Eons ago, when I’d been on the road for almost three months, I wrote an article called “Top 9 Things to Know About Full-timing“. Looking back now I still think I did a reasonably good job on it, but it was always my intention to revise it once I had more experience.
So here it is, now with almost 35 months of full-timing under my belt. When I looked at the 2012 version I realized I’d actually put in pointers for two distinct phases of full-timing: preparing to hit the road, and once on the road. I did the same thing this time and separated out the pointers into those two categories to make it easier to follow. Enjoy!
Preparing to hit the road:
1. Do some research. Research different types of RVs, sizes, floorplans, and costs. Read blogs, websites, and forums about those who are already on the road to get a feel for what the lifestyle is like, how to handle the logistics, and what to bring with you on the road. Talk to people you meet in campgrounds about what they like and dislike about their rig. Be thorough.
2. Know yourself. Understand that no two people’s path to full-timing is going to be the same, so not all of the advice you read and get from full-timers is going to be true for you. Think about what you need to be happy, and don’t compromise. Get a handle on your finances, avoid debt if at all possible. Get out and spend as much time as you can in as many different types of RVs as possible to discover what works best for you.
3. Have a plan. Going full-timing is a complicated process. To make it more manageable, start and keep a to-do list. Break big problems like “downsizing”, “logistics”, and “budgeting” into smaller tasks that are easier to accomplish. Keep up momentum by working on your list a little every day. Plan your first RV trip close to home. Have an exit strategy. Set a solid date to hit the road, that’ll make it more real.
4. Doubt is your worst enemy. Think up your worst case scenario right now, and then decide how you’d handle it. Find other RVers/hopefuls to support you when you’re unsure what to do next, have questions, or just need someone to talk to. Set aside an emergency fund. Have something on hand to remind you why you’re doing this when the stress gets high. Take a break if you need one.
5. Enjoy the process. Don’t compare your progress to others, or worry if you can only make a little progress at a time. Don’t rush getting on the road, or your results will probably be sub par. Get out and enjoy where you are now. Preparing to hit the road can be hard, but later you’ll look back with pride at what you accomplished during this time.
Being on the road:
6. Find a balance. You’ll have to balance work and play, traveling and staying put. Otherwise you’ll wear yourself out or go broke and have to return to a sticks and bricks. Watch your money, learn to budget, find your ideal travel schedule and length of stay, and discover if you’re a planner or a go with the flow type.
7. Understand it’s not happily ever after. Travel plans will fall through, the rig will break down, the weather won’t always co-operate. Unlike a vacation the chores of everyday living will still need to be done, not every day can be an adventure. Accept that things will go wrong. Roll with the punches and learn to rebound.
8. Be flexible. Understand that plans will be set in jello, always subject to change. Try new things, meet new people, learn new skills, volunteer. Leave some time unscheduled to be spontaneous. There is no set definition to full-timing, so experiment until you find what way works best for you. Know that it’s okay to change your RV or what you carry with you once you have some experience.
9. It can be as social as you want. You can boondock year-round by yourself and never be bothered. You can join RVing communities and attend meetups and gatherings and always be surrounded by people. Make new friends, attend happy hours, never be afraid to say you need alone time, go back and visit old friends and family as often as you wish.
10. You will grow as a person. If you’ve done the above nine things – overcame adversity, learned how to plan and research, discovered the right balance for your life, stayed flexible, found people you can relate with; you are guaranteed to grow as a person. So even if you don’t full-time forever, you’ll have a valuable set of tools to help you no matter where the next stage of life takes you.
* * *
11. This is where you come in. I was delighted in the 2012 edition by how many helpful comments people gave for would-be full-timers. I came up with the first 10, now if you feel so inclined you can share a pointer #11 in the comments below.
Also, I wanted to say a big Thank You to everyone who participated in Thursday’s impromptu game! I was feeling pretty bummed about not getting to go hike or sight-see that weekend, and getting to read your responses for things to take RVing really brightened my day. You’re the best audience a blog could have. 🙂
* * *
Want to learn more about full-time RVing? Check out the “Useful Stuff” tab at the top of my blog, which has links to the most helpful content on IO.