Think back to when you were a teenager and received your first driver’s license. You probably had lots of hands-on tutoring before you officially hit the road. Decades later, now that you’re dreaming of full-timing, it’s time to ask yourself: have you really had enough training for the big change? If you aren’t sure, why not practice full-timing with RV rentals before you buy your first rig?
Why Practice Trips Matter
People who were RVers before full-timing clearly don’t need as much preparation as fools like me who took a blind leap of faith into the lifestyle. Before we started full-timing nine years ago we had some camping experience, but none as RVers. Still, we were undeterred.
After research and introspection about what we wanted in a RV, we put a deposit down on a new Arctic Fox fifth wheel – sight unseen – from a dealer in a neighboring state. One month later Jim hauled our 24′ rig out of the Portland, Oregon RV dealer’s parking lot. It was the first time he had ever towed anything larger than a utility trailer.
The drive home was nerve wracking and more exhausting than we ever imagined. Three months later when we hit the road for good, our first few camping experiences were fraught with fumbles because we were pretty clueless.
Looking back, I can’t help but wonder: “What were we thinking?!” Buying a rig without actually knowing if we would like living in that RV style was pretty dumb. We got lucky and that rig worked out for us, but many newbie full-timers aren’t as fortunate. Lots of folks begin to dislike their first rig after just a few months. To avoid the hassle of changing RVs early in your full-timing life, here’s what I recommend.
Three Tips to Practice Full-timing with RV Rentals
Rent Different RV Styles
Years ago it was difficult and expensive to rent RVs. Personally we couldn’t stand the thought of driving across America with “RENTAL” emblazoned on every side of a boring Class C motorhome. Thankfully times have changed and today RV rentals are hipper and less obvious than ever. We would rent one in a heartbeat.
In nearly every major city in America you can affordably rent a variety of RVs ranging from teardrop trailers to motorhomes and everything in-between. The best way to know what you prefer is to try a few on for size. Even if each rental is only taken on a short trip, at least you’ll have a better idea about what feels right. The confidence you’ll get when you finally buy that first full-timing RV will be priceless.
Try packing your entire life in the rig
If you’re serious about full-timing you should already be downsizing your possessions (and if you aren’t, now’s the time to get started!). You should be at a point where you have a good feeling about your daily ‘bare essentials.” It’s those possessions that you want to pack into the RV (or at least try). Make sure your rental comes without the add-ons like linens and kitchenware and use yours instead. If your remaining bare essentials don’t fit inside the rig, you probably need to have another yard sale.
Try different campground styles with your rental
When you practice full-timing with RV rentals, go to a variety of different campgrounds. Take the rigs to full-hookup resorts with hotel-style amenities, rustic forest service campgrounds and wide open dispersed camping in the desert. Heck, throw in an overnight stay at a big box parking lot if you’re feeling gutsy. Using rental RVs in various camping areas teaches you how systems function differently depending on your location. Varying destinations also give you a good idea of how you (and the RV type) handle changing environments, climates and altitudes. If you have pets, this is a perfect way to see how they respond to changing conditions.
A practice trip won’t give you all of the confidence you need when you say goodbye to your old lifestyle, but some is far better than none. That tiny boost of self-esteem is exactly what you need to kick off your full-timing adventure on high notes that will carry you for many, many miles.
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.