10 Things You Should Know Before Becoming A Full-Time RVer


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10 Tips For Full Time RVing

As decisions go, this is a biggie. Sell your house and live full-time in an RV “out there.” Where? Wherever you want. Before you swallow all that freedom in a single gulp there are a few things you might want to know.

#1 Make a practice run…or two…or ten.

No one should toss the house keys to the new owner and point their new rig towards the open road without having experienced previously spending time in an RV. Not just a weekend or even a week but ideally an extended period of time. No trial run will exactly duplicate the finality of being without a home base but being on the road will help identify what kind of full-timer you will be. Do you prefer being a “mover” or  a “sitter?” Do you prefer the solitude of a campsite alone in the woods or the activities found in a commercial campground? These test runs will also serve to clarify your most important decision before becoming a full-time Rver…

#2 How much house do you need?

There is an RV ready to match your dream. Use your vacation RV trips to test different rigs. If you are visiting off-the-beaten-track tourist nooks and wilderness sites a more maneuverable RV could be preferable to a motorcoach. Or your dream RV just may not have as much room as you need to live on the road full time comfortably. Be honest with yourself up front and you will save yourself the hassle of trading up or down in your first few years untethered from a home base.

#3 “You don’t need that. You won’t use that.”

Everyone has heard the age-old packing tip for a trip – “pack half the clothes you think you need – and then get rid of half of them.”  When you are preparing to live on the road you need to amp up those percentages even more, way more. Only you can make the determination of what is truly “essential” but come be prepared to attack your first “must have” list with an arsenal of scissors and black pens.

What to do with the excess? Hold a yard sale. Have fun on eBay for a few months. Invite friends and family to pick through your belongings. Give stuff away. If you absolutely must, rent a storage locker. Beware, though – if you are having difficulty shaving possessions from your life you still may be a few years away from full-time RVing.

#4 You don’t have to be a master mechanic but…

Every RV comes with a manual and you two should spend some quality time together. Learn your way around the electrical system and the fuse box. Don’t be intimidated by basic plumbing. Be prepared to patch leaks in the roof and around windows and doors with sealants. Establish a routine to perform the annual chores recommended by the manual. These are not onerous tasks, but essential ones to making life easy on the road.

#5 And when bad things happen, be insured.

There are a host of insurance decisions to be made when living on the road, among them accidents, thefts, and illnesses. Study the many discounts and options before you leave and you should only need to put yourself through the process once. Two coverages are essential: for the replacement value of your RV should it be damaged or stolen and for personal belongings, much like homeowners insurance. There are many insurers and levels of coverage – select wisely for the insurance to suit your intended lifestyle. Medical insurance is also offered specifically for full-timers.

#6 Get limber to stretch that dollar.

Even for the rare folks who RV full-time with unlimited cash, getting by on less money becomes ingrained in the RV lifestyle. Tracking spending and working from a budget becomes second nature on the road. Before you head out get in the habit of logging daily spending on everything to learn where money goes. And check in with experienced RVers for advice – and get ready to write down ideas fast because every RVer has favorite tips to stretch dollars on the road.

If you are planning to take on seasonal or temporary jobs to help support a full-time RV lifestyle there are many more opportunities than just campgrounds and parks. Before you go, research the opportunities available that sound attractive and prepare a resume and contact information that highlights your range of skills.

And don’t forget the discount cards and passes. There are plenty out there and your glovebox should be stuffed with these money-savers before you leave. Tops on that list for any RVer over the age of 62 is the Senior America The Beautiful Pass. For $80 the Senior Pass provides lifetime admission to every national park and 2,000 more recreational sites—and that includes up to three other adults in the vehicle.

#7 Stay connected

It is always hard to sell a house and leave family and friends behind but today’s technologically rich world makes the parting a much sweeter sorrow. WIFI hotspots are becoming more prevalent around North America, especially for travelers. Many campgrounds and visitor centers are wired for your WIFI-enabled devices. Before you leave check out the many service providers and resellers who can keep you online and tapped into the world while on the move. Your rig can also carry along its own satellite dish, hard-mounted or mobile. You can choose how connected you want to be in your RV.

#8 Where will we “live?”

Even after bidding goodbye to your physical address you will still need to establish a permanent legal address for such dreary souvenirs of your former homebound life as driver’s licenses, vehicle inspections, voting registration and bank accounts. There are 50 different sets of rules and regulations and your home state may not be the most accommodating to a nomadic lifestyle. Among the options to consider are taxes, insurance rates, and efficiency of mail forwarding. Three of the most popular domicile states for full-time RVers are South Dakota, Texas and Florida.

#9 Work on a game plan.

Many full-timers follow the weather as they travel, moving to more friendly climes – be they cooler or warmer – through the year. That serves as a fine rough outline but it can be frustrating to arrive in a new area and discover you missed a festival or traditional event by a day or two. Plan ahead and keep travel resources at the ready. But the golden rule of full-time RV travel planning is to stay flexible. Don’t be in a rush to head off down the road.

#10 And of course join the Good Sam Club for camping discounts

One of the biggest aids to planning is membership in the Good Sam Club. Not only will you find invaluable destination and campground information but just about everything on this list as well, from insurance plans to maintenance assistance to big-dollar discounts at Camping World.

If you’re looking to sell or trade in your current RV for an upgrade or want details on RV financing, Camping World can help with all of the above!

  • Comment (43)
  • Sasha says:

    Before we went full-time, we had camped in a truck camper, but nothing beyond that. We broke the first rule on the list, and haven’t looked back for a second. ☺️ We’ve been on the road for nearly 2 years… Sometimes it’s just more fun to jump head-in.

  • Lynn Trowbridge says:

    Any info about traveling with a dog? If my dog is staying home, in the RV, for a couple of hours, will it get too hot, for him? Thanks for any info, on traveling with a dog. Thanks.

  • Dan says:

    We as well are checking into this. I feel we are closer to doing this than I may want to admit? We have a house that we are selling to our daughter as soon as I find a place for mom. We currently have a 27′ that we lived in for three years while working in another state and are thinking of trading it for a fith wheel this weekend at the RV show. The fifth wheel would be our permanent home and we would plan to do the workcamper thing to help with the pad rent and utilities. I am anxious but a little3 scared as I always wanted security. The health insurance thing worries me the most and figuring out the state of residence, establishing that and doing the license plates and vehicle insurance. All new for us even tho we have camped forever and have met some that do this full time. All the best to everyone and hope to see you out there sometime soon.

  • David says:

    I’ve been toying with the idea of buying an RV for a few years now. I own my home in San Antonio, TX and don’t plan to sell it. However, I own a software engineering company and I am frequently on the road for extended periods of time working on various Information Technology projects around the country. The money I spend on hotels, car rentals, or to rent an apartment for long periods of time, has me rethinking my commit to an RV but I have a concern about whether or not I need to take a course or some type to learn to drive it. I would like to buy a 40 foot rig but is a 40 ft RV hard to drive? Has anyone had any trouble learning to handle their RV? Does anyone know of, or recommend, a good driving school I might be able to go to in order to learn the proper way to drive an RV? I would be willing to travel anywhere in the country for a good program. Anyone have any ideas?

  • Rose says:

    Today is the big day!! We will purchase our first travel trailer from someone we know who has owned it since day 1 in 1986 and lovingly maintained it. We rent and our lease ends in May, so we will plan our departure for May. I lost a job and we decided that now is the right time to live our dream. Why not enjoy life while we are still young enough to do many things. Luckily, we are allowed to keep the trailer in a lot across the street. We will have time to load it to see what fits. We also have a 2017 truck With a cap, so room for organizing tools and bigger items. We also have a boat, which we will keep at a Marina and visit often. The biggest obstacle is how to keep our cat happy with a mobile lifestyle.

  • Beverly Skelley says:

    So great that I found this site. My husband and I just recently started checking into full-time rving. We wold our home 2 years ago and have just been renting because we weren’t sure what we wanted to do. I am retired but my husband waffles from day to day (ha! ha!) about retiring. One day yes, the next day no. This idea has kind of excited him about retiring so that we could travel. Have never owned an rv so I am checking out everything I can. A lot of my questions have been answered in this site.

  • George says:

    We started researching full time RVing about 10 years ago. Were about 10 years away at best from any retirement. In the process of learning we realized a camp host or property caretaker is the best route for us. We began watching various venues for that type of deal, quickly coming to the realization that we didn’t want to be campground hosts. One day early on in the process we spotted a simple three sentence ad for a part time caretaker position. Long story short – we never got an RV and now get free rent, free power and free water in an historic ranch house, taking care of a 110 acre remnant of a once grand old historicr ranch and it’s well system, pool and main ranch house and grounds. located adjacent to a National Forest,, with spectacular mountain views, across the road from the largest shopping center in this half of the state. There’s a hospital a quarter mile away. We basically won the caretaker lottery. We’ve been here for 8 years. Not bragging, just pointing out how just freeing ourselves from the home ownership paradigm has opened the door to a lifestyle most only dream of. The RV lifestyle still excites us but we’re riding this train as far as it goes. In the past 8 years we’ve gained so much experience and credibility that we’re confident that when the time comes to vacate after a sale or development of the property, we can jump into another similar arrangement relatively easily. The number one bit of advice: learn how things work, how to diagnose and repair stuff; be it an RV, boat, water well, pool, plumbing, electrical and landscaping. Keep an open mind and always be flexible. Happy trails!
    Sorry for any typos. Tiny space to write on a tiny phone.

  • Amy Bynum says:

    You could possibly use a cell ohone bill or internet bill to establish your residency. Most people will have cell and internet about anywhere they go. Just a thought. Hope that helps. Even a medical bill would work.

  • Tammy Giac says:

    Great information, thank you all for your input !
    Yes, please explain in more detail how you establish residency if you need utility bills to do so. Perhaps rent a place short term to establish residency?

  • Linda Shadel says:

    Ok, I’m stumped. If I use say the UPS store for an address, I need a utility bill of some sort? I think I’m missing something. What utility bill if I don’t own a home any longer and am full time RVing? I’m sure there’s an answer that I’m not seeing. Thank you so much.

  • George K says:

    My wife and I are gradually going full time. We are both teachers, so we take a 2 month RV trip during the summer. I retire this school year but she has two more to go. This will give me time to get the house ready to sell.

  • Pete says:

    Very few boondocking opportunities east of the rockies.

  • Linda Shadel says:

    How do folks handle the issues of full time rv travel and medical insurance? Also how do folks handle medical prescriptions, appointments, etc?

  • Sheryl Dean Jones says:

    Hi my husband and I are up grading our RV and buying a bigger one and becoming full timers. He is retiring next year. We will be selling most everything. We would like to get as much information on this journey from someone that is experience full time. Thank you The Jones

  • I guy on the road says:

    To set up residency in almost any state all you have to do is establish a physical address at a place like mailboxes and more or the UPS store has mailboxes that count as a physical address and you need to receive bills like a power bill, or other utility bill. You will need to have these bills with your address on them when you go to the licensing dept. to get your new license that makes you a residence. It gets easier or more difficult depending on the state.

  • Jay says:

    I’m a 57 widow, retired Air Force and have a great job that only requires me to be near an airport and have internet and cell phone access. Just traded in my 34′ Montana and 200 Ford F350 and Charger for a new Montana toy hauler, 2017 F350 and a 2018 Harley Road Glide. Selling my house and all but enough to furnish a small villa (when I tire of the Great Adventure) and I’m hitting the road this spring.

    Question: how does one establish residency in Florida or Texas without actually owning a home?


  • jon stiles says:

    retiring soon need to know a good solid travel trailer to look for full time living

  • April says:

    We are doing our research now too. Still in our early 50’s so we’re too young to retire and no savings but we are worried that “someday” may come too late in our lives to be able to do what we have always wanted to do and that is travel the country in an RV. So, we decided that we are just going to make it happen. We are super excited but scared too. Both of us have great jobs right now with excellent health insurance so our biggest concern is health insurance and how much that is going to cost us.

  • Steve says:

    Your page deserves an update: The Senior Pass just increased from $10 to $80. Still a bargain, but not like it was.

  • Morgan says:

    Me and my boyfriend are purchasing our camper this week and we are both so nervous and excited about this next adventure in our lives! ANY first time tips, or any helpful advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • Dino Violante says:

    I really appreciate it when you pointed out that being an owner of an RV means that I should learn a little about electrical, plumbing, and roofing work so that life on the road will be a little easier. Maybe it is time that I get myself a book and educate myself about the basics of troubleshooting. After all, I do intend to get an RV for myself soon since my dream job is to be a nature journalist. Thanks for the tips.

  • S Wood says:

    Me and my wife are considering going fulltime RVing while we’re still working. Until our retirement.

  • Wally Hofmann says:

    Thank you for the realistic and informative post.

    I’ve been living a mobile lifestyle — in a boat and a renovated Airstream — off-and-on for the better part of the past decade. My son and his wife (who are in their mid-30s) have also been living mobile, and we can all say a hearty “Amen!” to your tips and advice — especially #10 — to join the Good Sam Club.

    This past year, we took our combined experiences / knowledge and produced a full-time “Living Vehicle” that’s perfect for full-time newbies. It’s spacious, well-equipped for the real world, and is truly off-grid capable with built-in solar panels and 4-season systems and insulation.

    Your tip #4 “You don’t have to be a master mechanic but…” is so right, because we’ve even in a new RV, we’ve spent dozens, even hundreds, of hours repairing our boats and RV homes.

    This is why our Living Vehicle comes with a free 1/3/5 year bumper-to-bumper service plan that includes regular check-ups and an emergency road service. Check it out at http://www.LivingVehicle.com

    Happy trails!

  • Gus Gonzalez says:

    My wife and I are planning to become full time RVers. Doing our research now, and hope to soon join you on the road.

  • Barry Combess says:

    Great info! Thanks.

  • Gail Baugh says:

    Were newbies and it feels like a whole new life style. Pro’s and con’s are always welcome! Based out of Fla. was the first right thing we did! Just finding the right camp ground in northern Fl. is a hassle. Does anyone know which are the best? We like the social life style. We have dogs and would love to hear from dog lovers as to which parks are the best dog friendly parks?

  • Verone Jenkins says:

    turn on fans and open windows – if going for longer periods without dog then turn on air

  • Wade Thiel says:

    Hi Lynn, your dog can totally get too hot very quickly. However, you can leave air-conditioning on if you have a connection to electricity.

  • Wesley Place says:

    Hi David. No, RV’s are not hard to drive if you don’t allow yourself to defeat yourself before even trying. Most RV dealers will work with you to help you get comfortable driving a large rig. It really comes down to just getting comfortable with your rig. It takes a little time to get comfortable, but the more you drive it, the more at ease you will become. Take a deep breath and push through your anxiety. Then you can really begin to enjoy the journey. Shake away your fears and go for it. You can do it.

  • Wade Thiel says:

    Rose, that’s so exciting to hear! Congrats, and I wish you all the best.

  • AJ H says:

    Try a cell phone bill. Not sure if that would count or not.

  • Tm says:

    Keystone is suppose to come where you are for repairs but I don’t own a keystone. Full time RV’R for six months sold new house. House have more repairs if you retire plan on new roof etc. Out of your budgets etc. Did find land to RV on full time great way of living RV parks are okay. But after awhile you will get tired of close neighbors. Walking dogs on leash etc. Some so have all utilities free washer dryers etc if you dont have one. 550 month plus. LOVE MY REDWWOD 3901WB Double vanities 5 people can fit in restroom. Very roomy. Only thing I miss the most is Calcon take me away(TUB).. Good luck we love it dead end street peace and quite. RV living full time write off on taxes just like houses.

  • Tammy says:

    Recently learned that America’s Mailbox in Elder, SD is a way to establish residency in SD. A guy from New Jersey told me about it. He flew out and had it all set up in just 2 days.

  • Lilly says:

    Campgrounds & gas are EXPENSIVE!

  • Terry Wilson says:

    Same problem here , with hurricane damage the costs of full time RV lots double in price , causing many issues .

  • Tricia says:

    Us too. Doing all of our research now. LOTS to learn we are finding out.

  • Toni says:

    We are just thinking about doing the same. It is a very exciting yet scary decision. We just started researching this dream idea! We need to maintain an income as well. How old are you and your wife?


  • ROBIN C SMITH says:

    So April, how did it go? Did you get on the road? Do you like it? Interested in learning more about your experience!

  • Sheila says:

    My concern too. What do u do

  • Karen says:

    I would like to know more about that myself.

  • April says:

    My husband and I are doing the same right now Toni. First we were considering selling everything and moving to a Caribbean island but after a lot of research we realized that it isn’t easy getting a job on some of the islands and the places where you can get jobs are crime ridden. So, we turned back to our life long dream of buying and RV and traveling the country. We are still in our early 50’s so we are too young to retire but through our research we discovered a website called flexjobs.com that is a great site for finding jobs that offer the ability to work remotely. It is a legitimate site without all of the scams and network marketing type of stuff. We also just discovered camp hosting on a website called workampingjobs.com. There are a lot of camp grounds in a lot of different states that offer various types of opportunities for couples to be camp hosts. Some are just for a free place in the camp ground in exchange for work but some also offer salaries to go with the free stay. I’m becoming more excited than scared now. My only concern is health insurance.

  • Mike Tiojanco says:

    Updated—thanks for letting us know!

  • Stacy Smith says:

    St augustine has a great koa close to the beach and the whole town is pretty dog friendly, so does flagler beach

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