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Sacrifices of Full-Time RV Travel

Full-time traveling in an RV sounds pretty glamorous, right? And in many ways, it is! It’s filled with adventure, excitement, beautiful destinations, and sprinkled with flexibility and freedom. We love it…most days.

There’s a sacrifice for everything in life, they say, and it’s true. We love encouraging others to full-time RV and are constantly sharing the benefits of it. But, we also like sharing the truth and being transparent. So, this post is a serious #truthbomb and we are putting it all out there.

7 Things You’ll Sacrifice to Travel Full-Time in an RV

1. Being away from family

This one is probably obvious. For us, our entire family is in Colorado and we’re really close to them. While there are a few benefits to being away from family at times, it can also be very difficult. It’s hard missing family gatherings, birthdays, and watching nieces and nephews grow daily, etc. It can be a real challenge balancing a passion for adventure and travel with the desire to be near family.

FaceTime helps tremendously, however and we are so lucky to have today’s technology. Also, the beauty of having a traveling home is that you can take your home home (ha!). You always have the opportunity to return home and stay with family as long as you want or need. This doesn’t ease the pain of missing them during the months you’re away, but it’s truly a blessing to be able to return home at any time.

young woman hugging her mom goodbye next to her RV and truck
Lindsay cries every single time she says goodbye to her mom!

2. A home base

As we said, we visit home quite a bit. We not only love getting our family time in, but we also love our home state of Colorado. When we’re “home” though, we don’t really have our home. It’s not easy and sometimes not possible to park an RV at family’s houses. Which means you’ll have to store it somewhere and stay in someone’s guest room,

Staying out of your RV means you have to pack up your things, especially if you’re like us and don’t just stay a weekend, but are home for several weeks. It feels as though you are moving out of your RV and then moving back in when you hit the road again – which is a pain! Also, staying with friends and family isn’t always easy. You interrupt each other’s routines, your pet’s may not be welcome, and sometimes you just want your own space back (and I’m sure they do too!).

Having your own sticks and bricks home to return to while visiting loved ones could be extremely helpful. Somewhere you could park the RV, have clothes already inside, a stocked bathroom with personal items, and have an easy transition from home to home. It wouldn’t feel like you hit the “pause” button on our own life, like it sometimes feels for us when staying with family.

3. Relationships

We weren’t expecting our new travel lifestyle to affect the relationships in our lives. But, in some ways, it’s put a wrench between us and some of our loved ones. Distance can do that, though, and it’s important to understand that and not take it personally.

Having a unique lifestyle, such as full-time RVing, can make it difficult to connect with people who live a more conventional lifestyle. You’ll have less in common, and if you’re like us, you can only talk about your adventures so much before you feel a little uncomfortable. When returning home, too, it’s impossible to see everyone, which can be difficult for others to understand as well.

We’ve also been surprised, though, by the community we’ve found on the road. It’s amazing how many great friends we’ve gained by RVing and we may have otherwise never have met those people. So, while you may experience that the distance doesn’t make the hearts of some of your friends grow fonder, you’ll gain many new friends to support you during this new season of your life.

group of friends smiling while hiking near peyto lake in canada
We met these friends on the road and even caravanned to Canada together!

4. Lack of routine

Having a routine helps you stay productive, healthy, and organized. Being constantly on the move can make it really hard to find that routine. You’ll want to be out exploring as much as possible and experiencing as much of a destination as you can during the short time you are there. This can be extra challenging if you work full-time from the road as we do. We sometimes work during odd hours of the day, we neglect working out many days, we eat out because we get home too late to cook, etc.

Don’t get us wrong. We definitely don’t miss the routine we had in our old suburban lifestyle – wake up, commute, work, hit the gym, walk the dogs, make dinner, lather, rinse repeat. But, sometimes being in a new place each week feels a bit chaotic at times. Yes, it helps to slow down and stay in places longer. But, this lifestyle, at least for us, is about adventure and travel and we personally want to make the most of this time we have on the road.

5. Everyday Conveniences

Laundry, showers, and dumping…oh my! Certain tasks just aren’t as easy as they are in a stationary lifestyle. There’s not much space for laundry to pile up, so every 10 days or so you’ll be checking Google for the nearest laundromat – and don’t forget to load up on quarters and bring work or entertainment while you wait.

Showers may not be an inconvenience for everyone, unless you enjoy boondocking (off-grid dry camping without hookups). Conserving water means 90% of the time you don’t exactly feel the freshest. There are plenty of places to fill up on water or pay for a shower, but there’s nothing quite like taking a long, hot shower in your own home.

I don’t think I need to say much more about “dumping”. Nobody enjoys worrying about emptying their own sewage…end of story! But there are a few other inconveniences that come up daily with RV life. Dishes in a tiny sink, cooking in a tiny kitchen, finding dumpsters for your trash, and keeping the RV clean when you practically live outdoors are just a few!

Man with arm wrapped outside of hospital in Banff Canada
Did we mention the inconvenience of not having a doctor when you need one! Like when Dan needed stitches in Canada!

6. Hobbies

It can be much harder to join clubs and sports leagues with a traveling lifestyle. Unless you want to pay for multiple memberships all across the country, your hobbies and interest might suffer a bit. For example, Dan was working really hard to earn his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu before we hit the road. He loved his gym and the community he had built there. While he has checked out a few gyms along our travels, he ultimately has had to put this goal on pause for now.

Lindsay loved volunteering and being involved at church, and has missed that as well. Depending on your interests and level of involvement in your community, you might experience the same. There are definitely ways to get plugged into the communities you visit, but it’s just not the same when it’s temporary or short-lived.

7. Belongings

With RV life, you’re pretty much forced into becoming a minimalist. You definitely learn that the value you’ve been placing on material items is nothing compared to the value of experiences and memories. We have a storage unit of items that we couldn’t bear the thought of selling or donating, but now have a hard time remembering whats even in there and can’t wait to purge most of it! It’s true that you just don’t need as much as you think you do in life.

All that being said, there are just some belongings you can’t help but miss! Those items will be different for everyone, but here are some of the things we can’t bring in our RV that we miss terribly some days: a big screen TV with a PlayStation (Dan), a bathtub (Lindsay), and a king-size Sleep Number bed (both of us).

8. Space

Okay, another obvious one and this will greatly depend on the size of RV you have. We didn’t miss our space at all in our 30ft fifth-wheel and even had some empty storage areas. However, now that we live in a 25ft motorhome, it can feel a bit cramped at times. We like saying, though, that we live out of an RV, not in an RV. You have access to wide-open space right outside your door, which immediately helps!

It’s not so much the living space that you miss when living out of an RV, as much as the storage space, however. It seems like we’re always taking 5 things out just to get the 1 thing we need. Our dogs’ food and water dishes are in the shower, for example. Our laundry? Usually laying somewhere in the way where we’re constantly having to move it. Our kitchen dinette serves as a desk during the day and a dinner table at night – again, it can feel like musical chairs at times.

It’s also hard to stay clean and organized in small spaces. Even the smallest messes feel like their are taking over your life. You really have to find a space to put everything away – and stay on top of it! You don’t really have anywhere to go to “escape” and have your own space, either. So your alone time has to happen outside of the home.

Couple with 2 dogs living in an RV working remotely
We also miss real office spaces and desks at times!

We realize that we may sound like spoiled brats in this post and these sacrifices are nothing compared to what other people around the world sacrifice. We don’t take a single day for granted and have never been more grateful in our lives. Traveling full-time has been our greatest dream and this has been the opportunity of a lifetime.

We’re just trying to keep it real and our goal with our website has always been to help others – to inspire and educate. If you’re considering a life of travel and thinking about RV life, it’s important to know and prepare for the good and the bad. We hope we’ve done that and that our full transparency can be helpful to you!

Wanna know the benefits of RV life?

Check out these posts:

If You Dislike These 5 Things…Don’t Buy an RV (Don’t let the title confuse you – it’s actually 5 benefits of RVing!)

7 Life Lessons We’ve Learned From Full-Time RVing

Taking Your Marriage on the Road: How Full-Time RVing Improved Our Relationship

How RVing is Helping us Achieve a Greater Goal of Location Independence and Why It’s so Important

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4 years ago

Why weren’t you able to bring your PlayStation? We were planning on bringing ours when we start next year, is there no way to do that?

Daniel McKenzie
Daniel McKenzie
4 years ago
Reply to  Danielle

We absolutely could have brought the Playstation if we wanted… the problem was more associated with limited space and having to decide what was most important. Also, I usually play my Playstation on a second tv in the house so Lindsay could still use the main TV if she wanted. In the RV, we only had one, smaller sized tv and I knew that I would not be able to play it all that much. Hopefully that clears things up. Thanks for the question!

Bill Koeppe
Bill Koeppe
5 years ago

Cool. Have you ever felt unsafe (we definitely can protect ourselves)?

Daniel McKenzie
Daniel McKenzie
5 years ago
Reply to  Bill Koeppe

Hi Bill,

When we first started, we were very concerned with how safe we would feel. We certainly considered buying a gun just in case… Ultimately, we chose not to and we don’t regret that decision. We’ve been very fortunate and have never felt unsafe, even when staying in some questionable neighborhoods/campgrounds. Usually, people enjoying this lifestyle are really nice and helpful. Of course, anything could happen at any time, but that’s the same as living in a house or going to a movie in today’s world.

5 years ago

I have wondered about the laundry and shower thing, but the thought of waking up to a new backyard every few days is pretty exciting too! Thanks for sharing this :0)

Daniel McKenzie
Daniel McKenzie
5 years ago
Reply to  Peti

We just had another moment like this today! We have been laying pretty low over the last couple of days. Sort of boring, but the sunset over the lake tonight reminded us just how special every day really is!

M. Antoinette
M. Antoinette
5 years ago

Hello Lindsay,

Thanks so much for the transparency. I think it’s important for folks to have a full and balanced knowledge as to what they are about to embark on. Something in your post may make or break a person’s decision because you are keeping it real!

Daniel McKenzie
Daniel McKenzie
5 years ago
Reply to  M. Antoinette

Thank you for reading and commenting! We just want to provide as much information as we can – the good, the bad, and the ugly!