A Beginner’s Guide to Full Time RVing
Full time RVing can be a magical thing. You get to call the world your backyard, living life on the road with a new view every day. You’re able to experience parts of the country most people only dream of seeing. You’re constantly meeting new people, trying new things and traveling wherever your heart takes you.If you’re considering RVing full time, beneath the promise of adventure lies lots of questions. Questions about budgeting, trip planning, RV maintenance, storage space and what your life will actually be like on a day-to-day basis. While most lessons about full time RVing can only be learned through experience, no one should have to start a life on the road without a map. Figure out these seven essential things and you’ll be well on your way to living that full time RV life.
Many full time RVers think they’ll spend less money than they did when they had homes. These same people often end up spending money like they’re on vacation only to realize that if that vacation is going to last forever, they’d better learn to budget.
Avoid this common full time RVing mistake by creating a budget before you hit the road. Don’t expect to spend less money in your full time RV life. This financial guide for full time RVers has sample budgets for thrifty, moderate and extravagant budgets along with downloadable spreadsheets to help you track your spending.
Address the following things when planning your budget:
Work. Will you be working remotely? Will you be looking for odd jobs along the way? How will your income change?
Campground fees. Do you plan on staying in RV campgrounds every night or are you open to boondocking or workamping? Both boondocking and workamping will reduce your lodging fees to nothing.
Moving often. Will you travel every day or will you stay in one place for weeks or even months? You can save money by moving around less.
RV repairs. Are you comfortable performing basic RV maintenance or will you have to pay someone to do this? What about major repairs?
Modern comforts. How much of the fun stuff are you willing to forgo? Cutting costs on dining out, shopping and entertainment in favor of cooking and doing free things will save you money.
If you’ve already used self storage during the off-season for RV storage, you’re familiar with storage facilities. But if you’re planning on RVing full time, self storage can help you in a different way. A storage unit can provide a safe place for all of the things you can’t fit into your RV. Choose a storage facility in an area that you know you’ll return to and make sure online bill pay is an option.
You definitely won’t be able to fit the entire contents of your former home into your RV, and while it’s a nice idea to sell, donate or recycle most of your belongings, a storage unit is a great solution for those items you can’t part with but don’t have space for.
One of the biggest challenges that full time RVers face is the lack of physical address. Sure, some RV resorts offer mailboxes or will accept mail on your behalf, but what happens when you move on? And what state do you register your RV in? What state do you register to vote in? What address should you give your mom if she wants to send you a Christmas present?
Fortunately, all of these problems can be solved with an RV mail forwarding service. These services work by accepting your mail on your behalf and then forwarding it to you when you’re ready. Some mail forwarding services will even scan documents at your request and email them to you or read your letters to you over the phone. This service also allows you to establish residency which will make registering your vehicle and registering to vote easy.
You don’t necessarily need a huge RV to be a full time RVer. In many cases, smaller is actually better. Having a small RV makes it easier to navigate through cities, find parking and find a campsite.
Regardless of your RV’s size, storage space will be hard. You’ll want to use as much wall space for storage as possible. Use hooks to hang items, buy hanging shelves and consider creative storage solutions like this wall mounted spice rack. You’ll also want to utilize over the door storage on the back of cabinet doors.
In other words, look at every part of the interior of your RV with storage in mind.
Kids and FurbabiesTraveling with the whole family—or your adopted furry family—is possible. First and foremost, make sure everyone in the family is on board. Your spouse, children and your pets shouldn’t be forced into full time RVing if it’s going to make them miserable.
Your kids will have to be homeschooled. It’s also important that you find a way for them to have normal social experiences where they’re able to interact with kids their own age. This is why staying in one place for weeks or months at a time might be a smart decision.
If you’re full time RVing with pets, you will need to prioritize pet-friendly RV campgrounds and budget for extra fees. Choose a veterinary provider like VCA that has branches across the country so that you can get care for your pet in any state. Make sure your fur baby is microchipped and vaccinated. And most importantly, maintain a comfortable temperature in your RV at all times.
Whether you’re working remotely from your RV or not, you’re going to want access to the internet. Don’t expect access to wifi or cell phone service at all times, especially if you plan on boondocking. If you’re a former city slicker transitioning into full time RVing, this will come as a shock if you don’t prepare for it.
To ensure that you have access to the internet most of the time, plan on broadcasting wifi from your smartphone and using a cell signal booster. You can also choose a satellite option. As a last resort, count on getting internet from libraries, rest stops and coffee shops.
Enjoy the Journey
Perhaps the most important piece of advice for new and veteran full time RVers is this: enjoy the journey. If you ask most full time RVers who’ve been at it for a while what they wish they could have done different in the beginning, they’ll pretty much all say the same thing. They’ll say that they wish they had relaxed and taken their time more. Don’t get caught up in planning your travels so much that you force yourself into 10 hour days of driving. Relax! Stay awhile. Take in the scenery where you’re at and when you’re ready, hit the road again.