Are you curious but still on the fence about living the full time RVing lifestyle? If any of the following applies to you, you might just want to have a long, heartfelt conversation with yourself about exactly what you’re willing to sacrifice to live the RV life. Because it’s definitely a lifestyle that flies in the face of the standard cultural narrative (in the U.S., anyway), and it’s certainly not for everyone. (But for those who love it, it’s the bees f*cking knees, y’all!)
Sign #1: You’re a hoarder.
Could your current home be featured on an episode of the TV show “Hoarders“? Do visitors have trouble navigating your space because there’s barely enough room to squeeze even the narrowest of asses through the clutter of faded recipe books, old encyclopedias, scary porcelain dolls, and other assorted knick-knacks you own? Does it feel almost physically painful for you to part with even a single piece of your massive memorabilia collection, even for a good cause?
I feel you. I’m not a huge lover of collectibles or anything, but when I was prepping to start my full time RVing journey, it was really tough getting rid of some of the sentimental little things I’d held on to for what felt like my whole life, you know? They were like old friends to me. (I even got my phone out and took pictures of some of my old friends before I let them go, because I wanted something to remember them by.)
But getting SUPER comfortable with the downsizing process is a critical part of getting ready to be a full time RVer. Because you can only take so much with you. And, yes, renting a storage space is a good in-between solution for some of the things you aren’t ready to part with, but if you know you have the tendency to amass “stuff” just in general, you really need to hold yourself in check and accountable for staying light on the road.
Because the danger is that most RVs can physically hold a lot more than they are actually weight-rated for, which means you really can’t just fill up every available nook and cranny willy-nilly; you need to be very careful about how you load up. Having a vehicle with an overweight (or even a severely unbalanced) load on the road can cause serious damage to your tires, your axles, your frame… and more importantly, your life and the lives of those around you on the road.
Anyway, what I’m saying is, I love you, you little hoarder you, and I want you to stay safe. So just be realistic with yourself about this stuff, ‘kay?
Sign #2: “Super-size me” isn’t in your vocabulary. Because you’re, like, a culinary genius, yo, and you need the kitchen to match.
Now I’ve gotta say, if you’re a cooking whiz on, like, a Julia-Child-level or something… well, first of all, I’m totally
jelly impressed, ’cause my culinary genius pretty much stops at putting sandwiches together. And also why aren’t you inviting me over for your oh-so-yummy falling-right-off-the-bone ribs? (JK! Well. Sorta.)
But seriously, if you can only find your true happy place while cooking up a culinary storm of epic proportions, you may find yourself a bit underwhelmed by what an RV kitchen has to offer. Because, I tell you, by wholly guacamole, even the most well-equipped of RVs will probably fall short of what you’re used to when it comes to appliances, counter space, and storage space for all of your magical kitchen supplies.
I’d imagine, really, only a food truck with a bed might approximate what you’d need? Maybe? And I’m pretty sure the health department wouldn’t approve of putting a bed in a food truck. But hey, what do I know about it? If they do, come find me. (I really do want to try some of your famous ribs.)
Sign #3: Your job won’t allow for it. And you don’t have enough savings to wing it
unemployment-style freewheelin’-style for a while.
This is probably the biggest and most common sign that I see stopping people from jumping into the full time RVing life these days. And it’s a realistic and totally understandable one! But let me just say this: If this is you right now, take heart young grasshopper, because this is just a temporary obstacle, and it doesn’t mean full time RVing is not for you forever… just maybe for now, you know?
The good news: You can do it! Eventually. (Yes, f*cking hellz yes babes, you totally can, even if all your friends and family think you’re crazy for wanting to live in an RV, and even if it feels like nobody believes in this dream of yours except for you.) Start saving, and/or start looking for remote work now. The good news is that there are more and more remote work jobs available now than ever before, and there are tons of resources for finding them too! Here’s one of my favorites to help get you started.
Sign #4: You hate the great outdoors, and even the idea of “glamping” makes you shudder.
Be forewarned: As a full time RVer, you’re probably gonna find yourself spending more time outside on the regular than you ever did before. And you might be surprised to hear it, but this is likely gonna be true even if you aren’t one who likes to sit outside and chill on a camping chair, taking in the sights and sounds of nature (which of course includes eyeballing the new neighbors who just made camp across the way from you).
I mean, yes, obv, you will get more outdoor time in if you like to park it under your awning and people-watch every day, but even besides this, just the process of managing RV life in itself involves a lot of outdoor time — whether its hitching and unhitching, managing and refilling propane tanks, securing awnings (and then hastily pulling them in during high winds!), hooking up water and electric, dumping waste water… the list goes on, my friend. In my first few months of full time RVing, I spent so much time in the great outdoors that I developed tan lines in places I’d never had tan lines before and had to get super conscientious about protecting my skin from the sun.
Oh! And another thing: When you live an RV, the great outdoors doesn’t always STAY outdoors. So if you aren’t prepared to skillfully manage unwanted incursions into your space by various flying and crawling creatures (preferably without bloodcurdling girlie-screams, because #girlpower, y’all), then full time RVing might not be the lifestyle for you.
On the other hand, if you’re saying, “Bring it on, Trish! I’m a critter-wrangling badass!” then I salute you, fellow woman warrior. And also, I highly recommend Magic Mesh, because it totally works wonders when it comes to cutting down on flying thingies getting inside.
Sign #5: You need ongoing medical care.
First of all, if this is your situation, I feel for you, and I hope it’s just a temporary roadblock on your journey to full timing. Second of all, disclaimer alert: I’m neither a medical professional nor an insurance specialist. But with that said, I do think that, unless you plan to park your RV in one place long-term and that’s all she wrote, getting medical care outside of your home of record and away from your primary care provider might prove to be a sticky business. Of course, this likely depends on many factors, including the type of insurance you have and the type of medical plan you’re covered under.
But even above and beyond insurance issues: With an ongoing condition, traveling could make continuity of care difficult to impossible, which means likely NOT having ready access to a doctor who knows your medical history intimately, which could make things confusing. And if you’re like me, the last thing you want when you show up at a medical appointment is for your doctor to be ill-informed (pun totally intended) about your situation.
Sign #6: You’re only considering RV life to save on living expenses.
I mean, oy! It already feels like everybody’s doing it, and there can only be so many of us cool kids, yo. JK, JK! Howeverrrrrrr… if you are primarily looking at full time RV living from an economical perspective, it does bear keeping in mind that there are lots of hidden costs that could pop up that you may not be taking into account.
For instance, RVs are notorious for being assembled in a less-than-stellar, rather slapstick manner, which means that even if you buy a brand-new, right-off-the-lot model, the likelihood of something needing to be repaired every so often is high. (I shelled out around $1,000 for mobile repair work in my first 15 months of RV life.)
And RV parks in many areas seem to be raising their rates without any good reason other than that they CAN, probably in response to the increase in demand for spots (because #EverybodysDoingIt, as I said, LOL). For perspective: I called one popular park in the Los Angeles area and was put on a waiting list with an estimated call-back time of six to eight months. Which is like, wow. And makes “advance planning is critical” kind of an understatement.
On the other hand, if your plan is to boondock on public land, like BLM land, for instance, well then okay — dispersed camping (that’s what the cool kids call it, BTW) offers fairly wide open venues where there’s usually space for everyone (especially in the southwestern part of the U.S.). And it’s also typically free or low-cost, as long as you’re willing to move to a different location every two weeks or so.
An important caveat: Boondocking (sometimes also called “dry camping” because it usually means parking in an off-the-grid spot with no electricity, water, or sewer hookups) comes with its own unique expenses. And since getting power into your rig is a big part of what makes RV life so “homey,” you’ll likely need either a generator (and generator fuel), or a solar-panel and inverter set-up. And if you’re not handy and plan to hire one of the experts to do your solar installation (f*cking around with electricity is no joke, y’all), be aware — many of the most reputable solar installers are highly in-demand and have lengthy waiting lists (again, we’re talking months, babes).
If this article makes you think twice, good. Just don’t let it make you think that I don’t love my RV lifestyle.
Question things, y’all! Question all the things! Questions bring clarity, and that’s what I want for you — to be clear on your direction with this. It just might make the difference between dancing a celebratory jig over your new RV lifestyle or wallowing in the sinking feeling that you made a big mistake.
And I encourage everyone to question things, just in general, babes. Because I like to question things. Like… I question literally everything about everything. And it serves me well, I think.
If I never questioned the socially accepted idea that everyone should live in a “3 Little Pigs”-style home that was all, like, “you can huff and puff but you can’t blow it down, you dirty wolf, because it’s built of safe and comfy bricks,” well then you wouldn’t be here reading this.
And truly, I love full time RVing and wouldn’t trade it for the world. In fact, my plan is ultimately to upgrade and have two different RVs — a “biggie” (probably a Forest River 5th-wheel, but I’m still debating) and a “little-y” (a totally cute and convenient conversion van, for easily zipping to and fro around the nation) — so that I can claim the best of both nomadic tiny-home-on-wheels worlds.
I hope you find the best of all possible worlds for you, as well. Mad respect for being here and doing some serious questioning, babes.
P.S. Be on the lookout on my website in the next few weeks for some totally awesome tips and tools I’m developing to help make this whole process a LOT easier on my fellow BADASS LADY-BAWSES out there!