Several years ago, the author of a popular book called Outliers stated that anyone can master a skill with 10,000 hours of practice. Experts have tried to debunk that theory, but I’d like to think it holds up.
After all, my husband and I have dedicated our lives to full-time RVing since 2007, so I believe this makes us at least somewhat of experts on this lifestyle. Here are the five best full-time RVing lessons I’ve learned about being a nomad after all these years.
1. Living in a small space takes practice.
When researching floor models we researched how to choose your first RV. But ultimately we were clueless about the realities of living, working, and sleeping inside the RV. The most common phrase said by couples living in a small space is, “Can you move please?”
To keep the kvetching down to a minimum, over time we’ve developed a silent symphony when tackling daily chores. For example, when I’m washing dishes and Jim needs to put something inside the cabinet over my head, I’ve learned to duck before he even asks me to move. You learn to accept your space is small and you deal with it.
2. Over-planning is your worst enemy.
Resorting to RV trip planning tips is smart so you’ll know where to get fuel, find great RV parks, and avoid road hazards. But too much reliance on pre-defined trip itineraries leaves no room for adventure or mishaps.
Obsessively planning your every move leads to expectations that can shatter in seconds when something goes awry. It can also prevent you from enjoying spontaneous and unforgettable choices while traveling.
3. Anyone can be a nomad.
RVers of my parent’s generation hit the road for good when they bid farewell to the working world. Now, more of us are too impatient to wait until we’re old enough for an AARP card. Full-time RVing is not your grandpa’s lifestyle anymore. Whether we work from home or seek temporary seasonal work, the full-time RV demographic is different now.
Today, anyone with a bad case of wanderlust can enjoy the best this lifestyle has to offer. We’ve met dozens of young full-time RVers. The only caveat is you must have a sustainable way to support it.
4. Things break. Deal with it.
When things go wrong in a sticks-and-bricks home, it’s easy to avoid non-emergency repairs. But if something in your RV breaks and you want to keep your home on wheels moving, it’s best to cope with the situation quickly. Ongoing movement and jostling just make the problem even worse. That’s when having a sustainable income source pays off.
5. The worst full-time RVing advice on the Internet is still true.
While it’s important to visit an RV show and explore different floor plans and RV styles, I still feel it’s a bad idea to pay top dollar for a brand new RV when you’re new at full-timing. In my 10 years on the road, I’ve met many full-timers who stay on the road a year or less. When they quit, they lose their shirts trying to sell their expensive rig. Don’t. Do. It.
After all this time, I’m still learning and have no plans to call it quits. Perhaps I could be way off-base with my five best full-time RVing lessons. So, if you believe I am, please comment and share your own full-timing experience below.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.
Although we’re only 18 months into our full-time RV lifestyle, we agree with all 5 points, especially item 2. Our tag line is “rolling by the seats of our pants.” It doesn’t always work out in our favor, like when trying to find a last-minute RV space in a popular area at the height of its season, but it suits our style and needs most of the time.
And regarding item 5, we bought a 2008 model in 2014, and although we’ve had to make many repairs and upgrades, we are glad that we had the freedom to do so without worrying about voiding the manufacturer’s warranty. Plus we’ve heard just as many complaints from owners of brand new RVs as we had about our used model, so I’m not sure there’s that big a difference!
Hi all , I am so wanting to do full time RV in problem is money how is everyone making a living RV in I am a factory worker computer illiterate and just curious to know how does everyone make money on the road. thank you, mrs. Robinson
Will Barton says
Check out WorkKampers.. There are many different jobs requiring different skills. Many of these jobs offer pay along with the campsite. There are many Christian organizations that you can volunteer at that give you a campsite in return for your work. Some are “Hard Hats”, retired professional electricians, plumbers, carpenters, etc, “Sowers” who have multiple talents not professionals , “Roving Volunteers in Christ Service (RVICS) who volunteers are all multi skilled non professionals,. This group my wife and I worked with. We have worked at Christian children’s camp. Many federal ,state, and local parks have volunteer positions. My wife and I went full-time for 14 years. We are now Snowbirds as after 20 years we bought a house. The last three years we have gone to Key West, a campground West of Homestead, Florida and this past winter we went to Mission,Texas with a two week stop near Houston for Eight Days of Hope where we volunteered during which time we had a free place to park our motorhome, three meals a day and a free Christian concert. When we travel we use Walmart’s while traveling and we have had Passport America which gives you a 50% discount on thousands of campgrounds. Good Sam only gives 10%. So, Now that I put you to sleep, There are ways to help with the cost of full-time travel. When we brought our motorhome we both were working so we bought a new one and had it paid off in 2 years I wanted to know how it was kept and now my babe is 17 years old. Get out and see our wonderful country that God created for us. God bless.
Thank you for all the wonderful pointers. We are considering retirement and full timing in the near future. Working with Christian organizations had not crossed our minds until now. Great insight and recommendations. Appreciate your post
Evonne I Ince says
There are many Workamper paid positions available all around the country. They usually include free space rent and free utilities. Search the internet for these many opportunities.
We aren’t full timers but even at our twice a month level of traveling those are good points. Thanks.
James Bauernfeind says
We’ve been full-timing since 2010 and agree with your 5 points. I’d have to add two items one of which sort of goes along with your first point about space. Some people have enough clothes to take care of several people so there’s a great need to first look through what you have and what you need. Owning several large winter coats and jackets may be nice but do you really need more than two? We have rented storage space where we store off-season clothes and some household items we did not want to get rid of and as we pass back through our home base town where our kids live we change out clothes. My second point is if you have a favorite hometown mechanic or store you use for your vehicle(s) make sure you service them rigorously before hitting the road. We’re currently extended our stay in Vicksburg MS at the Ameristar RV park due to a hole in the radiator probably from a road rock hitting the radiator. So expect to pay a bit more for these repairs and stay with reputable dealers.
I am not a full-timer… yet. Love the RV lifestyle. I enjoy your writings and would agree totally with your points, especially #2. Our independent governor after his second term took a year to see the country. It was particularly interesting since he took his 2 kids and home-schooled them. He absolutely talked about not planning too much and have flexibility. He wrote about his year “Governor’s Travels: How I left Politics…and Found America”.
Rene Agredano - The Full Timing Nomad says
Thanks Chris. I didn’t know about the governor or the book, I’m going to check it out. Looks interesting.
Chris and Gary Krauss says
Hello Mainah…we left Wilton in 2013 heading we knew not where. After 4 years of full time RV life we couldn’t imagine going back to sticks and bricks. We are now semi-permanently parked in a private lot overlooking the Puget Sound on the Olympic Peninsula. As our friend one commented…Washington State is Maine on steroids!
Linda Kurgan says
Chris and Gary,
I am SO jealous! I’ve lived on all the coasts, and we full timed a couple years, but have been land locked in the Black Hills of SD for too many years…. just upgraded to a 36′ travel trailer from the ’95 class A we FTd in, and hope to disappear soon! Don’t suppose there’s room for another couple near your view?
We’ve been on the road for 12 years. We agree with everything you have said. There is so much bad information out there that many see as the gosphel, we see it being practiced, and know that these people won’t last long. They have the wrong idea about the full time lifestyle, and most won’t listen to the voice of experience.
Great top 5 !
We were the “wait till you say goodbye to the working world” you mentioned.
I think one good lesson we have learned is to become minimalists.
Learn what we can and can not get along with or without and we’ve found we really need very little compared to our sticks and bricks homestead we still have.
We are getting rid of 30 plus years of “stuff” and have had 2 big yard sales on two different weeks and it hasn’t put much of a dent in our “stuff” but it feels real good knowing we’re lightening our load even if we were to give up the nomadic RV life we have learned a valuable lesson; “He who travels light travels best” as Merle Haggard said.
Is there a app or web site to imput all the places you want to travel to and then have a route made for you?
Yes, RVTripWizard.com is a fabulous app. It will show you campgrounds, Walmarts, fuel sources, etc. I think there is a free trial. Plan, but be ready to be flexible.
Linda G says
You are right on the money!
I started part time, then went full time in a 23 ft Coach House Platinum. It was a learning experience! I bought used because it is a highly depreciating asset. I still don’t want a house though! Sold it! It is just me and my dog. I am making it work, but after a year and a half, I know now that I want to be off the road for 3-4 months. So, I will winter in a TX park
I talk to people all of the time with stars in their eyes about rving. I try to explain the realities, good and bad.
I still wouldn’t do anything different!
R. Ferguson says
Have an exit strategy! If your full-time residence is your rv, plan ahead to that time you will no longer be on the road. Have an idea where you will want to settle down permanently when you can no longer be behind the wheel safely — do this for your sake and for others on the road.
Chris Anderson says
On the more practical side, switch to Full-time RV’ers Insurance. The coverage is different. There are three or four Insurance Companies that offer this type of coverage. I’ve worked with Good Sam Insurance to find the best match and rates. They can also answer questions and explain why getting Full-time coverage is very important.
Andy Friedman says
#5 especially. I’m about to get into my 3rd RV in only 2 years (I learned my lesson and bought used after making the rookie mistake of buying new on the first one). YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO NEED WHEN YOU START OUT UNTIL YOU’VE LIVED IT FOR A WHILE. You think you want a larger rig than you actually need because you don’t want to sacrifice a lot of the comforts you’re accustomed to in the sticks & bricks world. But you will get used to tiny living and, assuming you’re not a hoarder, you soon realize you could go even smaller. Then when you get tired of driving and parking and maintaining that beast that’s when you’ll decide to downsize. At least that’s where I’m currently at. My advice for newbies is buy something used. Don’t overthink it, it doesn’t have to be “perfect”, just get something that’ll get you by for 6 months and something you won’t lose your left arm over when you trade it in. And get something slightly smaller than you think you need. Being forced out of our comfort zones is how we adapt and grow as humans.
steve hammill says
Point 3: Some people are not built for a nomadic lifestyle. I’ve encounter these sorts when living full time on my sailboat and when living full time in my WanderLodge. The complaints are different but the bottom line is the same; some people never get used to pooping in a bucket or having their close friends just a short drive away.
Tommy Standley says
We have enjoyed reading both the article and the comments. The article is spot on with a couple of exceptions for us.
While still working, my sweetheart and I decided to sell everything and moved into a Keystone Outback 35′ with 3 slides. Traded in our 2 years old F150 for a new F250 to pull it with.
We lived in a nice park on Lake Conroe full time in anticipation of my retirement first and then hers a year or so later. Boy did we learn alot that year.
Both refrigerators tanked due to design of the slide out. The fake electric fireplace had to be replaced twice. One slide had to be repaired due to a pulley failure. The trailer moved 6″ in a severe thunderstorm that we rode out onboard – even though I had it tied down with trailer augers and fiber strap. We had multiple storms like this with strong winds and hail. And then the day we had to pull it out of our site as the lake that we were told had never flooded, washed over the bank and up to the hubs of the trailer.
What we didn’t know was that if you live full time and take it to a dealer, regardless of whether or not it was the one you bought it from, it may take weeks to get parts. So you either do without or have a mobile repair come out. It still took weeks but the mobile repair finally did the job with full cost to us as the great warranty did not cover his services.
After the flood we stored the RV and began alternate plans ultimately leading to the purchase of a new home in a retirement community, a new smaller 25′ no slide Solair and a new more efficient F150 Ecoboost truck.
Now 3 years later, my sweetheart retires in December. I retired just after pulling the RV out of the lake. We have our base camp (home) fully set up the way we want it. And we have made 9 trips out with more planned. Big Bend, Texas Hill Country, East Texas, to name a few. We love the simplicity of the Solair. And we love our base camp. And we love not feeling the walls shake and the foundation moving during storms.
In September of this year we head up to Colorado for 2 weeks. Next year, we will do our first extended trip up to Montana and across the US to Maine with her driving and me riding my bicycle. We cannot wait to go.
As one writer above stated, full time is not for everyone. We are thankful that we did this little experiment before we retired. As the article states, very few ever make it full time. But that does not mean you cannot still have adventures.
Tom and Gay in Texas
I have not yet and, maybe never will go strictly full time due to some medical issues, but I have RV’d enough to agree with the above. I have traveled to and thru a few states and intend to travel to many more, Good Lord willing. I would also add or reemphasize the need for a tire pressure monitoring system, a good quality navigation system (satellite based) to complement any phone nav apps, a portable, high capacity air compressor, and a well rounded tools set and basic lubricants and sealers/glues. I drive a 40″ Dutch Star with an onboard compressor but trust me, you will still be well served to carry a stand alone compressor with the appropriate hoses and fittings. I also carry high capacity extension cords and a mini contractors’ work light. Finally, I would all of us seniors to stay aware and proactively safe, as many opportunistic predators see us as easy payday targets. Safe travels to all.
We’ve been FullTimers for 24 + years. Your five points are pretty spot on! We also have no intention to stop!
Wayne Prince says
We are not full timers, rather “half-timers” spending 5-7 months in nicer climates (Florida, and/or Texas) to get away from the unpleasant hot humid summers and cold nasty winters of Missouri where our home base is. We started out travels about 40 some odd years ago in a tag-a-long travel trailer, and found we enjoyed spending some time in it. So, after several years switched to a fifth-wheel unit and enjoyed that even more with its ease of hooking up, driving, and parking.. About 10 years ago after seeing many folks and friends with their class A units we decided to switch from the fifth-wheel trailers. We
then purchased a used 2004 Monaco Diplomat diesel pusher and a 2008 Saturn Vue to pull behind. We determined imediately we liked and enjoyed the simplicity of this combination, however, was quite shocked initially by the costs involved with such things as having it serviced fully, and tire replacement, but after a couple years sold our existing unit and bought a Newmar Dutch Star, again used, albeit very slightly. From there we have traded a couple more times owning different motorhomes to include a 2010 Winnebago which we lost in a flood and after dealing with (batt;ling) Progressive Insurance which was obtained through Good Sam Club, finally settled almost a year later at a very disappointing monetary amount with no help at all from Good Sam. In any event, we now have a Monaco Camelot and enjoying our trips and stays immensely. Would like to try full timing but cannot see ourselves getting rid of all our collections through the years so likely will just settle for being “half-timers”. Might also add that the Winnebago had extended warramty purchased through Good Sam and we were charged a $50.00 fee for cancelling this policy after the unit was lost in the flood.