On March 30, 2012, (exactly 1 year ago) I decided it was time for me to start traveling more and working A LOT less, so I sold my business. The cool thing about selling a business is that it gives you cash on hand to do stuff, go places and buy neat gadgets. The problem is, that money is no longer being replenished. I learned about halfway through 2012 that I would run out of money if I didn’t do something soon. So, I decided to buckle down and figure out how to conquer full time RV living or die trying.
Initially, after selling my business, I went on an adventure trip with my brother and we had a great time but that was a quick way to drain the funds. With lessons learned, I decided to make a plan and set some goals.
How To Start Living The Full Time RV Lifestyle
It would be nice to just walk out my front door, jump into my RV and drive off to an adventure but it’s not that easy. Plus, I don’t own an RV, yet. To do it right, you should really think about what your life will be like and how to make the RV lifestyle as comfortable as possible for you. It may be natural for you to step into a large Class A motorhome so that you have all the luxuries that you are accustomed to but on the other hand, you may want to cut the fat and live on bare essentials. Either way is fine or any way in between, but the key is finding your needed comfort level.
Step 1: Figure Out If Full Time Rving Is Right For You?
The last thing you want to do is go out and finance or ought right buy an RV and then decide two months later that you made a big mistake and can’t stand Rving. Not that you couldn’t recover from that, but I would see if I’m comfortable with the idea first before jumping into it. Renting an RV for a weekend or a week would be a good start. That really isn’t enough time to know for sure if you can dig the Rving lifestyle but it gives you an idea of what to expect.
I personally have made up my mind and I want to become a full time Rver. I’ve done quite a bit of research on the subject, tested out different classes and I’m very comfortable in small spaces by myself or with others.
Step 2: How to Make Money on the Road
I have found this to be a difficult step and I’ve been stuck here for many months. In order to travel freely to new locations, you need to have a large amount of cash stored away in your bank, or receive a social security or dividend checks or you will need to work. If you are at the retirement age and can live off that amount, then great! I am still in my early 40’s so I will need to pull in some sort of income while I follow my dream of traveling the many US states.
My background is in technology, so I am focused on making money online through temporary internet based jobs (projects) and many other internet revenue streams. You, on the other hand, may be crafty and you could earn money making something then selling it online or at a trade show. Maybe you are handy with tools and could repair other RVs, repair computers or help others with a solar setup for their RV.
Another way to make money is looking at job opportunities at your next location and begin the application process before you arrive. Many RVers go where the work is and enjoy discounts on campsite fees.
The bottom line: Get your money flow figured out or there will be no full time RV living.
Step 3: What Class RV Is Right For You?
RVs come in a few different categories:
- Class A Motorhome
- Class B Motorhome
- Class C Motorhome
- Towables (5th Wheel & Travel Trailers)
- Bus Conversions
The Class A motorhomes are usually HUGE and EXPENSIVE, unless you get an old rundown version but they’re still huge. Now, when I think of full time RV living, this is the class of RV I most associate with the lifestyle. They have full bathrooms, restrooms, large kitchens and sometimes multiple bedrooms. If you’re looking for an apartment on wheels and can afford to spend a lot more on gas but really lose maneuverability then this may be right for you. For me, these guys are way too big.
The Class B motorhome is usually between 17-21 feet long and is built on a van chassis. The small size makes them very agile in traffic and easy to find parking and camping spots. On the downside, they don’t all have restrooms and everything is packed into a very small space. The Class B’s are the type I prefer but I don’t mind going a little caveman.
The Class C motorhome is built on a truck chassis and is smaller than the Class A but bigger than the Class B. You can distinguish a Class C from the others by recognizing the overhang of the RV space over the cabin area. This area is usually an over cab bed. These guys are big too and like to chug the fuel.
With the Towables, you have a choice of the 5th wheel and the travel trailers. The 5th wheel attaches into the bed of a larger pickup truck where the travel trailer hooks onto a hitch on the back of a car, truck or van. If you already have a truck, this may be an inexpensive option for you and they both allow you to leave the trailer at the campsite and use the truck to get around.
The Bus Conversion is an old school bus or passenger bus (greyhound) that is gutted and converted into an RV. The Bus conversions can be great options since you may be able to get one cheaper and fix it up. The diesel engines are usually very reliable and there is plenty of room to make it your own.
I personally like agility, less weight (better gas mileage), everything within reach but still big enough to sleep 4 so my Fav is the Class B.
Step 4: Where Will You Go and How Will You Live?
You’ve decided Rving is right for you, you’ve figured out a way to make money on the road and you have your first RV. Now, where do you go? Some Rvers just go where the wind takes them and sometimes literally as the cold winds push them south and the blazing heat chases them north. If this is just a planned short stint in your RV, maybe you should put a list together of the places you would like to visit or maybe you have relatives around the country that would like to have you visit for a few days or weeks.
I like a mixture of both. I will have a plan, but I want to have the freedom to veer off course and experience places that weren’t originally on my to visit list.
The neat thing about being in an RV is that you can keep an eye on your monthly expenses and plan your travel based on how much is left in your monthly budget. Did you drive more in the first part of the month? Well, then maybe you should park for a while and enjoy the scenery. Find a beach, lake, river or someplace you enjoy and relax. Listen to the money floodgate getting closed as you stay put and enjoy life.
The other thing to think about is how will you spend your evenings and this may be based on your decision of which RV you decided to purchase. Will you mostly camp at RV parks, will you boondock (camping off the grid or no power) or will you stealth urban camp in the city? It’s up to you but you will be restricted based on the type of RV you own. You don’t see many Class A urban campers, but they work great at RV parks and with the right solar setup, they can boondock as well.
As mentioned above, I like the smaller used Class B motorhomes and I also like the idea of camping where ever I feel comfortable so I expect to boondock, camp at RV parks and I will do plenty of stealth camping.
Step 5: Planning Your RV Budget
Before heading out on your first adventure, it’s time for you to figure out your monthly budget. Well, you could just wing it, but having an idea of what your expenses will be before setting out on your new RV life will allow you to rest easy at night knowing that the important things will be covered. You have an emergency fund ($1000 or more). You have food, gas, tools, your RV manual, first aid kit and flashlights.
List out what you expect to spend on gas, food, campsites, internet access, RV maintenance, insurance and whatever else then track your expenses and try to stay within that budget. As I said before, if you find yourself spending too much money and you feel like you may go over budget, you can just slow down, park more and stay a little longer at each location.
Step 6: Your Full Time RV Living Adventure Begins!
You’ve done it! You’re now prepared for a full time RV living. All the planning is complete, the RV is stocked and ready to roll and all that stands between you and the highway is turning that key and saying goodbye to friends and family. The goodbyes will be tough but the welcome backs will be cool too when you go to visit.
Enjoy the OPEN ROAD!!
Passengers – Partners – Pets
Being a solo traveler, for now, I forgot to mention it’s cool to take the hubby, the little lady or your pet turtle. Ha! Get your partner involved in making money on the road as well and you will find it easier to pay the bills with two traveling incomes.
I plan to do quite a bit of stealth camping and boondocking, so having a pet for me doesn’t seem logical. They may not enjoy the heat, the cold or the small living space. Now, if I was in a huge RV, I may bring along a small to medium size dog. Well, maybe my next RV. I plan to be at this for a while. Here’s hoping.