An RV is a house that you can drive. Essentially, it’s a furnished home on wheels that can be driven to different locations. While these units are designed for occasional vacation use, living in one full time takes a great deal of organization. Because your house and your possessions need to be able to move down the road, your storage choices and physical setup are critical to success. Below are a few things that must be considered to keep you safe and comfortable.
The simplest way to avoid dangerous temperature extremes, both high and low, is to move up or down in elevation. Travel to the north is good if you have the fuel budget, but it can get quite hot over the summer in snow country. Worse, it can also be humid.
As a general rule, the temperature will drop 3.5 degrees for every thousand feet in elevation gain. A camping site at 5,000 feet will be cooler than one at 2,000 feet. If you can get your rig in shade or protect your windows from the outside over the course of the day, you can keep temperatures inside the rig down.
Because you’re living in the rig, you can arrange your day so you’re up and moving during daylight and snuggled in bed after dark. Keeping your rig cool can lead to condensation; be sure you use DampRid or another moisture extracting product to reduce the risk of mold and mildew. If possible, hang your clothing to keep air moving..
Pros: Working with the outside temperature can prevent your RV from becoming a solar oven.
Cons: It may be brisk when you first wake up. Heat the RV while you make coffee. If it’s cold at night, you can also heat water for a hot water bottle to warm your bed.
A gallon of water weighs 8 pounds. If you’re planning a long road trip and will have hook-ups at your new campsite, you may be better off traveling with just a day’s worth of water in your fresh water tanks. If you’re going to be boondocking or dry camping, try to fill up your tanks close to your campsite to reduce fuel expenditures.
Each water storage system in an RV will be slightly different. Use only recommended products to clean your storage tanks, your grey water tank and your black tank. You do not want to have to deal with failed seals once your waste tanks are full because you used something caustic to clean the tanks.
Of course, the more water you use, the more water you’ll have to carry. Not everyone is keen on a navy shower, especially in the morning when your rig is chilly. Instead, consider using your shower as a cooling tool and move your bath time to mid-afternoon.
When managing your black tanks, pay careful attention to the water level in this tank. A dry black tank is a black tank that doesn’t drain, which can eventually be a costly repair. If you know you have a dump station available at the end of a day’s drive and your tanks are not full, add more water to the tank before driving to get things agitated so the dumping process will be as efficient as possible.
Pros: Dry camping or boondocking can help you build awareness of how much water you truly need to stay clean.
Cons: Black tanks are ucky. It’s a fact of life. Prep your tanks before dumping to keep them emptying efficiently.
Food (Storage and Prep)
Most RVs use propane to power the cooktop. The first step when you park in your site is to check that carbon monoxide detector. As noted above, water is heavy. Canned foods are heavy; many of them contain a great deal of liquid and the weight of the can increases the pressure. Convenience or snack foods are lighter, but they can be high in sugar. The trash factor is also a concern.
A simple first step is to cut back on the number of meals you eat. Instead of planning for and cooking 3 meals a day, consider scheduling brunch, a snack and dinner. Pack dried grains, such as
- cous cous
- brown, white and wild rice
Many grains can actually be cooked up quite quickly and pair well with a fresh veggie and a simple protein. If you plan to forage or fish, consider taking a class on how to safely search and prepare wild-harvested foods. Dehydrated foods can also be both lighter and cheaper for long-term travel.
Pros: One-pot meals can be a delicious way to keep costs down and enjoy a healthy, hearty meal on the road.
Cons: You will need to be extremely intentional with your meal planning to avoid wasting both food and food storage space.
Clothing (Storage and Cleaning)
RV life is inherently casual. A cotton tee, shorts and sandals can keep you cool. Fleece pants and jackets can capture warm air close to your skin. Do make sure that you have a hoodie or a hat and scarf to reduce heat loss through your scalp.
A simple way to prepare for cool mornings and warm afternoons is simply to layer. A simple tee, covered with a hoodie, wrapped in a fleece and overdressed with a windbreaker will protect your torso. Sweats over shorts and rain pants or a poncho can protect your lower body. If you’re going for a hike, carry a backpack and strip down as you warm up.
To reduce trips to the laundromat, mix up a spray bottle of hot water, a bit of baking soda and a few drops of your favorite essential oil. If your shirt is clean at the end of the day, hang it inside out and spritz it down with your freshening spray.
Pros: RV clothes are comfortable clothes. Layer up and stay comfortable.
Cons: Your trips into town will likely include a run to the laundromat. Consider using a service that will wash your clothes for a bit more money while you grocery shop!
Other benefits of living in an RV
- Ability to travel and meet new people
- Lower cost of living
- Less responsibility
- More flexibility and freedom
- Great way to extend your retirement funds and stay on a budget
- Less obligation and ownership worries
- Ability to work remotely
Other cons of living in an RV
- RV’s are subject to wear and tear with damages that requires maintenance
- Not recognized as a home by insurance companies resulting in high premiums
- Difficult to find employment when travelling – a remote job is the only option
- Difficult to raise a family and provide a stable environment for children
- Reduced space for belongings, poor storage
- If travelling full time, health insurance can be an issue
If you are thinking about living in an RV, keep in mind that it isn’t for everyone. It’s possible if you have great organizational skills, financially secure, physically fit, and flexible in order to succeed. Being able to work remotely is crucial.
Even though there are many benefits to living in an RV, you will also need to deal with the downsides which include living in a very small space, being on the road most of the time, and the challenge of making and keeping friendships.
After reviewing all the positives and negatives of living in an RV, making the decision should become much easier.