RV Life Q&A
Answering your most common questions
You asked, I answer! Here are your questions you asked me on all-things life on the RV.
Do you prefer boodocking vs staying in parks?
I actually cobble together a mix of places to stay, and it’s rare I utilize a true RV park. I prefer state parks if I am going to stay in a campground, which tend to be prettier, more in nature, and far cheaper than a privately owned park.
If I’m boondocking (dry camping with no hookups), because I’m alone and safety is #1, it’s typically in a Walmart parking lot, which I actually have grown to weirdly enjoy! Everything you need is a few paces away, including running water, groceries, a bathroom, and wifi. Friend’s driveways, WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) farms, and boondockerswelcome.com are other ways I find places I stay along my routes.
How Do You Earn Money?
My primary source of income has been for the past 2 years now from my Beachbody coaching business (message me for more info about how it all works!) I am an independent health coach with Team Beachbody, and it allows me to work entirely remotely, literally from anywhere in the world with wifi, from my smartphone. It’s actually the entire reason I ever began RV life—otherwise I would have had a traditional job tying me down. I think it is THE ideal job for a traveler! I also have people to stay almost everywhere I go, because of how widespread I have made my team.
Other secondary sources of income for me are freelance work which I find through Upwork.com. Example of work I do are virtual assistant gigs, social media management, and writing and blogging for a variety of publications, magazines, and websites. When I’m not in the RV, I rent it out through RVshare.com and Outdoorsy.com for extra income.
How did you find the courage to “pull the trigger” and live life on the road?
The day I left home, I didn’t’ feel courageous at all. I had to force myself to pull the trigger, and I’ll be straight with you—it wasn’t pretty. Buying an RV is one thing; renovating it is one thing, but when push comes to shove and it’s finally time to leave, I would just go ahead and anticipate a giant “Oh shit what the eff have I done moment”—unless you’re gutsier than me! To be specific, I sat in my front lawn and sobbed. No one was there to see me off—my parents were both at work, so I quite literally had to walk myself to the RV, and force myself to crank the engine and drive away. I can tell you that within a few hours I was having a great time and so proud of myself, but even now, each time I leave on a trip when I haven’t been in the RV life in a hot minute, it’s this same kicking-myself-out-of-the-nest sensation.
No one is going to make you do it, and you’re never going to feel ready—you just have to shut your eyes and jump.
Has life on the road lived up to your expectations?
Life on the road has way exceeded my expectations. Before I left, I think I was envisioning some sort of romanticized combo of Eat, Pray, Love and Wild—idyllic scenery, breathtaking views, quiet nights in campgrounds sitting around a campfire, meeting new people and journaling while making s’mores. That's cute, but that's not really RV life.
All of those things might happen (though I’ve eaten 0 s’mores and built 0 campfires, because most nights I’m way too tired for that), but what RV life has given me is a self-confidence and sense of sanctification and personal pride that goes far beyond anything you’d experience on a camping trip. It’s made me realize who I am, what I can handle, what I value…I mean without writing a novel, it’s been the best and worst times of my life, and the most life affirming experience I’ve ever had. It’s way exceeded my expectations of seeing some National Parks and getting out of my comfort zone.
Advice for aspiring nomads?
My advice is to not let the fear rule you. There are going to be tons and tons of “oh shit” moments, especially if you’re a chronic worrier and anxiety-ridden soul like myself. I naturally gravitate toward freaking out, and RV life has taught me you have to have a deep faith in the universe, and a willingness to not know your entire route, but just the next few hours of it. It requires a lot of surrender, and I would advise any aspiring nomad to anticipate that this might take an adjustment, and to loosen your grip upon your plans, routes, and color coded itinerary. The universe is going to be the boss here. My route went out of the window day 2 I think, and I had to learn to go with the flow. Let go of the fear and see the love instead (I got this phrase tattooed on my arm, but a post-it on your dash could be a good way to go too.)
I would also advice that you get some roadside assistant, great insurance, let your family or friends track your location, and that you practice driving in empty parking lots before you leave home and hit the road! Oh, and drive slow and let people pass you and flip you off—they’ll live!
Do you get frightened sometimes?
Am I ever not frightened, more like? As I mentioned, I got the phrase “I choose to see love instead of fear” tattooed on my arm a couple months into the trip. Because I need reminding of that daily—every second. I am afraid lots of the time, but RV life has taught me to sit with my anxiety, and be almost comfortable with it. It is a constant presence, but it sits in the back of the RV now, not in the driver seat. I push through it, I allow myself to sometimes break down and have crying jags on the floor, I have learned to SHOUT positive affirmations to myself, at least every other day or so, while driving, and I have learned to push through it, because all of the best experiences I’ve had are on the other side of fear. It is a daily practice, living with fear, and something I am constantly working at.
Music helps—whatever makes you feel like a badass. So does having a cat along with you for company!
What do you do when you have mechanic problems?
Roadside assistance, Youtube, and calling your lifeline (my dad!). Also, ask for help! Pep Boys are great, as are mobile RV repair people, which you can google and almost always find someone to come to your campsite. I bought an RV with only 30k miles and checked it out thoroughly for everything mechanical before I bought it. I’ve only “broken down” once, knock on wood, and it was just a case of me leaving my lights on and killing my battery while I ate lunch at Chipotle.
Do you feel safe leaving your RV when you stay with someone?
I’m pretty much always in my RV. I haven’t ever left it somewhere and gone to a hotel. Once I stayed with a friend who didn’t’ have parking for it, and left it overnight in a Walmart. I felt a little uneasy, but this isn’t a regular occurrence and ultimately it was fine. I pulled down the curtains and locked everything up, and checked on it the next morning.
What is the cost of this lifestyle?
That’s a pretty loaded question, because RV life varies hugely depending on things like your rig size and model, how often and far you travel, where you stay, and things like how often you eat out, sight see, treat yourself to events, etc. I life frugally whether in a house or a RV, and tend to cook all my own meals, stay in cheap places such as friend’s driveways or $12 a night state parks. By a landslide the biggest cost for me is gas, which isn’t pretty. No way around that. However, most of my time in my RV I hve been traveling a lot, usually every day or every other day. If I chose to stay put longer, like the time I stayed for an entire month on a farm in Northern Colorado, doing a work-trade for a free place to stay, it would be almost free. It just totally depends on how you choose to do things!
How do you take care of your mental health on the road?
I take care of myself on the road exactly the same as I do not on the road—in fact, maybe even better. I listen to self help podcasts every single day of my life (Over it and On with It and The Life Coach School Podcast are my current faves), I journal, I write blogs which is super therapeutic to me, I meditate, I keep a gratitude journal, I eat very very healthy, and I workout every single day. Things like making my RV homey and comforting with string lights, quotes on the wall, plants, and things from home also go a long way. I sleep a LOT and I give myself a ton of permission to have rough days and just cry it out.
A hugely helpful thing has also been giving myself permission to slow down and not sight see constantly. I felt a lot of pressure at first to milk every single town for all it was worth, see every historic landmark I passed, etc. Eventually I had to realize this isn’t a vacation—it’s life, and sleep and rest are more important at the end of the day than checking every single thing off my to-see list—so when you’re frazzled and need to rest and slow down, do it! I’ve pulled off the road into Walmart parking lots before, unplanned, because I just could not deal anymore, and that’s ok. I’ve had more crying jags than I can count, and that’s ok. It’s been hugely helpful to in a way, lower my expectations, and realize not every day is going to be amazing and picturesque and perfect, just like you’d have bad days at home in a house-same with RV life.
What are your must-have things for long term RV? Is there anything you thought you needed and haven't used much at all?
My musts on the road have been pretty practical and cheap: I am a minimalistic person whether on the road or not, so, cheap thrills are around. Honestly? Hand wipes and facial wipes have come in handy so many nights when I didn't have running water. As have paper bowls and plates. I am never without a car charger, a gallon or two of water, and snacks that I can eat while driving. Bigger things that have been great are my bike, mostly to get around campgrounds or go short distances, my $10 walmart cooler, for times I'm driving long distances and the fridge isn't' plugged in, to transfer my food to, and a good old extension cord, for plugging the RV into friend's garages and houses. Like I said, cheap date. I also use a pour-over coffee system and I love it, because I can make a cup of coffee literally on the side of the road if I needed to, just by boiling some water on my stovetop and pouring it over. No electricity needed. You also certainly want a toolbox with the basics, but some duct tape and silicone sealant are the two things I use most often, to patch the inevitable random leaks.
Things I thought I would need and ended up casting off along route, much in the way Oregon Trail settlers did when they realized they'd overpacked: Clothes! You don't need many clothes, honestly. I wear the same handful of workout/activewear outfits and grungy old cutoff shorts in the summer, and in the winter my wardrobe consisted of long underwear, flannel leggings, and Columbia fleece. You also don't need many dishes or kitchen utensils--so keep it minimal. I thought I would use my campchairs I bought from Walmart a lot more, but honestly have had very few evenings sitting around a campsite. Usually I'm so exhausted I'm going to bed early, or I'm just on a walk or bike ride around a campsite, or I'm with people I made friends with. There's not a lot of sitting around campsites though.
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