Don’t Make These RV Newbie Mistakes

Many people consider making a full-time living, or most-time living, in an RV. In fact, RV related videos on Youtube are plentiful and show people enjoying traveling, nature, and the adventure that comes with the lifestyle. But don’t be fooled. There are both challenges and benefits to RV living. Youtubers don’t always upload the challenges as much. Those challenges, especially as a newbie, can stealthily reach up and slap a person around a bit. For example, below are a few RV newbie mistakes that don’t always make it to Youtube.

Misjudging relationships while RV living

Silver Airstream Flying Cloud camper being towed by a blue Ford F-150 in a forested national park
Airstream Flying Cloud camper being towed by a Ford F-150 | Airstream

Relationships are the first thing that changes when starting a nomadic lifestyle. Many people underestimate the connection they have with their friends and family. The idea of seeing them less is somewhat diminished by video calling, but that does not substitute for hanging around with them. However, other relationships will be formed with fellow RV travelers that may happen to make the same campsite or scenic stop.

The other thing to consider about relationships is interpersonal relationships with anybody else that is traveling too. For example, one spouse or partner may be committed to an RV lifestyle, while the other may only like to occasionally camp. So, the level of dedication can cause friction. Therefore, it is wise to sit down together with the fellow-traveling companion prior to launching out and discussing expectations. Having the conversation before selling everything and jumping into a confined space is smart for any newbie.

Jam-packed scheduling

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RV living can be fun. It can also be a chore just as easily. The difference oftentimes is the amount of stuff packed into the schedule. Sure, there are many things people want to see and do. But, they don’t all have to be done in the first month on the road. Remember, the weather and traffic are not as predictable as people would like. So, construction and foul weather can cause delays. A schedule with built-in buffer time will lend itself to an enjoyable journey for the traveler. However, a tight and packed schedule can lead to stress and the end of the potential trip enjoyment.

The newbie should also consider that driving an RV is a lot more taxing on a person than driving a car, SUV, or pickup. Eight hours of travel in a traditional vehicle may seem common. In a recreational vehicle, however, the size of the vehicle keeps the driver on edge longer. So, it is more taxing to the body. So, don’t jam the schedule by inadvertently thinking that an eight hour day of driving is the norm. It is not for RVers.

Regarding a jam-packed schedule, our friends at put it this way,

“Talk to almost any veteran full-timer, and they will preach taking your time. Even when trying to make big miles traveling from one part of the country to another, the vast majority follow variations of the 222 rule. Travel no more than 200 miles in a day, arrive at the RV site no later than 2 pm, and stay a minimum of 2 days.”

Clutter overload in the RV

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Many people who decide to become RV lifers understand that space is at a premium. However, newbies in the journey don’t always realize just how little space is available. A mobile headquarters are meant for the necessities and a few frills. However, when a newbie strips down belongings from a house that they are transitioning from, many things they want to bring that may be meaningful end up being clutter in the van, camper, trailer, or motorhome.

The Wrong choice of RV

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Living in a pop-up camper all year round in states that experience significant winter weather is not a good idea. Nor is selecting a travel trailer that is too small, or a fifth-wheel that can not be pulled by the household vehicle. Also, while a motorhome may have everything one may need in amenities, it still may be too small or too large depending on the family’s size. Needless to say, selecting the right size and type of RV is crucial. That is why it is highly recommended to rent an RV, or a few, prior to embarking on full-time nomadic travel. Renting a unit can provide the insight necessary to make the right decision.

No rainy-day fund

A man pulling money from his wallet
A person pulling money out | Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images

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There is nothing like traveling to a destination and then having it rain for five days of the seven days planned. Whether the time was built into the schedule or not, there is still the conundrum of having to come up with activities to fill the time. Not all of those activities will be planned for inside the RV. Sometimes, the stir craziness will encourage spending out of the pocket for a quick trip in town to visit a museum or sit in a theater to watch a play, or anything really that will refresh the mind. So, newbies should plan ahead and have a rainy-day fund ready.

Newbie RV full-timers or most-timers have plenty of questions that need answers before they start their first trip. This list of common mistakes should help answer some of those questions and better prepare them for the new adventure. Adventures should be fun, wise planning by avoiding the mistakes above will help with that fun.