For many new RVers hitting the road, the RV life dream can feel more like a nightmare. If this sounds like you, just know that it’s perfectly normal.
A recent Drivin’ & Vibin’ reader sent us this message, “My RV life is nothing like I expected. It feels hard, I’m constantly stressed out, things keep breaking, and I’m about to give up.”
Does this sound like you? If so, you’re not alone.
In this article, we talk about the common reality of RV life and how you can make your adjustment period more manageable so you can finally get to the good parts of the RV life dream!
The RV Life Dream
The RV Life, as seen online, looks glamorous. It’s full of epic sunsets, beautiful vistas, endless exploration, and more. It seems like the ultimate lifestyle!
Newbies to the RV life dream of the easy-breezy travel days, Insta-worthy campground views, and an all-encompassing euphoric sense of happiness.
I hate to burst your bubble, but real RV life is nothing like this romanticized idea. It’s hard, sometimes incredibly stressful, and occasionally your IG-worthy view is of a dirty Walmart parking lot.
If it’s so hard, why do so many people do it? We do it for the moments that it does seem euphoric and picture-perfect.
Is Your Real RV Life More of a Nightmare Than a Dream?
The reality of day-to-day RV life can be a shock to new RVers who dreamed of a euphoric, always picture-perfect lifestyle. Social media is known for leading people astray and causing you to question your life; the nomadic lifestyle is no different.
If you’re new to RV life and having trouble acclimating, you’re not alone.
Pro Tip: When times get tough it is easy to lose inspiration for RV life. Get your RVing motivation back with The Best Books for RV Life | Research, Planning & Inspiration.
Common RV Life Reality Nightmares
RV life comes with a reality shock when you’re expecting it to be perfect, fun, and glamorous all the time. We’ve seen it time and time again! Here are some top reality shocks when switching to RV life.
Travel Days Can Be Stressful and Exhausting
When you think of RV travel days (as someone who hasn’t done it), you might picture a romanticized road trip where your entire house goes with you.
And it’s definitely a road trip with your entire house, but it’s not always fun or easy!
Driving or towing your house down the road is a downright stressful experience. This is especially true in heavy traffic, less than perfect weather, and cities.
RV travel days are some of the most physically and mentally exhausting days you’ll have as a full-time RVer.
Not All Campsites Are Fun, Pretty, or Easy to Get Into
The unfortunate truth about campsites and campgrounds is that some of them honestly suck. Whether the facilities are dilapidated, sites are super tight, or you have terrible neighbors, there will be some places you just can’t wait to leave.
It Can Be Really Isolating
One unfortunate reality of RV life is that it can be extraordinarily isolating, even if you’re traveling with your family. The nature of being on the road with your family means that they’re the only people you’ll consistently see day in and day out.
So, unless you attend RV events, make friends, and find your own posse of people to travel with, RVing can be isolating. It’s nothing like being a part of a sticks-and-bricks community.
RV Life Isn’t a Constant Vacation, It’s Just Regular Life in a Different Way
Many people assume that full-time RVers live a lifestyle of constant vacation mode, and it couldn’t be farther from the truth. RV life is just life; it just looks a little different than other people’s.
After the “honeymoon period” of your RV life wears off, it will feel routine and mundane. You still have chores, sometimes school and work, and sometimes you will want an actual vacation!
Things Break All The Time
Part of the nightmare is that things do break all the time in RV life. They’re not always significant, but RVers have to get used to things needing to be repaired. An RV moves and constantly shakes, which will rattle things loose. This is just a part of the lifestyle!
You Must Be Adaptable or RV Life Will Break You
You may have heard this before, but it’s true and essential to understand. RVers, especially full-time RVers, have to be flexible. RV life will break you if you’re not adaptable to frequent changes, things breaking, and stressful days or interrupted plans.
New RVers commonly hit the road with high hopes only to turn in the keys before the year is over. RV life just isn’t for some people, and that’s okay. It’s important to approach this lifestyle with a level head and realistic expectations; otherwise, you might be the next to hang up the keys.
The Cold, Hard Truth About RV Life: It’s Hard
RV life is hard. There’s no way around it. But life is difficult in general. Living in a house is hard, just in a different way. Essentially, you have to choose your hard.
You have to choose which struggles are worth it to you to live in a specific way. If moving your house around the continent is worth it to you to live a life of travel and exploration, you will find ways to adapt.
After a while of living the RV life, the struggles and challenges that come with it will become your new normal.
Pro Tip: RVing full time is not easy. These are some of The Worst Things About RV Living.
What To Do If Your RV Life “Dream” Feels More Like a Nightmare
If you’re feeling like your RV life is more of a nightmare than a dream, you’re not alone. But it doesn’t have to feel that way! If you’re not ready to let go of the RV life, here are some tips to help you adjust.
Find A Community
Finding community on the road is perhaps the number one way to make the traveling life feel more homey.
And meeting people at campgrounds and RV parks is a mixed bag; it’s really hard to find “your people” at a campground. It happens, but it’s not a guarantee!
Research RV membership clubs and join the ones that look the most appealing to you. RV membership clubs hold all different kinds of events throughout the year. Many people make lifelong friends at RV events!
Escapees RV Club and their Xscapers community have events almost every month of the year for every interest group you can imagine. You can also look into Fulltime Families, FMCA, and the yearly RVillage rally to make friends with similar interests.
If you can’t get to an event yet, find the Facebook groups for these RV clubs and join them. You can start making friends online and see if anyone is in your area.
If your rate of travel is causing unnecessary stress, make accommodations. Maybe you won’t reach your goal of hitting every national park within one year, but you’ll save yourself so much stress – which should be the ultimate goal.
If money is going faster than you expected, slow down your travel rate and set a budget. Research and join discount camping clubs to save on the price of RVing.
If something isn’t working, examine it and make accommodations if at all possible.
Plan Regular R&R
Travel days are stressful. And if you’re working from the road and trying to explore each new location, your life can quickly become overwhelming. Make sure to schedule days for yourself that you don’t do a single thing.
Plan days to relax and rest: no traveling, no exploring, and no working. Veg out on the couch with your favorite movies or videos games, or indulge in a hobby.
Take Actual Vacations
Sometimes you want an actual vacation from RV life, and that’s perfectly okay. If you find yourself craving a vacation, take one! You deserve it.
RV Life Is Rewarding Once You Get Over the Hump
RV life does have incredible views and really rewarding, picture-perfect moments. These moments can make the challenges all worth it!
Once you get over the initial reality shock of RV life, it starts to feel like your new normal. You’ve learned to adapt to the challenges of the lifestyle, and you can anticipate and be ready for any issue that comes your way.
The tips outlined in this article will make your acclimation period much easier. Find a community and make sure to take time for yourself. RV life is hard sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare!
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