This World Champion’s Tips for a Happy Retirement, RV Style

This World Champion’s Tips for a Happy Retirement, RV Style

World champion dragon boater, RV aficionado, grandmother and free spirit, this semi-retiree is making big lifestyle changes as she embarks on her 7th decade.  With an open mind and new goals to pursue, the open road is calling.  Here are her tips on following your nomadic dreams in retirement.


A World Champion … at 69

Mona is rather mild-mannered given her international athletic feats, her adventurous spirit and the big change that is coming her way. It’s her dragon boat accomplishments that get my attention first.

“I just like to be active and I need a goal to work toward.” 


That’s a bit of an understatement. Truth?  She began dragon boating for fun about 15 years ago and loved it so much, she wanted to pursue the competitive field.  One problem.  Ottawa didn’t have a dragon boat club, a requirement to compete internationally.  So, Mona, in her 60’s, and a friend started a club. They created a senior C team too! Problem solved!

“We had to find enough people over 60 who where fit, interested and committed.”


Fundraising for coaching, early morning and evening practices, and dedicated training lead to gold, silver and bronze medals for her crew this summer at the world championships in Hungary!  “There’s nothing like winning the race!”


Big Changes on the Horizon

As much as Mona loves dragon boating, she is hanging up her paddle and on the lookout for a new challenge. “I’m ready for something else.” That’s not the big change though.  The BIG change is something, not everyone could do, but if you do, it can be very liberating.

She and her husband are selling the family home of 39 years.  Selling it and everything in it!  They have decided to buy a large recreational vehicle (RV) which will be their permanent home for the next year or two.  Her new challenge for the moment is emptying the house!  “I think its good for you to move.”

“We’ll be free! We never had trouble trying new things.”


No, this is not a rash decision.  They have enjoyed the RV life for a few years, spending half the year on the road.  They’ve made new friends, visited interesting places and kept active with sports and outdoor activities at the RV parks.  Mona still works casually, and can do so remotely from her RV.  They love the flexibility, freedom and the social RV community.

“Rving is a lot of fun, it’s a lifestyle.” 


Say What? RV Community?

If you think the RV life can be lonely, think again.  There’s a vibrant community out there of free-spirited people from all over North America.  They are a friendly, helpful bunch.  Mona and her hubby have found their preferred RV parks. Home base for part of the winter.  They take day trips and enjoy the numerous activities and social life available.

Fitness classes, swimming, yoga, pickleball, sewing, woodworking, bike club, hike club, dances, and of course happy hour are just a few examples of the fun, fellow travelers can enjoy.  “It’s very social.”  Mona has already set some goals for her next stay at the park.  I foresee a new pickleball competitor emerging!

“It’s good to meet different people.  We’ve made new friends, stay connected and look forward to seeing them in the winter.”


What About Old Friends and Family?

Skype and social media help them stay connected.  Mona and her hubby Skype their grandchild every week.  When they are in town, they make an effort to see old friends and they always come home for Christmas.  The reality is that friends are busy or also away.  You don’t see them as much when you are home anyway.”

“We won’t be doing this forever.  One day we will sell the RV and buy a small home somewhere on the water.”


The Secrets to a Happy RV Life?

“Be open-minded.” 

Everyday can bring a new adventure and new friends to meet.  You can hide away in your RV or go out and enjoy the new sights, activities and people around you.  The later brings more fun and new experiences.  Mona was thrilled to experience the largest rodeo in North America while in Texas, something completely different for her.


 “Know to how fix things.”

Troubleshoot really.  Things can break down.  An RV is a home on wheels complete with water systems, electrical, heating, etc.  Mona’s had an awning nearly blow off, and a towed car roll off its trailer on the TransCanada! “You need to be healthy enough to fix things. It can be physically demanding.”


“You have to like the lifestyle.”

Not sure its for you?  Mona suggests trying it out first. Some of the RV parks have trailers you can rent over the winter.  The type of park you are in makes a difference in terms of the demographics of fellow RVers. “We wanted to be with active people.”


“Give each other space.”

To follow their own interests that is.  One of you may want to see one thing, while your spouse may have another interest. Accommodate each other’s interests along the way.  Mona’s hubby swims, while Mona plays pickleball. Speaking of space. Worried about the small quarters?  “If you can live outside, the small space is fine.”


Words of Wisdom for a Happy Retirement

“Find what works for you.”

Retirement is a gradual transition out of some activities and the picking up new ones. “Your interests and stamina changes.”


“For couples, ensure you are both on the same page.”

When you start retirement, look at the pros and cons of key decisions such as buying an RV.  Each of you make up your own list to see if you are on the same page.  Compromise may be necessary!


“We’re very happy in retirement. We always find something to do. “

Care to share?

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