- by Don
Full-time RVing is a reality for many, and a dream for many more. But I guess we should admit that maybe it's not always a bed of roses. Thinking it through before you start, though, can certainly help with the transition.
Here is a "Baker's Dozen" list of questions to help you think through and prepare for the transition:
1. How much will it cost? Do I have enough savings to do this for as long as I want?
Before starting out, you really need to have an idea of your budget. Most full-timers report that their expenses are lower as full-timers than before before. Which is good, because most also choose to have less income in order to have more time to travel and enjoy the areas they travel to. I'll be exploring budgets more in the future, looking at both expenses and income.
2. If I need additional income, how can I earn it on the road?
There are lots of ways to make money on the road. One of the most popular is "WorKamping" in which RVers trade work for a campsite and possibly other benefits like meals. This work often consists of jobs like working in the campground office or providing campground maintenance. Many people (especially retirees) do this and enjoy it.
However, you may not want to spend your days cleaning and repairing toilets. If you've been in Corporate America for a while, you have most likely developed skills that you can apply in a profit-generating business that you enjoy, but which will leave you time to also enjoy the perks of being on the road.
3. What kind of RV do I need?
There are all kinds of RVs: Type A, Type B, Type C, Truck Campers, Travel Trailers, Fifth Wheels... Which is the best for full-time RVing? I'm pretty sure the answer to this is "It depends." It depends on your lifestyle, your budget, your travel plans, etc. I've owned a Truck Camper and a Type C, and loved them both. But I want to learn more before we make our next purchase.
4. How do I downsize from my "sticks and bricks" home to a much smaller RV?
You'll need less stuff as a full-timer, which is good, since you'll have less space! Many full-timers report that downsizing was one of the biggest challenges they faced. And most continue to downsize once they are full time. When you have limited space, it's easy to quickly be overtaken over by "stuff."
This one is a major challenge for me. My wife and I were both brought up as packrats. We’re learning how to say “no” to “stuff” in order to say “yes” to RVing! I’ll be sharing what we learn as we go.
5. How will my health be affected?
Thinking about health makes me think “diet and exercise” (diet as in “what you eat” not necessarily as in “trying to lose weight.”
One thing we loved about traveling in an RV was that we could prepare our own meals and snacks instead of eating out and buying stuff from convenience stores or super markets. On the other hand, eating out lets you experience the culture of the places you are visiting. How will you balance these options? I’ll be sharing some of my favorite easy-to-prepare recipes.
To some extent, exercise was pretty easy on the days we were stopped. We loved to go hiking and biking, swim in the campground pools, etc. But exercise on the days you’re moving can be a challenge. How will you remain fit on the road?
6. Where will I work (as in "Where will we travel?")
Your work schedule may dictate your travel plans. For example, I work with clients from all over the world via teleconference. While that’s convenient, it means I need really good Internet access on the days I’m taking calls. If you do this, too, you’ll need to coordinate your travel plans with your “call days.” But with good planning combined with flexibility and resourcefulness, you’ll be able to visit new places and still produce income.
7. Where will I work (as in a workspace)?
This question is critical if you’re thinking of telecommuting or working in your own business while you’re on the road. Most RVs today aren’t really built for long-term office use. The dinettes aren’t comfortable or ergonomic and the couches aren’t designed for long-term sitting or laptop use. Working on a picnic table works for about as long as it takes to snap a picture and make your friends jealous. Does your RV have a comfortable workspace? Can you modify it to add space? I’ve got a feeling I’ll write several blogs about this one!
8. When will I work?
One of the challenges for telecommuting or business owning RVers is balancing work time with “play time.” When you’re visiting new places, you want to get out and experience these places. But if you don’t leave some time to work, you’ll find it hard to produce income. Productivity is one of my passions, so I’ll be sharing lots of thoughts in this area.
9. Is my spouse/family ready for this?
When you live in an RV, you’ll be really close to your spouse/partner/family. Close as in physically close. But because of that, you’ll need to be emotionally connected, too.
10. How will I maintain contact with close friends and family?
One of the downsides of full-time RVing is that you’ll likely be geographically removed from your friends and extended family. While technology makes it easier to keep in touch, it’s still not quite the same as actually being there. How will you balance family time and away time?
11. How will I watch TV?
Will you watch TV on the road? Yeah, probably… even though you have the option to visit and explore new places, you’ll likely want some occasional down time when you can chill out with a movie or binge on your favorite shows. Will you pay for Satellite TV? Can you stream movies and TV shows on the road? Can you rely on campground TV service? I’ll be looking at these options.
12. How will I access the Internet?
When I ask full-timers what their biggest challenge is, “Internet access” is almost always the number one response. Campground WiFi is famously poor. Cell phone data plans can have spotty coverage, and they are notoriously expensive, especially if you need lots of coverage. But it can be managed. Chris and Cherie over at rvmobleinternet.com are all over this topic.
13. Where will I live?
Well, in an RV, of course! But will you be full-time? Or do you want a “home base” to come back to for several months a year? If you’re full-time, where will your legal domicile be?
I'll be writing more details on many of these topics. Are there any of these topics you would especially like to hear about? Did I miss any?
If you're a full-time RVer, can you recommend any more questions?
Please leave your comments below. I'd love to hear them!