5 Surprising Things No One Tells You About RV Living

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Anyone who has spent a short amount of time in an RV can probably attest to these revelations I’ve made in the last couple of months, but I thought it would be fun to break some of the typical stigmas surrounding RV life.

You can actually have glassware.

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This has probably been the biggest surprise to me so far during our time on the road. When downsizing, I ditched most of our glassware. I only kept a handful of breakable items I assumed we’d be replacing with plastic, which caused me not to be overly cautious when storing them. The photo above is how our glasses hang out in the cup drawer, with no special padding or dividers. This cavalier attitude has led to the discovery that these items aren’t as fragile as I once thought. So far in our 1300 miles, we haven’t run into one problem. In fact, the only broken glass we’ve had was due to my clumsiness when I knocked my favorite mug on the floor. :(

You can have decorations/plants.

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When we first started on our full-time journey, I knew this wouldn’t be something I’d compromise on. Our home on wheels would have plants, no matter what. It’s been surprisingly easy to work them around traveling. When it’s time to pack up, I just put them someplace safe. This could be on the bed, in the sink, etc. Once we arrive where we’re going, I simply put them back in their spots. The various decor that sits around on surfaces also follows a similar routine. I have a few soft bins where everything goes during travel. If you don’t intend on moving things, Museum Putty works really well to keep items in place!

You can make wonderful meals in your RV kitchen.

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I am continuously surprised when I hear people say they’ve never used their oven, even in years of traveling in their RV. I’m happy to report that once I got over my nervousness of using propane for the first time, I’ve continued to use “the little kitchen that could” even more than my previous giant kitchen! We cook 2-3 meals a day on our little stove. I am so excited to start sharing RV recipes and tips for cooking in smaller spaces in the near future.

Going to the bathroom isn’t weird.

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You flush with your foot? Before living in our fifth wheel, I had the funny thought that we would probably do most of our business at the public campground toilets. WRONG. Surprisingly, we go to the bathroom the same way we did in our old home. (Aren’t you thankful for that visual?) The fact that you keep all of your waste in a small tank beneath you isn’t really that weird either. We don’t even have to buy special toilet paper; we use Seventh Generation, which you can pick up at most big box stores!

Your RV doesn’t have to look like an RV!

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While this isn’t news to us, I’ve found it’s not the norm with many RVers. I knew from the beginning, when we remodeled our fifth wheel, I wanted it to feel like home. For us that meant painting over every single surface and putting in furnishings found in a traditional house. Don’t let your space on wheels intimidate you! Be bold and put your mark on it! Anytime someone tells us our fifth wheel doesn’t look like an RV, we take it as a huge compliment.

And most of all, the biggest surprise about RV living is how much it has taught me. I’ve learned so much about myself. It’s changed my habits, changed my way of thinking, and changed how I view life in general. I’m looking forward to writing an in-depth post on the positive, life-changing effects full-time RV living has had on me. :)

Fellow RVers, what has surprised you? If you’ve never RVed, do you have any assumptions or burning questions about life on wheels?

-Kate

 

57 Comments on “5 Surprising Things No One Tells You About RV Living

  1. Love what you have done with your “home”. I grew up traveling in campers, motorhomes, a converted flex bus, so the lifestyle isn’t new to me. My husband and I are planning on full timing once the kid is off to college (in just a few short years). We’re researching now which will work better for us, 5th wheel or motorhome. But your blog has given me so many wonderful ideas for when we finally do take the plunge. The biggest consideration for us currently is making sure it has enough space for him to be able to work, no matter where we are.

    Looking forward to more wonderful pictures and ideas.

    • Hi. Thanks for your article on thing no one tell you about living in RV. My wife and I have a 35 ft. Forest River Windjammer bumper pull. We talk about all the storage space in our camper all the time.
      I have read where you remodeled your camper for more room, and better setup.
      If anything happened to our camper. Would want one exactly like this one Windjammer 3001 of year of 2013.
      Looking forward to more wonderful reading from you.

  2. Love this article and I agree with so many of your points, especially the cooking! My husband and I just purchased our first fifthwheel two years ago in January. Being we have no kids and both work from home, we take it out almost once a month to work remotely. And in a few years, we plan to move into it permanently. Your blog has already been such an inspiration for us in knowing we can do this, and really make our fifthwheel a “home.” I’m really looking forward to hearing more about your adventures!

    • Thank you Corrie! I am so excited for you guys. We are so happy that we can be an encouragement to others (even as a nudge) in the direction toward full-timing. It’s the best decision we ever made!

  3. We became full timers last spring! Although we aren’t able to travel yet due to my full time job we love this life! We feel so unemcumbered! Love our space even with our three dogs we make it work! Really love the amazing things you have done with your new home!

  4. We’ve just started full-timing this month and the thing that has most surprised me is that the RV feels like home. Ours is a 35′ motorhome and I feel like I have everything I need. I knit and sew and I was able to bring my supplies with me. Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels!

    • Betsy, I would love to hear how you set up your sewing area. I want to go full-time but the thought of giving up quilting holds me back. I’ve looked at toy haulers with the thought that the larger back area can turn into my sewing studio. I saw a video of a man that pulls his workshop behind his van which sounds interesting as well.

      • Betsy, I am in the same situation. I like the toy hauler idea but we want to dry camp as much as possible and I worry about running the A/C to cool the room and lower the humidity. I’ve also considered keeping my home as a home base, make up my projects while there and only doing the quilting, not the piecing, basting, etc. on the road. No final solution yet. Would love to know if you figure something out! I don’t even know where I would begin to pare down my tools, much less my fabrics!

        • I will be taking my machine and a few projects with me. There is plenty of room under the master bed for my supplies. Plus it will keep me focused on my current projects. And i so excited to visit new fabric/quilt shops.

  5. Gorgeous! I’m continually inspired by this little journey you guys are on. I’ve never even been inside of a RV, but I’m fascinated by the idea of them so this information is TOTALLY new to me.

    • Thank you Rachel! Until we started down this road I had very little experience as well. I feel like I learn something new everyday! 😀

  6. Thanks so much for sharing the pictures and thoughts. Love your custom decorating…how fun. Would love to see the rest of your 5th wheel. We have been full timers for year and half now and put on 10,000 miles. We have seen so much wonderful things, places and people that we wouldn’t trade it for anything. Hope to meet you down the road sometime. Happy travels…Peggy

  7. Yup, I can relate to all of these things. To add to the part about having real glasses, I was also surprised to learn that I don’t have to wrap every single breakable thing in fabric when we are on the move. I was so paranoid about breakage in the beginning, and it was a relief to learn the things in my cupboards really don’t move around at all. And the bathroom thing too. I thought it would be gross – turns out it’s completely normal and clean :)

  8. We are saving to go full time in an RV next March..we are so excited! We haven’t told our friends & family yet (that should be interesting), our kids are excited for the adventure and we are too so that is my only concern at the moment. Ive already started the purge and we are down to half, were waiting to see what else we can love without and its very freeing (although it looks like no one lives in our home). We have agreed to not buy anything we cant use in the RV and it has to have a multi purpose. Being in our 30’s may seem young to full time RV but we had a cancer scare 5 yrs back and decided this was our retirement dream & there’s no time like the present to live alittle even though we will both keep our jobs. Enjoy everyday :) Thanks for your blog!

  9. We have been on the road just over nine months and LOVE it! I totally agree with all your surprises and would add how wonderful it felt to downsize. I thought I would miss my “stuff” but really don’t at all. We have what we need for sure and even things we just wanted. It is freeing to de-clutter your life and live simply.

  10. I LOVE the last photo of the bedroom. It looks super cozy and had I not been on your website, I would never have even suspected it was in an RV.

    Love the blog!

  11. THanks for your post. We have just bought a 37 foot fifth wheel and plan to make it a permanent home when we move it to Pensacola, FL to be close to our daughter. I know it will be a while, but I really want to redo just about everything in it to make it ours.

  12. How do you transport your motorcycle? I recently sold my house & almost everything to full-time RV. I’ve been researching RVs for a couple of years and still can’t decide what’s the best for full-timeing & motorcycle riding. Considered diesel pusher & gas toy haulers and towing bike in enclosed trailer. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks

    • They have campers with toy hauler rooms. They r called toy haulers I think for that reason. They had someone parked next to us with a fifth wheel that was a tornado and it had the back space. It has a door that folds down in the back to put motorcycle, bikes or anything else you’d want to haul with u. Hope this helps.

    • Consider a fifth wheel toyhauler or just a toyhauler. We have a 30 ft 5th wheel toyhauler which includes a 10′ garage. Our Harley trike, two bicycles, and an inflatable kayak fit in there just fine!

      • Deb,

        I also have a Harley Davidson Trike, and found that some of the TT Toy Hauler garages were too short, but ended up buying a 27′ Riverside RV that has just what I wanted! A drop down couch and drop down dinette in the garage area. It took over 2 years of looking, but I am very happy with it.

        Lisa

  13. Hi, i am currently waiting to sell my house so i can finance a motor home. I know i won’t be able to afford a 5th wheeler, even though they can really look so homely. I will be travelling around Australia on my own, sometimes i wonder if i am kidding myself that i can do it by myself ! I guess you don’t know or can advise me of any areas i should be aware of ? I look forward to reading more of your blogs. Judi

    • Of course you can do it alone! Do a search for solo RVers! I’m a single mom and my kids have known for five years that once the last one moves out, I’m off! The planning has been so fun!

  14. My husband’s job involves us traveling in our camper for weeks and sometimes months at a time. We have a forest river wildwood with a bunkhouse for the kids & we have made it homey :). Ill be doing a blog post about it in the future. We homeschool so traveling with the kids is nice. I love our home on wheels & think it’s pretty fun & adventurous. It does have its tricky moments but hey that’s all part of it.

  15. We have been campers for 47 years but are now ready to sell everything and go full time. We can’t wait but have to sell the house first

  16. Loved your post. We have been fulltiming since December 23 of last year. We also gutted our 20-year-old Newmar and refurbished it to look and feel like “our home” – which it is. You have done a fine job! I agree that you learn so much about yourself and life, in addition to learning and experiencing the country. Safe travels!

  17. I would love to have you “teach” me to use our camper oven. We just got it last year and I haven’t used it yet, except to make some cookies. They turned out weird, but they were the pre-made kind. I didn’t cook them all and when we got home, I baked the rest and they were still weird, so it wasn’t the camper oven :) I would love your recipes as well.

  18. What a beautiful RV! I am about to renovate ours in December. We have been full time for 5 months and have about 1 1/2 years to go:) What has surprised us is that although we have so little, we need even less. You can find us at 4onaquest@blogspot.com Happy Travels! -Kim

  19. We use our RV for a summer lake house. Living in it approx. 4-6 months per year has taught me several things: I have learned that I don’t need so much “stuff”–this is especially true for kitchen gadgets and clothes, I’ve learned that when I use a smaller refrigerator there is less wasted food, I’ve learned that smaller living spaces are easier to keep clean–leaving more time for leisure/pleasure, I’ve learned that being out in nature is restorative and makes for some good family times too. RV living brings balance to my life. It is simple living.

  20. Thanks. Very inspirational. My wife and I are planning on buying our first TT soon. I hope we will be learning a lot together as well.

  21. I totally agree with your points. I also have container gardens and grow tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, lettuce, string beans and herbs. I have a 2014 Heartland Bighorn and have painted the walls, changed the fabric on the Windows and wrapped the island in bead board. An area rug on top of the ugly camper carpet makes the fifth wheel feel like a home. I travel with my husband for his work and stay in any given place for 6 weeks to 4 months.

  22. I adOre your decor! Lol I’m planning on painting some cabinets my favorite shade of turquoise the moment I own my RV! I never understood why people think it has to look like an RV! It should look like your personal space. I love this post! Im so excited my boyfriend found your blog! We are looking to buy in March. 😊

  23. Hi, love your renovation! I do have some questions, first, where did you acquire the bed spread/ throw? Second, where do you store your hanging clothes since you have cubbies in the closet (BTW I love this!) Thanks, Sue

  24. Hi, I stumbled on your blog on Pinterest and I’m ready for full time rv living. I’m based out of No. VA and would like to find a spot in the vicinity towards the mountains, but have no idea where to look for an economical space. I enjoyed your piece and can’t wait to get rollin’. Thanks! – Megan

  25. I like your story; I was searching through rv remodel ideas on Pinterest and found you! Lucky! My Hubby and I also are full-timers with our two boys (5 and 1) and dog. I’m always surprised at how popular this lifestyle is becoming, it’s great! I’m documenting our travels here http://www.thefortunatefour.com Hope you’ll check it out and happy travels;-)

  26. Love what you’ve done with your RV. I’m redoing our 1994 Vectra motorhome. I want to paint the walls. Any advice? Thank you. Deb

  27. Hi Kate.

    We too have loved full-time Caravan Dwelling for the past three years. My husband and I think it has kept a lot in check for us; living small, and in the same tiny home we’re still renovating. It has been a hard job (living and remodeling in the same space), but we feel we are setting a very good example for our six year-old daughter; who will see that everything isn’t just bought at the store, since much of what we have has been built by her Daddy, and prettied up by her Mommy. : )

    I will be jumping for joy the day we actually finish the remodeling and rebuilding of our ‘once gutted, musty, and smelly old trailer’ turned cozy island home we’ve come to call Mermaid Mansion. I have been documenting it all in our blog https://caravanremod.wordpress.com.

    I’ll be looking forward to following your journey, and invite you to follow ours as well. Maybe someday, we’ll see you down the road. Happy and safe travels to you and yours.

    The Espinozas — Nico, Penny, and Nixi…Blanca the Schnauzer too.

  28. Your blog is inspiring! I have been nagging my husband to consider an overhaul of our 5th wheel since we bought it used 3 1/2 years ago. Your blog and pictures have helped him visualize it and now he is excited about the possibilities. Thank you. When we bought our trailer, we had a 3 month old and I had just lost my job. Jokingly, we called it plan B, but sometimes I wish it were more than a joke. So, for your openness about your lifestyle, again…thank you. :)

    • Hello MamabyFaith,
      YOU have actually inspired me! My boyfriend and I recently bought a 2003 Condor Motorhome. But it LOOKS like a motorhome inside. I want it to feel cozy and homey. But when I start making suggestions to my boyfriend, I get the feeling he doesn’t want to make any changes, for fear of not being able to re-sell it if and when we want to upgrade. We started living in it full-time Nov. 2016 and plan to quit our jobs in April 2017 to start full-time traveling. I’m hoping once he sees what Kate has done to theirs, that he will agree to let me do some redecorating. No matter if we keep it for a year or 10 years, I want a homey feel. Thanks for your post.

  29. I love your blog…especially since hubby and I will be leaving Los Angeles in less than a week to enjoy our lives in a 36′ fifth wheel in the Sierras. We also traveled in South Texas for three years and loved the food, friendly folks and warm winters. Thanks for all your great tips!

  30. We just purchased and are looking forward to making our carriage cameo fifth wheel our home sweet home. And I really enjoyed and I really enjoyed reading your article about downsizing!!!!!

  31. Hi we live in New Zealand and have lived in our 2 bedroom 5th wheeler for 7years now. I just came across your blog on pininterest. As we are thinking of tidying up ours inside. I found your site to be very inspirational and love what you have done. Keep it up and I look forward to what happens next.
    Thank you.

  32. Thank you so much for your post! My husband and I are completely renovating our 5th wheel. We love, love what you did with the closet. Our question is where did you get the storage system? Trying to stay away from building out of wood to keep from adding an abundant amount of weight.

  33. Thanks for sharing your adventures, I love what you’ve done with your RV. We are looking at going full time in our 34′ Montana 5th wheel within the next few months for about a year until we find a place to call home for our retirement. We are still downsizing. Exciting but scary all at the same time. We RV most of the summer, but have stayed mostly in Southern Colorado for about 6/7 months and we currently live in Colorado. We both have remote jobs and plan on moving around more often, but our concern is if we stay in another state for more than a month. How does that work for Taxes. We have PPO medical insurance so I’m not concerned with our medical. My husband has modified the back of the RV for my Sewing Center/work station for when we start traveling. We love our Montana, we may end up in there longer than a year.

  34. I rent one and have made it look just as nice as my last home.
    People forget it’s a 5th wheel.
    I’ve staged it to be very cozy.

  35. I’m working on my husband, and I think he’s becoming more interested in the idea of RV living. Our children are grown and out of the house and I keep telling him now is the time. His hesitation are our four dogs/babies. But seeing your two big dogs/babies they definitely count for three of mine. 😊

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