Full-time travel sounds pretty glamorous, and we really enjoy it for the most part. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t drawbacks to it as well. In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of full-time RV travel. Watch the video below or continue reading for the top 5 advantages and disadvantages of full-time RV life.
Do you know how people ask if you want the good news or the bad news first? Well, I always choose the bad to get it out of the way. So that’s what I’ll do here. First I’ll list what I consider the challenges of the full-time RV lifestyle, and then the benefits.
Drawbacks of Full-Time RV Travel
We’ve experienced each of the following to a certain extent over the last six years of our full-time RV journey. Believe it or not, some of them are more recent than others. So, just know these aren’t necessarily things you only experience at the beginning of your full-time RV travels. In fact, you may be so enamored of the freedom of your new lifestyle that you may not notice the challenges your first year or two.
Continual Upkeep is Required. No matter what make or model of RV you buy, regular maintenance is a fact of life for full-time RVers. Think about it, you are driving your home down the road at 60 mph on a regular basis. Also, since RVs are meant to be mobile, they are also built to be lightweight–so the fittings and fixtures aren’t as high quality as a traditional sticks & bricks home. Then add in that you either have automotive systems in your RV or tow vehicle. Plan for routine maintenance and be flexible in your plans when the unexpected occurs. Most importantly keep a sizable maintenance savings fund. We will be writing another post soon about out-of-pocket expenses we’ve incurred even with the manufacturer and extended warranties.
Fluctuating Expenses Wreaks Havoc on the Budget – With so many variable costs (maintenance, fuel, campgrounds, etc.) it is very difficult to stick to a regular budget. We are very strict about maintaining a budget and have gotten better at anticipating changes before they occur. The most important thing you can do is track your expenses. We use the every dollar app and immediately log each and every penny that we spend. This helps us maintain awareness of where our money is going and make changes where needed. Click here to see our full-time RV travel expenses last year.
Internet Woes. We purchased a Pepwave router to go with our Verizon hotspots. They aren’t cheap, but we’re still working remotely, and it was getting more and more frustrating trying to get a decent signal. Even when you get a good signal, mobile internet just doesn’t reach the level it did in the house. The Pepwave allows us to link to our cell phones, hotspots, and the campground WiFi (when available) from one location and even set priority order. Click here for a very informative guide on staying connected using cellular data.
It Can Be Lonely. Hitting the road means leaving your family and friends behind. It can be difficult and costly to get back to visit regularly. Also when you’re traveling full time, you rarely spend a substantial amount of time in one place. Because of this, it can become very hard to build meaningful relationships. When you do make genuine friendships, you often leave shortly thereafter.
My greatest full-time struggle is missing my sons!
Uncertainty. Some people like the spontaneity of the full-time travel lifestyle. However, I’m a planner. For people like me, the uncertainty of long-time travel can be disconcerting. Not having a clear plan for the future, and in some cases not even knowing if you’re going to make enough money for the future, can be a very daunting and stressful experience.
While these are all legitimate downsides of full-time travel for me, they may not be for you. Everyone is different and every journey is unique. For me, the following advantages make it worth this full-time travel lifestyle.
Benefits of Full-Time RV Travel
Experiencing New Places. I have always loved travel! I enjoy visiting small towns and big cities alike. I take solace in a walk on the beach or the woods and equal pleasure at a national park or museum. Traveling by RV allows me to keep moving and experiencing new places.
Rainbow Springs was one of my favorite places we’ve visited so far.
No packing. Extended travel is so much more enjoyable when you have your stuff with you. One of the things that I have always had a hard time with is packing lightly. I always want to have options of clothing. In addition, traveling by RV allows you to take all your toys (bikes, kayaks, snorkel gear, etc.) with you when you visit new places.
Having Time to Smell the Roses. One of the main reasons we wanted to travel full-time in an RV was so that we could enjoy slow travel. We enjoy staying in a location for at least a month. During the winter we often stay for up to 3 months in one spot. This gives us a chance to experience more of an area and get to see it as locals do. Click here to read more about our slow travel style.
Growing our Relationship. After raising three boys, we thought we had a very close relationship and we did. However, living and traveling full-time together in this small space has brought us even closer together. We have learned how to communicate with each other better and our relationship is stronger for it.
Learning Flexibility. I’ve always been a planner and have a contingency plan for the main plan. Traveling full-time has taken me out of my comfort zone because there are too many variables to anticipate. It has helped me learn to be more flexible and dare I say, spontaneous.
Want to learn more about how you can live full-time in an RV? Click here!
The full-time RV travel lifestyle is so different from any other. Though it’s filled with undeniable benefits and brings you incredible experiences, it is by no means an easy way to live and comes with a lot of its own challenges. These are just a few considerations to make when deciding if full-time RV life is for you. What other concerns do you have? Drop us a note in the comments and let us know.
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Andy Friedman says
I can relate to this on so many levels. The constant maintenance and repairs was something I wasn’t expecting. I stress over internet (for work). I started out naively thinking I’d be able to use campground wifi most of the time (lol!). I also have a 4G signal booster which helps but it doesn’t work miracles – if you’re in a dead zone there’s still nothing to amplify. And I’m very much a planner myself and usually have my campground reservations booked out at least 4 months in advance. I guess it’s a fear of not having a place to stay if I wait too long. It’s difficult for me to think about where I’m going to be 6 months from now and this locks me into an itinerary with little room for flexibility. It’s a personal issue I’m working on.
On the plus side: I spend a lot more time outdoors going on hikes, etc, I have the ability to visit friends and family a lot more often, and otherwise get to see places I’d probably never see.
I’m now looking to get out of my comfort zone once again. I think this is how we keep growing as humans. I’m looking to downsize from my class A diesel & toad to a truck camper setup. I want to be able to go a little more off the beaten path and squeeze into tighter spots that I’d otherwise have to pass up. I want to be able to pull into a gas station or shopping center on a whim without having to scout it out on Google maps to make sure I can get in and get out without much hassle. Plus I wouldn’t need a dedicated tow vehicle so it’s one less vehicle to maintain.
Anyway, as always, love the posts!
Julie Chickery says
Totally get the desire to downsize. I’m getting a little tired of all the logistics that go into moving around this 44′ Fifth Wheel. Heck, I use Google Maps to scope out a place just to visit in the truck. I don’t mind driving it, but parking it is not my thing.
I agree with pretty much all of these. The internet accessibility issue has really become a pain in the butt lately. We had pretty reliable coverage our first year on the east coast and southern half of the U.S., but these past couple months out west have been a constant struggle. It seems like some sort of luxury to most people, but we use the internet for everything all the time. Suddenly not having it is a real headache. We’ve considered a cell booster, but you need to have some sort of signal to begin with for those things to even help, and in several of these places, we’ve had nothing at all. Anyway, good article….
Julie Chickery says
You’re making me nervous about the internet. I neeeeed it! I’m only 10% joking about that too. Not sure how I lived the first half of my life without it really. We’re heading west for the winter so I guess we’ll see.
David Robinson says
I agree to all the above and the previous comments! My wife and I have been workamping now for six seasons in OR/WA/AZ. Last year we were hit with health issues we were not prepared for and no health coverage! A half million dollars later, triple bypass open heart surgery, and a miracle…lets say we are on the road to recovery!! God is good to us, and we are looking forward to the retired life ahead of us. The UNEXPECTED LIFE ISSUES we were not prepared for! I would add the difficulty in filing taxes when you work in three different states, mail forwarding issues getting notices late due to connectivity as mentioned, and medications on the road. Not every location has a Walmart, a Bi-Mart, COSTCO, or a Safeway pharmacy. Another issue has been many out of the “tri-cities” or metropolitan areas, you do not have access to DOCTORS, you may end up with a “Nurse Practitioner” which can complicate issues with mail order meds.
Gotta get back to work!
LOVING this work and lifestyle as a campground host with the wife!!
David & Sandy Robinson
Julie Chickery says
First, I am so glad to hear that you are on the road to recovery. I can’t imagine how scary that must have been. Second, it is wonderful to read how happy you are. This live is truly a gift.
For us it’s going to be internet. We’re just using the data on our phones (we’re in Australia) and it’s so expensive! Especially if you go over your quota for the month.
We’ve been in a house for the last six months (after travelling in a tent trailer for 5 months) and about to move into a tiny 14ft travel trailer. I’m nervous about tiny living… but also really excited by it!
Julie Chickery says
So excited for you! We finally got an internet plan that doesn’t penalize you for going over. They just reduce your speed for the rest of the month. That’s so much better than having to keep track of how much data we use.
Margie DQ says
I have never traveled in one full time, but it is something my husband and I have discussed for when we retire. This post lays out the good and bad. Very appreciative of this perspective!
Thanks for visiting our website! We think the pros outweigh the cons for now, but will probably go back to part-time RVing in a few years.
Your pros are all fantastic, but as a planner as well, I’m not sure if I could deal with the “not knowing” aspect. Although, I guess you could book spots in RV parks as you’re driving along that day? That might help.
Julie Chickery says
I do know quite a few people who use apps or call ahead each travel day to find where they will stop for that evening. I can’t do it! I need to have reservations before we get on the road. In fact, I prefer them a few months in advance.
I’ve never really considered some of the cons, but they are good thing to think about. I’d love to do more cross country travel although I am unsure if I would want to do RV travel or some other way. Thanks for sharing your 1yr breakdown of expenses as well!
Oscar Morrison says
It’s helpful to consider traveling by RV full-time could give us opportunity to grow even closer together. Our kids are out of high school and we want to downsize, so we’re thinking of getting an RV for a while to enjoy our time together. Having the time alone to travel and explore could be nice for us.
Brandi Nicole says
Uncertainty, experiencing new places, and all of the above are some of the reasons I’ve grown to love Rv life. You grow a lot as a person and it is very humbling. It’s funny to hear what people are worried about loosing vs gaining when thinking about diving into RV life. Thanks for sharing!