So often we get asked by people we meet, why we chose RV living over our old traditional life. Every time our answer is different because there are SO MANY great reasons for living in an RV, traveling the roads to new adventures. So we sat down and started to enumerate them. Then we asked a few friends who RV travel to share their thoughts as well. I am sure if we waited long enough and asked more people, we could continue to build this list into infinity. The truth is there are many reasons and they are different for everyone. But 31 seemed like a good place to stop.
RV living is the only lifestyle I know of in which it is completely legit to end a conversation by saying “I’ve gotta go dump the tanks.” It is also quite acceptable to say “It felt like my dinghy was dragging a bit.” Other acceptable phrases are “Is she a pusher or a puller?” “I blew my reefer” or “Keep an eye on my tail swing.” RV lingo is FUN!
Without a doubt, our favorite part of full-time RV living is the places we visit. Our country is filled with some pretty astounding places. The National Parks system is packed with wonders beyond imagination. When we decided to hit the road in 2015, we never imagined the spectacular sights we would see or the adventures that we would have. 3 years down the road and we cannot believe the stack of awesome experiences we have accumulated over these years.
With all of the adventure and excitement I have described above, the best part of being a full-timer is… there is no rush. When we are asked what our best piece of advice is for new travelers, we usually say “Spend more time in fewer places.” Instead of rushing around and trying to see everything as quickly as possible, we can relax and take it all in. If we really like a place, there is no rush to move on, and conversely, if we do not enjoy a place, there is no need to stay. We usually average about a month in a given location. It is usually enough time to get to know a place and see pretty much everything there is to see, depending on how aggressive we are. BONUS: Paying monthly rates at RV parks saves money BIG TIME! We are constantly meeting people who only have a week or a few days and are stressed out about what to see and do. They end up running from place to place trying to do it all. We often joke that we feel as if we are in slow motion compared to others in the places we visit. Full-time RVing allows you to slow things down and take the time to truly enjoy the magnificence of our world.
Sean and Julie Chickery of Chickerys Travels are kindred spirits in this philosophy:
In 2014, we found ourselves at a crossroads. We were preparing to transition from the US Air Force after 20 years of service each. Our 3 sons lived in different states, and we weren’t sure where we wanted to settle down. Since we also moved quite a bit as children, there was no specific location either one of us considered “home.” Although we had never owned an RV before, we had been eyeing them with envy for years and thought it would be a great way to travel around the country and enjoy all it had to offer as we looked for a place to settle down.
One of the things we love most about RV living is the ability to travel slowly. We typically stay 4 – 8 weeks per location. This gives us a chance to explore an area and visit our favorite sites and restaurants more than once before moving on to the next destination.
Their blog, including videos and podcasts, covers RV park reviews, financing travel AND advice for Military travel as they are both retired Air Force! You can check their blog out here.
Some people we talk to about our life on the road, say that they just wouldn’t like so much “travel.” This thought is always a little funny to me, because what we do, while it IS full-time travel, doesn’t feel like that at all. We stay at least a month at a time, so there really isn’t that much “travel” in it for us. In fact, we average only about 20000 miles a year on our truck. I always explain it to them like this: Imagine living in your own house, only the view outside changes. That seems truer to me. Our home is always there. We just move it from one awesome location to another. We sleep in our own beds, cook in our own kitchen, etc. It doesn’t feel like travel at all in the traditional sense.
Living in a camper allows you the freedom to be where you want to be- to put yourself wherever your heart desires. If you feel like fishing for crab, just head to a coast. If you want mountain hiking, there are great campgrounds in Colorado. Many many full-time RVers follow the seasons, or trade shows, or work. A home on wheels allow you to choose your destination, and not just wait until vacation time.
One of our favorite parts of the RV lifestyle is that we always have our own food with us. Our kitchen is right there and so are our favorite meals. When we get to a new place, we never have to run out to scope out a good restaurant. While we like to eat out occasionally, doing it too much gets old. We also save A LOT of money by doing this.
When you have kids and you decide to live full time in an RV the first thing you think about is Homeschooling. It’s a scary thing to consider for most people. Our advice- don’t let your fear stop you. The resources are out there for you and the educational “perks” are absolutely astounding. We love to tell a true story about when we visited the Colonial Williamsburg/ Yorktown/ Jamestown area last year. We were quite taken by the battlefield at Yorktown and our children got their lessons about that most important battle from actual Park Rangers who took us around parts of the field and explained how Washington cleverly outfoxed Cornwallis to end the Revolution. For our family, it was a Revolution revelation! (sorry I couldn’t resist).
A month or so later we were hiking in VA and hooked up with a foursome of other hikers who were very interested in RV living. As we walked along we suddenly realized that our son- all of 8 years old at the time- was giving these folks a blow by blow accounting of the Battle of Yorktown. All of Washington’s moves. The French fleet coming in just in time, the cannonball marks that still exist in some of the town’s buildings. It was a very proud parenting moment, to say the least.
The point is, there are TONS of opportunities living on the road to give your kids a very rich education. The 3 “R’s” are there as well, but there is SO MUCH MORE! Here is a Guide To Getting Started With Homeschool on the Road.
When most people hear about or consider living in an RV, they think of travel. We love living in such a way that we can pick up and go whenever or where ever we want. It is really cool to be able to change locations on a whim.
All of that being said, not all who live in an RV- travel. More and more we meet folks who live in their RV but are more stationary. Often these folks move with their work and stay in one place while they are working on a given project. Ashley & Josiah Mann are one such couple. Ashley’s blog RV Inspiration is all about making your house on wheels more homey. It is PACKED with awesome ideas and examples of ways to renovate/ decorate/ rejuvenate your RV living space:
My husband Josiah and I like RV living because of how easy it is for us to live wherever we want and relocate as needed, and because of the new opportunities doing so has opened up for us. We actually don’t travel full time or have plans to in the near future, but twice now we’ve been able to easily move to a new city for a work opportunity, where previously the types of jobs we could get were limited to whatever was available in the area of our hometown of Springfield, Missouri.
Having the flexibility to relocate enabled my husband to develop skills and build a resume as a web and software developer, which then led him to starting his own business. Living in an RV also inspired me to start my blog, RVinspiration.com So now, as a result of our choice to live in an RV, even though it took a couple of years to get to this point, we both have businesses that allow us to work from home and live wherever we want—perhaps somewhere warm for the winter, then back to Springfield for a few months to visit family, then to wherever our next project takes us. You can check out Ashleys blog RVInspiration here.
I never thought we would watch a grizzly bear 50 feet away digging for grubs in Glacier National Park, or walk on the beach every morning in Pensacola for months. We have caught and eaten our own crab dinners on BOTH coasts. We observed the 2017 Eclipse from within the totality. When we stop to look back and consider the mounting list of absolutely amazing adventures and experiences we have accumulated over just 3 years, we wonder why we ever lived any other way. This is simply something you cannot do working 9-5 and staying situated except for a couple of weeks a year. RV living enables us to put ourselves out there and take an active part in how our lives are progressing. All in all that’s pretty remarkable.
This is a very healthy way to live without a doubt. Our daily lives get us more exercise than we used to get going to a gym before. We walk long distances just exploring our surroundings, hike all the time at the parks we visit, go for runs several times a week, and are constantly playing with our kids. Anywhere we go, one of the first things we do is look for local farmers markets where we can get fresh produce right from the farm as well as fresh baked goods etc. Living on the road has made us healthier, happier and less stressed out.
Not that you need an excuse, but the RV lifestyle means grillin- a lot of grillin. MMMMmmm!
Anyone who thinks that the USA is one culture has never been to New Orleans. It is truly awesome to travel this country and meet people from different places. Whether they are locals to the area or other travelers who are experiencing the same new place as you, it is always interesting to meet and get to know new folks. We have made some great friendships living on the road. And then there is the food…we LOVE to eat. We love to try local foods. We also look for the small, local museums and historical spots to learn about the area and how it became what it is today. RV living allows our children to grow up realizing that there are all kinds of people out there who have their own thoughts and traditions. They learn to appreciate differences and also realize that deep down, we all share commonalities that can be the basis for friendships and respect.
Small space- small chores. Cleaning in the RV is simple- made so by the fact that it is just not that possible to make a big mess. Only 3 things fit on the floor, so the 4th one tips the scales and it is time to “Pick up that MESS!” Living in the RV forces you to be more organized every day, so the chore of cleaning day gets that much smaller.
When you travel full time, you can make certain choices that are not always available to you otherwise. For instance, Frank’s mother is 92 years old. As time passes she is requiring more and more care and assistance on a daily basis. Frank’s 2 sisters live nearby and provide that care. But it is a large burden as they both have businesses to run and lives to live. So this fall we decided to head up to Michigan for a few months so that we can help them out and allow the kiddos to spend some quality time with Grandma and their awesome aunts. This is not something we would have been able to do had we not made the decision to travel full time. Our travels in the west have also allowed us to spend time with Franks older brother and his wife who live in Phoenix, AZ. They are 2 of our absolute favorite people and we love to see them.
Our friend Danielle Leonard (The Frugal Navy Wife) says that their wish to be with family was a large part of their decision to travel once her husband got out of the military. Her travel blog, Our Roaming Hearts chronicles their adventures with their 5 children as well as giving blogging advice AND ways to save money on the road.
We got on the road in 2015 after my husband got out of the military. During the leave times, we would travel to visit family -never just for us. Pair it with family scattered everywhere, we didn’t know where we wanted to call home.
We also said we would do this when we retired (mostly after watching the movie RV) and when we saw a blog of a family with 12 kids doing it we joked around about it for a few weeks.
We ran the numbers since my work is all online and then made the jump. We were on the road 6 months after that. You can
Having the freedom to spend time with the ones we love is one of the HUGE benefits of full-time RVing.
We love to think about the amount of crap that we no longer own. Some of it is even stuff we have had in the RV. The fact is that storage is tight in an RV so you clear out the clutter quite often. In order to get new things we need, we must get rid of that which we don’t. Keeps life simple! All of the stuff that used to fill our house and garage is just gone with the wind. I guess we really didn’t need it at all.
There is an old story about a young mother who cut the ends off her Christmas ham before baking it in the oven. When her daughter asked “Mommy, why do you cut the ends off the ham?” She replied “It’s what my mother did. It makes the ham taste better!” The little girl thought about that and went to her grandmother and asked the same question. Her grandmother replied “It’s what my mother always did. It makes the ham taste better!” The little girl was not convinced. She moved on to her Great Grandmother. “Nana, why have you always cut the ends off the ham?” The old woman replied, “Why dear, my oven was so small, the whole ham wouldn’t fit!”
I feel this story living in an RV. The oven is small, the stovetop is small, the grill is small. You can’t do BIG meals. Combine that with the fact that we have no interest in spending all of our time creating meals and you find ways to simplify. I love the fact that cooking has become so simple when you live in a tiny house. We find simple one-pot type recipes that we really like and use those as a basis for our meals, we also do a lot of slow cooker meals. We can get creative as we want, but we always try to keep it simple. Here are 5 Easy RV Recipes to get you started.
There is no other lifestyle which allows you to utter the words “I love to boondock!” Boondocking or dry camping is a dividing line for RVers. If you boondock, you are just a little bit cooler, more out there, livin’ on the edge than the rest. Boondocking gets you right into nature, up close and personal. Plus it’s free. BOOYAH
One of the really nice things about RV living is that you can unschedule your life just as much as you like. It is nice to let the wind blow us a bit and see where it leads. Nice weather- get outside. Lousy weather- more school/ work. New places offer different opportunities so to take full advantage- just keep the schedule loose.
I was amazed at how much stuff we had accumulated when we were living in a 2600 square foot house. We don’t spend money on stuff anymore because you don’t have an extra storage space when you live the RV lifestyle. Therefore you save money by not spending it on useless junk. Selling off all of that stuff was one of the most freeing events in our life. You feel lighter every day. Now we spend money on experiences instead of stuff!
Monday is no longer “Suckday.” There is no need for a “hump-day’ and the weekend really has no special meaning except that we stay out of National Parks in the summer. Sunday is no longer “Ohcraptomorrowissuckday” anymore. Sunday is now Church and football! (Twice the awesome!)
If you tow a travel trailer or 5th wheel you will get an education on trucks you never thought you would have. Matching a truck to a trailer is akin I think, to putting a man on the moon. Heavy math is involved. And many an underpowered truck owner has called out “Houston, we have a problem” when his truck went into limp mode. You will learn terms like “exhaust brake” “Gross Vehicle Weight Rating” and “bulletproofing.” (That last one is what Ford owners do. It loosely means “replace all the crap that is going to break anyway, and then act like your truck doesn’t suck.”) LOL- see if I get some comments on THAT one!
It is interesting to watch as your local knowledge of many places grows over time. When you first start traveling, you just listen (and take mental notes) as other people you meet talk about interesting places they’ve been. Soon you realize that “I’ve been there” becomes a more frequent part of your vocab. A few years of living on the road, and you will be right there in the thick of it- spewing your own stories of the road and sharing local knowledge with the next newbies.
For most people, RV living requires an advanced education in staying online. You will soon learn all about Hot Spots, streaming, and gigabyte usage more than you ever wanted to. Finding a data plan that fits your needs is important to manage costs and stay connected. Every carrier claims to have the best wifi networks so you will certainly need to do your homework. Most parks offer free RV wifi but it is very rarely reliable and often very slow. Boondockers sometimes require a signal booster if they are in remote areas. Personally, I send the kids up to the roof with some tin foil.
Living full time in an RV forces you to live in the moment with your family. You are truly in this life together and very little gets missed. It is one of the big reasons we chose RV life. We wanted to share our kids’ lives while they still like us– these years go by so fast. It forces us as a couple to be engaged in a very meaningful way, both in our own relationship as well as with our kids.
I love the way Jessica Meinhofer captures this sentiment in her quote below. She and her husband Robert travel full time with their 2 kiddos and cat. Their blog: Exploring The Local Life covers all facets of RV living from RV park reviews to homeschooling. It is an awesome read!
The thing we love so much about RV living is that it makes you live a conscious life. We aren’t just going through the motions. Every day, we are present, together. We share in the awesome campfires and frustrating tire changes. We learn and grow together. We chose the RV lifestyle to simplify our lives. We quickly learned that this life isn’t simpler, but we did remove the things we didn’t like about living in a house – mowing the lawn, trimming the shrubs, and choosing between cleaning or adventuring. With this RV life, we can clean up in a few minutes and hit the hiking trails for the rest of the day. You can check their blog out here.
In an RV there is not a lot of space. This results in only keeping things you need and everything having a place. There is no room to leave things lying around so you tend to stay much more organized than you would in a house. It is nice to always be able to grab a flashlight, or the cayenne pepper and know right where to look. I love that everything has a place, it means I can actually find it again. See our guide to Finding Storage Space In Your RV here.
Florida in the winter? Michigan in the summer? Why not? Following the weather is almost ingrained at a DNA level for RVers. No matter what your preference, you can go there. Feel like skiing? You get it… Of course Phoenix in January…better book early! Snowbirds follow the weather too!
Jill and Tony of Lets Travel Family are following the sun with their 4 kids. Their blog and vlog offer tips to traveling with kids, travel destination ideas, and inspiration to travel more together as a family.
Tony and I hit the road full-time with our 4 kids back in May of 2017 to find adventure, build a closer relationship as a family unit, and to follow the sunshine. We decided we wanted to live our dreams now, and not wait for some day. Full-time RV living and traveling has allowed us to live our dream!
We’ve been driving our home-on-wheels to areas of the country with ‘nice-weather’ as the seasons’ change, which is new and exciting for our family. Getting outside in the winter months didn’t happen much back in Minnesota before we launched.
Each day is an adventure on the road, especially as we grow and learn next to one another. Full-time RV living has allowed our family to grow closer than I ever thought possible. People often ask us how much longer we’ll be on the road. I tell them that we see no end in sight. You can check their blog out here
Stuck with a bad neighbor? Living in an RV there is no reason to be. Just find a spot you like better and ask the owner to allow you to move. You can make up an intermittent electrical problem. No need to tell your overbearing ex-neighbor that his breath smells like rhubarb.
We love to immerse ourselves in the fall and winter holidays. This life allows that. We can go to all of the fun places and events that this time of year inspires and we can do it while everyone else is at work and in school. Imagine going to the local orchard for apple picking, but doing it when no one else is there. You now have the opportunity to talk to the farmer, ask questions etc. You now have a truly great day out AND the kiddos get homeschool credit for civics!
Feel like a Norman Rockwell Christmas? Head on up to New Hampshire for a couple of weeks in December. Keep that propane furnace running- you’ll be fine. I’m guessing the camping rates will be good too!
It is so fun to meet up with others and tell the stories from our travels and to hear theirs. To see their reactions when we talk about the Grizzly Bear/ Wolf/ Moose day in Yellowstone. Or the “Ultra Shitty Travel Day From Hell.” Or to hear those same stories and others told by our kids. A picture may speak a thousand words, but there’s nothing like an actual thousand words around a campfire! You can check out the photos and videos from our Yellowstone adventure here.
Utah is so amazing that it gets its own reason! There are 5 Utah National Parks. Each one is as amazing in its own right and completely unique. We spent several months exploring these treasures this year and left wanting more. We will certainly be back! See our Ultimate Guide to the Mighty 5 Utah National Parks here.
After 3 years of travel, I can truly say that the RVing community is one of the finest groups of people you could ask for. Kind, outgoing, helpful, caring. There just aren’t enough positive adjectives to go around. The other people who live this life are truly one of the blessings of living this life!
Thinking about full-time RV living? I hope this article inspires you to go after your dreams If you are not sure how to do that, please comment below and tell us what is holding you back, we’d love to hear from you.
Please share this with any of your friends who may be interested in RV living.
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