Do you wonder what life will be like when you hit the road full time in your RV? Will it be as enjoyable as YouTubers make it out to be? Every RVer’s experience is different. We were told if you survive your first year then you’ve made it. Our first year as full time RVers came with many bumps in the road and so many learning curves. Today, we will share what we learned during our first year full time RV.
When we first hit the road, we were excited but also very nervous. We were still learning the basics like how our RV works, how to find campgrounds, and how long do we want to drive between stays. All the uncertainty could be stressful and our emotions were up and down like a teenager hitting puberty!
But soon, RVing became a way of life for us. All of the nervous stress began to melt away, and we realized we were not crazy like our Moms declared! We were adventurers on a mission to explore our country!
When you hit the road, don’t be surprised if you go through a full range of emotions from excited, nervous, scared, regret, and everything in between! It is a huge life change, and emotions are bound to flow. When tensions mount just take a deep breath and look around. Remind yourself why you hit the road. Whatever is happening is temporary and you can get through it.
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I know you’ve heard this phrase before. It is a real thing! It happened to us. We felt like we had to do and see EVERYTHING at each new location. It’s like when you are on vacation for only a week and you try to see and do it all! So you pack your schedule full to exhausting! This is not the goal of RV life. I don’t want to be exhausted when I leave a place.
Now we take our time. We stay home to do laundry, meal prep, edit videos, or just have a chill day without regret! I keep notes of anything we missed that I might want to see the next time we come through the area.
What We Miss
One of the biggest questions we get is ‘what do you miss’ since going full time? Here are the few things we miss seite web.
Friends and Family
Of course, friends and family are what we miss the most. It’s what everyone misses most! But this part of full time may be a little easier for us. As a military family, we have always lived apart from our family. Our friends became our substitute family everywhere we lived.
We miss our kids the most. But we didn’t leave them behind they left us! When they left the nest, they also left the state. Our daughter’s husband is in the US Navy, and our son joined the Navy as well. RVing has allowed us to visit them whenever we want! And as a bonus, we’ve been able to visit many family members all over the country!
The one thing we both miss is a fenced-in backyard. Or should I say all three of us miss it! Gizmo was 10 when we hit the road and has always known the freedom of his own yard. We could just open the back door to let him out. Now we wake up, get dressed, slap on shoes, attach the leash, and walk him even in the pouring rain! There are days I really want to just open that door!
Not having a dog sitter is something we didn’t think about before hitting the road. Now we plan our outings around Gizmo. We no longer have a friend who can pop in to let him out if we are gone for long periods. He is getting older, and can’t cross his legs forever! Thankfully, we have also learned some valuable tips to keep pets safe while RVing and our Govee makes sure the RVs temperature is always safe for Gizmo while we are gone.
Occasionally, I do enjoy soaking in a hot bath. But this is now a thing of the past for me. Although walking away from a bath tub is a small price to pay for full time living every now and then, I dream of a nice long bubble bath.
Power and Water
There is something to be said for never thinking about power or water. Before we hit the road, we never thought about either of these unless we were paying bills! Now every time the tap is turned, we have to consider our tanks. Even flushing a toilet can be an issue while boondocking! This was a huge adjustment for us, and I can honestly say we were terrible at it in the beginning!
Thankfully we have learned many ways to save water while boondocking. We also learned exactly how our RV power works, which helps us conserve! Upgrading to Battle Born lithium batteries and mounting a few solar panels also made a huge difference in how we use our power!
Full Time RV Community
We were anxious about how we would connect with people once we were away from our friends and family. But quickly we realized this was the last thing we needed to worry about! RVers are the kindest and friendliest people! We met our RV besties at a campground in our third month on the road through RVillage. And now we caravan together all the time!!
We discovered there are many opportunities out there to meet and hang out and get to know other RVers. Here are a few of the ways we have grown our community.
- Rallys: RVillage Rally, Escapees Hangout, Xscapers Bash, Nomadfest
- RVillage: this is a social media platform for RVers by RVers to help you meet RVers along your travels. It is free and easy to use
- Harvest Hosts: We meet other RVers at Harvest Host locations all the time! When you see other RVs at breweries, wineries, or farms it is easy to strike up conversations.
- Boondockers Welcome: Staying on the property of other RVers has given us the ability to meet some wonderful people. Our last Boondockers welcome stay ended with a night around the campfire with six other people I still text today!
- Rest Stops: I know this one sounds strange, but we met a couple at a Kansas rest stop after we pulled in the parking spot beside their RV. Their RV was the same color scheme as ours, and we ended up talking for several hours! We still talk to them regularly.
- RV Shows: These are easy. Find someone interested in the same RV you are interested in and bam instant ice breaker!
- Meetups: This is another easy one! Attend a meet up with one of your favorite bloggers or YouTube channels. You know everyone there will have the same interests as you! We met a couple at one of our meetups and clicked instantly! We were able to hang out with them the whole time we were in Tampa.
What We Imagined VS. Reality
We imagined exploring new places almost every day! We were going to hike, bike, run, kayak, and walk down the main street of all the small towns we encountered. But we soon learned how exhausting this can be! We needed time to relax and enjoy the little pleasures in life. Like watching a couple of squirrels fight over a nut or an alpaca give birth in an old barn.
I expected us to really like exploring new places, but I was wrong. I LOVE IT! It has been exciting to see locations all around the country from Arizona’s cactus, Boston’s Freedom Harbor, to New York’s waterfalls. It has been a feast for all of my senses.
Driving the RV can be more stressful than I imagined! Small town roads are one thing, but downtown Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, and Nashville are totally different stories! But we have found our travel rhythm, and you will do the same. Phil focuses on the road and keeping us safe with all those crazy drivers. I navigate using our RV Garmin and CoPilot app, making sure Phil has enough time to change lanes or merge in bumper to bumper traffic.
I thought I would sit around a campfire all the time. As a kid, I loved the campfire. But as full timers, I have grown to hate the smell of the campfire. It gets into your hair and clothes and smells terrible! It makes navigating laundry and hair washing more challenging while boondocking. Early on, we purchased a small outlander firepit, which allows us to sit around a fire without wasting water or having to find a laundromat!
The Little Things We Learned
- Campfire conversation will always lead to the black tank!
- Our motorhome slides will open with the engine in A/C mode
- Boondocking is not hard.
- I cannot run the fireplace, microwave, and electric heater sg the same time on 30 amps!
- I live in a constant state of purge.
- We didn’t need as many things as we thought we would.
- We wasted a lot of water in our sticks and bricks!
- The tube where our sewer hose connects to the RV swivels for ease of use at dump stations.
- The generator is our friend. Stop being afraid to use it.
- Truck stops are very user friendly. They are easy to get in and out of, and the truckers are friendly!
What We Would Do Differently
We started our full time adventure towing a car on a dolly. We found out quickly how much we hated it. It was difficult to fit the dolly in some of the smaller state parks. More than once the dolly ended up next to our picnic table! I hated driving up on the ramps when they were slick with rain. And Phil pulled his back out, dragging it around, so it had to go.
One of the best things we did was trade our Acura for a Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk and the dolly for flat tow! We went with the Air Force One braking system and the Blue Ox tow bar. It made our life so much easier!! I can’t believe we waited almost a year to make the switch!
With everything we have learned during our first year if I could go back in time, I would purchase an RV while my kids were small. I wish I had exposed them to the simple RVing lifestyle so they could experience the outdoors and freedom camping brings.
First Year Full Time RV
Everyone’s first year will be different. We have heard so many times “if you survive your first year you will love it.” We survived and we LOVE it. We can’t imagine going back to our stationary life. For now we will keep the wheels rolling and find new places to explore!
Thanks for stopping by. We hope to see you on the road one day.
Phil & Stacy
Author: Stacy, You, Me & the RV, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2020
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