It’s that time of year again. This week we are celebrating three years of full-time travel. Three years! Can you believe it? In past years our anniversary posts have celebrated the places where we have traveled. Year one we focused on the places we had been, and the places we wanted to return to, and Year two we shared some of our very favorite places. This year we thought we would try something different. Instead of remembering places, we going to share some of lessons we’ve learned in the past three years.
1. A Little Planning Goes a Long Way
Can you travel in an RV full-time and never make any plans or reservations? Maybe, but you’re going to need the luxury of a flexible schedule and realize that without a reservation you might not get into some of the more popular destinations. It’s taken three years, but we seem to have finally reached our optimal balance of planning and spontaneity.
In general, we make a loose plan for the next 3-4 months. We make some reservations ahead of time at places that we know will fill up (especially during holiday weekends and school vacations), and then we leave other times open to whatever comes up. Since we have work obligations that require set hours during the week and a consistent Internet connection, our travel days and times are limited, which means some planning is a necessity.
2. Campground Variety
There are countless ways to go about this full-time RVing lifestyle. Some people would never dream of camping anywhere without full hook-ups, while other prefer to always be in the wild with no neighbors and no camping fees. For us, it’s all about variety. Typically we enjoy the space and privacy of public parks or boondocking locations, but if we want to explore an area and neither of those options are available, we have no problem shelling out for a private park. We like to mix it up, and enjoy that we have the freedom to choose from such a wide array of places to call home.
3. Everywhere is Somewhere Good
We started this journey with a some preconceived notions about the “good” and “bad” parts of the US. There were areas we knew we would love, and areas we were sure we wanted to avoid. Much to our surprise (and delight) many of those notions have proved wrong. Do we love everywhere we go? Of course not. But we’ve found that no matter where we end up, it’s easy to find something good. Sometimes it’s a cool hiking trail next to the campground, a gorgeous beach down the road, a fun free concert in the park, a local brewery, an unexpected meet-up with some new friends, or the opportunity to visit with family. We’ve learned that by keeping an open mind and throwing those preconceived notions out the window, we’re far more likely to enjoy ourselves and make new discoveries.
4. Sometimes You Gotta Roll With It
Adaptability is the name of the game when you live in an RV. Not only are your always faced with new places, new situations, and new people, but quite often things don’t work out as planned. Sometimes the weather is crappy, the campground is crowded, your neighbors are obnoxious, you have to leave because the internet sucks, things break, or you end up sleeping in your house on the side of Interstate. The list goes on and on. We’ve learned that you just have to roll with it. We’re never shy about canceling a reservation, or leaving in the middle of our stay to find better weather, better Internet, or better neighbors. In the past three years we’ve learned to be more adaptable and go with the flow when things don’t go as expected.
5. You Can’t Do It All
This is an on going lesson and something that we have to remind ourselves of on a regular basis. The fact is that we are not on a permanent vacation and we don’t have unlimited time, money or energy. We do our best to explore the places we visit, but more often than not in the process of checking things off our wish list, we end up adding more. And we love that! We love arriving somewhere and discovering more things to do, see and explore than we could possibly hope to accomplish in any amount of time. We love to leave a place knowing that we could return again and again and always find something new.
6. Community is Out There
When we left our friends and family behind to travel full-time we had no idea if, or how, we would meet people. Would it just be the two of us all the time? Would we meet anyone our own age, or would we end up playing shuffleboard with the oldies? It took a little while but we did discover a community of like-minded individuals. Full-time RVing is rapidly increasing in popularity – by people of all ages – and through our blog and social media we have met an amazing amount of people. People from all over, with different back grounds and interesting stories. People who we never, ever would have met in our small, secluded town in rural Vermont.
7. We Really Like Each Other!
One of the questions people asked us when we first announced our intentions to live in a 25′ x 8′ trailer was, Won’t you get sick of each other? Well…we’re happy to report that after three years, the answer is no. Honestly we weren’t too worried to begin with. We’ve always been one of those couples who spends a lot of time together. Does that mean we never get annoyed with each other and need to spend some time apart. Of course not! But it does mean that we are okay with spending most of our time together, and that we genuinely enjoy each other’s company, even when we camped in remote location and don’t see another person for days.
8. ‘Stuff’ is Over Rated
We honestly don’t miss all that stuff we got rid of when we moved into our RV. Sure, there is the occasional tool or kitchen appliance that would make life easier, but for the most part we never feel like we are going without because we have a limited amount of things. A simple life is an easy life, and even in our small space we have plenty of room for all the necessities.
9. It’s a Big Wide World Out There
We used to think that after a few years of traveling around the U.S. we would be ready for something new. Maybe we would visit other countries, or maybe we would want to settle down. Well a few years have come and gone, and we’re not nearly ready for either of those things. In three years we’ve visited a total of 30 states. That’s only 10 new states a year. There is so much more to see. The U.S. is not only a big country, but it is an incredibly diverse country with an amazing array of landscapes, and communities, and people. It’s hard to imagine that even if we traveled for another 10 years we could ever see it all.
10. We Love Our Airstream
Our decision to buy an Airstream was almost entirely based on aesthetics. Since our RV was to be our full-time home we wanted something that was pleasing to look at both inside and out. We wanted comfort, but we also didn’t want to live in a white box with swooshes on the side and the name of some fierce animal scrawled across the back. So we bought an Airstream. It didn’t take long for us to realize that we love Airstreams for far more than their looks.
We love being part of the long standing Airstream community, we love knowing that our trailer is worth more now than when we bought it, we love the quality (we have done only a small handful of repairs in the past three years), we love that our lack of slide-outs and short stature means we can squeeze into places others can’t, and we really love all the improvements we’ve made to our little home on wheels.
Lately we have been seriously discussing our next RV. We are in desperate need of a dedicated desk space, and know that the only way to achieve that is to move to a larger RV. We have talked round and round about what the next RV will be. The discussion always comes back to another Airstream. It may not be the cheapest option, there’s no doubt that we could get more space for less money with another brand, but at this point it seems unlikely that we will break away from the Airstream brand.
We don’t have a long term plan for what comes next. But we do know that we want to keep traveling full-time. We might mix things up over the next few years with short term house rentals, alternate modes of travel, or the addition of a furry traveling companion. One thing is for certain though – we love the freedom this lifestyle allows and are committed to pursuing adventure and exploration wherever we go. Here’s to another three years and beyond!
Cheers to your 3 years! Looking forward to seeing you guys back on the west coast! :)
Thanks Leigh! Heading back that way sometime this fall. See you then!
Great little recap! We just got back from a 3-month stint, to see if we could handle full-time RV life. And we totally can! We’re busy planning a Sprinter conversion and will be joining this nomadic community next year! It’s also nice to find another couple “who really like each other” ;)
Happy to hear that your 3 months worked out and that you’re ready for more! One of the things we’ve observed about the full-time lifestyle is that couples who live together in an RV tend to have a good relationship. Probably because those who don’t end up going off the road :) Hope to meet you out there someday.
I’ve been reading this since the beginning and can’t believe it’s been 3 years. I want to do exactly what you are doing when we retire. Enjoy the upcoming years, I’m so jealous!!! Theresa Pasternak ( Mike and Judy’s sister in law)
Thanks for being a long time reader Theresa! I hope you make your dream come true when you retire. If you need any hints on the lifestyle, you know who to ask :)
Do you have hobbies that either or both of you do (in the RV)? My husband will be retiring fairly soon and our plan is to purchase a Class A and travel around the country seeing family and the country. We will be traveling with our three dogs and our somewhat space-intensive hobbies (model railroading and scrapbooking/photography). Any thoughts?
We do have some indoor hobbies. I am into embroidery and have a dedicated cupboard filled with all my materials. Tim does some computer/electrical stuff that lives in a small space under the couch plus another bin in the back of our truck. We had to give up some larger hobbies, but also made sure to prioritize space for the hobbies that we wanted to bring along. I think the key is make space for the things that will be important to you (even if it means leaving behind other things).
A great roundup of your travelS and philosophy. We feel the same Way about everything you’ve written here. Great post!
Thanks Nina! And as always, thanks for being such a big part of our inspiration to get out there and live our dream.
Your blog continues to be one of our favorites! Keep on keeping on!
Happy 3rd Anniversary — here’s to many more wonderful adventures on the road! We’ve come to many of the same conclusions that you have — the hardest one for us is “You can’t do it all” because it’s all so much fun! We considered an Airstream before deciding on our Arctic Fox. Does that count as a fierce creature?? :-)
Thanks Laurel! You’re right, there is so much fun stuff out there, and it can be overwhelming at times. I would classify the Arctic Fox as more of a wild animal than a fierce animal :) I’ve always liked the Arctic Fox trailers (despite the swoops & swirls). They have a great reputation for quality and longevity.
Haha, yeah, we’re happy with our 27′ Arctic Fox, swirls and all. We ultimately decided on it because the trailer is made so well and it has a slide out, which has made all the difference in work/living space for us since we’re living in it full time. We didn’t think we would ever get a slide out, but here we are…
Congrats! I’ve enjoyed following along on your travels. Your second year which was the year before we headed out, and this past year, the end of our first year out fulltime. You travel to some of the same places we’ve gone. Thank you as some of those great tips we got from you! I hope your 3rd year out brings you as much joy!
So happy that we can provide tips. You must have great taste if we end up at so many of the same places :) Happy travels!
Congrats to you guys! We still follow your blog and love this latest posting. So true. Love the part about swooshes and animal names!!! Ha! Couldn’t agree more. Continued success to you two!
Not sure why they continue to make the exterior of RVs look so silly. Most people would prefer a simpler design. Thanks for the well wishes!
As the owner of a ferocious Beaver, I like the swirls. They break up the monolithic appearance of 40 some odd feet of fiber glass.
Happy anniversary and thank you for sharing your traveling life!
Congrats on three successful years! Nice way to mark your anniversary. We just passed our fourth, and I’d say that your lessons are pretty relevant for us as well.
Four years! Congratulations! Happy to hear that our lessons learned resonate with so many other RVers.
Congrats and Happy Anniversary! Thanks for sharing your adventures and awesome lifestyle with us!
Great post, Amanda! Good to hear you’re still loving the full-time life! I found your blog when you’d been on the road for 3 weeks — I can’t believe it’s been 3 years now. In 6 months, we’ll have wrapped up our “working for the man” lives and plan to hit the road by next March. But we still haven’t bought our Airstream or truck yet! It seems that the used market isn’t offering up as many possibilities as it was last year and the new ducted a/c really has me thinking we should go newer anyway. I want twins too, so that limits our choices. We’re going for a 30, and will keep our options open over the summer. If nothing comes up, we might end up buying new.
Rad! We haven’t been on the road too long but have found a lot of that to be true already. Cheers!
Awesome post. I am 33 and my wife is 30, and in about 3 years we plan to retire and begin a life of full time RV’ing. Thus, we very frequently visit your site!
An Airstream (or Avion) is our main target. Like you said, Airstreams definitely aren’t the cheapest options around, but they are well built and maintenance is very, very low – which is quite important to both of us. Neither my wife or I are particularly handy when it comes to complex repairs, and we certainly don’t want to worry about “something always breaking”, which is a commonly-uttered phrase amongst the box-RV community.
I’m glad to see that you’re still enjoying your 25′. Honestly, a 25′ was the size that we were targeting, but we might be looking more in the neighborhood of 31′ to 34′ now. How big do you plan on going if you do decide on another RV?
Keep up the good work. As a photographer, I LOVE all the photos that you post within each of your blog posts. It makes me want to retire NOW and start enjoying this wonderfully scenic country of ours. :)
Thanks Steve! I just looked at your blog and I love your philosophy and am super impressed by your dedication to saving and retiring early. I think an Airstream is a solid investment because they not only hold their value, but as you mentioned, you don’t need to worry about sinking a lot of money into repairs.
As far as size goes, we like our 25′, expect for the fact that with both of us working we really want a dedicated desk space. Our current thought is that if we moved up to a 30′ we would essentially have the same layout we have now, with the addition of a dinette that we could convert into a desk.
The dilemma is that we love the versatility that the 25′ offers. We have squeezed our way into some awesome places that even 5 more feet would not have not allowed. It’s also easy to turn around and park in unusual places – we like to take her to the grocery store sometimes :)
Thanks for the photography compliments. Hope to see you out here on the road someday!