Living full time in an RV is a great way to get the most out of life on the road. However, since it is a unique way of living, it comes with its own set of rules. While there isn’t a handbook for how to live full-time in an RV, we have a lot of information to share!
There is more to living an RV than just knowing where your next destination is.
You will need to know how to keep your finances on track as well as know what your rights are. Nothing can damper a trip around the country faster than not being prepared.
Here is your handbook for how to live full-time in an RV!
Budgeting Your Money (Beforehand)
One of the best parts about living in an RV is that you never need to worry about lodging. This is a huge bonus when you consider that the price of hotels is constantly in flux. This means that touring the country in an RV will save you a great deal of money!
But, it isn’t only the lodging that can run you a pretty penny. This is why finding creative ways to save a little cash along the way will be vital.
This way you don’t have to worry about the adventure ending as soon as your bank account hits zero. Here are some of the best ways to not only budget your money but to prepare for the road ahead – financially!
Travel Funds Are Great!
Budgeting for a long trip is more than figuring out where to save and where to spend. It has everything to do with preparation. This is especially important when planning out long trips while on the road.
While there are opportunities to make money along the way, the more you save the better.
The first tip to keep your budget on track is to start a travel fund. Saving for a long trip has come along way from money in a jar hidden under your bed. These days there are not only smarter ways to save. but financially better ways. The first thing you will want to do is check with your bank.
Many banks have travel saving programs that are there as an incentive to save. The more you have saved for your trip the better – so why not get help?
A travel fund will not only set you up for your trip but will also help to relieve some financial stress while on the road.
Make Sacrifices To Enjoy Later
Sometimes saving for a long road trip is easier said than done. This is because while saving has the best intentions, it isn’t always possible for every household.
So, what do you do when you want to travel but don’t have the cash flow? The best way to still save while already living on a budget is to make sacrifices.
We all have a little bit of wiggle room when it comes to having a fun fund. But, try to relocate your fun fund into a travel fund.
Try to find areas in your life that can be tightened when it comes to money. One big way to save some serious money is to avoid eating and drinking out.
Even something as small as a coffee a day from a coffeehouse can add up. Even one coffee a day can accumulate to over a hundred dollars a month. Instead of throwing that money into a cup of coffee, squirrel it away.
IN just six months you would have saved nearly $600.
Another huge expense is eating out. A typical bill for a restaurant visit for two is around $40. This price only goes up once drinks are added to the mix. Try to limit the time you spend eating out to twice a month. This can save you hundreds of dollars a month.
This can make a big difference between worrying and living carefree while traveling.
Live Carefully On The Road
The same type of budgeting you do at home should be the same budgeting you do while traveling on the road. Some people think that because it is a vacation, that all money worries fly out that window. However, not paying attention to finances on the road can get you into some serious trouble.
One big place that you can see money fly away fast is when it comes to the food you eat on the road.
While it is fun to test new flavors and to see what restaurants have to offer, there is another way. Traveling is a great way to try out fresh produce and exciting new dishes.
One of the best parts about traveling in an RV is that you have a kitchen. Trade in the greasy roadside diner for a fresh family meal using ingredients found in local farmer’s markets.
You will not only be doing your wallet some good, but you will also be bonding over a fun new shared experience.
Instead of seeing it as something that is holding you back, look at it as a fun challenge. Plus, the money you will be saving on food can be spent seeking an adventure. While a meal only lasts a short time, memories are forever. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t enjoy local restaurants and culture. It just means that you should limit it.
Stay Legal & Stay Safe
Another important thing to keep in mind while living full-time in an RV is the laws of the land.
Living in an RV is pretty easy when it comes to obeying the laws.
However, there are plenty of rules and regulations to keep in mind. This way you can spend less of your time worrying and more time living in the moment. Here is everything you need to know about staying safe and legal while traveling on the road.
Can You Park Your RV Anywhere?
Technically you can park your RV in any parking spot or lot as long as the size will fit.
However, there is a big difference between parking while shopping and overnight parking. Most parking lots and structures do not allow for overnight parking.
Some people try to test this only to find their vehicle gets towed or fined.
Here’s a guide we made with all you need to know about parking your RV on the street in urban areas.
Since your RV is your main living space while traveling, you don’t want it to get towed. Not to mention the cost of getting your RV back will be a big one. On top of this cost, you may also have to pay a fine to the city.
RV Overnight Parking
The best way to ensure that you always have a place to park at the end of the day is to plan ahead. However, we know that this isn’t always possible. Planning on places to park ahead of time will not only give you peace of mind, but it will also help navigate your path.
The best places to park your RV are in camping parks or rest stops. Camping grounds will often need a small fee in order to park overnight.
But, you also get a bunch of amenities. Most notably is extended stays. This way you can park your RV for as long as needed.
This is a great option for those who really want to get the full experience out of their vacation. Not having to pack up and move right away is a major plus. Rest stops are also a great place to rest at night. But, travelers are often discouraged from staying for more than one night.
RV Dump Stations (And How They Work)
RV dump stations are a place that you will become familiar with while traveling in an RV full-time. This is where you will be emptying and cleaning out your septic and black tank and where you can also refill your water.
One misconception about dump stations is that they are the same are overnight lots.
Dump stations are not meant for long-term parking and using them as such may result in a fine. So to keep yourself on the right side of the law, make sure to only use them for what they are meant for.
Plus, you wouldn’t really want to sleep where you clean your septic tank anyhow!
To learn all about dump stations and how they work – check out this article for more information!
What Are The Best Ways To Stay Safe?
Besides staying legal while living full-time in an RV, you want to stay safe as well. Safety means something different to each person.
However, there are some precautions you should take while traveling on the road.
The number one thing to remember is that your RV is literally your home. So, protect it the same way.
This means leaving your doors locked when the RV is unattended and also make sure that valuables are stored safely. Along with human predators, you also need to keep an eye out for wildlife. This is especially important if you plan on resting at camping grounds.
Never leave food open and out after you go to bed.
This is a sure fire way to attract some not-so-friendly furry friends. When traveling in an unknown place, make sure to either have a friend or a phone handy at all times. Along with personal safety, you need to remember the safety of your vehicle.
Make sure that your RV is inspected and ready for the road before heading out on your adventure. Stock up on things like flashlights, batteries and other emergency items.
The more prepared you are, the better equip you are to handle whatever life throws your way.
Working While On The Road
While planning a budget for a trip is vital, there are other ways to ensure you won’t run out of money. One thing you can do is look for creative work along the way. This can help to take some of the pressure off when it comes to your finances.
We know that the last thing you want to do when seeking adventure is work. However, for long-term trips, there isn’t really other options. Unless of course, you find yourself sitting on a pile of cash!
One thing to keep in mind is that working while on the road doesn’t mean the same thing as working at home.
You have to be able to make your own schedule and still live the life you want.
It is counterintuitive to plan on traveling long-term while still maintaining a full workload. This is where freelancing and creative handy-man jobs come to mind. Here are some of the ways you can earn a living while traveling in an RV:
Working as a freelancer is a great way to make money while living full-time in an RV. Most of the jobs only require you to have internet access and a computer. Because these are specialized jobs, the work can often time be done remotely.
This means that you can work from just about anywhere! However, some freelance work requires you to check-in. But, since you will be traveling, you can always schedule the check-ins around where you will be. Freelance work is a very broad topic. It can be anything from consulting to writing to even freelance designing.
The best part about freelancing is that you can often times find a freelancing job that is perfectly tailored to your skills. There are plenty of freelancing online communities for you to search for jobs and post a resume. Like most things, this can take a little bit of preparation to get it started.
Try to line up jobs starting a month out from your planned trip. This way you can be sure there will always be a steady stream of paychecks coming your way. While the pay might not always be as high as you hoped – every lit bit counts when living on the road.
A great way to make a fast buck while living on the road is to search for local odd jobs. This can be anything from painting a house to doing lawn work. These are quick jobs that can be done in a short time so that you don’t have to miss your next adventure.
One thing to keep in mind about odd jobs is that they don’t come with a high pay grade. But, this is a great way to add a little bit of cushion to your budget. A couple of bucks here and there can equal food for the week. Instead of seeing it like hard labor, look at it as a way to finance your joy.
Another great option for making money is to extend the work that you are already doing. It doesn’t hurt to keep a positive relationship between you and your current employer. This way you can also be sure that there is work waiting for you when you return.
Let your work know about your travel plans and see if there is a way that you can remotely continue. We know that this isn’t an option for every job, but it doesn’t hurt to ask!
Also, if your local job is part of a wider net of employees, see if there is another location you can temporarily be placed at.
You can help to plan your trip around this quick work stop. This way the fun doesn’t have to stop once your bank account hits zero.
The more work you have lined up for you in the future, the better off you will be!
Use The Community!
Now that you know the best way to budget and stay safe on the road, it is time to dive deep into helpful tips. Living full-time in an RV comes with a learning curve. There will be a lot that you will discover along the way. More specifically, you will quickly learn what works for you and what doesn’t.
While your experiences will be full of lessons, there is an easier way!
The online RV community has your back when it comes to knowing what to expect.
People have been there before you and are more than willing to share what they have learned. Here are some of the most helpful tips for traveling full-time in an RV that we have learned:
Bring Some Home With You
It is easy to get a little homesick when living in an RV. Even though you are doing what you have always dreamed, it can get a little lonely. One way to remind yourself at home is to bring along things that mean a lot to you.
This doesn’t mean that you have to bring along your expensive keepsakes!
Reminders of the home like blankets and picture frames will fit in nicely in your RV. This way you can always wrap yourself up in comfort when you feel blue.
Wrapping It Up!
While preparation is key, it isn’t the goal. The goal is to be as you are in a new environment without worries or fear. If you find that you’re getting too lost in the details, take a step back.
Getting perspective allows you to really appreciate where you are and what you are doing.
Just remember the key points to traveling in an RV. They are to stay safe, stay smart and plan ahead. Once you have a grasp on living this way, there is no end to the adventures you will find. You may even find that you surprise yourself at the end of the day. Good luck.
Maria is the founder of GoDownsize. While studying architecture in Denmark she became fascinated with designing living spaces for boats, tiny houses, RVs, and other small spaces.
She mainly writes about space optimization, interior design, and downsizing. She’s also in charge of our YouTube channel. Read more about Maria here.