The decision to uproot your life and move from the comforts of a house or apartment to an RV can be a daunting one. Marvin expressed his desire to travel the country in an RV a few years ago, and over the years, we discussed it at length more than once. But it wasn't until 2016 that we decided to take serious steps to make this dream a reality.
The decision itself was intimidating, and the steps we had to take to reach our goal were extensive, but in the end, it was all worth it.
Below are our ten reasons that you should cast off the drudgery of your 9-5 job and travel full-time in a recreational vehicle.
1. Financial Freedom
Although the upfront cost of purchasing an RV can range from minor, if you buy a fixer upper and use skills you already possess to fix it up and make it not just livable, but beautiful (and there are some gorgeous RV renos out there!), to the cost of a 3000-square-foot house in small-town Pennsylvania, for most people, an RV still gives you more bang for your buck.
We purchased a one-year-old travel trailer from a private seller. It was in like new condition, so we had no necessary renovation work up front. Compare that to our apartment in Houston. From May, 2015, to April, 2016, we spent over $22,000 on rent, plus another $200-$230 per month for utilities. In just four months of living in our RV, the RV had more than paid for itself.
2. Flexible Time Schedule
Living in an RV gives you more free time to do what you like to do. Want to binge-watch a season of The Walking Dead? Go ahead! Want to spend the entire day hiking the trails around your campground? Go for it! Want to spend that rainy day reading that book you never had time to get into? Curl up and read! Take a dip in the pool, see if the fish are biting, zip down the river in a kayak, have a BBQ with the neighbors. It's like a permanent vacation!
Since moving into our travel trailer four and a half months ago, we have caught up on two seasons of Bob's Burgers, watched scads of movies, taken numerous walks through various parks, and read a dozen books, with one more nearly finished. We have written and posted six new blog articles and taken thousands of travel and nature photos.
3. Minimalist Living
Shifting from a house or apartment to an RV forces you to focus on the important things in life. Obviously, you need food, clothing, and tools. But do you need 37 pairs of shoes? Do you need 4 TVs? Forty-three purses? Sixteen pairs of jeans?
When we started thinking about what we needed to keep and what we could get rid of, we made a list of items we knew we needed. Then we started hacking away at our seemingly innumerable amount of clothes. We purged everything that didn't fit. The following week we went through again and eradicated anything we had very similar duplicates of, choosing the one that fit best or was most versatile. After a couple weeks, we invaded the closet again and wiped out a third round of clothing, this time focusing on keeping just enough to get us through a week of regular use for each season.
When we had finally cleansed ourselves of all non-essentials, we loaded up the Expedition to deliver everything to the Salvation Army. Four truckloads later, we had reduced our possessions to what would fit in our 17 feet of travel trailer interior, plus a storage unit for keepsakes and a few pieces of large furniture, which we still need to deal with when we get back to Houston.
The other side of minimalist living is not focusing on things at all, but on the people in our lives, which leads me to the next couple reasons you should move into an RV.
4. Family Time
Living a more mobile lifestyle gives you the time and flexibility to visit loved ones.
We take workamping jobs along the way, but we were still able to spend Christmas in Mississippi with Marvin's family and then New Year's in Pennsylvania with my family. In May we'll fly down to Florida to visit my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew. In July we will spend time with both of our families before we head to Canada for a month or so.
5. New Friends
Traveling around the country in your RV will give you the opportunity to make new friends everywhere you go, and not just new friends, but a wide variety of friends. Whether you are sharing a meal together or just chatting over a cup of coffee, RV living will afford you ample occasions to connect with a community of like-minded individuals.
We have met couples from all over the country. Some live in their RVs full-time, year-round; others live in their RVs seasonally. Most are older couples; some are younger. Some travel with their kids; others with their pets; and some by themselves. Although each story is different, we are all connected by that desire to see more of the world than the town we grew up in.
6. Bonding With Your Companion
Whether your companion is a pet or a significant other, you'll be spending almost all your time together. You'll be forced to get along. When you get in an argument and the entirety of your living space is just 140 square feet, you have to "kiss and make up" quickly, or it will be a very long night. On the flip side, when your traveling companion is your best friend, you get the opportunity to do everything with your best friend - canoeing, hiking, biking, movie marathons, cooking, dining, and, if you are working along the way like we are, even working together.
For me, working with Marvin makes work seem much less like work, and much more like hanging out with my best friend while I occasionally sell Christmas trees or check in a truck entering the gate. And when we aren't working, we get to do all the things we love to do together!
7. Embracing Nature
When you travel around in an RV, you have the good fortune to experience nature first-hand, for better or for worse. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, the RV lifestyle affords you the opportunity to spend time witnessing the beauty of nature, from simple morning walks to invigorating long-distance hikes and demanding water activities. You also get the unique opportunity to hear raindrops that sound exactly like BBs tink-tink-tinking on your walls, or thunder that sounds like God is shaking a large metal sheet directly above your roof.
We have observed glorious sunrises, beheld magnificent sunsets, strolled outside on bright sunny days, and laid in bed thinking the wind would surely blow our little camper over. Learning to bask in the delightful days and overcome the troublesome ones encompasses much of what makes RV living so attractive to us. Taking the bad weather with the good makes us stronger and forces us to gain new knowledge and to rely on each other even more.
8. Seeing the Sites
In addition to being closer to nature in general, RV living affords you the best way to see all the sites this great country has to offer. National parks and natural wonders abound, and rich history thrives in both big cities and small towns.
Our list of places to visit across the US grows on an almost daily basis. We have explored downtown Memphis, as well as a small suburb outside Memphis. We have re-visited places around our childhood homes. And we are currently probing the small towns of South Texas. Our plans for the year include driving over to Mississippi and up to Pennsylvania, stopping along the way. Then from Pennsylvania, we hope to travel around the Eastern side of Lake Erie, making our way around the Canadian side of Lake Erie, part of Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, and Lake Superior. After a brief stint in Canada, we hope to continue down the Western sides of Lakes Superior and Michigan as we make our way back to Texas. Along the way, we hope to visit capital cities and small towns, little known wonders and major tourist destinations.
9. Mobility for International Travel
If you have a specific international travel destination you are dying to visit, but the only tickets that aren't outrageously priced fly from the East Coast or West Coast, you can plan your overland route to drop you in, say, San Francisco to catch that flight to Hong Kong. Being mobile allows for more flexible departure cities.
We'll be taking advantage of our mobility when we fly from Houston to Tampa and then on to Cuba in May, and when we catch a bus to Monterrey, Mexico, toward the end of the year. And who knows what other irresistible airfare deals will pop up before the year is out?
10. Weather Chasing
When you are mobile, you can easily change your environment to suit your desires. Don't like the blistering summers in Orlando, Florida? Head north! The thought of shoveling snow makes you want to curl up in a ball under your blankets and hibernate till spring? Escape to balmy Columbia, South Carolina, sunny Galveston, Texas, or tropical Naples, Florida.
Summers in South Texas involve blistering heat and endless dust, so we will be spending July and August in the North. But you can bet your bottom dollar we'll be back in the South before the snow starts to fly!
Are you a full-time RVer? What are your reasons for uprooting and going wherever the road takes you?
Thinking about making this change in your life and have questions? We're here to help!
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