So you’re thinking about buying or renting an RV for your next vacation. Or maybe you’re thinking about living in one?
Either way, you’re probably wondering … is RVing right for you?
In this article, we’ll look at what traveling and living in an RV is really like, the pros and cons of the RV life, and ultimately help you decide if RVing is in the cards for you.
Why trust us? Good question.
For starters, my wife Kayla and I spent 6 months living in an RV, vacationed in RVs as kids, and now we frequently rent RVs for vacation. We also have an RV blog and have been writing about the RV lifestyle for nearly three years. Suffice to say, we’re pretty well-versed in camper life!
Enough about us though. Let’s dive in.
What traveling in an RV is really like
Traveling in an RV can be incredible — and stressful. Especially for someone who’s new to RVing.
Incredible because you can go anywhere. You’re free to travel the country; stay on beaches or cliffsides or in beautiful forests, all with a bed, bathroom, and protection from the elements.
There is nothing like sitting in a zero-gravity chair outside your RV, next to the fire pit, overlooking a lake on a warm summer night—especially in Pennsylvania, when the fireflies come out. It’s like you’re living in a fairytale. The only word I can think of to describe it is breathtaking.
Camping, whether in a tent or an RV, is truly one of nature’s best gifts. It can reduce stress, help cure anxiety, and bring people closer together. Not to mention unplugging from all that tech!
But, RV camping also has its own stressors to watch out for.
For one, if you have a big rig, driving it can be a nightmare. You have to be very careful about how fast your driving, how sharp your turns are, where you try to fill up for gas, and even which routes you take.
We once scrapped the back of our camper on a concrete post on the end of a gas station because we turned too sharp. (Not fun.)
We also met a couple while camping in Bethel, Maine (beautiful town by the way!) who had to back their fifth wheel up over 5 miles because they happened upon a tunnel that was too short for their rig to fit through and there wasn’t enough room on the road to turn around. (Talk about not fun!) Something bad could have happened, like this:
Of course, an RV-specific GPS or GPS app helps avoid these situations.
In addition to the driving, you also have to worry about maintenance on your rig. It’s not uncommon for things to break. In fact, it’s basically guaranteed — you are subjecting your home to a mini earthquake every time you drive on the freeway, after all! (This is actually why we decided to rent our RVs on Outdoorsy instead of buying a new one. Read our review of Outdoorsy here.)
But if you can get past the stress of driving and maintenance, buying an RV may be right for you!
Pros & cons of RV travel
Let’s take a look at the specific pros and cons of RV travel.
- You can travel almost anywhere! Total freedom. This is really the best part.
- No need to stay in crappy motels on the way to your destination. (And trust me, some of them are VERY crappy. Can you say cockroaches, anyone?)
- If you’re traveling with pets, RVs are an excellent option. We RV’d with our cat, Luna, and he loved it. We even leash trained him! In fact, he’s probably the biggest reason we decided to live in an RV instead of traveling via hotels.
- People in campgrounds are super friendly. Seriously, you’d be hard-pressed finding that kind of, well, kindness in a hotel. (We actually had our camping neighbors drive 80 miles to pick us up when our scooter broke down—and we had just met them 2 days prior.)
- Living in an RV can be cheaper than living in a sticks-and-bricks house. (We did the math and found that RV life costs between $1,400-$3,000 per month, including food and everything. Of course, this depends on factors like where you stay, if you have to take a loan vs. buying outright, how luxurious you live, etc.)
- Driving a big motorhome or camper can be stressful. It does get easier with practice, though.
- Things break. You’ll need a maintenance budget (unless you’re renting, of course!).
- Space is pretty limited. Especially in the smaller RVs. This is particularly annoying if you’re living in an RV because it basically forces you to be a minimalist.
- Hot water is limited in most RVs, and many have very small showers. And some smaller RVs don’t even have a kitchen or bathroom.
- Compared to hotels, RVing can be expensive. You’ve got the price of the RV, plus gas (they’re gas-guzzlers), plus the campground fees if you opt to stay at an RV park.
So … is RV travel right for you?
Traveling in an RV is my absolute favorite way to travel. You can stop whenever you want to stop, you never have to use public bathrooms, you can sleep in your own bed during the trip instead of hotels, and you can bring your pets with you.
Not to mention, camping is just an incredible activity. There are very few things that can help you decompress and get a new look on life like camping can.
So let’s recap. RV travel is right for you if:
- You don’t mind driving a big vehicle (or staying in a smaller RV).
- You’re not a very materialistic person (limited storage, remember?).
- You plan for maintenance (or just rent).
- You’re willing to take good care of your rig.
- You’re OK cleaning your own poop! (Honestly, it’s really not that bad.)
If any of these insights gave you a pit in your stomach or made your cringe, RVing might not be right for you. But even if it did, you should consider trying it out.
The best way to figure out if RV travel is right for you is to rent an RV and try it out for yourself! Check out our comparison of the best RV rental companies (we love Outdoorsy), go rent yourself a camper and get out on the road.
Click here to browse available rentals on Outdoorsy now!
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