Biggest Challenges of Living in an RV Full Time

Published Categorized as RVs

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In this article, we’ll walk through many of the common challenges that folks face when transitioning to life as a full-time RVer. Be sure to read my guide on prepping for full-time RV life as well.


When you ask most full-time RV dwellers what their biggest challenge for living in an RV year round is, the most common response you will hear is the downsizing it takes to live that lifestyle. After living for years in your own home, you begin to collect a vast amount of stuff that you simply cannot travel with. Almost every piece of furniture in your is not needed when you’re traveling in an RV. For a lot of folks, clothes are a problem when downsizing. In some cases, they go from a walk-in closet filled with outfits for any season or occasion to living out of two drawers and a closet a third as wide of a standard home refrigerator. For others, clothes may not be that big of a problem, but take a look in their workshop or garage and you’ll probably see a wide assortment of tools that won’t be needed after you hit the road.

Living a minimalist lifestyle can be daunting at first, but serious full-time RVers should be able to adjust to that type of living in a reasonable amount of time. In fact, it’s not that uncommon for you to be looking through a drawer or cupboard and you find an object that you knew you couldn’t live without when you were preparing for your journey but now realize you haven’t used it once since you began your travels and you promptly throw it out or give it away.

Food is another item you will find yourself downsizing. In most cases, your RV refrigerator will be half the size of a home model so your trips to the grocery store may become more frequent for fresh meat and vegetables but there are certainly other ways around that as well.

Missing Family and Friends

Another major challenge for some full-time RVers is leaving their family, friends and loved ones behind as they begin their journey. While there are no easy answers to this issue, we do currently live in an age where modern day technology allows us to utilize facetime on platforms such as Skype, Android or even Microsoft Windows. Certainly, this is no substitution to being with your loved ones in person, but it will allow for some real time activity with them.

Maintenance Issues

Whether you travel in a class A motorhome, a van conversion or pull a conventional trailer you will always have maintenance to deal with. Consider for example a motorhome, not only are you dealing with the normal issues that you would face with most campers, but now you have to maintain an engine and a transmission as well. Let’s face it, manufacturers of motorhomes and campers are in business to make money, and as such they will use the most inexpensive components to maximize their profits so any RVer can expect that somewhere down the road some components will fail and need to be replaced or repaired. Another thing to consider is when you are driving down the highway; you are exposing your RV to winds that are as strong as those of a hurricane. Rough roads will also contribute to these maintenance issues as well.

Crowded Campgrounds and Parks

Unless you plan on boondocking all the time, which is unlikely, you will most likely find yourself at a campground or at state and national parks. And if you have ever been to Yellowstone National Park in July or Key West, Florida in January you will understand what it means to be in a crowded place. Since most people use their RV as a means of vacation and don’t live in them full-time, you’re likely to be sandwiched into tight little spots between other campers and motorhomes. If you are a person that doesn’t like to be around other people, then you have to be prepared to do some research to find those hidden gems where you are unlikely to encounter less traffic and people. Lindsey has a great post on free campsites near National Parks that has some good spots.

Caring for Your Pets

Obviously for people that don’t have pets, this doesn’t pose much of a challenge, but for those that do, a sudden emergency or illness to a beloved cat or dog can cause a lot of anxiety. Plan ahead for your pet by calling the campground or looking online to see what their policy is on pets. Just as there are campgrounds that are age restricted, there are also some parks and campgrounds that prohibit pets. Another good idea is to research your destination and make a note of where the nearest vet or animal care facility is located and have that information on hand in case you do have a problem. For more pet tips, read my full guide on RV travel with your pet.

Internet and Communication

For some people this won’t be a problem as they are looking to remove themselves, if only for a short time from these types of things. However, if you plan on working remotely online or have the need to communicate frequently with family or friends you may find yourself in areas that won’t work for you. While many campgrounds claim they have high speed internet, you will often find that their internet speeds vary by the amount of people accessing their signal so you should expect that during peak hours in the evening or morning you may have slower connectivity.

These of course, are not all of the challenges you may encounter as a full-time RVer, but they are a few of the challenges you can expect during your travels. However, when you begin to experience the freedom of the open road and the places you get to see and experience, you will find these issues pale in comparison to the benefits along your journey.

By Brian

Born and raised in Michigan, contributing writer Brian C. Noell is a retired hospitality industry professional that now works remotely as a visual artist, writer and photographer as he travels around the United States in an RV with his dog Lizzy, an eighty pound Appenzeller hound dog.