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The Realities Of Full-Time RVing: What You Need To Know

The Benefits And Challenges Of Full-Time RVing

Are you considering taking the plunge and living full-time in an RV? If so, you’re not alone! Full-time RVing is becoming increasingly popular as more people look for ways to travel without committing to a fixed location.

While RV life offers plenty of exciting opportunities and can be incredibly enjoyable, there are some realities that you need to be aware of before hopping on board and hitting the road. In this article, we’ll look at the benefits and challenges of this unique lifestyle. So let’s get started!

What Full-Time RVing Is Really Like

When many people think about living and traveling in an RV as a lifestyle, they think full-time RVing could be like living on vacation. It’s easy to envision sightseeing by day and campfires by night.

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While many days feel like a vacation, just as many days on the road don’t. Why? Daily living can get in the way. Even though some days may be epic national park visits, beaches, mountains, hikes, or scenic drives, you can’t live like that every day.

Many days are filled with tasks of daily living, trip planning, and rest. Just think of how exhausting it is to come home from a vacation. Most people come home to rest, do laundry, and return to work. The difference is that in full-time RVing, there is no coming home to catch up. Daily living tasks and rest have to be a part of your travels.

What Are The Greatest Benefits Of Full-Time RVing?

Many travel lovers are drawn to the freedom and adventure of full-time RVing. The popularity of this lifestyle has exploded in the last few years. With the huge increase in online jobs and online school options, it’s easier now than ever to enjoy location independence in an RV.

Freedom

Full-time RVing does offer the freedom that many travel lovers seek. You can chase 70-degree weather all year if you choose to. Your home on wheels can be a tiny beach home one week, and a mountain retreat the next. Don’t like your neighbors, the weather, or a particular campground, pack up and move on down the road. No other lifestyle offers this kind of freedom.

RVs With The Features Of Home

Some RVs also resemble high-end mini apartments. Every year, newer RVs come out with even more home-like features that make it easy to call an RV home. Travelers choose to live in everything from vans and truck campers to huge motorhomes and everything in between.

It’s easy to find an RV perfect for full-time RVing. With fancy features like huge storage bays, residential refrigerators, fireplaces, pantry storage, and even dishwashers in some models, you can feel right at home while traveling.

Travel Experiences

As impressive as the freedom and the home-like RV features are, nothing beats the travel experience. Living in an RV provides once-in-a-lifetime adventures and memories. Of course, some of those travel experiences will be from the locations you visit and the plans you schedule. However, many incredible unexpected experiences also happen out on the road.

Unexpected Friendships

Something that most people enjoying the full-time RVing lifestyle don’t expect are the unplanned friendships and people that you meet on the road. It’s incredible how many other RVers you can meet and connect with while traveling. You can meet people of all ages from just about anywhere.

While the time you spend together may be brief, it’s surprising how many meaningful friendships come from time spent traveling out on the road. After all, where else can you live or stay where all of your neighbors have similar interests and hobbies? It’s a unique family of campers out on the road!

Educational Experiences

Another unexpected benefit of full-time RVing is the educational experience. You may think I am just referring to traveling with kids on this one. However, it’s amazing the number of things that RVers of all ages learn through traveling.

Even as adults, we have learned so much about different cultures in areas of the country as we have traveled. Nature and history found in the national parks and national historical locations we have visited have taught us so much more than we learned about in school.

Memories And Quality Time Together

The biggest benefit of full-time RVing is the memories you make. For many travelers, one year of full-time RVing is more than a lifetime of memories. You just can’t put a price on those experiences and the quality time spent together. Those travel stories and memories can become part of your family’s legacy for many generations to come.

Family RVing And Playing Catch In Campsite
Photo Credit: Scott Russell of RV Nomad Jobs

Full-Time RVing Also Has Its Challenges

As incredible as the travel experiences are in full-time RVing, so are the challenges. We mentioned before that living in an RV differs from living on vacation. If you are wondering if full-time RVing is a good fit for you, it’s helpful to know what makes this lifestyle unique and the problems that can arise. Let’s dive into what the challenges are.

This Lifestyle Is A Lot Of Work

Full-time RVing is more work than a lot of people realize. The constant setting up, packing up, driving, RV maintenance, and travel planning can be quite a task. It’s incredibly exhausting if you don’t stay in one place very long. It helps to travel slower when you live in an RV. A slower travel pace gives you enough time for daily living and avoids burning out.

Sometimes when you live in an RV, you feel a bit like a travel agent. You always have the next stop to plan. A lot of time goes into planning where to travel, how to get there, where to stay, what route to take, and what to do once you arrive. Keeping track of and making new campground reservations can be quite a lot of work.

The RV Life Pro Membership is a great resource to help with trip planning. This membership includes the RV LIFE App, where you can search for campgrounds near your desired destination. It also includes RV LIFE Trip Wizard, an excellent tool for planning your travel route. One of the most significant benefits of the RV LIFE Trip Wizard is that it also transfers your trip plans to an RV Safe GPS to prevent clearance issues on your route. The video below provides a good walkthrough and shows some of the many capabilities RV LIFE Trip Wizard and the app offers.

Things Break Often

It’s essential to keep up with RV maintenance when you are traveling. Even with proper maintenance, RVs, and vehicles often break when you are full-time RVing. It’s tough for any setup to withstand the demands of constant travel. This is the honest reality of full-time RVing.

A full-time RVing tip for handling repairs is to use mobile repair services whenever possible. If an RV mobile repair tech can come to you for the service, you can get things fixed faster, stay in your RV during repairs, and have fewer travel plan interruptions versus taking your RV to a repair facility.

Full-Time RVing Isn’t Always Cheap

Many believe that full-time RVing is cheaper than living in an apartment or a traditional house. While it often is more affordable than conventional living arrangements in most areas of the country, it isn’t always a cheap way of living. The cost of full-time RVing depends on how you travel.

Campground Costs Add Up

For example, someone who travels quickly and stays at RV resorts can end up spending a house payment or close to one on campground fees alone. At the same time, an RVer who enjoys boondocking or dry camping, using campground memberships, or workamping may spend little to nothing on nightly campground fees. Minimizing campground costs are one way that many people afford the RV lifestyle.

Gas Can Be Hard On The Budget

Traveling long distances or traveling quickly will have higher gas expenses than someone traveling within just one general area. Staying longer in each location helps save money on gas while living in an RV. Having one or two travel days per month is much cheaper for full-time RVing than traveling every few days. It also helps to save on campground costs, as many campgrounds offer weekly or monthly rates that can provide significant savings.

RV Repairs And Maintenance Are Hidden Expenses

We also mentioned that frequent RV repairs are needed when living in an RV. RV repairs can be a significant unexpected expense. There may also be times when you have to take your RV to a repair facility and may need to stay an extended amount of time in a hotel.

Keep A Repair Budget And Emergency Savings

A helpful budget tip to afford full-time RVing is to have a monthly budget for RV repairs and maintenance and a decent emergency savings account. Many unexpected expenses happen out on the road traveling, and you will be much less stressed if you are prepared.

Hurricanes, Wildfires, Tornados, And Floods Oh My

Weather and other natural disasters can be terrifying when you are out on the road. Most of the time, when traveling, you are unfamiliar with the area and can feel a bit exposed when living in an RV through challenging conditions.

Always keep a close watch on your area’s weather and fire conditions. It helps to note what county your campsite is located in just in case a tornado or other weather warning is issued. Downloading weather apps and setting notifications to alert you of various dangerous conditions can be very helpful in staying on top of what is happening in your area. Also, ask the campground where tornado shelters are located and if the area is prone to flooding.

If in doubt, always evacuate! Many RVers wait too long, wondering if an area will flood, catch on fire, or be in the path of a hurricane. Then it can sometimes be too late to leave. If in doubt, always go. Your safety and peace of mind are priority number one!

It Can Be Hard To Get Campground Reservations

RVing has become extremely popular in the last couple of years. Seeing so many more people enjoying traveling and time outside is very exciting. The drawback to this increase in popularity is that getting camping reservations can be challenging. This is especially true in peak season areas where the demand is much higher than the campsite availability. It is also an issue in popular camping locations like national parks.

It always helps to make campsite reservations as soon as possible. It often helps to find when reservations are first available for your desired camping location and book at the first opportunity. National parks have a reservation window, and sometimes the campsites are sold out within the first couple of minutes of becoming available to book. Planning in advance can really help you to get a spot.

When plans have to change, RV reservations can all fall like dominoes. One of the hardest challenges of living in an RV is when things go wrong, and every reservation after that falls apart. Since there is always a next reservation when full-time RVing, the rest of your plans can be ruined if you have to cancel or delay.

This is common if you have to reroute due to weather issues like a hurricane, wildfire, someone in your party is injured or sick, or due to an RV repair. This can leave you scrambling to find new campground reservations. It helps to have a flexible mindset and to try to enjoy whatever the change in route, schedule, or location brings!

RV With Storm Coming
Photo Credit: Scott Russell of The Adventure Detour

Is Full-Time RVing Worth It?

After looking at both the incredible benefits of full-time RVing and the many challenges of this lifestyle, you may wonder if it is worth it. The truth is that full-time RVing isn’t always easy or cheap, but it is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

It helps to have a flexible personality and see both the amazing travel experiences and the challenges as all part of the adventure. This lifestyle is worth it all. If full-time RVing is your dream, I hope you decide to go for it!

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