 young boys, which we took for a little vacay to Estes Park to give them a break. Minded boys after school, did what we could.. and it was still very tough for everyone, also witnessing someone you love suffering so much. We did leave in early July to continue our travels as planned, though her treatment is not yet finished… and we know they would have loved for us to stay longer. But we had challenges finding campgrounds we could stay at for a long duration, it was expensive and it was taking a toll on us. As hard as it was, we had to gently let them know we had to go in early July. We continue to maintain emotional support from afar, checking in etc…Both of our own health and wellbeing suffered while in Colorado, with the stress of that (and other things) and with our lives being so out of balance from ‘our new norm’. Ultimately, we did what we could, but then had to practice self care for ourselves, with loving boundaries. I don’t know if this is helpful or not. Marc’s mom isn’t happy about him being away, but she can’t deny he is much healthier and happier now. Sadly for her (at 71) she spends quite a bit of time taking her own 98yo mother to appointments etc and so her own freedom is definitely impacted. I don’t think she would want to travel anyway, but even if she did, it would be more difficult for her given her responsibilities to her elderly mother. It’s one of the reasons we are so happy we could live this life now – as who knows what the future holds – if we delayed our lifestyle until retirement age, then we may end up in a similar situation that you are currently facing – instead of being able to freely RV, we may perhaps instead have to put our plans on hold or reduce them for family reasons. We wish you well in finding a harmonious solution to your situation, and hope you find some ‘balance’ there. Julie

      Reply
  2. Nice to meet you! My partner and I Peter we are full-time. Since December. We love it. Just left Maine, NH. Are currently, Maryland.

    Reply

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