Taking the leap into full-time RV living was scary. While we had camped some in our small camper, we had never spent more than a week in our RV at a time. After talking through the risks and potential rewards, doing hours and hours of research, and watching a lot of YouTube videos, we decided on an RV, sold our belongings, and headed out on the adventure of a lifetime. This guide will walk you through the basics of how to full-time RV and our experience transitioning to an RV lifestyle.
How Our Full-Time RV Journey Began
Making the decision to full-time RV was a big leap. Like many, the pandemic left us yearning for adventure. We had exhausted most of the parks and trails near home and grew weary from being cooped up in one place. We were hungry for a safe way to enjoy weekends in new places and quickly set our sights on the great outdoors.
Knowing how much we loved our experiences tent camping previously, we decided it was time for an upgrade to help get us into nature for longer. So, we bought our first camper, a 2010 17-foot fiberglass egg that we affectionately named Cassie!
We drove from North Carolina to Oklahoma and back in 2 days to pick up this hard-to-come-by Casita, one of the small fiberglass RV’s on the market. “Cassie” brought us so much joy; the perfect vessel for short trips. We were true weekend warriors and loved it.
Our camper gave us an “escape” from Covid and our long weeks at work. It was a way to share our love for the great outdoors with our new puppy and extended family. With this decision, we officially caught the RV travel bug.
From Weekend Warriors to Full Time RVers
Fast forward a year and we were headed (1300 miles each way) to Mission, Texas to buy a fifth wheel. Yes, that escalated quickly. You can’t say we aren’t committed to a good deal! We picked up a 2015 DRV we named “Rio”, that would soon become our home on wheels.
How it all happened:
After my mom fell ill with a rare disease that left her needing a life-saving liver transplant, we knew we wanted a way to be there to help. We didn’t see South Carolina as a place where we’d settle permanently and an RV gave us the flexibility to be where we needed to be. I transitioned to a remote role and we left our apartment in North Carolina.
We were embracing full-time RV living and honestly were not sure what it would look like for us. Travel and adventure were on the back burner, but this first gift that the full-time RV lifestyle gave us was the greatest. Freedom of location.
If you stop and think about life, sometimes it can feel heavy and fleeting. When you see various loved ones become injured or disabled and unable to work or enjoy activities they used to, fall dangerously ill, or pass away, you can’t help but realize that life is short and time is all but guaranteed.
In our case, fear was part of our motivator, but so were joy and a hunger for life. To live life to the fullest now. To not wait around for days that might not come. Do not expect or assume your body will perform as it always has. We strive to have the courage to live how we want and in a way that helps us thrive and feel fulfilled, rather than follow the status quo just for the comfort of it. After a tough year, our perspectives and beliefs had been challenged in many ways.
The Beginning of Our Full-Time Travel Adventure
My mom started to recover and the timing felt right. We decided it was time to take advantage of the opportunities in front of us. We had an RV we were comfortable living in, remote jobs, and a passion for adventure and connecting with nature. We also knew how healing hiking and being outdoors felt. So, we set out on the road to discover what a new type of life as full-time RVing nomads could offer us.
The Benefits of Full-Time RV Travel
After over a year on the road, we are so grateful for what we have found. Having the ability to travel while we work and spend more time together in nature allows us to be more mindful and intentional.
We live a more conscious and minimal lifestyle, and also have the ability to be back with family at any time. It was a scary decision and the fear of judgment and scrutiny was strong and real. At the end of the day, we felt drawn to living a life that we chose, with our needs and values in mind.
Growth happens outside of your comfort zone.
Full-Time RV Checklist
When transitioning to a full-time RV lifestyle, there are some basics you will need to do in order to prepare:
- Downsize your belongings
- Choose the RV that works for you (Class A, B, C, Trailer/Fifthwheel)
- Get insurance that covers full-time RV living and travel (we love our plan from Progressive)
- Outfit your RV with camping essentials, kitchen items and dishes, and any extra accessories you need or want (Starlink, Solar Panels, Cellular Internet & Wifi Booster, etc.)
- Choose a state to domicile in (popular ones are Florida, Texas, and South Dakota) and decide where your mail will be sent (we use a mailing service called St. Brendan’s Isle)
- Choose any memberships that might benefit you (Thousand Trails, Passport America, Harvest Host, etc.)
Lessons Learned Transitioning to RV Life
While our situation was a bit more complicated in terms of how we ended up in a full-time RV lifestyle, we still learned a lot during our transition!
Downsizing can be tough:
It will be hard to part with things, but it gets easier. If you are like us, you might find life feels better with less. You don’t need as much “stuff” as you might think! Experiences are much more valuable (and science says they are better for your happiness as well).
Choose your RV wisely:
When your RV is your home, it is important to choose a layout and specs that work for you. We needed multiple, separate, workspaces and wanted to be comfortable in both cold and warm climates. Our DRV purchase was very intentional.
There will be plenty of maintenance:
Just like a house, RVs have upkeep. Cleaning, sealing, caulking, tires, etc. The list goes on. No yard work, but still PLENTY of maintenance to stay on top of!
Things will break:
In addition to maintenance, there will be repairs. The tradeoff for your house being able to take you anywhere is that it is a rolling earthquake. Prepare for repairs (mentally and within your budget) and you won’t be caught off guard. It also helps to be handy to save on those expenses!
There is a learning curve and sacrifices:
There will be plenty to learn about RV life. You now have tanks to dump and a whole different list of maintenance to upkeep. It will feel foreign and can be stressful.
You will get used to it. Just like you will get used to sharing a smaller space with your partner and pets, adjusting to new places, and not having ALL the luxuries of your residential home. (Like amazing water pressure or unlimited hot water, for example). If this lifestyle feels freeing and moves you closer to living in alignment with your values, it will all feel worth it.
It will change you:
Full-time RV travel is challenging and wonderful. It can be stressful and leave you missing family and friends at times, but also allows you to have so many unique and meaningful experiences. You will see new things, meet new people, and learn a lot about yourself and the world around you. For us, the experience is one we wouldn’t change for anything.
READ MORE: The Ultimate Full-time RV Checklist
Full-Time RV Travel Overall
Our journey to full-time RV travel was interesting. In some ways, we fell into it as a way to be able to support our family. In other ways, those experiences seeing how fragile life can be shifted our perspective and encouraged us to pursue a life that was fulfilling now and not put off our dreams.
Everyone has their own path and we hope you too will feel empowered to live a life that fulfills you. That challenges you. That allows you to have meaningful experiences that support your well-being and become the best version of yourself.
Life is short and the world is beautiful. Make it a meaningful adventure!