Breaking Myths of Full-Time RV Travel
Chugging along the ruggedly beautiful Maine coastline, I couldn't help but reflect on how thankful I was for our current lifestyle. In the prior 30 days, we'd been to a family wedding in Asheville, NC, played top ranked golf courses in the countryside of Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, crashed the driveway of college friends in our Nation's capital, explored the vibrant streets of New York City, beamed with joy as our pup Ella ran alongside us at a dog-friendly golf course in the mountains of Maine, and we're now on our way to the beautiful Acadia National Park.
A year (or more) worth of adventure in just 30-days. How's that even possible? Simple. We said yes to full-time RV travel.
Capturing the memory after a round of golf in New York City.
We can't do this. Or can we?
Truthfully, the decision to take our life on the road full-time -- living, working and traveling in our RV -- was not an easy one. When my wife Brittany's free-spirited thirst for adventure initially suggested this nomadic lifestyle, my excitement was quickly squashed by my practical, "sensible" side. Simply put, fear took over.
How can we even think to do this? How will we survive and earn an income? Can my 6'4'' frame even fit inside an RV? We know nothing about RVs, I've never even been camping! Won't it be dangerous? What will people think of us? No, we can't do this. No way.
Thankfully, my dream-killing over-reaction was no match for Brittany's unwavering persistence. Slowly but surely, I hopped off the proverbial ledge and after a few months of research, conversations with current full-time RVers, and facing my fears head on, we made the leap.
If you're considering a life of full-time RV travel, there's a good chance you might be struggling with the very same fears I once had. What I've found is there's no better way than facing them head on.
Below are nine common fears, and why they're really nothing but myths!
1. There's no way we can financially afford traveling full-time by RV
This is by far the biggest common fear: the finances of full-time travel. Can we afford it? Will we run out of money? How will we make income on the road?
Like everything related to money, a good, well thought-out plan and budget is key. But I'm here to deliver a message -- full-time travel is much more affordable than one might think. The average monthly campground / RV park fee is far less expensive than most mortgages or rent, and the varying price points of RVs and travel trailers can fit almost any budget. Sure, a decked-out class A can be expensive, but used travel trailers are priced quite affordably. Our very first travel trailer cost us only $8,000 -- try buying a house at that price point!
Also, there are endless ways to earn an income on the road. Photography, writing and other freelance gigs come to mind as the most obvious, but even many company jobs are now location independent. Our accountant is a full-time RVer, while another good friend in sales recently convinced his large corporate employer to let him travel full-time. When he laid out the cost, it was actually cheaper for the company than the monthly airfare / hotel costs he was racking up while traveling a few days each week. The point is, the options are endless.
To create a little extra peace of mind, I'd encourage everyone to save six months of living expenses before hitting the road. I know of many people who set sail with far less, but the extra cushion will alleviate some stress as you find your groove.
2. Full-time RV travel will be so lonely
Months away from family and friends can be scary, no doubt. Though we too worried about missing close ones, Brittany and I actually found that we spend more time with friends on the road. We rarely enter a state without connecting with a college friend, former colleague or relative, and more often than not, end up parking our Winnebago View in their driveway (saving on campground fees, too!).
So not only are we seeing people we know weekly, but we're able to connect with so many more friends that we otherwise wouldn't have seen. Also, there's a growing online community of full-time RVers -- so, we've made countless new friends who share the lifestyle.
And, trust that when you do steer your RV toward your hometown for a visit, you'll see a lot more of those friends and family than you ever did when you lived there.
Crashing in friend's driveway in Houston, Texas.
3. I won't survive in these tight living quarters
Whether you're going with the ultra-lean Van Life, the "spacious" Class A diesel pusher, or settling on something in between, one thing's for sure: you will be downsizing. Yes, your home on wheels is light on space, but chances are you won't be sitting inside all day thinking about how small it is.
The magnificence of living on the road is that it innately pulls you outside. Whether it be golfing, hiking, biking, wandering a new town's streets, working from your campsite's picnic table, or gathering around a flickering fire, we find ourselves constantly outside enjoying the surroundings. And whenever it is feeling a little cramped, or our patience is waning for the other, we force ourselves to go outside and are reminded by that day's beautiful location just how lucky we are!
Office for the day in Clearwater, Florida.
4. Navigating the day-to-day seems too difficult
Having never driven more than an SUV, I certainly didn't feel equipped to pull a 30-foot trailer with a diesel pickup truck (our setup last year). But like riding a bike, practice makes perfect. A few hours maneuvering around a Walmart parking lot, getting a feel for turns and backing into empty spaces, and we felt comfortable enough to head out on the open road. It's always necessary to do an appropriate amount of route scouting in advance to avoid low overpasses or the possible restricted roads, but within a few weeks' time, pulling and parking the rig was second nature.
We also had some concern about easily locating campgrounds and knowing they were clean and safe. In reality, apps like Allstays make finding, pricing, reading reviews, and ultimately choosing a campground or RV park, a breeze.
5. We can't travel full-time because we have pets
Nothing could be further from the truth! We too were concerned how our dog Ella and cat Mr. P would handle life on the road. But we quickly learned, they might actually enjoy it more than us! Longer driving days certainly took a little getting used to, but in short time Mr. P loved his spot on the dashboard basking in the sun while Ella reveled in our 20-minute play sessions during travel day stops.
Mr. P basking in the sun during a long driving day.
Further, the outdoor and active lifestyle means lots of hikes through mountains and ball chasing on beaches. Nothing brought Ella (and us!) more joy than ripping around sandy beaches in San Diego, Nova Scotia, and everywhere in between. Lastly, the purchase of a relatively cheap pet camera helped alleviate the fear of leaving them in the RV park alone. It allows for monitoring them on our phones while we're out and about for a few hours on our own.
Ella chasing down a ball on San Diego's Dog Beach. One of our favorite spots in the US!
6. We can't stay healthy on the road
The common misconception is because we're traveling full-time, we're constantly grabbing fast food or eating out. After all, it's how most people eat when on road trips by car. However, because most RVs are equipped with kitchens, it's easy to do all your own cooking.
We've made a habit of planning each week's meals, prepping all the food on Sunday nights, and cooking throughout the week by stovetop or by bulk in a crockpot. And, that aforementioned invisible force pulling you outside leads to plenty of grilling.
The absence of a gym membership is no biggie either, as the abundance of exploring leads to plenty of exercise! We've also stayed in several RV parks that boast small gyms (or pools for swimming), too.
There's no shortage of exercise while out exploring America! Bar Harbor, ME.
7. I can't rely on campground internet to run a business
I'd agree. Campground internet is as unreliable as any I've experienced, but hotspot options from most major wireless carriers make for fast and reliable internet on the road. Depending on the carrier, it's generally around $100-$180 per month (for the better networks) and we've found it to be very reliable. And, don't forget about coffee shops and cafes, which offer a good excuse to immerse yourself in the local scene while snagging some complimentary internet.
8. I have no experience RVing; I've never even been camping!
Same here! Before we set sail, I had never been RVing or camping. But, imagine if we all said no to everything we didn't already have experience in -- we'd never experience anything new! There are a lot of different things to learn about RVing, but the thousands of YouTube videos always save the day.
No experience, no problem. With window views like this, it's worth figuring it out!
Anytime we had questions or were unsure of what to do, we turned to the internet. Or, we'd kindly approach a fellow RVer and ask for assistance. It's amazing how friendly and generous other RVers are with their time and knowledge. In two years on the road, we've met some amazing people who have been more than willing to troubleshoot issues or lend a helping hand.
9. What will they think?
I can still recall the nerves I felt when first telling my family and our friends that we bought an RV and would be traveling the country full-time. What would they think?!? There were lots of questions to field, and concerns to squash, but in the end most people were supportive and excited for our new adventurous lifestyle.
Surely, there will always be a few naysayers in the bunch, and you'll most definitely face repetitive questions like, "When are you returning to the real world?" You'll soon realize, however, that it really doesn't matter what others think, so long as you're true to you.
Brittany and I are now nearly two years into full-time RV travel, and I couldn't imagine life any other way. Squash your fears, and say yes to your dreams; there's a big wide world to explore.
Taking in the view after a long (and steep!) sunrise hike at Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park.