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You are excited! You’ve decided that the RV living lifestyle is one you want to try, whether for a weekend or an extended amount of time and you are ready to jump in with both feet. We get it, we were there once too! But before you get started, there are some things to keep in mind, because we want to share the excitement of RV living with you, and want you to enjoy the benefits it provides for the long haul (no pun intended).
1. RV Living Can Be Stressful
From the outside looking in, RV living seems like a vacationing unicorn. It’s rainbows and sunshine, RV shows with shiny new rigs and talkative salesmen, and Youtube videos of picturesque vacations. After all, you do get amazing views or fun activities, time to de-stress and unwind, and a night’s stay cheaper than a hotel room. What’s not to love, right?
Well, it’s not always what it’s cracked up to be for two main reasons:
You Have To Find A Place To Set Up Camp
When you are just starting out in the land of RV living, you haven’t yet developed the systems that work for you to find great camping spots. There’s an endless array of maps, books, apps, and websites for finding places to park your RV.
Where do you start? Which ones should you buy? How do you know the site will work for your RV? Do you need reservations? How far out should you try to reserve?
These are all questions that plague the RVer trying to plan a trip or find a last minute camp. Some people find the idea of having to scramble and find a place to park easier to deal with than others. For some, this is a huge stress point.
The RV Has To Get From Point A To Point B
It sounds like such a simple thing. You are probably thinking, “Well, Hello. You just drive there, right?” Yes, sort of. But there is so much that goes into just “getting there.” Oh, and by the way, traffic is the devil in an RV. And no, you cannot just change lanes because there is no room for all 40ft of your RV happiness. Depending on the type of RV you have, there is a multitude of things to consider before and during your travel time.
Although not normally a problem for small travel trailers, popups, and those tiny personal campers that are starting to appear everywhere, most other RV’s have to consider clearance when they travel. If you haven’t considered this issue yet, you will likely end up with a negative result somewhere. Whether a Class A, B, C, Truck Camper, or Camper Van, clearance is something you should absolutely know before you go. Because, if your rig is 11′ 5″ and you are blissfully unaware as you drive under a low bridge marked 10’9″ you are going to be in need of a good insurance agent in a hurry. Routes of driving need to be planned where the likely hood that you just simply won’t fit is slim. Don’t try to put a rectangle peg in a square hole. It doesn’t end well.
Corners and Backing
Chances are, even though you have been researching the RV living lifestyle for quite a while, you haven’t gone so far as to take a trailer or large rig driving class. There should be more of those available, mainstream because otherwise trial and error take a LONG time. Safety of yourself and others is indeed important.
Unfortunately, fifth wheels and travels trailers aren’t designed to be articulated like those fun little trams that take you to the parking lot at theme parks.
With any kind of trailer, you have to remember that it doesn’t follow the same track as the rig you are pulling it with. They don’t exactly go where you go and learning where they track to as you make different tightness of corners is a learning curve that can be long. Trust me, curbs eat tires. They do. There is a similar rule of thumb for the drivable RV’s. Being longer in the wheelbase than most vehicles people are used to means that they often eat their fair share of curb dirt with a novice behind the wheel as well. It takes a lot of mental gymnastics to figure out how to get something that big around corners without taking out the car next to you.
Then, there is always the park that only has back-in sites. And now you’ve got to back up this giant rig that now has your nerves shot from trying to maneuver thru traffic. Yes, a spotter will help. No, the trailer will now follow your vehicle. They are “broken” in the middle, which makes backing a trailer a sport all on its own, regardless of size. Plus, there’s a tree limb hanging in the way here, and they put that post in the worst possible spot to try and swing your rig around and get into your site. There are very few “easy” sites. Practice makes perfect, but be prepared for the neighbors in the park to do some snickering while you climb the learning curve.
2. RV Living Can Be Expensive
Alright, I know you’ve watched 30 or more Youtube videos about how RV Living can save you money. I admit it can. HOWEVER, and that truly is a really big HOWEVER, it takes practice, planning, giving some things up, and a lot of time to get to a point where RV Living actually saves you money. Does it save us money? Yes, but it took a lot of time and work to get to that point.
Oh, and by the way, the RV dealer isn’t going to tell you until AFTER he makes the sale, that you also need to purchase a stinkly slinky, a water hose, and a multitude of other things to make the RV function.
RV Living is What You Make It
Here’s where that expensive part gets tricky. There is a misconception that you can buy whatever RV you want, and/or whatever tow vehicle you want, then stay wherever you want, do all the cool things the tourists in that area do, and eat at all the neat hidden gems from Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and SOMEHOW be saving money over your regular lifestyle. This is where things are not as they seem.
There are many people who start out looking at the RV living lifestyle that are having trouble downsizing from their house, and feel that there just isn’t enough space. So, they go out looking at RV’s, and the Class A’s or 5th Wheels seem the right size, but this one has cool led lights, and that one has automatic jacks, and before you know it the RV they are looking at purchasing to “save money” costs as much as a mortgage in some parts of the US. The way to SAVE money is to be able to purchase your RV outright, and be confident in the value of your purchase and the value it will hold should you decide the RV living lifestyle isn’t for you.
Additionally, RV living CAN be cheap. But in order for it to be that way, you have to research sites, try to find cheap ones that meet your needs. If you want free sites, you have to be prepared to boondock. You also can’t ALWAYS be a tourist. RV living on the cheap also means spacing out your costly tourist activities and balancing your miles driven each month. It’s a delicate act.
No One Tells You That Any Repair is 3-4x More Expensive Than You Are Used To
So, in your house, something happens and a pipe starts leaking in the bathroom. You call the plumber and he finds that a pipe beneath the sink is said problem and he will have to do XYZ. The total bill is $120. A very similar issue and repair in an RV has to be done by an “RV repair facility” (if you and Youtube together aren’t brave enough to tackle it) no normal plumber is going to touch it. That “RV repair facility” is going to want to keep your rig at least overnight, and the bill that was $120 in a house is going to be $600-700 for the SAME XYZ problem. Be prepared ahead of time. RV repairs are expensive.
3. RV Living Can Be Disgusting
In your sticks and bricks home, your significant other goes into the bathroom, closes the door that has only a small gap at the bottom, takes care of business, and it flushes away to never, never land. This is not the case in an RV. Be prepared to deal with more #1’s and #2’s, and all that other stuff that happens in the bathroom.
RV Living Affords Little Privacy
Unless you are single, which is a perfectly acceptable way to begin the RV living lifestyle, but not so common, be prepared for very little privacy. At All. I don’t care how cool the RV seemed when you looked at it to buy it, but for whatever reason, RV manufacturers of ALL kinds of RV’s seem to think that the door needs a 6″ gap at the top and the bottom. It makes sense that things need to flex, but at that point there had might as well be just a curtain.
Anyone in the RV while you are in the bathroom, will hear EVERYTHING, they will smell EVERYTHING even with the fan on, and there will be no hiding it when mother nature gives you a rumbly in the tumbly.
Ain’t Nobody Gonna Deal With The POO But You
You guessed it, what goes into that happy little black tank, at some point must come out. A little word to the wise here, make sure you have gloves and inspect your stinky slinky before you pull the lever to unleash the beast. Draining the black and gray tanks is a very inglorious part of RV living, but it is also very necessary. Be prepared, and don’t let a black shower take you by surprise. The RV park WILL make you clean it up….with sanitizer…and people watching.
4. RV Living Can Be Exhausting
The excitement of that first outing as people take up RV living revs them up. They want to go here, and see this, and do this, then go there, and see that, and do something else. There is a constant flow of moving or doing something. You will have to pack, unpack, and still do things like laundry and dishes. This initial frenzy on top of all of the normal life things that have to happen starts to wear. Before they know it, they are exhausted.
Yes, there is so much to see and do just within the United States that one Rv’er will never see and do it all. There’s just that much. So, instead of exhausting yourself and beginning to hate the RV lifestyle, be sure to pace yourself. Plan extra days at cheaper locations to recharge. Then, even more days than you think you need to do mundane things like laundry. Move less often so that you have to pack and unpack less, and be specific in what you want to see or do, instead of trying it all. Build great memories, instead of harried ones.
5. RV Living Can Be Perfect
So, there can be downsides to RV living, and there is a ton to learn. But you can’t let that get in the way of finding your perfect way to RV. It will be worth it.
Your Perfect RV is Out There
Much like buying a home, there are many things to consider when purchasing an RV. They are each so different and have their pros and cons. Try the RV lifestyle on for size, educate yourself, and look at more RV’s than you think you need to. The perfect one for you and your situation is out there. Some people are lucky and find their one the first time. Others go through RV’s like underpants and still don’t feel right. Weight the options carefully. Put thought and effort into how the efficiency of your life works and you will find one that works just fine.
There’s A Reason So Many Are RV Living
From grand vistas out west to beach adventures in the east, there are places you need to see or experience via RV. The nomadic lifestyle affords something different all the time. It gives an opportunity for experiences and moments like no other. It calls to many of us, like bees to honey. There’s so much to explore and do, and what better way to get there than to take your home with you?