Is RV Living Worth It Or Just A Stupid Fantasy?
We have all dreamed about doing it one day. Just sell everything and hit the road. Buy an RV and spend our days traveling the country, But is RV Life actually worth it?
Do the advantages out weigh the headaches? Is it even still enjoyable with how many people have purchased an RV in the last year and endlessly filled the campgrounds we are planning to go to?
We have been on the road for the last 9 months and if you stick with me a few minutes I am going to answer all of those questions for you.
My Wife and I had been daydreaming about living the RV Life for the better part of a decade. We would take road trips with our Son every year during his winter break from school, in an effort to get him to all 48 Continental United States before he graduated high school, which we did. This in itself was no easy task, but those 2 weeks every year gave us some of the most priceless memories any of us have as a family.
Back then we were just two young dumb ‘kids’ with a kid of our own, we started life off as many parents do, barely getting by and going hungry some nights to make sure there was enough food for him every day. We couldn’t afford a cup of coffee let alone a family road trip.
As time went on we got better jobs, started a business, and got sucked into the required rat race you need to run in order to get ahead in life. Things had become mundane and predictable, and every day started to seem like we were living in the movie Groundhog Day.
It was then that we decided we were going to throw a tent in the back of our 13 year old GMC Suburban and go on a camping road trip to as many states as we could that year, which then evolved into us making the 48 state goal, which then evolved into us deciding to revisit them all as empty nesters at 42.
There is a big difference in where you are in life at 24 and 42. On one hand your not a young dumb kid anymore, and you’ve got a few dollars in your pocket. On the other hand you’ve lost that fearless part of yourself who will just say screw it and take the big risk because you feel like you’re finally winning the game everyone else says you need to play.
When we purchased our first RV we never thought the following year we would be living the Nomad Life. Sure we had talked about it, and we were going to do it Some Day, but not next year. We are only 40, that would be the dumbest thing we’ve ever done. Wouldn’t it?
Our Son was going off to trade school and then heading out to work in another state, we were done coaching and being team mom, which leaves a surprising large amount of spare time in your day after work. Business was going really well and my Cousin had recently come on board the family business with me. We are just hitting that Golden time as adults where our expenses are down and our income is up, so we are supposed to spend the next 20 years stuffing money under the mattress for retirement right?
In all honesty that was our plan. We were going to deal with life being predictable for the foreseeable future while we got ready for the golden years and saved every penny so we could do cool stuff like hike the grand canyon when we hit 65, but then it happened. That curve ball that life throws at all of us at some point and takes the plan you thought was etched in stone and shows you that it was written on a Etch-a-Sketch in an earthquake zone.
Hiking the Grand Canyon in my 60’s is going to be impossible if my legs stop working in my 40’s. That was a long year and it forced us to reevaluate some of our life plans. We decided to move the Someday plan up and make it the Today plan.
We sold the House, my Cousin took over the business, our Son moved on with his plans, and we Hit The Road. We are going to drive no more than 4 hours in a day, with plenty of roadside attraction stops to break it up, head south for the winter and follow 70 degrees. I’m gonna make Jimmy Buffet proud and only ever wear Hawaiian shirts and flip flops the next 2 years.
LMAO… sure… that’s how it’s gone the last 9 months.
When we started heading south to visit friends and family along our route to Always Sunny Florida for the winter, so did the freak cold snap that brought freezing temperatures to states where the spend New Years Eve in their swimming pools. No matter, we made it Florida, and it eventually warmed up. To the lower 90’s in January.
Well no worries, we would rather be in bathing suits than winter jackets anyway. We stayed until March and then started heading north. This will be perfect. The weather isn’t crazy hot in the rest of the country, so we won’t need the AC and can do a lot of boondocking and recoup some of the money we spent partying with our new friends in Florida.
Well, Literally nothing has gone to plan since we sold our house and hit the road. We spent the next few weeks being chased by Tornado’s, or spending twice what we used to for a camp site so we could run the AC in the RV when we had to leave our dog home, or dealing what seems like damn near everything having some sort of catastrophic break down on the truck or camper.
So is it still enjoyable?
It is. My Wife and I spent last night sharing a glass of wine under more stars than I have ever seen in my life next to a lake in the mountains of Montana by ourselves in an empty section of a Free Camping area.
We are WAY over budget, and even though we only drove 2 hours down the road from our last stop we have a few “fixes” on our list of things to do today, and those glasses of wine started as a coping mechanism, but turned into the sweet taste of victory.
The last 2 weeks of traveling has really put this life choice into question. We were thinking about giving it up. When I say everything was breaking, I mean Everything. We broke a leaf spring on our truck. Popped one of the airbags. Broke the cross member that holds up our black tank, that was shitty…
And to top it all off, now our spirit was broken. For both of us. BUT, we hit the jackpot.
We were on our way to our first ever Boondocker’s Welcome when all of that happened, and all we had to do was get there, and we could sleep it off, and figure out how we were going to get “home” and quit trying to live out this stupid fantasy before it kills us.
Boondocker’s Welcome is a group of private home owners who allow RV travelers to park at their house for a night free of charge. We had never done it before so we were going to give it a try. This turned out to be one of the best decisions of our lives.
Our hosts Mark and Celia welcomed us with open arms, and we all hit off immediately. I don’t know if they could see the defeat on our faces, or if it was always their plan for the day, but then never let us dwell on the problems we were having that day. Instead they took us to their friends farm to pick sweet corn for the dinner they insisted on making us before we enjoyed drinks on their back porch while watching the sunset.
It was on the back of mind all night, who am I kidding it was at least in the middle, but at one point Mark said ‘Hey don’t worry about it, we’ll take care of it tomorrow”. This man doesn’t know me from a hole in the wall, we are two strangers from opposite sides of a camping app Loretta has on her phone.
We spent the next week fixing everything next to their barn, having dinner together, and site seeing around their town becoming friends. I don’t know if they knew it at the time, but they were repairing our souls that week while we were repairing our truck and camper.
We say all the time, the best part of this lifestyle is the people that you meet, rather than the places that you go. The 4 of us started as complete strangers and a week later were lifelong friends that can’t wait to see each other again.
I can fix anything. But that week, I was up a creek without a paddle. I don’t have a shop full of tools anymore, and even if I did, it would have been 2,000 miles away. There was no way we were going to be able to fix a broken leaf spring in a truck stop parking lot and we don’t know Anyone out here.
I was broken. For the second time in my life, I was completely broken. I’m a man who never takes no for an answer in life, there is always a way to get it done or make it happen, but today all I could do was look at my Wife and shrug my shoulders. I couldn’t wave the magic wand I always do and get us back on the road.
Mark and Celia didn’t have to let us stay at their house for a week, or drive us around town to pick up parts, of use his tools, or introduce us to their friends. But they did. Because they are great people? Maybe. Because they’ve been there before? Maybe.
Whatever the reason was, they just took us under their wing until ours was mended enough to fly again. They showed us that there are still amazing people in the world who are willing to help you without asking anything in return, regardless of what the news would have you believe. They showed us that life has hiccups, but they can all be overcome.
Who cares that the freezer door wont stay closed and its building up ice? I can adjust it tomorrow.
Who cares if the compressor for the airbags on the truck won’t work? We can replace it.
We won. We made it here. Even after everything we have gone through, we actually made it here.
The problem most of the people we have talked to in the last 9 months, who say it isn’t worth it, is that they starting to get pulled back into the Matrix, which is what was happening to us. We had started thinking like we were still stuck in the rat race, and life was falling apart.
That isn’t the case at all. No matter where you live, you are going to have to do maintenance to your house. Things break. The problem is we hadn’t budgeted for them. Not with time or money. We were keeping our travel schedule too tight, with these imaginary deadlines we had to get to places, and didn’t budget anything for repairs, so it seemed as though we were out of time and money. So a word of advice, budget for the bad days.
And as far as the filled campgrounds, sure they are more full than they used to be, but we haven’t had a problem staying at or near exactly where we wanted to be. You just have to be a little flexible.
Do the advantages out weigh the headaches?
This one is a whole hearted yes. Yes we have been put through the emotional ringer the last couple of weeks, but one thing I have learned over the years is that the bad days make you appreciate the good days that much more.
We could have given up at any point in the last 9 months but we didn’t. Not after the first tornado that was headed our way, and not after the third one that started forming over the parking lot we were in. We didn’t quit when the leaf spring broke, and we didn’t give up after being stuck in the RV in the pouring rain for 3 days annoying each other.
Because we didn’t give up, we have met people from all over the world who in some part have added to the experience we are having on the road. We got to meet friends in Yellowstone and hang out for a week.
We even got a chance to go “home” for 3 weeks and visit with friends and family and we still chose to hit the open road again and head off into the wild unknown like Lewis and Clark on an adventure across the country to see the things most of us only say we will go see one day.
Is it actually worth doing?
Like I mentioned earlier, last night my Wife and I had a whole section of a Dispersed Campground to ourselves, enjoying a glass of wine, watching the sun set and the moon rise and spent the night enjoying each others company under the stars.
If we were still at “home” can either of us say we wouldn’t have just been sitting on the couch playing on our phones ignoring each other because we had already done everything there is to do around town? Probably not.
So in a way that no words I ever write could begin to explain, YES.
It is actually worth doing. Take the chance. Live your life instead of just living.
If you want some tips on how to make it all happen, you can read our article series on how to sell it all and go, as well as SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube Channel, and hopefully, one day, we can have a beer around the campfire and swap stories of our travels.