Monday, September 25, 2023


Don’t use the wrong math comparing fulltime to vacation RVing

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

If you’re pondering whether you should jump into the fulltime RV lifestyle, don’t make the mistake that some do. They think about the times they’ve taken the rig out for a vacation trip, then they do some kind of weird math in their heads and say, “Well, that’s what fulltime RVing must be like.”


A vacation in an RV isn’t comparable to fulltiming. Why not? First off, take a look at the sorts of rigs that fulltime RVers actually live in – then compare to the typical “vacation” RV. Size is often a difference. Yes, many fulltime RVers will tell you, one does need a bit more “space” to get along when living in an RV 24/7. And yes, that’s particularly true if you’re fulltiming with a partner. Unless you’re one of those really rare birds, even fulltime RVers need a little personal space. So if you took your pop-up out for a week or two and you came home ready to decapitate your significant other, it may be that you’ll be facing life in prison without parole if you start fulltiming. You may need to upsize your RV.

Vacation RVers always have that little cloud over their heads in the form of an internal calendar/chronograph that, like the alarm clock in the wee-hours of Monday morning, is just ready to pounce and shove you out of bed. You know, no matter how nice your vacation is, it’s going to end and you’ll need to return to the life or Mr. or Ms. Responsible. Not that fulltimers aren’t responsible – many of them have jobs to keep bread on the table. But there’s just a different mindset when fulltiming – often described as a peculiar form of freedom.

Vacation RVers also have to deal with the reality that happens before and after every trip. Put the stuff in, take the stuff out, and by the way, in the middle of the trip, find out what you forgot to put in. We know from personal experience just how true this is. When we were fulltiming, firing up the rig and heading out for a conference, a family gathering, or just some “time off” was easy. You just did it. Now it’s a matter of making lists, scooting back and forth with a wheelbarrow full of stuff, loading up, then repeating the process on the return end. It’s a hassle.

When you’re not using the rig constantly, things aren’t always maintained (face it, you just don’t think about it), and far too often on a vacation trip, something doesn’t work quite right – or doesn’t work at all. When fulltiming, you tend to notice the warning signs, and if you’re smart, you’ll fix it before it leaves you hanging.

The same is true for needed supplies. Most RVers have suffered the agony of a middle-of-the-night visit to the bathroom – only to find they’ve just hit the last square of toilet paper on the roll. Or you reach up in the kitchen cabinet for your favorite box of SnackyCrackies, and hey! What happened? When fulltiming, it’s just easier to stay on top of food and supplies.

So if your last vacation involved a fight with the “other half,” a broken down generator, the lost toothbrush, and a feeling of harassment because things just weren’t quite like they are at home, don’t add those things up and multiply them by 365 days. If you want to use that kind of equation, better you should count those beautiful sunsets, the new friends made, the feeling of freedom – add them up, then multiply. Sure, fulltimers do have their problems on the road, but most will tell you the reality of the good things far outweighs the fear of the bad.

##RVT837 ##RVDT1433

Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.


  1. Campfires are also a big differentiator. Vacationers feel obligated to burn a cord of wood over the weekend. Smoking up the area. Full timers, not so much.

  2. After RVing full time for over 8 years, we decided we had to think ahead to our old old age and bought a small park model home in a park we had enjoyed staying in over the years. It was relatively inexpensive and provided that ‘Grounded’ feeling we felt may become necessary. It was also more the size home we’d become used to while RVing, around 800 square feet (ok it was bigger than we were used to) and it has served us well with a tight community of like minded RV folk and we’ve really enjoyed the transition. Think outside the box a little and you’ll find a good fit that may not be the exact bricks and mortar thing you think.

  3. Denny, that second comment is telling. Unless you are planning to go to the Escapees assisted living RV park, or move into a nursing home from the RV, you need an exit strategy to be able to move back into a “sticks and bricks” home when the RV becomes too much.

  4. Talked to two full timers. Both said they didn’t realize how expensive it is. One said we can only afford our TT . We go between 4 places to stay every two weeks. It’s boring. But with RV maintenance and different cost that have gone up over the years it’s eating into our sales proceeds of the house sale. The other said we don’t get the same kick that we used to when traveling to different places. We should have stayed home but can’t afford to go back.

    • The grounding experience as talked about in the article is very real Hollow feeling when you no longer have it a separation and a full-time divorce pending turned into a full-time rving experience, the fifth wheels space is adequate but not having a place to go back to is a different feeling. Full-time rving is fine, but completely different then it was before

    • I believe this to be the case more often than the industry would like to admit. My wife and I had RV’ed with the kids and when they grew up, the two of us continued with RV vacations. After we retired, we looked into full-timing but decided to continue “vacationing” instead, just for longer periods. We downsized to a lovely two bedroom apartment and launch our adventures from there. Zero home maintenance, we just lock the door behind us when we want to travel and we always have a place to come back to, especially when the time comes that we can no longer RV travel.


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