A Year-Long RV Adventure—Over In 6 Weeks
Just six months ago, I was chomping at the bit to downsize from my 1,800 sq. ft. dream home steps from the national forest in Big Bear Lake, California. Our plan was to go to San Francisco in our RV and work in the city at high-paying jobs while living like paupers and stashing away all our extra earnings. Why? So, we could become nomads, traveling to 48 states within a year on a giant RV adventure.
So what’s it like to live for a year in a 31-foot RV with two English Bulldogs, a moody tween, a 3-month-old baby and a claustrophobic husband? I won’t say it gives new meaning to term “hell on wheels,” but I will say that we only lasted six weeks. And we learned a lot in that time about ourselves and our travel style. Should you ever consider this crazy idea for yourself, here are 20 Dos and Don’ts we wish someone had told us.
1. Don’t empty your emergency savings account to buy an RV and a giant diesel truck. Wait until you have a emergency fund that is bigger than you need for, you know, emergencies, before you make such big purchases.
2. Do practice living in an RV for a few one or two-week stints to see if you can handle such tight quarters.
3. Don’t buy an RV that is more than ten years old; some RV parks won’t let you in.
4. Do set a budget before you head out on your adventures and stick to it. Plan for unexpected expenses because they always happen.
5. Don’t expect a fast internet connection. They are hard to come in an RV. If you have an online business, you might have to gear up quite a bit—and spend several hundred dollars—to have enough bandwidth for the road. (Check out Karma and other cool travel tech items.)
6. Do plan to get out of your RV several times daily or you will go crazy. Take a walk around the park or go to the grocery store– anything to get out of that tiny space.
7. Don’t gossip about your neighbors in your RV. They can hear every word you say.
8. Do be prepared for unexpected creepy crawlies. Our RV was infested by field roaches at one RV park, one of the worst experiences we’ve ever had.
9. Don’t try to grocery shop like you did while living in a regular house. Plan to go to the store or farmer’s market every 2-3 days, and remember this can make it harder to keep track of your food budget.
10. Do try to get some time away from the kids, so you can romance each other a little. Realize that romance will not be easy with your tween sleeping a few feet away from you.
11. Don’t try living in an RV full-time if you are a packrat. You will not have the space for all your treasures. And your spouse and tween will roll their eyes at you when you try nevertheless.
12. Do make friends while you’re traveling, as you never know what incredible people you might meet.
13. Don’t go on the road too soon after a major life event (like, ahem, birthing a baby). Make sure every other aspect of your life is on an even keel, because nothing in RV life is!
14. Do cancel your Netflix subscription. Redbox will be your best friend, when you won’t have enough bandwidth to stream movies, which will be most of the time.
15. Don’t splurge. It takes time to figure out how much things cost. Live as frugally as possible until you discover where you have wiggle room and where you don’t.
16. Do look for places with free WiFi for those days when you need to do heavy online work.
17. Don’t forget your noise-canceling headphones for those days/nights when you cannot handle another raucous neighbor (or your family).
18. Do get creative with your schedule. If you’re not flexible, you won’t survive on the road for long.
19. Don’t commit yourself to this lifestyle without a good backup plan. There might come a point where your family just wants to go home.
20. Do remember that no matter what happens on the road, you will eventually be thankful for the experiences and the memories you shared.
I don’t regret giving RVing a try, and I don’t regret giving up and coming home after only six weeks. I do wish I had been better prepared, done more planning and research and tried some practice runs, so we would have known what it would really like for our family in an RV.
Mindi Rosser is the Chief Marketing Strategist and Founder of Mindi Zone Marketing, where she is all about doing marketing that matters for online entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses. Mindi is a multipotentialite with diverse interests, loves bodybuilding in her home gym and enjoys hanging out with her two daughters, buff hubby and her lazy English Bulldog, Dude.If you’d like to see more of what it was really like for her family in the RV, check out her video diary here.