RV Life: What to Expect as Full-Time RVers

Before we set out for the open road in 2014, we had come to the hard-core realization that the full-time RV lifestyle is vastly different than living in sticks and bricks house. From constant RV maintenance, how to store everything you own in such tiny space and learning how to do it all will take more than throwing caution to the wind. It takes skill, patience, flexibility and some important RV life skills.

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As we posted a blog Top 10 RV Tool Bag Must-Haves, tools are very important to have for your motorhome or towable. But RV owners also need to have some equally-important tools to be successful in everyday RV life. They are necessary to so you can live the life you’ve dreamed about living in an RV on the road.

So, grab your hard hat and learn what RV life skills you’re going to need before hitting the road with your RV.

What You Should Expect as Full-Time RVers

Independence & Intestinal Fortitude

Independence can exhilarating and is a freedom within itself. You’ll reach that sense of accomplishment and believe that you can do most anything…by yourself. However, we understand it can also be scary. That’s why you need what we call, intestinal fortitude…also known as guts and courage. Because trust me, you ARE going to have those ‘oh shit moments’ on the road.

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Seriously, things are going to go wrong; whether it’s in the middle of the desert, high in the mountains far from help or broken down alongside a busy road. Some may require sidelining your travel plans until a part ships in or taking the time for repairs. And of course, they always…ALL-WAYS happen at the most inopportune times. That’s where the intestinal fortitude part comes in. While it’s okay to turn your head to vomit or clean out your britches, you just need to suck in your 6pack (or 8 or 10 or….) and move forward. Seriously, 99% of RV life is attitude.

All of that said, there are ways you can learn before you churn. Read our Get on Course with RV Educational Resources. You can take any or all of the great course offerings by a couple different venues; Escapees RVers Online University or RV MasterClass. Good solid information by those RVing experts is worth the price.

And those of you who aren’t independently wealthy living off Grandpa’s invention royalties, multiple pensions or reaping your 401k’s, you’ll need to be financially independent when it comes to finding work to pay those bills. My friend and fellow RVer, Camille from More Than a Wheelin’ can show you how to find remote work through her webinars and courses. Her remote work courses are amazing!

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Do Your Own RV Maintenance and Repairs

Face it, anything that has a motor or moving parts is going to require a little mechanical ability. You’re going to need to know how to do math to survive living in an RV. Seriously, if you don’t know how to measure, calculate, compute and even understand the basics in engineering, go back to your hovel (sticks and bricks).

Let me be clear in saying RVs and campers are not built like houses. In fact, RVs are not built like the same one next to you, I promise you. Each RV is hand-built by so many people. They are dubbed as “rolling earthquakes”. So, be prepared to repair anything and everything that shakes, rattles or rolls.

That doesn’t mean RV owners need to have engineering degrees. We certainly don’t. But you should at least know how to find the answers and which way is lefty-loosey and righty-tighty. 

“RV Life Skills Tip:  Seek out information from knowledgable RV owners who have sworn at it, kicked it, wrecked it, ripped it apart and yes, finally fixed it. They share lots of good reliable resources and information. Their social media channels are great tools that can help you succeed!”

And, though I did mention earlier about being independent, you’ll still need to seek help when it’s not within your comfort level or knowledge. Its perfectly okay to ask for help or guidance. And, there are even times when we still do. Seeking help from your neighbor isn’t a bad thing. Just make sure they know what they are doing. The last thing you need is someone who fudges it up even more.

Whether it’s flushing your tanks or changing out the anode rod, you need to at least know where to find the answers. Because if you don’t, your RV will become nothing but a shitty-box-on-wheels (quirky phrase by Emily of OwnLessDoMore).

So, learning how to do your own RV maintenance and repairs is just one part of your RV life skills. Otherwise, plan on spending a crap ton of money at RV repair facility where questionably-qualified RV techs do it for you.

You need to be ready when you’re really not. Don’t forget to bookmark our RV Engineering page that directs you to RV maintenance, upgrades and modifications.

And, if you’re a YouTube binge watcher or if you are looking for a worthwhile RV repair or maintenace video, check out RV Repair Club Videos!

We all know RV tech’s and RV repair facilities’ calendars never coincide with our travel schedules. So, it’s really important to know how to troubleshoot and repair basic plumbing, electrical and engineering components. And, commit to a good preventative maintenance schedule. By doing so, you’ll save not only money and time but headaches and heartaches down the road.

Improvise, Overcome & Adapt

This is a big one! Because if you’re not flexible in finding answers on your own and embracing the RV lifestyle, your experience will be short and miserable. You have to learn how to embrace every facet of RV life; the good, the bad and yes, the ugly.

You’ll need to learn everything must have a purpose. Because, living in a 350 square foot or less motorhome, fifth wheel or travel trailer is going to present hard-core limitations. Everything you buy will have to be for purpose. It will be imperative that you take into account your RV’s weight limits so having those 30 pairs of shoes isn’t going to happen. (well, you could however you will have to sacrifice having something else. And don’t say the tool box!).

Living in an RV will take much restraint when it comes to shopping. Becoming reserved in storing belongings will come with time. You’ll find that you really don’t need six drinking glasses. For example, we have two thermal go-cups, two stainless steel coffee cups and two stainless wine glasses.) Instead of having a rice cooker, crockpot and yogurt maker, we have a smaller instant pot that does all three (plus more!)

An speaking of shoes and shopping, I can’t stress how important it is to keep a healthy relationship with everyone living under that tiny RV roof. Simply said, there is no ‘hiding stuff’ whether its another pair of shoes, a can of soda, or even a fart in your RV. Adapting to tiny living is 9/10ths of RV Life Law. You can know everything about your RV (plumbing, electrical, how to drive it…) but if you’re not cohabitating amicably and respectfully, again, go back to your hovel.

There’s so many other ways to adapt to a smaller lifestyle. It will be up to you to figure out how it fits you and your family.

Self Pride

We all live by different set of standards. But, by having self pride, you’ll have a much more pleasant RV experience. Those who cross your path will love you even more. In otherwords, take care of your RV and your campsite. Don’t let it look like the Clampets just moved in.

For example, when you pay for a site in a campground or RV park, you’re essentially paying rent. And surely, like when renting an apartment or house, your landlord doesn’t want you trashing up the joint or making it look unappealing. Show good stewardship by taking care of your site by keeping it picked up, keep after your dogs’ messes and abide by the park or campground rules.

Just maintain and clean your motorhome or towable regularly. It’s your home on wheels whether it’s for a weekend, month, season or full-time. If you take care of it, it will take care of you!

Sense of Humor

I saved the best RV life skill for last. Because, this is what will get you through even your most difficult days of RV life.

Before we set out for our RV adventure, a wise couple who had been RVing for over two decades advised us “don’t give up in your first year”. And you know what? It was the best advice ever! While our first year on the road was 365 days of trials and tribulations, we learned a lot! We certainly had our share of blood, sweat and tears but we saw our rewards too. We didn’t quit. Everything we did were teachable moments. Trust me, there were a couple times where we came close but we kept our faith and yes, our sense of humor.

Back in the summer of 2018, we had a run of despair and bad luck. Even after four years on the road, we know that RV life isn’t tall rainbows and soft kittens. And, just like we have, you’re going to have some really crappy days and you’ll wonder, “is this the day we quit?

Whether it’s because of a serious medical issue, a family crisis or an expensive major breakdown that could put you in the poor house, at least do yourself the favor by stepping back, let out a big sigh and laugh. Though it may not be funny when it happens, try to keep your sense of humor. It’s a survival psychological mechanism. Just try to keep perspective and your compass always pointed ahead of you.

Don’t be so quick to give up only days, weeks or even months into your new RV lifestyle. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

We hope these RV life skills help. Just always keep in the back of your mind; “if it can happen, it will”. Like the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared”, so should you.Whether it’s a tire blow out, a split in your black tank, or running out of propane on the coldest of nights, just take it all in stride and use the tools we’ve shared above.

But most of all, know that RV life is just that….LIFE.

Oh, and one last thing before you go! Check out our video about this very topic! And please, we’d love for you to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Read more about RV life skills and RV lifestyle expectations…

Stationary RV Living: Why Full-Time RVers Live Long-Term in RV Parks

The Parts of RV Life No One Talks About

RV Life ISNโ€™T All Rainbows and Soft Kittens

How to Downsize for Van Life and Tiny Living

Declutter and Organize Your RV or Small Spaces

Downsizing RVs? What You Need to Know!




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2 Replies to “RV Life: What to Expect as Full-Time RVers”

  1. Dan and Lisa,
    I’m so happy to of found you guys! My husband and l will begin this fulltime crazy venture starting in 6 weeks, he retires from GE Aircraft engine repair and overhaul business. We have been RV owners for several years and are going into this with our eyes open. Even though reading and watching virtually the fulltime RV community I know it’s going to be a whole different dynamic than being a weekender thanks to your articles. We didn’t retire from the military but we both served in the U.S. Navy so we get what you said about keeping the rig clean. Thank you for being out there living the life and passing your wisdom to us newbies. Hoping for more laughter than tears for sure.

    1. Such an exciting time for you guys!! Thank you for serving our Country! We hope you stay tuned as we try to post something helpful every week. Safe travels and enjoy retirement!

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