When I first told my friends I was going to travel and live full-time in an RV, many were surprised and some later admitted they doubted it would work. They didn’t see the girl they called “Fancy Nancy” roughing it in a travel trailer without the comforts of beauty salons and retail shopping. But I’ve been doing it happily for the past year after figuring out a few important RV life transition tips.
If you’re anything like us, you spent a ton of time planning and saving to be full-time RVers. You thought a lot about your finances, your job, your route plan, how to get your mail on the road. All those details are really key, but there’s another important area to keep in mind. How will you bring your whole self on the road while so much of your life changes? Here are several simple ways you can downsize your stuff without downsizing your self for a smoother transition.
Get Comfortable with RV Living
I’m not mechanically-inclined at all and am fortunate that Eric is an engineer who seems to naturally get how our RV and truck works. But, I also want to know my way around the trailer to help with the set-up and be prepared to do it on my own. So before we left, I watched a lot of YouTube videos (thank you Long Long Honeymoon!)
and read a lot of blogs. I wrote and studied my own checklist of RV set-up and take-down steps until the process seemed intuitive. And, I watched the videos about our own RV, looked at the manual, and asked questions in the dealer walk-through to know how everything works…The first RV life transition tip I learned is to get comfortable with how your rig works.
We’ve also found it’s really helpful to tag-team different areas of RV life just like we split up responsibilities in our old home life. We decided unanimously that Eric would drive and I’d specialize in navigation including weather watching, and pit stop planning. While Eric does trailer and truck maintenance, I make our campground reservations, get groceries, and do laundry. We do travel planning together since we both love it and it’s such an important part of our RV life. Get comfortable with your role in tackling the day-to-day as part of your RV road team.
Figure Out Must-Have’s and Trade-Offs
When we started looking for our RV, we seriously considered several with wet baths (where the shower head is over the toilet.) I was so caught up in the excitement of RV life, I didn’t think about what that would actually mean. Candidly, at heart I’m someone who likes some bathroom primping time. While I was ready to give up a lot of material stuff and live in a 22ft travel trailer, it was important to me to have a space with a mirror and hair dryer outlet. Fortunately, Eric tactfully reminded me of this, and we got a trailer with a small but complete bathroom.
I’m also someone who needs a regular hot shower to feel like me. When we’re at a campground with water hook-ups, that’s no problem. But, it’s a lot harder when we’re boon-docking, stretching a 30 gallon water tank between two people and a pup for three nights. So, I trade-off length for frequency. I’ve perfected the 45 second daily shower and don’t worry about washing my hair as often. Some dry shampoo and a cute hat will do wonders! A key RV life transition tip is to figure out what you’re willing to give up vs. your must-have’s. If you’re a little flexible and creative, you’ll find ways to keep what’s really important and you won’t miss your trade-offs. There’s so so much more you’ll be gaining.
Prioritize Your Wellness Routine
The first days on the road can seem like a vacation. When we took off, it felt like we were on our extended honeymoon. You need to have celebratory drinks multiple times a week and eat all the local food, right? It was a lot of fun but I started feeling like I was dragging and spending too much money, not like the better version of myself I imagined.
Another RV life transition tip is to build the most important parts of your old wellness routine into your road routine. That’ll keep you feeling like yourself while you’re navigating a lot of life changes. Everyone has different things that recharge them, whether physical, spiritual, social, or community. For me, regular running and outdoor exercise is a high priority to keep me feeling strong. Now, we try to eat healthy most of the time to offset our sweet tooths and winery/brewery discoveries. And, we built a small “beauty” expense into our monthly budget. I work for it, stretch it with coupons and trade-off buying other things but don’t feel guilty about it. Prioritize investing in wellness and make it a regular part of your new RV life routine.
Downsize Your Closet, Not Your Style
When we started planning for RV life, I couldn’t picture having a much smaller closet of clothes. Today this seems SO materialistic, but I think many people accumulate more clothes than they need. And, I had a teenager-like worry that if I wore the same thing too often, people would make fun of me. So, before I left my corporate job, I tested things out by always wearing the same several outfits. And you know what, NO ONE NOTICED! In fact, I continued to get compliments on the same dress week after week. Plus, it was less stressful to consistently wear something that fit well, looked good and I liked.
Now even with my much smaller RV closet, I don’t wear half the clothes I brought. I’ve gotten really comfortable wearing the same couple outfits all the time. You’ll see my favorite tank top in every other picture on our Instagram feed. And I wore a hole in my favorite hiking shorts!
I also brought several pieces that didn’t seem “practical” for RV life but reflect my personal style. I love wearing heels. So, I wear my wedge heels as much as possible from grilling at the campground to touring new cities. My favorite strapless maxi dress was perfect for visiting a rose garden on my birthday. For anyone whose personal style is important to them, a key RV life transition tip is to include your few favorite pieces with your exploring clothes. It’ll help you feel like you’re bringing your whole self even while you’re bringing much fewer items.
Connect With the Community
My last RV life transition tip is to make the time early on to connect with others in the community and stay connected as you travel
. This is a whole other blog post, but I’ll just say that everyone we’ve reached out to has been so helpful and we’ve made some great friends this way. Having folks who really get to know you
is one of the best ways to bring your whole self on the road
I hope this post gives anyone considering the RV life some tips for a smooth transition. It’s a really incredible experience with so many fulfilling elements if you are thoughtful about how you do it. As we get ready for our next year on the road, I’d love to hear your insights too!