RVE 63: 21 Questions Everyone Asks Us About Living in an RV
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RVE 63: 21 Questions Everyone Asks Us About Living in an RV

posted in: RVing | 31

Jumping into living in an RV brings on a ton of questions.

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?”

Listen to this blog in podcast form: 

No matter what questions people ask us about living in an RV, I typically 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 a Chris Rock 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. It’s difficult to explain everything in one little post, so if there’s anything you have more questions about– please, leave a comment at the end of this post and I’ll respond to all of them! Enjoy.

1. Do you ever get tired of living in such a small space?

Honestly, no. Sometimes I miss having a bathtub. I realize that as a man it sounds weird acknowledging that I miss bathtubs, but I don’t really care. Baths are awesome. I guess what I’m saying is, every now and then I DO miss some little luxuries like limitless hot water and amazing wifi.

But as far as space goes, I never feel crammed or tired of living in a small space. At least not in the first 18 months of doing it. Plus, it helps that we keep our space very clean. We do the dishes after almost every meal and make the bed every day.

Doing these little things helps us feel organized and helps to make the space feel bigger.

2. How do you get mail, Internet, TV, phone service?

For internet we carry around a Verizon jetpack (little wireless device) that allows us to get wifi wherever we travel. We have a 15 gig plan which is plenty for just browsing the internet (p.s we took this jetpack to all 50 states and we get service just about everywhere, with the exception of a few places in west Texas and the Teton mountains). If we want to do any streaming or uploading of videos, then we’ll typically go to a local coffee shop like Starbucks (Starbucks always has good internet). Most RV parks have wifi, but usually the speed is very slow and it might make you want to pull your hair out. If you would prefer to work out of your RV all the time, you can always invest in a cell signal booster like this one.

For mail, we currently have that forwarded to my in-laws. Most of our mail is via email anyway, so that’s not too much of an issue for us. Escapees is a company that actually has services that will help you set up your mail forwarding and all of that before you ever hit the road.

For TV? We mostly watch Netflix (when internet permits) and an occasional DVD of Friends in our TV.

Update on original post: We just recently started carrying both Verizon and AT&T while on the road. Last year we upgraded to an unlimited Verizon plan that was through a 3rd party, but it is actually being cut off tomorrow as Verizon is cracking down on these unlimited plans. If you want to learn more about how to find great internet while on the road, I recommend checking out Cherie and Chris over at Technomadia — as they publish a great deal of content on mobile internet.

3. Do you just stay at RV parks? How much does overnight RV parking typically cost?

We almost always stay at RV parks. However, it really depends on where we are and what we’re doing. While we’ve spent time out on the west coast we’ve stayed in a lot of state and national parks, mostly because it’s beautiful and there are tons of parks.

RV parks have all your basic amenities– bathrooms, showers, washateria (not all of them), internet (typically slow wifi), and the occasional pool. One of the first things we realized earl on was the difference between RV park vs 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 $30/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 (here is a review I wrote of using Good Sam vs. Passport America).

4. How long do you typically stay in one place?

We have been living in our RV full-time for 18 months and we’ve mostly done 1-3 night stays or 2-4 month stays. It really just depends on what is happening in our lives. While we were filming our documentary Hourly America, we were hustling to get to as many places as possible and would stay very little time. Now that we’re done filming and can travel more leisurely, we’re staying in places for longer periods of time because it saves money. Last fall we stayed at a lakefront RV park outside of Austin for $360/month.

5. How long did it take you to downsize?

We made the transition not long after college, so we really hadn’t had time to accrue a lot of stuff. We had to get rid of a TV, 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 for one year before selling everything. This way, they can give it a shot before taking the full plunge. I think that’s a smart way to go.

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 had originally looked into tiny houses was 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 as well (see pictures here).

7. How many miles per gallon do you get in one of those things (in other words, how much does gas cost)?

In our new Winnebago we probably get around 10-12 miles per gallon. I’m estimating because we’ve only had it for a couple months and I’ve only filled it up a few times thus far. I’ll have a better estimate for you after a couple trips. That being said, in 2014 we did 48 states in our 1994 coachmen RV and we spent around $6,000 total on gas throughout 7 months. You can read more of those financials here on this post I wrote.

8. How do you stay in shape while on the road?

Mostly the Bowflex… kidding.

We go on walks, I do push ups, and on days when I’m feeling super motivated I’ll go for a run. Other than that, we don’t do too much. For a period of time we’ve also had a gym membership to Planet Fitness, which was $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 definitely suggest Planet Fitness. They typically have really nice facilities for showering and workouts, plus free massage chairs and tootsie rolls. Need I say more?

9. Will you travel when you have kids?

This is the million dollar question. To be totally honest, I have no idea. I know that I WILL travel some when I have kids. I don’t know if it will be full-time or part-time, probably a bit of both. I want my kids to have other kid friends, but I also want them to see the world.

I did an interview last year with Michael Boyink from DitchingSuburbia and he travels with his two kids and told me all about the amazing experiences he’s had from full-timing with his kiddos. Hearing from people like Mike encourage me to want to travel and live in an RV one day with my kids as well.

10. When are you going to get a real house or “settle down”?

We don’t have an end date on our RV travels. It could be next year or several years down the road.

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 around 60 gallons and that is your drinking water. Black tank is your waste (poop). The grey tank is sink or shower water. You have a little hose that comes out of your tanks that connects with a sewer. You pull a lever that says grey and one that says black and you dump your tank. It’s actually very simple.

(tip: Dump the black before grey and not at the same time. You want your grey water to wash away any toilet paper or other waste that might be stuck inside the line.)

12. What do you do for making money on the road?

We’ve done a lot of different things to make money on the road. The majority of our income has come from video work that we are paid for, like online educational videos we record for clients. I’ve also been paid to speak at companies and during most of 2014 we had a sponsor company that paid us roughly $1k/month (read about that sponsorship here).

13. How do you keep up with friendships while on the road?

We lost quite a bit of friends we had from our college town in Austin when we hit the road. That’s natural when you graduate from college or leave any geographical region. 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, write, and do video work (like us).

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. But it’s hard to envision what that feels like when you’re only surrounded by people who don’t get it.

Our family was pretty unsupportive at first, but then we made enough money to keep traveling and got some recognition for our work. When your parents get to watch you on national TV, they think that is cool. Now they are our biggest fans.

14. What do you guys do for Health insurance?

We found our health insurance through the RVers Insurance Exchange. We have a plan for Alyssa with Scott and White that will cover us no matter where we are in the country, since we travel outside our home state, Texas, for more than 6 months out of the year. Her plan runs around $265/month, which is pretty steep. Fortunately for us, I can still be on my parents plan until I’m 26, which I did at the request of my dad (he didn’t have to try too hard to convince me).

Update: We recently changed healthcare providers and went with a health-sharing ministry. Read more about 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 bring all that much along. We read a book before we left called “Packing Light” and that was some really good inspiration for us before we hit the road to not overburden ourselves with too much stuff.

We stayed at a lot of RV parks, state parks, and national parks– but almost every RV park we stayed at has a laundry room. You can buy a little portable washer/dryer set from Amazon, but it’s so tiny I haven’t heard great things from it. I would much rather just budget a little bit of money per month to wash clothes in a real machine.

At least, that’s how we’ve been doing it and it’s worked out so far 

16. Does Alyssa drive the RV?

Heck yes she does! She’s a beast. Our older motorhome was a bit smaller and less bulky than our new Winnebago, but she has been able to handle this one just fine.

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. Here’s one of Alyssa’s favorite “Texas-style” meals to cook 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.

Plus, this way we didn’t have to buy a new vehicle to tow it. I could easily offer more educated responses on why we chose and RV vs. trailer, but this was really the one that did it for us.

19. What’s your favorite place/trip that you’ve been or done? 

Probably driving up the Pacific Coast Highway. We basically put away our laptops and pushed work aside for the week and just enjoyed the views. We camped out along the ocean, went to Hearst Castle, and really felt like we epitomized what it’s supposed to feel like when driving an RV across America.

There is so much energy while driving up the west coast. It’s real and invigorating. You wake up and look outside your window and you’re literally on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done.

20. Have you guys found anywhere you might want to live?

The answer to this one is tricky. We’ve found tons of places we could see ourselves living in the future, but right now we just aren’t at a point where we want to settle down quite yet. Top of our list is Nashville, TN, mostly because we’ve made a lot of great friendships in that town and we would have a lot of awesome community. But we’re still definitely keeping our eyes open for more great places to live.

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 longterm, 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 I closer together in our first couple 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 year living super cheap allowed us to pay off over $14k of our 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, leave me a comment below and we’ll talk it through! I respond to all of my comments.

P.S My friend Michelle from Making Sense of Cents also just wrote an awesome blog about 16 commonly asked RV questions. Michelle is an amazing finance blogger (and recently converted RVer) and you should definitely check out her blog. She was even kind enough to do a guest interview here on my blog that you can find here: Make Money Traveling: How to Make $25,000/month Blogging.

Follow Heath:

Husband to Alyssa. I love RVing, that's why I talk about it so much.

  • Billy Moyer

    Great post, Heath! A lot of questions answered for me! Miss seeing you guys.

    • haha thanks Billy! Miss seeing you too man. We’ll be back in Austin in April. Should get together soon and would love to hear how everything is coming along.

  • Alyssa drives the RV! That girl is awesome!

    Okay here are two questions I’ve been wondering… 1) What kind of situations have you run into where it would’ve been realllly nice to have a car? 2) What are the logistics like when you try to visit your family? Is it difficult and thus you don’t see them often except when you have a long stay in Texas?

    • Don’t mind me, I’m casually creeping on my husband’s blog and saw your comment. 😀 Yeah, driving the RV is fun! Kind of like driving a tank.

      1) That one time Heath backed the RV into a car at a crowded grocery store, yeah it would’ve been nice to have a car.
      2) We park the RV at our parents’ houses when we visit. I think we see them a good amount. Heath’s parents have a 30 AMP hook up so it’s really easy to park there.

      🙂

      • 1) …or maybe a temporary shrink ray gun? …or the car from Despicable Me where he just rams everything in his way and blows stuff up? Is that an upgrade option for Merica the Brave?!? 😉

  • Pingback: Common RV Questions - Yes, I Even Talk About What We Do With #2 - Making Sense Of Cents()

  • We typically look places up before we arrive and find a place to stay.

    • Nathan Johnson

      Awesome, good to know!

  • You bet Lillian! 🙂 thanks so much for reading

  • Dawn Nelson

    Just wanted to say that I find #16 to be rather funny. I am a 42 year old single mom with 15 years experience driving buses. I come from a family of truck drivers, and my mother drove professionally for 22 years. I’m licensed to drive everything, but my vehicles are a yellow school bus and various luxury class coaches up to 45ft. I’ve even taken care of various professional sports teams during my time driving charter buses. Actually, I find quite a few of the questions to be a bit funny. I also live full time in an RV, and dream of winning the lottery and either buying a converted Prevost or an Equine Motorcoach. I’m quite happy with the lifestyle, and working towards my upgrade. I plan to put a tank less on demand water heater, stacking washer and dryer, and drawer dishwasher in the one I retire in. They’re relatively inexpensive, all things considered, and will make my home on wheels more liveable. I’m glad to see so many young people being brave enough to break the mold society seems to want to shove all of us into. Wasted half my life trying to meet those expectations. Wish I’d have learned about this lifestyle sooner.

    • Haha I find some of these questions funny as well Dawn. 🙂

  • Carol Dawkins

    Hi! I have a travel job and am saving to hopefully in the next 2-3 years, buy a rv so that I don’t have to struggle to find apts or rooms to rent for 3 months at a time. First, thanks so much for providing such valuable info! I have a few questions. Do you think a female, ALONE, can hook/unhook a towable RV to a truck? Unfortunately, I don’t have anyone to travel with yet. Do I need a special license or certification to tow an RV? Are there any classes I can take to practice manuvering an RV? How are RVs washed, serviced/repaired? Thanks!

    • Hey Carol! You don’t need a special license and there are classes offered for how to drive RVs. You can check with your local dealer or Google RV driving schools. There are a lot of solo female RVers. You can find groups on Facebook to connect with them and learn more. Or there’s this episode on the podcast where Heath interviews a solo female traveler: http://heathandalyssa.com/rve-0022-safety-tips-solo-female-rvers/

      • Carol D

        Wow! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! What a relief! I’ll check out the podcast.

  • Bill Widmer

    Awesome podcast, Heath! BTW the last link “Make Money Traveling: How to Make $25,000/month Blogging.” goes to an error page!

  • Bridgette

    Great podcast. I really enjoyed the questions and almost wish had done something like what we are planning to do at beginning of our marriage when we were 21. Cause downsizing? We are doing that NOW. I figured it would take us till the last sibling graduates next year. haha. 14 yrs married and military moving us and not having to pay to ship household goods…well all that has left us with quite a lot of stuff. Plus six years in Belgium saw me stocking up on great antiques. I did say the biggest unit we will rent though will be a 20×20. So gotta get a 2,000 sq ft house and 14 yrs down to that. WE WILL DO IT.

    It may just be me yet I find it VERY funny people actually ask about how you get rid of poop and if Alyssa drives the RV. *rolling my eyes a little*

    • YOU CAN DO IT!!! Downsizing is the biggest hurdle I’ve heard from anyone RVing who has had kids or a house. I can’t even imagine!

      But yeah, people ask all sorts of weird questions. There are less boundaries when you live in an RV I think 🙂

      • Bridgette

        Thanks. 🙂 haha I heard you say it like that Adam Sandler movie. Yeah I would think is a huge hurfle. At least the kids are siblings and they can take their stuff with them to college and I don’t have the whole “mother must keep everything” vibe.

        I just was affronted for you… as if a woman cannot drive a big RV. Glad you guys go with the flow and just answer them though. It let’s us other readers have a little giggle

  • Ben Baker

    Really enjoy your articles. We became full timers 4 months ago. Started traveling in our motorhome last year after I retired. Downsized after four children and 35 years of collecting anything and everything. It was tough to do. But we truly feel this is the next step in our lives. We rode motorcycles for ten years, 90,000 + miles in all 50 states. Yes we rented one in Hawaii. Our home base is Nashville, TN. People ask where we are moving to and I tell them there is no better place to live than Nashville. Staying at Jellystone this week as CMA’s are happening. Then on we go. Hope to cross paths one day and meet you folks. We will be the old people enjoying life. I will recognize you two cause Alyssa is the pretty one.

    • I definitely agree, no better place than Nashville! That’s at the top of our list 🙂

  • Lucy Johnston

    Hey! LOVE your site, everything I read I think “Wow that’s good to know.”. My boyfriend and I are both nurses and we’re just starting trying to plan/get everything together to start full time RVing in less than a year so I’m open to all advice and words of wisdom. Thanks again – I can’t wait!

    • That’s awesome! Congrats to you two. I know a lot of travel nurses who are in RVs now. It’s starting to become more common! I literally just released (today) our free guide of everything step-by-step to do to make the transition. You can download it here: heathandalyssa.com/guide

  • Emily Soderquist

    This was so helpful! My fiancee and I are living in Wimberley now and will be transitioning into a 5th Wheel in August full-time! We made the decision to begin simplifying our lives as students this past year, have been planning and preparing, and this post really helped to reaffirm and encourage me as we get closer to moving in!

    • That’s awesome Emily! Congrats to you guys. You’ll absolutely love RVing! It’s the most fun.

  • chatman56456

    When it is a matter of living in a RV then there must be some question arise. In this article there have almost every kind of relevant question and necessary info we need to know about living in a RV. This one is really an informative article.

    • Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it. If you want more information on RV life, we have a free guide too: heathandalyssa.com/guide

  • Great post! My wife and I are exploring all options as we are not really finding the home we want to purchase. We’re a family of 5 and one of our kids has severe autism. Our dream is to have a few acres that we can grow our own food, have some chickens with plenty of privacy. My question to you is: do you think it is feasible for a family to live in an RV (let’s say a 5th Wheel or trailer) without traveling? We’re considering buying a piece of undeveloped, completely raw piece of land (no water, no electric, no sewer/septic) as we build a prefab home ourselves over the course of a year or so. What sort of cost would be associated with that?

    • Hey! 100% possible. A fifth wheel would be ideal as you can easily find a model with a master bedroom and a bunkroom for the kids.

      As for living on land like that, you’ll definitely need water and electric at the very least, which will be an expense. I can’t say as far as how much land and everything will cost, since that largely depends on what part of the country you’re in. But definitely possible and an easy way to live cheaply for a while. After we’re “done” traveling, we plan on doing something similar down in Texas!

  • Keisha Green

    Hi everyone, I am from USA in Taxes, I applied for a loan of $100,000 in march with diamond loan company and I was ask to pay $1000 for insurance which I did and they never transfer my loan and I was charge more and more fee which I got nothing in return I lost over $20,000 to them because I was anxious of the loan I have to apply through another company and this second company did the worst to me, I was ask to pay only $800 for transfer fee which I later give them the total of $7000 and till date I never get mails from them and this really make me frustrated Until 1st of December when a friend of my referred me to HAVILLS LOAN FIRM at first I was scared but I later contacted them and after the processing of my loan, I received my loan the second days they transfer to me $300,000.00USD on 2% interest, please if any one is looking for a loan then contact them by email: havillsloanfirm@yahoo.com it is the solution to your loan problem’s. Thank you again Mr. Andy Murray the manager of HAVILLS LOAN FIRM. Any one in need of loan can reach them now via email: havillsloanfirm@yahoo.com