Our svelte 32,220 lb monster. How little we knew when we first started out…

One of the beautiful things about aging is you carry along the wisdom of years of experience (that, and your wine gets better of course). By many standards you could easily call me but a pup in the great dog-park of life, but as our multi-year journey in RVing progresses I have managed to gleam a few gems of sageness which I can happily pass along. In that spirit, here are 10 things I wish I’d known before we went full-timing:

1/ Bigger is Not Always Better

Sometimes things are not as they seem. A fiery and dusty sunset in NM

I always imagined that you should try to buy the biggest RV you could afford. After all, who doesn’t want lots of space? Our travels over the past years, and perhaps more specifically the kind of travel we like to do (camping in public campgrounds, forests, state parks, off-the-beaten-track spots) has taught me that bigger is not always better. Our “beastly” size is super-comfortable but requires me to do quite a bit of detailed planning to make sure we can fit into the kinds of spots we like to visit. In retrospect, I would have wished for a smaller RV. For those camping mostly in private parks this is not a consideration, but for our kinda camping it sure would be nice with a few less feet.

2/ Hard-Mounted Satellite Dishes are Mostly Useless

When we first got the RV the thought of a hard-mounted, fully-automatic Satellite TV dish on our roof seemed just the ticket. Push a button and off you go….fabulous! However camping as we do in lots of spots with trees and obstacles we have line-of-sight perhaps only ~50% of the time making our dish mostly useless. In retrospect a movable dish would totally be the way to go.

3/ Most Camping Clubs Are Not Worth It

Most of the places we go don’t taking club passes. This is gorgeous Eagle Nest State Park, NM

When we first started RVing we signed up to just about every camping club out there, Sam’s Club, Escapees, Club USA etc. In retrospect (again because of where/how we like to camp) these were not worth it. The only camping club I currently consider is Passport America, mostly for short stops and I do like the Escapees Days End list, but even these have mostly been replaced by overnight “freebies” when we need them. The rest of the time we’re out in nature/boonies where club memberships do not go. For some people clubs are great and they can certainly be cost saving if you make use of them, but for us they’ve simply not made the cut.

4/ Beware Heavy Slides

I love the slides in our motorhome because of the massive amount of space they give internally, but it seems some manufacturers go overboard. Our “beast” has a massive front drivers-side slide with refrigerator in the slide, something I now understand is an engineering no-no. The weight of the slide has been the cause of the only real issues on our home in 2 years. I love slides and will always want them, but in retrospect I would never buy another home with a fridge in a slide-out.

5/ Finding Great Public Campgrounds Can Be Easy

Finding great campsites can be easy. Soaking in the view at fabulous Elephant Butte State Park, NM

The first year of RVing I struggled to find the kinds of campgrounds (natural, green, spacious) that we like to visit. It was a constant battle of going to one website, through a ton of clicks, then another website, then to a map, then to another spot and back again to try and figure out which one matched our route. Early this year I discovered uscampgrounds.info and my planning life changed. If you like public camping there’s simply no better resource out there and I use it as the base for all our travel planning now.

6/ You Don’t Have to Sign Any Internet Contracts

When we initially looked at internet solutions we knew we wanted a Verizon-based system since it was simply the best coverage out there (and our experience has proved that true). We ended up w/ a 2-year 5GB/mo contract which is a little tight for our needs. What we didn’t know was that you can get a Verizon-based coverage using no-contract resale partners such as Millenicom. It’s the same coverage, but simply without the contract! You can boost it just like any system out there too. Millenicom resells both Verizon and Sprint and they won’t/can’t tell you (directly) who they’re using, but you can easily narrow it down via the device (the Verizon-based contract is currently offered on the 20GB/mo deal using the Novatel U760 Device). For more info check the forums.

7/ Take Your Time On the Road

Take your time to smell the roses..or in this case the sea. Boondocking for 10 days at Sea Rim, TX

When we first started on the road we rushed like crazed animals on stampede to see as much and as far an area as we could possibly see within the timeframe given. It took several months before we realized none of this was necessary. In fact taking more time to enjoy our surroundings not only saved us money, but we’ve met more people, seen more local gems, created a sense of community and felt more in-tune with the journey. Our 2-month trip through New Mexico earlier this year was a great example of how this attitude has really made sense for us. We are progressing more and more into “sitters” (RVers that spend several weeks in one spot) rather than “movers”. It may not be for everyone, but I sure recommend giving it a try.

8/ You Really Don’t Need Much Stuff

I spent months trying to figure out what to take on the road before we started out. I already knew (instinctively) that we wouldn’t need much, but  I wanted to try to cover all the bases. The truth is that we needed even less than that. I took ~10% of my then-wardrobe with me, and I currently use about 10% of that. We brought along tents and other equipment we never use.  We ALSO ended up buying a bunch of nifty (so we thought) “RV stuff” before we’d really spent any time in the rig on the road, another thing I’d now consider a no-no. In retrospect spending some time on the road before loading up would have made alot more sense. We’re planning a major cleaning-out when we get back to our storage in San Diego this winter and will end up much lighter for it (no doubt). If we keep this up the storage might end up going too…

9/ Follow the Weather

My kind of view….hanging out in perfect weather at The Forgotten Coast, FL

This kinda makes obvious senses, but when we first started out we really didn’t pay too much attention to weather. In our first year we ended up travelling through the Mid-West in very hot and buggy conditions, not ideal for a natural-born bug magnet (such as myself) in a metal home. Since then we’ve paid closer attention and the beauty of being mobile is that you can do exactly that. I launched my flip-flop barometer early this year and we managed (mostly) to stay right on it. We’re wintering in the SW this year and will be back to cool and gorgeous coast & mountains by next summer. Most definitely the flip-flop way to go!

10/ RVing Costs Are Manageable

We agonized over the cost of full-time RVing for a long time before we jumped in. The truth is costs are flexible and totally manageable and our experience has certainly proved that to be so. There are great options for saving money both on camping, gas, health insurance, taxes, car/RV registration and other areas. You can take your time and boondock, workamp along the way or run around and stay in pricey resorts. All can be great experiences, but the real beauty is that the choice is there.

Well that wraps up my list…got any good ones of your own?

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111 Responses to 10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Fulltime RVing…

  1. another outstanding post–and very timely for me-have finally reached a decision re hitting the road after following your blog and so many others–a great source of inspiration and information. have been doing lots of research on the forums and just signed up for the Escapees Boot Camp as a walk-in. will finalize my thinking re rig size and other items soon and this input is great!! hope to hit the road by the end of the year as the “downsizing” is already completed and most is in storage–need to “just do it”!! thanks again for all the info–really enjoy your posts–you guys have been a big inspiration

    • libertatemamo says:

      CONGRATS on the up-coming fulltming! As you can tell it’s a pretty addictive lifestyle :) Enjoy every minute of it!
      Nina

  2. Daniel says:

    I totally agree with your list.
    A non resident has to leave the country after his staying permit expires which is usually after 6 months (Max) so we cannot do it full time but I consider ourselves as “Summer full timers” that have 2 residents:one at our home in Israel and the second on wheels in North America-this is for as the optimum and we are enjoying it for the last 10 years.

  3. These are all very good suggestions. We have RVed for about 7 years now and plan on full timing in 5 years and agree with your conclusions. We have not encountered issues with our slides and hope we never do.

  4. Sandie says:

    Great list. Especially the size of the rig and taking your time. Our first year out we tore around the country. Now we’ve learned to slow down and enjoy the journey.

  5. This is a good list – thanks!

    If we ever “upgrade,” we will definitely downsize.

    Maybe in two years we’ll do a Top 10 list, too!

    Roxanne

  6. Sue Bank says:

    Wow, this is exactly the list I was looking for, and I didn’t even know it!
    You’ve answered so many of our questions, and confirmed many of our suspicions. Thanks! We’re heading out on a years “excellent adventure” in April.
    Sue

  7. A.NOVELL says:

    I agree with you totally on the size issue, especially now that manufactures are making more diesel pushers in 36 ft and 38 ft.

    • libertatemamo says:

      You’re so very right. Many of the new 36-foot floor-plans are excellent, and those few feet less make a big difference in “fitting” into tight spots.
      Nina

  8. Sheila says:

    Hi Nina, I love this post!
    I agree with your list. Howard and I are part-timers, in the RV during the winter months and home in Colorado during the summer months. We start off at the end of October and we ALWAYS seem to take too much “stuff” and way too many clothes. Last year I took more winter clothes than summer and did not really need them at all. We purchased our coach in 2006 and have been out on-the-road every winter since. You would think I could gage what clothes I will need by now, but for some reason this task eludes me!

    We use Verizon for voice and some data, DirecTV with the dome on the roof of the RV and DirecWay for most of our internet connections. Since we use DirecWay we have to carry the dish everywhere and spend time setting it up, of course we can place it anywhere within reach of the RV, which is beneficial. It is however big and it takes up a lot of room. We haven’t gotten rid of it, because we like having it at home and it has been very reliable! We are debating changing to another service, but we have not made up our minds what the replacement would be.

    Our favorite type of camping is in county and state parks enjoying nature. Our 40ft – one-slide- home does pretty well in these environments. However, we are not as adventuresome as you guys! Wishing to make it so!!!

    A few of thoughts on part-time (or full-timing) RV living:
    ~avoid some stress and hassle -never consider yourselves on vacation, you are just living differently
    ~routinely investigate and schedule things to do
    ~bring your hobbies and continue enjoying them if at all possible
    ~don’t forget to challenge your mind, enrich your soul and exercise
    ~as you have stated – don’t rush to get to different places
    ~thoroughly enjoy where you are
    ~take a few risks – adventure waits
    ~if you don’t like a place you can always just leave (we spent the entire month of February one year in cold and rainy conditions and why we did not just leave is beyond me) now we would for sure hid the road
    ~socialize and enjoy other RV’ers
    ~remember – alone time is okay and needed

    I saw a bumper sticker today that stated: “wag more and bark less”.
    So wag more, enjoy your life and each other.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Some FABULOUS tips Sheila! Thanks so much for sharing them all!
      Especially love the “wag more and bark less”…one that speaks to me :)
      Nina

  9. Marsha says:

    We also use uscampgrounds.info. Great resource. Full-timing is certainly not for everyone. It requires some risk taking, overcoming fears of the unknown, saying good-bye to family and friends, and doing some things that may not seem wise. In the beginning, Paul admits, that one of his biggest full-timing faults is, he has difficulty “rolling-with-the-punches.” I find that the most challenging thing is not looking back so much. I love to reminisce and this leads me to get a bit melancholy. We have enjoyed worshipping with many different denomination and at nondenominational churches. We have made so many new friends that we stopped counting. This is one of the biggest advantages to our lifestyle. Thanks, Nina, for the great blog and giving Paul and I a few minutes of reflecting on our past year.

    • libertatemamo says:

      It’s amazing how many people you meet on the road. RVing brings you into a community that’s unique and special, but so very rewarding!
      Nina

  10. Randy Williams says:

    From someone on the sideline it all seems very well thought out information, thanks again for taking the time.

  11. Martha says:

    Great blog! lots of ideas for “newbies” — we have been fulltimers for almost one-year now and are in agreement with many of the items on your list (size and taking your time especially!) We have also been fortunate to meet helpful people on our travels and certainly fellow bloggers encourage and guide us! Keep up the great posts and we hope to get to meet you in person soon!! Martha

  12. Awesome post, and we thoroughly concur on all points after our 5+ years on the road! (Of course, we’re coming from the other end of the scale, starting off in a 16′ trailer and now in a 35′ vintage bus ;) ).

    Everytime I read on your posts or comments on our blog, it reminds me how much I look forward to our paths crossing in our respective journeys.

    For folks with smartphones, the uscampgrounds.info is also available as a mobile app called ‘CampWhere’. It’s incredibly well designed, and we use it regularly to find public camping options. Great resource, for sure!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Definitely look forward to meeting you guys too! Your blog was one of the very first inspirations for our current lifestyle.
      Cheers also for the tip on the app!
      Nina

  13. Terry & Linda says:

    #1- Agreed. We would like to have a smaller (21-30 ft) rv to supplement our current unit.
    #2- We carry a portable dish and use it about 35% of the time.
    #3- Passport America easily pays for itself.
    #4- Completely agree. Not sold on those full wall slides either.
    #5- Good to know, thanks.
    #6- Really good to know!
    #7- Slowing down really gives us the chance to become part of the area and know the people.
    #8- Still working on this one.
    #9- Always!!!
    #10- Plus you have to prepare for unexpected expenses. Like bumping your head.

  14. Michelle says:

    Thanks for the great post. If you were to pick an RV today, what model and floor plan would you pick? I love the idea of the shorter Newmars but we don’t have dealer in the area where I can see them.
    Cheers!
    Michelle

  15. As always, I love reading your blog and if I can gain one new piece of information then I am a happy “camper”! You’ve confirmed a lot of what we have discovered in our year+ on the road. We live in a 35′, 2 slide motorhome that is the perfect fit for us & we have not had a problem yet finding a site. We were turned on to Millenicom at the start of our journey by the Technomads and not only do they offer a great product, their customer service is awesome. Our rig came with a roof-top satelite dish but as we are not avid TV watchers we decided to try the life without hooking it up & have just enjoyed TV when we were at a park with cable or just watching the local stations with our antenna when it is available. We also joined all the clubs our first year and are now down to PA & Escapees.

    I really want to slow down our travels and experience a little bit more of nature in our travels. The Technomads turned me on to the overnightrvparking.com site, which I love and now I am excited to try the uscampgrounds.info site you recommended. I also LOVE your flip-flop rule as we definitely try to follow the sunshine.

    Thanks again for being an inspiration to so many of us!

    • libertatemamo says:

      I think your size RV is almost perfect! It’s probably the size we’d look at were we to do it over. Good to know you guys enjoy Millenicom. That pretty much matches just about every experience I’ve heard on them. We’re switching as soon as our contract w/ Verizon is up.
      Nina

  16. Mark says:

    This is a great post.

    While we have only been out 4 months the size issue is true. Ours is the reverse of your issue. Ours is 33 ft. How long is your motorhome?
    Our 33footer size is perfect for almost anywhere, but greats issues inside and for under storage. When we get our next one we are thinking about a 36 to 38ft. We have less than 1 foot of Counter space in Kitchen.

    Will ditch the tow dolly pronto, it is a pain. Even though we the motorhome is 33 ft. with car and dolly we are 58ft. Nightmare for getting in tight places, even gas stations are difficult.

    Great set of things to consider before heading out.
    Mark

    • libertatemamo says:

      We’re 40-foot “officially”, but actually ~41.6-foot if you measure end-to-end. It’s just a tad too big. I think around 35-38 is a good range.
      Totally agree w/ you on the dolly. We decided to go flat-tow from the start and are very happy w/ that decision. It’s so much less hassle and space-saving too.
      Nina

      • Mark says:

        Nina,
        How do you add the Reply button?
        I am currently on Blogger , I notice you are on WordPress.
        Is there a specific widget,gadget or plugin, or whatever its called??
        It really is nice to be able to reply to a comment instead of just making another comment about a comment.

        Thanks
        Mark

        • libertatemamo says:

          Ummmm…I have to admit WordPress does that one automatically so I don’t have much help to give you on that one. Sorry :(
          I do like the WordPress comments format.
          Nina

  17. Linda Sand says:

    Our not quite 35′ motorhome has been the perfect size for getting into places bigger RVs won’t fit. Our frig is on a full-wall slide but it has never been a problem in the year and a half we’ve lived in this rig. But, we are now preparing to leave the road so our 2010 Winneago 34Y will be for sale this fall. It will be a great opportunity for someone looking for a big little motorhome. If interested, watch our blog for details to come soon.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Ahhhh…sorry to hear you guys are getting off the road. I’ll definitely keep a watch on your blog for more info.
      Nina

  18. Excellent thoughts and we agree on all of them, especially the part about bigger is not always better. Although there are times when our 24′ 5er seems small, almost all of the time we’re in there we feel that the space is just right for our lifestyle.

    As for the roof-mounted dish…don’t give up, usually it’s just a matter of repositioning your rig by only a few feet. At least that’s our experience with our Motosat.

    • libertatemamo says:

      I have to admit the satellite dish does frustrate me. We’re (yet again) in a site w/ no contact today and I’m not sure I could reposition to make it work.
      Then again, I’m not the most patient type :)
      I do love the size of your home!
      Nina

  19. jil mohr says:

    nice list (research is the key here I think as you have found out)…although I would never give up my escapee membership as I joined to be part of their community…it so much more then a campground membership….I will be curious to see what your list next year will be like…mine is ever changing as I am sure yours will too….

    • libertatemamo says:

      Escapees does have a wonderful community. Totally agree on that one.
      And you’re right on the list too. RVing is a constantly-learning thing, just like everything in life. No doubt my list will evolve and change!
      Nina

  20. Briana says:

    Love this post. We will be back home in San Diego this Winter too (in our 24′ RV –which I think is the PERFECT size! :) ) We should make it a point to meet up there since we haven’t had the chance yet being “sitters” or “movers”.
    :)
    Tally Ho!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh yes…let’s DEFINITELY meet up in San Diego. We’ll probably be there starting around beginning Dec. Gonna book in the next week or so.
      Nina

  21. Sure agree with 9 of your 10, and for your style, even that one (about most camping clubs) is true. We also were in vacatioh mode and just about burned ourselves out at first. Anxious now to try out uscampgrounds.info!

  22. Brent says:

    We’ve been thinking some of the same things and although I can’t argue with number 1 I suspect that there are a lot of advantages to a larger rig that will be missed once you have lived in something smaller for a while.

    We’ve never actually bothered with our satellite dish but I wonder if you have the same problems with your solar panels as well. Thinking that if we end up adding some solar to our set up will just go with free standing panels and move them around much like Imperfect Destiny does with their set up.

    • libertatemamo says:

      The Solar question is a great one. We haven’t had nearly the problems w/ getting adequate solar coverage w/ the fixed roof-panels as we’ve had w/ the fixed satellite dish. For our satellite we have to have direct line-of-sight and a few trees (or even branches!) will easily throw it off. For the solar, although it’s best (of course) to have full sun, we’ll often be fine as long as we can get an adequate amount of sun for at least a few hours. We dry-camped in pretty heavy forest both in NM & CO where we got part-sun and it was enough to recharge us daily. I’ve been very happy w/ the set-up.
      I do get the idea of movable panels tho’…it does provide more options.
      Nina

      • bretmar says:

        We are doing our research now & are pretty sure we will be rv-ING full time soon! I’m loving your list & replies. I started feeling more confident & excited as I read this thread. Now, my question is do you have an update to your list? ?? It’s April 2014 & I’m reading from 2011 Lol. Thank you so much!

        • libertatemamo says:

          It’s a good question Bretmar and surprisingly my Top 10 are pretty much the same, even 3 years later. Perhaps the biggest thing we’ve learned in the last 3 years is better tank management allowing us to boondock more (plus we’ve gotten much better at finding boondocking locations), but that really just fits into the flexible budget catagory.

          Also having spent lots more time in very windy areas (where we often have to pullin the slides to protect the toppers) I’d recommend buying an RV where everything is functionally usable with the slides in. That’ll help when you’re overnighting somewhere, or just want to stop for lunch say too. Ours is totally functionally usable (which is great!), but it’s total luck coz we didn’t actually think about this when we bought the rig.

          Otherwise there’s nothing I would change or alter in this list. The lessons are all super-valid even today.

          Nina

  23. Becky Schade says:

    As someone who is getting ready to go RVing full-time, thanks for these Nina, and all the other tips you two have posted about solar and expenses on the road and the like :)

    Number six was especially helpful. Here I’d been thinking I was going to have to sacrifice internet time and watch my usage like a hawk to stay under Verizon’s 5GB/mo cap. With Millenicom’s 20GB/mo plan that shouldn’t be a problem, and I’m willing to pay more for the device up front to escape having a two year plan. What a life saver. :)

    • libertatemamo says:

      So happy it’s helpful. I do think the Millenicom deal is one of the best out there.
      Good luck on the upcoming full-timing!
      Nina

      • DIANWATKINS says:

        Hi Nina, appreciate ur list of 10 things . . . We have gone on the road for a straight 3 months then again for 4 months. We have several memberships and we love camping with the conveniences of home so the memberships we have are absolutely wonderful money savers galor. Our main issue has been rushing to get from one state to another so ur comment to slow down and get aquatinted and feel more at home sounds excellent. I was wondering if you have any idea the cost of the 20GB/ monthly cost. We have Verizon and the 5GB is not ever enough for us. My husband both have IPads so we need more GBs and the 20GB with Millenicom is something I too would like to check into after my contract is over. Totally agree with your list.
        Thank You so much!

        • libertatemamo says:

          The price for Millenicom just raised to $89.99/mo for 20GB (previously it was $69.99). It’s still the best deal out there for the amount if data you get on Verizon. It’s what we use and we’re very happy with it.

          Nina

  24. Awesome list, and we pretty much discovered each of these too! Well, we actually never realized how easy it is to find great campgrounds, so that one’s off our list (wish we had known about that website!). And even though our fridge was in our slide, we didn’t have any problems with it (but maybe that’s because we sold it before the issues could emerge?). But other than those, I feel ya. :)

  25. [...] 10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Fulltime RVing… One of the beautiful things about aging is you carry along the wisdom of years of experience (that, and your wine gets better of course). By many standards you could easily call me but a pup in the… Source: wheelingit.wordpress.com [...]

  26. William says:

    I love the articles that come from first hand experience. I bookmarked several sites you mentioned and really enjoyed the knowledge you’ve added to my Rving experience ahead of me and My wife. Thanks again..

  27. Not all RV Manufacturers are created equal. I joined the RV Consumer Group http://rv.org/ Well worth the investment prior to making such a large purchase.

  28. There is an excellent ipad ap that we found while using the internet public campground web site you use. It is called campmore. Cost is under 5 bucks. It is the same info as the web site, but the ipad ap is really really easy to use. Easier than the web site.

    Satellite internet. When we bought our coach used it had a Motosat internet satellite on it. We activated it and use it a lot. It has worked flawlessly except for when Hughes changed frequencies and that was a big dust up and PIA to get working right again. There was no equipment failure just software junk from Hughes. I bring this up as you mentioned sat internet in your “10 things”. The thing that is really really great about the sat internet is that you can be boondocked in the middle of no where and it works if you have clear vision to the satellite. For the most part it is not as fast as Verizon 3G with a good signal. But it is pretty fast. Now that there is a second big player just launched a bird (a San Diego company BTW) Hughes will have some competition and I would guess everyone will get faster. You can buy motosat dishes used.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Thanks for the tips & thoughts. We’ve had very good coverage with Verizon since we started using them (only a handful of campgrounds where we couldn’t get signal) so for the time being we’re happy w/ their service. I think if we travelled regularly to sites without Verizon coverage we might opt for a movable satellite dish, but so far it’s not made the list.
      Nina

  29. 6/ You Don’t Have to Sign Any Internet Contracts

    Have you guys actually used Millenicom yet or are you still stuck in the 2 year contract with Verizon? I currently have the USB 760 stick I purchased and I buy data from Verizon for $80 for 5GB which is very tight for my needs.

    When my 5GB runs out next I was going to give Millenicom a try but wanted to make sure I get the same great coverage and speed.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Denise,

      We have not used it (yet!) since we’re still waiting for our Verizon contract to end, but I’ve talked w/ many who have and who have and are happy w/ it. The nice thing is you have the option to cancel month-to-month if you’re unhappy.

      Two important points when you go w/ Millenicon -> make sure you sign-up for the deal that runs on the Verizon network (not the other networks) AND I would *not* go for the 4G deal (yet). Technomadia have been checking it out and don’t think it’s ready yet. Check out their post here:
      http://www.technomadia.com/2011/12/technomadia-tech-update-avoid-samsung-sch-l11/

      Nina

  30. [...] stay put around San Diego for a few more months. You could call it an extension of our whole “take your time” motto that’s naturally becoming part of our 2012 travel plans. So far we’re [...]

  31. Julee Meltzer says:

    Hi-I just shared this on our full-time RV group and LOTS of people really liked it!

  32. great information. . .just discovered your blog from a great post on FaceBook – https://www.facebook.com/groups/fulltimervers/266660516752346/?ref=notif&notif_t=group_activity

    Would love to also share a link to your post on my blog for fulltimers – http://readytogofulltimerving.com

    Look forward to reading more of your articles. . .
    Janice

  33. [...] things I love about RVing, but you risk fizzling out and collaping if you go at it too hard. We made the mistake, as many new RVers do, of racing around waaay too much in our first year. Not only that but we [...]

  34. Terry & Belinda + Dayton the wonder dog says:

    We’re enjoying the “Tutoring” you are providing. We bought our first MH in 1996 and Boondocked almost everywhere we camped due to our hobby. Through the years sorta got out of the habit and we really miss it a lot! We’re pulling the trigger and will be fulltime by January with the stix and brix for sale. Four years in the planning and looking forward to this. Thanks again for your insight in this much needed lifestyle(us). 336Muffin

  35. [...] keeping us “locked in” to the deal. Grrrr!This annoyed me so much it became item #6 of 10 Thing I Wish I’d Known Before Fulltime RVing. So we waited, and waited, and patiently waited until we could get rid of the darn thing and take [...]

  36. Bettina says:

    Hi Nina,

    As my husband prepare to hit the road (selling our home in Oregon, trading in our truck and buying a fifth wheel) your blog is invaluable. ( BTW I am in week 4 of the no-poo and love it!!)

    We are avid birders and love the solitude of nature. We imagine we will be staying and volunteering in wildlife refuges, state parks and boondocking for the most part. We are looking at the Northwoods Arctic Fox 32-5M (34’11′).( We love our daily yoga practice and need a floor plan that fits 2 yoga mats) We are heading to the Northwoods dealer in Oregon in the beginning of april to see about trading our truck in for a diesel long bed and buying the fifth wheel. Northwoods just came out with a new fifth wheel floor plan that rocks(35-5z) but it is 38’11”. In regards to bigger is not better do you have any guidance here to help our decision making process? I know this is a very personal decision. ANY input will be helpful. It is just the two of us and our binoculars, camera, bird books, and laptop computers for the most part. This is such a huge decision and we will be living with it for a long time.

    Thanks for being a sounding board:)
    Bettina

    • libertatemamo says:

      I guess my best recommendation would be to look at back clearance. What we’ve found boondocking with friends is that some of the longer 5th wheels have a lot of back overhang (behind the rear wheel) and/or low clearance at the back. We went to some BLM land with buddies last year that had a 38 foot 5th wheel and they were scraping the back end over all the bumps while our 42-foot MH cleared them all with no issue. It’s not a critical thing, but I think if you really feel like you’ll be doing a lot of boondocking, then it makes a difference.

      Another thing to keep in mind is that a bigger, heavier 5th wheel may require a bigger, heftier truck. Totally depends on the model and weight, but it could bump you up on $$ for the tow. A bigger truck can be more hassle for sightseeing too.

      I’m not familiar with the particular model you’re looking at, but those are 2 things I’d recommend looking at to help make the choice. Sometimes the layout and size trump any inconveniences so you never know :)

      Good luck with all your plans!
      Nina

  37. Ric says:

    I been reading your blog and these are good tips! My wife wanted a Roadtek and I wanted a 34 to 36 DP. We got a 38 footer. I am Baddad53 on IRV2 and just saw your link to the blog today. Enjoyed the reading.

  38. mayy skoodan says:

    My wife and I are going full time rving. I absolutely love what you guys have to say. We live over here on the west coast . We a younger couple and hard to find real support but thia has been so helpful !

  39. Rene Kremer says:

    Great post! My wife and I are in the process of getting on the road. We have two boys Cole is 7 and Zachary will be 4 in November. I am 34 and my wife is 33. We also have a 5 yr old golden retriever/ horse( he’s 90 lbs). Our family has so far been supportive but have raised a lot of questions as well. One that comes up a lot and we are also concerned about is safety and security. have you found unsafe places to camp that you would never go back to. have you ever been injured and had to try and find a doctor or hospital you could be hours away from?
    Our situation is fairly unique (I think) because I work away from my family for 2 weeks and then i’m back with them for two weeks. I work in northern Alberta ( we are Canadian) and for the 6 really cold month of winter we could be anywhere in the US or Canada. For the 6 not so cold months she wants to set up camp in northern Alberta. near where I work. Our family is very concerned for the safety of my wife and kids while I am gone away at work for two weeks. do you have any advice on this or know any other fulltime families that have a similar situation?
    We are thinking of buying a 40 ft. extended stay model by Jayco(40bhs I think the model is). it has a full size refridgerator and range which we thought would be better suited for keeping my two boys fed. But like you said bigger not always better. My wife and I have been camping all our lives. and are in our second RV since we have been Married(10 years). We currently have a 2007 Springdale 27′ with one slide.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Hey Rene,

      Lovely to “meet” you on the blog! You know regarding safety the *only* time I’ve ever felt even close to unsafe is in the center of big cities. We had one incident (in San Antonio) a few years back that sent us running, but other than that I’ve never felt unsafe. Whenever we’re in smaller cities or the boonies I’ve always felt perfectly fine. So, I guess I’d recommend getting out of the bigger spots and into some more rural areas…more space for the boys too?

      We’ve met quite a few fulltime families on the road. I’d recommend getting in touch with these guys:
      http://boyinks4adventure.com/
      They’ve been on the road a while w/ their 2 kids and have both workamped & home-schooled during that time. Really nice family and I have no doubt they can put you in touch w/ others on the road. They just ordered a new rig too. I also like the NuRver group on Facebook…lots of young folks on there and several families too. Also recommend this resource Fulltime Families -> all about folks who live fulltime w/ their families on the road.

      Good luck w/ all your travels! Maybe we’ll meet you on the road?

      Nina

      • stimpreny says:

        Thanks for the reply. Can’t wait to get out there and start living. Great advice.  i will definitely be contacting the folks you left links to. Question: do you two caravan with other folks sometimes or always on your own? I thought it would be a lot of fun to to caravan along with some of the great people out there, does that happen or do people just move on and say so long.

        Sent from Samsung Galaxy NoteWheeling It wrote:

        • libertatemamo says:

          We’ve definitely caravanned. Most of our caravans have been impromptu gatherings…just folks we met on the road and decided to travel along with for a while. It’s a ton of fun as long as you stay loose and not get too rigid about how much time you spend together. All our experiences doing this have been fabulous!
          Nina

      • matt skoodan says:

        Hey guys! I love your posts. Me, my wife and our goldendoodle are hitting the road in a few months to live the simple life in our 20ft rv! Your info is priceless and could only cone with experience. We appreciate you saying it with us all! We are 26 years old and have been looking for other aged rvers, any tips ?

  40. Cameo Franz says:

    Enjoy your thoughts and insight. BUT…..(yes, I’m a BUT gal), you obviously have plenty of finances w/cushion should you have unexpected expenses on the road. It is not so “go for it” when one is a BABYBOOMER, widowed Gal, whose main income is Social Security ($1500). It gets tricky. I’ve lived from Tokyo to Stockholm and all over the USA. Full timed a while crossing the country 12 times. Currently stuck in South Texas and loathe it. (formerly resided in Las Vegas, Beverly Hills, Miami, Honolulu, Tokyo and Palm Springs – the total opposite of anything in Texas. It’s a long sstory.) So, tell me where should I begin? I’m thinking New Mexico or north Arizona. Avoid DRUG TRAFFIC is an obvious concern; yet, too isolated places are risky ALONE for a petite gal. Not interested in mid-west/east coast: been there done that. Need SUN. That limits much of the US. Any advice or introspection welcome. Guess it’s a future choice of in the “rocking chair or on the road”.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Well if you’re interested in fulltime RVing I’d probably recommend a smaller trailer or Class C, and then I’d focus on the SW. New Mexico offers lots of great State Parks and has their yearly camping pass which is an amazing deal -> $225 for one year of dry camping! It’s a great state for spring through fall, but gets too cold in winter. For winter I would head over to Southern Arizona where you can free camp on public land. There are quite a few single ladies I know that do this, and it can be done on limited income.

      Have a look at these blogs:
      http://rvsueandcrew.net/
      She travels in a trailer and also has detailed financial pages

      http://dewelldesigns.blogspot.com/
      She travels in a Class C

      I wish you good luck with whatever road you decide to follow!
      Nina

      • Cameo Franz says:

        Thx for the advice. I have a 2012, 32′ A Class I’m liviing in on the Tx gulf. State parks n public land VERY dangerous in states near Mexican border for anyone but especially a woman aone. Money avails safe, upscale resort parks. I’m staying iin park here for now. Thx again n BE GRATFUL!

  41. OWV says:

    We are new to your blog and new to the world of RVing. We are in the process of selling the house and plan to become fulltimers within the next 3-6 months. Our big issue right now is with size. We like our creature comforts, but we also want to use state and national parks and forests as much as possible. In your comments you suggested that the next time you might stay in the 36-38 foot range. We are thinking 40. I recently read something that indicated that anything over 35 would rule out 85% of state and national parks. If that is true, how much worse does that number get if you are in a 40 footer vs something in the 36-38 range? And, if the percent available is pretty much the same between 36 and 40, why not go 40?

    On a related note, I saw several references to Boondocked. In the RV world, what is Boondocked camping.

    Many thanks for any insight you can provide.

    Regards,
    OWV

    • libertatemamo says:

      Hi there,

      It’s hard to make a “firm” assessment on the size issue. A lot of times it depends on where you camp. For example State Parks in CA are notoriously old/small and being 40-foot or larger rules out almost 85% of them. Same thing in the National Forest campsites in the CO mountains (we’ve camped there, but it’s often a struggle to find sites that fit us). On the other hand State Parks in CO are usually quite spacious as are State Parks in OR (we’ve been able to take our 40-footer just about everywhere in OR) and throughout the Mid-West. Also if you like boondocking smaller is always better. So, just depends.

      My best advice is log onto uscampgrounds.info and click around on some of the states you’d like to visit. There’s size-info there and you’ll very quickly get a feel for where you can go.

      Nina

  42. Debbie says:

    We have a 28 ft travel trailer with slides and I’m so ready to move into it and became a full timer. Can it be done in a travel trailer?

    • libertatemamo says:

      I don’t see why not. We’ve met people who fulltime in all kinds of rigs from pop-ups to truck campers, vans and big class A’s. If your trailer enables you to start the life you’re looking for, I say go for it! You can always upgrade or change your mind down the line.
      Nina

  43. Roman & Kathy says:

    Hi Nina and Paul, Fantastic job on your blog; has answered so many questions for us. Kathy and I tend to plan well in advance for such ventures as full time RV’ers.. Being in the starting planning changes, one topic that seems to come up quite a bit is RV length with regards to parks that RV length “issues”. We are looking at the next year or two to sell the “bricks, sticks and mortar”. One question maybe you can answer from your travel experience is the 40′ length issues at some parks with regards to a motor home, how does that compare to, for example a 38 ft. 5th wheel and along with 18′ length of a double cab truck needed to pull it? Does the combined length of the 5th wheel and truck come into play in some or most places, i.e. setting the 5th wheel and where does one typically park the truck, in line, along side? Guess that does not matter when boon-docking. Would appreciate your feedback … regards…. Roman

    • libertatemamo says:

      In my experience a 38 foot 5th wheel takes up as much, if not more space than a 40 foot motorhome, specifically because of the big truck. I can squeeze our little toad in just about anywhere (often we just park it across the front of the MH), but with a big truck you may have to find a separate parking spot, depending on the campground. Many campgrounds will offer that, but it just depends.

      Also be careful of back overhang on the larger 5th wheels. We caravanned with a couple who had a large 5th wheel last year and they had so much low overhang on the back of their rig that it kept bottoming out on bumpy roads. We actually had to be careful choosing our boondocking spot because their clearance was so much poorer than ours.

      I think 5th wheels can be a fabulous choice, but just watch for size and overhang, especially if you are planning on rustic camping.

      Nina

      • Roman & Kathy says:

        Hi Nina, thanks so much for the prompt reply. Follow up question to your comment “couple who had a large 5th wheel last year and they had so much low overhang on the back of their rig that it kept bottoming out on bumpy roads” Are you referring to the distance of the furthest rear axle to the back end of the 5th wheel or simply the ground clearance at the back end of the 5th wheel? I can see it being a problem the greater the distance between the rear axle to the end of the trailer on any bumpy road as being a problem, and I have seen some motorhomes that would have the same issue.

        BTW, we live in Mesa, AZ, not too far, 5 miles or so, from Usuarry Pass. Currently 82F here, expected to be 101F today. regards….Roman & Kathy

  44. Nina and Paul, I just found your blog today on Pinterest, and it is filled with very good information. I will be more or less full-timing it with a friend who currently lives in Okinawa, Japan. He has been living in Japan for 23+ years and plans on moving back to the states permanently. Whenever that happens he has asked me to come along on his life long dream of traveling to all the National Parks/Monuments etc. We don’t plan on moving much more than 100 miles or so per day and may stay in a place for a while if we like it and there is lots to see and experience in the area. I plan to keep watching your blog as it really speaks to what we want to do.
    As for a choice of what type of RV… we’re looking at a diesel-pusher… would love to find one in the 32-34 ft range. Loved your advice about the internet service Millenicom . I’d read about them from another source just yesterday and feel much better about them now that I’ve heard from a 2nd unsolicited source. I didn’t know that they don’t require a contract…that is so much better… I used to drive a truck for a living and have been to almost all the lower 48 states (just missing North Dakota…) I used Verizon while I was on the road and cannot ever remember not being able to get a signal for my phone or my internet connection. Of course, I was mainly on major highways or secondary roads so that sort of explains that… Sorry I’ve gone on and on… just wanted to introduce myself and hope to see you one day once we ever get on the road… Beverly/Wayne

  45. Marie says:

    I just found your blog on Pinterest, and learned some important tips. My retirement fantasy is to RV full-time and follow the warm weather through Canada and the US for a few years. I’ve just bought a 5th wheel that will be staying put in a nearby RV park for three or four years until I can afford a tow vehicle, but I’m very excited to experience RV life. Since I’m in Canada, that won’t be until next Spring, but is something to keep me busy planning for during the winter.

  46. Diana says:

    My husband and I are planning on going on the road f/t the first of the year. 3 questions: what is the easiest way to have our mail catch up to us? Also, how do we register to vote in the presidential elections? And finally, how do we update our drivers licenses for a “current” address? Thanks, I love your blogs.

    • libertatemamo says:

      We use a mail forwarding service (Alternative Resources in South Dakota) to manage our mail. They keep our mail at their office until we ask them to send it to us. Most RV parks will accept mail or you can send mail as “general delivery” to a local post office and pick-up it later. The address we have in SD also serves as our address on record for the purposes of taxes, voting, car/RV registration, insurance and drivers license. When we established domicile with them we had to make sure we got to South Dakota within a certain time-frame to get our drivers licence (can only be done on-site). You can read more about establishing domicile here:
      Home is Where you Park it…or is it?
      Nina

      • Wendy says:

        What issues did you have with the fridge in the slide? Too much weight going down the road or when you parked?
        Thanks,
        Wendy

        • libertatemamo says:

          The fridge is really too heavy for the slide and caused it to dip and “catch” on the outer frame of the RV. You can read more about the problem here:
          RV Slide Woes & A Total Change in Plans
          Fixing this issue required many weeks and a 1,000 mile drive to Oregon (back to the manufacturing location). We’ve been OK since, but I always worry about the big slide everytime we bring it in.

          Nina

  47. Chad says:

    My family and I have been full time rving for almost two years now and I always enjoy a stop by your site. Thanks for continuing to provide!
    -Chad
    Long Long Way to Tipperary

  48. Jim says:

    Hi Nina and Paul.
    So if you had to do it over again would you still go with a diesel pusher? Anything that you would want in a different floor plan that you don’t have now?

    Jim

    • libertatemamo says:

      We love the power of our Diesel engine. It can go anywhere and drive any mountain. So, that portion I would probably try and keep. But size-wise I wish we’d gone a tad smaller…closer to 30 or even 35 feet. It can be tough finding accessible sites with “the beast”, and a smaller size would sure make that easier. We love our slides and would definitely buy with slides again (it makes the interior so much roomier) and our layout is good, plus I can’t deny the tanks in this rig are nice and big. There’s just the size thing :)
      Nina

  49. catherine says:

    I feel so fortunate I stumbled on to your blog. I’ve learned a lot already. My husband and I are newbies and when I mean new… we don’t even have our very little 14′ hybrid trailer. It is being built in Tucson as I type. It will be ready in late february. We will pick it up the 1st week in March and will bomb around New Mexico all of that month and most of April before we start heading back to Duluth, MN at the end of May. I want to leave tomorrow as it was -24º last night.

    It will be an interesting learning curve to be sure. Because neither of us have ever done this. Ideally I want to boondock a lot. We have a swiss shepherd who is traveling with us and I like the idea of giving him more space. However, since we know nothing I am wondering if we should invest in the New Mexico State Park Pass and use the hookups until we know our trailer. Maybe start boondocking in Utah and on our way home. Any sage advice for us? I have a million more questions I am sure. Reading these blogs are priceless. Thanx
    ~Catherine

    • libertatemamo says:

      Well congrats on the upcoming adventures! For an easy “entry” into RVing I would most definitely recommend the New Mexico State Camping Pass. Not only are all the New Mexico parks quite lovely, they’re spacious with lots of trails (very dog friendly) and you’ll get to travel around and see a lot of variety at very low cost. Plus you can test out your rig and dry camping skills. I think it’s an excellent idea! Good luck and good travels!

      Nina

  50. Sue Puetz says:

    Your’s is a timely post for us. We are negotiating an RV purchase as we speak. We’re soon to be full-timers pending sale of land, sailboat and home. Happy trails.

  51. […] all the national forest campgrounds along the Olympic Peninsula are 21-foot limits (this is where I wish we were smaller, I tell you). I’ve managed to snag a few last-minute sites and it looks like we may have to […]

  52. Glen Ayres says:

    Getting house ready for sale. Picking up tt end of April

  53. Marilee says:

    We are just in the planning stages, our house is for sale, I’m dividing things up between our children and selling or storing the rest. We’ve found the 5th wheel we want and the house is for sale, really looking forward to this new adventure. We’ve had a 5th wheel before but only for occasional trips. All your information is so helpful, will be back often to see what else is new. From cold, snowy Canada

    • libertatemamo says:

      Congrats on your exciting upcoming adventure! Hope your journey is everything you expect it to be.

      Nina

  54. Jackie Schulz says:

    My husband and I are considering fulltime rving. I have been reading different blogs and how to start and all. I am wondering on jobs. Unfortunatly we are not independently wealth and still have not won the lottery. Our thought is to travel to area work for month or two and then move on. Do you have any suggestions on jobs or really good website for that info. We are at a point in out lives we just want to go and see the world why wait until its to late. We are young and ready to go just have to take that leap.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Sure! There are lots of online jobs you can do depending on your skills -> computer programming, art (selling on Etsy), writing, teaching, CPA work, medical billing etc.

      If you’re looking for physical jobs some Workamping positions do offer pay (check out Workampers.com), plus there are seasonal jobs such as Amazon and See’s Candy (both hire seasonally for Christmas), gate keeping (in Texas for oil companies), and the Dakota Beet Harvest (in late fall). We also know folks who work at fairs or sell their wares at markets.

      Those are just a few ideas! I suggest checking out workamper.com to start with.

      Nina

  55. Ronald & Laura Garton says:

    Love the list.
    We are new to full time RV living and are looking forward to what ever yonder brings us and seeing all that our beautiful country has to offer.
    My question is my wife is looking in to time shares that as I’ve found are very expensive and only offer a few weeks a yr any ideas on alternatives to these over priced resorts we both love the outdoors and camping this is what we have to work with we have a 41+ ft fifth wheel that is fully self contained

    • libertatemamo says:

      Well we rarely stay at ANY private parks so I really can’t comment much on resort-type camping. To save money and enjoy the outdoors we primarily camp on public land (state parks, national forest, BLM etc.). We are 40-foot (41.6′ measured).

      If you require resorts you may want to look at something like Thousand Trails membership. Not my thing so can’t really comment further, but there are lots of memberships floating around for resale. If you post on one of the RV forums I’m sure you’ll get good feedback on the pros and cons.

      Nina

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