By Nanci Dixon
Being almost four years into full-time RVing, I can see clearly (or at least more clearly than I previously could) the mistaken assumptions I made when starting out.
1. Full-time RVing was going to be one long (very long) camping trip. Nope! After the first year, I noticed the “real” campers were still sitting around their campfire battling mosquitoes while we were inside watching Netflix. We were not camping anymore; we were living in our camper. (I have learned that I love having the time to watch Netflix and it is still special to sit around a campfire – just not every night.)
2. The excitement of new places will wipe out missing family and friends. I still miss friends, still miss our children, grandchildren and neighbors. Long-distance emails and FaceTiming are not the same as actually getting together with someone a couple of times a week. Alas, we found that our kids, grandkids and friends all have their own lives that seem to go on well without us. When we come “home,” they are not flocking to our door every night or even every other week.
We meet new people everywhere we travel, and some have become long-term connections. We stay in touch through messaging, email and blogs, and meet when we can.
3. We will have a no-maintenance living. Nope! Just like a house, stuff happens and stuff breaks. While we can clean the motorhome front to back in about 15 minutes, we don’t have any leaves to rake, grass to mow, snow to shovel – but there are still routine maintenance items to be taken care of. Fresh water systems need sanitizing, the oil needs changing, tires need to be pressure-checked, flats need replacing, a hose leaks and the AC quits…
No maintenance or breakdown is insurmountable. Inconvenient, yes, but it can be worked through with diligence, a little know-how and money. Bringing me to the next assumption…
4. It is going to be soooooo much cheaper than living in a house. Eh, not necessarily. Our primary WiFi connection is usually cell service. We have two different providers and three devices to make sure we have coverage. With that, along with satellite service, campground fees, gas, insurance, car/motorhome license tabs, repairs and entrance fees, we are coming close to our monthly housing expenses when we owned our home.
When I remember that we are not on a perpetual vacation, I can watch spending and cut costs. Staying in one place longer to take advantage of lower rates will stretch the dollars as well as cut travel costs. We have to weigh if a premium oceanfront site is worth the dollars, or if a mom-and-pop campground works for one night traveling through. Work camping for a few months slashes expenses tremendously. Biggest cost-cutting? Recreational shopping is just not an option anymore.
5. I will love wherever we are if we can only be full-time RVers. (“Oh please, oh please, oh please!” I said.). I was wrong again. Sometimes we are just parked at a campsite waiting out a reservation. Other times we’re waiting out the weather, waiting out a repair, or worst of all, sometimes we’re waiting for our rowdy weekend neighbors to please pack up the barking dogs, screaming kids, full-volume radio station, smoky campfire and go home.
We can pick up and move. Some sites are glorious and some, well, aren’t. Reviews and Google Earth can help decide both the campground and the site. We don’t have a lot of choice on neighbors but, generally, we have found that campers, RVers and tenters are all a pretty friendly and happy bunch. And those noisy weekend neighbors? They are just enjoying the couple days of freedom until they return to the 9-5 on Monday. Whereas on Monday, I will still be camping – perhaps around a campfire but more likely around Netflix.
Nanci Dixon is a full-time RVer living “The Dream.” She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.