What Makes a Successful Full-time RVer

what-makes-a-successful-rverSo I’ve been thinking lately about the full-time RVers I know and what contributed to their success on the road where others desired but never tried, or tried but didn’t succeed, or succeeded but didn’t stick with it.

I’ve concluded that although money is a big concern, it was not the deciding factor. Despite the large number of retired full-timers who can draw on their pensions and social security to travel, I also know many who like me had only modest earnings and savings when they embarked on this trip, and also many who had considerably less than me and still manage lead happy and fulfilling lives on the road, and even save up during their travels to improve their quality of life.

So it wasn’t about wealth. It also didn’t seem tied to upbringing or previous knowledge as just as many full-timers come from families that never camped or traveled at all as those who did frequently.

Of course some things make it easier to get on the road: Not having a house that needs selling first, being in great health for ease of getting cheap health insurance, a lack of debt, an established way of earning money remotely, but all of these issues can be worked around.

It seemed to me to have very little to do with the current circumstances a person found themselves in (which if I were a prospective full-timer I’d find very heartening), and much more to do with four key traits that allowed these people to rise above the challenges they faced.

Dreamer It takes a free spirit to see the allure of full-timing. The desire to see and learn more about the world, and realize that one doesn’t need to follow the masses and restrict such activities to vacations. To imagine something better and think it’s possible to achieve – the pioneer spirit.

Resourceful Because it’s not a mainstream way to live and there is no manual for going full-timing, every prospective RVer will need to look at their own unique situation, strengths and assets and come up with a way to make it work. It will be a little different for everyone – the ability to think outside the box.

Adaptable However a person first approaches going full-timing, the end result will likely not be exactly what was initially imagined. Unexpected complications (and perhaps some serendipitous opportunities) will arise and decisions will need to be made and plans revised – being flexible enough to handle the trial and error component.

Dedicated Deciding to live a life of travel takes a lot more work and at times can be more stressful than coasting along on the more traditional life path, even once a person has successfully gotten on the road. The desire to keep going and see their initial dreams realized needs to keep outweighing the reasons that might take a person off the road and back to safer waters.

A couple other notes.

  • To even find my blog interesting enough to read, whether you agree with it all or not, you have that first trait. You’re reading this because you’ve already decided the possibility of full-timing intrigues you whether you’ve decided you want to try taking the plunge or not. Congratulations, you’re 25% of the way there.
  • Being resourceful doesn’t necessarily mean you need a lot of resources to get started, it’s more about being able to inventory what you do have and having the will to tinker around with them until you come up with a combination that works. For instance, your assets don’t just include all of the money in your bank account and the net worth of the items you own. All of your friends and acquaintances can be an asset – maybe you know someone who is good at selling stuff on ebay and you can enlist their help selling your stuff. Also other traits besides these listed can be assets when used in the right situation – like maybe you’re often seen as stubborn and it occasionally gets you into trouble at work when you butt heads with your boss, but a little stubbornness applied to the challenges of RVing can have positive results.
  • If you don’t consider yourself good at being resourceful or adaptable, it’s not the end of the world (and your RVing dreams). In many ways, dedication is the second most important trait to getting on the road after the first one which made you decide this crazy idea was worth pursuing in the first place. If you want to get better at it and you’re willing to put in the effort and keep trying, you will. I did not consider myself an especially resourceful or adaptable person before I started.
  • While dedication is important, there is no shame in realizing at any point during the journey that full-timing is no longer worth the effort and work and to make the deliberate decision to stop. People’s dreams and goals change, and there is no point in forcing dedication to a project your heart is no longer in just to be able to say “I won” at the end when you’re on the road.

Phew, this ended up being a more time consuming and thought provoking process than I was expecting when I started toying with the idea for this post. I’m going to go out for a walk and clear my head and put you guys to work for the finale with a question. Which of these four traits would you say come easiest to you and which is the hardest to embody?

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42 Responses to What Makes a Successful Full-time RVer

  1. Rob January 24, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

    I’d have thought that a successful full-timer was someone who did it & liked it enough to keep on doing it. Until of course they decided to do something else…

    Life has a beginning and an end, in between is the journey. These journeys are all as different as the people making them.
    Rob recently posted..What day is it?My Profile

    • Becky January 25, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

      Well yes in a nut shell Rob. But I was questioning what got them there to begin with, because I know people who like the idea but they’ll never get on the road. The full-timing community is wonderfully diverse and I’ve said it before too there are as many ways to go RVing as there are people doing it. So what allows one individual to enjoy and succeed at life on the road where another doesn’t? That’s what I was looking for.

  2. Eric January 24, 2014 at 10:54 pm #

    Courage is important too. When you first start out you will find some people might discourage your dreams or belittle them. You’ll need courage to believe in yourself above all.

    • Becky January 25, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

      That’s a good one Eric.

  3. David Swanson January 24, 2014 at 11:05 pm #

    You only forgot one Becky…. Being a little nuts. πŸ™‚

    • Becky January 25, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

      Hmm, point. πŸ˜‰

  4. Dustin Grace January 25, 2014 at 12:45 am #

    Probably being a dreamer! I found your blog last month when the idea of full timing now came to me vs waiting to retire. (I’m 30) I follow a few other blogs, but you are closer to my age then most and I plan to do almost to a T what you are doing. You are very informative and I just wanted to say thanks for all the info and letting me live my dream through you as I get everything in order to hit the road. I still have to sell my house and save a bit more to be okay with leaving.

    • Becky January 25, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

      Always happy to hear from other people planning to hit the road Dustin. Welcome to IO and I’m glad you’ve found it helpful. Once the idea of full-timing struck me it was a good 9 months before I bought my truck, 14 for the RV, because like you I chose to save up for a bit longer. It can be hard to wait, but at the same time there is so much to do that it seems like there isn’t enough time. Best of luck to you, keep us all updated on how it goes. πŸ™‚

  5. John Hussey January 25, 2014 at 5:16 am #

    Dreamers. We are made up of two distinct groups: those that do and those that watch others do it. The watchers would much prefer to be the doers. Your part in this is that you are coaching them how. Keep it up. And keep mentioning your Amazon link so you can encourage its use by us and so give you a little remuneration for your interesting efforts! I have used it a lot lately.

    • Becky January 25, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

      Thank you very much for using my link John, I make an announcement once a month about it along with the earnings from the previous month.

      And yes, Eric above mentioned courage as being important, that probably has something to do with tipping dreamers from being in the watching category to the doing category. Take care.

  6. Gerri Jones January 25, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    Well said!!! We full-timed for over a year and then because our son had some serious difficulties (life changing) we had to come off the road to assist and help him The dream never changed nor any of the other characteristics of a full-timer only the current circumstance we found ourselves in. We did what we felt we had to do. Those issues are being resolved slowly…after 4 years of hard and many times heart wrenching work. The dream lives on inside of us and now we part-time. Would we like to revisit full-timing…you betcha!!!
    I say all this because there are times when life interrupts but that doesn’t mean the dream has to be thrown away….only delayed.

    Again…well said!!! Great post!!!
    Gerri Jones recently posted..A Little of this and Little of that…and A Merry ChristmasMy Profile

    • Becky January 25, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

      You make a good point Gerri. Just because a person can’t get on the road now doesn’t mean they can’t hold onto that desire and see it fulfilled later when circumstances give them the chance. Keep on dreaming, and I hope your son recovers soon!

  7. Cherie @Technomadia January 25, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    Well said, Becky.

    Hmmm.. this post actually reminded me of one we made a couple years ago on the same topic. πŸ™‚


    Your traits are also on our list.. along with some others.
    Cherie @Technomadia recently posted..A Convergence versus a RallyMy Profile

    • Becky January 25, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

      Cherie, I think before I even started IO I’d read that post back when I was dreaming of full-timing, seems like some of it stuck with me. I hope you’re taking it as a sign of flattery and aren’t offended, haha.

      Also looks like the cold nights are over for a while here in Florida. I’m enjoying the 60’s today and hope all you in Cedar Key are too.

  8. Lee and lynda January 25, 2014 at 10:51 am #

    We read all your blogs becky. We are now down florida on the keys swimming in the warm water. I have all the trades you mentioned especially dreamer and resourceful
    I think I’m a lot like you if you can imagine it you can do it I’ve lived my whole life like that.
    For Most the most people I’m sure the biggest barrier is being a parent um if you can homeschool on the road but most parents have to have a home stable environment. Some can home school on the road.

    • Becky January 25, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

      Hello you two! The keys, wow bet that’s nice and warm. I hope the rest of your stint at Coffeyville went well.

      And I can definitely see your point. I’d bet homeschooling takes a lot of effort, and a different kind of effort than working a job does.

  9. 2knives January 25, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    Dedicated is the hardest for me. I have traveled throughout Europe, Asia, North and Central America, Iceland, and Newfoundland during my 61 years on the planet. I always find my way back to farm country in rural Pennsylvania. I guess I am stuck in a deep rut. Traveling is always enjoyable but at some point a piece of ground seems important.

    • Becky January 25, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

      Nothing wrong with having a home base knives. International travel though, some day I’ll do a little of that too.

  10. Dawn January 25, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    Interesting. I agree with the addition of courage…it takes courage to leave what is safe to try something different…and to stand up to family and friends who likely will think you’re crazy.

    • Becky January 25, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

      Yeah Dawn.

  11. Kristy January 25, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

    Great thought provoking post! I have all those traits so I should do well when I finally hit the road πŸ™‚ My youngest child will be graduating high school in 2 years and my plan is to go full time then.

    The hardest part for me I think is just making the jump which I guess would fall under courage which has already been mentioned. You can have all of the traits you mentioned but it does no good if you never take the first leap. It takes a good deal of courage for someone to leave all comforts and securities behind for the unknown. Personally I’m up for the challenge but many will never feel ready to jump.

    • Becky January 26, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

      I came to the conclusion long ago that waiting for the perfect time to jump is an exercise in futility, there will be no perfect time. So pick an alright time, and deal with the obstacles as they come.

      Good for you Kristy! Best of luck getting on the road.

  12. Furry Gnome January 25, 2014 at 9:43 pm #

    I think I relate easily to being a dreamer. I dream about writing and travel nowadays. But I think the dedication is hard for me. I’m just too lazy, and let things slide, or occupy myself with routine things. And I read your blog as one “who dares to dream of a more fulfilling life” rather than as an RVer.

    • Becky January 26, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

      Well Gnome from your last comment it looks like you’re making the effort to work on the writing goal this year, that’s a start. Sometimes that first step is the hardest, and momentum carries you along once you get going.

  13. Suzanne January 26, 2014 at 12:54 am #

    For me, the dreaming part is innate. The challenge is being resourceful enough to seek out “community.” As an introvert, it is very easy for me to slip into invisibility and not work toward seeking out like-minded people. For this reason, I think one needs to really be comfortable being alone for those times when “community” does not come as easily.

  14. The MotorGnomes January 26, 2014 at 7:14 am #

    Becky, I believe my wife and I share all of these traits and have decide to retire a little early, 62 & 58, to live the full time RV lifestyle. We have already lined up our 1 st volunteer gig at a COE park in MA, our home state after two months of shakedown cruising to Chicago for daughter #1s wedding. We are taking our youngest child, 14 year old boy, with us. We got the urge to go in 2012, we spent 2013, figuring it out, and now in 2014 we will hit the road in June. Blogs about the RV lifestyle have been the single best source for us of inspiration and motivation. Each and every blog we read about the same subject, RV Lifestyles, is as different from the next as snowflakes. I wish you a safe journey through a happy life. Maybe we will meet on the road. I have two daughters a little older than you and encourage them to read your blog so that they can be inspired to follow their dreams too.

    • Becky January 26, 2014 at 7:07 pm #


      Congratulations on your impending homelessness (the good kind). Sounds like you’ve put some serious thought into this and have a plan hashed out, that’s a good bit of work done. I wish my parents would have taken me traveling when I was 14, your son is lucky.

      Best of luck to you and yes, I would enjoy meeting you on the road someday. Safe travels and happy trails.

  15. Pleinguy January 26, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    For me, I think the dreaming part comes naturally. I’ve always had a bit of that. Probably the most difficult is being resourceful. I’m pretty much a loner, so I’m not good at using resources outside myself. I think dedication is probably the key to making it happen. Even with few resources a big dream can be made possible with perseverance.
    Pleinguy recently posted..Spring CanyonMy Profile

    • Becky January 26, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

      That’s pretty much me too Plein. Enjoy your time in NM!

  16. RangerSteve January 26, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

    Self-awareness. I think everything you and the commenters point out is true, but also misses the point a bit. People always tell me I am lucky for living such a great life – and I want to slap them (in a good way). There is no luck involved. I figured myself out – what I wanted from life. I then figured out how I could best fulfill those wants, and I did it. Sure, it took dreaming, resourcefulness, courage, and the rest, but what made me successful is I knew it would make me happy, and I knew I wanted to be happy.

    Most of the people that ask me about how to do what I do would be miserable in my shoes. What they are really asking is “How can I be as happy as you?”. And for that my answer is simple. Figure out what makes YOU happy and do it. Probably isn’t going to be what works for me!
    RangerSteve recently posted..C’mon Google!My Profile

  17. Becky January 27, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

    Ah, I counted that process of figuring out what you wanted, realizing that you didn’t need to do things the way the rest of the world does, as part of being a Dreamer.

    I agree with you though about everyone’s path to happiness being unique. That’s why a go-to manual for RVing doesn’t exist, because everyone gets there a different way. Thanks for weighing in.

  18. Diane January 28, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    Great post, I love hearing the stories of people who have shed the social bonds that keep most living as Sheeple…spending hours commuting to a job they hate to afford a house that sits vacant while they work. Saving and dreaming for a one week vacation each year that is often spent with the rest of the drones at an over crowded theme park. I especially enjoy seeing strong, confident, young women forging the way…keep up the good work and great posts.

    • Becky January 28, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

      Thank you Diane, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I just peeked at your new blog, those are some great wildlife photos.

  19. MarciaGB January 30, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    I have nothing to add, except that this is a great post that may inspire many to go for it.

    • Becky January 30, 2014 at 9:16 pm #

      Glad you liked it Marcia.

  20. Marcio P. February 1, 2014 at 5:42 pm #

    Hi there, I’m rving for little more than 3 years now, in the first year I was a full-timer, however, because I live in Canada, for the winter I had to bring my rig to the inside of the warehouse I was working at, luckily my boss allowed me to stay, I was just separated from my wife, so I spent the winter in there. I have to tell you that I always loved camping, I live in Canada for the past 28 years, I’m originally from Brazil, and I was dreaming about RV’s for the last 4 or 5 years before I separated, I should say that rving wasn’t the reason for the break up, the situation was very bad before. I wanted my wife to be with me but she was sick at the time and she wasn’t very happy with the idea of living in the RV for the summer and then go down to Florida for the winter(I was working in a seasonal job and we always closed down for the winter), any way, things got worse and I decided to go for the rv life on my own. I have to tell you that it was love at first sight with my rig. I stayed there for that winter and went for a parking lot for the summer after.

    The second year it was the marriage reconciliation try out, didn’t work, we did camp few times, but, she never really like it and the old problem was still there.

    Now it is the third year, last summer I spent most of it in my rig.

    The winter came, and I don’t have to tell you that Canadian winters are very cold (-15 to -35 C.). Unfortunately I couldn’t go south, then I stored my rig and rented a small bedroom and here I am till the end of march, hopefully.

    Can’t wait to get back home (2006 Forest River Cardinal fifth wheel, 36 ft. w/ 3 slides)

    So, here are some reasons why I think people put their dreams aside:

    – Money – especially if you don’t have a steady source of income.
    – Personal problems – Like mine and the one Gerry Jones said before.
    – Lack of determination – maybe consequence of the two first reasons.

    So people, don’t keep your dreams as dreams only, make it reality, fight for, it will be hard, some people will try to push you down, you might feel lost or incapacitated but at the end it’s going to work out, just don’t give up.

    Yes, it takes courage and determination.

    Thanks Becky for your blog, and thanks to all of the followers sharing their stories and experiences. It is really appreciated and inspiring.

    • Becky February 2, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

      Hello Marcio,

      You might be interested in Rae over at http://travelswithmiranda.uskeba.ca/ a Canadian full-timer who lives in her RV year round – in Canada. She’s found ways to survive the extreme cold in her Class C,

      Thank you for this long and thoughtful comment, glad you’ve enjoyed IO.

      • Marcio February 3, 2014 at 9:08 am #

        Hi Becky, thanks for the tip, I did check her page and I liked very much,will try to get in touch with her soon.. Have a nice day.

        • Becky February 3, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

          Happy to help Marcio, take care.

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