I DECIDED TO RV…. NOW WHAT?
This post will be the first in a series as I will focus on some of these points in greater detail in the coming months.
The RV industry is booming, with COVID and more freedom at the workplace, RVing and Van Life lifestyles are not just for the retired! This is nothing new, digital nomads and even traveling families have been hitting the road for years but make no mistake this is a large community that is still growing.
So, the decision is made, and you decided to be part of this growing community and become a RVer…. now what? I firmly believe that the most difficult decision was just made but there is more work ahead!
Everyone will answer these questions differently. I had my heart set on a C-Class for years, so I really didn’t think of any other kind of living situation. I was not sure I would enjoy the RVing lifestyle, so I was hesitant to spend a lot of money, plus I did not have a lot to spend anyway. I ended up with an older model 27-foot C-Class that was found in Arizona for my first on the road home.
Why a C-Class? Funny, for some time had this romantic idea of traveling the West for a summer in a Toyota Dolphin, so when it was time to look find my home on wheels, I only had eyes for a C-Class. I wanted something not too big to get to those places I wanted to go and a place that was comfortable for my doggy and comfortable to work. I didn’t have a truck at the time to tow something, nor wanted to spend the money to buy a truck, and to be honest the idea of towing felt a little overwhelming since I’ve never done that before. I liked the idea of me not having to exit my vehicle after stopping and there really is no setup once settled for the night. It felt to me at the time the easiest solution, I might think differently now after 5 plus years on the road. The main issue being having a second vehicle to go exploring!
I am currently in a 13 ft. Scamp, and I do like it, its small, no hassle and I can unhook and go! I don’t have to worry about things breaking because it’s so simple, the towing is easy, but it is SMALL, and I lost some of the comforts. Like most RVers, I’m currently thinking about my next setup!
Get rid of your stuff! - Some find this hard, some easy…. I found it very freeing! Even if you have the smallest of apartments, you will have to rid yourself of at least half your stuff…. I only brought I would say about 20% of my stuff…. the rest went to thrift stores, some in the trash (I didn’t have really nice things) and I did get myself a 5x5 storage unit that I put items I could not part with. Plus, you never know when you might go back to the “normal” life.
Get that new home ready to travel - Many of the questions above can also be asked here too. What do I need to add or modify to get ready for the lifestyle I want?
But first things first… if you bought a used RV be sure everything is in working order. It might be July but at some point, you will need the heater…. and if you have a C-Class or something similar doing what you can upfront to avoid engine breakdowns is huge!! I quickly realized that my older C-Class STILL had the original tires…. I blew 3 of them the first month!
After that it’s adding the amenities, I knew I wanted to boondock as much as possible so solar was the first add on I did. I kept my system rather simple with one 260 panel, (2) 6-volt batteries, solar controller, and inverter…. total cost around $2,000.
I kicked the tires about adding a composting toilet but ultimately decided against it (I do have a compost toilet in my current Scamp) …. I did some redecorating like removing chairs and the microwave, added my design flair, installed a safe for belongings, added some lighting and I was done! My C-Class came with 2 twin beds and after about 2 years I redesigned the back and added a queen bed, made me feel more like an adult : )
Where do you go? - My travel mantra is “the best plan is not to have one” but you got to start somewhere, your rig won’t just drive itself!! My first somewhat planned trip was Highway 101…. basically, my plan was to just start in Oregon and travel South…I spent 5 months heading South, with my biggest driving day being 60 miles…There were places I thought I would want to spend time and turned out that I didn’t! And others I knew nothing about and spent much more time in some of those areas. Leave yourself open to organic experiences, remember time is on your side. Search out your interest so you don’t miss any epic opportunities!! You don’t need a guidebook or do massive research on each place you stop, I found using the “Places” search on Instagram was a good starting point to find cool places to visit and check out.
Find your groove - You are doing it! Things are going good, you are moving along, meeting people, seeing wonderful things. My biggest challenge, surprising enough was breaking out of my old routine! I still work but I have the ability set my own hours, so breaking myself from that feeling of having to be in front of the computer under certain hours was huge! Enjoy the sun and get out for a hike in the AM, work at night…go explore on a weekday when its less crowded and work on a busy Saturday instead. Also, telling myself “You are NOT on vacation” and I don’t need to be doing stuff and spending money all the time!! Sometimes it’s cool to just relax and do nothing, sometimes the best things are free, like a walk around the area you are at to get a lay of the land, meet some locals and find out the cool local spots. Find the schedule that works for you and your new lifestyle.
Find a community - There are many RV communities out there, sometimes it does just happen organically and you travel with people you meet along the way, but if that does not happen right away there are others options….Facebook groups are a good source of online and off line communities…RVillage is an social network for RVers where you can connect with others and find other RVers that are currently in your area. There is also the Escapers and Xscapers, this is where I found my community. They are both under the same umbrella. Escapers is geared toward the retired community and Xscapers to the working folks. They do events all summer throughout the West and usually people travel together from event to event. You can make some wonderful connections and friends here. Of course, there are many others that have more of a target focus; van life communities etc. But this will get you started.
I have talked to many, and as a solo traveller I agree I have a stronger community on the road than I did living in a town. There is a different mindset among travellers, we are open to those organic experiences more so than people living a “normal” life. Plus, its nice when traveling with friends, they are RIGHT there, just need to look out your door. No need to call or text, make plans for weeks in advance.
Enjoy the life - Now you have it all figured out, right? : ) You know when to work, when to play, you know where to spend the winter, know the best free camping spots and you have your community! All there left to do is enjoy what you have created for yourself, your family and enjoy.