Are you dreaming of living full-time or even seasonally on the road?
As many in the Campendium community know, there are many rewards to a nomadic lifestyle, but there are also plenty of challenges and hurdles along the way that may be holding you back.
Although I’ve lived a nomadic lifestyle for several years, my experience is a single experience, and it would be impossible for me to give you a well-rounded view of how to begin your full-timing journey. Earlier this summer, we sent out a survey in our weekly newsletter to learn more about how full-time and seasonal travelers made the decision to hit the road and what advice they have for those looking to do the same.
There is so much to be said about full-timing that we won’t be able to fit it all in just one article. So, treat these questions as the launching point in your research to help point you in the right direction as you get started.
The 5 Big Questions
Transitioning from sticks-and-bricks living to living on the road takes a good amount of planning and preparation, especially if you own property or work full-time.
As you answer these five big questions, you’ll discover that everyone’s full-time travel journey looks a little bit different, and that’s because they’ve designed it to fit their needs, desires, and lifestyle. So, while there are several resources and examples of what full-time travel can be, don’t forget to make yourself a priority and pursue a lifestyle that fits you best.
Will You be Traveling Full-Time or Seasonally?
One of the first questions to answer is, “how long will you be on the road?” Some like to travel a few months out of the year while keeping a home base, and others choose to live on the road full-time. Of the full-time and seasonal travelers that answered our survey, they were pretty evenly split between seasonal and full-time RVing.
There is nothing wrong with either option. It simply depends on what you’d like to pursue and what is possible with your schedule. For instance, do you have a family and want to stick with one school district as the kids grow up? In that case, you may only be traveling throughout the summer.
Are you retired but don’t like the idea of living on the road all year? Perhaps RVing for a few months at a time is ideal for you to experience the seasons you enjoy in different areas of the country.
Everyone’s timeframe for travel is different, but the length of travel and if you plan to retain a house, condo, or apartment will impact your planning and budget moving forward.
Are You Planning to Move Out of Your House?
As you narrow down your choice of seasonal or full-time travel, some of you will now have to decide if you plan to keep your house, condo, or apartment or whether you’re going to give up your permanent residence. If the latter, you’ll have plenty of work to do with selling and emptying your property.
Our survey found that one of the biggest hurdles that many in our community faced as they transitioned to full-time traveling was downsizing. When we asked, what were some of the most challenging aspects of transitioning from a stationary to a mobile lifestyle? The answers included:
- “Figuring out what I really needed. We overpacked when we first started out. Had a ton of unnecessary stuff.”
- “For seasonal campers like us, it is a challenge to take care of the home front while we are on the road. Leaving your permanent home for months means you have to arrange for someone to check on the house, waters plants, look after pets, fill bird feeders, etc.”
- “Downsizing. Realizing you don’t need so much stuff!”
- “Figuring out how little one actually needs to be happy on the road. Less is definitely more.”
During this process, you will start to learn what you truly need to be happy, and for most of us, we don’t need as much as we think.
What Will Your Rig Be?
Your choice of RV will be particular to your needs. As you are making this decision, ask yourself:
- How much space do you need for living, storage, and to be comfortable in your camper? (If you have kids, you’ll likely need more space!)
- Will you be moving locations regularly or looking to park at a single location for a few months at a time?
- What climates will you be staying in most of the time?
- What is your budget?
Vans, travel trailers, RVs, truck campers, or even short-term rentals are all feasible options for seasonal and full-time travelers. Deciding is the hard part, but you can narrow down your selection by first looking at your needs.
If you are traveling with a family, a motorhome or 5th wheel may be the best option, so you have the extra space. If you are traveling solo or with one other person, a van may be a good fit If you want to park your rig for weeks or months at a time, then you may want a travel trailer, so you have a day-to-day vehicle as well.
It’s also important to consider whether you prefer to stay in campgrounds with amenities or if you prefer to boondock; your answer will help you determine which type of camper is best for you.
As you downsize, get to know what creature comforts you can and cannot live without. Some people can live comfortably biking across the country, while others may prefer a motorhome with a kitchen and a comfy bed. Without a doubt, when you first set out, you will overpack, and with time, you’ll continue to edit and curate your new home until it’s just right.
That said, don’t fret if you invest in a travel trailer and then decide after a year of travel that you want something bigger or smaller. Many full-time and seasonal travelers have switched up rigs after they settled into their new lifestyle. Sometimes the best option is to “go for it,” and you’ll figure out the rest along the way as a part of the journey.
Do You Need to Work on the Road?
Another major hurdle many travelers face is how to fund their lifestyle. Some travelers are retired or taking a break from their career, while others choose to work either remotely or pick up jobs on the road. Again, this will be a very personal journey. Some choose to live a simple lifestyle on the road, resulting in lower costs and expenses. For others, traveling full-time will be equally as expensive as living in and owning a house.
As remote work has gained traction, more and more RVers find themselves able to maintain full-time jobs on the road as long as they have access to a strong cell signal or are in a campground with a reliable WiFi connection. For others, seasonal work such as campground host, staffing a local gift shop, or guiding may do the trick.
Of the full-time and seasonal travelers who responded to our survey, those who work on the road do various jobs, including as consultants, software developers, life coaches, seasonal harvesters, customer service agents, and accountants.
If you maintain a job as you travel, this can sometimes narrow where you go and how long you stay to ensure you have access to the internet.
Are You Prepared for the Common Challenges of Full-Timing?
Full-time or even seasonal travel can often be seen as a coveted lifestyle, but that does not mean that it’s easy. One piece of advice that we’ve heard repeatedly when talking to full-time and seasonal travelers? Be flexible and adaptable.
We asked our community, If you could give one piece of advice to someone who is just starting to plan a mobile lifestyle, what would it be?
- “Roll with the punches. You will have bad days where you think, is this really for me? But then think about those that see the same scenery day after day, week after week, and how lucky you are that you can pick up and see something else, any time you want to.”
- “Take your time, enjoy the journey even when difficulties arise. It’s all part of your story. Remember to video or photograph everything! We had a tire blow out when we started and it was living hell out on a busy highway. I was so afraid we were going to get hit by the nonstop vehicles passing by and going 60 mph. I never filmed it and the struggle. We survived and our RV got fixed, and I wish like anything I had filmed it…..the whole thing now makes a great story!!!!”
- “Educate yourself on your tow vehicle limitations and that it doesn’t matter if you paid 100k or 10k they all have issues and require regular maintenance.”
- “You don’t need to see the entire country in your first year. Take it slow or you’ll burn out.”
- “Do it! It take some adjustment but it is so worth it. There are so many places to explore and great people to meet.”
In the end, embrace the journey and the fact that starting with full-time or seasonal travel can be intimidating, but you are not alone. Even the most experienced full-time travelers are still learning and honing their skills. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and work on building community and connections along the way.