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10 Things We Learned About The RV Lifestyle As A Full-Timer

RV spot with motorcycles

The Full-Time RV Lifestyle: 10 Lessons Learned From A Seasoned Nomad

When you decide to become a full-timer, it is usually driven by what you hope will make your life simpler, easier to budget, or expand your adventures. Whatever decision is launching you into the full-time RV lifestyle, it helps to learn as much as possible before you hit the road. Here are a few tips we learned about the RV lifestyle before and during our full-timer experiences.

1. Make YouTube your new friend

As adults, we travel a specific path of learning. If we haven’t come across information or had an experience yet, we may just not know a specific topic or resolution. I call that “holes” in our adult knowledge. YouTube is an excellent way to fill in those holes on the RV lifestyle. When you find you are missing a bit of RV knowledge, get on YouTube and learn it because you will need it.

2. Create a checklist

Did you see someone driving down the road with their poop hose bouncing behind them? What about the side door banging open and closed as they bounce down the highway? This is a fellow RVer who doesn’t use a checklist. Even after traveling for years, you should at least maintain a numbered list of items you need to take care of when you are making a location change.

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Be prepared to be interrupted while you are doing your checklist. So, it is important to number them and do them in order so you can recheck your work.

3. Get to know your neighbors 

I am an introvert, but at every new location, my husband helps us meet at least one new person. The stories not only enrich our lives, but there are lessons to be learned from other full-time RVers. We travel with motorcycles, and one time, our full-time neighbor, who also hauls a motorcycle, told us an extra step he takes when strapping the bike. This one neighborly advice has forever made our ride easier and more peaceful.

Circle of RV friends for morning coffee

4. You know your rig best

Even if this is your first time venturing out in your rig, you have driven it one more time than anyone else. You also know more about your specific rig—its exact height, weight, and the precious cargo you are hauling, which is your home.

Don’t let anyone tell you how to park, move, or relocate your rig. If you make a mistake or damage it while moving your rig, it is on you. When the person trying to help you makes a mistake or damages it, it is on you. Traveling with a partner? You two know your communication methods and hand signals better than anyone else.

5. It won’t change everything 

If you are moving into the RV life full-time because you think you will change habits, it is highly unlikely. It takes about 30 days to create a new habit (bad or good). With all the changes you have coming into a full-time life, it is more likely you will fall back on habits to reduce stress due to change. I didn’t start walking miles every day like I planned in my new full-time life, but it is still a good habit I can begin anytime.

fifth wheel in national park
Unhitching the rig in a national park

6. You will learn more than planned

If you want to be self-sufficient and do as much of the RV repairs or upgrades on your own, you will learn more.

You may become enamored with how eco-friendly full-timing can be, so you learn how batteries, solar panels, and generators all work together. Then there are times out of practicality you will learn something because no one else is around to fix it.

7. Full-timing is not a vacation

This is probably the most budget-friendly item you can learn. We were fortunate to learn this through YouTube videos before our full-time life began. I can see how easy it is to fall into the wrong routine. You are going to a new place, seeing new things—your whole experience is like a vacation. You cannot spend like you are on vacation, though, or you will run out of money!

What it takes to live your new full-time lifestyle and enjoy it is planning. Plan your next trip and find the low-cost or free things to enjoy. Don’t forget to plan vacation time for yourself too.

Joshua Tree landscape
Joshua Tree

8. Don’t keep a storage unit

You will travel with a lot less baggage. Returning to the same location for a bunch of items you didn’t need for your entire last trip isn’t financially friendly. Make life simple and sell off everything you won’t use in your RV.

We had a whole collection of magnets (over 200). It was weight we didn’t need, so we let our kids and grandkids choose which ones they wanted. The magnets now reside on their refrigerators where they can enjoy the memories. We still collect, but we have gone with stickers.

9. Take a deep breath when the unexpected happens

The full-time RV lifestyle can be a little more stressful when something goes wrong. Your home, your work, your auto, and your travel are all wrapped up in one RV. Take a deep breath and prioritize. Which item do you need to give top attention to and make your way down the list? Eventually, your home, work, auto, travel—everything will come together again, and you can happily move forward.

10. Remember why you decided to full-time

Think about it right now. Why did you think full-timing was a good idea? It still is. Go back to that decision and keep it close to you. It is your safety during issues, and it is your answer when life is on the downswing, like a roller coaster. We are fortunate to get to do something most people only dream about.

The reasons why we decided to become a full-timer are as numerous as RVs on the road. There is a thread of commonality that runs through each of our experiences. Those threads bring us together and create communities. I hope you can take some of the things we have learned about the RV lifestyle as full-timers and enjoy every minute of your journey. 

Get tips from other RVers

One of the best parts about RVing is engaging with the community of traveling enthusiasts. iRV2 forums allow folks to chat with other RVers online, and get other perspectives on everything RVing, including products, destinations, RV mods, and more.

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