Most 23-year-olds know relatively little about RVing.
A few months ago, I knew absolutely nothing about RVing either.
But after three months of full-timing, I feel like I’ve learned so much!
Here’s what I wish someone told me before we decided to hit the road full time in an RV.
1. You don’t need the biggest rig.
When my husband and I decided to take a 50 state road trip, our first thought was to get a truck camper.
It seemed like the most economical of all the RV classes.
Then we realized that would be a HORRIBLE way to spend a honeymoon.
We started looking at Class C’s to give ourselves a little more space and ended up buying a 29’ rig.
Now that we’ve been on the road for a while, we wish we’d chosen something a little smaller that would be easier to maneuver into campgrounds.
Since we’re often on the road driving from place to place, we wouldn’t mind the loss of backend living space.
2. You don’t need half of what you think you do.
We hit the road four days after our wedding (a horrible idea in retrospect—talk about stressful!).
This meant combining the contents of both of our apartments – plus wedding gifts – and fitting it all into one RV. We put most everything into storage, like clothes, shoes, books, and appliances.
We even said a short goodbye to our Keurig in favor of a smaller coffee maker. But we also developed a “one month rule.”
After one month, if an item hasn’t been used, we get rid of it.
These items include throw pillows, extra bedding, dishes, etc.
The entire space under our bed is filled with all the things we didn’t need that were cluttering up our cabinets.
We probably haven’t needed half of what we packed.
3. You’ll learn how to clean.
Sometimes when I walked into my husband’s apartment before we were married I worried deeply about our future.
There were dishes piled in the sink, an unswept floor, and laundry piled in the bathroom floor. I wondered if this would be the source of a perpetual fight of ours.
But in an RV you can’t afford to be messy.
You’ll have to clean multiple times a day, from washing the dishes and wiping off the countertops to sweeping the floor and tidying up the trash.
My husband can clean circles around me now, and even washes the dirtiest of places – like our bathroom.
4. When Google Maps says you’re 3 hours and 45 minutes away, it’s probably more like 5 hours.
Driving an RV is nothing like driving a car.
You can’t swerve through traffic and you can’t just fly down the interstate. Especially in a 20-year-old rig, you’ve got to take your time in getting from point A to point B.
Since we’re trying to make it across the lower 48 in seven months, we do keep a fast-paced schedule.
If I had known how long driving could take in an RV I would’ve planned more time so we could enjoy more sites along the way.
5. Something will always be broken or in need of repair.
Tell me I’m not alone in this: There is ALWAYS something wrong with the RV.
Even if it’s just that the light bulb in our kitchen doesn’t like to stay on.
Maybe it’s because our RV is on her way to crossing the lower 48 states at the ripe age of 20 years, but there is always something wrong.
Even when I think nothing is wrong, I realize that our sink still leaks water onto the countertop and our jacks still won’t go down even after we fixed our battery.
By now, we know that pushing the red reset button on the power outlet will turn the fridge back on after a lightning storm and we know NEVER take a screw out of something unless you plan on putting it back.
As you RV you’ll learn how to fix the little things and know when to just take her into the shop for a little TLC.
6. It’s good to take your time.
This is as true for RVing as it is for life.
Since I work on the road, sometimes my schedule isn’t flexible.
But when it is, you get to explore things on the road you might not see otherwise. My husband and I call them “scenic lunch breaks” – where we find the best place to pull over during a day of travel and explore a little bit.
7. Take advantage of RV rewards and discount programs.
I couldn’t full-time RV at my age if it weren’t for Passport America and Good Sam.
I’m usually skeptical of discount programs, but these two pay off.
My Passport America membership paid for itself within a week of the purchase. It took a little while longer for Good Sam to pay for itself, but 10% off is always better than full price!
8. Not all Walmarts are created equal.
Twice in our travels have we tried to stay at a Walmart.
Sometimes we end up in a city where there’s a fair in town or the Sturgis Rally is rolling through, which forces us to seek safe boondocking locations.
The few times we tried camping out at the local Walmart, signs stating “NO OVERNIGHT CAMPING” greeted us.
Before RVing, everyone from my grandparents to people who never RVed before gave me the Walmart advice. “Just park in a Wal-Mart parking lot. They’ll let you stay.”
This isn’t always the case, so be sure to ask a manager inside the store before camping out for the night.
9. You can’t find good Mexican food just anywhere.
I’m from Texas, the land of the best chips, queso, and margaritas in America.
I really wish I knew great Mexican food isn’t plentiful across the country before I hit the road!
I would’ve packed more tequila and salsa.
10. RV park people are the most helpful people around.
After camping in the Grand Tetons for a few nights, my husband pulled over at the dump station to empty our tank.
As you know, this isn’t something you can just put off doing during travel.
As he pulled out the hose, it broke in his hands. Snapped right into two pieces.
A man at the dump station in front of us came to the rescue teaching my husband how to replace the hose, something that would’ve been nearly impossible to learn on his own in the middle of a campsite without cellular reception.
Indeed, every time we’ve found ourselves in need of advice, a neighbor or camp host has helped us out. So thank you 🙂
These are the top 10 surprising things I wish someone told me before I started RVing full time. What would you add?