So you’ve decided to take the leap into full-time RV living, now you’re wondering what you need to do to get there.
There are many reasons to live and travel full-time in a recreational vehicle from saving money to a desire to see more of our beautiful country.
In this article I’ll cover a few key steps you can follow to prepare yourself and your RV in a stress-free way!
The RV Purchase
Before you start looking at RVs, first consider your RV life. How you plan to live and travel in your RV should have a huge impact on what type of RV you choose. Consider these questions for a start:
- How quickly do you plan to travel? Breaking down and moving often can be more cumbersome with some RVs than others.
- Which room is your home is most important to you? If you enjoy cooking, you may want an RV with a large kitchen. If you work remotely, you will need to consider a comfortable work space.
- What type of activities do you enjoy? Will you want room for indoor activities or space outside the RV to carry bikes and kayaks.
- Do you plan to stay mostly at privately owned campgrounds or would you like to frequent national parks? Most national park campgrounds have smaller sites and restrict larger RVs.
- Would you like to dry camp or boondock often? If so, you’ll need to consider your power sources, water tanks, and
Here’s a video we created discussing some tips on choosing the right RV for you.
If you are in doubt about what type of RV to purchase, we recommend renting first. Peer to peer RV rental services have all makes and models of RVs.You can even rent a fifth wheel or travel trailer and have it delivered to a nearby campground if you don’t have a truck yet.
One great way to save money and yourself from a very costly mistake is to purchase used. Read this article to answer the question should I buy new or used?
Once you have your RV, there will still be work to get it ready for your full-time RV travels. This will include purchasing the essentials and completing any required modifications. This ranges from electrical and water systems to safety gear and comfort items.
There are a few key items you may need for your RV’s electrical systems.
The first and most important is a Surge Guard electrical management system. This is much more than a surge protector. It provides total electrical protection for your RV. Any surge or even low voltage issue can wreak havoc with your RV’s sensitive electrical components, so don’t try to cut costs by skipping this item.
If you are at a campsite with power, you’ll need a power cord. While your RV likely came with one, you’ll want to check and see how long it is and where it plugs into your RV. The last thing you want to do is arrive at a campsite after a long of day of driving and realize the power post at the rear of the site is too far for your cord. If you have a 50 amp RV, you may also want to purchase a 50 to 30 amp adapter known as a dog bone. This will allow you to connect to the 30amp power pedestals often found at state and national parks.
Another essential piece of equipment you’ll need if you want to do any off grid camping a generator. For RV’s, the type you specifically need is called an inverted generator. Not only are they quiet and compact, but they provide a more stable stream of power. With a generator you can power your entire RV, from wall outlets to convection ovens and lights no matter where you are camping.
Water & Waste Systems
You’re going to need a few items to manage your RV water and waste systems. First, you’ll want a long potable water hose to connect to a water source at your site or at a potable water fill station. In between the water spigot and the hose, you’ll also need to add a water pressure regulator and a water filtration system.
You’ll also need a sewer hose to empty the black & gray water waste tanks either at your full hook-up site or a dump station. We’ve used the RhinoFlex hose for years. We are glad we got the 20′ because not every campsite and dump station is created equal. Some are placed quite far from where you’d expect. The clear elbow and 4-in-1 dump station fitting will make life much simpler too.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
The most important piece of safety equipment you can buy is a tire pressure monitoring system, or TPMS. It consists of a series of sensors system that screw onto each tire’s valve stem to monitor tire air pressure and temperature. We have the sensors installed on the Fifth Wheel and truck tires. The TPMS alerts the driver if a tire gets too hot or has pressure outside the desired range (too high or too low). This gives you time to pull over safely before a blowout occurs. We personally recommend the TST 507.
Those are the basics, but see our list of 17 essential items that every RVer needs for more recommendations.
RV Modifications & Renovations
No RV is perfect. You will likely want to make some changes to make it feel like home. Our two major projects were a solar and lithium power upgrade and interior decor renovations.
Watch our four-part series on our RV solar and lithium power upgrade:
See the costs associated with our RV remodel:
Take some time to think about how you plan to use your RV, then prioritize what projects you’ll want to undertake to make it your own.
Now you have your new RV home, you’ll want to get to know it well. If you are an experienced RV traveler, or you’ve had your RV for quite some time, this should be a fairly easy step. But if the RV is new to you, give yourself some time before you move into it full-time.
One thing to be aware of: an RV comes with stacks of user manuals, not just one. The reason for this is that your RV manufacturer makes the body of the RV, but all the components like the air conditioner, furnace, oven, microwave, stairs, leveling jacks, etc. are made by other manufacturers. You’ll want to test all of these components and make sure they are working well before you move into your RV. It is much easier to leave your RV at the shop for warranty work if you have another place to stay.
You’ll also want to get some practice driving and parking before you set out for a cross country adventure. A great place to start is with an RV Driving School. Simply go to their website and find an instructor near you for personalized training for parking and driving all types of RVs.
To state the obvious, an RV is considerably smaller than your average house. With a smaller space, it’s important to reduce the number of “things” lying around which can cause clutter.
Secondly, you can start to reduce the size of your closet. You may love clothes, but do you really need them all?
Lastly, the other extras such as books, cooking utensils, and extra bedding or towels. All of these extras can be sold in person, online, or even donated to charity shops.
A good rule of thumb is if you haven’t worn it or used it in the last month, you probably don’t need it.
The hardest items to part with for many are those with sentimental value. Check out my article on tips for overcoming common hurdles with downsizing.
Now we have covered the major steps to prepare for full-time RV living: RV purchase, RV gear, RV modifications, and downsizing.
The steps can seem fairly basic, however, it’s easy to forget some of the most important things to check when you have so much to think about.
While it can feel like a huge change you should now hopefully feel more confident to tackle, and even enjoy, preparing for your new lifestyle!