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Most of them are pretty basic, like, where do you dump your poop? That one is easy to answer, we actually hired a guy to follow us around and he manually dumps our poop once a day. Kidding. That would be the crappiest job in the world (sorry, I had to… I’m done with bathroom talk).
Other questions are more difficult to answer. Questions like, “Where could you see yourselves living one day?”
No matter what questions people ask us about living in an RV, I always enjoy answering them…unless they ask me how we drove our RV to Hawaii. People always ask that question and then laugh out loud like they just busted an Aziz Ansari joke… I don’t get it.
I hope this post gives you a bit of insight into what it’s like living full-time in an RV.
1. Do you ever get tired of living in such a small space?
Sometimes I miss having a bathtub. I realize that as a man it sounds weird acknowledging that I miss bathtubs, but I don’t care. Baths are awesome. I guess what I’m saying is, every now and then I DO miss some little luxuries like dishwashers and amazing wifi.
But as far as space goes, I never feel cramped or tired of living in a small space. At least not in the past six years of RV travel. Plus, it helps if we keep our space clean. We do the dishes after almost every meal and make the bed every morning and somehow that makes the RV feel so much bigger.
2. How do you get mail, Internet, TV, phone service?
For internet, we have an unlimited AT&T data plan, as well as an unlimited Verizon plan that we can tether from our phones. Our first two years on the road we only had Verizon, which I can vouch for in all 50 states (with the exception of a few places in west Texas and the Teton mountains). Both providers have given us enough signal strength to record our podcast, upload Youtube videos, and handle all your basic internet tasks,
Most RV parks have wifi, but the speed is slow and it might make you want to pull your hair out. Some parks keep it old school and will charge a fee for wifi or only offer wifi in one building in the park 🤔
If you’re going to be working out of your RV full-time, I would highly recommend investing in a cell booster that amplifies your signal. A cell booster will amplify your signal while camping in places with low signal. We use the WeBoost cell booster (affiliate link) and it makes a HUGE difference in allowing us to get internet in remote places. We use unlimited data with Verizon on our phones, so with unlimited data and a cell booster, we are covered almost everywhere.
For mail, the important stuff we send to my in-laws (i.e. checks to be deposited). Escapees is a great company that will help you set up your legal mailing address and mail forwarding before you ever hit the road. (You can read more about the process of getting mail on the road here.)
For TV? We mostly watch Netflix and an occasional DVD of Friends. Most RVs have antenna or cable hook up capabilities and many RV parks will have cable available onsite. I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve actually hooked up our cable to watch regular TV.
What is it really like to RV full-time?
In our latest book, we share what it’s like RVing across America—breakdowns, bear encounters, stunning hikes, beachfront camping and all.
3. Do you just stay at RV parks? How much does overnight RV parking typically cost?
We frequently stay at RV parks. However, it really depends on where we are and what we’re doing. Like when we’ve spent time out on the west coast, we’ve stayed on a lot of state parks, national parks, or BLM land. There aren’t as many places to boondock in the eastern half of America, so we’ve mostly camped at RV parks on the east coast.
RV parks have all your basic amenities—bathrooms, showers, laundry, internet (typically slow wifi), and the occasional pool. One of the first things we realized early on was the difference between an RV Park vs. a Trailer Park. RV parks are places where RVers like us or retirees typically stay. A trailer park is… well, what you think of when you think of trailer park.
RV parks typically average around $35/night, but can easily go much higher (especially on the west coast). We are members of Passport America and Good Sam, which both offer discounts at participating campgrounds (We’ve easily saved hundreds of dollars on camping by using Passport America while on the road).
We’ve also been known to occasionally boondock on some national forest land or stay overnight on a winery. Although some of our favorite camping is done using a program called Harvest Hosts, which allows us to stay at wineries and breweries all over the country for free.
When it comes to the cost of full time RV travel, camping fees are easily the biggest ticket item. Save money on camping with the right RVing memberships.
4. How long do you typically stay in one place?
We don’t have any typical length of time we stay in one place.
In the winters, we will pick a warm spot for 1-3 months. In the summers, we like staying for one full week.
This past summer we stayed in Maine for well over a month because it was the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. Just look at that lighthouse! Our time in each place is determined by how much we like the area, the weather, and what kind of projects we have going on.
5. How long did it take you to downsize?
We made the transition not long after college, so we really hadn’t accrued a lot of stuff. We had to get rid of a TV, a few pieces of furniture, and a lot of our clothes, but other than that—not too much. This was probably much easier for us than it would be someone who has lived in a home for 20-30 years. I can understand the difficulty of what that might look like when I see my parent’s home where my brothers and I were raised. I can only imagine how hard it must be to give everything up.
That being said, I’ve talked with a lot of full-time RVers who do a “test-run” of RVing before selling everything. This way, they can test out the lifestyle and see if they like it before going all-in. You can rent an RV using a site like Outdoorsy (we actually rent out our RV on this site).
If you’re starting the downsizing process, we have a free three-day course to get you started!
6. What made you guys decide to buy an RV vs. a tiny house?
I honestly looked at buying a tiny house before we moved into the RV, but our style of travel was better suited for living in an RV.
We like to move around a lot and while tiny houses CAN be mobile, they aren’t mobile like RV’s. The other reason I originally looked into tiny houses because of their sleek and modern design. But as it turns out we were able to renovate our older RV and our newer rig has quite the modern feel.
7. How many miles per gallon do you get in one of those things (in other words, how much does gas cost)?
Guys, it ain’t pretty.
In our new Winnebago, we probably get a whopping 6-8 miles per gallon. I know, it’s a bit painful. That being said, you don’t buy an RV because of gas mileage efficiency.
In 2014, we drove to 48 states in our 1994 Class C Motorhome and we spent around $6,000 total on gas over seven months and nearly 20,000 miles. I wrote a detailed report of our 48 state road trip income and expenses here on this post.
8. How do you stay in shape while on the road?
Mostly the Bowflex… kidding.
Hiking, running, and kayaking are at the top. My wife watches Yoga with Adriene on Youtube and other at-home workouts.
For a while, we also had a gym membership to Planet Fitness. It cost $20/month and we had access to over 800 locations across the country. If you’re trying to stay in good shape while you’re traveling I would suggest Planet Fitness. They typically have nice facilities for showering and workouts, plus free massage chairs and tootsie rolls. Need I say more?
(If you’re planning on saving money on RV park costs by mostly boondocking, a good gym membership is a great idea for shower access!)
9. Will you travel when you have kids?
Update as of May 22, 2019: Yes.
Since our daughter has been born, she’s been on 13 airplanes, visited three countries, and is currently RVing America with us.
10. When are you going to return to the “real world”?
Recently a stranger commented on a blog I wrote about why we love RVing and said this:
“Personally, I think you’re just using it as an excuse to avoid living in the real world and taking some responsibility for yourselves.”
This isn’t the first time someone has said something like this to us, or asked, “When are you coming back to the real world?“.
When people see two twenty-somethings driving around the country in an RV, there is instant judgment placed on us. Obviously, we are rich, entitled, or hit some kind of lottery that enabled us to go escape “the real world” and travel full-time. Or we are drug dealers. There is no in-between.[bctt tweet=”Obviously, we are rich, entitled, or hit some kind of lottery that enabled us to go escape “the real world” and travel full-time. Or we are drug dealers. There is no in-between.” username=”heathpadgett”]
Of course, the truth is we aren’t rich. We work a typical 40-ish hour work week and unless Alyssa is hiding something from me, we have won no lottery. All of these factors make it a lot more fun to answer the question of when we’re going to live in the “real world”.
Short answer: Never.
Longer answer: Read this post.
11. Where do you dump your poop? (Oops, I brought it up again)
Most RV’s have a grey tank, black tank, and a freshwater tank (although some people use a composting toilet).
The freshwater tank can run up to about 60 gallons (depends on how big your rig is) and that is your drinking water. The black tank is your waste. The grey tank is sink and shower water. You have a little hose that comes out of your tanks that connects with a sewer. Most RV parks and campgrounds will have sewer hookups or dump stations for you to empty your tanks. You pull a lever that says black and then one that says grey and BAM. Your tanks are emptied. It’s very simple.
Update: If you’re still reading through this post and have a million more questions about RV life, Alyssa released A Beginner’s Guide to Living in an RV! You can check it out below:
A Beginner’s Guide to Living in an RV
This guide answers all of the most common questions we’ve been asked about RV living, such as how to find the right RV, navigating health insurance, internet, and much more.
12. What do you do for making money on the road?
This is the million-dollar question.
Before buying our RV in 2014, we had no idea that it was possible to make money while traveling.
In our first year on the road, I came up with the idea to work a job in all 50 states (it sounded like more fun than sitting in an office). I pitched an online job board to see if they would help me line up some of the jobs and they ended up sponsoring us and sending some film equipment in the mail (the cameras showed up to our door the day of our wedding and we hit the road 4 days later).
After realizing how much we loved RV life, we continued making videos for clients while RVing. Over the past few years, we’ve shot videos for small businesses, authors, weddings and even big brands like Winnebago, Jellystone Resorts, and TedX.
In addition to shooting video, I also co-founded a software startup called CampgroundBooking.com, monetized a podcast I host called The RV Entrepreneur Podcast, and speak at companies like Chick-fil-A and UPS.
So the answer is lots of ways. We’ve run three different businesses while traveling and have found limitless ways to build a remote business while traveling. If you’re looking for mobile business ideas, you can download my wife’s free ebook: 50 Business Ideas for RVers.
Related blog: 7 Ways We’ve Made Money While Full-Time RVing
13. How do you keep up with friendships while on the road?
Our family wasn’t 100% on board at first, but after RVing for a few years, they came around.
We lost a few friends from back home when we hit the road. That’s natural when you graduate from college or leave any geographical region. Most of them didn’t get it or maybe even still don’t get the lifestyle (some six years later).
The good news is, we met a lot of people out on the road who had similar mindsets and missions in life. And we developed a community of people who also travel and work while full-time RVing.
I think the most encouraging part about traveling is that once you hit the road, you start to meet people with a similar mindset who can affirm your beliefs and values. I know that sounds obvious. Of course you’ll meet people on the road who also like to travel. It’s hard to envision what that feels like when you’re only surrounded by people who don’t understand why you’d want to sell everything and go travel in an RV.
We are constantly meeting new friends on Instagram or in our RVer Facebook group while visiting new places. We host meetups, attend conferences, and host our own annual event, The RV Entrepreneur Summit.
14. What do you guys do for health insurance?
Ah, healthcare. This is probably my least favorite subject to talk about. It invites so much controversy, confusion, and rip-your-hair-out hassle. Not to mention finding healthcare for RVers is ten times more complicated.
We’ve been RVing for years and have tried quite a few options for coverage on the road. We’ve used something different every year because we are always trying to find better, more affordable coverage. Right now we use a health-sharing ministry, but we’ve also been burned by a health-sharing ministry in the past. It’s a long story.
For in-depth details about our experiences with healthcare on the road, check out this post on healthcare for RVers here.
15. What about washing clothes?
I packed 10 shirts total for our trip when we first hit the road. We didn’t have much room in our motorhome, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t pack my entire wardrobe. We read a book before we started traveling called “Packing Light” and it was a great inspiration for us to not be RV hoarders.
As far as laundry goes, every RV park we’ve stayed at has a laundry room. Only once have we ever camped somewhere without one and needed to use a laundromat (Banff National Park).
In our new Winnebago Forza (2020 update) we have a washing machine and dryer (separate, though many RVs have all-in-one units) and it has been a GAME-CHANGER. Seriously. Now that we travel with an infant, having our own laundry on board is such a blessing. Highly recommend for anyone traveling with kids.
16. Does Alyssa drive the RV?
Nope, she doesn’t. She can (above was when we filmed the GoingRV TV show) but she mostly works from the passenger seat while I drive.
Our older motorhome was a bit smaller and less bulky than our new Winnebago, so she did drive that one more often. This one she prefers not to drive since we’re also towing a car behind it.
17. What do you guys do for groceries and cooking?
We go to grocery stores like normal people. Alyssa has a gluten allergy so we cook almost all of our meals in our RV. We’ve done that ever since we started full-timing.
Alyssa wrote this post recently sharing our top 10 meals that we make in the RV.
18. How did you know what type of RV to choose?
This was a much tougher question when we were first getting started.
First of all, I had to do a lot of research to better understand the difference between fifth wheels, motorhomes, truck campers, pull-behinds, etc. Ultimately, we made our choice on motorhome because we liked the idea of having our vehicle and home be all in one. We enjoy being able to walk to the back and use the restroom or make food, without having to leave our vehicle while we’re traveling. And we didn’t want to buy a truck to tow a trailer with.
We also like the desk that flips over the passenger seat so that we can work while on the road.
19. What’s your favorite place/trip that you’ve been or done?
We fell in love with Maine. I mean, you can’t beat the ocean vibes and sunrise on Cadillac Mountain (first place the sun rises each day).
Outside of Maine, we also fell in love with driving the Pacific Coast Highway a few years ago.
We put away our laptops, pushed work aside for the week and just enjoyed the views along the Pacific Ocean. We camped out along the water, went to Hearst Castle, and embraced what the RV lifestyle is all about (freedom, endless s’mores, and adventure).
There is so much energy while driving up the west coast. It’s raw and invigorating. You wake up and look out your window and you’re literally on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. So stunning.
We’ve also RVed in New Zealand, Canada, and Italy—all of which are jaw-droppingly stunning. We have videos of each on our Youtube channel 🙂
20. What’s your address if you don’t live anywhere?
This is a great question. You cannot use a PO Box on your driver’s license.
So where do you tell the government you live?
You establish a legal domicile through a company like Escapees who’s been giving RVers real addresses for decades. I share this process in more detail here, but these domicile services will set you up with a legal address to be used on any government documents.
21. Why did you choose to live in an RV?
We chose to live in an RV mostly by accident.
We wanted to travel across America and we calculated that buying an RV would be the quickest route for us to go and visit all 50 states. We had no idea that we would live in an RV long-term, share the lifestyle with other people, or that I would spend so much time writing about living in an RV. The rest happened because we truly fell in love with the lifestyle.
Living in an RV has helped bring Alyssa and me closer together in our first couple of years of marriage. We’ve seen more of America than either of us could have imagined we would (and still have a lot to see!). Because we are self-employed, we’ve been able to pick up and go when new opportunities come our way. Not to mention, in the past few years of travel we’ve also been able to pay off all $27k of my student debt.
This post has become a mammoth. I didn’t intend for it to be this long, but there are a lot of questions people have asked us since we started full-time RVing. If I left any questions out that you’d like to know, make sure to check out Alyssa’s new book: A Beginner’s Guide to Living in an RV. She answers these questions much better than I do and in WAY more detail (plus she covers a lot more that we wish we knew before living in an RV.)