The 10 Weirdest Things About Full-Time RV Life

Oct 7, 2013

With some time under our belts now living on the road, we felt it was time to compile a list of some of the biggest adjustments we’ve made and the things about living on the road that continue to be weird to us:

1.) Waking up each day and needing a moment (or several!) to remember where we are! If we’re living somewhere for less than a week – and especially if it’s a one-night stopover somewhere – it’s a surreal and confusing moment looking out the windows or stepping out the door in the morning and re-adjusting to our new surroundings, especially if we arrived late the previous day. Many of our mornings start along the lines of “Oh that’s right, we’re living next to a lake!” or, “I just woke up in a parking lot – that’s different!”

20140307-DSCF3665

Parking lot camping..with electricity. A luxurious parking lot experience!

2.) We’re not on a perpetual vacation – we’re just living as locals in a lot of different places on a temporary basis. It may sound like semantics, but it feels far different from a vacation, where you would likely have a hotel room, eat meals at restaurants, and most importantly: not be working! We spend most of our days “at home” wherever we are: working, cooking, and doing normal domestic tasks before ever venturing out to see local sights. We feel like temporary residents in all the places we visit, no matter how short the stay, because other than living in a much smaller space and having lots more options of things to do in our free time, our daily lives have carried on much like they did when we lived in a house.

The glamorous life of digital nomads! Working in the laundromat.

The glamorous life of digital nomads! Working in the laundromat.

3.) We never know where anything is in an area unless we stay a while! We have to do research constantly or ask someone where things are, unless we drive past them first and remember their locations. At any given time as we pull into a new place, we’re hurriedly memorizing everything we see: grocery stores, gas stations, car washes, laundromats, post offices, RedBoxes for movie rentals, you name it. We took for granted the familiarity of always knowing where anything we needed would be after living in a place for a few years. Now we need directions for just the most basic essentials, and it takes a while to find what we need in unfamiliar grocery stores. We have become very good at asking to borrow other shoppers’ discount cards, though! We’d have quite the collection if we applied for one everywhere we went.

4.) We have new neighbors constantly. It seems like a dream come true not having to deal with bad neighbors for more than a day (or few, at most), but it’s also hard to see our new friends come and go so quickly. We’ve met some amazing people in our travels – and quite a few of them travel while working, like ourselves – each has an interesting story to tell, and we get to be in their company for what seems like far too little time. We have exchanged contact information with many though, and use social media and email to make plans to cross paths again! And as an added bonus, we now have an amazing social media network just for RVers, called RVillage, to find and keep track of each other on an interactive map.

5.) Moving is no longer so stressful or expensive. Relocating used to be such a time-consuming, annoying and costly process that we swore every time we’d never do again – but not anymore! Most of the barriers we used to have against living somewhere really different are gone now. If we get to a new area and it’s just not our cup of tea, we move on. If we get somewhere and love it, we can stay as long as circumstances will allow us to. One week we spent two days in a place, didn’t care for it, and decided at 10:30 one morning that we wanted to move two states away. By noon we were on the road, and by 2:30 we were parked and settled in. We loved that new location and decided to stay a week! Having that kind of flexibility helps alleviate a lot of the negative external factors we run into, like extended periods of bad weather (we just leave if we’re able), bad neighbors, getting bored with the area, or wanting to visit friends and family.

6.) We have most of the comforts of a home, and they go everywhere we can drive! Before we move locations, we like to sweep and tidy up our “house” so it’s clean when we arrive somewhere, just like you’d clean your house before vacation so it’s nicer to come home to. It’s still such a weird sensation, though, cleaning up our home so it’ll be ready when we settle into it again in a few hours, but it makes us happier upon arrival somewhere. There are other conveniences too, like making our own coffee and lunch during a stop. Instead of a gas station toilet that’s dirty or has a line, we just use our own! If we get tired of driving, we can find a place to park and stop for the day if we don’t have other plans, or take a nap and get back to driving later. We’ve done that more than a few times at rest areas, Wal-Marts, Cabela’s, casinos, or the best option: Harvest Hosts farms and wineries. Other than the occasional noise and bright security lights at night it’s not half bad – and did we mention free?

Walmart free rv parking

Living in style with many others at Wal-Mart for the night! Always ask for permission first, but this can be a great way to take a break overnight en route somewhere and restock on supplies. Be sure to always thank your free parking host by purchasing something during your stay.

7.) Even though we’re always surrounded by the great outdoors, we still have to force ourselves to go outdoors sometimes. It’s hard to get over the “office mentality” of keeping ourselves inside because that’s what we’ve been conditioned to do all day thanks to many years spent working in offices and working outside can be hard. It’s nearly impossible to see your screen, it’s windy, there’s insects, and lots more distractions. We got around some of those with a great little screened room we purchased from LL Bean and a couple comfortable chairs so we can work outdoors and feel like we still have a respectable and productive office space. It even has a cover for rainy days. Sometimes other campers give us funny looks because we’re at our computers most of the day during the week, but they probably don’t realize we aren’t on vacation like they are!

LLBean screened room tent

Our outdoor office has a great view, but our coworkers really aren’t all that helpful

8.) Our vehicle (or engine, if you have a motorhome) has become such a crucial part of daily life, which is weird since it was a luxury previously. A vehicle used to be just another “thing” we owned that made life easier, got us from home to work and back again, and was handy when we wanted to take a road trip or go out for the evening. Now our car is an extension of our home, storing a lot of our essential tools as well as keeping our entire family safe, and its maintenance and importance in our lives isn’t overlooked. We would be stranded if not for our vehicle, and can easily be in deep trouble if anything goes wrong while towing. Unlike a motorized RV, we wouldn’t be homeless or forced to live at a garage if we had engine trouble, but we would have to find a way to get our trailer to a campground and then be stuck without transportation for as long as it took to fix or replace our vehicle.

9.) We no longer want to shop for fun or increase the number of things we own – we just replace existing, less-useful or worn out things with better ones that serve more purposes. Seeing an item in a store and debating how many uses it has, where it will be stored, and what you’re willing to part with to be able to add it to such a small place is all a new sensation after having thousands of square feet to store our stuff previously. We don’t really miss paper books as much as we thought we would, even though they were prized possessions in our previous life. Our e-readers have given us so much more flexibility in what we can read and how many books we can own, versus the alternative of having just a handful of real books. We do still have a few prized paper books, but the transition was pretty easy when it became one of utility. We also visit thrift stores frequently to donate items we aren’t using (especially clothing!), and only buy new things if they’re extremely useful and make life easier. If we need something for a short time we’ll buy it at a thrift store and donate it back when we’re done with it.

One of the many simple joys in life - enjoying a cigar and a good book outdoors on a beautiful day!

One of our favorite guilty pleasures – enjoying a cigar, glass of wine, and a good book outdoors on a beautiful day!

10.) Being afraid to stay in our home during a bad storm. Our real “sticks and bricks” house felt deceptively invincible against the great outdoors, but after seeing our first few storms up close and personal in the trailer, we seriously debated getting in the car and heading for higher ground! At one campsite we saw a large tree limb fall with a huge crash onto a site very close to ours and narrowly miss crushing an RV. We’ve also been close to a couple bodies of water in heavy rain that we worried might flood and sweep us away. We’ve started to get more comfortable riding out bad weather in our camper though, with the knowledge that most of the time it’s no less safe than a house, it’s just a different sensation and sound than what we were used to in a home made of concrete and wood! Just like in a house, it’s still essential to have a good weather radio or app, keep a local news channel on (and know what county you’re in!) and know where a nearby shelter is during inclement weather. To see more of what we’ve learned about severe weather safety for those in RVs, check out this post we researched and wrote.

That’s it for now, but I’m sure we’ll come up with even more as time goes on!

Advertisements

9 comments

  1. Comment by Brecht

    Brecht Reply Jul 2, 2014 at 4:29 am

    We are about to head out for the first time with only a sketch of where we are going to be and when. Your posts have been really helpful in painting a real picture of “how it is”. Thanks for that.

    • Comment by Kristin

      Kristin Reply Jul 2, 2014 at 4:35 am

      Thanks, Brecht! If you have any other questions don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re digital entrepreneurs like yourself and are happy to share what we’ve learned. 🙂

  2. Comment by A. I. Sajib

    A. I. Sajib Reply Apr 21, 2015 at 1:37 am

    This sounds like such an awesome life! Though I can understand it’s not easy leading a life like that. I wonder how do your new neighbors greet you when they come to know you and realize your RV lifestyle?

    On a completely unrelated but equally important note, I love the dogs. 😀 More pictures of them, please. 😀

    • Comment by Kristin

      Kristin Reply Apr 21, 2015 at 4:11 pm

      Thank you, A.I.! It is an amazing life most of the time, but somewhat challenging at others – same as any path, I suppose. For the most part though, we love it and wouldn’t change a thing because every day is truly a new adventure.

      When people find out we travel all the time, we get asked “How?! You’re so young??” most of the time. Once they find out we do work full-time while traveling they want to know more about how that works, and usually can think of someone they know who works at home and would love to do what we do while working. We give a lot of advice to those who don’t know how to take a job on the road. 🙂

      We will definitely try to post more dog photos from now on! We understand that they’re the real stars of all this. 😉

      • Comment by A. I. Sajib

        A. I. Sajib Reply Apr 21, 2015 at 8:25 pm

        That is right. All of the people who come to this blog, they come for the dogs. 😆 Don’t underestimate them. 😀

  3. Comment by Mark

    Mark Reply Aug 4, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    More dog shots please . How do you get mail?

    • Comment by Kristin

      Kristin Reply Aug 4, 2015 at 3:44 pm

      Hi Mark,

      We’re working on a blog post about traveling with our dogs that I guarantee will have lots more pictures of them! Feel free to subscribe to our blog by email if you haven’t and you’ll be notified right away when we post it. 😉

      We use a service that scans and emails our mail to us, or physically forwards it to us when we’re in a location that we can receive it. Ours is called St. Brendan’s Isle, in Florida, and we’ve really loved working with them. If you travel full-time, usually you pick a service in the state you establish your residency. In our case, we still have our home base in Tennessee because we own property there, but we picked a mail service that’s out of state and just didn’t change our address on our drivers licenses and vehicle registrations. Our friends Technomadia wrote a great article about all that here: http://www.technomadia.com/2012/07/chapter-9-nomadic-logistics-domicile-mail-taxes-banking-and-voting/

  4. Comment by Carolyn Rose

    Carolyn Rose Reply Oct 11, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    This is an awesome post! Number 7 has been huge for me- part of the reason I went full time was so that I could spend more time outside, but I have to actually make an effort to get out (work has been busy). I love the idea of a screen tent.

    Oh- and storms, yeah.. i just wrote a blog about being up a couple of night listing to my roof get pounded by rain, hoping I don’t pop any leaks!

    I can also relate to not wanting to shop – i gave that up a couple of years before moving into the RV, but it’s even more extreme now… You really do learn how little you need to be happy.

    Good luck to you both and thanks for the fun and informative article

    Carolyn
    CarolynsRVLife.com

  5. Comment by Goiceland.com (@Goicelandcom)

    Goiceland.com (@Goicelandcom) Reply Feb 7, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Lol. Being experienced in somewhat long distance driving (the longest non stop drive was 27 hours), this is so true but funny “1.) Waking up each day and needing a moment (or several!) to remember where we are!I”. All the best in your travels! This is us:
    http://www.rent.is/
    Happy Camping and stay away from the bad weathers.!

We Love It When You Leave a Reply!

Go top
%d bloggers like this: