RVing For Seniors: 15 Important Things To Know (Before Leaving)

In RV living by Christopher Schopf

The average age of an RVer has come down dramatically over the past few years (according to The RV Industry Association). In fact, the average age is now well below 60.

However, just because the average RVer is no longer a person between the ages of 65 and 72, doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of seniors living and traveling in RVs.

Seniors have been having a lot of fun RVing over the years and they will certainly continue to do so.

This being said, there are some important things for senior RVers to consider before hitting the road.

In this post, we’ll go over a few of the more important things to consider so that seniors can plan their trips out accordingly.

You Might Want to Rent First

RV and Camper types

Are you a senior that has been dreaming about RVing your entire life?  Great, you’re probably going to have a lot of fun RVing.  Unfortunately, you’re also more likely to make an emotional decision when buying your first RV.

To combat this and get the right RV for you and your needs, you may want to consider renting a few RVs first.

Renting first will help you discover what RV is best for you. 

It will also let you know whether or not the RV life is really for you or if it is something that you’d be happier doing part-time.

How to Rent an RV

Try renting a motorhome and a towable camper in the smallest form that you think will fit your needs.  For example, you might start out with a class B motorhome and a 16-foot travel trailer.

If these turn out to be too small, move up to a class C motorhome and a 20-foot travel trailer.

Once you’ve found a size and a type of RV that works well for you, you can begin the search for an RV to buy without having to worry about whether or not you’re making the right choice.

Your New RV is Going To Depreciate Rapidly

New isn’t always the way to go.

This is especially true for those of you who will only be traveling for a couple of years before resuming life in the suburbs again.

The reason for this is that a new RV will lose most of its value in the first few years of ownership.  For the actual numbers on this, check our RV depreciation guide.

For this reason, you may want to consider buying a used RV that is between 5 and 10 years old. 

At this point, a lot of the depreciation is gone already so you’ll end up being able to get a much nicer RV at a much lower price than you would be able to otherwise.

Luckily, RVs last for many years. You can read some statistics here on how long time RVs last.

Just be sure to get the RV professionally inspected so that you don’t run into any unforeseen problems while out on the road. Here are the prices on RV inspections.

RV Ownership Can Be Physically Demanding

Owning and operating an RV can be physically demanding.

Some physical demands associated with RVing might include climbing in and out of a tall RV, leveling the RV, raising the top on pop-up campers, cleaning out the water tanks, and setting up camp.

Many of these tasks can now be automated but you’ll still have to do some of them yourself.

This means you may want to get a checkup at your doctor’s office before you decide to buy.  If you aren’t already, you may also want to consider a strength training routine to help you prepare for the rigors of the road.

On the plus side, you’ll get a lot of exercise while RVing.

This exercise will help you stay fit and will help slow down the aging process.  You may end up living a longer and fuller life just because you decided to buy an RV.

Some Campgrounds Can Be Full of Children

Some people love to be around large groups of children and they couldn’t imagine life any other way.

Others can’t stand to be in the same room as a child for any length of time while others fall somewhere in between.  Unless you’re part of the first category, you may find children running around your RV late into the night an unwelcome event.

Unfortunately, this goes on every day at many RV parks throughout the country.

Luckily, seniors who don’t want to deal with this have the ability to opt out.  They can do this by staying at 55 and older RV parks.

These parks have age restrictions that can provide a welcome respite from the noise and high activity level of a campground that is full of young children.

Also, just because you decide to stay at a 55 and older campground from time to time, it doesn’t mean you have to do it all of the time.

You can stay in standard campgrounds when your kids and grandkids come to visit or when you’re looking for a little more noise and you can stay at 55 and older campgrounds when you’d like to have more quiet time.

You Can Get a Discount at Many Places

Another plus of being a senior RVer is that you can get discounts at state parks, national parks, and many campgrounds across the nation.  This is on top of the regular senior discounts that you’re already receiving at restaurants and resorts.

These savings can add up quickly which means you’ll be able to do more with less money than you would have been able to do when you were younger.

As an example, you can buy a lifetime senior national park pass for only $80.00. 

This is the annual price that others must pay each and every year.  You can also get senior discounts for staying overnight at state parks as well.  The amount of the discount will vary depending on the state.

You can even get a senior discount on your mobile Internet and cell phone plans.  AT&T, Verizon, T-mobile, and Sprint all offer senior discount pricing.

You May Need a Bigger Bathroom

Some seniors find climbing in and out of a bathtub to be more difficult as they age.  In their homes, they add railings to their bathtubs.

If you’re one of these people and you’d like to add a railing to your RV’s bathtub, you may find that you need a bigger bathroom.

On the other hand, you could decide to skip getting an RV with a bathtub altogether.  Many RVs offer stall showers which are easy to walk right in and out of.  If you do consider getting this type of RV bathroom, just make sure you add something to the floor to make it less slippery.

Remember, you won’t have a railing to hang onto so a slippery shower floor becomes more dangerous than a slippery bathtub floor with railings nearby.

Almost Everything Can be Automated

Home automation is becoming increasingly popular in brick and mortar homes but it has become even more popular in the world of RV living.

You can automate the leveling system, the lights, the thermostat, and even the coffee maker.

Personal assistants like the Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant can be added to your RV as well.  Combine these technologies with your home automation systems and you can literally tell your RV what to do without ever leaving your RV’s comfortable recliner.

Also, don’t feel like you have to be home to tell your assistants what to do.  After all, you hit the road to get out and see the sights not to manage an RV all day and night.  Connect your automation system to the Internet and you can use your cell phone to monitor temperatures and water tanks within your RV while you’re away.

You can even set up an alarm system that will automatically notify you if something happens to your RV while you’re away.

Your Medications Might Need Special Consideration

Many seniors and non-seniors get their medications shipped directly to their homes.  This is convenient and can often be less expensive than getting prescriptions filled at a pharmacy.

Unfortunately, this process becomes somewhat less convenient when you’re traveling across the country in an RV.

For this reason, you’ll have to do some planning to determine the best way to get your medicine while out on the road.  The easiest way to do this is to get your medicine in advance so that you’ll already have it with you when you leave.

However, for longer trips or full-timers, getting all of the medicine upfront just isn’t possible.

In this case, you may need to consider using a nationwide pharmacy chain like CVS or Walmart.  These chains store your data throughout their system so you can go to any location to fill your prescriptions.

Another option is to find out which campgrounds will accept medication for you at the front desk and send your prescriptions there.  Just keep in mind that some campgrounds cannot or will not accept your medications for you.

Not only this, but it is impolite to assume that they will.

Always ask permission first before getting your medications sent to a campground office and do not get upset when some refuse. 

Accepting medicine can sometimes be a liability or legal issue and the person at the desk usually isn’t refusing to do so just to make your life more inconvenient.

Medication Storage in an RV

Once you have your medication, you’ll have to make sure that you keep it stored properly.  Always check your medication’s storage requirements as some will lose their potency when exposed to certain temperatures.

For example, some medicines lose their effectiveness when exposed to temperatures above 90 degrees.

This usually isn’t a problem in a standard home but it can easily become a problem in an RV that loses air conditioning for a day or two.  In this case, you’ll want to make sure you keep your medicine refrigerated.

Some medicines can also fall victim to high humidity levels.

This means you’ll have to take steps to lower the humidity levels in your RV.  To find out how to do this, read through our post on reducing condensation in tiny homes.

You Might Have to Plan Trips Around Doctor Visits

Visits to the doctor are a part of everyday life for many seniors.

Many people feel that this makes it impossible for them to go RVing.

Don’t be discouraged by this fact.  You can still live life on the road without compromising your health.

The best way to go about this is to choose travel paths that circle back to your doctor’s offices.  Also, plan to see all of your doctors around the same time so that you don’t have to keep coming back at different times to visit different doctors.

Consider Traveling with Others

They say that there is safety in numbers and that is certainly true.  Traveling with other seniors will give you a support network that you can call on when you’re in need.

But this isn’t the only reason to consider traveling with others.

Traveling with others is simply more fun than traveling alone.  If you already know people who travel then you’re already set.  If not, consider finding a senior traveling group online.

There are many to choose from and they are usually very welcoming.

Slow Trips Are Better Than Fast Ones

As a senior, you may be excited about finally checking off all of the items on your bucket list.

Just be careful as this may lead you to schedule a fast-paced trip that is just too rigorous to enjoy.

Slow your trips down and try to spend a lot of time visiting the places you’ve been dreaming about.  After all, you’ve been dreaming about visiting these places for years, why rush through them?

You Don’t Have to Stop Working

Some seniors don’t want to begin RVing because they don’t want to stop working.  Others can’t stop working because they need the income.

This doesn’t have to be an issue, however, as you can always get a job while out on the road.

Here’s a list of the most common jobs for full-time RVers. There are A LOT of options and people have found out great ways to make money on the road.

Many campgrounds offer work camping jobs that let you work for them in exchange for a free campsite or a campsite and a modest salary depending on the number of hours worked.  You don’t have to restrict yourself to work camping either.

You might find that there are many other local jobs that you’re qualified for.

Some of these jobs might be seasonal and others might be temporary.

Another option would be to stay at your current job but ask to telecommute.  Some companies will be so eager to keep you that they’ll allow you to commute while reducing your hours for you at the same time.

If possible, my recommendation would be to keep these jobs part time so that you’ll have the time and energy afterward to explore and enjoy the area.

Forgetfulness Is More Dangerous in an RV

One thought to keep in mind is that forgetting one of the steps when setting up or taking down camp can be dangerous.  Forget a step in the hitching process and you might end up with a runaway trailer.

Forget to stabilize your pop-up camper and it could end up falling over on you while you’re in it.

As we age, our memories become less sharp and it is easier to forget things.  To avoid this, make an RV setup and breakdown checklist and run through it each and every time you set up and take down your RV.  This is actually a good strategy for senior RVers and younger RVers as well.

It will save you time and take the worry out of setting up and taking down your RV.

It is Good to Have an Exit Strategy

When Nasa first sent men to the moon, they had to make two plans.

The first one was how to get to the moon, the second was how to get back.  They couldn’t initiate the first plan without first creating the second.

You should have a plan to get off the road before traveling it as well.  This plan may never be needed and you may be able to travel for the rest of your life.

However, it is nice to have a backup plan should things go wrong or if you simply decide you’d rather do something else.

Talk with a financial advisor and decide on a plan for supporting yourself in the event that you do need to become more stationary.  Do some research as well and find some places that might be good to settle down.  You may find that you can use your existing RV in a year-round campground at a yearly rate.

This way, you’ll still always have the option to hit the road again as life permits.

RVing Can Still Be a Fun and Exciting Adventure

Just because your older, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a fun and exciting time while out on the road.

The adventure might be different from the one you envisioned when you were 25 years old but that doesn’t make it any less of an adventure.

Sources:
https://www.rvia.org/media-resources/rv-quick-facts