If you have ever dreamed of living in an RV and traveling the country, then this blog post is for you! We will talk about what it’s like to live for extended periods of time or even full-time in a recreational vehicle. What are all of the pros and cons? What does life on the road look like? How much does it all cost? All of these questions and more will be answered in this article so keep reading!
Making The Decision To Live In An RV
You’re getting that feeling that there is more to life than working a 9 – 5 job you don’t particularly love and you’re just living for the weekends.
Maybe living in an RV is the answer.
It’s a big commitment but it also has its perks like living life on your own terms.
How much does living in an RV cost?
Many factors go into determining how much you spend when living in an RV. While it is possible to live this life on a shoestring budget it’s also possible to spend many thousands of dollars each month on a lavish RV lifestyle. You’ll have to determine what your budget allows.
When planning a monthly budget for the RV lifestyle you’ll need to consider the following;
- RV Payments
- RV Insurance
- RV Paintenance
- Vehicle Payments
- Vehicle Maintenance
- Roadside Assistance Plans
- RV gear (non-optional)
- Fuel Costs
- Site Rental
- Electricity (for long term stays)
- Propane Refills
- Eating Out
- Admission fees for activities and attractions
- Wifi Plans
- Cellphone Plans
- Health Insurance
RV living can be a beautiful and amazing life but it will take some planning to make sure you have enough funds. The RV lifestyle can be much less expensive than living in a traditional home or apartment, especially if you own your RV outright.
What Kind Of RV Is Best For Me?
Choosing the right RV can be overwhelming. There are so many types of RVs available on the market. Van living has become uber popular over the last few years. You can buy a fully outfitted camper van or Class B RV. You can also buy a van with an empty shell, do a custom conversion yourself, or have it done to your specifications.
People tend to buy an RV only to find it’s not the right one for them. No matter how much research you do, there is no way to know for sure until you actually spend time living in or using one extensively. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t choose the right one on the first try.
There are more and more RV rentals available. While it can be expensive to rent it may save you thousands in the long run because you’ll have a better idea of what you want and don’t want in your own RV.
The article below will give you detailed information about choosing the rig for you. Only you can decide what your needs are.
What If I Find Out Living In An RV Is Not For Me?
Living in an RV is not for everyone. You may find it’s not the right lifestyle for you and that’s ok! You might decide you want to keep your home or rental and just travel occasionally. Whatever you decide is the right thing for you, the important part is that RVing opens new doors and leads to a new way of thinking and living.
Is It Safe For Women To RV Alone?
No one should feel unsafe living in an RV alone. However, it is always important to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions no matter where you are.
In all my years of RVing, I have only felt uncomfortable a few times. When your get that feeling that something just isn’t quite right, move somewhere else. Your home has wheels. Listen to your intuition.
Can I Take My Pet With Me?
RVIA.org reports that 65 percent of RVers bring along at least one pet when they travel, with 93% of those being dogs. People bring dogs, cats, birds, pigs, goats, you name it!
If you’re traveling alone I’d recommend having a pet for companionship and if you feel like you need an extra bit of security, a dog is a great idea.
There are things to consider when choosing a dog to travel with. Many RV parks have restrictions on the sizes and breeds of dogs they allow in their parks. This is generally for insurance reasons. Commonly banned breeds are Shepherds, Pit Bulls, Akitas, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Wolf Hybrids, Mastiffs, and Chows.
Some parks have size restrictions as well. I have personally been denied campsites because my dog weighs 80 pounds.
Always check with the park to see if your dog is allowed.
How Do I Learn To Drive Or Tow My New RV?
I remember the first time I towed our 5th wheel. I was terrified but I had asked my dad, who is a retired semi-truck driver to take me out and show me the ropes. It wasn’t a long lesson but it gave me the confidence to do it again, and again.
There are several options for learning to drive a behemoth vehicle around. There are RV driving schools, and there’s always the option of getting an instructor to show you how to drive it before embarking on your first trip.
This article from the KOA website gives detailed information about one such course.
Some people learn by watching videos online or taking lessons from qualified instructors who can teach you at your own pace.
Many RV dealers offer some driving education if you buy from them.
How Will I Get My Mail While I’m Traveling?
There are a few options for handling your mail while you’re out traveling.
- You could have a friend or family member receive, hold, and ship your mail to you when you’re in a suitable location.
- You can rent a mailbox from a business like The UPS Store or PostNet. These businesses generally have an address that reads like a regular street address. I use one of these and they just let my mail stack up until I call and give them a shipping address. They are really good about sorting out all the junk and then they put it in a USPS flat-rate box or envelope and send it to whatever address I give them. It’s convenient and when I’m in town, I can just stop by and pick it up myself.
- There are mail services specifically for RVers. One, in particular, is through the Escapees Club. They have varying levels of plans but the Cadillac plan includes opening, scanning, and digitally sending your mail to you via email.
I’m Worried I’ll Be Lonely And Miss My Family
This is a tough one. RVers as a whole are very friendly people. There is a real sense of community among them.
Honestly, the answer depends on you. If you’re staying in campgrounds you’ll be as alone or together as you choose to be. Take your dog for a walk in the campground and you’ll end up chatting it up with another camper or two along the way.
No dog? No problem. Grab an adult beverage and an extra chair and sit outside. Before long, someone will be in the extra chair chatting you up.
If you don’t want to talk to the other campers, don’t make eye contact and put on your resting bitch face.
If you don’t camp in campgrounds there are other opportunities for a people fix. Go visit a tourist trap or grab dinner at a casual diner or tavern.
Holidays can be hard but you can video chat with family. Last Thanksgiving, my daughter and I did a video chat over Messenger. She placed me at the table and we all ate dinner together but apart. It was great fun!
Do I Have To Get Rid Of All My Stuff?
No, absolutely not. However, there is a certain simplicity to life when you aren’t the owner of a lot of stuff. Going through it and sorting it all out is an emotional experience but letting it all go is very freeing.
Your mindset is critical to downsizing. It’s not just about living in a smaller space. It’s living with less and appreciating what you have more.
However, I’ve talked to many full-time RVers who have had things in storage for extended periods of time and can’t remember what is in there. They often feel like they have spent hundreds or thousands of dollars unnecessarily. Consider whether your items can be replaced. You may have some precious family heirlooms that you can’t part with and that’s OK.
As I said before, it takes time to adjust but once you do all the benefits of living tiny start to become clear.
Just remember what you’re putting behind you and what incredible possibilities are in your future.
How Do I Find Places To Camp?
Over the past few years, there has been a dramatic uptick in the number of people camping. Whether weekend warrior style or full-time, you’ll be impacted in some way by the influx.
Don’t be disheartened, there are a lot of different places to camp.
I’ve linked a couple of posts below that will detail types of campsites and how to find them.
How Do I Learn To Work All The Things In My New RV?
If you’ve never RV’d before there is a learning curve. All the systems in an RV are a bit different than a sticks and bricks home. You’ll learn on the fly, as you use the systems.
If you purchase your RV from a dealer, you should be given a PDI or pre-delivery inspection. That’s where someone at the dealership walks you through your RV and shows you where everything is located and how it works. It’s a lengthy process but so valuable.
The only thing I really remember about our first PDI is thinking I’ll never remember all of this, and I didn’t. Take notes, take pictures, and use video of the tech doesn’t mind. Don’t let them rush you and be sure to ask questions if you don’t understand things.
You’ve got time to learn how things work and there are lots of people out here in the interwebs who can help you. I’ve learned so many things from YouTube videos over the years that have helped me fix or install equipment, understand how my systems work, and even open my funky Airstream Zip Dee manual awning. I had to watch that one several times.
Check out these articles about how RV systems work. They will help you get it right the first time.
What If I Break Down?
If you travel enough a mechanical breakdown is inevitable. My truck broke down in the spring of 2021 in the middle of the desert while I was boondocking. It wasn’t a pleasant experience but it sure makes a great story.
You just do what you’d do if you broke down driving your car to work. Get off the road if possible and call for help. It’s a really good idea to have a roadside assistance plan for these types of situations. You may need to have your vehicle, RV, or both towed. That’s very expensive.
Tire problems are fairly common among RVers too. RVs are heavy and they don’t always come from the factory with adequate tires. Tires also have a shelf life of 3-5 years from the date of manufacture. They degrade over time and become weak. While your RV tires may not have very many miles on them they may not be in good enough condition to travel on.
Your RV will, in all likelihood, need minor repairs frequently. Rolling down the road is the equivalent of a constant magnitude 3.0 earthquake. Things break, it happens but you’ll learn to take it in stride. Because you’re living on wheels there’s no landlord is coming to fix things when they go wrong. If you’re at all mechanical, learn to fix minor things yourself. It’ll save you some money you can put toward fuel.
If you’re thinking about living in an RV, it can be helpful to learn more about what that entails. I hope this article gave you some insight into how to get ready for a life on the road, maybe even with pets. We also talked briefly about RV maintenance and breakdowns so you know what to expect before your adventure begins.
Now I want to hear from YOU! What questions do you have? Do any of these topics interest or concern you? Have any tips of your own? Let us know by commenting below!
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3 thoughts on “The RV Living And Travel Guide For Beginners”
I have 3 leaks inside a new small camper where water connectors screw onto pipes that I can’t hand tighten enough to stop: under bath sink, under kitchen sink, toilet supply. Any suggestions? Tight areas.
Susan, I’m sorry I’m just seeing this. I had a leak under my sink and discovered the rubber washer that should have been in the fitting was missing. Once I replaced it, the leak stopped. Other than that, it’s all trial and error until you figure it out.
Great information….don’t know if I could do it!