Last week I got an e-mail in from a reader asking me what I thought the top ten most important things to know about full-timing were. It seemed like a good thing to make a post out of, and so I did. Yes, there are nine items not ten. I was looking for broad things that should be useful to everyone who wants to go full-timing and not just a certain people, and nine is what I came up with.
I think it’ll be interesting to come back to this list in a year or so when I’ve been on the road for almost 16 months versus now at almost 3 months and see what all has changed (EDIT: The new list circa 2015 can be found here), because I’m still constantly learning stuff and my list of what’s important is constantly evolving. But for now, here they are:
- Ponder long and hard about the RV you’re going to live in. This isn’t just a sometimes vacation home, you’ll be in it 7 days a week 365 days a year and it’s going to be a lot smaller than a home. It’ll always be there, so it’s important to research and wait until you find one that works well for you.
- You don’t need as much stuff as you think you do. Some people will disagree here on the amount, but I think all RVers share the thought that less is more to a certain extent. In a culture that revolves around consumerism, we’re a minority. What this means when you’re getting started RVing is don’t buy all those nifty little RVing gadgets that you think you might need, wait until you know you need them, which brings me to…
- Think about the money. This is a two pronged question: How much will you need to buy your RV and get on the road, and then how much will you need to stay on the road. I can’t give you a solid answer for either question because the ranges are so vast and it’s so personal, but I will say that this isn’t an endless vacation, and there will still be bills to pay. If you think about it more like a working holiday and don’t blow all your funds doing vacation-y stuff you’ll make it a sustainable life choice. Otherwise you may find that’s all you ended up with: a glorified vacation, and then you had to get back off the road. If what you’re looking for is an endless vacation, then full-timing probably isn’t for you – unless you’ve got a big stash of money squirreled away somewhere.
- Enjoy the process. Going RVing is complicated, and at times frustrating. Most people take more than a year once they decide to do it to actually get on the road. Try to enjoy this waiting period, relish in all the little things you’re doing to make your dream a reality and it’ll be a more pleasant experience. This also applies to after you’re on the road. There will continue to be times when it’s a lot like, well, real life and isn’t as fun as you had imagined it would be. But like the last point, there has to be balance or it’s not sustainable. During these times you can plan or think about the next leg of the trip to remind yourself why you started RVing, and think about the little things you do every day that bring you joy.
- Planning and fact finding is a good thing. Get online and read RVing forums and blogs to learn some common issues to look out for when it comes to RVing (hey good news, if you’re reading this, you’re doing it now). Listen to the advice that makes sense to you from other RVers, but understand that not everyone’s advice will be applicable for your unique situation – you are free to ignore what isn’t going to be useful to you. Once you get your RV, learn how to use it and how to maintain it, it’ll cut down on a lot of early frustration.
- Planning is nothing without action. Accept that you won’t know everything there is to know about full-timing until you go. Don’t let not having all the answers stop you from trying. I fell more on the side of 5 than 6, but I have friends who went the other way, and we’ve all managed to make full-timing work for us.
- Be flexible. The unexpected will crop up on the road, both good and bad. When the good stuff comes along, be willing to say ‘yes’ and see where it leads you. When the bad stuff comes along, remember that life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% how we choose to react.
- The logistics side of things isn’t as impossible as it may first seem. Whether it’s downsizing, setting up residency, or searching for the perfect RV insurance, break bigger tasks up into smaller ones to make them more manageable. Just get a little done every day, and before you know it you’ll have made good progress.
- Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will. If you don’t think you can do it, you can’t. IO isn’t a forum, but I’m still trying to build a community here. I found that being a part of a RVing community (or even just befriending some RVers) helps immensely because then you have a support network in place to rely on when you find yourself having doubts or problems. Your old friends and family may sympathize, but they won’t really ‘get’ what’s going on like another RVer will. If we help each other out, we all win.
What about you, have anything else you would add to this list for a prospective full-timer?
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