Twelve Tips from a ‘Not so Typical’ Fulltime RVer

Airstream DreamingFirst off, we are the oddity.  I’ll cop to that.  I like to say we are a minority, within a minority, within a minority.  We are fulltime RVers, that’s one.  We are young for fulltime RVers, that’s two.  We are fulltime RVers with kids and that’s three.  In other words, while there are a more than a few of us out there, in the 14 months we have been on the road we have run into only two or three other fulltiming families.  So if your looking for a normal blog post on fulltime RVing… this isn’t your post.

  1. The number one rule of fulltiming, and I can’t stress this enough – Patience, and I am not talking about with just the kids.  The kids have to learn to get school done at the same time Dad is getting work done.  They also have to learn to ignore Dad when he’s working.  Dad has to learn to work while the kids are being kids.  The whole “just because I’m sitting there and you can see me, doesn’t mean I am really there” thing.  It took a few months before we got that all ironed out.
  2. The second most important thing to remember is for everything that comes in the trailer something of equal or larger size must leave the trailer.  I don’t care how much little Jimmy wants that truck, car, plane, train or nifty plastic musket there are more important things to store than keeping up with the booming toy population like food or soap or food.  A good way to stop the early trip tantrums that follow “No” is to ask him “What toy of equal size are you willing to part with?”  Often they will keep the known toy over the unknown toy.
  3. Decide what your souvenirs will be before your first touristy stop and stick to it.  We found that picking postcards, magnets, or stickers from each destination was the best way to eliminate the “I want, I want” cry.  Just make them small and easy on the storage.
  4. Many people you talk to will fantasize that your life is one continual dream vacation day after the next.  I won’t say it isn’t spectacular but this isn’t a vacation… it’s your life with all the joys and messiness that entails.  I am not on the beach drinking Mai Tais every night.  Heck, most nights I’m struggling to get two kids to just stop making excuses to get out of bed and fall asleep already.
  5. I’ll be honest. Although I did not eat the proverbial bonbons before hitting the road fulltime, life was a bit easier in some aspects.  Doing laundry whenever it suits me, rinsing dishes and leaving them till later to wash because I have enough to go around, sending my kids off to public school for hours of uninterrupted whatever I want or need to do at the time, etc.  All those things you take for granted change drastically.  Laundry runs out quicker because we don’t have four closets to store an entire trousseau in.  I only have enough plates for one meal because my husband wanted to take the crockpot instead of the four plates we didn’t technically need.  I am now a teacher… if someone can please tell me how this last one happened I would appreciate it.  I am sure I held the long-standing belief that public education was my God Given Right as a parent.
  6. Ask for personal space and time when you need it.  Find your personal space and guard it, whether it is mental or physical.  What do I mean?  You love your family?  Yeah, so do I but I also love time away from them as well.  Am I serious?  Yes, I am serious.  It is an important aspect of everyone living together happily in a tiny little space.  Just please don’t make the bathroom your personal space.  There is only one in the house and inevitably when one person goes in then the entire family needs to go.  The laundry room has become my special place and no I don’t need help… thank you very much.
  7. Everyone thinks your life is just so flexible.  It is and it isn’t.  It is flexible within certain inflexible parameters.  Sure I can move anytime I want BUT as my husband still works for a living, I can’t go wherever I want.  Can you believe there are still places in this country that don’t have cell service much less wireless Internet access?  Sure we can go swimming today but first we have to get school done.  You want to go see the sights?  OK but I’m still working and we can’t leave until 5pm.  What do you mean they close at 4?  The audacity of them not to have hours that match my work schedule!  However the ability to be flexible is important.  This is mostly a relaxed way of life.  Rigidity and inflexibility of attitude will make your family members miserable.
  8. If hiking in a National Park, when your husband forgets the bear spray you just purchased for $40, no matter how much he argues, make him go back and get it.  If you don’t, you will either see a bear yourself or have someone tell you that there is one on the trail back to your truck.  Trust me… we have experience in this one.
  9. I don’t care how many times you’ve hitched up.  Double-check everything.  Make your spouse double check everything.  The safety of your family is at stake and one small misstep can lead to a world of suffering and loss.  I try to make it a habit of walking behind the trailer as it pulls out of the spot.  This way you can check everything and make sure you don’t leave anything behind that you might need later like your tire chocks.  We almost left our awning, bike helmets and a few odds and ends more than once.
  10. Listen to other fulltimers, they are your best resource.  We would never have known about the North Rim of the Grand Canyon had we not listened to other fulltimers.  We would have missed the great view, the 4-6 inches of snow and temps in the lower 10’s in early October, and being one of the relative few who visit there every year.  (500,000 as opposed to 3 million plus who go to the South Rim)
  11. In this lifestyle you really have to rely on yourself and those who live in your RV.  You will literally meet, briefly, hundreds of new people.  They are as transient as you are.  There are times people drive through an RV park and drive out again within minutes or hours.  It is very important that you do two things.  Watch your young kids like hawks and always listen to your gut… your instincts are there for a reason.  I don’t care how crazy it sounds. For instance, we have stayed in more than one parking lot overnight on a long haul to a new stop with no problem and w hen it comes to campgrounds, I am uber picky and research, research, research.  However there was one campground that midweek I woke from a sound sleep, checked the windows, made sure all the blinds were closed, checked the door to make sure it was locked, checked the kids, then stood stock still in the middle of the trailer for a full 15 minutes and just knew something wasn’t right.  I woke up the next morning with a strong desire to leave.  I can’t explain it but everything aligned to allow us to leave very quickly.
  12. Finally, allow yourself to relax and enjoy.  Let go of the guilt over not having to rush little Timmy to soccer practice or Lulu to ballet lessons.  Let go the feelings of frenzy, panic, and over zealousness.  You may be on the road for three months or twenty years but the more you relax, the more you will enjoy, and the longer you will stay.




One Reply to “Twelve Tips from a ‘Not so Typical’ Fulltime RVer”

  1. this really is an awesome post, i’m happy i came across this. i will be back to look at out more of your articles later!

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