How To Adjust To Living In An RV Full Time

Living in an RV or travel trailer is more popular than ever. Couples and families are selling their homes or moving out of their apartments. And they're moving into RVs or travel trailers.

Some people are moving into recreational vehicles out of necessity. Other people have discovered they can earn money without going to an office. New families want to travel while their family is young. And retired couples have decided it's now or never in fulfilling their dream of traveling.

Whatever the reason, deciding to live in an RV is a big decision.

Even though we enjoy this lifestyle, it isn't for everyone. We've known people who jumped into full-time RVing and 6 months later, they jumped out as fast.

Developing a minimalist mindset

Living in an RV requires a minimalist mindset. Living in a home on wheels forces people to jettison a lot of their property. Some people sell most of what they own. Other people rent a storage locker and keep their most valued possessions.

How Much Can You Take With You?

Safe traveling puts limits on how much you can carry onboard. For example, in our travel trailer, we can stow an extra 1200 pounds of stuff. If we go over 1200 pounds, we'll exceed our trailer's max weight rating, making it unsafe. And if you have to go through a truck weigh station, you may get fined.

Most people own tons of stuff. Paring it down to about 1000 pounds takes a lot of minimalistic thinking. You take with you what you need, not what you want.

Tip: Check your RV or travel trailer owner's manual. It will give you your RVs weight rating.

Figuring out what you can carry in your RV

To determine if you're overloaded, do the following:

Take your RV to to a truck scale and weigh it. Then disconnect the trailer, then weigh the truck. Subtract the weight of the truck for the combined weight and you'll have the trailer weight. Compare it to the manufacturer weight limits, and you'll know if you're overloaded.

Living together takes on a new meaning in an RV

Wedding vows say "till death do us part." Some couples can't get along living in a 10,000 square foot house.

Most RVs for full-timing are around 30'. That's about the size of a 250 square foot apartment. That makes for a cozy living area for a couple. Add 1 or 2 kids, and you better like each other - a lot.

Bathing is a luxury

Most RVs and travel trailers have a 3/4 bathroom. Some do have a tub/shower combo, but the tub is for kids. An adult using one will have their knees to their shoulders while sitting in a couple of gallons of water.

Unless you enjoy cold showers, the hot water tank determines how long a shower you can take. When camping, we take navy showers to conserve water.

Showering Navy style means you get wet then turn off the water. Soap up then turn the water on to rinse.

Setting up and breaking camp

Camping in a state campground, a federal park, or the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) isn't unlimited. Most areas allow camping for up to 14 days. So every week or two, you'll have to breakdown your camp and move to a new location. Once you've moved a few times, you'll be able to break down and set up your site in a half hour.

Getting your mail while RVing

We pay our bills online. When we have mail sent to us, we have it sent to a local post office as general delivery.

Mail options

  • Mail forwarder companies. For a small fee, a company like Escapees will forward your mail to you.
  • Use family and friends as mail forwarders. They can forward your mail to you or hold it for you.
  • UPS stores. UPS stores have mailboxes you can rent. And it also gives you a physical address.

The simplest solution, if you don't own a home, is using a friend's address as your own.

Tip: If DMV, for example, knows you don't have a permanent address, they won't issue you a driver's license. To vote, you also need a permanent address. If a friend or family member will let you use their home address, it will give you a permanent mailing address.

Dumping black and water tanks

We usually dump our tanks once a week. Breaking camp to move the trailer to a dump station is a hassle, so we use a dump tank toter. Not having to break down our camp to dump our tanks is a blessing.


Every full-time RVer has learned to adjust to living in an RV. For some, they struggled with downsizing. For others, they learned to negotiate rather than fight. No two families are the same.

Living in an RV travel trailer is fun. Traveling to new areas and living there for a week or a month is exciting. We cook our own meals and sleep in our own bed. And if we get a neighbor that bothers us, we have the choice of staying or leaving.

Adjusting to living in an RV or travel trailer isn't difficult. But it takes some time and effort to figure out what works for you.

The reward is worth the effort.

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