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Our Top 10 Tips For New Full-time RVers

Full-time RVing isn’t easy. It took us a year and a half of preparation and planning before we put wheels on the road full-time, and ever since then we’ve been learning. We hit the road in 2015, and we’re still going! Here are some of our tips for new or soon-to-be full-time RVers. 

​1. Have a Budget

And stick to it. We broke down everything from insurance to groceries – and yes we budget for having some fun too!

Many new full-time RVers hit the road to save money. Our advice for this is to do the work and not just assume. While saving money by living in an RV is possible, it’s not a rule. If you can’t get out of vacation mode, it may do way more harm than good to your bank account.

full time rv budget

2. Have a Road Atlas

Despite modern technological advances, you WILL lose service, your phone batteries WILL die, and your GPS will NOT always know where you are. We are so thankful that we had one more on more than one occasion!

3. Have “The Next Exit” Book

This book has saved us so many times. It tells you which exit has RV-accessible gas stations and restaurants, where the next rest stop is, and more. We’ll tell you from experience that Google Maps isn’t the best for knowing where the next rest area is.

Especially starting as new full-time RVers, it’s so reassuring to have a physical book to look something up. You’ll figure out how to use all the best RV apps as you go, but this book is a great starting point.

The Next Exit by Mark Watson | Product Review | Guide of USA Interstate Highway Exit Services

4. Plan to Arrive in the Daylight

Unless you know your destination well, darkness makes everything harder. Backing into a campsite is hard enough in the daylight sometimes with low tree branches and tight angles. Arriving in the dark just adds stress and is just unnecessary when you’re doing this full-time.

5. Don’t Plan Too Much on Travel Days 

We’ve found it best to not plan anything critical on travel days. Moving can be stressful, so avoid adding complexity with work, deadlines, meetings, etc. Focus on getting where you are going, then take the rest of the day to settle in and adjust to your new place.

6. Expect the Unexpected 

Be diligent about maintenance and inspecting your RV (and truck if applicable). Rather than waiting for a leak, recaulk all your seams, reinforce that suspicious spot on the roof, and do repairs sooner than later. Something bad WILL happen – that is just life. And when something does go wrong, remember to breathe…

truck breakdown
That time we broke down in Alabama…

7. Check Your Brake System Often

Going is optional, but stopping is mandatory.

RVs are a lot of weight on the road, and need to have good brakes to stop when needed. We lost our brakes in the mountains of West Virginia: not fun!

While all your RV maintenance is technically important, we would argue that not being able to stop is more important than not being able to go. If you routinely check anything in your travels, it should be this.

tom showing brakes from rv failure
Replacing the electric brake magnets in West Virginia

8. Research and Join RV Memberships 

They will save you LOTS of Money! We’ve tried and tested out many clubs and memberships over the years. Some have stuck around for the long-haul. Here are our favorites:

  • Boondockers Welcome – Locals invite travelers to spend the night, share their stories, and save their money for the real adventure.
  • Harvest Hosts – a network of wineries, breweries & distilleries, farms, attractions, private properties, and golf courses that invite RVers to stay overnight.
  • Passport America – discounts on hundreds of RV parks across the country.
  • Escapees – a total support network for all RVers.

See our post about the best RV memberships for saving money on the road!

9. Plan, but don’t overplan!

Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, especially if you are a planner like Cait. Planning is important to find good deals and make sure you get where you want to go when you want to be there. But so many of our favorite adventures have been stumbled upon by accident or by simple exploration. Having the flexibility to pursue unplanned adventures is extremely rewarding!

This tip for new full-time RVers might be something to just keep in mind. As you get more comfortable with road life, you can start doing more of this spontaneous exploration.

cait helping a little horse
Saving a pony in Kentucky who had seriously overgrown hooves!

10. Remember the big picture and enjoy the adventure.

One of our biggest struggles is overcoming the feeling that we’re being irresponsible and taking such a big financial risk going on this unbelievable journey. We both came from good-paying corporate jobs with very stable incomes and set responsibilities, so sometimes the insecurity does get to us.

And we both got a little homesick sometimes.

But one of our biggest tips for new full-time RVers is to remember the big picture. This is your one life to live and you have to make it count. No one lies on their deathbed wishing they had worked more!

While full-time RVing isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, it’s an amazing experience you’ll remember for always!

tom and cait are full-time rvers

Do you have any tips for new full-time RVers you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them in the comments!

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About Tom and Caitlin Morton

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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Jessica Meinhofer

Thursday 17th of November 2016

I really like these tips. Thanks for sharing these practical tips that anyone can apply to their RV journey. We know some of these ourselves, but seem to have a tough time implementing, especially #4!!

Derrick Parker

Wednesday 29th of June 2016

Spot On! Great tips..(I have practiced most of these myself, when I remember)