So, you want to spend some serious time out on the open road or live at one (or a few!) of the many attractive RV parks available across the country. If you're at this stage, you've likely already learned the rving basics, know all of the essentials you'll need, and have enjoyed the RV lifestyle enough to look into doing it full time.
The full time RV lifestyle has a lot of characteristics that draws people to it. It offers a sense of freedom and near-endless opportunities that are hard to achieve if you have a lawn waiting back home that needs mowing. For a number of different reasons, considering the RV life full-time is something that crosses many people's minds. Whether you're looking for a way to disconnect from the house-with-a-picket-fence or whether you’re looking for an adventure exploring the vastness of the country at your own pace, this comprehensive guide will help you consider if you're ready to pull up stakes. We'll guide you through the key things to consider as you work through the decision-making process.
Where's Home When You’re RVing Full-Time?
This is one of the most important questions to answer early on in your decision-making process. For some people, going on the road full-time means selling their home or condo and jumping into the RVer lifestyle 100%. If that's you, you'll need to establish a domicile. That's a fancy term for your state of residence. Everyone in the US needs one, so there's no escaping this decision. After all, practical things like how your income taxes are calculated, how your vehicles are tagged, and who represents you in Congress all flow from the state you choose to domicile in (even if you're physically located elsewhere a certain percentage of the year).
An organization like Escapees RV Club offers a service that guides you through the process of determining which state is right for you. If you can't bear to part with your piece of the rock, then your domicile state remains where you continue to own your home.
Can I Take My Mailbox With Me?
There's a cottage industry that has grown up to support full-time travelers in the US. From Florida to South Dakota, these services offer affordable package options that include a physical address to send mail. Some also offer mail scanning services where they send you scanned images of the mail you receive via an online system where you can instruct them to open the envelopes and scan the contents, discard the mail, etc. With the online shopping revolution in full swing, nearly all online retailers will ship to campground addresses, allowing you to collect your latest online purchases at your next stopping point. Amazon Prime is especially useful, and with their free 2-day shipping, you'll never be kept waiting for orders to arrive.
Will My Healthcare Travel Too?
Most traditional health insurance programs are built on the assumption that you'll receive the majority of your health care services in the state the plan is issued. For those who stay on the road full time, that's often not the case. Faced with the possibility of racking up out-of-network charges or a lack of coverage altogether, health insurance for full time RVers often requires a policy that's tailored for that lifestyle.
If you receive health coverage through a current or former employer’s plan or are on Medicare, check with your provider first about potential gaps in coverage while on the road. If you don't like the answers you're hearing from your current health insurance provider, you may consider contacting an agent that specializes in coverage for full time travelers like Rver Insurance Exchange. Many full time RVers swing by their old home town at least once a year, so receiving routine care like dental visits and annual physicals from your favorite doctor would be something you could maintain.
Where Should We Take Our RV?
With 49 states and over 4-million miles of roads in the United States to choose from, it's unlikely you’ll be getting bored anytime soon! With so many places to choose from, you may need a little help focusing in. If you're a history buff or nature lover, the National Park Service park finder lists all of the national parks, monuments, and historic sites it manages by state. Pick up an America the Beautiful annual pass for $80. If you're 62 or older, $80 covers the cost of a lifetime pass. Either way, it's your ticket to over 2,000 federally managed recreation areas around the country. Considering that entry into Grand Canyon National Park is $30 for one week, the annual pass is a bargain.
States feature an impressive collection of their own parks. Although most don't carry the name recognition that well-known national parks and monuments do, state parks are hidden gems that are often just as scenic and far less crowded than their federally-managed brethren. If you're looking for each state's most beautiful scenery or historically significant places, state parks should rank high on your list. Admission to state parks is very reasonable, with many states offering annual passes of their own. If you'll be in a state for a while, this may be a more affordable option than paying for admission individually.
Attending local festivals is another interesting way to build out your travel itinerary. Everfest lists a comprehensive inventory of festivals around the US. From the Luling, TX Watermelon Thump to the Harpursville, NY Faerie Festival, you're sure to find something right up your alley. Many wineries, breweries, and local farms welcome RVers to come and learn about their endeavors.
Finally, following the seasons can be a fun way to travel too. If you fancy a 70-degree day for every day of the year, this map plots out a course for a year long road trip that guarantees tee shirt weather year round!
Where Will We Park Our RV?
Traveling with your home in tow begs the obvious question of where to park your RV each night. Fortunately, there are a number of great options. All national parks and many state parks offer RV camping options. If you plan to be visiting a park, why not stay there too? Popular parks sell out long in advance, so the farther ahead you can plan the better. Another unique option is staying at a winery or local farm. Many of these businesses welcome RVers to stay. Harvest Hosts is a handy website that lists unique places to pull in for the night (or for the week).
Lastly, well-known campground providers like KOA, Passport America and Good Sam Club are mainstays in the RVing community. With thousands of campgrounds in the US, Canada, and Mexico, their large footprint means you shouldn’t have trouble finding locations. At $44 and $27 a year respectively, their annual membership fees pay for themselves. Passport America members save 50% off nightly rates, while Good Sam Club knocks 10% off of their nightly rates for members.
Taking the plunge into full time RV travel can be an exhilarating experience. The sense of freedom and adventure that comes with this lifestyle causes many who try it to never look back. Taking the time now to iron out the details before you pull out of the driveway for the last time, means you'll spend more time enjoying the open road and less time muddling over the unique challenges that come with life as a full-time RVer. After all, there are over 4-million miles of roads to explore!
Tips & Advice From Full-Time RVers
“Many people think this lifestyle is cheap. It’s not, the biggest expense is gas and campground fees, and unexpected repairs on the road. You also need patience because you are living in such a small space with the rest of your family. The upside is you become much closer as a family. In our experience the pros far outweigh the cons. We are glad that we get to travel with our kids while they are young instead of waiting to travel after they are out of the house.” - Jodee Moffet // Follow her full-time RV adventure at Intrepid WanderingNext Article: 3 of the Best RV Trips In America