Today’s topic is one I’ve thought about writing for a long time. First, it was going to be my two years on the road post. Then, three years on the road. I missed both milestones but decided it is finally time to share what I love and hate about RV life. My list may differ from other full-time RVers but I half-suspect that my feelings are common so apply to most travelers.
Additionally, the focus and perspective of these comes from me as a full-time RVer. However, I think many of the items on both lists would be true even if I were a seasonal RVer.
It turns out, I am glad I waited. COVID further highlighted things to love and hate about RV life. Plus, I threw in a few facts that offer an interesting dynamic to the discussion.
The Pandemic Factor
One result of the crazy 2020 year of the pandemic was that RV sales skyrocketed. According to an article in Forbes the industry is expected to see a 50% increase in annual sales for 2020. In a year when people lost jobs and feared the future of “normal,” that’s a lot. The article said that those looking to be first-time home buyers were visiting RV lots in droves. All the remote working was, no doubt, part of the appeal as was the idea of traveling while continuing to stay safe during COVID.
As I researched possible workamping jobs in Wyoming, I came across an interesting tidbit on their State Parks website. It said:
During April and May , Wyoming’s State Parks saw over 575,000 visitors, approximately 160 percent increase over the five-year average of 225,000.
On a bet, I’d say most visited in RVs. Interesting, right?
But let me juxtapose those stats with a less scientific but not less significant observation. In the last year, I know of at least twenty previous full-timers who left the road to purchase (or rent) a house and settle in one location. COVID or coincidence? I don’t know. But it was a much larger number than the one or two I’ve seen in each of recent past years.
I share these facts and observations because they exaggerate a few of the items even more. Plus, I found it interesting and though you might as well.
Love About RV Life
Exploration and Adventure
This first one is so obvious, I almost didn’t include it. Wouldn’t it be first on anybody’s list who decides to go from a sticks-and-bricks to an RV life?
The single greatest thing about this one is that each person, couple or family gets to decide what “exploration and adventure” means to them. When you think about the variety of landscapes and climates across the US, even more if you consider all of North America, your potential stomping ground is practically endless. It’s so full of possibilities.
Adding to the Lists of Firsts
This kind of goes hand-in-hand with exploration and adventure but the fact is that most of us in normal life likely don’t keep a list of firsts. Probably never even thought about it. I know I certainly didn’t before I hit the road. Sticks-and-bricks, 9-to-5, vacation once a year life isn’t really conducive to a list of first because, except for vacations, daily life is pretty much the same day after day.
RV Life is Possible Before Retirement
The irony isn’t lost on most of us that by the time we have the funds and the time (i.e., retirement) to travel, explore and seek adventure, we might not have the health to do so. Or, many are grandparents and don’t want to be far from family. Too often, the idea of travel and adventure as retirement never becomes a reality for many people who spent years dreaming about it.
No doubt, one thing that COVID has taught us is that many jobs are remote-friendly. Not all jobs, of course, but many more than people might have thought before the pandemic. And in this day and age where connectivity is so easy, RV life has become a possible way of life long before the age of 65.
Lower Cost of Living
When I wrote the article about the biggest mistakes that newbie RVers make, on that list was thinking RV life costs less than sticks-and-bricks life. So why, you might ask, is it listed here as a thing I love?
It’s listed because, for me, RV life definitely lowered my cost of living. It doesn’t automatically happen for everyone, especially if you carry debt on the RV. But with thought and planning it is certainly possible. As it happens, next week’s post is on this exact topic, RVing on a budget.
I don’t carry debt on my trailer or van and I’d say my cost of living has decreased by more than half from when I lived a sticks-and-bricks life which means it is squarely in the column about things I love about RV life.
Discovering a Love of History
I’ve mentioned this one before since it was such an unexpected and surprising discovery. In high school and college, I wouldn’t say I hated history. More like, I felt indifferent toward it. I took the required classes but didn’t find it engaging.
I didn’t see a connection between it and my life. You know, the self-centeredness of youth.
Maybe that would remain the same today if I was merely reading history from a text book. But the act of going to a place to learn about the place and significant events that happened there just opened up the experience so I see it through new eyes. Now I adore exploring the history of the places I travel.
Interestingly, even staring at an empty field is interesting when you know the story of what took place there. Your imagination fills in the pictures, like a mind movie.
This one, I admit, might be a function more of no longer working a 40-hour-a-week, sometimes stress-filled job, but I love that RV life has given me volunteer opportunities. Moreover, these are opportunities even if I had time in sticks-and-bricks life would not be available such as working at a lighthouse and a gold mining dredge.
What I Hate About RV Life
The other side of the coin to constant travel seeking exploration and adventure is the first on this list of things I hate about RV life. And that is the mental fatigue that comes with a life always on the move. I spend a lot of time planning and researching, trying to decide the best route, what stops to make along the way, etc.
Once I decide on a place, I do enjoy the research for adventures. But the bulk of time and effort actually happens before arriving at a new place, before getting to the fun part of deciding what adventures will be had.
At times it can feel overwhelming and exhausting. Seriously, if I feel this way moving every month or two. I do not know how people who move with more frequency do it.
More People on the Road
I’m sure people who’ve been RVing for 10 years were saying the same thing the year I got on the road. The more technology has advanced, the more people (especially non-retirees) have taken to the open highway.
The increase in RV sales in 2020 and some campgrounds shutting down, especially in the initial months of the pandemic, really highlighted just how busy the campgrounds are these days. More and more RVers need to book in advance in order to find accommodations. This isn’t a problem for me—the planner. But I’ve heard many others complain about the volume of people competing for resources (not just campgrounds but also tickets to RVing events, volunteer jobs and the like). I’d imagine, it’s only going to continue to get worse.
Even though this “hate” item is comparable to sticks-and-bricks, the degree is not. It’s a running joke among RVers that projects on the RV is constant and never-ending. There always seems to be something that needs your attention. Whereas in a house, maybe once a year something breaks or acts up and needs your attention.
Now, to be fair, not all items are critical so you can get away with procrastinating certain projects. But when your electric jacks suddenly don’t go up and down, the refrigerator stops running or water starts dripping from under your rig, you don’t have a choice but to stop and deal with it.
Other procrastinated projects still have to get done or you pay a higher price later. You can only put off resealing your gaskets or re-caulking windows and other components for so long, for example, before water actually starts creeping in.
I know, as an Oliver-owner, I’m luckier than most in this regard. One of the most common maintenance issues with RVs is water problems (which can lead to mold and degradation of wood and other material) and that by purchasing a molded fiberglass trailer, I significantly reduced the chances of experiencing this particularly nasty problem. But in no way does this mean I’m off the hook for this “hate.”
No Established Professional Relationships
When you travel town to town, you never know where you’ll be when a tooth starts to ache, a drain gets clogged, your pet gets sick or you need a prescription refilled. The providers you spent years building a relationship with in sticks-and-bricks life disappeared when you hit the road.
If you decide to have a home base, this can be a big benefit if you make regular trips back. If you don’t, you just make due with the services and service providers of the town you are in.
RV Life is Not Magic
You’ve heard the expression, “Whenever you go, there you are”? That includes RV life. You might have grand images in you head that RV life will get you invited to big campfires with people you meet on the road. And, while this happens, if you are an introvert, more often than not, you’ll politely decline.
If you don’t like museum or hiking, RV life won’t magically find you in a museum or out in the woods. RV life won’t change the person you are. No matter how lovely the grand images in your head are.
Similarly, all the mundane chores of sticks-and-bricks life still need done in RV life. Bills need paid, dishes need washed. RV life won’t prevent you from worrying about the future or rehashing the past.
And some of those mundane chores might actually be a bit more challenging in RV life. Chores such as grocery shopping and laundry.
Overall, What I Love and Hate About RV Life
The best thing about making a list of what I love and hate about RV life is that I’m left knowing that none of the “hate” items are deal breakers. For me, they aren’t anyway. Creating this list turned out to be another exercise is reaffirming that RV life is the right choice for me and my goals.
If you are an RVer, what does your love and hate list look like? If you aren’t an RVer, what do you imagine yours will look like?
Links to Relevant Posts:
- RV Life: 4 Newbie Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
- RV Life and the Pros and Cons of Having a Home Base
- Sealing an RV Gasket
- RV Life and Grocery Shopping
- RV Life and Doing Laundry While Traveling
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- Dahlia Breeding for the Farmer, Florist and Home Gardener
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- Perfect Pantry Polypropylene Handy Basket
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