• sparkfireswan

A&A Discuss 10 Best Tips For Living In An RV Full-Time

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

End of Week #64

Gualala River Redwood Park, Gualala CA

Miles traveled since last week's post = 0

Total miles traveled to date = 7,955 with trailer

And just like that it is the third week in August. Time is moving at an exponential rate these days. In about a month we will be on the road again, moving about - heading south, and back onto the path of uncertainty. Where will we "end up" for awhile after we travel for a few months? Will we spend winter in Florida? Will everywhere we want to go be open? Will everything be safe? Will the weather be safe? When will I see friends & family again? Is everything going to be okay with the RV? ... I have a lot of questions.

But that's one of the things with full-time RVing - half of the time you have no idea what to expect. It's better that way though, without expectations. Because whenever you do set yourself up with how you think it should go, life decides to completely change it. The Universe throws you a curveball. You hit a fork in the road - no pun intended.

I have to take some extra time as the days pass by, to remind myself that just like it always was before we got to Gualala - everything is going to be okay! Everything is going to continue to work out exactly how it was supposed to, and we are going to figure it out as we go. I trust the roads, and the process. And I'm excited for the adventure we will encounter along the way!

A&A Discuss 10 Best Tips For Living In An RV Full-Time

I feel like this summer there has been such an increase in the amount of people RVing, going full-time or even going for their first time. Maybe it's due to the state of the world and people needing to get out of town, or maybe it's because I work at a campground this summer and I'm hearing all about the first time stories - but either way, I thought it would be fun to talk about some ways you can prepare for living in an RV full-time.

Here is a list of my top 10 tips to get you started:

1. Prep your space for full-time living use.

A lot will go into prepping your new, small, mobile space for living, and it includes downsizing what you currently own. You are going to need to fit all that's left to your name in the cabinets and storage compartments that you have right there with you in your RV. It is helpful to start bringing in the essentials one by one so you can start to get a feel for what is going to fit and what isn't. This will be especially important with clothing, kitchen essentials like pots and pans and countertop appliances, and also with what foods you can fit in your refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards. Not everything you had before is going to fit, and you see that's the beauty of it because at the end of the day less is really more.

You have to make the space your own - how you like it, and what will feel the most comfortable for you long term. It has to feel like a space you feel safe in and can spend a lot of time in, if needed due to weather or whatever else. You have to feel at home in your space - and no one can tell you exactly what that will take. It's one of those things you have to figure out for yourself!

2. Learn your rig inside and out.

This tip should have actually been the number one spot, as I think it is arguably the very most important tip to tell you. I can't even begin to discuss how many people I've met or talked to this summer alone that have just purchased their first RV, or have rented one to use for an extended period of time, and they have absolutely no idea whatsoever on how to use anything in it. It's extremely important that you spend as much time as possible learning the ins and outs to operation, how to dump your grey, black and fresh water tanks, how to hook up your hoses, sewer and electric connections, and how to monitor your control panel. The best ways to arm yourself with all the info are to watch lots of YouTube videos and follow along from those already living full-time, and you can also read your RV manual bible from front to back.

Practice also makes perfect so it can be extremely helpful to play around with buttons and things you are reading and watching about so you have a firsthand experience to tie it to for full understanding. Then, teach someone else about it - whether that be your spouse, your kids or someone you will share the space with. They say you fully understand something once you are able to teach it to someone else.

3. Always be prepared for the unexpected, have no expectations.

If I were to say I struggle with any one thing, it probably is this - having no expectations. I am someone who likes to be as prepared as possible and sometimes I get my heart set on things turning out a certain way. But life on the road is teaching me a lot about what it means to go with the flow, release all attachments to outcomes, and essentially be open and prepared for anything that might come my way. Full-time RVing is all of that and more - you quite literally never know what you will encounter on the road, or how things will end up turning out no matter how much planning you put into it. But that is really the beauty of it all too - trusting the process and allowing what is meant to happen, to happen.

I've found that the more open minded you are about this experience, the better it goes. If you stress yourself out with expectations for it you will become disappointed at the first chance to be, likely on day one. And trust me, that time will come - it's just a question of when. I don't mean any of this in a negative way, as your experiences in life are simply what you make of them. I consider every situation that crosses our path to be in alignment with our destiny and a new opportunity to learn and grow. It doesn't mean it will be a tough situation, it could be a happy one too - it's all in our perspective.

4. Set up mail, a domicile and RV insurance.

This tip is going to depend more on what some of your preferences are, as if it's not important for you to have a home domicile or a mailbox set up then you can skip it entirely. There are still plenty of ways to utilize mail services on the road in having things shipped to Amazon lockers, UPS centers and even in setting up PO boxes and such. But we have found it most helpful to still utilize a "home" address back in Minnesota, and then to also use all of the other mail type services on the road too. Right now we are workamping at a campground that allows us to use their address for packages and this has helped us tremendously over the summer in getting care packages from family, and other supplies that we have needed.

A lot of full-time RVers will set up domicile in the state of South Dakota, as it's the easiest state to do so in and only requires you to spend one full night there before completing. It's also fairly cheap over a one year spread, only costing around $200 or less.

You will also want to ensure you have proper insurance set up for your RV and also your tow vehicle or towed vehicle if you have them. There isn't going to be a huge difference in rates overall between carriers, but we have specifically chosen Geico Insurance for our coverage. Accidents on the road can happen and it's always helpful to be prepared just in case!

5. Make a budget for life on the road.

It might be hard to estimate what your basic needs will be, but it's important that you try. You don't want to be completely blindsided by costs that can incur or by what an average month will entail. Things you will want to consider is average cost of campgrounds or boondocking supplies, gas for traveling xxx amount of miles, any current bills you must pay monthly (phone, insurance, internet, healthcare, etc.), and how much on average you will spend on essential supplies and food. Then, as a general rule of thumb, I always add at least $200 to that budget number for "just in case" or "fun" money - as you just never know what might come up!

In the beginning, before we moved into the RV, we spent countless hours on many notepads in the kitchen planning out what it would cost, how much money we would want to start out with, and what it will take down the road to sustain us. Please also consider factoring in a budget for maintenance needs, repairs, and emergencies too!

6. Download apps, save website resources, and join clubs and memberships.

I find this tip to be the most helpful on the road, and I'm always coming across new resources to add to my list. It's nice to have apps for finding campgrounds and boondocking destinations, and it's nice to have social media groups and memberships to connect with others on the best places to go and things to do. The internet is a vast area of resources at your fingertips to help ensure you succeed on your RV journey.

Some of the most helpful groups are related to camping, workamping or RVing on Facebook (just do a search), and the most helpful apps for camping are Campendium, freecampsites.net, and Park Advisor. The best memberships we like include the annual National Park Pass, something called Boondockers Welcome for free stays, and something new we are going to explore this fall is Harvest Hosts. I also save a ton of tabs on my cell phone and laptop for places to go or things I've come across from RV blogs or websites.

7. Make lists and plans of destinations to see.

But make your lists and plans while keeping in mind that things will still come up along the way to change your plans entirely. You will discover new places you still had never heard of no matter how many countless hours of research you spend - trust me on that one. I have found it most helpful to ask people for advice on certain travel destinations through use of my social media accounts and other Facebook groups I am apart of. I have also exhausted Google to the max in searching all the best things to do in x, y, z locations and will keep a running list handwritten and in my phone of what my plans are to do in each spot.

It can get overwhelming to try to plan everything all at once, so I find it's best to plan a week at a time, or even one city or state at a time and go from there. You will wear yourself out if you try to plan it all now, versus taking it one step at a time and seeing what other new opportunities may come up along the way. But at the same time you want to have a running list that is pretty broad to one area so you don't find yourself missing things along the way either.

8. Discuss emergency procedures for severe weather.

This is a very important thing to think about because when you are traveling through all different weather conditions across the country, anything can come up at any time. We had encountered a lot of severe storms last summer in South Dakota and it can be extremely terrifying and paralyzing to deal with. It's important to have thought through what you will do if you have a flood, a tornado, damaging winds and hail, a fire, a hurricane, and an earthquake - just to get you started. Researching the weather ahead of time wherever you are and staying on top of weather changes is going to be your best way to ensure you are prepared for whatever Mother Nature decides to throw your way.

There could also be times you need to evacuate on the fly or completely abandon your rig all together to seek shelter in your tow vehicle or another nearby building. If you travel with pets or children then it's important that everyone understands what actions will be taken should you have to seek shelter somewhere else during an emergency.

As I write this my phone just alerted me there is a wildfire in Sonoma county, near Guerneville, about 57 miles away from us. It states that the fire is 100 acres and growing and notifies you to be prepared to evacuate should it spread. OMG. This tip just got so much more real!

9. Perform regular checkups and maintenance on your rig and/or tow vehicle.

It's crucial to take care of your RV and any vehicle you have associated with it. We have learned this firsthand, even though we already maintain proper care, we have still dealt with a tire blowing on the highway and the damage that transpired after it. Proper maintenance will include cleaning off your roof, sweeping your slides, checking your tire pressure, checking for any damage, cracks, or leaks and repairing accordingly. We have been completing an oil change and tire rotation on our van that we use to tow our travel trailer, just about every 3,000 miles. This summer we are also in the process of putting all new tires on our travel trailer, and inspecting the brakes and any other key factors that are needed for travel.

Your RV and/or your tow vehicle will become your lifeline for travel and success on the road. Taking proper care of them both will ensure more adventure to come and will give you proper safety when traveling across country. We have found it's best to get into a habit and routine when taking off to travel, and after so many days of sitting still in one spot.

10. Always have fun.

This is really the golden rule here, because when it all comes down to it - it's just camping. Call it glamping, camping, RVing, or whatever you wish, but it's still just camping. You've already chosen a simpler life, you've already chosen to promote the things that are most important in your life and get rid of the rest, so all that's left is to make sure you are having fun doing it. Leave all the stress, and mess of your previous life behind, and step fully into the fun adventure that awaits you now.

You can find me out here making memories, one campsite at a time.

A special shout out to anyone out there living life differently. The trail blazers paving the way, doing what they feel is right, without needing the approval of society.


It's time for another travel adventure! Next week we will be taking a trip a few hours south to the Bay Area to explore San Francisco, all of the headlands north of the city, and parts of Point Reyes National Seashore. I will include a travel review of all that we do and all that we explore, just in time for another #TravelTuesday.

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For more reviews, content, and other adventures, be sure to follow me on Instagram at Spark Fire Swan.


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