The Hardest Parts of
Living in an RV
Adventure. Wanderlust. Freedom. These are words that come to mind when we imagine full-time travel. But in our almost 2 years on the road, we have learned that there are other words that are equally fitting to this lifestyle: Challenging. Demanding. Uncomfortable.
The truth is that we are absolutely in love with our life of full-time travel. We get to see places we had never imagined and have adventures that make most people’s bucket lists. But we can’t have any of that without the extra hard work that goes into living on the road. It’s easy to say that it’s worth it, but we have to work for it. But the truth is, we think, it’s worth it because we have to work for it.
Don’t get us wrong, we know for certain that we do not have the hardest lives in the world, but we know that hardship is always going to be on a sliding scale. That’s why we have decided to look for areas where we can take on extra responsibilities, find hardship, and seek discomfort in order to help us grow and propel us toward new adventures. RV life has been a massive part of that, and before we started our life on the road, we didn’t fully understand all of the new responsibilities, discomforts, and hard work the lifestyle would take. Or how much we would love it! We used to be much more comfortable in our “stationary lifestyle,” but we’ve found that when we push ourselves to do the harder things that we have a tendency to avoid, we are able to take ownership of the parts of our life that we truly enjoy, and that’s an incredible feeling.
If you are getting ready to start your full-time journey and are wondering, ‘What are the hardest parts of living in an RV?’ keep reading!
The Hardest Parts of Living in an RV
Planning Where to Stay
No matter how you travel, travel planning is a skill and time commitment in itself. It takes time and patience to plan the best routes, decide where to go and what to see and find a good RV park or boondocking spot. Our work dictates the majority of our travels, so a lot of the time it’s kind of a puzzle for us to figure out where we need to be and when what timelines and maps make the most sense for traveling efficiently (with shorter driving days and not going back to somewhere we’ve been), and trying to find some fun in between!
If you have the freedom to travel purely for pleasure, you may have a little more wiggle room than we do, but deciding where in the whole wide country to go next is a big decision in itself. There’s driving distance, time of year, activities, cell signal, and adequate RV parks or boondocking locations to consider, not to mention the day-to-day things like where the grocery stores are! We’ve also noticed that good RV parks fill up FAST.
Some of the really cool spots are even booked out a year in advance! So if you are one of those people who just want to go with the flow and plan your stay a couple of days in advance (or even just show up somewhere) don’t expect to have your pick of RV parks. If you really want to see cool places and stay at nice RV parks, planning well in advance is usually necessary.
Setting up and Packing the RV
This brings us to our next point – setting up and packing the RV. It takes us about an hour to pack up before we leave and an hour to set up each time we get somewhere – and that’s after almost 2 years of practice!
We don’t get to just pull up, climb into our big, comfy bed, and call it a day. And likewise, we can’t just wake up and hit the road. Packing up and setting up includes the normal things you’d imagine like putting in the slides, retracting the stabilizing jacks, and hitching up, but there are also extra steps we take so we can make sure our RV stays in good condition.
Things like sweeping the floors before we go, taping the cabinets shut, and even rearranging our personal items and food items to distribute weight evenly are important to taking care of our RV, and it’s our responsibility to make sure we slow down and take the time to do them every time we drive. And a lot of times, that’s the last thing we want to do when we’ve got a 10-hour drive ahead, or when we just finished a long day of driving.
Maintaining the RV
This may come as no surprise, but things break! It’s an inevitable piece of having a home on wheels: no matter how high quality the build of your RV, driving at 70+ mph on less than perfect roads means at some point, something will break. Getting repairs done on an RV via a dealer is very difficult for full-timers because they often have ridiculously long waitlists and repair times. When we considered taking our first RV in for repairs, we were told the dealership would have an opening in 6 weeks and we would have to wait 2 weeks for the repairs to actually take place. 8 weeks out of commission just isn’t fun (or always possible) for the full-time lifestyle.
So what we usually opt for is trying to see if we can fix things up ourselves! Most surface-level repairs like flooring tears, leaks, or shelving breaks just take a can-do attitude and maybe a few YouTube videos to figure it out. Plus, when we take those extra steps to maintain the RV’s good condition when packing up for a drive, a lot of those issues can be avoided.
Dumping RV Tanks
This task is not necessarily hard, but it can be uncomfortable at first. When we lived in our apartment with normal plumbing, we didn’t have to worry about our waste, like at all. Living in an RV, we now get to monitor, and yes, even see our waste leave our RV! About every 5 days to a week, we get to dump all of our tanks. RVs are built to make this experience as clean and comfortable as possible, so we don’t have to touch anything icky, and we usually don’t even have to smell anything. The tanks are all vented, and when we dump, everything goes straight through a sewer hose into a sewer connection, and then we treat the tank with Porta-Pak. It’s not too complicated or difficult, but it’s another one of those things we can’t shy away from in the RV life. The waste is there, and we have to deal with it.
There is one part of dumping our tanks that can be a real pain, and that’s the inconvenient timing. Since we do so much cooking, our galley tank tends to fill up every couple of days, and it always seems to get full after doing the dinner dishes at night when we just want to sleep! It’s really not even worth complaining about except that we love going to bed ridiculously early, but it is worth considering that it’s not as easy as flush or wash and forget!
Nothing is Ever Familiar
Since we are always traveling to a new location, it goes without saying that familiarity is scarce in this lifestyle. We feel like we have to stay in a place for around a month to really know the place, and that part can be really fun because we feel like we have a lot of different homes in different places. But most of the time, we just have to live off of Google Maps, and if we forget the name of the RV park and it’s not in the recent search history, good luck! Well, we’d probably just call each other and get it figured out 😂 Luckily, it hasn’t come to that yet, but Andrea has had a moment where she forgot where home was parked while she was out, and it’s a weird feeling!
It’s also worth mentioning how this applies to our hobbies. In “stationary life,” we could join one jiu-jitsu gym and one rock climbing gym. We’d get to know the people, the atmosphere, the little quirks about our gyms, and we would feel like we belonged there.
In full-time RV life, we are searching for a new jiu jitsu gym for Tyler and a rock climbing gym for Andrea every few weeks, and we never know what to expect when we get there. It can be exhausting to feel like we’re always searching for the next gym, and it definitely makes it daunting to go in for the first day. But all in all, we really like this part of being on the road because Tyler gets to experience a bunch of different approaches to jiu-jitsu, and Andrea gets to climb a lot of different styles of bouldering routes. We get to see our sports from a bunch of different perspectives, and that’s really fun! And we always have our favorite gyms that we are excited to get back to.
Social Life or Lack Thereof
Speaking of nothing being familiar, that extends to people, too. You don’t have to be a hermit to do this lifestyle, but your social life probably won’t look exactly how it did before! Although there are times where this lifestyle can feel a little isolating, most of the time it just feels freeing. When we don’t know anybody anywhere, can we really embarrass ourselves?
We’ve found that there’s nothing stopping us from being unapologetically ourselves because we are so much more anonymous when we bounce around from town to town. Plus, if we do make a fool of ourselves, we’ll be gone in a couple of weeks anyway! This lifestyle has given us a chance to listen to ourselves, reflect on our decisions, and discover more about what makes us happy. It is an inward journey of self-discovery, and we love it! While all this freedom and independence is one of our favorite things about this lifestyle, we also know that friendships and relationships are important, too, and we make an effort to connect with people on the road.
One way we do this is through Tyler’s Strangers Worth Meeting Podcast. This podcast is all about finding super cool people wherever we go and meeting up with them to chat about anything and everything. A lot of those people have become good friends that we would never have met otherwise! Tyler has also found some really great friends through jiu-jitsu since it’s such a social sport. Andrea is more introverted, but she has a few close friends that she makes an effort to call or FaceTime with on a regular basis. It’s really not that hard to stay in touch with friends these days, even from far away.
We’ve also noticed that our life on the road has given us opportunities to connect with people who live far away. It’s much easier to swing by and see someone on our way across the country than to make a dedicated trip out from our “stationary lifestyle.” In this lifestyle, we’ve gotten to reconnect with many more friends than before; we just see them a little less often.
Yes, there is added hardship that comes with living on the road. But we have found that these hard things are part of what makes this life so incredible. Not only do we have the ability and the opportunity to explore this beautiful country and go on adventures we hadn’t even dreamed of, we get to take so much more responsibility and find our independence and self-reliance along the way. From what we own to where we call home, and even how to structure our days, the amount of intentional choices we are able to make in our lifestyle is invigorating, and we hope it never changes!
Tyler & Andrea
We are full-time adventure seekers taking on the world in our East to West RV! We have seen so much personal growth during our first year of nomad life that we wanted a way to capture all of those moments and share them with you! Our goal is to inspire everyone to chase after their dreams and always seek adventure in whatever they do.