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Updated: Jun 7, 2021

Let me preface by saying, this was one of the hardest things we ever had to do. We were a military family that moved every 2 - 3 years, and this was so much harder. Being married 24 years and a military family, we collected a lot of stuff. I mean look at this picture I posted, this was just one garage sale. We needed to get rid of a lot of stuff because we didn't want to have a huge storage unit with a huge monthly payment.

I would suggest you start downsizing a year out from your full-time date. However, we did not do that, we started downsizing 6 months from when we were supposed to move into the RV. Six months is still a lot of time, but if you can start sooner. This list can also be used to downsize into a smaller house, apartment, or just minimalizing your life. After we found a realtor the next step was to start going through everything. I suggest you divide this up into manageable timeframes. Because we both still worked full-time, I would set aside every Saturday that we were home to go through a closet, drawer, or room.

When we started discussing downsizing and I did research I was afraid it would be hard for me to get rid of certain items. I was shocked that I was not the one that had a hard time getting rid of items. Shane was the one that had a hard time parting with certain items. I was only sentimental about one item, and it was a Halloween dancing skeleton. Of all the items I owned, I never thought a skeleton would get me teary-eyed. We had it for so long and I just had a lot of memories with the boys and our friend's kids when they were little.

1. Organize

To make this an easier process organization is key. One thing I learned as a military spouse is how to set up different areas of your home when it is time to PCS (move from one base to another). Set up piles/areas somewhere in the house or set up rooms. We had a few empty rooms and set them up as waiting stations. We had one room that was for garage sale items and one that was for storage items. I used black trash bags for donated items, and trash items (which surprisingly was a lot). To do this correctly, you need to go through every single item in your home, either keep in RV, put in storage, donate, or trash. Don't forget, you can't keep too much in your RV, because of storage and weight issues.

One way to get your items ready for storage is to buy large storage bins with lids. We rented a large climate-controlled storage unit, but the items I kept are sentimental and can't be replaced, so I wanted to make sure they were safe. You can find these storage bins at just about any store, Walmart, Target, Amazon, Ikea, and The Container Store. Shane found some large ones on wheels that had handles. This made transporting them to storage and around the house so much easier.

2. Garage Sale

If you have a lot of stuff like we did, you need to have a garage sale. We actually had so much stuff, I had to schedule two garage sales. For a garage sale you need to be organized as well. First thing is put like items together as you are sorting them in rooms or piles. A great time saver is to purchase stickers that have prices already printed on them, and as you sort the items, go ahead and put a price on them. You could also set up an estate sale, this is where you would just leave everything in the house as is and people come through and literally buy stuff off of your walls. Lastly, you could pay someone to do all of this for you.

3. For Sale Pages & Apps

When I say sale pages, I mean social media sale pages. (no one posts in the newspaper any more). You can post on Facebook Marketplace, Facebook neighborhood pages, Craigslist, and Ebay, are just a few. There are so many sales pages now, I can't list them all. Be prepared to meet up with people at other places other then your home. We found this to be a much safer way to meet up for the smaller items. For larger items, make sure you have more than one person at your house to be safe. Some Apps that you can set up on your phone, Poshmark, Let Go, and Offer Up are just a few of many available to sell items right from your phone. Also, download pay apps on your phone to make payments easier, Some pay apps we used were PayPal, Venmo, and Zelle. There are many other pay apps out there, these were the three most people had on their phones.

4. Donate

Donate items to family members first. We our boys come in and pick out what they wanted, and I mailed some items to other family members. We donated all our blankets and pillows to the animal shelter. Everything else was donated to various charities in our home town. There are so many charities as well where you can donate. Salvation Army, homeless shelters, women's shelters, Habitat for Humanity, and many more. Google in your home town the best places to donate clothes, house items, outdoor items, etc.

5. Trash/Recycle

Last, if you don't even think it is worth donating, just throw it in the trash. Go online and find where to recycle as much as you can before just throwing it away in the trash. I took so many bags to the trash, I lost count. It was around 20 large 35 gallon trash bags. I was able to spread them out over weeks, so as not to overwhelm or be charged by our trash pick-up company. If you have large items that will not fit in the trash cans, you will need to have a bulk pick-up set up with your trash company, or you will need to find a drop-off trash place. Most of the drop-off places will charge. Our HOA had a monthly dump day that was free, so we were able to dump some of our larger items with them for free.

6. Storage Unit

Once you have sold, donated, and trashed all your extra items you will still have some items that you want to keep. The only items we decided to keep were the ones we bought while living overseas. These items would be very hard if not impossible to buy again. At first we went and rented a large storage unit, to later go back and downsize. However, we have not done that yet. It is on the list before we hit the road. We also decided to pay the extra and go with a climate controlled unit. Some of our items are priceless to us, so we thought it was worth it to pay the extra.

Last, we had to move everything we had left into the camper. This is where you might have to get creative. For us everything fit, but we did have to purchase some storage bins, hangers, baskets, and other organizational items. I wanted to make sure everything has it's place and it always goes back into that space. It just helps to keep everything clean and tidy when you live in a small space. This is also a great time to purge again. You will find the things you thought you will need, you actually don't end up needing after all.

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Updated: Nov 21, 2021

Whether you are a full-time camper, weekend warrior, or friends with one, there are many great Christmas gift ideas. These could also be purchased any time of the year for birthdays and anniversaries. Shane and I have come up with our top 20 gift ideas of all price ranges. I added Amazon links to each item, just click on the name. Some of the links are to actual items that we have purchased and love. If we don't have that exact item, we have one very similar. These are items we have, use, and love.

Disclaimer: We are affiliated with some of these companies and receive some products/services from these links.


  1. USA scratch-off Map

For travelers that want to keep track of all the states they visit. Every time you visit a new state you scratch off that state to show beautiful colors or pictures. There are so many varieties to chose from, you can even get one that has all the National Parks and landmarks you visit. Price under $20 USD.

2. Garden Flag

There are so many garden flags that you could purchase as a gift. The one pictured is a personalized flag. You can get their name, where they are from, or just a cute camper quote. There are also flags for every holiday with campers on the flag as well. You can just purchase a flag or the flag with the holder. If you are crafty, you can make the flag holder for them out of PVC pipe. Price under $20 USD,

3. Electric blanket

This is great to have for any camper in the winter, or summer if you live with Shane. He loves it cold at all times, especially when he is sleeping. He bought me an electric blanket because I am always freezing. This is great for full-time RVers or anyone that camps in the winter. They can use it while they sleep to save on propane, or at night snuggled up on the sofa. Price under $60 USD.

4. Turkish Towels

These towels are a must for every camper, part-time or full-time. Turkish towels are made from 100% cotton and imported from Turkey. They dry super fast, and you can go at least a week without washing them and they never have that "musty" smell. The towels are small and compact, they don't take up a lot of space, which is crucial in a camper. There are many sizes, from washcloth size to large beach towels. You can use them after a shower, the pool, or even take them to the beach. We love ours and have had them for years. We originally purchased ours when we lived in Turkey. We found a new company recently that has amazing soft towels. They are a female run, fair trade company, that also gives back to their community. We have a 30% off discount code for you. GILL30, will give you a 30% off discount on all of their merchandise.

Price $20 - $50 USD.

5. Countertop Icemaker

Let's face it, anytime you go camping you always need ice

I don't know how much money we spent over the years on bags of ice. You always need ice when you are camping, especially in the hot summer months. Just nothing better than a beer that has been chilled in an ice chest or a fresh-made margarita. You can find ice makers everywhere now, from Amazon to Walmart. Sometimes you can find them for less than $100. Most are priced around $100 - $150 and they have large pieces of ice. We had one for many years when we lived overseas because it is hard to find bags of ice in Europe. Ours died a few years ago so we decided to splurge on this ice maker that makes "Sonic" like ice. It is a little more expensive, but we think it is well worth the price. Price $100 - $550 USD.

6. Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

Ok, this is something as a full-timer or even when we were part-time campers we use every single day.

When you are camping and people are walking in and out all day every day, the floors get dirty fast. Campgrounds have a lot of dirt, grass, leaves, mud, etc. These cordless vacuums are lifesavers, especially if you are OCD like me (Patty). You can just whip it out with the long attachment or the small one to clean up small messes. I use the small one every single day to clean little spots around the camper. If you don't want to spend a lot of money, you can just get a small cordless handheld vacuum. Price $30 - $160 USD.

7. Collapsible dishes

Any collapsible items are always great to have in a camper. There is not a lot of storage or cabinets in RVs. So anytime you can take up less space in your kitchen is a win. You can find all kinds of collapsible dishes on Amazon or Walmart reasonably priced. You can purchase bowls, cups, strainer, measuring cups, laundry baskets, dish drainer, and many more. Any of these items are always greatly appreciated for any camper. Price $8 - $25 USD.

8. Camping Chairs

When we first started camping 20 years ago all you could find were basic bag chairs for camping. There are hundreds of varieties that you can purchase now. I really like this one that I have linked because it folds down very small, which we all know is great for campers. This one is affordable and can even fit in a backpack. Anything that does not take up a lot of space is a great gift. You can find fold-up chairs, couches, rocking chairs, lounge chairs, chairs with coolers, chairs with tables, etc. Price $25 - $99 USD.

9. Kitchen appliances (Instapot or Air Fryer)

What did people do before Instant Pots? I mean I use mine every day, usually more than once a day. I use it to make rice, soups, stews, and french fries. I have the air fryer top to the Instant Pot, and make homemade french fries every day! Shane loves using it, he loves to find a recipe that can all be thrown in the pot, turned on, and walk away. There are also Air Fryers that are a great item to have as well. Just don't forget they need to be small, to fit in the small kitchens. Another great camping appliance is this cute locking crock-pot, we actually bought these for our parents last year and they love them.

Price $59 - $100 USD.

10. Camping Memberships/Passes

So many camping memberships and discount clubs, I can't list them all. I will name a few that we have or are going to buy in the future. The first one that most people know about is Thousand Trails. We will be purchasing a membership with them before we hit the road. Thousand Trails is a membership club, where you pay a yearly fee and can stay at all of their campgrounds for free, or very low cost. This is the most popular for full-time RVers. I could write an entire blog about them. Look them up if you don't know, they are a great gift. Passport America is a great discount club, we actually purchased the lifetime membership with them this year, they had a huge sale over the summer. This membership offers 50% off a night at participating parks. The yearly membership is a great gift, for only $44 a year. The next membership I will mention is Harvest Hosts. This is very popular among full-timers as well. This membership gets you free camping at wineries, breweries, farms, museums, etc. It is dry camping for the most part, but some have hook-ups for you. This is great exposure for the businesses, and it is customary for the camper to participate or purchase something at the site. And lastly, any State or National Park annual pass is a wonderful gift. Not only do you receive discounts on camping, but you get free admission into the parks. Price $44 - $500 USD.


  1. Tool kit

Toolkits are a must for any camper. Things in campers break on a regular basis, that is just the reality of camper living. This tool kit that Shane picked out is great for any issues you might have in the camper or your tow vehicle. DeWalt tools are well made and of great quality. Shane was a mechanic in the Air Force for 24 years, so he knows a great tool-kit. There are others cheaper and more expensive, any tool-kit is great for a camper/RVer. Price $25-$100 USD.

2. Water bottle

Water bottles are pretty self-explanatory. Everyone could use a water bottle. But, a lot of campers/RVers are outside often hiking, biking, kayaking, etc. So they will always need some time of water bottle. The insulated ones like the Hydroflask or Yeti are great. But, there are also water bottles that can filter your water, which is great for hikers. Price $15 - $25 USD.

3. Telescoping ladder

Shane said this is one of his favorite items I have purchased for him. Ours is different than this photo, here is the link to the one I bought Shane. It folds down very small and fits perfectly in the storage under our camper. We have used this ladder inside the camper and also outside to hang lights, wash the camper, and so much more. A great tool to have in any camper or home. Price $120-$150 USD.

4. Yeti Cooler

Just about every company has their version of the Yeti bag. But, to us we are just Yeti people, it is totally worth the cost. This small bag is perfect for campers and anyone outdoorsy. We use it when we go out kayaking and paddleboarding, fits perfectly in the kayak and on top of the paddle board. It is large enough to fit several drinks and a picnic lunch for a long day on the water. Price $199 - $250 USD.

5. Patio Mat/Rug

This is a rug that anyone can use, even if you are not a camper. These "plastic" outdoor rugs are great for any outdoor space. The dirt falls through the small holes, and it is easy to clean off with a broom or water hose. You can purchase a lot of different styles and colors on Amazon, or you can find them in the camping section at every Walmart. Price $49-$100 USD.

6. RV Snap Pads

If you know anything about campers, you know they can be shaky and unstable at times. These RV Snap Pads will help with stability. They are recycled rubber "shoes" for your landing jacks. They snap on easily and stay on permanently, saving you time when you set up camp. You will not longer need to put down wooden or plastic blocks on the ground. RV Snap Pads make the pads to fit almost all 5th wheels, travel trailers, RVs, and now AirStreams. Just go on their website and fill out the quiz, and this will determine which pads work for your rig. Price $175-$299 USD.

7. Walkie Talkies

I know everyone has heard the saying "I am sorry for the things I said when backing up the trailer." It is very stressful to back in a 42ft 5th wheel into a tiny camping spot. Some couples use their cell phones to talk to each other when helping back the camper. But, we found sometimes campgrounds, especially state/National Parks, do not have great cell service. This is why we purchased walkie-talkies to help talk to each other when backing up. This is also great for campers with kids as a great way to keep in contact when your older kids are out on bikes, playing, or out for a walk. Price $20 - $60 USD.

8. Blackstone

When camping, especially in the summer when it's hot, it is much easier to cook your meals outside. This little Blackstone griddle is great for cooking any type of meal. You can cook pancakes, bacon, and egg for breakfast, fajitas, quesadillas, or grill cheese for lunch, steak, chicken, and veggies for dinner. In the summer this is our most used appliance, especially with the hot Texas summers. You can get this griddle in several sizes, covers, and stands on Amazon and Walmart. Price $89 USD.

9. Propane Fire Pit

Everyone loves to sit around a campfire while out camping, whether you are in a camper or a tent, campfires are a must. There are downfalls to having a "real" fire, the smoke is all in your face and makes you smell. If you have a propane fire pit, there is no smoke or smell. It is very easy to start and set up, just connect it to a propane bottle and turn it on. There is no smoke smell that gets on your clothes and in your hair, like the campfire. The propane fire pit can also be used if there is a burn ban in your area. Price $120 - $199 USD.

10. Hammock

The last gift idea on Shane's list is an outdoor portable hammock. Although Shane has never even used our hammock, he sees me use it almost every single day. During the Summer, Spring, and Fall, you can find me snuggled up in my hammock with a great book or magazine. We have two hammocks at our campsite at all times for Shane and me. Although Shane doesn't use his, we have plenty of kids that stop by and they love to lay and play in our hammocks. The ones that come with carrying bags are great to take on a hike, when you need to rest all you need is two trees to hang it, and you have a perfect place to rest. A great gift idea not only for campers but for all kids. Price $20 - $30 USD.

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Updated: Jun 15, 2021

Once we decided we were putting the house up for sale, the first thing we had to do was find a realtor. In our twenty-seven years together we have only bought and sold one house. Being a military family, living mostly overseas we always lived in base housing. If you don't know, military base housing is "free" housing located on the base. I say "free" but if you decide to stay in housing your check goes down each month. Basically, they pay a certain amount if you live off base and don't pay you that amount if you live on base, (some bases now charge you). We have only hired a realtor once to sell a house, and it didn't go that great, we ended up having to rent that house for many years. Thanks to my sister and her family for buying it from us many years later. Technically, we really are newbies at the house selling process.

Where to start? I had no idea, so I did what most people do, I GTS (googled that shit)! I searched high and low for the best realtors, how to find realtors, what is a realtor. Let me tell you, there is an abundance of information about "how to find a realtor." Google sent me to a lot of blogs and sites on top things to look for when searching for a realtor. All of which I ignored, I did not use a list when looking for my realtor. I got very lucky and stumbled upon mine in a neighborhood Facebook group. Facebook groups are a great way to find people for just about anything. I mean with the technology today, you can order food, wine, and a man, all delivered the same day!

This is how I found our realtor, it might not work for you, but it worked for us. I am on our neighborhood Facebook group. One of which is called "Bad Moms", that's another story. One day as I am scrolling through Facebook I see a post on my neighborhood Facebook page where someone shared a vegan recipe! Well, I have been vegan for 3 years and I have no vegan friends. So immediately I was intrigued, wow someone in my neighborhood is vegan. Could it be? I mean I do live in Texas, vegans are few and far between. I might have found a friend that shares my way of eating and thinking! I was so excited and, of course, had to leave a comment, "That recipe looks great. Also, hello fellow vegan in my neighborhood." I know corny, right? But, she was super nice and replied. "Thanks, nice to meet a fellow vegan." We exchanged a few more comments and it was done. Then like all people (stalkers) on social media, I took a look at her profile. I see she is a realtor!! I reached out, asked a ton of questions, and we set up a time to meet. I know, I know, I chose a realtor on her eating habits. But, being vegan is a lot more than your eating habits (I won't go into that). If you are in the San Antonio area and looking for a realtor look them up, they have done an incredible job!

Side Note: There are better ways to find a realtor, we were lucky, but you really should do your research. There are great resources out there to find the perfect one.

1. Websites, and are both great tools to find realtors in your area.

2. Ask around on your neighborhood Facebook groups or your friends that have hired someone recently and had a great experience.

3. Find out how long they have been a realtor, what is their fee, and what is their marketing plan. Ask a lot of questions and interview them, you are hiring them after all.

4 Lastly, go with someone you trust. If you don't like their personality, or you just don't vibe, that is not going to be a smooth process for either side.

We met, her and her husband (they are a team), did a walk-thru of the house, showed us their plans, signed some papers, and it was that easy. They had a great marketing plan and were very friendly so we hired them on the spot. I had planned on it taking about a year to downsize and get the house ready. They asked what kind of timeline we had, I was about to say a year, maybe 9 months, Shane speaks up and says 6 months from now. To which I said, "What, are you sure?" He assured me that was plenty of time. So we set a date for April 1st, 2020. April 1st is the month we take our camper to our local campground at the lake for our summer spot. Basically, we had six months to go through our entire 3500 sq. foot home, get rid of our items we have accumulated over 25 years in six months. Don't tell Shane I said so, but he was correct. We were able to downsize, paint, repair, replace, and sold almost everything we owned. I mean we busted our butt's and worked non-stop, but we did it! We did it, we were so ready!! Then, COVID.... if for some crazy reason someone is read this 20 years from now and you don't know, just Google (or whatever the search engine might be), 2020!!

Then our whole lives changed, and everything came to a complete STOP!!

The whole world closed down because of COVID -19 virus. Restaurants, schools, and businesses all closed down. Our youngest came home from college and our oldest even moved in with us to live through the pandemic. We decided to wait until it was over to put the house on the market. Little did we know, it was going to last a very long time. We thought we would never sell the house. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs, there was no way people were still going to purchase houses. Boy, were we wrong. September 1st, almost six months later our youngest went back to school and we put the house on the market. We moved full-time into the camper, to make it easy for showings. Within seven days we were under contract, and we closed 30 days later.

Housing in San Antonio was selling like crazy. People were selling their homes before they barely hit the market. Housing interest rates were at an all-time low. If we had put the house on the market at the original timeframe, we would not have made nearly as much as we did in the end. Somehow, it all worked out. We sold our house during a pandemic!!

**We almost didn't sell the house. A story we haven't told many people, because we felt horrible, and frankly we are embarrassed. In the back of our house, we had a wooden deck, which is about 15 feet off the ground. We walked on this deck almost every day, with no issues. The buyer was from California, she flew in to take some photos of the house after we were under contract. She was walking on the deck while taking photos and fell through a step, and fell down the stairs! Our realtor called to let us know what happened, and that the lady was in the ER. We felt horrible, and she would never buy it now! Luckily, she was fine, just bruised and sore. She still bought the house after all of that.


Written by: Patty Gill

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