The RV Lifestyle – So You Want to be an RVer

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By JeffreyThurber

We are often asked for advice on how to get started RVing. Here we list our top ten “to do’s” for those thinking about the RV lifestyle or just starting out.
These are easy to accomplish items that will help avoid costly mistakes or lousy RV experiences.
Enjoy this great lifestyle by starting with adequate (and fun!) preparation. The tips here are important for every new or wannabe RVer…and are especially important for those considering living fulltime in an RV.

  1. Read a few books about RVing. If you are out RV shopping, there are several books to help with the process. If fulltiming is in your dreams, read books about fulltiming – typically written by people who have done so themselves. This was one of our first activities as we started dreaming about the lifestyle, and it has proven to be an invaluable activity.
  2. Attend RV shows and dealers…spend the time needed to check out an assortment of RV types and brands. We did this for years, sitting in the rigs, mentally going through the motions of doing everyday activities, talking to people, listening to comments of others as they did their own looking around. It is actually a lot of fun, and helps you become an informed consumer.
  3. Go RVing – try it out. Before making a major RV purchase or a decision to go fulltime, have at least some experience RVing. Many people who upgrade their RV, or go fulltiming, already have had years of RVing experience. But if, like us, this is not the case, then rent an RV or buy a used RV… for vacations, weekend getaways and/or on a long trip where you can envision how it would be to live on a fulltime or “most-of-the-time” basis.
  4. Join a few RV clubs (such as Good Sam, FMCA and Escapees) and read their magazines. Even if you aren’t currently RVing, these clubs and their publications provide a lot of good information, services, and food for thought. We continue to learn from the magazines, and the various clubs hold rallies and local chapter events, which are also great learning opportunities.
  5. Be diligent and informed when you buy an RV. Quality, storage space, carrying capacity, towing limits, operating systems (plumbing, electrical, cooling/heating) and floor plan are all important. Think about how you will spend time in the RV day-to-day and make a list of things that are important to you. It pays to know something about how to use an RV before you make a purchase decision. How many times have we heard, “if I had only known about…” Don’t know what you don’t know? Well, become informed — one of the best ways to learn is from the popular RV Education DVDs and videos.
  6. Prepare a written budget – estimate your expenses, think about how you will spend your time, get it down on paper. Plan for recreation, insurance, emergency and maintenance costs. If you are considering the fulltime lifestyle, working on the road may be an important consideration.
  7. Evaluate your expectations and motives. Take a few minutes to jot down what you hope to get out of RVing. This is a good first step, but it is also a good exercise after you have done some of the above items. Once you start learning about the RV lifestyle via books, videos, shows and experiences, it is worth it to revisit what you hope to get out of RVing. You may validate your initial thoughts. Or you may discover that the RV experience you desire is a bit different than what you initially envisioned.
  8. Share the dream. If you are planning to RV with others (spouse, family, whoever), make sure they are part of the planning and learning process. Discuss expectations. Consider compromises. If you are going to spend time in close quarters with others, things will go much better if everyone is on the same team.
  9. Consider connections. Depending on your circumstances, this might include keeping in contact with family and friends while RVing, having internet access, cell phone connectivity in different geographic areas and use of email. For a short vacation, this may be a minor subject. For fulltimers or those traveling for extended periods, it is a big consideration.
  10. Enjoy the journey. And we don’t just mean the RV journey once you are on the road. Also enjoy the “getting ready”, the learning phase. Have fun and take your time as you get to “know your stuff” about the RV lifestyle.

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