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
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.
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.)
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.