Thursday, September 21, 2023


How can I know if RVing is right for me?

A would-be RVer recently posted a question on Facebook. Chip said, “My wife is all hyped up about RVing. She’s ready to buy an RV and take it traveling immediately because we’re both recently retired. I like to think I’m a little more pragmatic. I mean, we’ve never even talked about RVing. She says I’m a stick in the mud. What do you think?”

Oh, Chip. Where to begin? After reading and rereading Chip’s question a few times, I think what he’s really asking is, “How can I know if RVing is right for me?” It’s a good question! And it’s a good idea to investigate the answer before making a sizable investment of money and time.

Is RVing right for you? Things to consider

Rent first

I’m not sure if Chip’s wife is thinking about full-time RV living or if she wants to use an RV for individual camping trips. Either way, I’d recommend that this couple look into renting an RV as a first step. An RV rental will give Chip basic knowledge about camping RV-style. There are several RV rental companies to consider and choose from. The largest is Cruise America, but there are several others. You can Google “RV rentals” for companies or check with your local RV dealer.

By renting an RV, Chip and his wife will learn how to drive an oversized vehicle (or pull one). They’ll also have practice emptying the water tanks, cooking in a smaller kitchen, and spending time together in a somewhat confined space. They’ll also see how nice it is not to live out of a suitcase. They’ll be able to avoid costly restaurant food bills if they cook inside the RV or grill outside. Perhaps they’ll discover bicycle and hiking trails or new, favorite fishing spots, as well.

Since Chip and his wife haven’t had personal experience with camping, a rental can provide it. They’ll see how different campgrounds are set up, the costs involved, and how each campground functions. They’ll (hopefully) learn RVing etiquette and experience both positive and negative aspects of this popular pastime.

Then what?

There are no set criteria for determining whether RVing is right for you. However, there are a few personality traits that lend themselves to RVing. Here are just a few that come to mind:

Seeing new places

If seeing new places excites you, RVing might be a good fit. We’ve experienced mountains, oceans, plains, deserts, and forests as we traveled in our RV. It’s exciting to see a new view out our RV windows each time we park.

Meeting new folks

RVing often means getting to know fellow-RVers as well as meeting people who live in different places and have traditions and foods that are not like those at our “home base.” If you enjoy learning new things, RVing affords you that opportunity. (If you’re an introvert and prefer to keep to yourself, you might research boondocking.)

Comfort needs

You may need to make some changes or upgrades in order to make traveling via RV work for you. Think about this as you consider adopting an RV lifestyle. (For example, I have a difficult time sleeping unless it’s in my own bed. Knowing this about myself, I knew we would probably need to switch out the mattress that came with our RV.) If the necessary changes cannot be made, perhaps RVing is not the way to go.


Flexibility is an important characteristic needed for RVing. Road work can delay your RV trip. Inclement weather can derail outside plans. Mechanical issues can sideline your rig. If you’re able to go with the flow and remain flexible, RVing may be one of the best ways to travel and sightsee.


Talk to any RVer. If they’re honest, they’ll tell you that RVing costs money. Not only do you have the initial rig purchase cost, but you’ll also have ongoing RV maintenance bills, insurance, fuel costs, and camping fees, as well.

Before you buy an RV, consider the cost. If your budget is a bit tight, go for a smaller RV. Or plan to workcamp at least part of the time. Consider boondocking, too.

Check out my article about budgeting here.


RVing is great for those with an adventurous spirit! Getting out in nature and marveling at our created world feeds the adventurous spirit. Even if you don’t always enjoy being outdoors, you can learn a lot in museums, historical venues, and other indoor places of interest along your route.

Is RVing right for you? Do your homework

Before you begin an RVing lifestyle, it’s important to consider whether this way of traveling aligns with your needs and preferences. In short, do your homework!  Find out all you can about RVing. Talk to RVers you know. Join online RV groups. Ask lots of questions. Rent first! And if you plan to RV with a travel buddy, talk about your personality traits and how they may or may not fit with RVing.

Do you have additional advice for Chip and others like him? Please share your ideas in the comments below.


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


  1. Thank you, Gail! We rented twice before buying. Before renting we joined DW’s parents in some RVing adventures. I think that we had a reasonably accurate idea of what RVing entails. However, we were still naïve and have learned a lot in the six years we have been RVing.

  2. After 25 years of RVing I have learned the most important thing is to keep your sense of humor with you and a boat load of patience.

  3. Very few people rent their actual sticks and bricks home before buying and an RV is no different. You won’t make it “yours” if it isn’t yours and it’ll just be a moveable Motel 6 at best. Plus rent is a non-recoverable expense.

    Do your homework, be honest with what you seek and go buy what you think it will take for the lifestyle you’re envisioning.

    Owning forces an honesty, commitment and reality that renting can’t. Worst case, sell it and consider the depreciation “unrecovered rent” accumulated to test your RV’ing readiness.

    PS – If you don’t want to become a Master RV Technician or can’t afford to hire one, don’t get an RV. They always need something. Always.

  4. Great article!

    During a week on the road or longer, my wife wants more downtime than I do. So I end up taking the tow vehicle to visit local points of interest while she chills in the trailer. Our interests are also different. Consider the need for independent travel when deciding between different classes of RVs, tow vehicles, and towed vehicles.

    Rent first for at least a weeklong trip, longer is better. You’ll not only learn the RV stuff, you’ll learn how much independent travel you need to plan for.

  5. Some friends we’ve known for years know we’ve been RVing for over two decades. Finally one day they asked if we thought they should buy a Class C and get into the lifestyle. I flat out told them “NO” because they are five-star hotel folks. Never owned a tent either (not that that is a big qualifier). They didn’t buy that Class C. We’re still friends too. They continue to do the five-start hotel thing and we continue to do our thing.

  6. And you don’t have to do this together! She can be out exploring and camping for short trips and you can be at home enjoying your favorite chair and routines. Lots of women traveling solo out there, safely, experienced, content.

    • I 2nd that Judith! My guy prefers to garden & only goes on trips shorter than a week. I prefer to travel for 2 to 6 months at a time. We did go together for 6 weeks once…only once. I threatened a few times to put him on a Greyhound bus for home. The clock is ticking on how many more years I get to travel, I don’t want to waste time staying home. Tell Chip you are shopping for an RV. Do your homework and educate yourself.

      • Amen! Dh quickly stopped camping with me so I got my camping fixwith Boy Scouts for 20 years, and when I bought my molded fiberglass trailer I did not count on him camping with me. Surprisingly, he said “Well, I always said I’d go camping again some day, so I guess that day has come”. He’s done several trips with me. I’m hoping he’ll go again with me now that he he’s had his hip replaced and no longer has such problems sleeping because of pain. . My major sciatica feels best in the RV mattress.

  7. Knowing your goals regarding a RV lifestyle is for me the 1st step. Is it the travel?. Is it living somewhere else for a season? Is it living in a more remote area, or do the resorts sound fun? Be honest with yourself. Why do y think owning an RV is a good thing?

    While my knee jerk reaction is rent before you buy… We didn’t. When I think of the detailed plans we made for equipping our new RV as a seasonal home, I wonder if we would have enjoyed a rental as much? For sure, most experienced RVers we have met have replaced the really lousy manufacturer supplied mattress with one they could actually sleep on. What comes with a rental?

  8. Don’t buy a big used Class A if your budget is tight. The initial cost may be a great bargain, but with the little towed car you will need to be able to sightsee or run errands, your mpg could be as little as 4 mpg, and you will find it a big investment to go any distance. Seen too many of these rigs sit in the desert like beached whales all winter, saving up money just to get home, never mind seeing the country.

  9. One reason so many RVers only keep their first RV for a short time is because they didn’t do their homework or rent before buying. The advice in Gail’s article could save Chip and his wife from making a very expensive mistake.


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