This is a guest post written by a new friend of mine named Lou. I met Lou through my RVing Facebook group. For the past year he and his family have been planning on hitting the road in the RV. Unlike myself, Lou is a ridiculously meticulous planner and has done a TON of research on the RV lifestyle. I asked him to write a guest post for my blog to share some of the things he’s learned while planning his house-to-RV transition.
Planning an Entirely New Lifestyle (in the RV)
For the past year we’ve been planning to uproot everything that is comfortable for us. We are redefining what it means for us to own a home and grappling with the idea of full-time RVing across the country. These are huge leaps that most people never struggle with in their lives. Yet, this is a process that everyone goes through when first planning an escape to living full-time in an RV and traveling America.
It’s where my family and I are in this exact moment.
We’re not yet RVers, we’re still sitting on the sidelines planning and plotting for this upcoming adventure. We’ve found ourselves enamored with the lifestyle that full-time RVing offers… the adventure and freedom. However, we’ve also been a bit overwhelmed at the crazy amount of knowledge available online and the difficulty in sorting through it all.
I wrote this article to help with that.
A Little Backstory
Tricia and I have been married for over 14 years now, and we have an 8-year-old daughter (Nevaeh). Up to this point, we have lived a typical American life: home, car, jobs, church, school, activities, etc.
Fortunately, I married someone who dreams big.
Since the moment we got married Tricia has consistently brought up the idea of selling our house and buying an RV to travel the country. To her surprise (and mine) I actually caught hold of that vision… after about 14 years of her persistence.
There’s a lesson here: Don’t let anyone tell you a dream isn’t worth keeping alive, it pays off (just ask my wife).
Back in August of 2015 (when I finally saw the light), we decided that full-time RVing was definitely going to be in our future. We didn’t know how or where to start, but we knew we’d figure out a way to make it happen.
Finding Resources in Community
Being a relatively practical person, the first thing I Googled was the average monthly cost of living in an RV. Heath’s post from back in 2014 (average cost to travel the US) was the first one we read. As a nice bonus, he was offering a free course on how to travel on 2k a month. That was our introduction to this new world of full-time RVing.
From there, I’ve managed to read hundreds (if not thousands) of RV related blogs, consumer reports, manufacturer websites, and the like. To say the number of blogs I’ve read has been overwhelming would be an understatement.
There is so much information available, so many sites & groups providing great information, and countless individuals who want to share their experiences and advice. The task of sifting through all that information and finding genuinely helpful information was daunting. We didn’t want to get stuck in the cycle of paralysis by analysis.
To help anyone else who is currently in the research and planning phase, I wanted to share some of my favorite resources, blogs, and websites that have been the most helpful while planning our transition to full-time RVing.
1. Facebook groups
Social media is great for opinions and resources: If I have a question, or want to brainstorm an idea, I’ll throw it out on a group thread and crowdsource information along the way.
A few pieces of advice when posting in online forums and Facebook groups:
- Take opinions for what they are worth.
- If someone tosses out a resource suggestion… look it up before taking it at face value.
- Personal favorite sites/resources: RVillage, Xscapers, and Nü RVers
2. Blog posts
There are tons of great blogs out there that can be incredibly helpful. A few personal favorites of mine: Heath‘s blog (obviously), Ditching Suburbia, and Technomadia. There are many others that have been helpful, but these are my go-to sites.
Here is my typical approach when researching blogs for RVing content:
- I know exactly what information I want to know before hand, this helps me make my Google search super specific (i.e “Average monthly cost of living in an RV” is a good search. If you only type in “RVing”, you most likely won’t find anything helpful).
- Also, I try to empathize and understand any bloggers personal dynamics before I dismiss or follow their advice. What part of life are they in? Do they also have a family? Are they coming from a home? Just realize that different people are writing with a different worldview.
Also… you won’t agree with what every RV related blog has to say, just because their ideas don’t help you, doesn’t mean they are wrong.
3. Groups, Associations, and Manufacturers
The companies who actually make products or perform services for RVers offer some of the best reviews and practical advice for many technical RV questions. Their credibility and knowledge is based off of large numbers and years of experience, as opposed to one individual’s good or bad experience.
Here’s a few things I learned while researching and digging into some of these groups:
- Look for groups/associations that cover a large spectrum of brands & models, such as the RVIA or RVBusiness
- Check out sites that offer a ‘compare’ feature make head-to-head reviews easier, such as this page on GoRVing.
- Don’t be afraid to spend a few bucks on memberships, in the long run it will only be a drop in the bucket.
- Personal favorites: RV Guide (RV specs, features, & reviews), Remco (all things towing & toad related), Mod My RV (a bit dry, but dozens of modification and repair tutorials).
Most Helpful Part of Our RV Research: Compiling Advice from RV Experts
For part of our research I decided to take a more direct approach and talk to people who had actually been full-time RVing for some time.
Here’s what I did.
I wrote out the ten biggest questions we had in regards to full-time RVing, then emailed it to a few RVers whose sites had added the most value to our search up to that point. The response was great, and we were given a direct glimpse into the thought process that goes along with full-time RVing.
Some of the answers offered simple solutions to concerns we were facing, and other answers helped to reassure us that we hadn’t lost our minds.
The responses we got from experienced full-timers (in regards to our original 10 questions) completely reshaped our approach to full-time travel.
The information was such a benefit to my family and I that we put it in a free ebook for others to read and download. For those who are considering the transition into full-time RVing, we formatted the ebook into five categories and added other helpful resources along the way.
Here’s an outline of what’s inside the ebook:
- The Plan: How to properly format your expected travels and lifestyle.
- Purchases: RV, Dinghy, Stuff, etc.
- The Path: Where do you want to go, and what do you expect to accomplish on your journey? What path will you take?
- The Peril: Effective ways to preempt a disaster, and how to stay sane when one arises.
- The Purpose: Discovering your role in influencing the lives around you (family, friends, and following).
All of this was made possible by a community of RVers who have embraced us along the way, never looking down on the fact that we were not yet part of this community. Thank you.
Last Piece of Advice: Enjoy/Embrace the Planning Process
Ah, the planning process… it keeps on going and going for us. I think one of the most difficult things for us has been the wait. It seems like we’ve been waiting forever to hit the road and start full-time RVing. In reality it has only been about 9 months, but it really feels like it’s time to birth this sucker and get on the road.
The best part about waiting? We’ve really been able to evaluate this crazy dream of ours and do our due diligence of research along the way. As it turns out, we’re not as crazy as we originally thought.
Thinking to where we were a few months ago, it would have been easy to make a hasty RV purchase that wouldn’t have been conducive to our lifestyle. Since we’ve been able to actually spend enough time researching — we don’t have to worry about make the mistake of buying something that doesn’t fit our family and immediately upgrading.
One of the biggest factors keeping us out of the nut house during this waiting process has been our ability to continue learning about this lifestyle and interacting with those in the RV community. Sure, there has been a great deal of support from family and friends, but they can’t fully see where we are coming from. If it wasn’t for the encouragement we have gotten along the way from current RVers, our dream could have disappeared a long time ago.
For those still planning and dreaming, keep holding on… we’re in this together. Don’t lose sight of your own dreams amongst all the day-to-day minutia that could cause it to dim. And enjoy the process, because you don’t want to miss out on any of life’s little moments.