Recently, a reader contacted me to talk about my Oliver Travel Trailer and RV life as a solo female traveler. The reader is in the planning stages and said that she viewed many of my early posts to get a sense of the ups and downs I went through as I researched and planned my own transition to full-time RVer. Then she asked the about the things I had done wrong or wished I’d known. That is a long list. After we finished talking, I went back and looked at a few of those early posts and decided maybe it was a good time to revisit one. The full-time RVer mistakes I made fit the bill.

Just a reminder, as with past revisited posts, my new thoughts and updates are highlighted in purple. Everything in black was part of the original post which debuted a mere month after I picked up Quill.

Back to the Beginning

In the past two months, I’ve told anyone who has asked about my RV life that I am going to write a post called 101 Things I Did Wrong.  And, I’m not kidding, in the midst of all of it, it truly felt like 101 things. There was a point where I said to my sister, through hiccup-tears, that every single decision I made was wrong.

Vector file with a man in a suit hold the world on his shoulders.

And in the whirlwind of all that emotion, my logical brain was working in the background wondering how the heck I got to that point. Really, how was it possible to make every wrong decision when I had so meticulously and methodically researched and planned for more than three years?

A little distance helped me to come to the answer. First, and obviously, not every decision I made was the wrong one. But, you know, there is no admitting or believing that when you are in the middle of a meltdown where it feels like the world is falling in around you. Second, the stuff that I was wailing over, for the most part, was all the stuff that wasn’t in my control.

Not addressing things out of my control (like the house appraisal that came in $5,000 less than the buyer agreed to pay), there remain ways I could’ve made my life less stressful if I had only known about these full-time RVer mistakes. Or, I should say MY full-time RVer mistakes.

What is fascinating to me is how many of the items on this list have to do with waiting until the last minute. Again, we’re taking me. The planner. How did it happen? On the one hand, I have no idea. On the other, it is simply a LOT of stuff that needed done in preparation for such a dramatic life transition. And, a few items, I admit putting off simply because I didn’t want to do them.

So, here are my top 8 full-time RVer mistakes.

Working to the End

In my mind, it was good for me and my employer that I was willing to work up until I left. For me, it gave me insurance paid by someone else and income.  My workplace was super flexible in that last month so I took days and hours off as needed. Despite this, working up to the end was ill advised. It was just too much. Not the work itself, but rather spending eight hours a day that would have been better spent checking things off the endless to-do list. I can safely say, that my 101 things I did wrong might have been reduced to 50 had I stopped working a month prior to leaving. Or even a couple weeks.

Spending Too Much Time Downsizing for Cash

In hindsight, it’s so obvious that I spent way too much time downsizing for cash. Six garage sales plus three years of posting on eBay, Craig’s List and Facebook Marketplace (a resource I didn’t discover until right before I left but one that is so much better than Craig’s List). All of that work and time resulted increasing the dream pot by $6,000 which sounds like a lot. But, it really was a LOT of time and effort I put into making that $6,000.

A clear piggy banks with coins in it.

Recently, I looked at something on eBay. And, while I didn’t spend much time on the platform, it struck me as very different from when I was using it in 2015 – 2017. It, along with Craig’s List, may not be the best resource for those of you in the downsizing phase now that it was for me.

Reducing my downsizing for cash by 75% (maybe just a couple of garage sales and only the higher ticket items on eBay and Craig’s List) would have allowed me so many more hours to work on things that ended up either not getting done or getting done in a rush at the end.

The irony of this full-time RVer mistake, for me, is that even in the midst of downsizing for cash, I knew it wasn’t a good use of my time. But with so many unknowns and future unknowns, it was something I could control. It made me feel like I saw progress toward my goal. I don’t fault myself too much. But at the same time I know if I had it to do over again I would use those hours more effectively.

Aversion to Spending

One negative effect that focusing so much on building the dream pot was that I became obsessed with not spending money. And it’s weird because I had a long list of things I needed to purchase for RV life. I budgeted for the items. But I continued to not purchase them. Spending money felt like a conflict with my goal. It’s dumb. And I paid for it. In the end, I needed certain items. In a flurry, I purchased some of those items (and there remain items I still need to get). Worse yet, it was done in such a flurry, I denied myself the enjoyment of making those purchases.

A mistake I realized long after I originally published this post was that I purchased too much too soon. It’s a balancing act, to be sure. You need some items for the new RV (such as hoses and cords) but everything else I now advise people to wait until they are in the RV to truly know what they need and want. It also give them the opportunity to get a handle on the RV’s space, and lack of space.

Waiting to Buy a Tow Vehicle

One of the reasons I loved purchasing my trailer directly from the manufacturer is I didn’t have to go through the negotiation process. Because I loathe that process, I avoided purchasing my tow vehicle. Had I done it earlier, I wouldn’t have had to put $5,500 into repairs on my car in the 12 months prior to leaving. And more importantly, it would’ve given me time to get comfortable driving the van before adding another 25 feet to the back of it.

Wooden sign that says, "Procrastination."
Don’t procrastination like I did. Learn from my full-time RVer mistakes.

Not Budgeting Enough for the Transition

I have a grocery sack full of receipts I accumulated since I left Alaska, including all those last minute purchases, so I can’t say to what degree this is true, but I know it is. I didn’t budget nearly enough for the “transition” or “extra” stuff.

At the time I wrote that, I was still scrambling with everything and, yes, literally, I used a grocery sack to toss in everything to deal with later. I never dealt with all of those receipts in a way that I can share the details but I know I didn’t plan enough for hotel stays on the trip from Alaska to Tennessee (not even close). I can’t think of other specifics right now but a couple thousand more in this line item was needed.

Not Addressing Medical Issues Early Enough

Making this life change motivated me to take care of medical things I would have continued to put off due to my irrational White Coat Syndrome. The last medical appointment I made was for the dermatologist to have a complete skin check. I wasn’t most afraid of that one, it just happened to be the last health item I addressed.

I loved the woman I saw. She was fabulous in addressing the true health issues plus my vanity issues (sun damage). Plus, she stocked me up on prescriptions for healthy skin and made recommendations for products. She spent more than two hours talking to me. In fairness, I think this is probably unusual. I’m guessing she didn’t have a patient after me which allowed her the luxury of chatting with me about life and skin.

What I did wrong was making my appointment too close to my departure. It left me without time to do follow-up appointments for further treatment on the sun damaged skin. I did myself a real disservice by allowing fear and procrastination to dictate my medical appointments.

Not Easing into Full-time RV Life

This “mistake” was entirely impractical to have done right. Even so, I have spent a lot of time thinking about it, thinking about how my experience might have been different. I didn’t ease into the full-time life. Ideally, I would have parked Quill at my house and had the opportunity to see what items worked best for the space. Ideally, I would’ve taken weekend and week-long test trips to learn the rig.

It wouldn’t have worked in terms of money and time off work. Not to mention added wear and tear to the van and rig to haul it all the way to Alaska just to leave a few months later. But it sure would’ve been nice and might have made the last item on this list not as big as it turned out to be.

Not Understanding How Hard It Was Going to Be

Finally, and this is a biggie, I didn’t realize—didn’t have an inkling—of how hard it was going to be to end my old life and begin this new life. I’m still working through some of this and I’ll have a future post dedicated solely to this topic. But for now, let me just say: IT WAS HARD.

I actually wrote the post about those emotionally difficult first days nine months after embarking on my RV life. It took me that long to process the experience.

The result of this struggle? I radically changed my agenda from what I had planned. After being in Quill for a couple of days, I decided I desperately needed something familiar to me. Friends who went full-time a month before I did are in Walla Walla, Washington, for a short-term work assignment. I decided to join them.

As I write this, I am parked only seven trailer slots away from them. And feeling so much better. I’ll be here for the next two months. Getting settled. Getting to know the workings and maintenance of the rig. And enjoying company of people who know me.

White neon sign that reads: You Are Here.
Yes you are!

The comfort I take from doing 101 Things Wrong is, at least, I did it. And that was the goal. Yes, I wish I could’ve done it with elegance, with more style, definitely with more grace and less tears. I wish I could’ve done it more in sync with the way I operate best—organized, methodical, checking things off a list. But it just didn’t happen. Some of it might be inevitable because of the radical life change and walking into the unknown.  But a lot of it was not. It was simply failure on my part.

Each day this life gets better and easier. Each day I am a bit more forgiving of “every wrong decision” I made. And each day, this life is feeling a little closer to the Supersize vision I had when I started.

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