Tips for Becoming a Fulltime RVer!
Are You Ready for Life on the Road?
Ten months ago, Dylan and I packed up our belongings in San Francisco and headed for the open road in a 200 square foot travel trailer. We were in search for a different type of life, one that questioned the familiar and explored the unknown. Committing to this type of change is one piece of the transformation, choosing your modality is the second. Our vehicle for wanderlust, her name is Page, a 24’ Lance travel trailer. She is perfect and we are grateful for her every single day.
Deciding on your first RV Camper will not be quick or easy but it will be super fun! When Dylan and I knew seriously started thinking about Fulltime RVing (aka Fulltiming), we only knew about three things:
- We wanted to live in our RV Camper for at least six months (which turned into 10 and might turn into 13... the open road sort of sucks you in like that ;).
- Our mission of finding a new place to live meant we wanted to tour towns daily.
- We did not want more than we needed.
For me, living in it meant a "real bathroom" and for Dylan that meant large water tanks and solar panels. And exploring new towns daily meant we wanted to tow our home (eg: travel trailer, fifth wheel), not drive it (eg: RV class A, B or C). We knew we wanted to use our car for touring and be able to leave our new "home" at the campground. I should back up and mention that I grew up traveling for a few weeks at a time in our family class A motor-home, also known as a "big rig." Dylan on the other hand never stepped foot into an RV before we decided to rent one three years ago for a trip we took to Death Valley National Park. And he fell in love... with RVing (and Death Valley but that story is for another article). Throughout our childhoods and our relationship, we tent camped many times but this was the first time Dylan got a sneak peak into the world of glamping. An indoor kitchen, light switches and a real bed NOT on the ground... was this even camping?! With the extreme temperatures and weather in Death Valley, we were happy to have relief in our rented class C motor-home. Without this two week trip, I am not sure we would have been ready to jump into full time RVing as easily as we did. Typically, I would argue that easy isn't always the best policy, however in this case and with this size of purchasing decision, I am happy we rented first.
There are many options for RV rentals but two to consider are Cruise America and RVshare. Cruise America is the Hertz of renting RVs. It is your typical large, pricey rental provider. RVshare however, is sort of like the Airbnb of renting RVs. Their process is much more personal which is a plus when renting an RV. As I will mention later, a big step in choosing your first RV is to talk to current owners of the specific RV type you are interested in. RVshare lets you rent and chat with actual owners. Furthermore, for those of us who already own RVs, RVshare offers a service for us to make a few extra $ by renting our home to others wanting to hit the road. One huge unexpected perk when transitioning to Fulltiming was the RV community. The people that RV are just friendly. All. The. Time. It is spectacular. The RV community chooses to live life simply and intentionally... so what are you waiting for!
10 Steps For Choosing Your First RV
1. BUDGET: Decide on a budget for purchasing your RV Camper.
- Think: finance or purchasing outright + new vs. used + insurance and potential maintenance costs.
- Ask yourself - how much do you want to spend on your new home on wheels?
2. CLASS TYPE: Decide on the class type for your RV Camper.
- Think: travel trailer, fifth wheel, toy hauler or drive-able RV.
- Ask yourself - do you want to pull it or drive it?
3. SIZE: Decide on the size of your RV Camper.
- Think: number of beds, pop outs, storage space, axles and how much you want it to weigh.
- Ask yourself – how much space does your family want to have while living on the road?
4. MANUFACTURER: Decide on the manufacturer of your RV Camper.
- Think: manufacturer and dealer locations, specialties, build process, materials used etc. Different manufactures focus on different amenities.
- Ask yourself – what amenities are most important to your family (example: safety, all weather, light weight, more storage, larger water holding tanks)?
5. MODEL NUMBER: Decide on the model number of your RV Camper.
- Think: floor plan, door entry location, outside kitchen, wet bath (shower over bathroom toilet and sink) or dry bath (shower is separate from toilet and bathroom sink).
- Ask yourself – what do I want to be able to do in my RV while we are on the road? Do you want to cook outside or inside? Do you want a layout with one queen bed and two bunk beds or one queen with one double bed? Do you want two doors? Do you want your door to open into your bedroom or kitchen area?
6. SHOP AROUND: This is a very important step... Walk inside every RV Camper you are interested in.
- Think: sit down in your living space, rest on your bed, envision cooking/washing dishes in your kitchen. Spend time inside each RV with and without a sales person.
- Ask yourself - how does this RV feel, cramped or spacious? Does it accommodate your needs?
7. TOP THREE CHOICES: Decide on your top three RV Camper choices.
- Think: list your pros and cons for each of your top three choices.
- Ask yourself – what do I like most about all three of these RVs and is there anything about these RVs that are deal breakers?
8. SHOP AROUND AGAIN: This is the second most important step... visit all three of your top options again and really focus on each pro and con you wrote down.
- Think: bring a few groceries to see how they would fit in the refrigerator or measure and map out how you plan to use each storage space.
- Ask yourself - could this feel like home? Could you live in this space full time?
9. TOP TWO CHOICES: Decide on your top two choices and research them more.
- Think: talk to your salesperson about references they have for past customers who purchased one of your top two choices and call them. Also search for videos and forums with people who are traveling full time in one of your two options. The more people you talk to, the better.
- Ask yourself - do I have any lingering questions or concerns that need to be answered before purchasing?
10. PURCHASE: It is time to make the best decision of all… decide on your NEW HOME!
Making The Transition
Transitioning to life on the road is thrilling, exciting and freeing! But with those highs also come the unknowns, uncertainties and vulnerabilities. We have our own list of pros and cons about this life of wanderlust but transitions are different for everyone. Here are our top three ways to prepare for full time RVing:
1. Establish one ritual:
It might seem counterproductive to focus on this since you probably are excited to leave a life of extreme routine but this will become important when suddenly you realize that literally everything around you has changed (in the best way possible… but it will feel very strange). Sure, you will sleep in the same bed every night but, it will often be in a different place every night. Establishing one routine for yourself will help you feel more settled in your new home. A routine can mean enjoying a cup of coffee or tea or hot coco each morning or stretching every night before bed. Your new life will constantly be in motion; establishing one ritual will provide your mind a sense of much needed familiarity.
2. Slow Down:
- In every facet of the word. Most likely everything in your RV will be new to you. Slow down when parking, backing up, navigating, driving and setting up camp. Spend the time to take the road less traveled and stay off of the interstate when possible. Slow down to enjoy the scenery and embrace nature and beauty. Spend the time to capture and record your memories, these will become forever meaningful to you. Slow down your thoughts, your plans and your agenda. Spend the time to ENJOY every day, every experience, every sunset and sunrise.
3. Embrace minimalism:
- Making the move to life on the road will most likely require some sort of reorganizing. Some might see this as a daunting task but make it fun and inclusive especially since this won’t be your last time reorganizing your space. Full timing requires a different mindset because you don’t have the same amount of space you used to. For every one thing purchased, think about donating two. Take inventory of items you don’t use or wear every few months and get rid of them. It is important to understand that every inch of space in your RV will be utilized. Remember that the less clutter you have, the more usable your space becomes.
Top Resources for Loving Life on the Road
In today's world, there are an exorbitant amount of resources... for any lifestyle. These are some of our favs and we promise they will definitely enhance your journey!
1. Download a navigation app
- We like inRoute. This app will breakdown weather, road curvy-ness (very important), wind speed (even more important) and elevation gain/loss.
2. Download/bookmark a campsite review tool
- We love Campendium.com. This website maps out RV Parks, National/State Parks and free camping options. It also includes fantastic reviews many of which are from other full-timers.
3. Download an outdoor activity app
- We like RootsRated and The Outbound Collective. RootsRated is a bit more detailed and more story based. The Outbound is a community resource for any adventure including the best places to hike, bike, kayak, swim (and more) in every area you visit. Their map function and filters are super user friendly.
4. Get the gear
- Visit www.partylikeits1995.com for our list of must haves for new Fulltimers plus a few products that any experienced RVer will find useful. We include things like surge protectors, water filters, sewer hoses, pressure gauges and our favorite product… Anderson Levelers. We call these "marriage savers." ;)