When we first decided to become full timers we really didn’t know what to expect. We made a lot of mistakes in the beginning but we learned a lot in the process. This is a short list of a few things I wish someone had told us before we went full time – so I’m telling you.
Think through the layout before making a decision.
Do you mind having a bathroom that’s the size of a small closet? Do you want a private bedroom? Think about what kind of layout will serve your needs the best. When we bought our trailer, we were adamant about having a large shower and a separate bedroom. My husband likes to go to bed super early but sometimes I need to stay up and work. With a separate bedroom he can close the door and sleep while I stay up and do what I need to do. Think function.
You don’t need to join every camping club out there.
Depending on how you camp, clubs can be awesome or they can be a waste of money. Sam’s Club is popular, but it isn’t for everyone. Passport America is pretty good and has around 2,000 campgrounds. Day’s End Directory, though, is extremely cool. Find places to park for just a few bucks a night.
Understand the type of maintenance your outfit will need.
When we got our first unit, we were NOT prepared at all! We didn’t know what we should be looking for and went through a private seller who really ripped us off. When it rained, we had a waterfall in the bedroom. Our second unit, a Vantage, was in much better shape – plus we were a lot smarter. Before you hit the road, ask questions. Learn about managing your black water tank, roof care, and stabilization. It will definitely improve your experience.
Pick out the personal items that you think you will need, then cut that in half.
You don’t need your whole closet, or even half. Start with the bare minimum and spend a few days fairly close to home. This way you can get a feel for what you need and what you don’t, but you will be in a position to make the necessary adjustments fairly comfortably.
You CAN have internet!
Internet is a necessity for me because of my job. What we didn’t realize when we first started out is that you don’t have to sign any contracts. There are plenty of connectivity options for the savvy technomad.
You don’t need the biggest RV on the lot.
When it comes to your RV, bigger is not always better. Sure, it is nice to have a ton of space, but going for the largest rig you can afford is not always the best option. You’ll find yourself doing a lot of planning and searching to get that behemoth into some camping spaces. A smaller RV might cut into your space a little, but it is much easier to maneuver and you won’t have to work so hard to find a spot.
Learn how to find the freebies on the road.
Paying $35 or more a night to park can get real expensive real quick. There are places that allow FREE overnight parking. One of our favorite sites, AllStays, lists campgrounds, truck stops, and store parking lots like Walmart. You should always ask before parking and practice good camping etiquette, but most Walmart stores do allow free overnight parking. Granted it’s boondocking, but it’s free.
Spend some time in your RV before buying all the cool gadgets.
There are a lot of shiny, uber cool RV gadgets out there. They tempt and taunt, drawing you in and the next thing you know you have a bunch of stuff you don’t even use. Not every clever contraption is a must have. Spend some time in your rig, see how everything fits, then buy the cool stuff you actually need.
Explore the possibilities of managing your costs on the road.
We are not independently wealthy so working is kinda necessary – if we want to eat anyway. My job is done entirely online so as long as I have internet I’m good. If you are looking for something a little different, though, Workamper has some pretty cool listings all over the country.
Take your time to enjoy this adventure. When we first started out we were in such a hurry to “get started” we didn’t take time to enjoy the process. Life rushes by way too fast already. Slow down, take the scenic route, and enjoy the journey.
What’s your favorite full timing newbie tip?
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