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Tips for full-time RV living

We’ve been full-time RV living for over a year now, and can’t believe how popular full time RVing has become. More and more people are leaving the conventional white picket fence and opting for a life on the road. If that’s you, and you’re looking for tips on how to make this RVing life successful, this post is written for you.

Our 14ft caravan

We’re a little bit different in that our RV is a teeny tiny 14ft pop-top caravan (travel trailer) with no bathroom, and we’re travelling around the vast continent of Australia (whereas most of the readers of this blog are from North America) yet it has become our home on wheels and we’ve totally adjusted to this different way of life.

Most of the last year we have been stationary and working at regular jobs.

There were a couple of reasons we first decided to RV full time; firstly it’s much cheaper for us to live in our travel trailer.

And secondly, we wanted to be able to travel to different parts of Australia whenever we wanted to. 

We’re working on creating an online income, but until that is enough to cover all our expenses, we stop and work at regular jobs.

Here are the full time rv living tips we’ve learnt since we’ve been living tiny in our RV…

1. Your life, and RV, needs to be organized

You MUST be organized.

I’m not just talking about being organized in your storage, like how you organize your closet and pantry. I’m talking about being organized in every area of your life.

Organized clothes

We learnt very quickly that you have to put your clothes away as soon as you’re finished with them. Whether they come off your body, the clothes line, out of the dryer or back from the laundromat they need to be put away.

There is no chair in the corner where clothes, scarves or hats can accumulate.

You’ll have a tiny RV closet, so you’ll need to make sure that it’s well organized and utilizes the closet space in the best way.

You also will need to rotate your winter and summer clothes. In summer, the winter coats can’t stay in the closet or cabinets, they have to be stored under the bed or some other equally annoying place to get to.

Meal planning

Not only do you have to keep your pantry well organized, with only the items that you know you will use, but you have to be more conscientious about meal planning.

We don’t have a big freezer section (it’s literally the size of a shoe box) and our refrigerator is small enough to fit underneath the counter. There’s no use deciding we’re going to have spaghetti bolognese if all I’ve got is a head of cauliflower slowly wilting in the fridge and taking up all the space.

Organised in all the other areas of your life

When you decide to live on the road, you need to be organiszd in other areas too.

For example, making sure that you have a site booked during public holidays, or getting the car registration sorted while you’re still in your home state, and even organising all your health check-ups when you’re back visiting the family.

2. Full time RV living is easier when you have less ‘stuff’

It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that  “I need this gadget’, or ‘that tool’ for just-in-case.

But you have to find that balance between taking the things that you need and will get used regularly, and the just-in-case items.

It’s too easy to take lots of tools, or toys, clothes, appliances or camping gear, but you have to temper your desire for all these things against the inconvenience and annoyance of lugging it around and needing to move it.

We have bought, and thrown out, so much stuff over the last year that we’ve been living full time in our RV. It’s embarrassing.

We’ve bought things that we thought we’d definitely use and it got used twice in four months…. yet you had to move it every time you wanted to use that space.

It’s hard to know what you will use and what you won’t.

If you just take the things that you use at least a couple of times a week, plus the things that you MUST have for emergencies or any other reason (fire extinguisher, medications etc) and used that as a starting point, I think you’d be on the right track.

If you’re one of those people that find you’ve got too much stuff and you’re sick of moving it around all the time, don’t worry, I think all of us need to experience the joy (NOT!) of moving our stuff around too many times to really understand and appreciate the joys of not-much-stuff.

If you think that this new life of full-time RV living will mean that you will now have the time and motivation to make green smoothies every morning, so you’d better buy a small blender to take with you. Hmmm, think again.

If you’re not making green smoothies every day now; chances are, you won’t be making them when you hit the road either.

3. Maintenance must become a priority

Making maintenance a priority goes hand in hand with the point about being organized.

It’s really important to have your vehicle serviced regularly and any issues dealt with promptly.

When you live on the road, your RV or tow vehicle is usually your only means of transport and when it’s broken, life can get really complicated (and expensive) really quickly.

Sure, you’ll have roadside assistance and insurance, but you don’t have that safety net around you of being able to call up your brother to move the RV cos your truck is at the mechanic, or use your other car for errands and grocery shopping (cos you’ve now only got the one car).

4. Be prepared to spend A LOT of time with your partner

I know that you love the person that you’re living with… but do you love spending ALL your time with them?

When you’re living in an RV full-time, you may not actually get that much time apart from them.

And for some, that can be a problem.

But there are ways around that. Apart from being kind and considerate to one another, you can make time to be apart, it’s good and healthy!

One of you can go for a walk, head off for some shopping or fishing or visiting friends or family. There’s no need to be in each others company constantly if you need some time apart.

For us, just reading a book, playing a video game or watching Netflix with earphones in is enough time apart from each other. You’ve just got to be careful to not make it too much of a habit!

5. Comfort becomes very important for full time RV living

It took me a while to realize this, but just because I want to live with less stuff, and have an RV that is smaller rather than bigger, I still really value being comfortable.

This isn’t us… but those captains chairs sure look comfy!

We really like having a cozy place to sit in the evening, a kitchen that’s big enough to cook a proper meal, and somewhere to put my clothes that isn’t a backpack.

I like having somewhere warm and dry to sit and work when it’s raining outside.

I would really like to be able to shower and toilet in my home too (but that’s going to have to wait until we can upgrade).

I’m happy enough to forego the comforts of home while on vacation, but living this lifestyle full-time I have found that even though I want to live in a small RV, I still want the comforts of home.

Living this way is awesome

When we first set off on our trip around Australia, we gave each other the ‘out’ that if we didn’t like it we could go back to ‘normal’ life (whatever that is) whenever we wanted to. We’d get jobs, rent a unit, make friends and slot back into life as we’ve always known it.

After 5 months travelling around Australia in a tent trailer, we found that we love living this way and wanted to RV full time, so we upgraded to a small travel trailer.

We’ve now been living full time in our RV for a year, and it’s still wonderful.

We love this life. Sure, there’s some things we miss, but we don’t miss big rent, utilities bills and being stuck in one place!

What about you… are you living in your RV full time? What tips for full time RV living do you have to share with us?

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Jon Dempster

Saturday 10th of October 2020

Heh go easy on living out of a backpack, I was in the US Army for over a decade! I just kidding you! I am used to traveling [extremely] light. And I had to be well organized. However, that frenetic life taught me a lot. It also really bolstered my dream of living away from nosy neighbors, homeowners fees, the unpatriotic [people] that have a problem with a flag in your front yard, corrupt municipalities, parking issues, trash from other people's homes and other [stuff] some come to blows over! I am originally from New York City and congested areas and paying a premium for the space of the inside of a "Class A" RV- in a city or town somewhere just wasn't worth it. I am almost sixty years old and unfortunately getting my third divorce soon, so solace is what I want, so it's the "RV life: for this guy. Keep up the excellent work and I will be taking notes! I am renovating a 1995 Thor, 8.5 feet by 33 feet of freedom, and I have a lot of the comforts of a home that will be installed including storage space that is exactly as you stated. Thoughtfully planned albeit ahead of installation/renovation scheduling. Keep the good and solid advice coming!

Appreciate you!


Saturday 10th of October 2020

All the best to you in your new life Jon! It sounds exciting... and liberating! Michelle :)

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