9 Common Mistakes Fulltime RV Newbies Make Starting Out

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I know from the emails and comments I receive that a good portion of Love Your RV! readers are people inspired to give the full-time RVing lifestyle a go. I can’t blame you; I find full-time nomadic RV life an incredibly satisfying way to live.

So, to help you out a bit with your research I’ve come up with a list of 9 common newbie mistakes made. This list is derived from our personal experience living the life. Plus, observations of and stories from others who made the transition. Hope you find the advice useful, Cheers! Ray

1) Under-Estimating Connection to Friends/Family

Has to be one of the top reasons people pack in the full-time RV lifestyle. Once they are out living life on the road, many full-timers feel a greater void than anticipated. Most folks will soon forge new friendships with other RVers, though. There is a real sense of community out here even if we are nomadic. Anne and I find we have more friends now than we ever did in a “sticks and bricks” home. I also truly enjoy their broader range of backgrounds.

Boondocking with other fulltime RV friends Quartzsite Arizona
Boondocking with other fulltime RV friends Quartzsite Arizona

As for family, that is a tough one and is just one of those undeniable cons to the lifestyle. The advent of video chat and apps like Facebook, Instagram, and other social media has helped with a sense of connection, but it’s never quite the same. It’s for this reason, we split up our year into two travel patterns. Winters we are off south traveling extensively far from family. Summers we spend closer to our old home allowing us to spend quality face to face time reconnecting.

2) Not Considering Relationship Issues

Living your life in what boils down to a long hallway is not for all couples. There is very little space to hide from one another. Many couples think they can cope but soon find out not so much. Jumping from a large house straight into a full-time RV lifestyle can be a recipe for relationship disaster for some.

Ray and Anne hiking in the desert

The classic scenario I observed is where one person in the relationship is entirely onboard with the new lifestyle, but the other is only going along to please the first hoping they will adjust and love it too. Sometimes happens and sometimes doesn’t, so well worth a deep heart to heart talk upfront.

3) Moving Too Fast – Scheduling Too Much

Burn out; I’ve seen it quite often over the years. Newbies are so eager when they get going they overdo it. It’s human nature I guess, and we sometimes fall into the trap ourselves. There is just so much cool stuff to see! Full-time RVing is not a race but a marathon. Slow down and smell the roses, get to know an area and the locals.

One of the problems with rushing around and trying to keep on an unrealistic schedule is fatigue. RVing when tired could be catastrophic. Almost every goof up I’ve made was while tired or rushed. A few expensive screw-ups as a rookie full-time RVer will soon sour you on the whole notion of it. 

Talk to almost any veteran fulltimer, and they will preach taking your time. Even when trying to make big miles traveling from one part of the country to another the vast majority follow variations of the 222 rule. Travel no more than 200 miles in a day, arrive at the RV site no later than 2 pm and stay a minimum of 2 days.

4) Overloading the RV with Useless Stuff

A pretty well universal newbie mistake, over stuffing the RV. Everyone overestimates what is required in some way.  Usually, it is clothes, kitchen items or for guys like me, tools! After the first year or so on the road, you find yourself wondering “Why the heck are we lugging this around?” The beauty of RVing full time is the minimalistic nature of it; less is more. 

I found it so liberating once I had purged myself of all my little if ever used things I was hanging onto. Now, once a year I do a hardcore evaluation of items we carry. Other than helping me mentally and keeping storage areas uncluttered there is the huge safety factor. An overweighted RV is dangerous and can lead to voided insurance if involved in an accident.

5) Wrong RV Choice, Usually Larger Than Needed

Choosing the right RV the first go around can be difficult. There is sage advice often heard in RVing circles ” Pick your third RV first.” Somehow we got it right the first time and are still in the same trailer we started out full-time in over six years ago. ( Here are some reasons we picked our 30-foot Cougar Fifth Wheel)

Our 2011 Keystone Cougar fifth wheel trailer model 276RLSWE
Our 2011 Keystone Cougar fifth wheel trailer model 276RLSWE

I have to admit though if not for budget limitations we likely would have gone too big. It’s so easy in the frenzy of RV shopping to get Two Foot-itis. Just a few feet more to get that extra feature or convenience is enticing. However large RVs come with large drawbacks, such as a more difficult time finding campsites and traversing narrow roads. The cost of ownership also tends to rise with size. A careful study of your planned lifestyle is required. My advice is to borrow or rent a few different sized models and quiz current full-time RV owners on their choice.

6) Being Worried About What People Think

It’s not uncommon for people to tie their personal value with owning a home or the job they do. Letting that go and becoming just another RVer can be distressing. They may experience negativity from family members that have a preconceived notion of what a full-time RVer is, maybe equating them to trailer trash. It’s a mistake to let it get to you.

For me, the beauty of RVing is: so much of the usual societal comparisons are thrown out the window. Most of us are just people wearing easy care cotton shorts and t-shirts. More interested in where you’ve been and what you’ve seen than what how wealthy or so-called “successful” you are.

7) Hitting the Road With Insufficient Rainy Day Fund

My advice for going full-time would include at least a 6-12 month financial cushion. You also want to have sufficient funds squirreled away to take care of a catastrophic mechanical breakdown. For example, a blown engine or damaged frame can run thousands of dollars.

I’ve seen many examples of a large RV breakdown sidelining dreams of full timing. Some even resort to Gofund Me campaigns just to limp back to a previous home city. Mechanical failures and unexpected expenses will happen so be ready for them.

8) Afraid to Modify the RV

I was leery to modify any of the factory setups of our RV early on, but once the warranty was over, I went to town. It’s a recreational vehicle, but it’s also our home now.

RV main living area after my renovation
RV main living area after my renovation

We did a complete renovation of the Cougar trailer modifying things to suit our own unique needs. Boy, I’m glad I did, it’s increased our enjoyment of the rig substantially making us happier full-time campers!

9) Cheaping Out on the Poo Hose

Finally, my best advice of all. Go out and splurge on awesome sewer setup.  You’re living in the RV full-time for crap sake! :) Get yourself all the attachments and plenty of hose lengths just incase. Anything you can do to make the dirty deed less onerous the better.

Wastemaster sewer hose with extension
Wastemaster sewer hose with extension

I’m trying to be a little funny here, but basically, I’m saying spend a bit more on quality for RV accessories that you will be using day in and day out.

Follow our RV adventures! Sign-up for the free monthly Love Your RV Newsletter – Cheers Ray

9 Common Mistakes Fulltime RV Newbies Make Starting Out by the Love Your RV blog - https://www.loveyourrv.com

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