Keeping Entertained as a Working-age Full-timer

keeping-entertained-on-budget-full-time-rver0I know what you must be thinking, what kind of topic is this? Going RVing is synonymous with being entertained, right? No advice necessary? But wait; as a full-timer, especially a working-age one, it’s not always that simple.

For years I’ve been pointing out to future full-timers that unless you’re truly rich, treating this lifestyle like a perpetual vacation is a no-no. It’s so tempting when you get started to want to strike out from coast to coast and hit every major attraction along the way. The new found freedom is intoxicating, you just have to see it all!

But you’ll run out of money if you stay in vacation mode for months on end: driving every day, hitting every tourist stop, eating out every evening, paying for a premium RV site every night. Not to mention how stressful and tiring it can be to keep up a tight schedule for that long. This is something every young full-timer learns pretty early on, either by trial or by getting the advice from others in advance.

I’ve talked plenty before about things you can do to save and earn money to keep you on the road longer, so it’s time to explore another topic: How do you still get out and see the things you want to see, and do the things you want to do, when you’re on a budget?

#4 Cutting Corners: Renting a yacht on Lake Powell? Really fecking expensive. Renting a kayak? Much cheaper. Towing the kayaks with your own vehicle instead of having the company haul them out for you? Even better.

#4 Cutting Corners: Renting a yacht on Lake Powell? Really fecking expensive. Renting a kayak? Much cheaper and a ton of fun. Towing the kayaks with your own vehicle instead of having the company haul them out for you for an additional fee? Even better.

Five ways to get out and have fun that are less hard on your wallet and sanity:

  1. Set aside a certain amount of money for entertainment for each week or month, and then stick with it. Not every day is going to be a good tourist day anyway – bad weather happens, and chores will need to get done. On days you don’t visit an attraction you can still enjoy the location you’re at: take a walk, sit outside and read, take a drive to the nearest town and see what’s there.
  2. Take advantage of monthly RV rates. Instead of paying premium to stay closest to one attraction, pick a central location from which you can explore several areas and pay a cheaper weekly or monthly rate instead of the daily one.
  3. Even better: Try boondocking. There is a lot of public land out west where one can camp for free, jumping from location to location. If you’re looking to explore new areas, especially the desert, this is about as authentic an experience as you can get.
  4. Think of ways to cut corners. If you don’t buy souvenirs for every place you visit, and don’t eat out every time you go out, that leaves you more money to work with. Pack lunch to take with you, and take photos for a souvenir. Stay at parks that you can get discounts at through memberships (just make sure the membership cost is worth it!) or other deals.
  5. Look for attractions that have less, or no, cost of admission. A lot of museums don’t for instance, and then you learn something too. National Forests and Wildlife Refuges tend to be cheaper to visit than National Parks, and also less crowded. If you’re going to do a lot of National sites (parks, monuments, etc), buy an annual pass. It may be $80 up front, but it’s good for a whole year.
#5 Lowering the cost of admission: $25 to get into Yosemite on the daily rate, $80 to get into every national park for a whole year? No brainer.

#5 Lowering the cost of admission: $25 to get into Yosemite on the daily rate, $80 to get into every national park for a whole year? No brainer.

And I know the reverse is also true for some people. What if tourist things aren’t your cup of tea and you’re worried you won’t be able to find enough to do to keep yourself occupied on the road?

  • Visit friends and relatives. Even if they don’t live in a top destination area, it’ll still be someplace new, and you’ll have locals to show you around.
  • Caravan with other RVers. The friendships you’ll make have endless possibilities for entertainment, and as a bonus you can likely carpool to local attractions to save on gas.
  • Think hobbies. Despite space issues there are a lot of things you can do on the road: Fishing, crafts, music, writing, photography. Learn a new skill, or even a new language. There must be something you always wished you had time to learn how to do – now’s the perfect time to start.
  • Volunteer or work-camp. Benefits usually include a free or greatly reduced RV site, helping others, feeling like you’re doing something worthwhile, really getting to know a new area, and depending on the gig – money.
Every park I've work-camped in has included free admittance as a perk.  Not a bad way to spend your days off.

Every park I’ve work-camped in has included free admittance as a perk. Not a bad way to spend your days off.

I find that I still have plenty of fun and get to do a lot of neat things while I travel, even though I’m working full-time for a good part of the year and am location bound for months at a time. Being a young full-timer need not be synonymous with all work and no play.

What do you do to keep yourself entertained on a budget?

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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. Marble Mountain Ranch on August 16, 2015 at 1:18 am

    Traveling and enjoying life to the fullest is for everyone. Regardless of what age you have. you are always free to entertain yourself in any way you want to do it. No age can tell you that you have to stop living life.
    Marble Mountain Ranch recently posted..The Obscure Origins Of The Infamous Somes Bar Liars ClubMy Profile

    • Becky on August 16, 2015 at 10:00 pm

      Well said Marble.

  2. Katrina Lima - Las Vegas on March 29, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    We got a used RV last year and because my husband works from home, it’s amazing how we can still enjoy the lifestyle a few weeks at a time every few months with the way technology is advanced.

    My daughters and I are careful to let him work and we go out and play while he sets up with his laptop and wifi through his phone.

    But it’s really amazing with what you can do with the advancement of technology.
    Katrina Lima – Las Vegas recently posted..Is Hand Embroidery Still Alive?My Profile

    • Becky on March 30, 2015 at 10:48 am

      Sounds like a good arrangement Katrina! Technology is a wonderful thing. I’m glad you are all able to get out and enjoy travel around his work.

  3. Terri on March 7, 2015 at 7:42 am

    I so understand you on this and I think if we ever met in person, we’d get along just fine! I agree, sometimes just being outside is entertainment enough in itself. When I have my tiny house I will have lots of pine trees around and I am sure listening to and watching the birds and squirrels, etc., is going to be tons of entertainment for me, and I’m sure, the cats! Cat TV! I would so be a junkie for the national parks and forests if I were traveling. Life doesn’t have to be expensive if you have simple tastes.

    • Becky on March 7, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      Yeah Terri, hopefully we’ll get the chance to meet some day, even if you aren’t traveling.

      And I love the sound wind makes through pine trees!

  4. Follow Them 02.15.15 | My Site on February 23, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    […] Its not always easy to stay entertained on a small budget while full time RVing, but Becky has lots of great ideas. […]

  5. Misty on February 22, 2015 at 1:50 am

    Fantastic advice. One of my favorite memories from my trip was boondocking in the Vermont national forest. I worked from a local library for about 12 hours a day, then spent the rest of my time hiking, playing my guitar, reading, watching the local wildlife…. And the only money I spent there was for food. 🙂
    Misty recently posted..Flash Fiction: Chosen OneMy Profile

    • Misty on February 22, 2015 at 1:50 am

      lol not 12 hours….. 6 hours a day. Silly fingers!
      Misty recently posted..Flash Fiction: Chosen OneMy Profile

      • Becky on February 22, 2015 at 11:06 am

        I remember you talking about that time in Vermont fondly. 🙂 I’ll have to check that place out myself someday. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Sarah on February 21, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    In addition to the strong sightseeing/natural history interests many of us share, I work on genealogy on bad-weather days, especially if I’m able to park where I can get free wireless connections or am near to a public library or one of the Mormons’ family history centers. A good bit of my travels are to places that played a part in my own families’ histories and migrations so a lot of my good-weather time is spent in historical societies, hunting down the house where someone lived in the 1860s or whenever, searching out local history buffs who are often gold-mines of information (plus often very interesting characters!), cemetery-tromping, etc.

    I enjoy all sorts of local history and have spent many a day (or week or a few times a month) exploring a local area, particularly those that have a strong sense of their own history. Typically when I pull into a new area I go to the local library (another time suck of the highest order…) and ask about/look for/read any existent books on the area (often written based on counties, very commonly done from about 1880-1915 or so), then I’m off to see what I can still find of interest. Oftentimes small towns will have a historical “museum” and the caretaker thereof is usually full of info that keeps me busy for a long time…at no cost whatsoever.

    I also find myself drawn to (and lingering to learn about) cultures and cultural events. Much of interest there and I’ve made met some fascinating folks while poking around some little festival. Always fun to savor the colors, textiles, foods, music that gets put out for show, and I always learn more than I’d have thought possible.

    I also always have along plenty of reading material. And 2 knitting projects, one complex for when I choose to really get into it and the other something my hands can do while I’m reading…socks or caps or the like where I don’t really have to do anything that takes my thought! And I also always have a small embroidery project; I fortunately really enjoy miniature needle-painting and while it’s very timeconsuming it takes very little space. Do need good light for that one though so it’s not so much a bad-weather activity as it is something I entertain myself with while I wait for supper to cook, etc.

    I’m never bored and rarely spend $$ for entertainment but I stay very well entertained!

    • Becky on February 22, 2015 at 11:04 am

      Nice Sarah, thank you for sharing! Genealogy and local history are two great hobbies to take on the road, They are greatly enhanced by being able to travel and don’t take up much space in an RV. 🙂

  7. Rene Kipp on February 21, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    Our local museums offers free admission days once per month. If you’re lucky enough to be in the area at that particular time what a great activity.
    I like your idea #2. Stay local for longer periods of time and really get to know the area. That’s how I would like to travel.
    Glad to see you enjoying your days off too 🙂
    Rene Kipp recently posted..Ghost Mountain Ranch ResortMy Profile

    • Becky on February 22, 2015 at 11:01 am

      Yes, I really enjoy slower travel.

      Funny you mention it. I worked a record breaking 10 hours yesterday when this post went up. Enchanted Rock hosted it’s first ever Star Festival, and the dark sky viewing went on until the park officially closed at 10 pm. It was a good day though, and today I have off due to bad weather and it being my birthday!

  8. Reine in Plano on February 21, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    Another fun activity that Becky didn’t mention is geocaching. We’ve found the cost of the membership to to be worth the money in the enjoyment we’ve found in looking for caches in parks we visit. We use a basic GPS specifically designed for geocaching combined with an app on my iPhone and find that it’s a fun grown up treasure hunt.

    The key for us is to find activities that we enjoy that fit our budget.

    • Becky on February 22, 2015 at 10:55 am

      Oooh, yeah that’s a good one Reine. I’ve thought about geocaching, but I’m not sure about paying for the app.

  9. Denny on February 21, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Hi Becky,
    Just got finished shoveling 6″ of that white stuff out of the driveway and am now sipping tea/honey enjoying your blog. Wish I was at Lake Powell about to take off in that kayak.
    Oh well…Great Post!

    • Becky on February 22, 2015 at 10:53 am

      Ew, shoveling snow. 😉

      I just checked the weather at Lake Powell on a whim, 35 degrees and ice pellets. Maybe you should reschedule your imaginary vacation for another day…

  10. Barbara on February 21, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Becky – as usual what a great post. I don’t comment often but I sure enjoy so, so many of your posts. Thanks for sharing. AND I loved Reine in Plano’s puzzle solution….what a great idea.

    • Becky on February 22, 2015 at 10:47 am

      Glad you’re enjoying IO Barbara, and I’m glad you decided to comment this time. 🙂 I understand where you’re coming from though, I tend to be a lurker on other people’s blogs.

  11. Reine in Plano on February 21, 2015 at 9:57 am

    Great ideas. I’ve always enjoyed working jigsaw puzzles. But a Casita doesn’t have very much room to spread out pieces and no place to leave a puzzle up to work on when you get the mood like the one that’s been on the dining table in my house for the last two weeks. The solution I found is to purchase a JigSort 500 from Amazon. It’s a puzzle board in a zipper case that has trays to put pieces in. With a little ingenuity I can work any puzzle as long as the finished size isn’t bigger than 20×30. And the great thing is that when I want to stop the partially completed puzzle goes into the zipper case which slides in the space under the bed until I’m ready to work on it again. Since puzzles are a great lousy weather activity it’s been worth the cost for me.

    • Becky on February 22, 2015 at 10:46 am

      What a neat idea Reine, thanks for sharing. You’re not the only person I know who enjoys puzzles, and I’ve had people lament that they’re hard to do in a RV. Now I know what to say next time the subject comes up. 🙂

    • Terry "Skip" Laird on March 19, 2015 at 12:19 am

      Yes – great ideas! For the puzzle problem, my daughter bought us a “Deluxe Puzzle Rollup” from Puzzling Made Easy. It is awesome, a neoprene pad that you use as a base mat to build your puzzle on, then just carefully roll up your partial puzzle in it when you have to put it away. When you are back to working it, carefully unroll it when you chose to resume. I use it more for paperwork than puzzles – when I unroll it, all the pages I “left” are back in place! I love that! Particularly when I always tend to start something on the dinner table that runs into dinnertime!

      • Becky on March 19, 2015 at 9:18 am

        Nice Skip!

  12. RussOnTheRoad on February 21, 2015 at 9:03 am

    Good tips all. Here’s another: say “hello” to fellow campers. You never know where it will lead. Months ago that’s what I did and it lead to a new friendship with a couple I’ve connected with in more than a few campgrounds since. We’ve shared activities together and keep in touch. This helps fill the void I sometimes feel as a solo traveler and the friendship is rewarding in other ways as well.
    RussOnTheRoad recently posted..Exploring My New “Home”, Imperial Dam LTVA, Part Four: A Sheep in Wolves’ ClothingMy Profile

    • Becky on February 22, 2015 at 10:44 am

      Yep Russ, for a supposedly solitary existence, RVing sure can be social!

  13. Jodee Gravel on February 21, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Having a decent pension with benefits before age 60 is a blessing we don’t take for granted, but I still most look forward to the free/cheaper things “out there” rather than those that cost money to see/do. That may change with reality but I think the slower pace and lower spending makes for a much richer experience. You always seem to find the adventure while doing the work that keeps you moving, and more than anything, I think that is key for happiness in this lifestyle. Go you!
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..RV Dealerships – Do You Think It’s a Test?My Profile

    • Becky on February 22, 2015 at 10:43 am

      Yep indeed Jodee. 🙂

      Sorry to hear about the problems you’re having with the dealership, sounds like you’re having to fight tooth and nail to get everything you reasonably asked for out of them. Hopefully the “test” is passed now!

  14. Jerry Minchey on February 21, 2015 at 7:10 am

    Becky, Some people can be described as a “Party looking for a place to happen.” I think you can be described as, “An adventure looking for a place to happen.”

    • Becky on February 22, 2015 at 10:07 am

      Haha, doesn’t sound too far off the mark Jerry. 🙂

  15. carolyn on February 21, 2015 at 7:05 am

    Happy to see you are enjoying your journey.
    Beautiful area.

    • Becky on February 22, 2015 at 10:06 am

      Yeah, I have been so fortunate to visit these beautiful places. 🙂

  16. Karla Kirk on February 21, 2015 at 6:23 am

    That is a really beautiful picture of you on the rock by the stream. you need to frame that one or make a canvas transfer to decorate your Casita. It makes me wish it was kayaking weather here in Ky. We have lots of snow here and today it is raining on top of that. Thanks for all your info. and suggestions for saving money while camping.

    • Becky on February 22, 2015 at 10:05 am

      You’re welcome Karla, and I’m glad you like that picture. That’s Emerald Pool, a long small lake along the trail from Nevada fallls to Vernal falls.

  17. John Hussey on February 21, 2015 at 5:29 am

    What I do is:
    Hike nearby trails, kayak if there is water to do it, fish whenever I can, read a lot on my Kindle Fire those ever-increasing free books that I down load from my library and look at the ever-changing beautiful views of whatever locale I find myself in-that I can change quickly if I begin to tire of it. Thats rare, though. Usually I just get the itch to move.

    • Becky on February 22, 2015 at 9:58 am

      Sounds like a good time to me John!