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At the age of 23, I think my husband and I are the youngest couple living in an RV on the road. Inspired by our grandparents who shared amazing stories of life on the road, Heath and I decided to forego a “typical” honeymoon and spend seven months driving across the entire US. We left four days after our wedding and will finish visiting the lower 48 by Christmas.
I knew marriage would change me, but I didn’t realize how much RVing would change my life. I’m irrevocably in love with RV life—it is adventurous, exciting, and we always shock everyone at RV parks when we tell them we are full timers. We joke that we retired at age 23.
During my past few months on the road, we’ve visited over 35 states and learned a lot about RVs. More importantly, RVs have taught us a lot about life. Here are 10 things I’ve learned from Franklin, my 1994 Coachmen Leprechaun Motorhome:
- You don’t need that space.
When my husband and I decided to take a 50 state road trip, we ended up buying a 29’ rig. Now that we’ve been on the road for a while, we wish we’d chosen something a little smaller that would be easier to maneuver into campgrounds. Since we are almost always on the road, the ease of traveling in a short rig would be preferable to a little extra space. Our Class C home is more than enough space for us to feel at home and the adventure of travel has taught us more than settling down back in Texas ever could. Living outside of our comfort zone forces us to grow every day. Living comfortably makes us complacent.
- Possessions aren’t as important as relationships.
When my newlywed husband and I moved into our RV, we ditched over half of our possession and nearly all of our wedding gifts. Everything is now piled up in closets or stacked in boxes in our parents’ homes. We don’t miss any of it. In fact, halfway through our trip, we took a pit stop in north Texas to drop off even more of our things at my parents’ house. We packed too much. Without all of our extra stuff, Heath and I can focus on each other. We spend more quality time together. (Plus now whenever we stop traveling full time, we get lots of presents!)
- A clean home is a happy home.
When you live in a 29-foot space, you notice every shirt tossed on the floor, shoes kicked under the table, and dish sitting on the stove. The space can quickly feel crowded or messy. When we consciously clean up after ourselves, we feel happier. We feel cleaner and feel less pressure to stay inside cleaning when we really want to be out exploring. Plus, we are created good habits for our future together. Who wouldn’t love a husband who cleans up after himself?
- Cars drive too fast. The RV pace lets you see the world.
We don’t tow a car with our old RV. We largely rely on taxis and rides from friends we meet on the road when we need to get somewhere. During every car ride, we come to the same conclusion: cars drive too fast! When you speed around, you miss opportunities to see what’s around you. You miss enjoying travel. In an RV, you’re forced to adjust your pace to experience every mile of the country.
- You learn how to problem solve.
Someone once told me an RV is like a “traveling earthquake.” Everything is constantly jostling and bouncing. It makes it easy to break things. Blown fuses, broken refrigerator, gas leak, leaky faucet, broken dump hose, bad fuel pump—you name it, it’s broken on us. There is always something that needs a little work done. We quickly learned how to seal a leak on the roof, turn our fridge into an icebox, and everything in between.
- Make your RV feel like home.
This isn’t something I learned as much as it is advice. We took a week before leaving for our seven months on the road to renovate our RV. We painted the walls and cabinets. We replaced the floors and added curtains. Soon, the RV felt like home. If we hadn’t taken the time to repaint, we wouldn’t be nearly as happy in our RV. We personalized it and made sure it reflected our personalities. We always feel at home, even when we’re tucked away in the mountains of New Hampshire.
- There is beauty EVERYWHERE.
When I’ve dreamed of vacations, I imagine Caribbean beaches, Italian countryside, or maybe skiing in Colorado. But some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen are right here in America. For example, the Oregon coastline is a magical experience. Vermont in October is like living inside a painting full of color. Staring out over Lake Erie feels like you’re on the edge of an ocean. Every state (perhaps excluding Iowa, which was dreadfully hot) is full of its own beauty. Creeks, colorful trees, majestic pine trees—every place we visit offers something new and beautiful.
- A penny saved is a penny earned.
People often assume Heath and I have rich parents or we hit the lottery before our trip. The answer is no (the answer is also I wish!). Instead, we save money in every way we can. We use Passport America and Good Sam for every night’s stay. We park our RV at friend’s homes or even with kind strangers who hear our story. We very carefully plan our route to save on gas. Plus when needed, we pull the “we’re on our honeymoon” card to get free stuff, which has so far only gotten us into Crazy Horse in South Dakota for free.
- Focus on gratitude and your wealth will increase.
On the road, there are multiple hardships. Gas prices in California made me want to cry. Breaking down in the dessert of Arizona drained our bank account. Sometimes our work on the road doesn’t pay enough to cover all of our bills. When these things get us down, we count our blessings. We keep a journal where we record everything gifted to us on the road. This week, a florist with extra flowers gave us a free bouquet to spice up the RV after hearing about our honeymoon. These quiet blessings are all recorded in our journal so we can keep our perspective. Looking back, we’ve saved thousands of dollars in free meals and lodging on the road. The more we remember to be grateful, the wealthier we feel. We don’t need money to be wealthy, we need perspective.
10. There are more good people in this world than bad.
If you’ve ever watched the news, you’ve probably shaken your head and thought to yourself, “What has happened to the world?” I used to think the world is a hopeless place full of murder, riots, and despair. It simply isn’t true. In my travels, I’ve met hundreds of people who inspire me to believe that the world is full of joy. The world is full of people eager to help each other, eager to love, and eager to encourage. What my husband and I are doing with our honeymoon isn’t that special. But people often thank us for inspiring them and encourage us to keep going.
Those are my top 10 things I learned when RVing, but I’m sure there are plenty more! RVing is the best decision I’ve ever made. It makes me a better person and it grows my marriage. I may never stop! Unless the old rig keeps breaking down…