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7 Things Living In An RV Taught Me

Kali Smelling the Flowers

Every lifestyle that is outside of the “norm” has a learning curve, and thank goodness for that! If it was easy everyone would be doing it. The challenge is exciting. Unfortunately the challenge is also…challenging.

We’ve learned a lot of things the hard way. Everyone has to. There’s no skipping the school of hard knocks. We all have to attend. There’s no getting around it. Don’t let that discourage you, though! Everyone before you has made it through, and so can you! We’re here to help, and that’s what this article is about.

A while back we did two YouTube videos on things that we learned from living in an RV full-time. We’ve learned a lot since then, so we wanted to distill it for you guys in written form. Sometimes reading is boring, though, so we’ve embedded the videos too.

Hopefully these tips will help you out!

Making Mistakes Is OK

Rocky and Bullwinkle After The Dalton Highway
We shouldn’t have brought the RV on the Dalton Highway!

The nice thing about making mistakes in an RV is that it won’t cost you as much as a stick and brick house might. At least it probably won’t. If you’re richer than God and bought a million dollar Prevost then you’re on your own. But for the rest of us mortals, making a mistake isn’t the end of the world. It happens. Pick up the pieces (hopefully not literally) and move on.

There are always people who are willing to help you, whether it’s through personal interactions at an RV park or online conversations on Facebook and RV.net. The RV community is the friendliest around! I have posted many a time on Facebook asking for help and advice and within minutes I have an idea or an answer to my question. And don’t get me started on the tech support forum on RV.net. Their advice has helped me solve more problems than I can count.

Learn To Ask For Help

Julie Taking Pictures Of Mortons On The Move
Julie from RV Love Taking Pics of Tom and Cait from Mortons On The Move

One thing new RV owners may not expect is having to ask for help. If you live in sticks and bricks and your back patio won’t move then you probably don’t go to your neighbor and ask for help. Which is good, because your back patio probably shouldn’t be moving.

But now you live in a house on wheels. If the back patio on your toy hauler is stuck then you’re house isn’t moving.

You now live in a house on wheels. It breaks. Its tires go flat. Its check engine light comes on. Its batteries die. It usually happens far, far from a mobile RV tech, and if it’s peak season then don’t count on a nearby dealership to get you running by the next day.

You’re going to need help, so be prepared to ask for it! If your neighbor’s rig isn’t rocking, then knock on the door and see if they can help. If it is rocking, then hop on Facebook or RV.net. Someone will help. They always do.

Remodeling and Living In Your RV At the Same Time Is a PAIN

Remodeling Our 2004 Colorado 5th Wheel
Yep, Spirit’s a Mess

When we made these videos we said we would never remodel another RV while living in it. Then, in the spring of 2017, we bought another RV and promptly proceeded to remodel it while living in it. Shame on us!

While it’s true that we didn’t follow our own advice, it’s also true that we learned from our mistakes and did our remodel differently. The second time around, we painted the walls but not the cabinets. We had our rig inspected carefully by professionals so that we knew there wasn’t pre-existing damage to work around. We had the carpet professionally installed instead of laying flooring ourselves. And the list goes on.

Still, our original advice stands. We don’t recommend remodeling an RV while you live in it. In our case, the RV we found in 2017 was too good of a deal to pass up, so we bit the bullet and did what we had to do.


If You’re Not Handy Yet, You Will Be

Bear Looking At Kali During Our RV Remodel
Bear trying to be handy. You’ll get there, buddy.

Imagine being in an earthquake every time you left your yard. Now imagine that God built you on a Friday, right before a long weekend, and was in a hurry to get home and grill. Imagine how you’d feel. Not so good, right?

Well, all RVs go through an earthquake every time they move. It’s kind of incredible when you think about it. The inside is slammed all over the place, but things hold together and keep working.

Usually.

Until they don’t.

Unfortunately not all RVs are made equal–and I am talking about RVs that are of the same brand made by the same manufacturer in the same factory. Sometimes the work is good and sometimes it isn’t. Maybe your RV got all the TLC that it needed, and maybe it got slapped together on a Friday.

The point is this: Things are going to break. And when they do, your options are limited:

  1. You can wait for a dealership to work you in, while praying to the powers that be that the dealer will do a decent job.
  2. You can pay for an independent tech to do the work. In our experience they usually do better work, but you’re going to pay for it. In some markets you might pay $130-180 per hour.
  3. You can figure out how to do it yourself.

Unless you’re rich, you’re going to be choosing option 3 a lot.

And that’s OK. Don’t let it scare you. Just ask for help, remember that you can’t break anything that can’t be unbroken, and trust yourself. You’ll be fine.

5. Talking To Strangers Is Encouraged

Hanging Out In Quartzsite With New Friends
Hanging Out In Quartzsite With New Friends

When we first got on the road, we were excited enough that we were OK not meeting new people. We enjoyed it when we got the chance of course, but we weren’t going out of our way to.

Now, after being on the road for a couple of years, community has become more valuable. We’ve made lasting, dear friendships on the road. We might only see those friends once or twice a year, but when we do we have a bond.

If you’re new to traveling then we highly recommend meeting some people. You can do it the high tech way by joining Facebook groups and RV Village and Escapees and the other clubs. There’s nothing wrong with that. We do it.

You can also do it the old fashioned way by walking around the campground and saying hi. We do that too.

You’ll find that other full-timers are usually quite neighborly. They’re just like you. They love traveling, but sometimes it gets lonely.

If saying hi to random people is too intimidating, then try a hot tub. We’re being serious. One of the perks of the RV life is that you can hang out in hot tubs and pools without the trouble of owning them yourself. We RVers love it. We jump in them every chance we get. And we’ve made some great friendships that way.

6. Going Slow And Steady Really Does Win The Race

Seward, Alaska, At Midnight
Seward, Alaska, At Midnight

I guess if you’re actually in a race then going slow and steady doesn’t win it. But where’s the fun of that? We live the life we live so that we can slow down, not speed up.

Here are a few things we’ve noticed:

  • If you hit the road running you won’t be doing this years later. Trust me I have seen it happen.
  • You are excited and you have to see the WORLD! I know it is how I felt. But after a year and a half of RVing we did 3 massive sprints and it was awful.
  • We have learned from our mistakes and are taking it easy.
  • We picked this lifestyle to get out of the rat race not join another one.

7. Don’t Sweat Missing Places

Walking Along the Waterfront In Seward, Alaska
Walking Along the Waterfront In Seward, Alaska

When we first started traveling I would get so disappointed that I had missed something cool. Or maybe a local would comment on one of our vlogs and tell us about these amazing places we could have seen…if we had known about them!

Now I make a list of the places people tell me about. If we get there we get there, if we don’t well I am not going to sweat it.

The beauty if full time travel is you can go back. For me I want to see Santa Fe again and New Orleans. I fell in LOVE with these places! And lucky for me we have family in Louisiana and I have a friend in Santa Fe. So we will be going back.

I stopped torturing myself when I miss something. Again it is a journey.

Do you have any lessons you have learned since living in a RV, traveling, or living in a small space? Leave your thoughts in the comments down below!
-Kali
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