We all hear the stories of people enjoying the full-time RV lifestyle, from young working couples to families to retirees. As attractive as these stories are, jumping into full-time RVing can be overwhelming.
Here are a few things full-timers wish they knew before starting the process.
Dave and Ann Zimmerman, The Adventures of Dave and Ann
“You know, we really felt like we knew what we were getting into, but wish other people knew how much a [travel] trailer could feel like home. Sure, the backyard changes every couple days, but the basic comforts are there and the family inside is what’s important. There’s no better way to travel with kids!”
Dave and Ann have spent 2 years on the road in a 25’ Airstream with two kids under 5 and a dog named Gorilla. California to Alaska to Massachusetts to Texas to Florida to the Canadian Maritimes and back to California!
Michael and Crissa Boyink, Ditching Suburbia
“We had to learn that we never ‘missed’ anything while traveling. We were instead ‘leaving it for a future visit.’There’s so much to see and do and you can just never fit it all in. Plus it’s nice to have new territory to cover when you return to a specific location. Changing our mindset removed a lot of stress from our travels.”
In September of 2016 the Boyink family celebrated 6 years of living and traveling fulltime in an RV. Originally from Holland, MI, in 2010 they moved a friend into their house, loaded themselves into an RV, and left Michigan with the intent to spend a year seeing the USA. They had so much fun the first year they came back to Holland, sold their house and almost everything else they owned and returned to the road as fulltime RVers with no stop sign in sight.
You can follow the Boyinks and join their tribe at www.ditchingsuburbia.com.
Kevin and Ruth Read, Travel with Kevin and Ruth
“I wish we fully understood all of the different RV mechanical systems a little better before we took off as beginners on our long-term RV adventure. Especially the limitations of RV batteries and holding tanks. I think there is a lot more info available online now than there was even ten years ago, and more research regarding that part of RV travel would have helped a lot. In particular, the electrical system, and the freedom associated with having solar panels.”
Kevin and Ruth Read are based in Cabri, Saskatchewan, Canada but are often seeking out worldly locales that are off the beaten path. Married for over thirty years, they are now in their fifties. They love adventure travel including hiking, camping, and exploring. And they’re never afraid to try something different!
Jason and Kristin Snow, Snowmads
“When we first started RVing full-time, we looked at it as if it were a vacation for about our first year on the road. If you’re on a trip with no end in sight, travel a bit more slowly and savor every experience! We did too much, too fast, as so many new full-time travelers do.
Live like locals in a place for a few weeks or longer at a time, give yourself permission to have lazy days like you would in a traditional home, and embrace a fluid travel schedule without reservations made months in advance. You never know what unexpected surprises may lay ahead, and you’ll be thankful for having the time to fully enjoy them!”
Jason and Kristin Snow are a travel-addicted couple who walked away from cubicles and conventional lives three years ago to traverse North America by RV, gaining valuable perspective on life and meeting new friends at every turn. Their goal in travel is to collect experiences instead of things.
Marc and Julie Bennett, RV Love
“We invested an enormous amount of time researching full-time RV living before we hit the road, so in all honesty, it’s been a pretty smooth transition for us with no major AHAs or surprises. Our diligence paid off with an RV that is still proving to work perfectly for our specific needs – a Tiffin Class A 36’ gas motorhome. We bought a bunkhouse model and converted the bunk area into a dedicated office for Marc, while Julie’s office space makes optimal use of the front passenger cockpit pullout tray and dash.
For those considering the lifestyle, we’d say take the time to consider your basic everyday needs and preferences and narrow them down to the top 3-5 “Must Haves” that will support them. You don’t want something that cannot be easily changed to become a constant source of annoyance in your everyday life.
For example: If you tend to get up during the night, make sure that the side of the bed you sleep on offers easy access to the bathroom without having to climb over your significant other. If you’re a big TV watcher, then a really comfortable chair/sofa and well placed TV may be high on your list. If you love to cook, kitchens with deep, flush countertops will maximize space for food preparation and appliances.
When RV shopping, avoid being distracted or seduced by fancy bells, whistles and gadgets – instead focus your attention on key, structural elements to find a floorplan and layout that you can truly enjoy and be comfortable living in.”
Marc & Julie Bennett are in their 3rd year of full-time RVing as they live, work and travel North America. They visited all of the lower 48 USA states in just over 2 years while still working full-time and are planning for Hawaii and Alaska next.
Eric and Danielle Hannan, Shore Looks Nice
“We wish we knew how easy it was to work remotely and still enjoy the best of the full-time RV Lifestyle. I expected it to be tough to find signal to connect online but we’ve been able to connect over 95% of the time while living in 42 states. If we had known that we would have bought a different RV initially because after just 8 months on the road we extended our trip to indefinitely and upgraded to a much larger 5th wheel.”
The Hannans ditched the corporate lifestyle of Orange County, CA to travel across America. They work full time in the RV while visiting friends, family, and the scenic areas of this country.
Ingrid and Al, Live Laugh RV
Al—“I wish I had been given a list of ‘must have’ tools to keep on board and a little better understanding on the workings of my particular RV. Things seem to fail at the least opportune time, like when we’re camped in the middle of nowhere requiring me to figure out the fix. Just like we carry around a first aid kit for ourselves, we now have a first aid kit for the RV.”
Ingrid—“During our first year of full-timing, I had a fear of the unknown and felt very stressed on moving day. What if we didn’t have a reservation at our next location? Would the park of choice be full? Would a particular campground accommodate our size? My concerns seemed endless. After four years of full-timing, I have a list of resources to find camping options and always have back up choices. I now have confidence knowing we’ll always find a place to camp.”
Ingrid and Al have always embraced change. They first met while working in the airline industry which afforded them the luxury of traveling both domestically and internationally. When it was time to start a family, they left aviation and went into the housing industry. Although their travels were curtailed, they never stayed in one house for any length of time. The full-time RV lifestyle fits their desire for change perfectly and they see no end to their gypsy life anytime soon.
Keep up with Al and Ingrid’s travels at livelaughrv.net.
Becky Schade, Interstellar Orchard
“I wish I would have realized that going full-time RVing wouldn’t change who I was as a person. This lifestyle is only a happily-ever-after for those people whose personality is compatible with it. Can you learn to be okay with less certainty and stability in your life? Will you be content with less living space and less stuff? Can you be happy without a solid and consistent community network? Are you willing to make sacrifices in exchange for greater freedom?
Often when strangers tell me “Gosh, I wish I could do what you’re doing”, I think what they’re really saying is: “Gosh, I wish I could be as happy as you are.” And while full-timing makes me happy, it won’t make everyone happy.”
Becky hit the road full-time, solo, and on a strict budget (read more about financing an RV) at the age of 28. She writes for those who want to go full-time RVing pre-retirement, and for anyone who dares to dream of a more fulfilling life.
Ray Burr, Love Your RV
“In hindsight, I wish I’d paid closer attention to how well insulated the RV was before purchasing. Our fifth wheel trailer brand boasted of having a “Polar Package” and touted all kinds of incredible “R” insulation values, but in real world use, the insulation has fallen short of my expectations.
The single AC unit is incapable of keeping the trailer cool once the temperatures pass 85 degrees, and at temperatures lower than freezing the furnace needs to run almost constantly. As a full-time RVer, you are bound to experience extremely cold and hot conditions at times, so a well-insulated rig is important. When purchasing our next RV, I will be looking for a true 4 season rig. I’ll want to make sure it is capable of keeping us comfortable when the mercury rises or plunges.”
For more info on the right AC units for your RV, check out this page here at Camping World.
Ray is a full time RVing nomad searching out beautiful landscapes, new adventures, and interesting people. He, his wife Anne, and their beagle Angie love hitting the road exploring North America in their fifth wheel trailer.
James and Stef, The Fit RV
“Well, I’ll give you three things: I wish I had known how very little we would actually use a generator. I wish I had known that a wet bath in a Class B RV is actually not that bad. And I wish I had known that I have sort of an addiction to RV modifications and upgrades (I haven’t stopped since).”
James and Stef started The Fit RV website to provide a resource to RVers looking to lead a more active and healthful lifestyle. He’s a former rocket scientist; she’s a personal trainer. Somehow, it works!
Rene Agredano and Jim Nelson, Live Work Dream
“I wish I knew that full-timing with debt of ANY kind is a dumb idea—even if it’s a RV loan. The only way for me to experience real freedom in this world was by cutting the ties to lenders. We paid off our RV loan less than a year after hitting the road. Now that we drive a vehicle and RV that we own 100%, we have more free time to pursue our own interests instead of constantly working to pay a lender. It’s much easier to sleep at night without debt.”
On the road since 2007, Rene and Jim are debt-free for life, earning money with multiple revenue streams, including workamping, writing, niche blogging, and other creative endeavors. They love sharing their road trip experiences with others who dream of embarking upon a similar adventure.
Check out your local Camping World for all things RV and camping-related, including details on the new Happier Camper that proves good things really do come in small packages – even when RVing.