8 Tips for Getting Started as a Full-Time RVer
8 Tips for Getting Started as a Full-Time RVer
Insights and resources for living on the road.
By: GoLife Staff
If you have been scoping out the full-time RVer lifestyle and are finally deciding to go for it, congrats! That is so exciting! However, we know the logistics of starting a new, untraditional lifestyle can be overwhelming. Luckily, our GoLifers have shared some great tips over the years to help you get started on your journey as a new full-time RVer.
1. Get Serious About Downsizing
Unless you are already a minimalist, you won't be able to bring all of your possessions into an RV with you. If you happen to be keeping your "sticks and bricks" home while you RV, then your main goal will be deciding what needs to come along on your long-term RVing adventure. Either way, there are space and weight limits that you will have to keep in mind as you move into your rolling home.
To get started minimizing, it can help to sell or donate any large items you know you won’t need first, since getting more obvious items out of the way can help you feel encouraged. Eventually, you will need to become more and more critical of what stays and goes depending on how much you need to get rid of. Donating can help to make the process feel more positive!
You will also have new RVing gear on board, so you’ll need to make sure you have some storage space left over for those necessities as well. Luckily, Winnebago tries to offer as much storage as possible, but it will still be significantly less than you are used to in a house or apartment.
2. Create a Realistic RV Life Budget
Sure, there are many ways to spend less while on the road – where you park at night being one of the most substantial opportunities to save. But are those practical for you, your family, and your desired lifestyle?
Dry camping in a remote area is a lovely experience but may not be ideal if you don’t have access to reliable internet for work, it’s hot and you need shore power to run your a/c, or your teenage kids can’t quite grasp the concept of short showers.
When planning out your RV life budget, be sure to be realistic about what you will likely spend on camping fees, fuel, access to internet, meals, and other necessities. You can read about some of the top costs associated with RVing (as well as an actual RVer budget) here.
If you don’t already have an RV, choosing an option that fits your budget and lifestyle is also key to making full-time RV life sustainable. Read more about choosing the right RV for you.
3. Establish Your Domicile & Mail Forwarding
If you are not going to have another home other than the RV, you will have to establish a domicile address to use on your driver's license and other important documents. You are not able to use a P.O. Box on your ID; however, there are companies that offer domicile services that are setup similarly yet give you a regular street address to use.
This article has some great information about establishing domicile in Florida through Escapees, which also offers mail forwarding.
While there are many options for paperless notifications, you will likely still need to receive mail or packages eventually. Check out these options for getting mail on the road.
4. Get Familiar with Your RV
If you haven’t read over your RV’s manual yet, now is the time. Planning to live in an RV full-time makes it even more critical to keep up with maintenance and preventative care to keep your rolling home in good working order. Setting calendar reminders is a smart way to stay on track!
To get an idea of what RV maintenance may look like, check out this article on inside care as well as this list of outside checks to do. You can do many checks and basic repairs on your own, but if you ever are uncertain or uncomfortable be sure to schedule a service appointment.
It is also helpful to take some time to get familiar with the different components and features of your RV. Even if you aren’t mechanically inclined, getting a good idea of what the engine, holding tanks, and other areas of the RV should look like will help you spot any potential problems quickly. Here is a list of important safety checks to also do regularly when traveling.
5. Plan for Remote Work
While many people retire in a motorhome or travel trailer, it is becoming more and more popular for working-age individuals and couples to take to the road. If you are planning to work remotely from your RV, it is important to plan for what you will need before you take off.
Most working RVers who need reliable internet have multiple gear items and even an extra phone plan or two just to make sure they can get online when they need to. (Learn more about gear for working from the road here, and this article has even more helpful tips!)
If your RV doesn’t have a dedicated work space, you’ll also want to decide where you will set up your office. Just make sure it can be easily put away for travel days. Of course, if you simply need a laptop, you may even choose to take your work into the great outdoors to really make the most of your flexible lifestyle!
6. Have an Initial Route Plan
Hitting the road full-time is extremely exciting, but it also comes with a big learning curve. While flexibility is a huge perk of the RV life, scrambling to decide where to park your RV every night can get frustrating very quickly.
Many seasoned RVers admit that one of the things they wish they knew about full-timing was that slowing down makes it much more enjoyable and less stressful. You can always switch it up later on since you’re planning to be in the RV long-term!
To help minimize your overwhelm (and stick to your budget!) as you adapt to life in an RV, it can really help to have at least a general idea of where you will be staying for the first couple of months.
In most cases, it will make sense to go ahead and book any campgrounds you are planning to stay at as well – especially if visiting busier locations, like national parks or popular RV resorts. For more insights, check out these tips for planning your RV route.
7. Get Mentally Prepared
While there are dozens of logistical steps you will need to take in order to transition from living in a traditional home to a rolling one, taking some time to wrap your brain around what you are about to take on is one of the most important things you can make time to do.
Having a realistic outlook of what RV life will really be like – mundane days, challenges, and all – is crucial for success. Luckily, you do have a lot of control over what RV life looks like for you. The flexibility and freedom to change paths regularly may have even been what drew you to it in the first place.
Consider what you are trying to gain from moving into an RV full-time and what personal habits may need to shift in order to make that possible. If traveling with others, be sure to have a conversation around expectations and try to get on the same page before taking off together.
“Identifying the reason, giving words to your “why” can remind, and empower, you through the days ahead when checklists loom large and your attention is pulled in multiple directions,” shares Noel Fleming and Chris Miller, long-time RVers. (Read more of their insights here.)
8. Join RVer Communities
Most avid RVers will tell you the value of really embedding yourself in the RVing community by connecting with fellow RVers online and in person. Reading through RVer forums, blogs, and groups is a free and simple way to quickly increase your knowledge of RVs, the lifestyle, and traveling by rolling home.
However, attending in-person rallies and events allows you to really get hands-on experience and make lasting connections with fellow travelers. Having friends out there on the road with you can make all the difference when facing challenges or frustrations.
We hope these tips were able to offer some guidance as you make the exciting transition into full-time RV life! If you have more questions or additional full-timer insights of your own, please leave a comment.
Comments on this post are moderated, so they will not appear instantly. All relevant questions and helpful notes are welcome! If you have a service inquiry or question related to your RV, please reach out to the customer care team directly using the phone numbers or contact form on this page .