Ahh flexibility. One of the most adored aspects of full-time RVing. Without a house or apartment to worry about paying bills for, or a long term job that expects you to work 50 out of 52 weeks a year, you are free. Free to go where you want, when you want, and stay as long as you want, and do what you enjoy… so long as you have the money to cover it.
I believe everyone I’ve spoken to who thinks full-timing is an attractive way to live likes this about RVing, the idea of greater flexibility. However the uncertainty that comes with it can also be a scary proposition, especially for those of us who still need to bring in money while we travel.
Stationary living with a steady job may be constricting, but it’s also deemed safer by the masses.
This doesn’t really mean that it’s safer, you could still get in an accident or fall ill, lose your job through no fault of your own, or have a natural disaster strike your home – granted the chances of these things happening might not be high. What they mean is, living like this is more predictable. As long as you get up each day and go to work, you can count on your paycheck being there on a regular schedule. You know how much money you’ll have coming in, you’ll know how much money you have going out, and can reasonably calculate how much you’ll have left over to spend. You’ll know how much vacation time you have coming and you’ll have plenty of time to plan out what you’re going to do with it.
Now look at full-timing. That greater degree of flexibility means that your living situation is going to be much less predictable. While not knowing where in this great country you’ll be a month from now can be a thrilling sensation, not knowing how much money you’ll have coming in and going out of your bank account at that time is less so. The ability to meet up with friends and relatives states away can bring comfort, but trying to pin down a fixed date and time for the meeting with their stricter schedule can be stressful. Crossing historic sites or natural wonders off of your to-visit list: great fun. Arranging for places to stay that have the cell service you need earn your living near enough to those locations, or continually interviewing for seasonal jobs as you travel to earn your way: less fun.
What all of this boils down to is that full-time RVing, at least before retirement, isn’t about absolute freedom to do what you want when you want. It’s about having more choices. That’s what flexibility really means. You’ll need to strike a balance between work and play, planning and just winging it, travel time and stationary time. Truth be told, even those who are independently wealthy and don’t need to work will often find that something feels like it’s missing from their lives if they aren’t contributing in some way.
This balance is going to look different for everyone. It’s very likely going to be different for you during different phases of full-timing. But I’ll let you know what has worked for me this past year and a half. Some tips for making the flexibility of the lifestyle work in your favor.
- Get out of the vacation mode mindset. If you treat full-timing like a perpetual vacation, you’re going to go broke and have to go crawling back to a “real” job for a while, what torture!
- The first few months of full-timing are the hardest and most uncertain. Do more planning and less winging it during this time period to avoid failing before you really get a chance to start.
- Friends and family members (and even strangers) who are living stationary aren’t necessarily going to get what you’re doing. You’ll likely need to explain to them that that visiting dates are set in jello. It’s also likely you’ll have a hard time keeping up with some of your old friends. Make the effort to make new friends as you travel to fill the hole left by the absence of your old social circle.
- Whatever your income source is, never lose sight of it. No matter how many pretty and awesomet things will try to distract you. I learned this the hard way my first winter.
- Since there is no manual for full-timing, don’t be afraid to experiment. Especially once you’re past the roller coaster phase where you’re not quite sure if it’s going to work out or not. Which brings me to:
- Likely, at least once during those first six months you will seriously consider getting off the road. It’s up to you to decide if that’s just resistance you’re encountering that should be pushed through or a legitimate change of heart that should be heeded.
Lately I’ve been getting a lot of questions that I’ve covered in previous posts, and I think the reason is that a lot of my older useful stuff is so buried now that it’s hard to find. I’m hoping today’s writing will alleviate some of that (this is the 199th post I’ve published, go me!). All links are to previous articles I have written. There are a lot of them I’ll admit, so follow the ones that are calling to you and ignore those that aren’t. A new page is in the works to list the different categories IO covers and then the most helpful posts under each one to make it easier to find what you’re looking for.
Also being the start of a new month, March’s earnings for my Amazon affiliate link are in. The total was $250.34, this extra money helps me out a lot, so thank you! Also a big thanks to everyone who reads and comments on my posts, and to those who spread the word of IO to others they think would benefit from it. I am eternally grateful for having the best blog readers ever. Have a good rest of your week, and as always questions and comments are welcome.