Whether you’re just starting to consider RV life, you’re in the planning stages, or you’re in the beginning stages of RV living, things can be overwhelming. Advice to newbie RVers can be hard to find, so I decided to put together a list for you!
I reached out to 32 full-time RVers and asked them for advice to newbie RVers and these are the responses I received. I hope you find this post helpful!
Adam & Celine M.
(Traveling full-time since 2018. Currently in a 30′ Keystone Laredo.)
Your friends and family might be curious and have a pretty good idea of what you’re up to, but they don’t understand it like someone who has actually been on the road.
One thing you’re going to need to be really specific about is gift-giving, and your space restrictions. It’s been really difficult to let our family know that they’re not going to be able to shower our 3 boys with every Christmas gift and Birthday idea that comes up. We much prefer experiences over things to store – gift cards for restaurants, theme park memberships, and national park passes are all really useful gift ideas.
Too often, the response is “Well, it’s just one little gift that won’t take up much space” but compound that times both families, extended relatives, and over-bearing aunties and those little gifts now won’t fit.
It’s important to have this conversation early as some people will start shopping far ahead of the holiday season, and to not look like the bad guy, you can simply hint at them with this link and put the “Big bad wolf” blame on us. Go for it. We don’t mind.
(Traveling full-time since 2020. Currently in a Montana Legacy 5th wheel.)
My advice to newbie RVers would be to take your time with set up or break down, use a check list to keep track what you need to do so you don’t forget anything and use walkie talkies. When you rush is when you make mistakes and some mistakes can be costly.
(Traveling full-time since 2020. Currently in a 2020 Cherokee 324TS by Forrest River)
When starting out in the RV lifestyle everything that is stackable, compact, or collapsible seems like a must-have. We got sucked into that trap only to find out that most of it is not functional to living full-time. The RV manufacturers develop these items for weekend campers.
We replaced all of our normal household pots and pans with stackable ones. We thought they would save us so much room that we just had to have them, but they dent and scratch after just a few weeks of use. I almost immediately regretted trading my sturdy pots out for these.
My advice to newbie RVers is to avoid this trap and save your family some money. Use what you have and find out if it works for your lifestyle. If not, take the time to find a high-quality piece that will do the job or modify the piece you already have to fit your lifestyle better.
Lee & Gretchen W.
(Traveling full-time since 2019. Currently in a 2019 KZ Sportsman 332bhle)
My advice to newbie RVers would be to give yourself time to adjust to small living. I’ll never forget a few days after the dust settled and we realized we officially moved in I panicked. It was hard going from such a big space to such a small one. I learned I had to give myself and my kids time to adjust. It didn’t mean we regretted it or that we made a mistake, but just like anything else, there was a learning curve.
Prior to making this decision, we rented one of the time cabins at a KOA and tried it for a week to see if we could make it living as a family of 7 in such small spaces. We loved it and knew we wanted to do it. However, nothing compares to the reality when you are finally living tiny, so just give yourself time.
We also realized we like RV parks with space and privacy if possible. Everyone has their own preferred way of doing things and that’s ok. Just make sure you give yourself time to find out what works for you. This is usually something you learn as you go but you can go into it knowing there is no one size fits all schedule for all RVers. The best thing about this lifestyle is you get to decide what fits your family and style.
Fabian & Becky
(Stationary full-time since 2018. Currently in a 2019 Gulf Stream Vintage Cruiser 19RBS)
Do your homework. Figure out what layout and type of RVing you want to do before you go to dealerships. Will you be staying at campgrounds all the time or boondocking in the middle of nowhere? If you don’t have a specific RV in mind you will spend all day, if not more, looking at the RVs not meant for you. Also, you may have to drive to another location or state to find the right one for a cheaper price. Check RV Trader to help find the best deals.
Don’t buy the truck/tow vehicle before the RV unless you know the actual payload and tow limits. This should be located on the inside of the truck driver’s side door. We bought our truck thinking that 7,000 lb tow capacity was great. Found out it wasn’t and it limited us to a small RV with no slide weighing around 4,200 lb loaded. Could we have gone bigger? Maybe, but the safety of going up and down mountains was more important!
Jodie & Kory M
(Stationary full-time since 2020. Currently in a 2020 Keystone Montana High Country 385BR)
Make a checklist – Let me start by saying, we were completely new to this RV world. We were overjoyed, excited, and, full of optimism! Before we knew it, it was moving day. It was time to haul our home from Ohio to Missouri. To say we were underprepared would be an understatement. We forgot to turn off the propane, secure the table and chairs, the mirror in the bedroom, etc. So we decided to make a Moving Day Checklist!
Every RV is different. What we have in our home is different. Even Kory and I have different checklists. Kory’s checklist consists of everything outside. For example, check tire pressure, grease wheel-hubs, check hitch, and all lights/blinkers. Some items on my checklist are: locking everything down, securing the plants, and removing all fragile items from the cabinets and walls. So make a checklist that works for you and your home and you’ll have an easy-breezy travel day!
Pete & Alicia C.
(Traveling full-time since 2019. Currently in a 2018 Forest River Vibe 323QBS)
One thing we wish to give as a key piece when owning an RV or living in it is maintenance. If you’re not sure how to maintain the RV, it’s best to find a reliable RV shop. Keeping up on maintaining your RV is very important especially to keep the longevity and for more memories to come.
Get out there and enjoy life to the fullest!
Tammy & Greg C.
(Traveling full-time since 2018. Currently in a 2020 Grand Design Reflection Fifth Wheel)
Remember that you chose this lifestyle because you get to set your own schedule and do things at your own pace. So slow down, you don’t have to be in a hurry to get anywhere. When you hit the road, getting somewhere will take you a lot longer pulling your rig. If your GPS says it will take you 5 hours to get somewhere, plan on 6 1/2 hours.
Download apps that will help you find gas stations and campgrounds like GasBuddy and Campendium. It will be stressful to start with but this lifestyle is all about slowing down and enjoying the journey. Our incredible country has so many beautiful things to see and do and if you’re in a rush you’ll miss some amazing things.
(Stationary full-time since 2020. Currently in a 2020 Heartland Ridge Open Range 376FBH)
Living in an RV will look different for everyone. If you’re traveling, you will be moving from place to place, seeing the world. If you’re stationary like us, you will go places when you can, and live simply. Living this way frees you up to experience different places, and spend less time on “house chores.”
Your priorities change, and you decide what you really need versus what you can live without. It changes the way you shop, too. What can I fit in my fridge and in my living space? What will help me be more organized?
Downsizing is difficult but healthy! It was wonderful for us to decide what we actually needed in life. And it’s a lot less than we thought! But you will always be downsizing, so get a storage unit if it’s too overwhelming at first. And come back to it in a few months and see what else you can discard.
(Traveling full-time since 2020. Currently in a Grand Design Reflection 208BHTS)
My best advice to newbie RVers is that it is ok to feel overwhelmed at the beginning of living full-time in an RV. We never even camped in an RV before we moved into our rig I asked the previous owner how long it took until RV living felt normal, and he told me three weeks. Right after moving in, I held tight to those words as we went from excited to wondering if we made a mistake. After three weeks we still felt like we were in vacation mode, however, the day-to-day of RV life felt easier.
Don’t worry, after being on the road for five months, RV life feels normal and sticks and bricks feels weird. There is a rhythm that you feel in the RV community and it feels like home. There are hard days and that’s when having other full-time RV friends help out. You can find other full-time RVers on Instagram and in Facebook Groups. It is nice to know there are other people in the same stage of this new lifestyle as you.
(Traveling full-time since 2017. Currently in a 1990 Winnebago Chieftain)
The Best piece of advice to newbie RVers we have for you is “Don’t be afraid to ask!”. We’ve boondocked and lotdocked in some seriously cool locations because we called and asked. We’ve been able to park in an empty city lot where there was no other parking because we called and asked. We were able to hook up to power in a park once because we called and asked.
So many of our favorite adventures were magical because we asked. Unfortunately, we were also asked to keep many of them private so I’ll say it again! Don’t be afraid to ask!
(Traveling full-time since 2019. Currently in a Dutchmen Voltage 3705)
Invest in the zero-g style hoses! They’re lightweight and much easier to wrap up than regular water hoses. The quick hose connects are also a good investment and make setting up camp easier and quicker.
Set realistic expectations. Realistically plan out trips. This can be a challenge in the beginning but know your limits so you don’t overextend yourself or get tired. We personally limit our travel days to one or two days at a time (unless we’re needing to get somewhere extra quick). You’ll want to take into consideration if you’ll need to stop and refill on gas, restroom/stretch breaks, etc.
Mike & Bernie N.
(Traveling full-time since 2019. Currently in a 2012 Winnebago Journey 40u)
Our advice to newbie RVers is; Have an emergency fund because things happen beyond your control and anything RV will be a little expensive unless you’re handy.
Planning your travels is cost-effective. Pick the most important places you want to see and plan your trip around them so your fuel costs are most efficient. Campground fees can add up quickly. Join a few RV clubs like Good Sam, Passport America, Harvest Hosts, and Thousand Trails to name a few. They can all save you money that you can use to explore!
(Traveling full-time since 2019. Currently in a Jayco Pinnacle 37MDQS)
Ask the front office or someone who’s been at the park for a long time where the best grocery store is. Of course, there is Google, but if someone has been there for a while, they know the good stuff. We just talked to a man today that has been at our current park for 11 years. He told us the store in the city has excellent options but they are more pricey. The store in the town has a better meat selection than the big store outside of the city. Ask around. Google can only get you so far sometimes.
Spending the night at a rest stop isn’t as scary or as bad as it may seem. When we are trying to cover some ground over the weekend, we find a rest stop along the way. In Texas, there is a 24-hour stay limit. Rest stops make getting back on the road very easy. You can put out all your slides if you like and recover from the day of driving you just did.
Jamie & Jerry R.
(Traveling full-time since 2018. Currently in a 27 ft 2019 Airstream)
We like to travel during the weekday instead of the weekend in order for us to enjoy the weekend either at the campsite or exploring new places. I (Jamie) do all the towing while my husband (Jerry) works in the passenger seat. He has a lap desk and used a hotspot for an internet connection.
Be prepared and have a good tire-changing kit! We were in the middle of nowhere and got a flat trailer tire and had no service. The tire changing kit made for an easy and safe tire change! We also keep a small fire extinguisher in the truck (hopefully we never have to use it) Just in case we arrive at a site during a downpour we have rain ponchos in our truck.
Jenn & Kyle B.
(Traveling full-time since 2020. Currently in a 1983 Eagle Bus)
You can ask any RVer and they’ll give you their “greatest advice”, which could be literally anything from putting ice cubes in your poop tank to making sure your awning is in before you drive off. But for us, the advice to newbie RVers is pretty simple. You have to pivot. Seriously, that’s it.
The world of full-time RVing can be totally insane sometimes and you get caught in sticky situations. You may have some scenarios where things aren’t going the way you expected, so be flexible. Pivot. It’s okay to have to change the plans up a bit because something didn’t work out. It just means that another thing is more awesome around the corner.
Stay flexible and PIVOT when the plans that you worked for months on have to be thrown out the window. It all works out in the end!
Jen & Eric R.
(Stationary full-time since 2020. Currently in a Grand Design Imagine 2670MK)
When we first started to throw around the idea of becoming full-time RVers, we had a few different ideas in mind when it came to whether or not we would travel, what we would be doing for work, and what our rig would look and feel like as a home. My advice to newbie RVers would be that while many will say start where you are, with what you have – it’s so, so important to also be on the same page with what this means for you and your individual circumstances, and understand what you are trying to accomplish…what do your end goals look like?
For example, we agreed to start out as stationary full-timers with plans to travel in the future – but that wasn’t exactly our starting point. We weren’t sure if we wanted to buy land to stay on so we could eventually build, or immediately start traveling, or how long we wanted to travel before settling down.
Through many conversations and aligning ourselves to what our end goal will ideally be, we were able to make compromises and agree on our approach to start out stationary, in a long-term RV park. While this will point us in the right direction to meet our goal, remember that it’s ok and expected that your goals may change as you go. What’s important is that you keep the conversation open about how they have changed so that you can regroup and realign when needed, and ultimately stay the course together.
Todd & Marcia S.
(Traveling full-time since 2020. Currently in a 2020 212RB Crossroads Sunset Trail)
Before we purchased our RV we had never stayed in one before. Knowing we were in for a big learning curve we opted for staying near family for 3 months before hitting the road full-time. This offered us the ability to ease our way into living in our trailer as well as learn the ins and outs of it.
Parked in our family’s driveway we were able to still use the house when needed, or spend time in the house when the trailer got overwhelming. Also, the help of family was nice to teach us things we had no idea about.
Purchasing the trailer, moving into it full-time, and hitting the road right away wouldn’t have been easy and we’re grateful we gave ourselves that transition space and recommend it to anyone new to RVing.
(Traveling full-time since 2020. Currently in a Heartland Cyclone 4007)
My best advice to newbie RVers is to stay flexible. Flexible with plans, with schedule, and with your “to-do” list. At some point on your journey, things will go wrong, something will break, or the weather will detour your route.
If you are open to a change in plans, you may be surprised at what unplanned and unexpected adventures could come your way! We’ve only been at this for 4 months and some of our favorite memories have come from a last-minute change in plans. Flexibility is key!
Paige & Connor M.
(Traveling full-time since 2019. Currently in a Keystone Passport Elite)
Living in an RV full-time gives you immense freedom. Freedom to truly work wherever you want, as well as the freedom to pull your home wherever the wind blows. As we look back on our journey as Full-Time RVers there are a few realizations we have made. One is that time is our most precious gift and we have to be intentional with every single minute. Second is that experiences and adventures far out weight “stuff” and we haven’t missed one piece of what we gave away.
When it comes to advise for newbie RVers we could give, a few important pieces of information pop into my brain. Don’t rush. No matter how late you are, rushing and trying to hurry when hooking up your RV can result in disaster. Give yourself an adequate amount of time and daylight to safely move your rig.
Give yourself grace. There is a huge learning curve when it comes to moving into a home that rolls down the road. Take the time to understand the systems, you will likely always be learning something new. No matter where you head in your new RV, I guarantee you, that you will have the best adventures and realize how amazing the nomad lifestyle truly is.
Lisa & Dan Brown
(Traveling full-time since 2014. Currently in a 2019 Winnebago View 24D)
“Be Semper Gumby!” -Always On Liberty
It’s a mantra we used in the military (and even now) meaning ‘being flexible’. The first year of RVing will challenge when you least expect it. Your RV and some components will break. You will get lost. Your GPS will fail you and take you down roads you have no business being on. Tensions will run high. Relationships will fray a little. Patience will be tested.
Campgrounds and sites may not be what you expect or want. Being patient, researching and committing to a strict preventative maintenance schedule, lowering your expectations, and having a sense of humor will teach you how to master that flexibility needed so you can enjoy your RV adventures. Be Semper Gumby!
(Traveling full-time since 2018. Currently in a Lance 2445)
My advice to newbie RVers is don’t listen to the chatter. My parents thought we had lost our minds. We allowed some of that to dictate our own journey. Now, they wish they had the guts to do something like this!
It takes insane bravery to go against the grain. Never forget that. Enjoy every single moment. You are living a dream come true!
Also, journal. Where you stay, what you do. This time around, my goal is to do more journaling.
Wesley & Mallory B.
(Traveling full-time since 2019. Currently in a 2005 Keystone Cougar fifth wheel)
When you first start off, you will probably want to travel at a quicker pace and see “all the things.“ Once you get that out of your system, be sure you slow down a bit to explore places longer! Also don’t be afraid to revisit spots you love, even if there’s still much you haven’t seen.
It’s not a race to see who can see/experience the most. This lifestyle looks different for everyone. Figure out what works best for you/your family and try not to compare your adventures (or mundanity) to anyone else’s RV life!
For us, it became important to embrace the lifestyle and perks that it offered and not just view it as a large road trip. This took off a lot of pressure to “see everything” and helped us live in the moment more.
If you haven’t bought your RV yet and plan to work remotely, be sure to have a designated work space, especially if you have kids. That’s something we did not factor in and we really regret it!
(Stationary full-time since 2008. Currently in a Grand Design Solitude 377 MBS)
RV life looks different for everyone. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Do what works for you. Don’t rush choosing your rig. Think about the pros and cons and which things you aren’t willing to sacrifice on.
Give yourself grace as you learn and figure out RV life and never leave your black tanks open!!! RV life/tiny living can be hard at times, but it’s a grand adventure!!
(Traveling full-time since 2019. Currently in a 32ft Class C RV)
If I could give advice to newbie RVers or someone looking into this lifestyle, I would have to start by saying just go for it! Stop researching, stop looking for the perfect rig, stop planning out all of the steps, and just take the plunge. There’s no better way to learn than by just jumping in. Any issues that arise can probably be solved with the help of Google, Facebook groups, and my personal favorite, YouTube videos.
As far as a more practical piece of advice, always shut your black tank. We’ve run into multiple newbie RVers who have either been told to or just think it’s easier to, leave the black tank open. Seriously though, close your black tank and wait for it to fill before draining. You want good pressure to get everything out and avoid the dreaded poo pyramid. Also, after flushing, be sure you put in some tank cleaner and a bit of freshwater so that whatever remains will continue to break down.
Alright, one more (less disgusting) tip that usually comes up – your freshwater hose. We like to charge the line before connecting it to the RV to clear out any dirt or debris that may have gotten into it when packing up from the last place, but more importantly, it clears out the air from the lines. After connecting the water you will need to run a sink to get all of the air out. Even with pre-charing the outside line, there will still be a little bit of air present.
One last thing, I always recommend getting a water pressure regulator. They’re cheap and can be a lifesaver if a campground has too much pressure.
Adam & Brittani F.
(Traveling full-time since 2020. Currently in a 2015 Ram Promaster 159″ WB High Roof)
A piece of advice we were given when we first started living and traveling full time in our van was “It’s always something” meaning something is always needing maintenance, repair, upkeep, etc.
At first, we laughed it off, because, at the time the advice was given we were experiencing some unexpected and frustrating hiccups. But we soon learned that this advice was 100% true! The sooner we came to terms with the fact that we will always be fixing/repairing/upkeeping along the way, the sooner we could just laugh it off, get it done and still enjoy our day.
We try not to get upset or frustrated when things go wrong or not according to “plan” because we know it’s all gonna be okay! One last thing, plans will change and sometimes not because of your choice. The more you can go with the flow and embrace the change the more you will enjoy your journey!
Rachael & Donnie H.
(Stationary full-time since 2017. Currently in a 2014 Forest River Georgetown XL 378TS)
Living the RV life is possible for us because of my hubby’s job as a travel nurse. That means we have to find “long-term” full-hookup parking on very short notice at times. So if you can relate, here are some tips for getting into campgrounds that claim that can’t host you long-term on such short notice.
Kindness counts. Consider that first phone call as an interview and make the receptionist fall in love with you. If there are any strings to be pulled, they’ll be motivated to do so because they think you’d be a great addition to their community. I always pay attention if they answer the phone with their name and I make it a point to call them by it. So simple, but makes a difference I swear!
Let them know you’re flexible to move sites as often as they need you to – you don’t have to be parked in one single site for that whole time. They can usually patchwork something together after they know that. Or you can even patchwork yourself between a few different parks in that city if need be.
Also, ask to be put on a waiting list and follow up. Give them your contact info in case they have a last-minute cancellation and something opens up. Call back in a few days to double or even triple-check. No lie, one time I called and was told no, and my husband called the next day and was told yes – who’s running the computer system and how matters.
To sum it up, make friends with the campground and put your creative noggins to work! Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I hope this helps, happy booking!
(Traveling full-time since 2019. Currently in a 2020 Jayco Northpoint 377 RLBH)
When it comes to RV selection, my advice to newbie RVers is to be picky with what Rig you choose. Everyone’s needs are different, so there is no one-size-fits-all rig. However, there are a few amenities that have made transitioning into full-timing exceptionally easier. For us, those amenities were: washer and dryer, residential fridge, large family space, anole beds, and a bigger bathroom. Because we found the rig that checked all of our boxes, the transition was seamless. Find your needs (within reason) and stick to them! The perfect rig is out there!
Once you find your perfect rig, make sure you maintain it well. Purchase a dehumidifier, get a great surge protector, upgrade the tires if they aren’t high quality, and Make sure you are performing good maintenance if traveling often.
The safety of you and your family is the most important thing! So make sure you do all your research to prevent any issues. I highly recommend joining Facebook groups for full-time RVers; whenever you have an issue or question, post it and you will have an abundance of help!
Derek & Haley P.
(Traveling full-time since 2020. Currently in a Grand Design Reflection 303RLS)
Our first piece of advice to newbie RVers is to go for it! Even if you don’t end up liking full timing or it doesn’t turn out how you expected, at least you’ll know and learn something instead of spending your whole life wondering! And chances are—you’ll love it!
Our second piece of advice to newbie RVers is to spend time researching the best rig for you. There’s no perfect one, but take the time to figure out what you like and what you need. Also, you don’t necessarily need the biggest, fanciest rig to full-time in. Get something that fits your budget comfortably. We love our rig but we are thinking about trading in for something smaller because we honestly have space we don’t even use!
What matters most is just getting out there and making memories with your loved ones.
And lastly, we encourage you to really join the community. RVers are awesome people so get connected with them! Talk to your neighbors in campgrounds, connect online, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, swap stories, etc!
(Traveling full-time since 2020. Currently in a Grand Design Imagine 3170BH)
Parents with young children…this one is for you! Prior to moving into your rig, be sure to have a plan in place for safe and secure sleeping arrangements for your young children! When we first bought our rig, we were thrilled to have a separate bunk room for our toddlers! However, we were so overwhelmed by moving into the RV that we kept putting off the elephant in the room…”How would our two crib-sleeping toddlers sleep safely in bunk beds?!”
Upon moving in, our temporary solution was opening and closing their pack and playing EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. (Can you already tell what a pain in the butt that was?!) The pack and plays took up every inch of floor space, and we were constantly breaking an intense sweat just to get them situated for the night. We did that for the first 5 weeks, and the sheer memory still gives me anxiety!
Luckily, we eventually came up with a permanent solution! We custom-built our own bunk bed gates which are quite beautiful, safe, and problem-solving! (Tiny living sure does make you “handy!”) All to say, whatever you decide works best for you, your family, and your rig’s floor plan, I highly encourage you to have a solution in place prior to moving in so you can have one less thing to worry about and make the transition easier for everyone! Mom and Dad…you got this!
(Traveling full-time since 2020. Currently in a Jayco Jayflight 27RL)
There are so many reasons people are drawn to RV life. Whether you are a weekend warrior, a few big trips a year, or living full-time, many if not most are here to see the great outdoors and everything it has to offer. Going green and using sustainable products in your RV can be easier than you think.
Starting small and switching out a few items that are less environmentally friendly for green products is a great place to start. There are so many options here, so I will share a simple one that most of us use no matter what type of RVer we are.
Soap is something everyone uses, but have you ever thought about what is in your soap or what to do with all those bottles in your shower? My tip is to buy handmade craft soap during your travels. It has virtually no excess packaging other than a possible tag usually made from recycled paper.
It is also made with safe ingredients. No worries about your water tanks, and if you’re in an area where you can boondock (and it’s legal), it is completely safe to pour grey tanks onto the ground if you are using environmentally safe products in your shower and sink.
By buying local craft soap you have a keepsake, are being kind to yourself and the environment by avoiding questionable chemicals and shopping local, and supporting local businesses on your travels.
(Traveling full-time since 2020. Currently in a Keystone Montana High Country 335BH)
I really appreciate all of the amazing advice that was sent in for this post! In summary, I will add just one small bit of advice to newbie RVers.
Find what works for you. Just because something works for everyone else doesn’t mean it will do the same for you and your situation. Don’t be afraid to be different than everyone else! Over time you will find your groove and what makes you happy and you know what? That’s all that matters! Don’t feel pressured to be something you’re not.
If you feel more comfortable staying in one place for a few months, don’t feel pressured to move every week as someone else might. Decorate how you want to, not how everyone else does. Head towards the snow in the winter if you want to, even if everyone else is headed to the beach! Do what’s right for you!
Do you have any further questions?
I hope you found this post helpful! If you have any further questions feel free to leave a comment below or send me a message on Instagram.
Happy & safe travels!