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Living in an RV Full-Time: 11 RVers Reveal Expectations vs Reality

Living in an RV full-time is a big decision. And when you’re in the planning phases, you likely have a lot of questions. 

When you’re just starting out, you’re probably trying to figure out things like getting your mail on the road, what type of RV you should choose, what type of camping you want to do, and more.

But have you ever wondered what living in an RV is really like? 

In this article, we asked full-time RVing members in our community to give us insight into what living and traveling in an RV full-time is really like for them. 

Learn more about their full-time RV living expectations vs reality, helpful tips, and more. Let’s get started!

Living in an RV Full-Time: What’s It Really Like? Expectations vs Reality

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We asked RVers in our Escapees RV Club community for their quotes and advice about what it’s really like living in an RV full-time. 

Almost everyone goes into the full-time RV life wearing rose-colored glasses, in a sense. You see RV life all over Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, and it often looks like a picture-perfect lifestyle.

Sometimes it does feel picture-perfect, but not always! Here are 11 things to consider about living in an RV full-time, gleaned from our own community of full-time RVing Escapees. 

1. There’s A Good Chance You’ll Fall In Love with Living in an RV Full-Time

Full-time RVing expectations vs reality: 

“Saying we’d do it for a yr, which took 9 1/2 yrs.”

– Doris Lofton

This is a very common scenario in the RVing community: a person or family decides they’ll RV for a year (or any predetermined amount of time) and then ends up staying on the road for several.

It could happen to you! Watch out: you may just end up falling in love with the freedom of full-time RV living and travel.

2. Travel Days Aren’t All Fun and Games

The YouTube videos, TikToks, and Reels tend to show RV travel days as easy and breezy… But they’re not always fun and games. 

They can be hot, long, uncomfortable, and enough to make even the happiest camper a bit cranky. 

“We’ve been full timing for about 9 months now in a 35′ Class A DP. I did not expect travel days to be the pain they are. We only do 200-250 miles on a travel day but with breaking camp, driving at 63mph to save our MPG, dealing with traffic, planning fuel and lunch stops, then setting up camp again … a 4 hr drive turns into an 8 hour day pretty easily, not including a bit of pre-departure planning the night before.

I’m a “planner” by nature, so maybe I’m putting some of this on myself. Driving the rig is not the issue as I have prior experience with large vehicles but I’m sure enjoying the time when we’re able to spend a week or two in the same place.”

– Wade Burton

3. You Have to Get Creative About Where to Put Stuff

Living in an RV Full-Time: 11 RVers Reveal Expectations vs Reality 2
Image Credit: Kristen Laidig

Most people assume that transitioning into RV living means that you’ll have to be a minimalist. After all, where will you put everything? 

Well, at least one RVer has found a way around that expectation: 

“Expectation: It’s living tiny, so we should stick to the rule of one-thing-in, one-thing out. 

Reality: We’re full-time and love to shop, love art and love unique finds… and it’s amazing all the surfaces that exist in a fifth wheel to put stuff! 🤣🤦🏻‍♀️

– Kristen Joy Laidig

4. Comfort is Key – Consider Upgrading Your RV Mattress

If you aren’t already aware of this, the mattress that comes in your RV isn’t the most comfortable thing to sleep on. A good night’s sleep is an important part of looking out for your overall health, so mattresses matter a lot. 

If you plan to spend a lot of time lounging or working in your RV, you’ll also need comfortable and ergonomically-correct places to sit and work. 

Here’s some advice from a full-time RVer who knows that comfort is key! 

“You need a comfortable place to sit and a comfortable place to sleep, so a good chair and a good mattress. These things are not negotiable.”

– Bill Trinkle

5. Be Prepared for RV Issues and Repairs

RVs are like moving houses. In fact, because of all the movement and shifting while traveling, some people refer to RV travel as a “rolling earthquake”. As such, things will break and need to be repaired.

But getting an RV in the shop while you also live in it can be a huge hassle – and RV repair shops often have months-long waiting lists. 

If you’re not afraid of learning how to DIY it, many things can be repaired and maintained on your own!

“It can be harder and a longer wait time to get things repaired in your coach vs. a sticks and bricks. I definitely vote for DIY and get certified in doing so if you can.”

– Elizabeth Fleming Stafford

Do you want to learn more about RV preventative maintenance so you can save yourself costly repairs and protect your investment?

Visit RVers Online University today to learn more about RV preventative maintenance, RV safety, and much more! Taught by RV-industry experts, RVers Online University helps you save money and enjoy life on the road.

6. A DIY Attitude and Patience Go a Long Way for Full-Time RV Living

Here’s some advice that reinforces the benefits of learning how to do your own DIY repairs and maintenance. 

“Things will go wrong, need to be fixed, finding a qualified person when YouTube can’t help you is the same as being in a stick and brick. Patience and growth mindset is important.”

– Melinda Crossett Termine

7. Planning is Essential When You Live in an RV Full-Time

Pre-2020, RV travel planning was a little more carefree than it is today. However, once the world went remote and people realized that RVing was a great lifestyle, campgrounds reservations became a little more difficult to find if you’re just “winging it”! 

“I expected more freedom to just wing it without so many reservations. With a big coach, and so many new people enjoying the lifestyle, so many parks are full during the seasons that we want to travel. I need to reserve some of the sites months in advance, which cuts way back on flexibility. We still love it, just more planning.”

– Keith Dellinger

8. Seeking Out Community Is Essential on the Road

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“I didn’t expect to feel so lonely. Leaving all the friends and family was tough, we knew it would be. I thought I’d like the solitude but we have found it very hard to really meet people like us. We still work, are very physically active in our 50’s, we don’t have little kids, we are not even close to being retirees, and we just haven’t felt like we have found our people. We decided to join some groups and do more rallies to force ourselves to connect more.”

– Darlene Krohn Nicholson

The heart of Escapees RV Club is the community. That’s because without community, life on the road can be very isolating, lonely, and tough. 

Joe and Kay Peterson started Escapees as a way to stay connected with their RVing friends in a time when there weren’t internet or cell phones. 

Today, community remains the focal point of the club. And now we can connect online in forums, on social media, through texting and instant messaging, and in in-person events around the country. 

Although we have the internet at our fingertips, it can still be tough to feel like you’re part of a community or to find your “people”, and that’s why in-person events are so important! 

View our community events page here. 

9. It’s Okay to Slow Down 

When you first hit the road, it’s totally normal to want to see everything and do everything immediately. It’s exciting! It’s freedom! But traveling at a fast pace will lead you down a quick path to burnout… And it’s not always easy on your wallet, either.

“Slow down! Whatever you have planned, slow it down. Think about how you can adjust the pace on a podcast (1x, 1.5x, 2x., etc). Whatever speed you’ve been going at for however long, slow it down. Remember driving takes longer. You need time to set up and tear down. And guess what? Sometimes it rains. For several days. Have some wiggle room in plans for when something cool pops up (think ‘largest hall of string -1 mile ahead’ kind of detour! Enjoy the trip!”

– Ashleigh Heagy

10. Full-Time RVing is Much Different Than a Vacation

“Everyone says “I love to travel.”

That’s rarely true.

What most people mean is “I love to be in new places once we get there.”

Full timing is vastly different from a few weeks of vacation. There is no need to hurry, no need to drive dawn to dusk, no need to dash from one scenic photo op to another. Slow down! Stay a week instead of a day. There is much to experience in our great country – but you don’t have to experience it all this year.

Do some volunteer work. Give back to the places that have brought you joy.”

– Richard F Martin

This is sound advice! Despite what your friends and family might think of your new lifestyle, traveling and living in an RV full-time is far from a vacation. And after the newness wears off, it will be your new normal.

11. For Some People, It’s Easier to Make Friends on the Road

When you live and travel in an RV full-time, meeting new people sometimes feels a little more straightforward than making friends in real life. 

Conversations quickly become deep, because full-timers know how fleeting your time together can be!

Before long, you’ll be on the road again, so connecting with others who also understand the lifestyle can feel refreshing and easier than making friends in a stationary lifestyle. 

And this is especially true if you meet people at RV events or rallies. 

“I didn’t expect how easy it would be to meet new friends. We aren’t very social and tend to be more introverted but it’s way easier to meet people on the road. It seems like there are automatically more things in common. I definitely don’t have to worry about socializing my kids which was something people always mentioned before.”

– Katie Hall

Considering Living in an RV Full-Time? Here Are Some Tips

If you’re considering living in an RV full-time, here are some tips to help you get the most out of your new lifestyle! 

  • Consider upgrading your mattress ASAP. 
  • Things will break or rattle loose. Be prepared with tools, supplies, and the ability to research Google and YouTube. 
  • Things rarely go exactly as planned. Having patience and flexibility will serve you well. 
  • Don’t plan to just “wing it” when it comes to campground reservations and planning. Especially in tourist areas or during holidays! Plan ahead with your campground reservations. 
  • Take it slow on travel days. Traveling in an RV is much different than a road trip in a car, and much more exhausting. 
  • Slow down your travels. Stay in one place longer, and try to experience it like a local. Your energy levels and your wallet will thank you. 

And last but certainly not least, finding community on the road is so important. In fact, it can make or break the RV lifestyle for some people! 

The best way to get plugged in with a community of like-minded RVers is to join an RV club, like Escapees RV Club! You can get plugged in with the online community and attend in-person events to meet like-minds and make lifelong friends. 

Learn more about the benefits of joining Escapees RV Club here.

Events for Every RVer 

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Escapees has an event for every type of person: 

  • Escapade, our annual national rally that’s the largest and most diverse gathering of Escapees RV Club members
  • Escapees Head Out Program – pre-planned excursions targeting unique locations with other RVers
  • Escapees Hangouts – lightly structured events with other RVers in the 55-60 range. Activities include active and adventurous experiences
  • Xscapers Convergences – 5-10 day events for working-age RVers with activities scheduled around working hours and include unique activities and optional adventurous experiences
  • Xscapers Annual Bash – The ultimate event for the working-aged RVer filled with athletic events, late-night entertainment, education, and more
  • Chapter and BoF (Birds of a Feather) group events – Regional and interest-based groups that hold their own events throughout the year.

Learn more about all of our events here. 

Or sign up for Escapees RV Club and get plugged in with the community today! 

Living in an RV Full-Time: 11 RVers Reveal Expectations vs Reality 5

Escapees RV Club is a Total Support Network for All RVers

Join the club made for RVers, by RVers! We have been supporting the needs of full-time and part-time RVers since the 1970’s and have many resources and services to help you in your full-time RVing journey. A professional mail forwarding service, member benefits like education, events, community, discounts, a network of campgrounds, and so much more!

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