Have you ever wanted to make a lifestyle change or travel full-time, but had no idea where to start? As more people are trading in their traditional lifestyles for a nomadic one (by living and working full-time in an RV), I wanted to share a few of the RV life lessons we learned at the beginning of our journey to help inspire, motivate, and prepare you for an amazing RV TRAVEL ADVENTURE!
While some experienced adventurers are prepared to make a lifestyle change, I was NOT! I thought RV life was going to be like a vacation all the time. We were going to travel the country, see and do things we had never done before, and experience amazing travel adventures. In my mind, things were going to go smoothly all the time, and life was going to be skittles and rainbows!
In reality, RV life is full of highs and lows – of major wins and deflating challenges, but I’ve learned how to live minimally, the importance of communication, and why I need to share the top 9 RV life lessons we learned at the beginning of our journey!
Lesson 1: Ignorance Is Not Always Bliss
The first lesson, and probably the most eye-opening was I had no clue what I was doing. How hard could it be to live full-time in an RV? It’s just like living in a traditional home, except a tad bit smaller, right? In the beginning, I was completely lost when it came to how much work goes into living full-time in an RV. Don’t get me wrong! I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but where does the sewer hose go and why can’t I just plug the camper into electricity, and everything works at the same time?
These were only two of the questions that I had to learn the hard way. Oh, and why does the RV stove only have 3 burners and not 4 like a normal stove? After living full-time in our RV for a little over a year now, I have learned quite a few important things when it comes to full-time RV Life, and I’m still learning every day.
Lesson 2: Fear Is Always Close Behind
With any new adventure or season of change, fear has a way of finding you. It sometimes creeps into your thoughts and paralyzes you to the point of stopping your forward motion. For me and Travis, fear was definitely there. It told us that our dream of full-time travel was impossible and that we were crazy to think we could live a life on the road. What if a family member got sick? Where would we go? And what about the bills?
With fear following close behind, we said goodbye to our family and friends, set out on our new adventure of full-time RV life, and headed west to Arizona. True to our name, Going With The Flow RV, we had no official plans and no clue where we were going to stop for the night. For us, the first step in our new journey was to push through the fear and take that first step forward into the unknown!
Lesson 3: Take Time To Enjoy The Adventure
Finding the right travel pace for the full-time RV lifestyle is essential, and is often different than the occasional weekend camping trip. Typically, traveling part-time you have a destination, and a time to come home. You are limited in how far you can travel, and what you can see or do before having to go back to normal daily life. This means the more time you spend on travel days, the less time you have to enjoy the adventure.
At the beginning of our new travel adventure, I had that same frame of mind. I planned our driving times, our nightly stops, and the amount of time it would take us to get from one place to the next. We drove, set up, ate, slept, tore down (after my morning coffee), and drove some more. In my mind, we had a destination, and we had to get there as quickly as we could. I didn’t slow down enough to realize we were racing through the state of Texas (and it’s a big state) without taking time to experience the adventures passing us by.
It was in New Mexico that I finally realized we were moving a little too fast. We had scheduled a stop for two nights at Hidden Valley Ranch RV Park in Deming, NM. It was a beautiful RV park on a working cattle ranch, surrounded by mountains in the desert. The sites were large, the views were amazing, and the community was more than friendly. On our last night there while on a hike, I asked Travis why were we leaving the next day? He had no response.
It was at that moment that I realized we had nowhere, in particular, we had to be. Time was not a factor for us anymore; it was no longer dictating our lives. Our new full-time RV life allowed us to focus on the memories we were making instead of being burdened with the effects of time on our final destination.
Lesson 4: Living Minimally Means Having A Budget
Some people decide to live full-time in an RV to save money and pay off debt. However, to do this a budget must be set. The RV lifestyle can be as expensive as you want, but can also be done on a budget. It doesn’t mean you have to give up the adventures or the experiences, but it does consist of tracking expenses so that you have enough funds to live your American dream.
Lesson 5: Space Is Limited In An RV
When living in small spaces like an RV, things can sometimes feel a little cramped! You’re constantly bumping into one another, you’re together all the time, and have you ever tried fitting more than one person in the bathroom? Not an easy task! Now don’t get me wrong we totally enjoy our new home, but there’s peace in finding a quiet corner of the RV or a secluded hiking trail to reflect on our journey. Learning to find our alone time has helped us find balance in our relationship while being able to appreciate each other in our small space.
Lesson 6: Communication Is The Key
When people say, women are from Venus; Men are from Mars, believe them! It may not be true in the literal sense, but for us, we have learned that we think and process information differently. So, communication is the key. I have learned to listen first, and speak second because I tend to jump into the conversation without totally listening to what is being communicated. This sometimes leads to misunderstanding, and in a small space, tensions can rise fast. Conflict often occurs when there is miscommunication, so by actively listening and discussing the issue when it occurs, the situation can be defused. We have, also, learned not to take each other so seriously. Life is a journey, and sometimes we just need a good laugh!
Lesson 7: Share The Chores
“Honey, can you take out the trash?” “Sure, just after the football game.” Have you ever had a conversation like this? Many people think that full-time RVing is like living a vacation all of the time, and sometimes it does feel that way, but life still happens, and chores still need to be done. Living in small spaces, stuff can pile up quickly. The dishes need to be done, the trash needs to be taken out, the bed needs to be made, and the dogs have to go out sometimes. Chores need to be done, even when you don’t particularly want to at the time. I’m still learning not to procrastinate and try to write things down so I don’t forget, but by sharing the chores, life can go smoothly and everyone feels like they are contributing to the lifestyle.
Lesson 8: Respect Boundaries
In every relationship, there must be boundaries. The same is true, even more so, when you are living in an RV. Since we live in a world of technology, our cell phones and computers play an important role. One of the boundaries Travis and I have set is, No Phones at the Table. This allows us to engage in conversation without having the interruption of the constant DING of our phones or computers. We enjoy discussing our day and what plans we may have. We eat in peace! Boundaries are set, they are discussed regularly, and are respected so that our relationship can thrive.
Lesson 9: Enjoy the Adventures
I’m about to get deep here, so excuse the self-reflection! I know you have heard the phrase before “Life is too short!” This statement will forever ring true to me. In the first three years of marriage, my husband and I had to deal with some trying times. In 2009, he was in a major accident. In 2010, that accident left him in a coma for seven days. Then in 2011, I was diagnosed with cancer.
These health-related issues played a major part in our decision to become full-time RVers. We have been able to travel freely, experience amazing adventures, and enjoy the life we have always dreamed!
So, the last and most important lesson I learned in the beginning of our RV journey is to just enjoy the adventures. You only get one shot in this amazing thing we call life!