RV Living & Travel: Thinking of Traveling Full Time in an RV?
By Kevin Mims
My wife and I had this crazy dream a few years ago to lead a completely mobile lifestyle, better known as an RV living life style.
We built our work around the concept, sold most of our belongings and bought a mid-90's Class A motorhome. Maintenance was performed, addresses were changed, and off we went.
We've cruised around most of Florida already, camping at Florida State Parks might be one of the best travel ideas we've ever had. We got to see places around the state with a little more depth than we have on past trips.
Our idea was to stay a little while in each location, explore places within an hour's drive from camp and get more familiar with these spots than a person normally would on a short visit.
This works - well, sort of. It takes a little while to get into a groove of RV travel. We are getting the hang of it.
Living in an RV full time is considerably different when you're working. It's also different than just taking a vacation for a few weeks. A lot of this depends on the type and size of the RV, too. Ours is 27 feet, bumper to bumper. Oof.
It's been about six months since hitting the road full time with RV roadtrips through Florida, and while I'd love to say everything's been completely rosy, I can't. There are just some things about a regular house on a foundation that I miss, and I'm sure lots of others that have switched over to the RV living will agree. Here we go:
- Regular shower and/or bathroom: At first, a small bathroom seems just fine – until you've been in there a few times. The walls close in. The shower is smaller than most broom closets. Your elbows will touch both sides, as will a lot of the rest of your body at certain times. While it's totally doable to take a shower and still feel like you are OK to go out in public, it's certainly not luxurious.
- Having more than a Hobbit-sized refrigerator: If Hobbits had fridges, I'm sure it would be similar to the one we have in our RV. It's more like a dorm fridge with a small freezer on the top. Oh, and RV refrigerators don't operate like the one you buy down at Sears. Oh, no. These babies work by what's known as gas absorption, which entails heating ammonia that magically cools the fridge. I won't go into the gory details, mostly because I'm not too versed in the wizardry behind it. Just know that it is usually too cold (your veggies are going to freeze) or too warm (your veggies are going to rot) and you may have to fiddle with the buttons to keep things right.
- Having cabinets above head level: Continuing with the Hobbit theme, I'd love to make it through one day without banging my head on some part of the RV. Sometimes I feel like I should wear a helmet while walking around inside. From the bathroom cabinet to the front area where the TV is located, I've made cranial contact with all of it hard enough to see stars. Not exactly fun.
- Fast internet access: You know that smokin' fast internet connect you have at home? You can pretty much forget about that as a full-time RV camper. Yes, there are options for getting reasonable internet speeds while on the road, but none of them matches the speed and simplicity that comes with a home broadband connection. Decent campground wifi access is a luxury, not the rule. Some places offer wifi for a fee; some offer it for free. A lot of campgrounds don't offer Internet access at all. Since we are working, we tend to plan our route around where wifi is offered, or where cellular signals are strong. There is a lot of thought and a fair amount of equipment that goes into keeping connected while on the road. That's a blog post for the future, by the way.
Those are the top things that have been a challenge for us to overcome as RV'ers. RV travel falls somewhere between having the comforts of home and camping – and your mileage may vary depending on your budget. The sky is the limit when it comes to RV's – you can buy something that's affordable that may require a few sacrifices, or there are ones that will make you feel like a rock star.
Are we happy? You bet. There's one thing that trumps all of these little challenges – freedom. Bonus points if you said that in the Mel Gibson from Braveheart voice.
The freedom to go almost anywhere – or be in places for an extended period of time – is incredible. One you get a taste of RV travel, it's hard to imagine doing anything else. At least for us, that is.
But wait! It’s not all head-knocking and fussy fridges. These are not complaints, only challenges. The payoff for this teeny bit of sacrifice is tremendous. Here are some things and places that will make you feel much, much better about your decision.
Top Places in Florida for RV Camping
Camping in the Florida Keys
This is truly a bucket list item, friends. Places like Bahia Honda State Park, Long Key State Park, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park - the list just goes on and on. We spent a month at Bahia Honda State Park just by itself, and they pretty much had to make us leave.
Being able to launch paddleboards directly from our campsite at St. Andrews State Park was the absolute best. This whole place is one big outdoorsy playground, from the beach to the wildlife. Don’t be surprised if a deer or two comes over for dinner during your stay.