Top 10 Things to Know About Full-timing

Top of Angel's Landing, Zion National Park

Top of Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park

Eons ago, when I’d been on the road for almost three months, I wrote an article called “Top 9 Things to Know About Full-timing“. Looking back now I still think I did a reasonably good job on it, but it was always my intention to revise it once I had more experience.

So here it is, now with almost 35 months of full-timing under my belt. When I looked at the 2012 version I realized I’d actually put in pointers for two distinct phases of full-timing: preparing to hit the road, and once on the road. I did the same thing this time and separated out the pointers into those two categories to make it easier to follow. Enjoy!

Preparing to hit the road:

1. Do some research. Research different types of RVs, sizes, floorplans, and costs. Read blogs, websites, and forums about those who are already on the road to get a feel for what the lifestyle is like, how to handle the logistics, and what to bring with you on the road. Talk to people you meet in campgrounds about what they like and dislike about their rig. Be thorough.

2. Know yourself. Understand that no two people’s path to full-timing is going to be the same, so not all of the advice you read and get from full-timers is going to be true for you. Think about what you need to be happy, and don’t compromise. Get a handle on your finances, avoid debt if at all possible. Get out and spend as much time as you can in as many different types of RVs as possible to discover what works best for you.

3. Have a plan. Going full-timing is a complicated process. To make it more manageable, start and keep a to-do list. Break big problems like “downsizing”, “logistics”, and “budgeting” into smaller tasks that are easier to accomplish. Keep up momentum by working on your list a little every day. Plan your first RV trip close to home. Have an exit strategy. Set a solid date to hit the road, that’ll make it more real.

4. Doubt is your worst enemy. Think up your worst case scenario right now, and then decide how you’d handle it. Find other RVers/hopefuls to support you when you’re unsure what to do next, have questions, or just need someone to talk to. Set aside an emergency fund. Have something on hand to remind you why you’re doing this when the stress gets high. Take a break if you need one.

5. Enjoy the process. Don’t compare your progress to others, or worry if you can only make a little progress at a time. Don’t rush getting on the road, or your results will probably be sub par. Get out and enjoy where you are now. Preparing to hit the road can be hard, but later you’ll look back with pride at what you accomplished during this time.

Being on the road:

6. Find a balance. You’ll have to balance work and play, traveling and staying put. Otherwise you’ll wear yourself out or go broke and have to return to a sticks and bricks. Watch your money, learn to budget, find your ideal travel schedule and length of stay, and discover if you’re a planner or a go with the flow type.

7. Understand it’s not happily ever after. Travel plans will fall through, the rig will break down, the weather won’t always co-operate. Unlike a vacation the chores of everyday living will still need to be done, not every day can be an adventure. Accept that things will go wrong. Roll with the punches and learn to rebound.

8. Be flexible. Understand that plans will be set in jello, always subject to change. Try new things, meet new people, learn new skills, volunteer. Leave some time unscheduled to be spontaneous. There is no set definition to full-timing, so experiment until you find what way works best for you. Know that it’s okay to change your RV or what you carry with you once you have some experience.

9. It can be as social as you want. You can boondock year-round by yourself and never be bothered. You can join RVing communities and attend meetups and gatherings and always be surrounded by people. Make new friends, attend happy hours, never be afraid to say you need alone time, go back and visit old friends and family as often as you wish.

10. You will grow as a person. If you’ve done the above nine things – overcame adversity, learned how to plan and research, discovered the right balance for your life, stayed flexible, found people you can relate with; you are guaranteed to grow as a person. So even if you don’t full-time forever, you’ll have a valuable set of tools to help you no matter where the next stage of life takes you.

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11. This is where you come in. I was delighted in the 2012 edition by how many helpful comments people gave for would-be full-timers. I came up with the first 10, now if you feel so inclined you can share a pointer #11 in the comments below.

Also, I wanted to say a big Thank You to everyone who participated in Thursday’s impromptu game! I was feeling pretty bummed about not getting to go hike or sight-see that weekend, and getting to read your responses for things to take RVing really brightened my day. You’re the best audience a blog could have. πŸ™‚

* * *

Want to learn more about full-time RVing? Check out the “Useful Stuff” tab at the top of my blog, which has links to the most helpful content on IO.

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34 Responses to Top 10 Things to Know About Full-timing

  1. Mike August 10, 2015 at 11:57 am #

    Part of my thought process before full-timing was, worst case scenario. I could always sell the rig, and go get a real J-O-B and say that I tried. Full-timing is great, I will never go back to ‘normal’.
    Thanks for all of your hard work.

    –Mike

    • Becky August 11, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

      Definitely Mike. People often make the mistake of thinking that any big life change must be a permanent thing. When you think about it, it really wouldn’t be hard to go from full-timing back to sticks and bricks living. If a person spent a lot of money on their rig maybe they wouldn’t be able to buy a house right away but they could always rent for a while until enough money was saved up to put a down payment on a house. It’s not an irreversible choice.

      Glad you’re enjoying full-timing, safe travels and happy trails.

  2. jim August 10, 2015 at 9:24 pm #

    Do you check your lug nuts on your casita trailer regularly? I have read a lot about this and it seems to be that trailer tires are somewhat vulnerable to falling off if not checked often. I’m speaking of all trailers (utility, boat, camper, etc.) not just casita trailers. I read last week that 3 people were injured this year inside Yellowstone while trying to take selfies with bison. I remember you had a run in with one at your camp site. Stay safe and have fun.

    • Becky August 11, 2015 at 8:19 pm #

      Yep I do Jim, have never had problems with mine so far, knock on wood.

      You are correct, that is the current count. All of the injuries were caused by people getting waaaay too close to what is still a wild animal (all were 10 feet or less from the bison – park regulations state people should stay 25 yards or more from bison).

      Take care. πŸ™‚

  3. Ron August 10, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

    35 Months full timing, my how time flies when you are having fun!!!

    • Becky August 11, 2015 at 8:19 pm #

      It sure does Ron!

  4. Roger Fell August 10, 2015 at 11:54 pm #

    This list could just as well be used for any type of successful change in life!

    • Becky August 11, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

      Yeah Roger, just about. πŸ™‚

  5. Peter August 11, 2015 at 1:20 am #

    I’ve been full timing for a whopping ten days now. I found myself nodding my head as I read your list.

    For me it was the doubts that weighed most heavily. I felt like I had thought things through before making a decision to live on the road full time but “not knowing what I don’t know” is what worries me.

    I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest most of my life and decided my first trip
    Would be to the Olympic peninsula. I’m currently at a campground in Olympic National Park. Last night, sitting in my camp site, I wondered again, “Am I really gonna love this as much as I think I will?” Then today I made the trek up to Hurricane Ridge and saw the park from the mile high level. The day was so glorious that it really helped reaffirm my decision.

    I know the rough spots will come but I think the days of adventure and being out in the real world will help remind me exactly why I did this.

    Thanks to you and others who helped me (whether you knew it or not) as I wrestled with my decision. I really appreciate your openness and honesty!

    Peter
    Peter recently posted..First Full Day in the MoFoMy Profile

    • Becky August 11, 2015 at 8:28 pm #

      Hello Peter, glad you’re finding IO helpful.

      Congrats and welcome to the open road! I had a moment very similar to the one you described, maybe a week or so into full-timing when I was camping at Sioux Falls Recreation Area in South Dakota while setting up my residency. I climbed a hill on a Thursday afternoon when by all rights I should have been hard at work at my old job, and was treated to a private view of a panorama of Sioux Falls and the surrounding countryside. You’ll remember that moment up on Hurricane Ridge forever, no matter what else happens. πŸ™‚

  6. Tom Reed August 11, 2015 at 7:15 am #

    If I were a little bit picky I’d think you had a tough week and didn’t have anything to report. But on the other hand every one hits a wall in their lives when things don’t fall into place as planned. You dug into your past and pulled out an interesting bit of knowledge from then to remind us to occasionally take stock in what our big picture is. You rose to the occasion and made us collectively think.
    Hope that next week is more productive, and keep on pluggin as we are though on the otherside of your keystrokes right there with you in spirit waiting with bated breath on your next submission
    Thanks and have a great week…..TR

    • Becky August 11, 2015 at 8:37 pm #

      Tom,

      Well, if you’ve been reading long enough you’ll understand that my mission for IO is not “just another travel blog” but a resource for other would-be-full-timers so this week has been very productive by that standard. πŸ™‚ Sometimes there are more how-to posts than travelogues, sometimes it’s the other way around. Just part of the ebb and flow of life on the road. Glad you enjoyed this!

  7. Reine in Plano August 11, 2015 at 8:24 am #

    Since you said you were revising and updating the list, I went back and read the 9 things too. The difference in the two is interesting. This list is much more organized with a topic for each point. The 10 things list shows how you have incorporated your experiences into the list and grown as a person.

    I would add one more that applies to fairly broadly whether you’re a full timer or not. Be open to change. Our camping style has changed some in the 7 years we’ve owned our Casita and definitely has changed over the 41 years we’ve camped. Some things we did when we first started we either aren’t able to do now or don’t enjoy doing. That’s ok. Decide what works for you and enjoy the journey at each stage in your life.

    • Becky August 11, 2015 at 8:40 pm #

      Good tip Reine, thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

  8. Barb L August 11, 2015 at 9:44 am #

    Excellent! We’re nearly 5 years full-time and loving it. Your tip #2 is my favorite. The plan has to be right for you, especially the big decisions like whether to keep a house, keep storage, etc. Also, we’re finding that our balance, focus, pace as we travel s always in flux so it’s important to keep up a dialogue with your travel partner- or with yourself if you solo.

    • Becky August 11, 2015 at 8:41 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed this Barb. πŸ™‚ Communication would be important for full-timing if you’re with a partner.

  9. jan frank August 11, 2015 at 11:09 am #

    Every day is a mixture of things we want to do, things we try to do, things that happen to us that prevent us getting things done. Once you get in a rut of “none of it seems to work out” it gets worse and worse, till there seems to be no point in continuing.

    That’s when I advise: do just one thing, however small, perfectly. Even if it is all you do that day.

    Once you have done one thing perfectly one day, perhaps the next day you can do two things perfectly, and so you work yourself out of the mess. Especially when you’re on your own this is a good way to pull yourself up by your bootlaces. I know, I have been there.

    • Becky August 11, 2015 at 8:54 pm #

      That’s an interesting outlook Jan, thanks for sharing.

      I’ve only had one “bad” period of time while full-timing, it was from about 3-6 months in when I was finishing my first run at Amazon and trying to find a winter job once Amazon got out. The main cause was a lack of social time with other people, which prompted me to write my popular “How to avoid loneliness as a solo full-time RVer” post the following summer once I’d learned a thing or two. http://www.interstellarorchard.com/2013/06/14/how-to-avoid-loneliness-as-a-solo-full-time-rver-pt-1/

  10. green August 11, 2015 at 11:18 am #

    Downsizing mantra…

    each box I empty
    brings me a day closer to the beach!

    Love your work, Becky…peace love inspiration!

    • Becky August 11, 2015 at 8:55 pm #

      Great mantra Green, I like it! Thanks, and I’m glad you’re enjoying IO.

  11. Jim Schmechel August 11, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

    #11 Don’t be afraid to be unique. We are all different. If you want to have a bicycle tow a trailer of your belongings (I met someone like this) do it! There is a blog about a woman with a motorcycle and mini trailer. I started as car and tent. Do whatever you think might work, and then adjust as needed when you gain some experience. Use whatever you have available now to get started. It doesn’t need to be fancy or complex.
    Jim Schmechel recently posted..Farment MadisonMy Profile

    • Becky August 11, 2015 at 8:56 pm #

      A nice addition Jim, thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

      Incidentally, I follow Jackie over at BlueRoad too and got to meet up with her twice this summer while she was working in Montana. Awesome person.

  12. Teri Live Oak, Fl August 11, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

    I’ve been thinking of you after reading about the grizzly killing an employee at Yellowstone. Good article and take care☺

    • Becky August 11, 2015 at 9:02 pm #

      Glad you liked this Terri. πŸ™‚

      Yes. The employee worked seasonally for Medcor, it was his 5th season. He went hiking off trail alone and without bear spray – not a smart decision, he should have known better poor guy.

  13. Oystein August 12, 2015 at 12:20 am #

    It’s hard for me to let go the comfort and stability I currently have. Plus I need to pay of some debt before going full time rving. I have done so much research and know what I want in an RV/travel trailer, but making that step down the road will be hard. I do feel this life style is in my heart, I am drawn to it, why I don’t know, but it calls me. I have my routine, job, bills, enjoy my days off, friends, travel, hike, but being mobile in a home, well, it calls me everyday. I did find an 18 foot travel trailer down south from me at a great price, but when I looked for parking/storage in my area, no luck. I will keep the dream alive and continue to plan.

    • Becky August 12, 2015 at 8:27 pm #

      You seem like the kind of person who follows through Oystein, from your comments on previous posts. And that’s the right attitude to have: keep reminding yourself why you’re working so hard to pay off your debt and get things in order. Time will pass, and you’ll be on the road before you know it. Best of luck!

  14. Angela August 13, 2015 at 8:07 am #

    Love this! Becky, how do you know what to write about that’s exactly what I need to hear? πŸ™‚

    I am finding it’s so easy to get all wrapped up in the fantasy of full timing and going to new places, but what if you’ve had enough of life on the road and need to get back to city life and make some dough, replenish, recharge and regroup before hitting the road again (because it surely will be calling you again).

    My only concern there is either the gap in employment, any time off is looked at negatively at most places and going from (in my case) a job you’ve been at for 18 years to working seasonal/temp jobs in different places, well not a lot of companies would take that as an advantage. But I guess that’s where selling yourself comes in. When you’re “out there” you know yourself, you understand the world better and you learn how to deal with the stressors of life a little better. It seems people expect you to get your “travel bug” out of the way in your early 20’s. I hope that the mindset of a middle aged single nomad woman with no dependents catches on and becomes less controversial. But maybe I’m just dealing with regional bias, as I am in the South.

    • Becky August 14, 2015 at 7:52 pm #

      Hello Angela,

      Glad you found this so helpful! I remember when I was preparing to hit the road when I’d read posts from others that were just what I needed to hear at the time and wondering how they did it. It’s part remembering what you needed to hear during your own journey, part knowing your audience and the rough parts they’ll be needing help with. πŸ™‚

      You’re absolutely right. If/when you want to go back to a “real” job, you’ll think about what your employer will want to hear and put their doubts to rest. In this case, they’ll be worried that your slew of seasonal jobs means you can’t stick with a job, so you’ll want to “sell” your time on the road in a way that eases that fear.

      I can’t say whether it’ll be less controversial in the future (I can see where you’d get that more in the south, but people all over get it to some degree), what I can recommend is ignore those naysayers and focus your time and energy on people who share the same view as you. πŸ™‚ http://www.interstellarorchard.com/2012/01/09/dont-listen-to-naysayers/

      Best of luck!

  15. Anita August 14, 2015 at 3:04 pm #

    Hi Becky,

    You are very wise and entertaining.

    After loving this FT RV life for 16+ years we are preparing to settle again mostly for age-related health reasons. I find your advice helpful in the reverse situation too.

    At first we just wandered the country visiting sites and family. Our goal was to visit all the national parks and as many of my 19 aunts/uncles and their kids as possible. Then our goal became to volunteer at a camp in 49 states (not HI). After 32 we were pooped. Along the way we also found we like to visit small local eating places and wander through grocery stores. Piggly Wiggly is very different from Cub Foods is very different from Byerly’s is very different from …. well you get the idea. We visited ice cream places Friendlys, vs Cape Cod, vs Braums, and our favorite, Blue Bell, in Brenham TX. We visited the state house of all the capitals we camped in and the as many presidents’ birthplaces and museums as were convenient along the way. Before 9/11 there were lots of manufacturing places that gave tours, not so easy to find anymore. . We toured the manufacturing places for RVs in IA, IN, CA, etc.

    the most useful question when meeting the locals has been, “when you have friends and family visiting from out of town, what do you like to show them?” or “where do you take them to eat?” or “what’s famous around here?” etc you get the idea.

    • Becky August 14, 2015 at 7:54 pm #

      Sounds like you had a very good time on the road and I hope your experience back in a sticks and bricks is equally fulfilling Anita. Thanks for sharing your story and your recommendation.

  16. Biz Crate August 23, 2015 at 10:39 am #

    Becky (and All)
    Like Angela, I find the timing of this post perfect for me and where I am in my progress toward full-timing. I am proud to announce that I have located my perfect (used) motorhome, I’ve had numerous conversations with the sellers and they are helpful and gracious beyond belief. I pick up my Madness, as I call her, over Labor Day weekend.
    As I look over your top 10 I realize that I am allowing doubt to encroach on my plans. Call it buyers remorse or whatever. The big hunt is over and I am both elated and aprehensive. I like Jan’s advice for over coming the doubt by doing one thing perfectly so today I will make the perfect plan for transferring ownership and taking my time over that busy weekend to get my rig home, 17 hours away.
    Your readers are providing comfort to me with their advice of remaining flexible and open, keeping myself informed but confident that there is not only one way to go about full-timing.
    Madness and I will get to know each other over the next few months, I’ll complete my downsizing this winter and ready myself to cut loose the moorings to sail across the Great Plains in the spring.
    Wish me Luck!
    (Wow! That was cathartic – I’m feeling better already!)

    • Becky August 23, 2015 at 10:55 am #

      Hello Biz, and welcome to IO!

      That simultaneous excited/anxious feeling you got just after buying? Yeah, I know all about that. I wrote about it in 2011 when I was picking my truck up from CarMax and the whole thing suddenly became real. You can read about it here: http://www.interstellarorchard.com/2011/12/05/fighting-fear/

      It’s a normal response to a big change and is not entirely a bad thing: that doubt will keep you on your toes and thinking critically about the situation which will help ensure a good outcome.

      Best of luck to you and Madness, and I hope to see you on the road soon!

  17. Nikki Plauche' April 13, 2016 at 5:25 pm #

    Hey Becky,
    You are my hero and I cannot wait to join you!!! So far I have done my research for months now and I am soooooo excited to be albe of head out once the house sells. My question is about clothing? I am a girly-girl and I love my outfits. How can a girly- girl live out of a camper and a truck? I just can’t see myself being in total bum mode everyday. Can you offer any advice or tips?? Also, does the “wet” bathroom cause issues for storage as every time you shower everything gets wet?

    • Becky April 13, 2016 at 7:05 pm #

      Yep Nikki, there’s a blog post for that. http://www.interstellarorchard.com/2015/07/21/rving-wardrobe/

      I still have not used the shower in my RV, so that hasn’t been an issue for me. I wish you all the best and hope your transition to full-timing is painless and easy! Safe travels and happy trails.

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