I often find myself talking with a non-RVer about full-time RV living and how it has changed our lives. Usually, the other person is in their late 40s or their 50s, with grown children and a successful career. But they feel that they are missing out on something important in life: time with their partner, opportunities to enjoy new experiences, or just a chance to relax, breathe and be, without any external demands. Or perhaps they have started to feel burdened by decades of accumulated, mostly meaningless possessions, realizing that although their stuff should be working for them, their reality is the other way around.
Whatever the reason, they feel a gnawing urge to alter the trajectory of their life. At the same time, they lack an understanding of any viable alternatives. And so they continue to trudge down the traditional path of working until–or beyond–retirement age, and then settling down in some vaguely-envisioned lifestyle that they hope will finally yield the fulfillment they currently lack.
At this point, the conversation turns to full-time RV living as a potential alternative. And then the same questions bubble up: I’m not independently wealthy, so how can I support myself on the road? What would I do with all my stuff? What would my family think? How would I stay in touch with my friends? What should I look for in an RV? Are there people like me actually doing this?
After telling them our own story, I usually refer them to these resources that will help answer their questions and get them started on their journey of discovering whether full-time RV living is right for them. So, if you yourself are “RV-curious”, pour yourself a cup of coffee and do some reading of your own.
Back in 2014, I happened to start my own research at RV-Dreams.com, Howard & Linda Payne’s website and blog. The site design isn’t modern or flashy, but don’t let that dissuade you—Howard and Linda have been living on the road for 13 years as of 2018, so there is a treasure trove of information here.
Start with their About Us page, and in particular the story of how they made the decision to go full-time. See if it resonates with you like it did with me. Then, head over to What is Full-Timing? and follow the series of links there, including their detailed Financial Considerations index page.
2. Escapees RV Club
If you’re intrigued at this point, next visit the Escapees RV Club. (This is the organization that I now work for part-time.) Escapees is a 40-year-old “total support network for all RVers” with more than 60,000 members across North America. They support full- and part-time RVers with discounts and other benefits, extensive educational opportunities, and most importantly, connections to a community of like-minded people.
Many future RVers join Escapees long before they actually purchase an RV. For $39.95/year, you get a subscription to the excellent Escapees magazine as well as access to all of the club’s member resources. If you do join, we’d appreciate it if you’d select “Landmark Adventures” (that’s us!) when you’re asked how you learned about the club.
Escapees also has the definitive course on RV systems operation, maintenance, safety, legal issues, and other topics that are most relevant to new RV owners. It’s available several times a year in person as RVers Boot Camp, or online anytime as RVers Online University. Either way, you’ll be learning from a panel of industry experts in their respective fields. You don’t have to be an Escapees member to sign up for either Boot Camp or RVOU, but you do receive a nice discount on your registration fee if you are.
Within Escapees, Xscapers is a diverse community of today’s active and adventurous RVers, dedicated to enabling their dreams of working and sharing life on the road. Although their shared mindset and traveling style define this group, Xscapers tend to be more youthful than the average RVer, and a majority of them are working at least part-time on the road. If you’re like us and are seeking a tribe of interesting, fun and like-minded people with whom to share your journey, Xscapers is the group for you.
Xscapers gather at Convergences in various locations around the country throughout the year. These may range from boondocking (camping without utility hookups) in the desert southwest, to camping by a river or lake in a private RV park with full hookups. But regardless of the location, Convergences always feature group activities such as hiking, off-roading, kayaking, winery and brewery tours, dine-outs at local restaurants, and late-night karaoke and dancing.
You do have to join Escapees to attend a Convergence, but it’s a great way to meet some of the people in the RV community who are “like you” and get a chance to experience the RV lifestyle first-hand. It’s not unusual for some people at a Convergence to be on their very first RV excursion, so don’t worry about being a newbie. You can even attend in a rented RV (more on that below). You’ll be welcomed into the community and you’ll learn a lot. Plus, you’ll probably have so much fun that you just might get hooked.
I would especially encourage you to read and participate in the Escapees discussion forum, RVNetwork, where you’ll find sections specifically devoted to how to begin RVing and the full-time lifestyle. You don’t need to be a member of Escapees to participate in the forum, and it’s free.
5. RV Love
Although I happened to find and begin my research at RV-Dreams.com, there are several other popular and informative blogs by more recent full-timers that you should check out. The first one I’d recommend is RV Love, by Julie and Marc Bennett, good friends of ours whom we met through Xscapers. They’ve been on the road for more than four years, and their blog is full of great insights.
Julie and Marc have developed an online course, RV Success School, for future RVers. They have also authored a new book called Living the RV Life – Your Ultimate Guide to Life on the Road, which will be published in November 2018. I’m looking forward to reading it, and I bet it will be a great resource. (You can pre-order it now on Amazon.)
6. More Than a Wheelin’
More Than a Wheelin’ is the blog of Camille Attell and Bryce Cripe, also good friends of ours. In addition to their blog, Camille (who holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology, and was a corporate trainer and coach in her professional life) has created some excellent materials on remote working and on the emotional aspects of making the transition to full-time RV living. You’ll find those on their site.
7. RV to Freedom
In addition to the fantastic content on their site, RV to Freedom, Brandon Hatcher and Kerensa Durr have an extremely active Facebook group with a community more than 37,000 strong, as well as an online training course for future RVers. We know several people who have successfully gotten into the RV lifestyle through one these channels.
8. Mobile Internet Resource Center
For anything and everything to do with technology on the road, especially mobile connectivity, just about every RV nomad will tell you that the go-to resource is Chris Dunphy and Cherie Ve Ard’s Mobile Internet Resource Center. Chris and Cherie live on their boat six months out of the year, and in their vintage bus conversion the rest of the time. They share in-depth know-how, professional-quality reviews and product recommendations that can help to keep you connected almost anywhere you go. Their personal blog, Technomadia, also makes for interesting reading.
9. Rent an RV at Campanda or Outdoorsy
The best way to truly learn about RVing is to try it. If you’ve never experienced a modern RV, try renting a privately-owned vehicle through Campanda or Outdoorsy. Both of these sites operate similarly to Airbnb, by allowing RV owners to rent out their RVs on a short-term basis. You’ll find all varieties of rigs here, from top-of-the-line Class A motorhomes to small travel trailers. You could try a rental for a weekend at a location near you, or–like we did, twice, before we bought our own RV–drive or fly to another city and pick up your rental there for a week or two. Either way, you’ll likely have a more authentic and accurate experience than if you rented from a corporation that offers lower-quality RVs to the mass market.
10. No Sidebar
The sheer quantity of information available on full-timing can be overwhelming. So as you do your research, remember that a lifestyle change like full-time RV living should not be an end in itself, but rather a means to living a more fulfilling life.
To help you stay focused on this goal, my final suggested resource is not about RVing at all. It’s No Sidebar, a wonderful and beautifully-designed destination all about living a simpler, slower, more intentional life. It started around the same time that we were considering our leap to full-time living, and we found (and continue to find) their articles inspirational. Start with the one I linked to above, and then explore the rest of their site.