To the outside world it may appear that Full-time RVing is all rainbows and butterflies, a constant adventure and permanent vacation. What may not be evident are its complications and challenges, yet these too can be opportunities for honing one’s skills and growth. Now that we are no longer newbies and have some time and experience to reflect on our journey, here is our list of the pros and cons of this lifestyle.
Campfires – For recreational campers, building a fire at the campsite is a part of the experience. For full-time RVers, campfire smoke is like dense pollution that quickly fills every square inch of the RV with little escape, minus a strong breeze in the other direction. Sometimes the smell is only removed after a few days and a couple loads of laundry.
Mildew and mold are common. In very small spaces, one begins to realize how much moisture we, as humans, put off. In certain climates it is not uncommon to wake up with all the windows inside and much of the walls covered with a moist dew. This turns into mildew or mold if preventative measures and diligence are not taken.
Smells seem amplified in such a small space. The “off gassing” of two humans and two cats in a tiny space is a regular assortment of interesting and usually undesirable odors.
Things break a lot – RVs are houses that are subjected to the abuse of highways and roadways at 60+ mph. Many of the systems in RVs are of questionable quality to begin with, and after a decade and 50,000 miles things fail with some regularity.
Noisy weekend campers are out to party and get away. This often conflicts with the full-timer wanting a normal quiet night at home. This can be avoided by staying away from public parks by large population centers, especially on weekends.
Tiny shower – RV bathrooms are tiny with minuscule showers. They are so small that simply turning around is an exercise in balance, control, and spatial awareness.
Inside traffic jams – If we are both moving around in the RV at the same time, we are with certainty going to be in each other’s way.
Gas costs when travelling. We bought an RV to travel, but at 9 miles per gallon at $4/gallon, it not hard to visualize dollars flying out of the tail pipe.
Creepy Bathrooms – Sometimes using the facilities at campgrounds is not unlike walking into a horror movie. Restrooms and showers at campgrounds are rarely well cared for and can be down right creepy.
In such a small space, clutter and mess are as easy as a few things being out of place.
With nature comes bugs, expect to have visitors and the occasional welt.
Maintaining a budget – With fluctuating costs it is very difficult to maintain a regular budget, though we do try.
Lack of regular community – We do miss being a part of a regular community. Having lived in the city in a particularly social neighborhood, we miss the connections.
Unfamiliarity with local service providers – Finding a good mechanic, hair cut, notary public, medical and dental care and just about everything else can be a challenge. Luckily with online reviews the troubles are lessened, somewhat.
Generational Gap – The traditional full-time RV’er is retired and for younger full-timers there can be a generational gap and sometimes a subtle hint of ageism.
While the cons to full-time RVing are tangible, the pros, on the other hand, are less so, yet much more profound.
The travel – Seeing and experiencing new places is exciting!
Meeting new people – part and parcel of the travel experience is meeting new people and learning from each one.
Personal growth – This might be the most important and significant and every man’s journey is his own.
Serendipity – realizing after the fact, all the things that led you to a place.
Volunteering/free camp – there is something joyful about volunteering, when there is no money exchanged, there is just appreciation. Living rent free is a dynamite perk.
Easy clean up – It takes only 10-15 minutes to entirely clean the inside of the RV.
Simplicity – the lifestyle demands simplicity which leads to less stress and a lack of want.
Communication – increased communication with spouse or travel partner and with people from a wide variety of backgrounds. This can easily be a con too, hopefully this is known before hitting the road. We have seen relationships strengthened and fall apart.
Nature – regularly being connected with nature develops an appreciation for the natural world and nourishes the spirit.
Lack of routine – we find that by breaking out of routine and the comfort of familiarity, it opens us up to growth and by regularly having new experiences, life tends to slow down.
Less stress – As result from a lack of want and reducing responsibilities, anxiety is at a minimum.
General over sense ofwell being – responsibly breaking from convention to really experience life and develop awareness results in a sense of peace.
Learning and education – The opportunity for experiential learning through travel is tremendous. We learned more in a year of travel than we did the previous decade in our “normal” life.
Everyone knows the three L’s in real estate: location, location, location. In choosing a motorhome, a different three L’s apply: lifestyle, lifestyle, lifestyle! The most common mistake in selecting a rig is not matching it with lifestyle, i.e. the highly mobile adventure seeker’s needs are completely different than a semi-permanent snowbird residence. Having spent nearly a decade in real estate and now living in a motorhome full-time, I am using this perspective to tackle the age old question in every new RV’ers mind: Which rig is right for me?
Less is more sometimes, and more can be limiting. The many cases, the larger the rig, greater the limitations and expense. Many of the National Parks and most scenic campgrounds were not designed to accommodate large rigs and do not accept them. In the west, it is frequent to find mountain passes with size limits. Some of the best nooks and crannies in cross-country road travel cannot be easily accessed by large rigs. Large rigs also have higher fuel and maintenance costs; tires to general service cost more. Smaller motorhomes can show up to most Jiffy Lube’s or service stations and get in and out quickly at comparable prices to a pick up truck. Large rigs, especially diesels, need a specialty shop generally by appointment, which can be a hassle. Smaller the rig the more easily it will handle two lane twisty roads and city streets, which is an advantage. Smaller rigs are less conspicuous for stealth camping* and to fit in a friend’s or relative’s driveway. More times than not, when we hear complaints about size it is because the person bought too big, not too small. Bigger may be better when stationary for long periods, large families, and stays at traditional RV parks and campgrounds.
The diversity of this country’s people is almost as broad and unique as its landscapes. Growing up on the east coast surrounded by colonial, Revolutionary and Civil War history, which I considered the important stuff, it has been easy to forget or fail to see the other histories in the United States. Mexico, Spanish, Native American and even the French, controlled parts of this country only several generations ago. These influences are felt and apparent today in architecture, art, food, culture and even the spirit of a place. Somewhere I heard that America is less of melting pot and more of a salad, and I believe that is more accurate. The people in New York might be tomatoes, while Texas is a pepper, and Oregon a cucumber, the regions all play a part in this dish. Onions may be disliked by some, it does not mean they do not have value and add to the medley.
The Cedar Keys in Florida are a small group of islands located in the Gulf of Mexico about half way between Tampa and Apalachicola in what is known as, “The Nature Coast.” It is also called “Old Florida,” due to the lack of development and ubiquitous strip malls. Cedar Key is a small island town of less than 1000 residents that support themselves clam farming and with a modest tourist industry. This place is every bit of the old fishing village one can conjure up in imagination; weathered piers and fish shacks, with well worn boats built for a singular purpose. A small group of artists also call the island home, establishing a collective and adding a hard to miss funky charm. The pace is slow, the work is hard or long, and there is little more than nature to provide entertainment. It is frequently compared to what Key West was during the time of Hemingway.
Welcome to South Carolina! This is the home of the Palmetto and Spanish moss, Antebellum history, southern hospitality, and Charleston.
We have settled into our second workamping gig at James Island County Park, and we could not be happier. The park is only five miles from Charleston’s historic district, and is about the same distance to laid back Folly Beach. The park itself is the jewel of the local park system and is 600 acres of loveliness. The campground is luxury compared to our site in the Outer Banks. We especially enjoy the hot showers, nearby laundry, and the fast, free WIFI. The park has 6 miles of newly repaved trails that meandered through the semi-tropical foliage and marsh, two lakes, 50 ft. climbing wall, kayaks, fishing pier, play grounds, water park, and a lot of places to find solitude. This is a beautiful place to be.
A secondary hope I had for this trip is that it would restore some of my faith in humanity. After living for nearly a decade in Baltimore City, where the worst of people is on display for all to see daily, I had gown cynical. I wanted to see people who were living creatively and full of life, not overwhelmed by programming and addictions.
I have found some of what I was looking for in the West. It started in Texas with its independent spirit and gumption. In New Mexico and Arizona I saw people living off the grid and in small make-shift communities consciously living outside of convention. Some of the residents in small desert communities made a big impression upon me. These desert people are not consumed by pursuit of fortune, prestige or ego inflation, but seem content to live simply and cheaply in a barren yet often beautiful landscape. Between the solitude, surroundings and simple living, they seem more connected with something and at peace. The central coast of California, so far, is where I have encountered people most full of life and living at a higher frequency. I couldn’t get out of southern California quick enough, a place where indulging in ego pursuits and selfishness seems extreme, but 100 miles up the coast from Santa Barbra to the north everything changes. The central coast has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world and the people are out enjoying it. They are active, love to get out in nature and seem to fully appreciate the beauty that surrounds them. Smiles are frequent and civility is the norm.
The adventure has begun and so has the education. We have learned the value of level campsites after sleeping in a slanted driveway, added more padding to our bunk after a couple of sore mornings, have come to appreciate state highways over the Interstates, and that RV travel is is more than 20% slower than by car. Already we have lost a gas cap and a wheel cover (recovered) , and drove to a campground that was full (call ahead). On our second day we drove narrow mountain winding roads and a potted steep dirt driveway, no RV has any business trying to navigate, on a mission to visit family. On our forth day we drove 300 miles in a high wind advisory, sometimes slowing to 40 miles per hour (partially in the neighboring lane).