Home on the Road: A Decade of Full-Time RVing
A look back at various camping styles, rolling homes, and unique experiences.

By: Abby Holcombe

Happy New Year from my Winnebago to yours! 2024 is such a special year for me for so many reasons, but most importantly because it marks my tenth year of full-time travel. It also means that I have been living in a Winnebago and traveling the world for more than half of my life. As this big anniversary has been approaching, I can’t help but reflect on the opportunities and experiences I've gained from a decade of RV life.

The Holcombe Family making the snowy desert feel like a traditional Christmas.

What “Home” Means on the Road

Most recently, while I was driving to meet up with my family for the holidays, it hit me that my sense of ‘home’ might look very different than most. It led me to reflect on what the word home means to me because my memories from our suburban life in Colorado are blurring, and it’s hard to feel at home with something you can barely remember. 

Golden hour while Abby drives to see family for the holidays.

After many hours of driving and thinking, I concluded that home isn’t a singular place to me. Home is so much more than four brick walls ... it’s the rivers continuously carving their path, it’s the mountains - characterized by their ups and downs yet continually reaching for the stars, it's the oceans that graciously embrace the ebb and flow of their ever-changing existence, it’s the endless possibilities of an uncharted road where the inclination to explore persists despite the bumps along the way.

Home is the snow-covered Rocky Mountains, the Ottawa River with purple flowers lining the shore, the French Alps with valleys of cows and the hum from the bells strung around their necks, the dolphins jumping and surfing in the Pacific Ocean, the sunset highlighting the mountains and reflecting in the rivers of the Arkansas River Valley, the vibrant fall foliage enveloping the Smoky Mountains …

Sunset with the Purple Loosestrife covering the banks of the Ottawa River.

Home is the pursuit of the unknown, the kindness from strangers I’ve met along the way, and the joy of finally finding somewhere to dump my full cassette toilet.

Home is the four little wheels of a Winnebago RV (currently a Winnebago + Adventure Wagon), that has given me everything I need to be comfortable and happy for the last ten years. 

And with the comforts of the Winnebago, home is found in so many different ways.

Abby getting comfortable for her first night in her Winnebago + Adventure Wagon.

What Home Can Look Like for a Full-Time RVer

Over the last decade, my family’s camping style has changed in addition to the vehicles we’re traveling in. Here is a glimpse into our chapters of RV life, including my most recent solo chapter.

Home is found through boondocking…

We spent our first four years of full-time RV life primarily boondocking. We were living out of our Winnebago View, which was the perfect balance of being off-grid capable while still having all of the comforts of home. From pullouts in the middle of the desert to Walmart parking lots, we tried it all. It was budget-friendly and it also gave us such a greater understanding of each place we visited.

The Holcombe family camped in a pullout just outside of St. George, Utah.

Home is found through overlanding …

In 2019, we moved into the Winnebago Revel with our sights set on dipping our toes into international overland travel. We shipped our Winnebago to Europe for six months of pastries and breathtaking scenery. We slept in the van in front of Stonehenge, on beaches, in ferry ports, in fields of sheep, and in pullouts overlooking the French Alps. 

We filled up our water tanks with gravity-fed water fountains in small villages, we used communal electrical outlets made for RVs in city parks to recharge our batteries, and we embraced the European culture. (You can read my mom’s article about our European adventures here.)

A pullout in France with perfect views of the French Alps.

Home is found through wild camping …

Thankfully, we got back from Europe just a few mere months before COVID hit and we expanded our living space by towing a Winnebago HIKE behind our trusty Winnebago Revel. In late 2020 and early 2021, we began to travel again, and we were all drawn to wild camping. 

With the Winnebago Revel and Winnebago HIKE combo, we had a lot more freedom for where we could go with the 4x4 of the Winnebago Revel and the higher clearance of the Winnebago HIKE. We still had a lot to discover in the U.S. but finding wild camping (that we could access with our rigs’ off-roading capabilities) gave us such a different and new experience while further exploring new places.

The Holcombe family wild camping out of their Winnebago Revel/HIKE combo.

Home is found through moochdocking …

Throughout 2022 and 2023, I slowly transitioned to solo full-time travel in my Winnebago + Adventure Wagon. Even though I was traveling independently of my parents, I still wanted a little support throughout my transition to adulthood. I often traveled with other van lifers, kayakers, or stayed in a friend’s driveway (moochdocking).

This has been perfect as I learn to live alone but also while I modify my Winnebago + Adventure Wagon for longer-term off-grid camping. (Check out my article for how I’ve modified my van so far.)

One of the many driveways of kind friends that Abby stayed with this past year.

Wondering what my parents are up to now? Read this article to learn more about their PanAmerican adventure and you can also see their recent Alaska trip recap!

My Next RV Life Chapter

Over the past ten years, I’ve traveled in so many different ways in a variety of vehicles and have found elements of “home” through each style of RV life. If I’ve learned anything over the past ten years, it’s that there is no right or wrong way to travel. Each style of RVing has a special place in my heart, and I hope to continue to travel in my Winnebago in all of the ways listed above. 

It’s been over six months of learning to live on my own in my van, and I feel much savvier about planning routes, finding places to dump my cassette, loading my kayaks on the roof, and boondocking. In 2024, I’m looking forward to fully embracing my newfound independence and confidence and I hope to spend more time wild camping and traveling.

Stay tuned for my next article where I compare all the different Winnebagos we have traveled in throughout the years, and why I chose the Winnebago + Adventure Wagon for my own travels.

Comments

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User commented on January 18, 2024 3:24 AM
Abby, this is such a great recap on the last ten years. It’s fun to read this from your perspective, and it’s beautifully written. Awesome job! And I do really like the Winnebago+Adventure Wagon.