Reflecting on full-time RVing. Why it worked for me, why it didn’t

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By Chuck Woodbury
How often do you use your RV? A couple of weeks a year? A few months? Probably not surprising to you, there are a million RVers who live all the time in their RVs, and probably another million who spend a good part of the year in theirs.

Many people dream of the day when they can go on the road with a motorhome, trailer or other RV. They are so comfortable now that it’s easy to live in one, enjoying nearly all the creature comforts. And the freedom is incredible — when you tire of one place, move to another. You’ll make new friends as you go. Some will remain friends for years.


Recently, during a brief visit to Quartzsite, Ariz., I was invited into the fifth wheel winter home of a full-timing couple from Wisconsin. They were holed up in the wide-open desert, nobody else for 100 yards, with no hookups. Their nearest companions were a couple dozen saguaros.

As I approached the RV, I thought it must be a lonely life there. I noticed the couple had manicured their little piece of desert with a rock-lined front walkway and had placed a few potted plants in the shade of their awning. Several lawn chairs were atop a few square yards of artificial turf.

Inside, there was plenty of room for two people with all the creature comforts — spacious kitchen, TV, computer, big bedroom with bathroom — everything two people would need to live with ease and comfort. Outside, a solar system harnessed the energy of the sun to provide ample electricity.


Actually, it didn’t feel lonely at all.

Just as I entered the RV, the cell phone rang: One of the couple’s children was calling from the Midwest. The phone did double-duty as their link to the Internet. “How different was this from a ‘home’ that didn’t move?” I thought.

Reflecting on full-time RVing. Why it worked for me, why it didn't
Life is especially good in campsites like this.

I recently finished up two years of full-timing. In my case, I wore out in the end. I think what ultimately did me in was the constant stimulation. There were always new people to meet, and new places to explore. For a curious person, it can become mind-numbing. My mind never rested. I increasingly yearned for a quiet place where I could be alone, with time to think. Introverts, as I am, need such quiet time.

Now, a year has passed since I returned to Seattle and bought a new home. Life now is anything but stimulating. But I feel calm, and have lots of time to think and write. I love to write, so my life is fairly close to perfect. For now, that is.

Yet, I have little doubt that it will not be long before the urge to “go” will be upon me again. My motorhome is parked alongside my house and ready to go. I still feel warm and fuzzy every time I walk into it. Some days I take my computer in there to write. Sometimes I hide out in there, maybe take a nap in my corner of the bed, a very happy and safe place.

The next time I leave with my RV I will keep the house. I know the time will come when home will beckon, and when that happens I will have no choice but to return or feel my brain explode from over-stimulation.

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Carson Axtell

My idea of a “homebase” is some rural property with a small building on it with utility hookups. The inside would be big enough for a small kitchen and bathroom and an air-conditioned/heated living space for dining and relaxing, and equipped with wifi internet access. The RV would still serve as the bedroom, accessed by a covered breezeway. I think that’s all I would need to catch some “downtime” when I make the mistake of burning out from too much non-stop traveling…

Carole M.

Chuck, I’m glad you found what works for you. My dad was a traveling salesman before he married my mother. Every year as soon as school vacation started, we were on the road in the car, always in a different direction, so I guess travel is in my DNA. My mother said camping for her was Holiday World. My DH and I have lived in our 5th wheel now for nine years. We park host periodically at State Parks and love what we learn on the road. At this point I can’t imagine living in a stick house. Fortunately, we have a membership where we can go when we can no longer travel, yet still live in our trailer. Thanks for your newsletters and for all you do!!

Scott R. Ellis

I think that whether RVing is more or less “overstimulating” to an introverted sort depends upon how you go about it. As you alluded to in your opening, it is quite possible to set up one’s temporary home in sites that offer as little stimulation as one might want. If you park in busy RV parks, populated by hoards of people who assume that you want to meet the neighbors, that’s the experience you’ll have.

agesilaus

You provided exactly zero info on the problems of fulltiming. You got tired of it does not make a useful article. I’ve noticed a number of fulltime bloggers have taken a vacation from fulltiming and went back to stick and bricks but they usually are back on the road again in a few years.

John Koenig

I sold my “stick & brick” about 18 months ago and went from an extended time RVer to a genuine full time RVer.The ONLY things I miss are the whirlpool tub and nice shower. It’s nice NOT to have to worry about a house while I’m on the road (and NICER still, NOT having to pay for something I’m NOT using). I attend several RV rallies each year thus satisfying the need for human contact but, I fully understand (and agree) with the need for solitude. Going “full time”, I KNEW I could always buy another stick & brick. However, while I’m healthy enough to safely operate an RV, I’m GOING for it! I choose to be “old” later (MUCH later). I am a solo and, although at times it would be nice to have a “significant other”, that status comes with its’ own set of problems. I find it easier to find company (when I want it) than it is to find solitude (when I need it).

Bob Godfrey

Chuck, I must say that I totally understand your predicament too. We have lived and traveled in our motor home for 10 years and we are looking at a small home in an RV community to have as a base (for me mainly-I miss my shop) but I’m also very much aware of how great this country is in its beauty and how much we have enjoyed traveling throughout it. We have been to all 49 States and 9 Canadian Provinces and still have not had enough of it. Whenever we might travel elsewhere without the RV (outside the US) and return to it it is like visiting an old friend. We thoroughly enjoy a motor home. Now, if they’d only build that bridge to Hawaii!

Kenny Goss

Chuck,

I was born and raised in Southeast Texas just outside of Orange. My parents have lived pretty much the perfect RV life for a long, long time.

We used to camp and go on trips in pop up campers while growing up and loved it.

Once all 5 of us kids had moved out my parents would constantly be on the move pulling whatever 5th wheel they owned at the time. Especially after Daddy retired.

Fan Fest in Nashville, Livestock Show & Rodeo in Houston, visiting kin people all over the place, trips to the shows in Branson, Missouri, trips all over the U.S. (and part of Canada), parking in my driveway wherever I was stationed while in the Marine Corps and still camping locally so their kids, grandkids and great grandkids could go camping with them.

They even set up a “campsite” on land they own in Lacassine, Louisiana near one of my brothers and near all of Momma’s family.

Through it all they said they’d never sell their house and live in it full time. They said it was always nice having a home to come home to.

They’re both in their mid-80’s now and don’t pull their 5th wheel anymore. They leave it in Lacassine and split their time between their “campsite” and their home.

And their kids, grandkids and great grandkids still love to go visit them in their camper.

That’s pretty much the type of RV life I’m trying to live too.

Kenny Goss

Ran

Hey Chuck!
I’m jealous you have the ability to park your MH next to your house! We have to store ours and the monthly price is such a pain. We’ve been trying to find a DECENT house with RV parking here in California, but seems to be hard to find and many oppose the parking……
I would love to do the same. Hang out in the Motorhome while at home, tinker with the stuff that needs it, and enjoy it more with less stress thinking someone will break into it in storage! (Yes, it’s happened to my last Motorhome).
Keep up the good work! Always enjoy the daily stimulation!

Bill T.

Hi Chuck. Operating from a home base works well for us. We live in Canada and do extended travel trips. We enjoy our rig and traveling to new places and meeting new people, but after 2 or 3 months, it’s always nice to “come home” to regroup, reconnect with friends and neighbors and look forward to the next trip.