Our Top Regrets As Full Time RVers
At this point, my family and I have been on the road for over seven years. We’ve been through a lot during that time, including two rig changes, a new baby, and a whole lot of silly mishaps and awesome adventures. There are a lot of things we did totally right that we wouldn’t change for the world. That said, we also have some full time RV regrets.
In this article, I’m going to focus on those regrets, taking the time to tell you what we did wrong so you can avoid making the same mistakes.
1. Not buying the rig we wanted
When we started RVing, we bought a small used travel trailer and an old ¾-ton truck to tow it. The entire setup cost us less than $9K, and we called this home for a few years. I don’t regret this choice at all. It was perfect for our family at the time and a great starter rig, since we didn’t have a whole lot of income at the time.
What I do regret is the next RV we bought. We knew we really wanted to upgrade to a motorhome, but couldn’t afford it yet. We wanted something bigger because our second baby was going to be born soon, and instead of just making the smaller trailer work until we had the funds for the motorhome we wanted, we bought a bigger travel trailer.
I never loved that trailer the way I loved our first trailer or the way I adore our current Class C motorhome. It had issues with leaking, was cumbersome to tow, and never really felt like home.
The lesson: Always buy what you really want.
2. Our low cargo carrying capacity
Okay, so I love our current motorhome. That said, it does have one major issue. The thing has an incredibly low cargo carrying capacity. This means we have to be extremely careful about the upgrades we do, and I am constantly purging things to try to make us lighter.
Honestly, I’m not sure a Class C with a better CCC exists, but I do wish we would have looked into it, making this number two on my list of full time RV regrets.
The lesson: Buy a rig that can accommodate your needs.
3. Sticking to RV parks only
When we first got on the road, we really only camped in RV parks. We bought a Thousand Trails membership early on and avoided areas that didn’t have Thousand Trails parks so we wouldn’t be stuck paying high camping fees.
We did this for several years, until a friend finally convinced us to try boondocking. That’s when we realized just how many free camping opportunities are out there. We could have been having so many more awesome adventures if we had known free camping is available all across the country.
The lesson: Think outside the box when it comes to finding places to camp.
4. Taking so long to make connections
My husband and I are both pretty introverted. We can go long periods of time without talking to anyone besides each other. In fact, we lived on the road for a good two years without really meeting anyone. That said, when we finally did put ourselves out there and become a part of the nomadic community, we realized the amazing connections and experiences we had been missing out on.
The lesson: Get out there and forge friendships!
5. Moving too fast
One of the most common regrets full time RVers have is moving too fast. It’s easy to do in the beginning because you’re excited and you want to see it all, and we totally made this mistake. In fact, we will still find ourselves moving too quickly from time to time. The problem with this is threefold.
First, it’s impossible to actually see it all if you’re moving too quickly, because you really have to be in a place for a while to truly experience it. Second, if you’re hopping from one place to another too quickly, you don’t have time for day-to-day tasks, leading to burnout. Lastly, moving too fast gets expensive quickly, making it unsustainable for more full timers.
The lesson: Slow down. Take the time to really experience the area while also giving yourself time to work and take care of household chores.
6. Avoiding RV maintenance
For the most part, we are decent about keeping up with the most important maintenance tasks. That said, when we got our very first RV, I waited awhile to check out the roof seals.
Unfortunately, a skylight seal was leaking, something that led to water damage in the corner of our RV. Luckily, the damage was in a spot that wasn’t very noticeable, and the damage didn’t cause us too much grief while we had the rig.
The lesson: Always stay on top of RV maintenance and seal everything well. Use a helpful online tool like RV LIFE Maintenance to keep track of what maintenance is due and when.
7. Overspending on entertainment
This wasn’t an issue when we first hit the road because our budget was ridiculously tiny. However, as our income has grown, we have had to keep close tabs on how much we are spending on things like eating out and sightseeing.
While eating out and sightseeing are great ways to really experience an area, there are plenty of ways to do this without spending a small fortune. Some months I look back on our spending and really wish we had spent less on restaurants and saved more for RV upgrades and emergencies.
The lesson: Create a budget and stick to it.
8. Planning routes poorly
Once in a great while, we will find ourselves in a predicament because of something like a low clearance overpass or a low weight limit bridge that we didn’t check for beforehand. These things can be avoided by carefully planning routes using tools like RV LIFE Trip Wizard, the RV LIFE App, and even a Trucker’s Atlas. Don’t be like us. Plan your route carefully!
The lesson: Not all roads are big rig friendly. Plan your route accordingly.
9. Not investing in full time RV insurance
Okay, so this one is not really a regret, but only because it never bit us in the butt. For years, we traveled with only a basic RV insurance plan. This could have been terrible had our rig been destroyed with all our things in it, as we would have had nothing left and nowhere to go. Thankfully, we realized this potential problem before it became a regret and switched insurance.
You can start with policy shopping from an online provider like RVerInsurance.com. RVer Insurance Exchange offers free quotes for RV Insurance, Health Insurance, even Extended Warranties.
The lesson: Always, always carry insurance for full timers.
10. Becoming too busy
This last regret is one I still wrestle with. It’s so, so easy to become too busy to really enjoy the RV lifestyle. I have to make a conscious decision to carefully balance work, household tasks, travel days, and getting out there and experiencing each place we visit.
This is easier to do if we travel slowly, but I still sometimes find myself overwhelmed and unable to really enjoy our travels because I’ve taken on too much work or too many other projects. On the other hand, it’s just as easy to get so wrapped up in adventures that I miss work deadlines.
The lesson: Make an effort to balance work, life, and travel fun.
There you have it—our top 10 full time RV regrets. Hopefully this list helps you avoid the mistakes we’ve made, so you can have more fun and fewer mishaps as you explore this amazing country.
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Chelsea Gonzales is a full-time RVer, freelance writer, and roadschooling mama who loves sharing her expertise about RVing with kids, roadschooling, and full-time RVing. The entrepreneurial and free-spirited author is also artistic director of the Aistear Mobile Irish Dance Academy, and currently travels with her family in a 27-foot travel trailer. Chelsea’s informational articles about full-time RVing, raising children on the road, camping, and destination features appear on her blog, Wonder Wherever We Wander. throughout the RV LIFE network, and in RV industry media outlets such as Outdoorsy, Coach-Net, and RV Share.
Richard Medlock says
Super! and timely! Some things to keep in mind! Thank you!
I’ve always bought houses and rvs that needed remodeling or repairs. Either by misuse or lack of use in rvs. Not a good idea if you want reliability on the road. I hate fixing stuff on the road. I think I’ve learned, buying a quality rig is important.
Mike Williams says
Great article! As a fellow full-timer, I have 2 more items. The first is kinda a corollary to your #7;
Make a budget (and stick to it!). We use a budgeting tool and midway through each month we set the following month’s budget, tweaking as necessary. When we started full-timing, we’d just sold our house so had plenty in the bank & didn’t worry too much, then found we were burning through it at an alarming rate. Now we have a strict “fun money” amount, & if it gets used up, no more eating out till next month.
The other thing, related, is Have an emergency fund. When you’re on the road, things happen. Unexpected things. Expensive things. We have $8,000 in a separate account (earning a massive 0.3% interest!) ant the two times we had to use it, it was a life-saver, as we are now on social security & pensions.
jeff asher says
As a futter full timer (next Year) you are right. plan and buy the RV you want and need. it is Cheaper. After years of planning i just bought a Supper C on a Freightliner and love how it drives, and the Room.
We started out ok with savings living on social security . Was doing good in our 28 ft fithwheel.but the price of gas made use stay put.we soon learned that we had cut our savings down quite a bit.the winter propane just took it had to have it to keep warm..so we put camper in storage and moved to apartment. We found that we can’t travel like we thought just on s.s. Never could figure out how to do it . Would like to know how before I sell the camper.
I hate full time rving
Tammie Hinkle says
#1- we have found Thousand Trails is a MUST for full timing. We have a plan that allows us to stay 28days at each park, going park to park. This allows us to camp, full time, for $500/yr(after the initial cost of membership, which was around 12/15k). We also boondock, but with TT we only boondock when temps are ideal(spring & fall). We also stay in low cost state/national parks, RPI parks(comes with TT, costs an additional 179/yr & has campgrounds for ~10/night, but most importantly expands your range)
2-electric space heaters!! Why pay for propane when your electric is included?? We use 3-4 depending on outside conditions. We usually buy 1-2/yr because they fail. This costs us under $75/80 for annual heating costs.
Yes, fuel is expensive, however you can spend as little as 3-500/mo(maybe less if you’re more gas efficient than our 43′ moho-lol) by moving from TT Park to TT park and spending max time at each 🙂
It IS doable. It’s definitely not as cheap as some people make it out-especially since I have a family of 6 that wants to do everything(&I want them to), but if you keep down the expenses where you can, you can definitely make it work!!
Good luck and happy trails!!