Ever want to pack your bags and travel full-time in an RV?  If you have, and are thinking about it, there are some things you need to know.  Full-time RV living is NOT for everyone.   Full-time RV living is such as drastic change from the “normal” life.  Less space, but more freedom, less obligations, but sometimes more.  Some people are okay with it, others aren’t.

If you’re interested in full-time, or even part-time, RV living, but don’t know if it’s right for you, here are some questions to ask yourself before you hit the road. Hopefully, you’ll be able to decide at the end of the article!!

How to prepare for full time RV Living

There are plenty of things that are needed before you can RV full-time, and most of them you probably know.  However, there are probably some you don’t.  We’ve put together some of the most important things that you need to know before you start.

1.  Downsizing

Downsizing is the first step to full-time RV living, and sometimes the most difficult.  So it’s important that before you start full-time RVing, you need to know if you’re okay with purging your belongings and possessions.

When downsizing, it’s common to see people get rid of almost everything.  You can either go that route, or get rid of some stuff, and then rent a storage unit or ‘borrow’ some space from friends or family to store the remainder of your belongings.  That way, if you decide RV living isn’t working out, you still have some of your favorite possessions.

Downsizing our house

When we started our downsizing journey, we had SO MUCH STUFF!!  Although we purged many of our things, we did end up getting a storage unit because we had many items like photos and some mementos that we could not bear to give away.  We rent by the month, so if we ever settle down we can retrieve our stuff again.

Again, you don’t have to sell your house, as long as you are OK with paying all of the carrying costs associated with home ownership.  You can keep all of your stuff and RV for a year or two, and then come back.  However, if you’re set on downsizing and simplifying your life, here’s what you’ll most likely need to get used to doing without (or at least getting by with very few of):

  • Excess clothing
  • Toys
  • Books
  • Furniture
  • Holiday Decor
  • Large, bulky appliances
  • Not-used-often kitchen utensils
  • Movies (unless you put all of your movies on a single hard drive like we did!)
  • Lawnmowers and outdoor equipment
  • Large recreational equipment (kayaks, etc; these can be carried with you, if you have the right setup)
  • Family Heirlooms (You can keep the really important ones)
  • and, of course, so much more.

We can speak from experience that there’s a lot more stuff to downsize than the list above.  However, it still gives you a good starting point so you can get in the mindset of what you might need to purge.   We spent hours searching through stuff only to find more to downsize that we had no idea existed. 🙂

2.  You’ll need a street address

Another thing that most people don’t realize they need while full-time RVing is a street address.  Yes, you’re not living there, but it’s still needed for legal stuff, and to prove that you’re living in a state.  Plus, you need a permanent address to keep your drivers license.

If you’re full time RVing, but keeping your house, you don’t have to worry.  You can use your current street address, as no change is necessary. If you’ve sold or are going to sell your house, like we did, you’ll need a new plan.

RVing mail services

Luckily, there are services set up to do just that. One option is to use a mail forwarding service, such as St. Brendans Isle in Clay County Florida.  They’re set up for full-time travelers, and they give you everything you need to have an address.

First, they give you a street address.  It’s not it’s own lot, it’s sort of like a post office box.  All the people sign up to them are located in the same spot, just a different “PO Box”. You can sign up to their service, and then you get your address right away.

As soon as you get your address, you can set up a mail-forwarding service through them. Because your address is located at their mail center, all your mail gets shipped to that location.

The mail forwarding service will then contact you to inform you of your mail, and you can choose what to ship and where and when to ship it.  It costs a little bit each time, but it’s not that bad for the ease and simplicity of getting your mail.

3.  You need a High-Tolerance level

RVing isn’t all nice and easy.  We say this not because everything is going to go wrong, but rather because there are a few things that test your patience.  These include lack of space and things going wrong.

The structure and design of an RV makes it great for a moving house, but not so much for storage space. The typical RV has way less storage space than a house, so you need to be willing to cope with that.   Sometimes, you won’t be able to find things, and other times you’ll find something you didn’t need and haven’t seen for months.  (We’ve done that a few times…) Plus, everyone gets in each others way.  That’s a big patience-tester, because you sometimes have to wait your turn to walk through the kitchen.  Seriously, the kitchen.  That annoys almost all of us, including the dogs.

If you’re looking at buying your first RV, consider picking one that you think you’d be able to live in comfortably.  If you don’t like your RV, full-time RVing won’t be as great as it could be.

And that’s not all!  While lack of space is a big patience tester, something else that requires a cool head is the maintenance of an RV.  Yep.  Good ol’ maintenance.  you can’t get away from it, so read on. An RV is basically a house AND a vehicle.  So, the maintenance is also the house and the vehicle, so you’ve got  more maintenance than you did at home.

In order to be prepared when problems pop up, which, trust us, they will, you should read the manual to all the components of your RV, including AC, appliances, engine components and electrical systems.  The more you know, the easier it will be to deal with problems. Multiple times, we’ve run into a problem that turned out to be an easy fix, we just didn’t look at the manual. (oops)

Overall, we’ve learned that you need to be flexible so that when problems do arise, you’ll be able to calmly fix them.  It’s the best way to go about any problem.

4.  Staying connected is harder

Before full-time RVing, you need to know that getting internet, sending mail and in general staying in touch is harder.  Because of some of the remote locations, you might need to go a day or two without internet.  We’ve gone as much as around a week without internet.  We drove 30 minutes to get wifi so we could upload to our YouTube channel.  It’s a tad inconvenient (we say tad, but we mean ‘a lot’), but it’s doable for week to two week stints.  That’s about when we need our internet back.

Of course, you don’t have to RV in the middle of nowhere.  You can choose to stay in RV parks and resorts if you want.  However, that might break your budget as the cost of living would skyrocket.

 

Most likely, you’re looking for adventure and the chance to explore the entire country.  That means some days when you’re miles from the nearest anything, you don’t have WiFi.  If so, here’s how to stay connected:

Cell Service and WiFi

If you can get either cell service or WiFi occasionally, this is one of the best ways to stay in touch.  You can send e-mails, text messages and call people to stay in touch.  You can find free WiFi in most stores, such as Starbucks and McDonalds.  If you want a cell signal, you can purchase a cellular signal booster to ensure that you have WiFi most places.  If not, use free WiFi.

Writing Letters

Another great way to stay connected is writing letters.  It’s old-fashioned, but people still love to get hand-written notes.  We write to family and friends, and they all really enjoy getting out letters. The bonus of this is that it doesn’t require internet, only a post office.  Unless, of course, you need to Google where the nearest post office box is.  If so, get a signal booster. Again, staying connected is going to be harder.  if you don’t think you can handle it, full-time travel might not be your thing.  Or, you could just go!  Adventures’ out there!!

5.  It’s not a permanent vacation

We’ll admit, it ‘s hard sometimes to NOT pretend we’re on a permanent vacation.   Until we realize we need to post a YouTube video, write a blog post, and post some exclusive content on Patreon.  Then we remember:  full time RV life is NOT a permanent vacation.  There’s work to be done, whether to make money or to fix something on the RV.

What do we mean?

We mean that full-time RVing is a lifestyle, not a vacation.  It’s just like there are different lifestyles outside of the RVing world.   There are sports lifestyles, office and home lifestyles, and more.  Full-time RVing is just a travel lifestyle.  Money still needs to be made, just like a normal 9-5 job.  It’s just more flexible.

RVing isn't a vacation

Here’s how it works:  If you want to full-time RV, but you’ve got it in your head that it’s an extended weekend camping trip, you’re looking at it the wrong way.  Yes, it can be that way for a while, but eventually you may run out of resources.   You’ll have two options:  Stop RVing, or find a way to make money. That’s why you see tons of full-time RVers with blogs, YouTube channels and podcasts.  It’s the only way they can continue doing what they love:  exploring the country!!

Now, you might think that you won’t be able to ‘work’ while on vacation, but it’s easier than you think.  It takes less time than a 9-5, and your schedule is more flexible.  That’s why we love it!! Overall, we’ve learned that taking the extra time to do some work pays off in the end, because we’ll hopefully be able to continue RVing for as long as we want!

6.  You don’t have to rush

Again, back to the vacation thing.  If full-time RVing were a vacation, you would need to rush everywhere so as to not lose your reservations.  However, full-time RVing is not a vacation. (We’re gonna keep saying that, y’know)

Full-time RVing allows you to be flexible, and not as constrained by time.  That means that you don’t need to plan everything, rush to get there, and rush to get somewhere else.   This approach will most likely leave you feeling stressed out.

We started out RVing in February, and we planned where to go, which state park to stay at, and when we got to each state.  We missed a few reservations, and now we’ve learned to be more flexible.  Now, we tend to book our reservations MAYBE a week in advance, unless it’s something important.  Most often, however, we just “go with the flow”.

By being flexible, we’ve made our RVing journey much more enjoyable.  Being more open to change in location, price of stays, and other unknowns makes the journey so much better.  We highly recommend being flexible if you’re going to full-time RV.  Otherwise, you’ll be stressed out for the whole adventure, and you’ll miss out on great things!

7.  Don’t feel pressured

In other words, full time RVing isn’t one specific thing.  For example:  full-time RVing is camping in the middle of a field or meadow, without electric, water and cellular service.

Wrong.

Let’s try this again:  full-time RVing is the opportunity to explore new things at your own pace and preference.

Right!

See, sometimes, full time RVing is thought of as boondocking in the middle of nowhere, and that turns people off.  The thought of being without contact with the world is scary to them, and they run away screaming. (well, not really.  Just emphasizing a point)

Full time RVing is extremely flexible.  You can go anywhere, anytime, any reason.  There’s nothing stopping you, unless the RV can’t make it up that hill.

Because of this, you shouldn’t feel pressured to do one certain thing.  If you’re starting your full-time RVing journey, don’t feel like you have to do what people think you should do; instead, do what you want to do.  Go where you’ve always wanted to go, and see what you want to see.

Conclusion

Full-time RVing is something that’s both great and sometimes not-so-great.  If you’re thinking of doing it, make sure you read up on more articles so you know what you’re getting into. Which of these tips did you find the most useful?  Also, which tips did we miss?  Leave us a comment below!

 

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