Top 9 Things to Know About Full-timing

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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…
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Kim on September 8, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    I would consider camping memberships to save money. I purchased a Thousand Trails membership and upgraded 9 months prior to fulltiming. I am allowed to camp 21 days back to back, just not in the same campground. Right now I go between Williamsburg and Glouster, VA while paring down my local storage. Daily rate is: Free πŸ™‚ Of course there were the monthly payments of $100 to pay off lifetime membership and an annual 500 maintaince fee but it is a huge savings in the long run.

    • Becky on September 9, 2015 at 4:32 pm

      That kind of arrangement would save money for some types of full-timing Kim. Wouldn’t be worth it to me because my work-camping gigs have a site included, extensive boondocking and dry camping would also be cheaper. But especially on the east coast where camping fees are more, I can understand the value!

  2. travelfables on December 10, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    I think Jim and Rene’s tip (avoid debt) would be my number one. I feel that debt is glorified word for slavery, a concept that doesn’t go well with being a freedom loving RVer.

    • Becky on December 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm

      Ayup, agreed.

  3. Sparky on December 10, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Very nice blog and a very good list.

    Good luck in Wisconsin. I grew up in Madison and it is COLD there. But you know that. My wife and I are wintering in San Jose, which isn’t Phoenix but also isn’t Madison.

    I got to your site via the Escapees Class of ’12 forum (we escaped in September). Hope to meet you down the road.

    – Sparky

    • Becky on December 10, 2012 at 3:18 pm

      Heya Sparky! Welcome to IO, glad to have you here. Like you I escaped in September. πŸ˜›

      I wet to school in Madison and lived there for several years. Luckily I won’t be staying in Cas up there, he’s being dragged with but I’ll be staying with my parents and friends.

      Safe travels and happy trails!

  4. Hazel on December 10, 2012 at 10:16 am

    A good and thoughtful list, Becky.

    The only thing I could add is: “Wherever you go, there you are.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn) Full time RVing is still real life and you are still you. It will not be a Utopian paradise with no troubles and issues. It will just be life on wheels. As you said, however you react to things in your life, that’s the way it will be RVing.

    • Becky on December 10, 2012 at 3:12 pm

      Yeeeep, so true. Some people I meet think it’s a crazy thing to do, and some are super jealous. I think a lot of the people in the jealous category probably think I spend all my time hiking up mountains and sipping pina coladas on the beach. It doesn’t really work that way. πŸ˜‰

  5. Regina on December 10, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Thank you for the list of 9. I found them helpful. Number 6-9 I found extremely helpful and give me hope that we can do this. It reminds me to remember to enjoy the learning time. We hope to start full time RVing in the next 2 years and your list makes it seem more possible. Thank you.

    • Becky on December 10, 2012 at 3:11 pm

      It can be hard sometimes when it seems like your todo list is insurmountable to stop and appreciate where you are.

      I’m glad you found this helpful and good luck! Keep us informed on your progress. πŸ™‚

  6. Evelyn on December 8, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Excellent and very well thought out list. I can’t think of anything to add. I would say though that number nine would be my number one piece of advice. Fear seems to be the biggest problem for many people. When we told people what we were going to do, most were happy for us. But there were so many that said What if??? What if this and what if that? I say what if we have ten extra years of a wonderful life before the traditional age of retirement. It was worth it to us to try. We’re now on year three and loving every minute of it!!
    Evelyn recently posted..First 50 Hour Week CompletedMy Profile

    • Becky on December 8, 2012 at 8:16 pm

      Great Evelyn, good for you!

      I have my own version of the “What If” test. I think about what would happen if things go wrong. And then I think about what would happen if they go right. Usually the later is enough to make me go ahead and do the thing, even though there is a slim possibility of the former happening.

      Congrats on finishing your first 50 hour week! My first 50 hour week was last week, and next week is going to be another one.

  7. Rene & Jim on December 8, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with all of your suggestions. Our biggest suggestion to potential full-timers is, don’t do it with debt. Having to pay credit card bills will kill your dream faster than anything and force you to work in jobs you hate just to pay the Man. Get out of debt and buy only the kind of RV you can comfortably afford both with and without an ongoing income. Debt kills freedom faster than anything else.
    Rene & Jim recently posted..My Creative Way to Make Money on the RoadMy Profile

    • Becky on December 8, 2012 at 8:08 pm

      Good point guys. πŸ™‚

      I went RVing without debt, and I’m so glad I did. I worry enough about making the money needed to stay on the road, having to earn more to pay off loans would be make it a lot more stressful.

      It can still be done though, Misty over at Destination: Everywhere ( is on the road and is is managing to pay off student loans in addition to the every day RVing stuff. She was smart and didn’t add to her debt by buying only what she could afford in a RV, but it shows that even if a person has accumulated debt along the way, that doesn’t necessarily bar them from RVing. Just gotta be smart about it.

      • Terri on August 23, 2014 at 6:27 am

        Thanks for putting the link to your friend’s blog since I will be in the same boat with student loans. Heading over there now! And I am like her – not going to go crazy with the RV I buy – just needs to have enough room for me, my 5 cats (yes, 5!) and my tiny, elderly, blind chihuahua. I’ve realized I’ve been living on less than half of my take-home pay, and that alone is empowering. I realize that when it comes down to it, if I have to do something to make things work, I will. Always worth it to keep the big picture in mind.
        Terri recently posted..Musings and Memories (and little things for which I am thankful)My Profile

        • Becky on August 24, 2014 at 10:15 am

          You’re welcome Terri! Glad that this helped. Living on less than half of your pay is great news, that definitely gives you some leeway to pay off those student loans and keep saving up for a RV! I wish you, your cats, and your chihuahua the best of luck. πŸ™‚

    • David Lewis on December 17, 2012 at 1:38 pm

      If your like me you waited to long to take care of the debt and before you can get started you PR my self will have to file bankruptcy .and start fresh. My dream will be happen. In Jan 18 and I can’t wait to get on the ROAD. AGAIN. Good. Luck to all of you out here doing what we love

      • Becky on December 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm

        Good luck David! You have the right attitude. πŸ™‚

  8. Fireman Steve on December 8, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Lots of good thoughts in your top nine. Purchasing an RV and traveling across our country is on my bucket list. I get most of my info from the forums and blogs. In fact there is so much information out there I keep vacillating back and forth on which type of RV to go with. lol
    Thanks for your insights…….
    Happy Holidays to you.

    • Becky on December 8, 2012 at 8:04 pm

      Heya Steve,

      Yeah, sometimes I think there is almost too much information to be found about RVing, and it can make decisions difficult. That’s why I say that it’s okay to ignore the stuff that doesn’t seem like it’ll work for your situation, analysis paralysis is a bad thing. πŸ˜›

      I believe the fact that there are so many votes for all the different kinds of RVs shows that it’s a good indicator that one isn’t inherently ‘better’ than any other. But even then, yeah, it’s a tough decision.

  9. Kim on December 7, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Excellent list. Not the usual advice – much more thoughtful. This is a good example of why any book you write will be worth reading!
    Kim recently posted..GDB Maintenance and AppsMy Profile

    • Becky on December 8, 2012 at 7:45 pm

      Thanks Kim, that means a lot to me! I can’t wait for your next trip in the Good Deal Bus, I’m having fun following along with your adventures in warmer climes, it’s getting cold up here in Kansas.

  10. cozygirl on December 7, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Another excellent post…when we finally get on the road maybe I’ll have more to offer:) ps…did my jobs links finally come through on gmail?
    cozygirl recently posted..DPP 2012 – Day 7 "Replenish.​..Rejuvena​te…Rejoi​ce!"My Profile

    • Becky on December 8, 2012 at 7:43 pm

      Yes they did Cozy, thanks! I responded to the e-mail, did you not get it? Or maybe I forgot to actually hit send or something, now I need to go back and check.

      But yes they did come through and some of them I hadn’t heard of before, so thanks!

  11. Wayne (Wirs) on December 7, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Addendum to #1: You’ll probably switch out your first RV (I’m on my third in 5 years and already considering my next one).

    You simply don’t know how you’ll use your new-found freedom, so if you keep that in mind when selecting your first RV—with the full intention of selling it in a year or two—then this will relieve a LOT of second-guessing.

    Buy a cheap, used RV, learn the ropes,and learn how you’ll use it. Since you bought it used—and assuming you got a good deal—you’ll end up getting most of your money back.

    Most every full-timer I know is on at least their second rig.
    Wayne (Wirs) recently posted..Synchronicity and Self GiftingMy Profile

    • Wayne (Wirs) on December 7, 2012 at 6:07 pm

      Sorry Becky. After re-reading my comment, I sound kinda preachy. I didn’t mean that at all. I was just trying to keep with the tone of your top nine list and writing style (which doesn’t sound preachy coming from you).

      The “You” in my comment is directed at the blog readers, not you Becky. πŸ™‚
      Wayne (Wirs) recently posted..Synchronicity and Self GiftingMy Profile

      • Becky on December 8, 2012 at 7:41 pm

        That’s okay Wayne, it didn’t come across as preachy to me. πŸ™‚ And it’s a good point too! I do know a lot of RVers who didn’t stick with their first RV, so going with a less expensive one so you’re (you being the general you and not specifically you) out less if it doesn’t turn out to be “the one” is a good idea!

  12. Misty on December 7, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Point 10: Buy a map. Preferably an atlas. Or a GPS system (but I prefer maps, because they’re easier to explore).

    just saying. πŸ™‚
    Misty recently posted..ThankfulnessMy Profile

    • Becky on December 8, 2012 at 7:39 pm

      Good one, thanks Misty!

      Maybe I should have asked everyone to come up with their own #10. I certainly don’t know everything there is to know about full-timing and the more people respond the more helpful this will be for people like that reader who e-mailed the question.

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