Our decision to go into full-time RV’ing was not a spur of the moment decision. It is one that evolved over the course of many years. Both my wife and I love to travel. Before we had met each other, we had each visited many different countries and done numerous road trips around the US. Becky was actually more of a world traveler than I, as she had lived in many different countries and had backpacked through Europe after college. I had only ever lived in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. But the draw to go off and see new sights, experience new cultures, learn about history first hand, and explore new areas was strong with both of us.
Becky and I spent a lot of effort working on our careers. We both had successful jobs and went back to school for advanced degrees. But we were at a point in our life where we were content, but also felt like something was missing. Life had to be about more than just working your tail off and waiting for retirement to enjoy the spoils of your hard work. We liked the idea of taking some time off (think multi-year sabbatical) and slowing down to enjoy ourselves more.
Initially we were not looking at RV living at all. We had read some blogs about people who could travel and live internationally in some amazing places and not spend a lot of money. Families could travel to beautiful destinations on only $100 a day (for everything….lodging, food, transportation). It blew our minds that this was even feasible. We got pretty excited about the prospect of possibly traveling in a full-time manner. But after looking into it more, we decided that we were not going to go down that route. The biggest hurdle for us was traveling internationally with our dog. We didn’t want to have him traumatized by air travel, and it seems like quite a few places have rules about quarantining a dog that comes from another country. So, another option that we started thinking about was traveling within the US (maybe Mexico and Canada too).
Becky and I had both visited many different states. I would say that between us, we had probably visited more than half of the states in the US. But the United States is HUGE. There were still so many places to visit and things to do. So we were not compromising our love of travel by just sticking to North America.
I will say that I was more eager to hit the road than Becky was. She was happily working on her career as well as focusing on our growing family. Thinking about up and leaving everything behind while you are pregnant or with an infant is challenging. I was celebrating my second Father’s Day when Becky gave me a book titled “Living in an RV” by Alyssa Padgett. Inside the cover she wrote “Happy Father’s Day! Lets go on a family adventure.” When I asked about the gift, she said that was her way of saying she was ready to give RV life a try.
Initially we wanted to ease into the RV lifestyle. Maybe try renting an RV first or buy an RV and take it for a few test drive weekends here and there before officially selling the house. But the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray. COVID-19 hit and it changed our plans quite a bit. We ended up neither renting an RV nor taking our RV for a test run while we still owned the house. In fact, it was probably one of the most uncharacteristic decisions we have made. We just jumped right into full timing with our RV AFTER we had sold our house. What if we hated living in the RV? Would we be at each other’s throats after spending so much time together in such a small space? Would Lucas hate traveling and moving around so much? Since we already had sold the house, there really wasn’t an opportunity to change our minds. Luckily for us, we have not killed each other (yet) and Lucas seems to really enjoy traveling and seeing all the different places.
Here is our growing list of Pros and Cons for living the full-time lifestyle
- Minimalist Living
- More family time and new experiences together
- Smaller carbon footprint
- Potentially cheaper living (depends on how you travel – make sure you make a budget)
- Amazing sights
- More time outside and in nature
- Greater flexibility and control over our daily lives, we can go wherever we want whenever (within reason, of course!)
- Challenging ourselves to live outside our comfort zones and teaching Lucas these same values
- Opportunities to pursue our hobbies and discover new passions (such as photography, blogging, connecting with like-minded people on social media, etc.)
- Ability to visit with friends and family around the country whom we otherwise wouldn’t see often (especially due to COVID-19)
- Miss spending time with family and friends we’re used to seeing often
- Saying goodbye to our stable corporate jobs
- Fear of the unknown
- Steep learning curve
- Requires a lot of planning (if you don’t like planning)
- Slow internet connections
- No babysitters
- The overwhelming process of downsizing from our home to an RV
- Gap in our resumes
- Travel days are exhausting
- Find others doing the same thing
- Talk about it
- Saying it out loud helps make sure you are thinking about it. Just by talking with friends and family, I was surprised to find out how many people I knew who had done something similar at some point in their life. Most were happy to share their experiences.
- Don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t do it
- We heard this from a few people. It can make the decision that much harder when people you respect are suggesting you rethink your plan. Maybe it is not the right time, or maybe it will be career suicide, or maybe it will be too expensive. As long as you have a plan in place, then don’t worry about what others say. You can do it if you want to. Just be flexible.
- Make a budget
- It is not usually a fun activity and it can be very taxing, but you need to make sure you have a solid understanding of your financial position. If you have a significant other, then you need to make sure you BOTH understand what your budget is and try to stick to it. Communicating about money is not easy, but it is critical if you want to be successful (or just win the lottery and not worry about it).
Of course, everyone’s situation is different, so I am not going to try and say that there is a right way to jump into RV’ing. But if you are curious about the RV lifestyle, I hope that our posts help give you a sense of what it can be like and help you avoid some of the mistakes that we may have already made. The RV community is the nicest most helpful bunch of people I have ever met, so you are sure to find whatever help you might need.