Tuesday, December 7, 2021


The truth about RVing: It’s NOT always rosy …

While I love our RVing life and being able to full-time and travel around this immense and amazingly beautiful country, there are times that it’s just plain hard, frustrating, and disgusting, i.e., not always rosy.

From renewing drivers’ licenses to battling mice and ants; the troubles of reserving a campsite to wayward, roaming coyotes; from finding a part, a mobile tech, or a SIM card, to just finding toilet paper.. Even rounding up enough cell data to write this post is problematic! The AT&T text on my phone reads: “You are at the end of your 16.5 Gigs and while you still have unlimited data if you reach 22.5 Gigs it may be throttled. Wi-Fi reduces data use.” To AT&T: If I had Wi-Fi, I would be using it already. And what good is an unlimited data plan, anyway?

Reader suggests we’re the problem

A couple of weeks ago, one of our readers suggested in my Campground Crowding column that it was sites like ours, RVtravel.com, that are responsible for the crowding happening in campgrounds and RV parks across the country. They thought that by always putting a rosy glow around RVing without reporting the drudgery and dirt, we were making the influx of new RVers even worse. But then there are other readers who complain that all we report on is the doom and gloom of RVing and its future.

Nope, it’s not always rosy

I have a few clarifying words for everyone: RVing is not always rosy!

The black water holding tank is anything but rosy. Particularly when it starts to escape the confines of an ill-placed sewer hose. Not rosy.

Tire blowouts and pack rats under the RV steps. Not rosy.

An RV is a house on wheels bumping through potholes and over speed bumps. Screws fall out, cabinet doors spill their contents, slides get stuck out or in, and things that you have no idea what they are or where they go appear in the bays. Things that even RV techs can’t identify. Not rosy.

Endless list of stuff to get fixed – not rosy

The list of stuff to fix gets so long that the items at the beginning of the list fix themselves or are forgotten in favor of bigger problems. I can’t even remember what I was going to call the manufacturer about now; but I am sure it was important. Not rosy.

Rosy? Try to get an appointment to get the stuff fixed at a dealer before next spring. Mobile techs? Well, sure – they are mobile somewhere, but not at our RV!

Our battle with mice is everywhere, no matter what state we’re in! One or two manage to sneak in and meet their demise in a snap trap before we find a new hole to fill with steel wool or foam. This year thousands, and I really mean thousands, of fire ants invaded the RV. I had noticed their busy lines outside and was actually impressed with their industriousness. Not so impressed when they were inside my motorhome biting my feet. They met their demise too.

Rattlesnakes are always unwanted guests – but so far, so good on those. I wish I could say the same about the yearling coyotes canvassing the park. They stand in the middle of the road, stopping traffic waiting for handouts. Too familiar, too friendly, and I am pretty sure they will meet their demise soon too.

I have spent the last three days trying to get a simple SIM card for more cell data on a new router I have. Throttled is throttled, out of data is out of data, and I need more Gigabytes. Two stores, six hours on the phone, fourteen emails to the router company, and still no luck. I am tenacious, but there is a limit. If I don’t have enough data left to save this posting, my whining may be lost along with my patience.

Renewing drivers’ licenses

Back to renewing drivers’ licenses. Yeah, we can do it online! Hurrah, that should be easy! All I have to do is fill out the form, submit and pay by credit card. But wait… there is fine print: Send in copies of documents with mailing addresses, submit a vision test (we are old), send documents of the start date of mail forwarding and a copy of a receipt for the night we spent in the state this year along with a notarized affidavit of residency. So now what – after I read the fine print AFTER I submitted my request?? Not rosy.

It was lucky that we did just spend a couple of nights in South Dakota, but unlucky for the receipt. Thank goodness that the campground, although closed for the season, listened to our voicemail and emailed me a copy. Just one, though, in my name only. The state of South Dakota is just going to have to believe we are traveling together and still married – despite living full-time 24/7 in under 500 square feet.

RVing is not always rosy, except, of course, in the mornings when I throw open the windows and watch yet another glorious rose-tinted sunrise washing the sky in vibrant pinks and oranges and deep magentas. They take my breath away and wash the whine right out.



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Bob S
17 days ago

Dear RV Travel, I read this newsletter every single day. It is the best way to keep up with anything about the RV lifestyle. It provides the answers we need to help us make the best plans for our RV adventures. You are doing a great job! Keep it up!

RV Staff(@rvstaff)
17 days ago
Reply to  Bob S

Thank you very much, Bob! We try. We love what we do and we love and appreciate our readers! Happy Thanksgiving, and stay healthy. 🙂 –Diane

24 days ago

Loved your last paragraph 😊

24 days ago

To quote (Gilda Radner’s SNL character) Roseann Rosannadanna who habitually ended her routine with the line, “It’s always something,” my mom said the same thing about her SIck n Brick house. It’s life, enjoy the ride.

24 days ago

We have been fulltiming for six years. 0ne problem area left out was medical care. Doctors tend to be suspicious of people from far away. Finding medical care for chronic illness can be daunting.

Mike Albert
24 days ago

please keep up your insight and offering your wisdom. On over three and a half years, I have gone from a person that only tent camped (years ago), trailered camp years ago and bought a brand new motor home last year. I have read almost every article from RV Travel and absorbed the information offered. We also have a boat, so common sense obviously doesn’t fit my description. I love photography and scuba diving and combine those activities together when I can. I also love traveling and seeing far away places (internationally as well as in the USA). We just completed over a two month cross country trip from FL to CA and we planned another trip to the upper mid west next summer between two cruises. To set out look???? Maybe, maybe not but being a landlord teaches one to make the best of everyday situations and be thankful. So, after rambling on, no everything isn’t rosey, but as someone said, “When life deals you lemons, make lemonade”. Good thing I love lemonade!
safe travels!

Carson Axtell
24 days ago

Your final paragraph pretty much sums up why folks put up with all the headaches of full-time RVing and puts all the preceding paragraphs into perspective. Ain’t first world problems a pain?! On data plans, Americans seem to get the shaft while plans in much of the rest of the world are MUCH cheaper than they are in the good ol’ US where telephony and the internet were invented, and the same goes for prescription drugs. (https://www.visualcapitalist.com/cost-of-mobile-data-worldwide/) Bottomline: Businesses charge what they know they can get away with charging… Reminds me of the hitman’s apology: “It ain’t nothin’ personal, it’s just business.”

Last edited 24 days ago by Carson Axtell
Greg Bryant
24 days ago

I’ve owned a s&b for 30 years and it has not been real rosy either. Life is problems no matter where you are or what you do. It’s irrelevant if you are talking about life on the road or life in a traditional residence. It’s what you embrace in life and how you deal with the associated problems that life will present you.

As far as RVtravel being in some way responsible for the campground overcrowding problem, that’s highly unlikely. I imagine if ever single reader of this site disappeared in an instant, it would be almost unnoticeable to the overall camping lifestyle. I also imagine that a great number of folks who consume content here also consume RV related content from other outlets. If all of the consumers of RV content quit tomorrow, I’m sure that it would be noticeable but I can’t imagine that it would be an instant return to the “good old days”. It’s an oversimplified response to a multifaceted issue.

Wow, I sound really cranky. Or maybe my back hurts.

24 days ago

10 years of FT living. Sitting in Red Bay where many tiffin owners come to get “everything” fixed. We just got new carpet installed. Just like in a S&B but more often because the traffic pattern is so limited. I think I have experienced just about everything you are complaining about. The wife and I have learned to go with the flow and laugh it off once we get things under control. The worst is roadside breakdowns and the tow company didn’t listen and sent a too small truck (it was really big, just not big enough). Having only one throne causes us consternation, the cost to get another is huge. I can imagine having 6 times the space – we have an apartment where it gets cold and avoid it for 10 months of the year, it does have two full baths! I tell potential new full timers that it will test their ability to handle large and small failures on their own, it may stress their marriage, and their friends and families will think they are nuts and may even miss them.

Donnie Parks
24 days ago

You are correct about everything is not Rosy. Such as Loud and annoying campers right next to your campsite. Loud parties and the chopping of fire wood at night while you’re trying to sleep. Also Loud TV’s and music interrupting the peace of nature anytime of day.
Plus unforeseen problems with RV’s, inverter dies, Burned out blubs, Dead batteries, Drive shaft falls out while driving down the interstate, Front tire blows out. Leveling jacks stop working in the down position, Slide out room won’t retract back in, Trying to find where the manufacturer located the blown fuse. But regardless I will not stop camping because I dang sure love the times it all goes right. Amen

23 days ago
Reply to  Donnie Parks

This is nuts. You’ve got too much time on your hands.

Rush McKee
24 days ago

Wow where to begin, first before you purchase or rent a house it’s shame on you if you haven’t thought through the pros and cons. So it shall be for deciding to become a fulltime RVer. As the saying goes, THERE ARE NO FREE RIDES. Been a full timer for over 12 years and the only regret my wife and I have ever had is, SHOULD HAVE DONE IT SOONER! Even living in a cardboard box requires some maintenance, or acquiring a new box as needed!

Ron Yanuszewski
24 days ago
Reply to  Rush McKee

Exactly, I’m always the negative guy for telling these dreamers not to do it, Not because I don’t think they should, It’s because I know they can’t. I had 8 people brand new to RVing this year tell me they’re full timing over winter in NH! They all had 1 thing in common, They knew nothing about their RV.

Rush (Fulltime5er)
24 days ago

You are so spot on, we hosted in National and State parks for years. Lots of people would say wow what a life. Most couldn’t even back their units in their site. I was always cautious to tell them, this life doesn’t fit all people style, you need to experiment before you jump in! Maybe 5% could live in the box and make it work!

24 days ago

Thanks Nanci, great article. There will always be a small group of people who will blame everything on others. You nor RVTravel.com are responsible for creating overcrowding in campgrounds, parks, etc. Always enjoy your point of view.

24 days ago

Thanks for a great article, Nanci. Hope the “kids” who just bought our fifth wheel read it before they permanently move into it (traveling nurse and remote-office attorney)!

Though not full-timers, we can still identify with much of what you said, despite our sticks and bricks home. That home just had a $5000 sewer line repair, which is orders of magnitude more than any RV repair we have had. Not rosy!

One suggestion for dealing with your mouse-in-house problem. In years of owning and storing a travel trailer, then a fifth wheel, and now a small motorhome, we have never seen a mouse or even evidence of one. Although admittedly not a definitive sample of local RVers, maybe moving to Colorado and avoiding traveling east of the Mississippi would solve your infestation! Just a thought.

Joe Allen
24 days ago

With 9 years under our belts full time, you are spot on with your descriptions of life on the road! And it isn’t getting any easier with all the want to be’s out there buying anything and everything with no clue how to use it! However, we still love it with all the ups and downs. What a great way to see America! Yes, there is much to see here and would not even consider going anywhere else! America the Beautiful!

24 days ago

Great article! Yes, not always rosie, but for now it’s what gives us great joy. I think it’s the simplicity. Challenges keep the mind a little sharper as we age (we’re old too)! I do enjoy your posts❤️

24 days ago

The biggest negative surprise was all the work and expense required to get a new trailer ready for the first trip and then all the maintenance required.

• Needed towel racks, TP holder, paper towel holder, shelving, bubble levels, storage containers in bays and cabinets, water hoses, water pressure regulator, water filter, tire pressure monitors,
• Needed to replace: shower head, mattress, cabinet latches, dinning table, toilet seat, tires, jack knife couch, replace ceiling exhaust fans, too-bright undimmable LEDs,

24 days ago
Reply to  Irv

Wash and treat roof every 6 months, wax twice a year, tighten bolts and screws every few months, winterize and dewinterize in fall and spring and both sides of every winter trip, put tire covers on/off for every trip, sanitize water system if not used for several months,
Have brakes and axles inspected every 5000 miles or at least once a year.
Sanitize and dry water hoses after every trip.
Retorqing wheels and hitch, lubing hitch before every trip
Recauking roof, window, seams every few years.

23 days ago
Reply to  Irv

Wow! I owned RVs for 29 years, the last 13 of which I was a full-timer. I did NONE of the things on your list except winterize the RV, yet only occasionally did I need a repair. My RVs were not exceptional–first was one of those small ones built on a Toyota pickup and the 2nd was a 10-yr.-old Tiffin Allegro.Was I just lucky for 29 years or are you obsessive about maintenance?

24 days ago

I don’t think the comments of the author represent the majority of us that enjoy our RV’s, besides “all of the things that could and do go wrong” as a leisurely escape vs. living in your RV full time. For us “part-timers” we have our sticks and bricks (or vinyl-sided) to go back to, take a break, fix and restore what needs to be tended to only to hit the road again soon for another adventure, short 3 day weekends, or multi-month country trips. The author also seems to be speaking about boondocking out West often without the conveniences of a well-chosen campground(s) with researched good/great utilities including WiFi.

23 days ago
Reply to  Vincee

Vincee, I think part of it depends on how lucky you get with the RV you purchase. I have a 2008 Winnebago View and have had endless problems. On a recent 7 week cross country trip I had to have 5 mobile mechanic repairs in 5 weeks, plus 3 other repairs that I handled. Yet I talked to two 2012 Winnebago View owners during my trip and they have had virtually no problems, and 4 years isn’t that much difference. I do a great job preparing and maintaining the RV and have still had enough problems that next year may be my last RVing. And I never boondock and can’t tell you how many times I have booked RV parks that advertise wi-fi only to find that it simply doesn’t work all over the park. I have even started calling ahead to make sure they have good internet, they say “yes”, and it is still often a problem. I finally got a 2nd phone for more data/hot spots.

24 days ago

Very good article. What some people don’t understand that no matter where you are in the world there will always be challenges, inconveniences, hardships and other obstacles to living. It does not matter if you live your lifetime in one place in a stick and brick house or one on wheels. We part time in our motorhome and I find it harder to deal with many of life’s situations harder while on the road but I will not trade it for just sitting full time at home!

24 days ago
Reply to  Joe

For sure.

Tamara Fox
24 days ago

Thanks Nanci. Great article as always!

24 days ago

Well written. We have had first hand experience with several of the things you described. Not all rosy, but wouldn’t want to miss out on all the beautiful places in America that we have seen and all the places we still want to see. America is beautiful ❤️.

23 days ago
Reply to  Diane

Doesn’t it all look the same after a while?

Leonard Rempel
24 days ago

A terrific article to be sure, so thanks for this! As I am prone to saying, RV’ing really is a first world problem.
I will certainly take the few inconveniences during our five month trip South this winter to being stuck in the Canadian snow!
We should all be so “unfortunate”, as to have RV’ing problems!