A quick scroll through Instagram, and you’ll soon find photos of families posing in front of unbelievable landscapes. Family RV living on the road has seen explosive growth in recent years. Is it everything that social media would lead you to believe?
Keep reading to find out!
Is Family RV Living As Good As It Seems?
RV living, whether with a family or solo, is an incredible and adventurous lifestyle. There are many benefits and exciting things to see and do. It is a great way to stretch and grow while creating memories for a lifetime, but it isn’t perfect. Sometimes it downright stinks.
It is easy to be envious of a perfectly posed Instagram picture or beautifully filmed and edited Youtube video and think, “Wow! What a perfect carefree life.” Family RV living can be a roller coaster of extremes based on factors that are in and out of your control.
There are fights while backing up the RV, leaky slides, and the mold found behind a drawer that isn’t always documented on social media. Cramming a family into less than 300sq feet will create tense moments for families as time.
It is essential to keep things in perspective when considering family RV living. There will be good days, and there will be bad days. Be realistic in your expectations, and you’ll have a much better family RV living experience.
What It’s Really Like As a Full-Time RV Family
When you choose to live full time in an RV, being in your RV is no longer a vacation. It’s your life. Let’s look at what it’s like for families who live full-time in an RV.
You’re Packed With Your Family in a Tiny Space
RVs are small, sometimes incredibly small. Even the RVs that are considered massive by RV standards aren’t huge compared to a house. Virtually every square foot in an RV is a shared space. The sounds, smells, and movements travel easily in such a small space. There is an adjustment period for families when moving into such a small space.
Those choosing RV living because they want to get outside, and there’s plenty of space outside. Your RV is just the vessel for your adventures, not the experience itself. Getting outside as much as possible can infinitely expand your living space.
Organization Will Save Your Life
In addition to getting outside, having a sound organizational system in place will create a more peaceful environment in your RV. Even after downsizing tremendously, you’ll still find you have too much stuff. When you are in such a tight space, even just a few items without a home can make you feel like your space is messy.
Finding an organizational system that works for your family will likely be a process of trial and error. In this lifestyle, you’re constantly looking for new ways to organize and store items in your RV for optimal efficiency. As a result, your family will spend more time adventuring and making memories and less time cleaning and putting things away.
Planning and Preparation for Travel Day Is Essential
Pulling away from a campsite isn’t the start of a travel day for families living in an RV. The travel day process can often begin a day or two in advance as you move closer to a travel day. Waking up on a travel day with a plan is critical to safely and efficiently get your family to your next campsite.
Properly storing items in and outside your RV is just a tiny part of the packing up process. Many families that RV often have checklists they follow to help prevent potentially forgetting or missing an important step. Missing an important step is when RVs or trucks get damaged, or people get hurt.
Whether you’re towing a massive fifth wheel or travel trailer behind you or not, stopping for meals and restrooms is never ideal. Preparing convenient meals your family can eat on the road and utilizing rest stops saves families valuable time on the road.
Depending on how far families are traveling, it’s essential to have entertainment for the ride. Travel days are a great time to do school work (aka Roadschooling) so that when you arrive at your next site, you can start enjoying all it has to offer.
Things Won’t Always Go As Planned
We all know that “ideal” doesn’t mean it will happen that way. Sometimes you make a wrong turn and end up on a less than ideal road or miss your exit for the planned fuel stop and now just need to find anything you can. You’ll also have those situations where your circumstances are completely out of your control.
The weather may not cooperate for the adventure you have planned, or an unexpected closure can alter your plans. RV living forces you to be flexible and take things as they come. Prepare as best you can and keep in mind that sometimes it just doesn’t go as planned.
Laundry Day Sucks
Unless you have an onboard washer and dryer, laundry day sucks. You have to find a laundromat, pay way more than you feel you should, and then even once it’s all clean, you still have to haul it all back, fold it, and put it away. Add the time spent traveling to and from the laundromat, and laundry day can be an entire day.
It sucks a little less if you can do small loads throughout the week in your RV, but it still is a task that finds itself on the mundane side of the list. Even some of the less enjoyable residential living tasks are still less enjoyable when living in an RV.
Privacy Is Not a Thing
Remember how we said that sound, smell, and movement carry throughout the whole RV? We meant it. Often people only half-jokingly say they can feel someone roll over in bed in the middle of the night, which can be true.
Having a private conversation is difficult when doors only dampen sound carrying and don’t eliminate it. Standing in the middle of the RV, you can often see every square foot of your RV. You have to get creative to find privacy.
Did you know most RV bathrooms don’t come with locks on the doors? Talk about a lack of privacy! Many families living in an RV full-time invest in locks for any door handles that might benefit from additional privacy.
You’ll See Exciting New Places All The Time
Having a tiny home on wheels has some challenges, but traveling capabilities are an incredible reward. Watching sunrises and sunsets in new and exciting places is an excellent benefit. Unless you have a commitment tying you to a specific location, you have the freedom to move as often as you’d like. Keep in mind that if you are frequently moving, your budget should reflect that.
Boredom Doesn’t Exist
Get bored easily? Thankfully there is less time to get bored when the world around you is constantly changing. There is almost always a new hike or town to explore and make some memories. Each region usually has excellent local food or art that is worth checking out. If a location is leaving you bored and you can move, do so.
Kids Are Super Adaptable
You have likely already figured out one of the superpowers kids have; they are super adaptable. Parents tend to over-worry about how the kids will do with significant changes when in reality, they are usually the first to adjust.
Keeping the communication lines open is vital with kids. They may need time to process unexpected changes. If kids start to feel overwhelmed, they’ll know they can speak up, and you can work through it together.
You Can Have A Routine on the Road
It seems strange to say that you can have a routine when you live a nomadic lifestyle, but it is possible. One of the great things about traveling in an RV is your home is always with you.
It doesn’t matter if you wake up in a high-end RV resort in the Keys or in the middle of nowhere boondocking on Bureau of Land Management; you will wake up at home in your bed. You can still establish school and chore routines. Taco Tuesday and Friday movie nights can always transfer over to family RV living.
Of course, if your schedule allows it, the key to a quality RVing routine is consistency. Having set days or times for schooling, adventuring, and traveling can significantly help. Don’t be afraid to change things up if they’re not working or be sporadic and toss the schedule out the window sometimes.
Your Extended Family and Friends May Not Understand You
You are doing something that contradicts “The American Dream.” Not only will many of your family and friends not understand your choice to start this lifestyle, but some might even downright disagree with your choice.
It is okay if some do not understand, and it is okay if some balk at the idea altogether. Family’s aren’t choosing anyone but themselves, and it’s okay to make a decision you feel is best for your family. If they’re a credible influence on your life, hear them out and move on.
Many Days It Is As Great As It Looks On Social Media
You often hear how social media doesn’t portray real life. Of course, that isn’t always true. Sometimes people DO share complex and frustrating moments. Not everyone hand picks only the great beautiful things to share.
Many times, on the flip side, that picture of the very happy-looking family in a beautiful setting, that moment is authentic. Sure, there are challenges and downright awful moments, but there are so many beautiful memories that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. Sit around a campfire with a few full-time RV families, and you’ll discover that in this lifestyle, the good outweighs the bad.
Is Family RV Living & Traveling Right for You?
Are family RV living and full-time travel right for you? Maybe, and maybe not. Like with most things in life, you won’t know until you try it. It’s very well possible that you’ll get out on the road and discover it just isn’t for you. If so, that’s completely okay; it truly isn’t for everyone.
Life is too short to be miserable. Family RV living can allow families to discover freedom and adventure they didn’t know they were missing. Researching will only get you so far, and sometimes you have to fully dive in to see if something is for you.
If family RV living sounds appealing to you, but you just aren’t sure, maybe do a few test runs. Go for a few longer trips and see how it feels. At the end of a long trip, do you feel relieved that you are headed back home? Or do you wish you could leave it all behind and not go back?