”I want to travel and work from anywhere in the world. What's holding me down?" Let's be honest. During the past months of COVID-19, if we haven't thought this ourselves, we know someone who has. According to the RV Industry Association, the pandemic caused a surge in RV sales, reporting "the highest July (2020) shipment numbers in four decades," up 56.6 percent from July 2019.
But how do you make that dream into a reality? I spoke with full-time RVers, Tom and Cindy, who are currently enjoying Phoenix, AZ's lovely sunny weather, to get their tips for living and working in an RV.
Cindy and Tom had been romanticizing the RV life for about a year. Like others, COVID-19 switched the gears on their timeline and sped up their jump to live on the road. "Living in an RV was a way to also protect ourselves. We are in control if/when we come in contact with others," says Tom. They purchased an RV and sold their house in June 2020 and hit the road...and they haven't looked back since.
Learn to live with less
The average size of an RV is 240 to 270 square feet. That's not a lot of space for your items. When you shift from a house or apartment to an RV, consider downsizing your material items. Make a list of things you use daily, such as essential kitchen items.
Consider renting a storage unit for seasonal items, such as heavy coats and recreational equipment. Tom and Cindy recommend renting a storage unit in a city you will come back to, whether it's somewhere where your immediate family members are or where your heart is drawn.
Apps will be your friend on the road. Whether you're researching RV park/campground reviews or connecting to friends and family through social media, there's an app to make your travels easier.
With full-time RV living, gas will be a crucial line of the budget. GasBuddy is a free travel and navigation app that helps you find the cheapest gas in your respective area or a route you are taking. Also, make sure to check out Campendium. It's a review site for campgrounds and will help you find your next perfect spot.
Next up: you'll need a reliable weather app to show your area's radar. Along with basic local and national weather, WeatherBug also alerts you when lightning is near and when to seek shelter, which is valuable with a large RV home.
Prepare for little cell service
A challenge many face when living on the road is finding a way to stay connected.
If you are working from your RV, cell service on the road can be unreliable. But luckily, there are plenty of full-service campgrounds around the United States that are equipped with WiFi and other luxuries. Another viable option is investing in a cell signal booster.
If you already have a job that's allowing remote work, great! If not, Workamper is a job board for people who work out of their RV. The site has a wide variety of jobs to explore.
Research, research, research
A lot of research should happen before making the switch to living and working in an RV full-time. There are many things to consider with life on the road, some you might not have thought of yourself, like filing taxes. Be sure to research various state's tax laws, "...some states tax on particular things such as social security, whereas others do not." Dig deep in state laws to determine what state works best for your needs when choosing where to file taxes.
In addition, research some RVing Clubs that best suit you. Having a support system of adventurers like yourself to reach out to for tips and recommendations will help you learn the tricks of the trade. Some great options are Harvest Host, Escapees, Family Motorcoach Association, and so many more to choose from based on your needs!
Living on the road means your house is on wheels. Bumps on the road are not your friend. RVs can break down, or a mishap can occur with the toilet system in the middle of nowhere. Expect the worst, hope for the best, so prepare for long journeys in remote areas with appropriate handy tools, such as a back-up generator, batteries, and some tools from your shed.
Tom and Cindy shared that not having a physical address was an issue they did not expect. Having a PO Box is not ideal when traveling across the country, and neither is rerouting one's mail to an immediate family's residences.
A solution Tom and Cindy are considering is signing up for a virtual mailbox. After referrals and discussions with family, they agree that having the availability to access their postal mail from anywhere, online or from their phone, would be incredibly helpful.
Preparing for a journey of a lifetime will be long, stressful, and possibly overwhelming at times. But will all be worth it once it begins. Make sure you do your research, download your apps, purchase necessary tools, and get ready for the time of your life!
"The United States is a marvelous make-up of people and terrain. Sometimes, it's even overwhelming to describe to [our friends and family] what you see and experience on the road. It's amazing."