Investing in an RV or living an RV life can be a huge learning curve for anyone who’s never dabbled in this arena. This would most certainly include us. In May 2017, while on a private marriage retreat, my husband and I, in an effort to set goals for our family, suddenly decided we wanted to purchase an RV and travel across the country for a year with our 3 kids. Even though we have now lived in our RV for some time and have begun our travels, there are quite a few things I wish someone would have told us so we could’ve have been a little more prepared! Here are 10 things an RV mentor may have told us:
- RV Repairs Are a Time Investment – Taking Your RV in for repairs can be somewhat of a hassle – Unless you are willing to pay someone to come to you to fix the repair, which you may not want to do if your RV is still under warranty and could be repaired for free, you will need to drive your RV to a retail shop and give them a day to fix it. If there is a part that needs to be ordered, you will then need to schedule another day on top of the initial visit to actually have the repair done once the part has arrived. Sometimes, you have to book an appointment for the repair weeks in advance because they tend to be short staffed and overloaded.
2. Get the Right Kind of Insurance – Make sure your RV insurance covers you if you are full time. Not all insurance companies cover Full-Time Travel in an RV so be sure to ask. We use Farmers Insurance. My understanding is that full-time coverage would mean that if your RV needs repair while you are on the road, they will pay for you to have a place to stay in the meantime, etc. They will not do this if you are living out of your RV at in your primary place of residence, but only when you are actually traveling in it.
3. Be Prepared to Pay for the Extras – There are accompanying things that you need to be prepared to purchase on top of just buying an RV. This includes expensive things such as your hitch which connects your RV to your truck, or smaller items such as sewer hoses, clean water hoses, gray water hose, chocks, organizers for storage, filters, etc. Make sure you budget this in!
4. Get a 50 Amp Wired RV with 2 ACs – If you are living in a hot climate, you will likely want to make sure your RV has the amperage to handle 2 AC units. We have been living out of our RV in 90-degree heat in some areas and have been thankful for our second AC unit in our bedroom. The single unit just can’t keep up with that heat, especially if you really like it cool.
5. Bunk Beds are a Bonus If You Have Kids -Bunk beds are so helpful when you have kids! Our RV, the Durango Sport by KZ, has two queen bunks and a fold out sofa. Our two daughters use the bunks, while our son uses the fold out. It works very well. The girls feel like they have their own room and we gave them small containers to keep their items organized since closet space is limited. Here is a little video I found that shows what our fifth wheel looks like. BTW, one of my favorite things about this RV is all the storage space, both inside and out! With three kids, it matters!
6. Pick and Choose What You Keep – You will have to get rid of things and consolidate to fit things in the RV. Our rule of thumb, especially being full-timers, is that everything in the RV has to serve at least two purposes. If it only serves one, it can’t stay. For example, we purchased a storage ottoman for our RV. It’s a large piece of furniture for an RV, yet it serves as a footrest, a closet for our son, and extra seating around our dinette. This is just an example of one that’s similar.
7. Dishes Break So Be Prepared – It’s ideal not to have anything breakable in the RV, especially dishes. We learned the hard way. We switched to plastic and sometimes use paper plates, but if anything, make sure your cabinets are closed tightly before leaving. There are also spring loaded tension rods you can purchase that install into cabinets that help keep everything from flying out. Once you arrive at your destination, open the cabinets carefully, as you may find yourself victim to a dish avalanche! Here is an example of something you can get:
8. Online Groups Can Be Helpful – Join online RV groups to get helpful, free advice. We’ve already gotten great advice from someone in one of our groups, who gave us advice on boondocking, going solar, and other tips, all just for the sake of being nice! You can also get great destination advice and feedback on products, services and tips and tricks people use to make life a little sweeter.
9. Consider Park or Resort Costs – Make sure you budget for RV parks and resorts accordingly. Resorts can vary drastically by price and amenities. You can find some real dumps, some wonderful scenic locations, and some full-blown resorts complete with pool, showers, and laundry service. Check reviews. We find a mix of high-end resorts and state parks, which tend to run less expensive, but don’t have laundry mats, etc. They do have some beautiful scenery and tend to give you a little more room from the person next to you. When we aren’t staying someone with laundry mats, I have to find a nearby laundry mat and drive there. It’s something we’re willing to do in order to stay within our monthly lodging budget!
10. Factor Your RV Length – Consider where you plan on traveling before deciding on the length of your RV. Basically, the bigger your rig, the more limited some of your options may be, especially if you are not looking for your place to park well in advance. For instance, I called a popular park in Colorado called Clear Creek, which is located in Denver, and because our rig was not under 33 ft, she didn’t have a spot. In another spot, we were just small enough to make the cut (our RV runs 34 ft long). Now, if you are planning ahead, not going during peak seasons, or not hung up on staying in state parks, which have stricter length requirements, then you would likely be okay.
I hope these tips help you out!