The days of suburban living with a white picket fence are becoming limited. Instead, the American Dream has transformed into something a bit more modern and cost-effective. Many people are taking advantage of this new ideology by ditching their old lifestyle to reside in their RV. Therefore, we’ve provided you with the 10 Best Tips for Living in a Camper Full-Time, which are:
- Prep Your Camper for Full-Time Living
- Learn Your Rig Inside and Out
- Make a List of Destinations to See
- Acquire Domicile and RV Insurance
- Set Up a Mail Forwarding Service
- Be Prepared For the Unexpected
- Make a Full-Time RV Budget
- Join an RV Club or Membership
- Bring Only What You Need
- Remember to Have Fun
This trend is becoming increasingly popular for two main reasons. One, the cost of living has grown immensely in recent years, and it’s not a secret that many Americans are grappling to make ends meet. Balancing a mortgage, student loans, and other expenses can lead to a very stressful lifestyle.
Secondly, with the rise of the Internet, remote work has become much more common. Rather than traveling to a physical location during the standard 9 to 5 hours, people can now work from home. Many install Wi-Fi in their rig, as well, allowing them to live off-grid. For that reason, boondocking is the latest craze in the RV world.
Between fewer expenses and remote working, it is no wonder that so many people are choosing to live this way. Campers provide all the essentials while cutting down on costs. Plus, they’re relatively easy to maintain with a bit of practice. Read on to discover tour 10 best tips for living in a camper full-time.
1. Prepare Your Camper for Full-Time Living
Although you may be eager to embark on your journey, it’s not as simple as jumping in the driver’s seat and stepping on the gas. There’s a decent amount of work to do before leaving. Remember that the more you prepare, the easier time you will have going forward. You can guarantee that your future self will thank you, as well!
First, backup cameras can be a lifesaver, especially when it comes to bigger rigs. Trying to back into a parking space or making a tight k-turn can prove difficult and dangerous. Car accidents while traveling adds unnecessary stress. Save the hassle by installing backup cameras.
If you’re traveling between campgrounds, then hookups shouldn’t be too much of an issue. However, if you wish to boondock, you need to think about how you’ll empty your black and grey water tanks, maintain electricity, and acquire water. Be sure to think about amenities, such as composting toilets, solar panels, and water storage reservoirs. To learn all about composting toilets check out our article called Why You Should Consider a Composting Toilet for Your RV.
2. Learn Your Rig Inside and Out
As dull as it might sound, reading your RV owner’s manual is a must before camping full-time. Knowing how everything works and proper maintenance protocol saves you in the long run. If you’re living in a converted van or bus, odds are you’re familiar with your unit. However, it’s still a good idea to learn about the undercarriage.
You might think it’s silly to flip through 100 pages of technical jargon, but there is a valid reason to do so. For example, if you ever become stranded, having a background about how the mechanical side of your camper works may prevent a dangerous situation. Being stuck in extreme temperatures, hazardous weather, or unsafe areas can be anxiety-producing. But, with the proper knowledge, you may be able to jury rig your vehicle to safety.
Plus, you won’t have to worry about sketchy mechanics charging you ridiculously high prices. If you prove that you know what you’re talking about, you’re less likely to fall into this trap.
3. Research Destinations and Make a Full-Time Travel Itinerary
With all the upcoming excitement, it can seem pointless to make an itinerary. Many travelers make the mistake of driving aimlessly and later find themselves in a sticky situation. Avoid that stress by making a vague plan that outlines routes, stops, and attractions.
Start by setting your destination and highlighting the main highways or roads to get there. Using GPS is helpful, but it is distracting during stressful situations. It can also become a nuisance if you lose reception. Instead, follow road signs to give you a better idea about where you’re going. Don’t disregard your digital map, however, as it can be a great secondary source.
Even if you want to drive all day and night, you’re going to have to stop eventually. Therefore, having an idea about gas stations, grocery stores, and other services along the way can be a lifesaver. Many state-by-state paper-maps list these amenities, and you can purchase them for less than $20.
4. Acquire Domicile and Insurance
Research your state laws before leaving, as some only grant residency with property ownership. You may even want to change your physical location for convenience. Texas, South Dakota, and Florida are the top contenders. They do not require ownership for residency, and there are no property taxes in these states.
Insurance rates ultimately decide residency. Laws vary with each state; therefore, you should research extensively in preparation. Some areas give discounts and deals for full-time campers. Again, having more knowledge is always best.
Choose the best package possible, as more is always better when it comes to living in an RV. In comparison with mortgage rates, you will still be saving money in the long run. Taking preventative measures means less stress in case of an accident. Plus, you can relax knowing you’re covered. More specifically, be sure to investigate on and off-road liability protection, roadside assistance, and collision coverage.
To learn all about RV Insurance check out our article called How Much Does RV Insurance Cost? and to learn about the Good Sam Roadside Assistance Programs check out our article called Is The Good Sam Extended Service Plan Right For You?
5. Set Up a Mail Forwarding Service
In addition to residency, you also need to establish your physical address for mail. Getting your mail and packages on the road can become rather stressful if you do not have a plan. If possible, try to receive electronic statements and notifications via email. But, for all other mail, you have a couple of options.
Some full-time campers use a family member’s address with their permission. This method is the easiest, as all you need to do is contact the post office. Their website also offers online services where you can change your address and forward your mail to the new location.
Others elect to use America’s Mailbox. This service provides members with four plans to receive their mail. By paying a monthly fee, you can schedule your mail delivery depending on your location. If you’re going to be in California tomorrow, but Florida next week, no worries! Just set your calendar and pick up your mail or package with ease.
6. Prepare For the Unexpected
Life on the road is a tad different from the standard way of living. You never really know what’s going to happen, which is both thrilling and somewhat nerve-wracking. Think outside the box and acknowledge even the wildest possibilities. In doing so, you will always have what you need onboard for any situation.
Bringing along a road kit is one of the smartest additions to your camper. Although you can buy one of these from Wal-Mart or AAA, it is best to make it yourself to customize it to your needs. Regardless, include these necessities:
- Spare tire
- Wheel wrench and jack
- Jumper cables
- Basic tools
- Reflective triangles or flares
- First-aid kit
- Fire extinguisher
Also, be mindful about the weather in different regions of the country. The east coast experiences anything from blizzard conditions to treacherous hurricanes. Contrarily, the west coast is known for earthquakes and heavy smog. Keep an eye out through the midwestern states, as well, due to tornados. These natural forces can be deadly, so take caution and watch the forecast.
7. Make and Keep a Budget for Full-Time RV Living
Budgeting is essential, no matter whether you’re living in your home, apartment, or RV. It gives you an idea about your input versus output, allowing you to stay within your means and save for the future. When traveling, there are a few added expenses that you must add into your spreadsheet.
Tolls can add up quite fast. Unless you are only planning to travel on backroads, it is a good idea to set aside money for these fees. Many states offer electronic transponders that you dock on your windshield. These devices link to your debit card and take money out as you drive through the designated lane. E-Z pass is a popular toll collection system that is expanding across the nation.
Gas is also another factor to consider, as you cannot travel without it! The amount of money you spend and times you stop depends on your miles per gallon rating and speed. Better gauge these costs by driving at consistent speeds.
RELATED READING: For an in-depth understanding of all of your full-time RV costs check out our article Full-Time RV Costs to Consider.
8. Become a Member of an RV Club
Another way to save money is by becoming a member of an RV club. These programs provide travelers with discounted rates on campgrounds. Others include additional conveniences and accommodate to those with specific needs.
The most popular community is the Good Sam Community Club, with over a million members. Participants receive a 10% discount on over 1,600 campsites in the United States and Canada. Fees include a trip planning service that estimates fuel costs and gives you the fastest, most efficient route. The system highlights gas stations, RV services, and rest stops along the way. Good Sam also has emergency towing services and insurance policies.
Escapees is another excellent RV club with discounted rates of 15% and 50% on more than 1,000 campgrounds. Members can hook up their rig for low nightly and weekly rates while dry campers can stay for next to nothing.
Passport America, KOA Value Kard Rewards, and Boondockers Welcome are additional options for those living in a camper full-time. To see our favorite RV Clubs and Memberships check out our article The 5 Best RV Campground Memberships or check out our Memberships Page. We highly recommend any and all of these memberships to help save you money and get connected with other full-time RVers too!
9. Only Bring What You Need
Cutting down on your wardrobe, accessories, and possessions isn’t always the easiest. However, stuffing your camper full of unnecessary items is also frustrating and claustrophobic. It may seem impractical at the beginning, but many find that the minimalistic lifestyle is the most rewarding.
Your camper only has so much space, so there is no need to limit yourself further. Take some time to sort out your belongings and only keep what truly matters to you. Get your money back by putting on a tag sale and selling your items or donate them to Goodwill. If these don’t sound like good options, you can always keep your assets in a rented storage unit.
Another tip for campers is only to buy what you need. When you go shopping, only grab the requirements to avoid overloading your RV. Of course, you can never have enough non-perishable food items and water, however, only buy the rest as needed.
RELATED READING: For a great list of RV and Camper trailer essentials check out our article called 21 Must-Have RV Accessories for a New Camper or Travel Trailer.
10. Most Importantly, Have Fun!
Keeping an open mind during your travels is one of the top methods for success. Your journey isn’t always going to be perfect, and you’re bound to have some struggles along the way. Reacting to the situation is only going to make it worse. Take a deep breath and remember; there are no time restrictions on the road.
Furthermore, always stay flexible! Just because you have an itinerary, that doesn’t mean you have to abide by each detail. Things like weather, traffic, and construction are expected to throw off your travel plans. Rather than getting frustrated, channel your energy into adaptability. Switching your plans at the last minute is truly no big deal in the grand scheme of things.
Communication is particularly crucial if you’re traveling with a loved one, pet, or friend. Living in small quarters can become annoying very quickly. Keep this in mind by giving each other space and regularly discussing feelings and issues. Create a driving schedule that works for both of you and abide by it as much as possible. Living in a camper full-time is not an issue if you follow these simple tips.
Are you ready to join the bandwagon? With a bit of planning and preparation, this lifestyle is possible for just about anyone. Begin by setting your goals and checking them off as you go!
Don’t let the anxiety of the unknown stop you from living your dream. Although it can be a scary leap, it proves more than worth it. There is never a dull minute on the road, and it will give you experiences that you can’t find anywhere else. Maintain a positive attitude and see where life takes you. Best of luck!
For more awesome tips about living in an RV or Camper full time check out our other articles below:
- Full-Time RV Costs to Consider
- Cheap Retirement Living in an RV
- The 5 Best RV Campground Memberships
- 21 Practical Tips for Living in an RV with Kids
- 21 Must-Have RV Accessories for a New Camper or Travel Trailer
- Free Overnight RV Parking
- How Much Does RV Insurance Cost?
- Why Are RV Park Rates So High?
- Harvest Hosts – A Great Way to Camp for Free!
- Is The Good Sam Extended Service Plan Right For You?
- How To Find Free RV Camping
- 20 Amazing Decorating Ideas for Your Travel Trailer or RV
- Why You Should Consider a Composting Toilet for Your RV
- 10 Best RVs and Campers with a Washer and Dryer
Do you have any tips for living in a camper or RV full time? Please leave your comments below. You never know but your comment or suggestion might just help a fellow RVer!