There’s a certain wanderlust that comes with living in an RV. Seeing places you would never otherwise, meeting new people, experiencing different cultures across this vast country–these are experiences that will change your life, usually for the better.
You’ve probably seen the glam of RV living online–we certainly like to showcase the best parts of living in our RV! But remember that social media usually only shows the good things.
That’s why we want to prepare you for what it’s really like. Keep reading to get the real scoop on living in an RV.
What Living in an RV Is REALLY Like
Some of the real stuff–the things that make it hard to get up in the morning–usually doesn’t appear on social channels. Social media presents all the happy and smiling faces, the best parts of RVing.
We live in a culture that values outward appearance, and nobody seems to want to hear about the bad days.
The truth is, we all experience problems and frustrating days. But life is about experiences. When living in an RV, there’s the good and the bad.
The best parts of RVing include seeing sunsets and sunrises on every coast, camping in remote areas, stargazing incredible skies, seeing sights only full-timers can see, getting close to your family, meeting like-minded friends, and more.
Then there are the times that you can’t handle the close quarters, you miss your family and friends at home, you tire of the nomad life, and you wonder if RVing is really for you.
RVing full-time truly isn’t for everyone, but some love the lifestyle despite its drawbacks. You should know what you’re getting into before selling your home, buying a 35-foot motorhome, and leaving it all behind!
11 Things No One Tells You About Living in an RV
That’s why we made a list of 11 things no one talks about when living in an RV. Not to scare you away, but to prepare you. We hope it will help you manage challenges when they arise and enjoy the best experiences even more!
1. Things Will Break…Frequently
It’s just a matter of when and what. Things shake and rattle while you travel, and unsecured items can fall and break. Stuff in a stationary house breaks all the time, so imagine adding the element of continually moving. There’s nothing you can do to prevent this, but you can mitigate it.
Just stay calm. You can fix or replace most things, and it’s usually not as bad as it first feels.
Next, help prevent things from breaking down with a regular maintenance check. Inspect the water pipes, fridge, lights, cabinets, and anything else that’s prone to breaking. Do a thorough examination once a month and fix small things before they become significant problems.
2. Google Maps Is Not Always Your Friend
When it comes to traveling, shortcuts aren’t always the best. Google Maps likes to recommend the shortest and quickest routes. This means possibly getting off main roads and finding yourself in tight situations. Can you imagine the stress of driving down some residential road where you can’t turn around?
We personally recommend using RV Trip Wizard’s RV GPS to avoid tight spots, low clearance obstacles, or running out of gas between stops. This one trip planning tool offers RV-specific navigation and will help you find rest stops, gas stations, campgrounds, and even dump stations along your route.
Truckers also use navigational apps specific to big rigs, and they’re great for RVing too! Some popular ones include TruckBook, Copilot GPS, and Trucker Path.
3. You Need to Pre-Plan Gas Stops
While your RV or tow vehicle might have a huge fuel tank and get you pretty far, there’s more to think about than just getting from point A to B. Not only do you need fuel to drive, but you also need it for your generator. In most motorized RVs, the generator won’t run if the fuel runs below the quarter tank mark.
You also have to think about your size. You might not fit at every gas station, and it can be very stressful moving from one gas stop to the next until you find an RV-friendly setup.
If you pre-plan your stops, however, you should be fine. Again, RV Trip Wizard can help you plan your gas stops.
4. You Can’t (or Shouldn’t) Travel as Long or Far in One Day as in a Car
We don’t have to tell you that traveling in a car is very different than traveling in your RV. RVing can be more exhausting.
You must be aware of your surroundings at all times, battling wind, obeying height and weight limits, and staying within the narrow margins of your road lane. Not to mention avoiding other drivers who constantly try to get around you.
Travel days between destinations can be the worst part of living in an RV for some. To minimize stressful days, experienced RVers follow the rule of 3’s: Never drive more than 3 hours or 300 miles at a time. Try to stay in one place for at least 3 days, and be off the road by 3:00 pm.
Above all, remember that living in an RV is about the experience. So, the slower you move, the more you get to see and experience. Some of the best discoveries are unexpected ones.
5. Windy Nights Make It Hard to Sleep
RVs are narrow, tall, and sit on wheels with shocks, so they tend to sway more. Even with leveling jacks in place, they still rock some. You can’t erase the swaying, but you may be able to reduce it.
Bring in your slides when it’s windy, and always retract your RV awning. An awning in the wind is like a kite and will enhance the swaying feel. Plus, heavy winds can damage the cover.
Lastly, if the strong winds concern you, move your RV and point the front into the wind. The front is more aerodynamic than the side of your RV, and you’ll feel less shaking as a result.
6. There’s Very Little Privacy Living in an RV
Whether inside your RV or at the campground, privacy is a hot commodity. Unless you’re boondocking, there are always other people around, especially at a campground where sites are typically pretty close together.
But even within your RV, there’s little privacy. If you have kids or are traveling with a partner, there aren’t many places for isolation. Even going to the bathroom doesn’t seem so private when the thin door is all that separates you from everyone in your party.
➡Looking for an RV with more privacy? Check out these two-bedroom fifth wheels!
7. Showers Only Stay Hot for 5 Minutes
It’s handy to have a shower on board your RV, but it’s not glamorous! It’s a game of conservation. Water heaters in an RV are much smaller than ones at home. Because of this, you can only get a 5-minute hot shower.
There are ways around this, like turning the water off while soaping. This helps keep the water warmer for longer, but it’s less relaxing. Or, you can install an on-demand tankless water heater, like the Truma AquaGo, which helps! But remember, you only have so much space in your gray water tanks.
Trust us, after showering in an RV, you’ll never take for granted a campground with showers again!
8. It Takes Practice to Cook in an RV Oven
Many people think you can cook anything you want in your RV kitchen, just like in a residential kitchen. Sadly, it’s not quite true.
Space is severely limited, and there’s only so much power in each appliance. Additionally, it takes getting used to because the smaller ovens heat up quicker. While they regulate heat well, you may burn things frequently until you get the hang of it. Not to mention, some RVs only have small convection microwaves – try baking in those!
Also, when moving around, elevations can change dramatically, which affects cooking and especially baking. One solution many RVers invest in is an Instant Pot, a 7-in-1 countertop appliance that comes in several sizes for easy storage.
➡ Learn How To Use An RV Stove and Oven the right way.
9. WiFi and Cell Signal Can Be Hard to Come By
If you live in an RV in a highly-populated area, there are rarely issues with good cell service and finding WiFi. But as soon as you leave these populated areas to find a remote camping spot, cell coverage becomes much harder to find.
There are tricks around this, like going to coffee shops and libraries or purchasing boosters. All of these things can help, but they aren’t foolproof. Expect to experience frustrating times, especially if you work on the road or boondock frequently.
➡ Learn how to get rock solid mobile internet in your RV.
10. Living in an RV Is Not Always Instagram-Worthy
Not every experience will be worth posting on social media. Life doesn’t stop just because you travel regularly. It looks different each day, but some days will be more challenging than others.
You’ll have plenty of average days that involve things like cleaning and laundry. In fact, most days will probably feel pretty “normal,” although there are often unique experiences to make it all worthwhile.
Surprisingly, in many ways, living in an RV can feel like regular life – lots of work and some play. The only difference is your home is on wheels.
11. Every Bit of Space Is Precious
Most of us are used to having closets and storage all over a large house. When you tour a home, you’re often so caught up by the kitchen, open concept layout, master bedroom, and bathrooms that you forget to check storage space. When you move in, you realize just how valuable storage space is!
The thought process is similar when you’re living in an RV where storage is limited to outdoors, under the RV, and inside a few cabinets. This means significantly downsizing what you can bring. Half the storage has to go to food and tools alone.
So, learning to be creative with your storage, doing laundry frequently, and selecting only necessary items to bring along will help.
Is Living in an RV for You?
When it comes to living in an RV, don’t believe everything you see on social media. While Instagram and Pinterest are great places to find inspiration, it’s also important to be realistic.
The best parts about living in an RV are the experiences you wouldn’t otherwise have. You’ll have an extraordinary life outside of what you’re used to. And it will allow you to learn about yourself and gain a greater appreciation for our world.
For many RVers, the choice to leave everything and venture into the unknown is worth it. It may not be perfect, but it’s still incredible. Life would be so dull if it were perfect, after all!
Avoid RV Living Drawbacks By Being Prepared
If the RV life is calling your name, the easiest way to avoid unexpected hurdles is by being prepared. That’s why we helped create an in-depth course all about Preparing To Full-Time RV to cover everything you need to know about making the switch.
Not looking to full-time? Sign up for our newsletter to get daily emails to help you start your adventure no matter how long or far your journey takes you.
Become A Mortons On The Move Insider
Join 7,000+ other adventurers to receive educating, entertaining, and inspiring articles about RV Travel Destinations, RV Gear, and Off-Grid Living to jump-start your adventures today!
Read More from the Mortons: