The myth of full-time RV life versus the reality


By K-Barrett
from the corner of Hither & Yon

There is a myth about RV life: sitting by campfires in the sunset daily, happy hour with friends, and constant travel “hither and yon” with no worries except where to stop next. Those thoughts are popular and occasionally they do happen, especially for weekenders and short-term vacation travelers.

It’s important to realize when deciding to “full-time” in an RV, whether it’s a travel trailer, fiver or motorhome, the myth starts to firm up into real life. The simplest way to say it is, you end up doing the same things you do in a regular house (sticks and bricks). There are bills to pay, insurance, doctors, food, power, water, internet/phone services and all the other things you try to leave behind when vacationing. At least for a little while.

It’s still possible to enjoy some of the myth: make friends, have campfire time (if local laws allow), roll down the road to follow the horizon hoping to find a place to park. Just be alert to daily life needs and try to be prepared for lots of surprises. The occasional frozen pipes in Florida in January or February can even catch you off guard. Who would think temperatures can drop to 25 degrees in Florida – but they do!

In the late ’60s and early ’70s, I was in the mobile home/RV sales and finance business in North Carolina. Those early days were just a taste of the industry for six years and it was nothing like now. If anyone had told me that in the late ’80s, ’90s and 2000s, my experiences would include slide-in camper, various size travel trailers, a fifth wheel and several motorhomes (now full-time in a 42-foot diesel), they would have been laughed out of my office for sure. Yet, here we are doing just that.

Over the years we have been “hither and yon,” but slowed down with age and disabilities that seem to come with time and situations. The myth has come full circle as we start to miss convenience of the space to spread out in a regular house. The youth and enthusiasm that goes with it has lessened, but we would not change anything – we even work camped in Wyoming. Lots of great experiences over the years and, of course, some were a little more challenging.

My husband’s recent heart attack, surgeries, and pacemaker defibrillator are counted as a challenge – one he met head on. He appears to have pulled out of it and is now hard to keep up with. They should issue battery packs to spouses to give us a jump start. Jim seems to think he is 76 going on 40 now.  Apparently he’s about ready to start over.

Now, where did I put my own battery pack?

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John Padgett
1 year ago

Been RVing since 1971. 2 &1/2 yrs 71-73. 25′ Rectrans Discoverer. Boys 3 and 1. Sold rig in Baltimore,Then to England and Europe all before age 35. Turning 79 in 3 days. Wintering in Yuma. Keeping home in Illinois for spring and fall. Yet to figure out where to do summers. Next year will try out boondocking at BLM YUMA LTVA IMPERIAL DAM. If you can afford it keep your home. Your kids and grand kids will get a kick out of all your stuff you’ve accumulated over the years.

1 year ago

We RV for 3 months in the summer and that’s enough for me. I’m used to (and love) having intelligent conversations about current events, politics, religion etc. I need my old and good friends who don’t tsk tsk or get shocked when I express a strong or unpopular opinion and judge me in the worst way. I get sick and bored with the mindless, anodyne and phony conversations with other RVers. You could almost make a recording and just hit ‘play’ when you get to a new campground. My wife and I are polite and helpful but we keep to ourselves and stay in touch with our kids and friends by texts and e mails. When I really get the urge to have a deep conversation about some item in the news or politics, I call a friend and talk passionately and excitedly for an hour. My brain would shrivel up and disintegrate if we RVed full time and actually had to talk for years like the other RVers we hear. Sorry to say it but I don’t want to be like that Jim Carrey character in that movie where he just repeats the same meaningless greetings and platitudes to neighbours and coworkers day in and day out and eventually freaks out. Lol.

1 year ago

We’ve been full-timing for more than 10 years now; there are most definitely myths floating around about this lifestyle. First, you can’t truly follow the nice weather: there are snowbirds because only a few places are mild in the winter. Second, with more and more RVers, you often find holidays and weekends booked, so to stay someplace with hook-ups awhile you need to make reservations; the myth of going where you want, when you want is mostly false. Third, something will always be broken regardless of how new your rig is. And no, it’s nothing like having a house when something breaks (I blogged about replacing a washing machine… I could add “fixing the hot water tank,” “changing the kitchen faucet” and a bunch of other items to that list. Despite all this, every time we look at a house (which we just did a few weeks ago in Montana) we think, “What would we do here for six months out of the year?!?!” The road is still home for us, for now.

Bob Godfrey
1 year ago

We have been full timing in our motor home for 10 years and have visited every continental State & 9 Canadian Provinces. We have incredible pictures (over 25000). My wife would never stop but I would like to have a shop once more in order to do catch up chores on the RV and a guaranteed place to return to in winter as so many places are full these days in Fl. But every time I think about living in a house again I immediately start to miss all the sights we’ve seen so I’m not sure we’re ready to completely settle down again yet. Guess we’ll just have to do both (if we can find a home that fits our demands)

1 year ago

Definitely downsizing the bricks-and-mortar to enjoy RVing for longer periods of time, but giving up a zip code to call home is just not in our future. We just downsized our rig as well — from an A to a smaller C — and while it has all the advantages we need as we grow older, we do occasionally yearn for the extra space “back home.”

While we love meeting new folks, seeing new places, doing new things, the familiarity of home, friends, family, community is something we need to stay grounded. We also have had a few health scares and that is the time we miss home the most. So far, six months of the year for travel is about right: the best of both worlds. A two-bedroom condo or cabin will do just fine (and a she-shed would be great!)

Denny wagaman
1 year ago

I had thought that full timing would be fun to do. We Never did as each spring arriving home we found out that we enjoyed our sticks and bricks more than ever. The space, the grass to mow, the flowers to plant and the yard to enjoy plus everything a home has to offer. After 12 yrs of snow birding from four to six months we enjoy our home and yard. Last season we spent it in a beautiful RV Resort. But we missed being on the open road. over the yrs talked with two full timers and both men told me that they missed their home that they sold and all the chores that they had to do. Interestingly one said now I have chores to do on my RV and several require me to pay someone to do them and those cost keeps going out of sight, and home costs are such that we can’t afford to buy a home now. the other one said that he was the instigator (wife didn’t want to) but they did and life had become a nightmare for both as they age, he had a slight stroke.
I know of several Full timers that go to the same place in the winter and the same place in the summer., even though they live in their RV full time their travel is limited and their once new RV has become old and more maintenance.
Yes I believe for many full timing is a myth. For many it’s not affordable and becomes mundane. Like when we were younger, living in a house with kids, jobs, life’s issues the lure of being on the road carefree and without troubles yes I once thought about it but WE LOVE OUR HOME AND RV

1 year ago

Agree. There is a mythical reality between vacation Rving and full time Rving. I’am stuck some where between the two forces of full time or partial time Rving.

Denny wagaman
1 year ago
Reply to  Rusty

Try partial first for a few yrs. Keep your home. You will always have a place to go home to. We are snow birds but love to travel and not stay in one place.