*Disclaimer: This post is part of a content series sponsored by Camping World. All opinions are our own.
Not only is RVing our favorite way to travel but the RV lifestyle has changed our lives.
We say that often and yes, it may sound a bit dramatic. But, it’s true so bare with us as we explain.
Our Story of Hitting the Road
We hit the road in 2017 after receiving some life altering news that we are not able to have biological children together. At the time we were building the so-called “American dream” – in the suburbs, working 9-5, living for the weekends.
We felt stuck, as if we had come to a dead end. After some time processing our situation, though, our perspective changed and we began to view this news as a detour. We had faith that this new path, although not the one we had originally planned to take, was going to be beautiful. So we followed it.
We spent over two years full-time adventuring in our RV. We traveled all over the country, coast to coast, even up to Canada and down to Mexico. The memories we made and the experiences we gained will forever be a part of us.
What surprised us, though, about RVing was all the additional benefits it gave us. It taught us so much about ourselves, brought us closer together, and overall taught us about the type of life we want to build. And now, we get the pleasure of sharing it with our son and hopefully other future children.
Fast forward to today and we feel like completely different people. After several years of RVing, we can’t believe the impact that RV life has had on us.
From Full-timers to Part-timers
We really had no plans of stopping full-timing but chose to abruptly come off the road after Dan’s mom received a terminal cancer diagnosis – another detour! So we transitioned back to a more stationary lifestyle much sooner than we expected to. During that time we also decided to pursue adoption as a way of growing our family and achieving our dream of becoming parents, which required us to be in a stable living environment, per the state of Colorado.
We decided that having a home base in Colorado, where our family is, would allow us to take breaks from the road whenever we wanted or needed but more importantly, to be able to still RV as often and for as long as we desired. We’ve been enjoying more of a “part-time” RV lifestyle ever since.
What we discovered is that the benefits we gained from RV life had little to do with actually being in an RV. The RV was just the vehicle (literally and figuratively) that allowed us to discover the type of people we wanted to be.
While we certainly miss the adventure and travel aspect when we aren’t in our RV, we’ve made certain to carry with us the values that RVing taught, no matter where we are. In fact, we’ve become so passionate about sharing the personal benefits of RVing and inspiring others to hit the road so they can experience it, too.
Values that RVing Taught us That We’ve Carried With us Off the Road
Living in less than 200 square feet certainly teaches you a thing or two about needs vs. wants. You quickly learn that you don’t need nearly as much stuff as you think you do.
However, this idea of being a minimalist is much more than that. It’s not about just living with less.
We’ve learned the importance of living for experiences and collecting memories over things. We’ve never regretted spending money on travel. There’s a quote we love: “travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer”. We couldn’t agree with that any more.
Moving back into a 3 bedroom house, it can be easy to get carried away with the things you think you need to fill it with. From furniture to gadgets to the vehicles parked in the garage. We’ve learned that those things don’t bring us joy like traveling and experiences do. We budget regularly, stay out of debt, and save so that we can jump in our RV and get away anytime we want. You simply cannot put a price tag on that kind of freedom.
We may be guilty of making RV life sound like it’s super glamorous and perfect. That’s simply because the good outweighs the sacrifices more often than not for us. But, let’s be clear that the RV lifestyle is not without challenges.
Traveling in an RV for extended periods of time comes with a lot of struggles. For starters, you’re constantly fatigued with all the decisions you continually have to make (where to go, how to get there, where to stay, what to do there, etc. etc. etc.).
Additionally, stuff on the RV breaks (so would your house if you were dragging it 70mph down the highway on a regular basis) and usually it breaks at the most inconvenient time. Not to mention, those breaks – or weather, or other conditions you have zero control of – can completely derail the travel plans you spent hours, or even days or weeks, piecing together.
The point here is that you have no choice but to be flexible. At first, you fight it and get frustrated. But eventually you learn to just roll with it. What a huge life lesson!
Our entire blog was started on the fact that life never goes the way you plan. RVing is no different and you have chances to practice your flexibility on a fairly regular basis.
Selling (almost) everything and moving into an RV to travel the country was terrifying. We had a list of about 27 other big tasks to do to make it happen, including me quitting my job and Dan finding a way to take his remote job on the road without jeopardizing his productivity.
Also, in 2017 it was not very common for people in their 30’s to do such a thing. RVing full-time was still considered more of a lifestyle for retirees. That said, a lot of our friends and family thought we were a bit crazy to take such a risk.
After we took that leap, we said to each other, “if we can hit the road full-time, we can do anything!” It truly felt empowering. To accomplish something that felt as big as taking our life on the road with no experience whatsoever reminded us that we can do other hard things!
We always look at becoming full-time RVers as the event that started a domino effect in our lives. It’s as if it gave us the confidence, or permission, to dream big in life. After hitting the road, we continued to take risks, like starting businesses and running a half marathon (even though we hate running). It showed us that the biggest part of achieving a dream is simply just going after it, avoiding excuses, and not giving up!
“Communication is key!”, you’ll hear everyone say when it comes to having successful relationships – not just in your marriage but in all relationships. We found out just how accurate this piece of advice is while living on the road full-time.
Before life on the road, we would typically see each other in passing during the work week. We’d only have the time before and after work to spend together, and usually that time was occupied by cooking breakfast and dinner and relaxing on the couch watching TV after a long day of work.
But in the RV, we are not only together 24/7 but we are also within about 5 feet or less of each other at all times. In that type of setting, combined with the stresses of RV life that I mentioned above, communication is not just key, it is critical!
We had to communicate about everything – what our roles and chores were going to be in the RV and on travel days, when we needed space or privacy, how we were feeling about the lifestyle and if we were still enjoying it – the list goes on and on. We typically used our long driving days for such conversations and check-ins with one another.
Today, whether we’re in our home on wheels or our sticks and bricks home, we still rely on communication. We’ve learned how much better we work together as a team if we take the time to connect and chat on a regular basis. RVing greatly improved our marriage both on and off the road.
Our time away in the RV impacted our other relationships as well. We found ourselves taking more time out of our days to call and check in on loved ones or set up Facetime dates with friends. We’d even try to send people post cards along our route. It was our way of not letting the distance cause a disconnect in our friendships and family.
In fact, because of the extra effort we put into communicating more regularly with loved ones, many of our relationships grew even stronger. It became a habit, and now even when we’re home at our house and not traveling in the RV, we find ourselves reaching out much more often than we did before we ever started RVing.
Looking back on our decision to follow our detour and hit the road full-time, nearly everything in our lives at that time changed. From my career, to our daily routines, our location and environment, and our overall outlook on life.
That type of change was exciting – scary, but exciting! Since then, we’ve experienced other life changes. Coming off the road was a big change and due to the circumstances of Dan’s mom’s illness, it felt like a negative change on a lot of levels. Of course we wanted to be home to spend our final days with her and care for her, but we wished none of it would have ever happened.
That change from our exciting adventurous days on the road to coming back and staying in Dan’s parent’s basement and saying one of the hardest goodbyes of our lives was extremely challenging for us. The only thing that helped was cherishing the time we had with Dan’s mom, and also utilizing that time to start the adoption process and pursue a new dream. We tried to make the most of it.
Change is one of the hardest things for many of us to do. Even the exciting changes are still hard and change often feels forced on us or comes from unexpected events.
RVing and the changes in our lives during our time on the road was a great reminder that change is inevitable and nothing in life is constant. Therefore you can choose to embrace change, regardless of how it comes to you, and find peace with it however you can.
We tend to think of life in seasons now. Each season has a different purpose and we adjust our goals and lifestyle accordingly. Even the most challenging changes in life, we’ve come to appreciate as an important part of our personal growth.
Change keeps you from feeling like you’re in a rut or stuck. Change IS the detour. It’s pivoting, turning, and growing in a new direction. Change is about trying not to plan your life out too much but instead staying present in the current phase you’re in and finding contentment. It keeps you on your toes, allows you to feel gratitude during the easier seasons of life. It’s all about perspective. Embrace it!
Seeking Opportunities Outside of Your Comfort Zone
As I mentioned, leaping into a full-time RV lifestyle was quite an adjustment. First of all, we had no idea how to RV. We had never operated an RV let alone lived and traveled across the country in one. Not only that, but I had to transition my skills as a teacher and find work in an industry I felt I had no business jumping into (blogging, freelance writing, content creation – I didn’t get a degree in any of that!).
Building the RV life pushed us waaaaaay out of our comfort zone. We were in new environments constantly and meeting new people everywhere we went. That kind of newness can make you feel pretty insecure at times. However, if you are willing to put yourself out there, it’s amazing the opportunities that come from it.
We met lifelong friends during our first couple years on the road. Also, opening myself up to learning new skills for work brought us several once in a lifetime opportunities. We got to host a travel show, run an online annual event that helped thousands of people realize their own RV dreams and hit the road, do speaking engagements, work for state tourism boards and get paid to travel, and I even wrote and self published a book.
Living back in the suburbs it’s easy to get comfortable in your own little bubble. You stick to what is comfortable in your city, your neighborhood, your same group of friends. But staying too much in your comfort zone can hold you back.
When we’re off the road and not RVing, we try to stay diligent about finding ways to continue to push ourselves outside our comfort zone. I seek out various interest groups within our city to join, I seek out new friendships even when it feels awkward to strike up a conversation with a stranger at a park or in a Facebook group, and we try to find new adventures and places to explore right in our own backyard. Sometimes we feel like a tourist in our own hometown because we’re constantly trying to dig up new restaurants, new sights, new people, and new experiences, just as we would when we’re traveling in our RV.
It’s not always easy but finding a way to break up your routine and avoid the mundane is so important for personal growth. It’s one of the best rewards of traveling, but you don’t have to go anywhere to step out of your shell and expand your horizons a bit.
Interested in Experiencing RV Life for Yourself?
I think it’s obvious that we can’t recommend it enough. If you’re looking to get into RVing, here’s a few tips to get you started:
- Try Before You Buy. If you have never RVed before and want to ensure you enjoy it before you invest in buying one, we suggest renting one first and going on a quick weekend camping trip. Good Sam is a great place to find RV rentals in your area – it’s like Airbnb for RVers!
- Check Out Our Resources Page: This page is what we consider our “one stop shop” for all our best RV resources. You’ll find information on how to find the best campsites, how much it costs to RV, must-have gear, RV travel recommendations, FAQs, and more!
- Take Our FREE 7 Day Email Course: “How to Get Started Full-Time RVing!“. We’ll send you everything you need to know, from preparing to hit the road to your launch day, right to your inbox.
- Go RV Shopping. Walking through all the makes and models at a dealership is not only fun but you can learn a lot as you browse. The sales people can help guide you and educate you as well. We recommend finding your nearest Camping World dealership. They’re all over the country in convenient locations and have huge inventories of RVs. We never feel hassled and they are even pet friendly!
If there’s anything else we can do to help, let us know!