“Can I Go Full-time RVing?”: The Answer

Three happy full-timers: Brian, Vanessa, and I at Borrego Springs, CA

There are so many voices on the internet making their opinion known that it’s hard to know who to listen to when you ask a question about RVing. And once you’ve decide whose answers sound right to you another question arises: Does this person really know what they’re talking about? I don’t want to screw this up!

Going full-timing is such an individualized activity that there is no easy manual to follow to get you there, which can be really frustrating. There’s a lot less anxiety involved in following a plan someone else came up with. But you know how the saying goes, obstacles are placed in our way to see if what we want is really worth fighting for.

Lets look at four common variations of the ‘can I go full-timing’ question that pop up frequently, namely: “I have health concerns / I’m single / I have kids / I’m on a limited budget. Can I still do this?”

Ask any of these online and plenty of people will say no. That it’s too risky to travel with a health condition, that it’s not safe on the road alone, that it isn’t fair to the kids, that you’ll go broke trying to juggle repair fees with other living expenses.

On the other end of the spectrum are people who’ll give an enthusiastic yes and make it sound like a piece of cake.

Both of these answers upset me because they’re too simple.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle, and like much of the full-timing equation cannot be summed up by a one-word answer.

With five years of experience living full-time in an RV, my answer to any of these four is: Yes, but it will be harder. You absolutely will have to put more effort into it and make concessions. Maybe that means sticking to areas where you have access to the medical care you need, or missing out on some destinations because you don’t have a phone signal strong enough for the kid’s school lessons, or traveling less and taking seasonal jobs to stretch your money farther. Going full-timing is not easy, even under the best of circumstances!

To come up with a plan that works for you, you’ll have to do some research, maybe a lot of it. Part of it will be scouring the internet for others who’ve gone RVing with these challenges and been successful (searching for key words is a great way to start – like Googling ‘full-time RVing with kids’). Part of it will be taking a good hard look at your resources and getting creative about how to utilize them.

During that research, you’ll get an idea of the price you’ll have to pay. And I’m not just talking money or time here, I’m talking about opportunity costs and concessions.

And then once you have that clearer picture you can ask yourself the real question: “Knowing what I’ll have to do to make it work, is full-time RVing worth fighting for?” And I’m keeping it real here, for some it won’t be.

And if you discover it isn’t worth fighting for and the decision still breaks your heart?

That’s probably a sign to take a good hard look at your life and make some changes. Create a plan to better your circumstances so that you can consider full-timing in the future. Or figure out what it was about full-timing that appealed to you and look for other things you can do to meet that need.

Related Links:

I have no experience full-timing with a medical condition, or with kids, but I DO know a lot about being single and on a budget! If either of these concerns is holding you back from full-timing, check out the Resources Page or my book, Solo Full-time RVing On A Budget.

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29 Responses to “Can I Go Full-time RVing?”: The Answer

  1. marijka May 12, 2017 at 11:41 am #

    I’m tackling the fulltime subject with lists! Every time I think of a concern or unknown, no matter how small, I write it down. I then separate into categories like medical, equipment, skills, money, electronics, etc. So far I’ve been able to address most items with online research, asking someone to teach me, whatever. I take everything with a grain of salt, knowing every experience is different – besides, I thrive on adventure. 🙂 Anyway, the remainder means I might have to talk to my doctor, pay a mechanic to learn a skill, take a first aid course, whatever. I’m slowly working my way through the lists and finding the whole process easier to manage by treating it as an organized project, and it keeps me from feeling so overwhelmed. Funny how “learn to back up a camper” keeps falling to the bottom of the list… hahaha

    • Becky May 12, 2017 at 4:46 pm #

      It’s good you have a system that works for you Marijka! The list method worked very well for me when I was preparing to hit the road. Take care.

  2. Bon May 12, 2017 at 12:10 pm #

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned, full-time rv living is a life-style choice, not necessarily a way to save money. I’ve evolved to something of a compromise. I live small enough so I can pack up and take a 6 month trip when I want. By letting my apartment go, I spend about as much money on the road as I do living back home; and that still assumes I do a lot of boondocking… I worry that too many folks think full-time RV life is a quick-fix, low-cost retirement solution. It’s definitely worth doing some honest mathematics before pulling the trigger… As always, love your insights, Becky!
    Bon recently posted..Keep, Ancient Lands, Your Storied Pomp…My Profile

    • Becky May 12, 2017 at 4:49 pm #

      From my experience it costs about the same as living stationary did. We all have spending habits, and those don’t tend to change whether you’re on or off the road unless you make a conscious decision to change them. People who live cheaply before hitting the road will continue to do so. Those who spend a lot of money will continue to do so. The things the money gets spent on is just different on the road.

      Glad you found a compromise that works for you Bon. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Judy May 12, 2017 at 2:31 pm #

    Thank you! We just did it on May 1st. I follow you so have learned a lot. We are at Alabama Hills and today in town. So far it’s great. We are in SS and have the emotional support of our family. We will make a move to Texas this fall. Thank you for being my inspiration!!!!

    • Becky May 12, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

      Congrats Judy and you’re welcome! So glad things are going well for you and I hope you’re enjoying Alabama Hills, that’s such a beautiful area! Safe travels and happy trails.

  4. Gumo May 12, 2017 at 3:13 pm #

    I saw your new article in the latest issue of Escapees magazine. Well written and very informative. I’m surprised a magazine hasn’t already signed you up for regular monthly contributions. Keep up the great work, especially in your blog. We love it.

    • Becky May 12, 2017 at 4:51 pm #

      Thanks Gumo, I’m glad you enjoyed that article. 🙂

  5. Jodee Gravel May 12, 2017 at 9:19 pm #

    Definitely an individual perspective for this amazing life. So many people come at it from different directions. We’ve yet to find anyone on the road who regrets their decision to go fulltime.
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Jodee Finally Sees Yosemite!My Profile

    • Becky May 13, 2017 at 8:27 am #

      I’ve come across a few who were forced to live in RVs because they lost their job and couldn’t afford their house anymore. But for those that chose it voluntarily, all found value in the experience even if they later decided that it wasn’t for them in the long run.

  6. Jimmy May 13, 2017 at 2:38 am #

    Great site!….I’ve spent the last two hours going over some of your RESOURCE articles and what not.

    I had an “ah-ha” moment moment about a week ago, which I hope you’ll allow me to go into a bit more detail later, but I’m at a stage in my life where RVing seems VERY appealing. I’m not being forced into exploring RVing by any means, and for that I am grateful. I know others are not so lucky. It just appears a much more compelling lifestyle choice

    I’ve made about 50 bookmarks to sites and youtube vids over the past few days…..and IO will be a keeper for sure.

    You are giving me confidence! =)

    • Becky May 13, 2017 at 8:30 am #

      Glad to hear that IO is inspiring you Jimmy! I sure love those ah-ha moments.

      You’re doing the right thing by researching several different sources, I wish you all the best and hope full-timing works out for you! Keep us updated on your progress. 🙂

  7. Rob May 13, 2017 at 6:21 am #

    Going full time is not like signing a contract, you can change your mind. There are parks you can stay at all year and apartments everywhere.

  8. Reine May 13, 2017 at 8:11 am #

    Although we’re not full-timing we do spend about 80 to 100 nights on the road each year in our Casita and are happy with our choices. For those considering full timing, two other perspectives can be be found at rvsueandcrew.net/about-rvsue/ and onewanderingspirit.wordpress.com. Sue’s early posts about why she chose the lifestyle would be helpful to folks contemplating it. And Micky’s recent post about “Wandering and Wondering” mentions some concerns about continuing to full-time. As Rob said, you can change your mind.

    • Becky May 13, 2017 at 8:41 am #

      Part-timing is a great way to satisfy the travel itch for those who don’t want to (or can’t) commit to full-timing. Good resources Reine.

  9. Gumo May 13, 2017 at 8:41 am #

    For some reason, I keep getting emails about updates to comments from your blog, which I do not want. I’ve tried the link to stop these emails but I keepetting them. Any suggestions to stop them would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • Becky May 14, 2017 at 8:05 am #

      You must have hit the little checkbox underneath the Submit Comment button that says “Notify me of follow-up comments by email.”

      There’s an unsubscribe button in the e-mails, but I’ve gone ahead and manually removed you.

  10. Martha Goudey May 13, 2017 at 9:55 am #

    Six months into full-timing and it’s somewhere in the middle on the hard-to- easy spectrum.
    Even before we married 11 years ago I wanted to full-time, even though I had only tent camped and we had a small trailer for a couple of years and went out on weekends. No long trips. No real understanding of what it would look like. And in some ways I don’t think you know until you actually do it.
    But a year ago Ben decided to retire (suddenly). I said, “Does that mean selling the house and going traveling?” I already knew the answer.
    We religiously read your blog, heard about the Casita through a friend and researched for exactly two weeks before ordering one. Within a week we had talked to the real estate agent. We listed the house August 1, sold it September 1, and was on the road October 28.
    We did talk to our financial consultant who confirmed our budget.
    What we have discovered in six months of full-timing is that it’s wonderful and it’s hard. Our budget needs more supplementing than we originally bargained for. And I have health concerns that bug me.
    We are 71 and 72 and I wish we had started earlier (and that would be my biggest advice to anyone contemplating the full-time lifestyle).
    Research is essential, but overthinking might prevent a person from taking the leap.
    I am fulfilling a long-held dream…and it’s not easy. But I would make exactly the same decision.

    • Becky May 14, 2017 at 8:18 am #

      Hello Martha,

      First of all, congratulations on hitting the road! I always tell people the first six months are the hardest, it takes a while to get a rhythm down and discover what does and doesn’t work, not to mention get comfortable with all the quirks of your RV and discover what your ideal travel style is like. It should be getting easier soon, if it isn’t already. My first night sleeping in an RV was the night I purchased my Casita, so I know what it’s like to be completely out of your depth.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying IO, and thanks for reading! Yes, it is a fine line between planning and action, isn’t it? I’ve write about that subject pretty frequently over the years. Wishing you could have gone sooner is theme I hear a lot. I certainly don’t regret my decision to go young.

      Thanks for writing in. Safe travels and happy trails!

  11. Reine May 13, 2017 at 10:15 am #

    Martha, so glad y’all are living your dream. Good luck on finding the supplemental income you need and getting the health concerns to settle down. Paul and I found we spent more money the first year we had our Casita doing mods and staying at more expensive campgrounds. Over the years we’ve identified ways to cut the expenses without cutting the enjoyment. One great cost savings is to be sure you have the Senior Access Pass and look for Corp of Engineers or National Park or Forest Service campgrounds when you’re not boondocking. On our planned trip in July, one of the state parks will be $64 for two nights while Teddy Roosevelt NP will be $28 for four nights. Corp of Engineers parks are usually around 13-15 with the Senior pass for a campsite with water and electricity which is a real bargain.

  12. Lisa May 16, 2017 at 7:19 pm #

    My biggest fear is not that I’ll be a solo female, but that I’ll be an African American solo female. I see people as individuals versus making sweeping generalizations. I’m hoping the people I encounter during my travels will be the same way. I will however move on from a place if I feel uncomfortable- and hopefully without issue. I welcome any thoughts. Thanks.

    • Linda Sand May 17, 2017 at 3:28 pm #

      In my six years of fulltiming/snowbirding I only met two of African American heritage but you would have been welcome in my camp.

    • Becky May 17, 2017 at 4:26 pm #

      Of course I can’t speak for everyone Lisa, but the RVers I like to hang out with are the accepting sort. You see all kinds on the road, and while there is the occasional bad apple just as in any community, most I’ve met are good-natured and kind-hearted. I met a lot of other solo RVers through Xscapers and you’d be more than welcome in that community. http://www.xscapers.com

  13. Wing May 20, 2017 at 3:30 pm #

    Hi Becky,

    Several months ago, I caught a video on FrugalRV YT channel of an interview with you and a tour of your compact camper. I fully blame that video and your blog for what has since happened … 🙂

    Next week, I’ll be saying goodbye to my employer of 5 yrs and going to pick up my brand-new Shasta Oasis 18BH (for that, I blame another YTuber, who did a video walk-thru of the RV Hall of Fame in Indiana wherein the Shasta Airflyte re-intro model was shown), along with swapping my beloved CR-V for a used tow-vehicle. My apartment lease in set to expire in 3wks, and I’ve yet to start sell/disposing of all of my world belongings … !

    To your four questions, I can only answer affirmative to but one of them … I’m single. Pretty much all the full-time RV YTubers and bloggers (yours is the notable exception, yeah!) are a couple, and much of their driving/parking advise will not apply. If there’s anyone reading this who’s also itching to travel full-time, but looking for company … pls IM me 🙂

    For budgeting reasons, I plan to boondock a fair bit. My biggest fear is that I’ll drive off the main road one night into a side road, want to turn around (e.g. road dead ends, getting ruttier/narrower), but the road is too narrow to do a U-turn (I’ll be towing an 18′ trailer)! Did you ever run into that problem, and how did you solve it?

    • Becky May 22, 2017 at 9:46 am #

      Hello Wing,

      I’m glad you enjoyed that video. Congrats on your upcoming departure and I hope the transition to full-timing goes smoothly for you! The weeks leading up to the big day are indeed hectic, I described that time as being on a rollercoaster with lots of ups and downs. It may seem like you won’t get rid of all your stuff in time (I was the same way) but it’ll work out.

      I always scout out boondocking roads before taking Cas down them (unless the reviews online are recent and very clear about what to expect), sometimes with just the truck and sometimes I leave the rig parked at the entrance and walk. Because of this I’ve never gotten stuck, but it does add extra time to the process if you have to walk down and back up before driving. You can read more about this in my Boondocking Answers post: http://www.interstellarorchard.com/2016/05/24/boondocking-answers/

      Best of luck to you, safe travels and happy trails.

      • Wing May 22, 2017 at 8:50 pm #

        Thanks for your well-wishes. I think disposing of my bed will be the biggest headache … I mean, there’s not exactly a market for 2nd-hand mattress is there ?!? I plan to lug along my bicycle, so yeah that’s a good idea then to pull-over and scout before committing! After thinking the problem over, I think I might also buy a cheap $100 “marine winch”, which can be attached to the tow hitch ball. Then if I do need to u-turn in a tight pinch on a deserted road, I’ll unhitch my trailer on the right side of the road, make a U-turn with the pickup truck, and then winch the trailer 180-deg around and re-hitch it, hmm …? I hope I’ll never have to do that, but if I do, I’ll be sure to write back and tell your readers if the idea works, LOL!

        • Becky May 23, 2017 at 5:44 pm #

          Maybe try testing it out somewhere open (like a parking lot) to make sure it works before you need to use it in the field? Just a thought. Good luck!

  14. Sandra Ann McArthur May 25, 2017 at 6:38 pm #

    For someone used to being somewhat handy in doing vehicle repairs (had small driving business for 12 years) and tired of fighting homelessness is it a viable option with a full time job – in Virginia?,…????

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