Embarking on a full-time RV lifestyle journey is a dream for many, offering the allure of freedom, adventure, and the open road. However, every dream comes with its realities, and the full-time RV lifestyle is no exception. In this article, we delve into the seldom-discussed side of RV living: full-time RVing regrets.
We asked members of our Escapees RV Club online community for their personal full-time RVing regrets and advice, resulting in invaluable insight and lessons for those considering or about to embark on a full-time RV journey.
Whether you’re a seasoned RVer or just starting to entertain the idea, this article will equip you with practical lessons and advice. As we combed through the responses of full-time RV regrets, one regret stood out among all others. Read on to the end of the list to learn what the #1 regret shared by many members of the Escapees RV Club community, it’s equally insightful and inspiring!
Regret #1: RV Purchase Regrets
There’s a lot of chatter about what kind of RV you should purchase for full-time RV life. While some suggest bigger is better, others wish they had a smaller RV. And, of course, we can’t forget the new vs. used debate!
One of the most common regrets among full-time RVers has to do with their RV purchase, as reflected by these quotes from our community.
This is a common regret, but you can’t know which RV is perfect for you until you give it a try. Renting an RV beforehand can help you narrow down your list of needs and wants.
“#1 regret…not spending the extra money on a reputable, better-built RV! The money you spend fixing the crappier, cheaper one ends up making up for the higher cost of the nicer one.”– Carley Thompson
“I wish I would have purchased a trailer that fit our needs. Instead of listening to everyone that said (to me), “Get what you can to get you started.” All it did was put us in financial distress.”– Brittney Stippel
“I wish we would have bought used.”– Bill Trinkle
“I wish I had bought smaller and should have rented first. I need to be more motivated to make myself get up and out. It’s just me and my two cats. I am learning as I go along to plan better.”– Lisa Shaw
Regret #2: Not Getting an RV Inspection
“Buying our rig from another state and not having it inspected before purchasing.”– Gabrielle Chimene-Moore
If you’re on the hunt for a specific RV model, sometimes you have to look outside of your local area. And for some people, this means buying an RV sight unseen.
If your dream RV is located in another state or area, be sure to hire a third-party RV inspector to look it over for you before committing to the purchase. You can hire an RV inspector in the local area to go inspect it on your behalf, and this process may save you money, time, and stress.
You can use the NRVIA website (National RV Inspectors Association) to locate certified RV inspectors in any location or do a Google search. It’s always recommended to choose a certified inspector.
Regret #3: Not Learning to Drive the RV
“My regret is that I didn’t drive our Class A. I was the navigator, but all parties need to be able to do all responsibilities. Then, when something happens, you’re not dependent on family or forced into hiring someone to drive your vehicle. I haven’t stayed home, but I’ve had to make concessions/adaptations. Just not ready to permanently shift into park.”– Mary Debarba
When couples hit the road, it’s very common for one person to do the driving and one person to do the navigation.
However, it’s always a good idea for both people to learn to drive the motorhome or tow the trailer. In the event that the driver experiences illness, injury, or worse, not being able to get the RV from Point A to Point B can cause problems.
Even if you don’t drive all the time, it’s worth learning how to safely drive or tow your RV in the event that you’ll be responsible for transporting it.
Regret #4: “Buying” Into the Hype
If you do a quick online search for “RV must-haves”, you’ll find a slew of articles recommending you buy tons of gear for your new RV. Our advice is to start out with the bare-bones RV essentials and add to your RV equipment arsenal as you go along! This way, you don’t end up with more than you need. Take it from this RVer:
“Full-time for nearly 5 years. Studied for 2 years before purchasing the perfect used 5th wheel. (My) only regret is all the unnecessary purchases I made at the beginning based on what others recommended, for things like a leaf blower, water softener, etc, which may be great in specific situations, but just extra weight in mine.”– Tawnya Michalek Hartberger
Regret #5: Not Slowing Down Sooner
The excitement of hitting the road causes many new RVers to travel at a rapid pace, bouncing from destination to destination quickly in order to see as much as possible as fast as possible. However, full-time RVing isn’t a vacation, and slowing down allows you to experience places more like a local than a tourist. It’s a marathon, not a sprint! Take it from this RVer:
“My regret is that we didn’t slow down sooner. So many places I wish we would have stayed longer. Other than that, this is the life we want!”– Lonna Chappell Andrews
Regret #6: Leaving the Road
“I love FT. We did for 4 years, my husband wanted sticks/bricks. We regret leaving the road, especially me. DO IT NOW while you can, and DON’T LOOK BACK.”– Kate Spence
Sometimes full-time RVers have to leave the road. Whether for family, medical reasons, age, finances, or more, leaving the road can be hard for many people. This is all the more reason to go after your full-time dreams now, because one day you may not be able to.
The Number One Full-Time RVing Regret
When asked about full-time RVing regrets, the majority of respondents echoed a similar sentiment: Not doing it sooner.
Although the full-time RVing lifestyle isn’t for everyone, for many people it is a dream come true. Once you get past the fear and take the leap, you learn that full-time RVing isn’t as scary as it seems… And you might even end up wishing you did it sooner. Here are some quotes from Escapees RV Club members who wish they hit the road sooner.
“We have a few regrets, yet the one that sticks out the most is that we did not do it sooner. We see the younger generation joining our little community and it is so fascinating to see them embrace this lifestyle with such gusto. I so admire that. It’s not for everyone, but wow, you need to give them credit for taking that step and making it work. When I think back to a time when going tent camping with our family and friends, we would admire those with the big rigs, pop-ups etc… I remember saying ‘this could be us someday’ and ‘I would love to have that kind of life…’ But as life would have it, you raise your family and pay your bills. However, now that the children are grown and living their lives, we are now able to enjoy the full-time RV lifestyle and have not looked back. The adventure continues…”– Kelly Lamanque
“The only regret I have is not listening to my wife, who about 10 years earlier first suggested we take a year and travel in an RV. Had I listened to her, we would have been full-time for about 23 years instead of 13. After spending more than a year researching the lifestyle, that was the biggest lesson I took home. The other big takeaway from my research was to buy used first time. There is a learning curve, and it is easy to make very expensive mistakes with your first RV.”– Arvy Jones
“Regret we didn’t it sooner. Have fun. You don’t need as many clothes as you thought. If you have never camped before rent an RV and try it before. You heard it may be cheaper than stick and bricks, check into it.”– Mary Trautner
“My largest regret is not starting earlier, it would have made my life so much easier (I’ve been nomadic my entire adult life). A few recommendations that I give out regularly:
– Ed Jankowski
- 1) If you’re having problems with downsizing, just put it in a storage locker and wait a year. Now go through it. Put the locker an hour away from a major city at least to reduce the cost (preferably next to a campground you like to make it easier)
- 2) Either have a lot of money OR be handy… Preferably both, but you’ll NEED one of those.
- 3) Small as you can, large as you have to go.
- 4) Military grade and RV grade are very similar… made by the cheapest bidder and a marketing gimmick. Unless it’s structural, you’ll be just fine bringing along your residential dishes, furniture, or whatever else you want to bring… Trust me, it’s likely better built then what they put in.
- 5) Everything is a wearable part. Don’t like your black tank hoses? Wait a year or two and you’ll be replacing them anyways… Chairs/Grills/Cabinets/etc.”
Advice From Full-Time RVers
If you’re considering making the leap to full-time RVing, you might be researching RV regrets just to make sure you’re fully informed before making the commitment. Now that you know what seasoned RVers have to say about their personal experiences, we’ll leave you with some insightful nuggets of advice offered by other Escapees RV Club members.
“Remember that when you are full-time, you are not on vacation. Don’t forget that a cold may knock you out for a week, a broken RV part may send you to an area you hadn’t planned on going. Not every day will be filled with a new adventure but enough of them will be that it will be worth the while.”– Grace Harris
“Don’t overpack when you’re starting out. A week’s worth of clothes, a weeks worth of food and a basic kitchen set (a couple of pots, plates, cups and silverware) is a good starting point. RVs have storage and weight limits and I find it’s very hard to get rid of stuff I rarely use once it’s in the rig. It’s easier to start out light and if you need something you don’t have, buy it along the way. Walmarts are everywhere and they’re one stop shopping with prices the same in a small town as they are in the big city. Their HyperTough selection of wrenches and hand tools are surprisingly inexpensive and good.”– Lou Schneider
“We would have started out in a larger RV. Then went smaller as we settled in and discovered what we really needed and wanted in the RV. We held on to stuff we didn’t need and had to re-buy things we got rid of. Tips would be, don’t jump into it. Take time a really research. We took years and still run into things we didn’t count on. Like, things are expensive when your in an RV, and I mean everyday items. You don’t have the luxury of shopping around for the best prices when you’re in an area. Need trumps affordability every time when you’re on a travel schedule. Getting mail and packages on the road is skill even if you know the basics. Took us 3 years to figure it out and we’re still not sure know all the ins and outs. The popular states for domicile, TX, FL, and SD are not always the best option. For instance most counties in TX do not offer any insurance plan in the Healthcare marketplace that is nationwide. Auto insurance, property and sales tax costs may be higher. Lastly, all those youtube influences are only telling you the good stuff because the real day to day stuff doesn’t get views.”– Robert Manley
Advice About What You Need To Get Started
“Been full-timing since June 2022. No real regrets, but one ‘could have gone better’:
Started off towing our 7,500 lbs travel trailer with a 2019 F150 w/ 3.6L V6 Ecoboost. One year later we upgrade to F350 w/ 7.2L V8 for less-tiring towing experience.
- Less “stuff” to start with is better. Decide along the way what extra accessories fit your fulltime lifestyle.
Definite “must haves”:
- A good cell phone with a national carrier
- A mail forwarding service (we use Escapees)
- 25’ shore power cord to fit your rig
- 15/30/50 amp adapter cables (dog bones) to fit your rig’s shore power cable
- 25’ potable water hose
- 20’-25’ sewer hose with right angle adapter for dump station end
- Tire pressure monitoring system.
- Power surge protector
- Water filter(s)
- Small tool kit with screwdrivers, wrenches, and small hammer
- A digital tire pressure gauge.
- A small broom
Some “nice to haves”:
- An RV-specific GPS (we use a Garmin RV 890)
- Valterra T58 Twist-On Waste Valve (provides extra security against a “poopsy”)
- Mopeka Pro Check propane tank level sensors (get the kit for aluminum cylinders for more secure mounting), and get the extra base rings to add clearance)
- ViAir portable air compressor
- A small rechargeable vacuum cleaner (like a Shark Pet-Perfect, or Dustbuster)
- Small barbecue grill
- Internet connectivity to fit your needs (we use Starlink)
- Comfortable camp chairs
- An annual (or lifetime, if eligible) National Park “America The Beautiful” Pass (provides free admission to National Parks, and significant discounts for camping in federally-managed campgrounds)
Apps we use frequently:
- RV Life Trip Wizard for trip planning
- Recreation.gov for booking federally-managed campsites
- AllStays Camp & RV for finding gas, propane, potable water, and dump stations on the road
Suggested “Do Nots”:
– David Routhier
- Do not get additional RV club or campground subscriptions, until you know your fulltime RV’ing lifestyle.
We hope these quotes and insights from full-time RVers are helpful in your journey to full or part-time RV life. Although full-time RVing isn’t always right for everyone, for the majority of people, it’s everything they hoped it would be. The most common full-time RVing regret from many current full-timers is “I wish we started sooner!” If full-time RVing is something you’re considering, we encourage you to try it! You’ll never know until you go. Check out our guide on How to Prepare for Full-Time RV Living to learn all about preparing for the adventure of a lifetime.