People have lived on the road for decades. But during the last few years the internet has placed a huge spotlight on the nomadic lifestyle. Dozens of popular websites and social media accounts exist to share the ins and outs of the lifestyle – or do they? Sometimes things aren’t always what they appear. The truth is, the nomadic RV lifestyle isn’t always as glamorous, free, or fun as it seems.
Full-time RVing is great, but many aspects of the lifestyle are glossed over. For example:
Perhaps you’ve heard how each time you take your RV down the road, it’s like placing your house in the epicenter of an earthquake. Turn the key and eventually your things will shake, rattle, and roll.
The vast majority of RVs that actually move more than twice a year are exposed to physical abuses. Eventually the impact takes the shine out of any RV. Instagram-filtered photos often hide the fact that most RVs suffer the ravages of movement.
Driving day can be stressful
Getting from place to place isn’t always what you expect. Driving day can be challenging whether time is on your side or you’re hard-pressed to get to a destination by a certain date.
Weather is the biggest influence on how driving day plays out, along with traffic and any sudden mechanical issues. The only way to avoid the stress while traveling on the open road is by accepting that you cannot control traffic and weather. All you can control is your ability to allow plenty of time to arrive at your destination.
Everyday life on the road can be challenging
Whether you travel with a partner, pets, or entire family, living with others in a RV can be a challenge. Neat freaks may find the nomadic lifestyle exasperating because dirt is magnified exponentially when you live in a tiny space.
Air freshener is a temporary disguise and daily cleaning is about the only way to escape the dirt, pet fur, and human hair trapped on furniture and carpet. There are also many methods of keeping the air clean in your RV for more enjoyable experiences.
Expenses happen when you least expect them
Avoiding costly repairs sometimes comes down to basic maintenance and upkeep. You can ignore stick house maintenance for months or even years. However RV repairs are different.
When something goes wrong with a house on wheels it needs fast fixing or you’re not going anywhere. Nothing kills your adventure faster than encountering a sudden, difficult, and expensive problem with your RV. The ability to pay for those unexpected repairs is critical to keep your wheels turning.
My own observations lead me to conclude that most road trips end after a year or so. The truth is, the nomadic RV lifestyle requires flexibility and preparedness that catches most people by surprise.
But if you’re one of the few who can adapt, accept and prepare for the surprises that happen to full-time RVers, you’ll have an endless supply of amazing adventures just outside your door.
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.
Another thing to add is that, in reality, one needs to have plenty of money available in order to maintain the nomadic lifestyle.
Or currency. Both are accepted. Currency more often, that’s a dollar bill
Try owning a home!
Jeff Fujita says
The wife and I are heading into our third year outside the rat race. We have managed to mix it up by camp hosting over the winter months and boondocking the remainder of the year. We find staying in an area for two to three months at a time keeps things fresh and interesting. The hookups during the winter turn to seeking solitude on BLM and National Forest roads and life with a generator, water jugs, and finding dumps. I’d say having good insurance, both for health and vehicles, are the most important things to have in your back pocket so when something goes wrong, it won’t necessarily derail your dreams.
Most have us been trained to work harder to get more money so we can live with more things. After almost 30 years of struggling to do just that, we decided to think out of the box and are now working less for less money but exchanged material things for experiences. We chose to live in less than 200 square feet in exchange for a way bigger front yard. We haven’t looked back.
lee c hyde says
We love our rebuilt RV. Three years on road. Yes time for engine replacement but it is a planned affair. The adventure included a fight with cancer which we winning. So 5k sq. ft house would have been limitation as better care was a long drive. Love freedom to wander and know many never to be found than where you find them. Love the live of a nomad.
I hope the medical is going well for you. My wife and I were on the road when she was diagnosed in 1996. Her oncologist pulled me aside and told me she wouldn’t last 18 months. I asked him not to tell her that and he didn’t. I explained to him we lived a different lifestyle than his other patients.
He worked with us and we were able to continue her infusions while traveling to wonderful settings on beaches and the mountains.
Two years ago, (Feb 2016), we emailed him pictures of our activities during 2015. His office manager called and told us he was in tears and shows the pictures to his current patients to give them encouragement.
After traveling for many years we found a beautiful small community in Alaska. We have had guests tell us we live in a mini National Park when they see Black bears feeding on the wild blueberries or a moose walk slowly through the our back yard.
Full timing in an RV has it’s challenges and it’s rewards.
AND yes, my wife and I are still enjoying every day almost 23 years later.
Good luck. We will pray that you have a successful and rewarding life.
john a arata says
What a great story it made my day
Hi! Well it’s been like 2 years now. I’m wondering how it’s going. Is it true I need a lot of money before starting the nomadic lifestyle? I’ve watched “cheaprvliving.com”. He shows people living on a little more than $500 a month. That would be me if I did it…a bad marriage etc didn’t leave me where I wanted to be at 62! But, I have a van, a little income and I want to hit the road! Any advice I’d be thankful to receive. And I wait anxiously to hear from you.
Richard Smith says
KOA Campgrounds has a program where they hire camp hosts to perform campground tasks for pay while allowing you to live in your RV on their grounds. The work allows you to stay as long as you like then are free to travel to another KOA location. You can learn more by visiting their web site. Good Luck and God be with you!! 🙂
We full-timed it for 4 1/2 years, traveling over 63,000 miles, visiting almost every one of the lower 48 states (at least once), trips to both sides of Canada, and one four month trip to Alaska. With the exception of Alaska, we were rarely in one place longer than a week or two. As such, our experience will not be equal to the experience of people who put down jacks/levelers, and spend months at one location. In that sense, my comments reflects our experience and your mileage will most certainly vary.
For us, it was a TREMENDOUS experience, and yes, all of the things mentioned in the article are true. However, as they say “nothing is free…there are costs to everything” – some of those “costs” are hidden and intangible, and simply can not be quantified.
1). It’s harder to make friends. You meet people in your travels, things click, and within a few days – one of you is back on the road. Making “friends” takes time together. I don’t mean social networking or computer time – I mean eyeball to eyeball time where you share experiences, help each other out, and press the flesh. I found that kind of time to be non-existent due to the constant traveling.
2). Going to new places that you have always dreamt about is simply a fantastic experience – and at first are all those places are “grand” and “unique. That pastel Florida sunset, with the waves lapping at the beach, and the silhouetted dolphins swimming/jumping by was simple spectacular – the first few times I saw them. After traveling from beach, to beach, to beach, to beach – they just became what was outside our window. The more we saw them, the less grand or spectacular they became. I realized then that the appreciation comes from contrast. Yellowstone is fantastic, when you leave work for a few days/weeks, hike, camp, etc – then go back to work. Visiting Yellowstone is quite another experience when you go there having spent the previous weeks/months in the Canadian Rockies, then leave Yellowstone for some other spectacular place. Contrast is key!
3). The ability to visit special restaurants, fairs, parades, etc. is truly a dream come true. However, after seeing the Calgary Stampede – other rodeos simply don’t measure up. After eating Mexican food in the Mexico/Southwestern US – your local restaurant simply can’t compete. After attending a festival in Louisiana – no fair anywhere is quite as energetic or special.
4). It’s hard to “feel” like you belong to a community where you share experiences. You’re always on the move – it’s hard to volunteer, hard to join local clubs, hard to get to know your neighbors.
5). It’s hard to pursue hobbies (woodworking, vintage cars, etc.) that require more space, machinery, ventilation, etc.. than your RV can provide. For that you need a home or seasonal base where you can keep equipment. Or you just stop doing them.
I’m sure there are more intangible costs – but you get the idea. After a period of time, we longed to pursue those other interests (volunteering, community, hobbies, etc.) – not in lieu of traveling, but in addition to. We longed for a more personal sense of belonging to a community filled with neighbors, friends, clubs, etc. We longed for a more complete life than that which revolved just around travel.
After 4 1/2 years full-timing, we settled into a home base. We still travel twice a year for a month or two. But we now have a chance to pursue interests that provide the contrast that makes that which we do, feel more grand, special, and unique, and make our lives feel more complete. Again – your mileage may vary.
john a arata says
But im sure you knew that going into it you are always on the move ,you need a different mindset.Some people just arent cut out to do it
Barbara Palmer says
I agree with each point by H. Huester. We full timed for 9 years after we retired, and are now back in a stick house for most of the year. We put 89000 miles on our 2009 Newmar Dutch Star, traveling to 46 states, 6 Canadian provinces, Yukon and Alaska, enjoying the vast majority of our experiences. It now feels so good to have reclaimed our artwork and a few treasured pieces of furniture from storage and being close to grandchildren in one of the places they are spread out among. I love having a garden again. We downsized to a Newmar Bay Star Sport, the smallest rig made by Newmar so that we can stay part of the Newmar family and enjoy those friendships while we’re on the road for shorter periods of time each year. Best of both worlds!
Drew Gerstein says
The chance to travel would be of great value , so is the chance to explore hobbies and family. I guess for me a mix of both would be cool. winters spent in the south summers in the north and in between with family. The older I get the more I find beauty in people we just have to look!
Larry Gray says
My wife and I did travel Early with our two children. We started when the youngest was four and the oldest was eight. For four months each winter we took the children out of school and traveled for 4 consecutive years mainly in the southwest . It was a tremendous experience for all of us with great treasured loving memories we will never forget.. From dry camping on the desert to the Grand Canyon , seeing Cliff dwellings and dozens of other areas this was the best education our kids could’ve ever had .
Now we are older and still love to go RVing. I have a business that manufactures patented RV Kayak /bike racks. This came out of my love for RVing with an active lifestyle .