Living in an RV full time looks spectacular on YouTube, where RVers showcase magnificent travels, amazing destinations, and exciting adventures. But is RV life really all that glamorous?
After four years on the road, we can tell you it definitely is not. Sure, parts of the lifestyle live up to that reputation, but many others leave much to be desired. Here are some of the negative aspects of full-time RV living:
Typically, we enjoy a week or two in a single location, exploring what the area has to offer and keeping busy while there. When we get into the truck on travel days, we have dedicated time with each other, interrupted only by fuel and rest stops or rare sightings along the way.
It seems these occasions often become times to discuss issues between us, since neither of us can walk away. This can make for unpleasant travel that may carry into arriving and setting up at our destination.
Sometimes, we forget we’re on the same team and in a partnership. That’s why you can find T-shirts and mugs that say, “I’m sorry for what I said while backing up the trailer.”
Long Driving Days
Reaching a destination by a certain date — for a wedding or a cruise, for example — may require multiple days of driving. This can be exhausting. One day, we drove 11 hours trying to get somewhere due to a family member’s medical emergency.
Similarly, we spent eight days driving the Alaska Highway each way. Even though we traveled only three to four hours on most of those days, we kept all but our dining room slideout closed at any overnight stop. That kept us from taking up too much space at, say, a rest area while still allowing passage to our kitchen and refrigerator.
Not being able to “be home” day after day wore on us. To help break up the trip, we spent two nights at the Liard River Hot Springs Campground in British Columbia both ways. This enabled us to open all four of our slideouts and truly feel at home. On the way back to the Lower 48, we also stopped at a museum in the Yukon to make the journey more enjoyable.
Towing all of our belongings across the country equates to an earthquake in our “house” every time we relocate. Some roads are definitely better than others. The constant vibration can knock things loose. Big bumps or potholes can bounce hanging clothes off their closet rack. Pipes leak, sealants let go, and screws come loose.
It seems that almost every time we move, we find something else that needs our attention. It may be a tire, a window, the truck bed cover, or any number of other things. That’s why we make a point to give the vehicle a thorough walkaround before travel and when we stop at a rest area or fuel station.
We’ve learned to roll with the punches and take these issues in stride. They’re just part of RV life, but they’re not necessarily fun.
Unless you have a small rig such as a camper van or a truck camper, logistics tend to be a big part of full-time RV living. We have to do a lot of research before venturing anywhere to make sure our big rig can fit. This can take a lot of time.
Checking our desired destinations is more crucial in the East, where clearance can be more challenging, than it is in the West. We had absolutely no clearance issues in Alaska. There, 15 feet, 10 inches is considered low clearance, compared to anything below 13 feet, 6 inches in the rest of the country.
Because we move so often, it’s hard to keep track of where we are and where we’ve been. We both experienced that same situation when we toured with the Continental Singers and Orchestra, which is how we met. For three months, we had a concert in a different city every night.
Fast-forward 36 years, and we’re having deja vu moments. Many mornings, we wake up unsure of our location. What state are we in? Where were we yesterday? Where were we when that happened?
Despite these challenges, we enjoy RV life and the freedom it gives us. We also relish visiting family and friends across the country much more often than we’d see them otherwise. Life is good. RV life is great.
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This is the travel blog of full-time RVers Bob and Lana Gates and our truck, Gulliver, and fifth wheel, Tagalong.