5 Things I Learned While Living and Traveling in an RV

Hannah Sutor is a wife, mom, and entrepreneur. She prides herself on being a woman of her word, getting things done, and staying true to herself. She runs her Search Engine Optimization (SEO) business Sincerely SEO from the road. Follow along with her full-time RV life adventures at rollingonawhim.com or on Instagram.

This past summer, I sold my home of 7 years, bought a 38-foot motor home, renovated it, then took off for the adventure of a lifetime with my husband and toddler. We set out to experience the USA via full-time RV life. Our goals are to enjoy ourselves and experience new things. Here are 5 things I’ve learned in our time on the road.

 

Tim & I in front of our motorhome, Trudy.

Tim & I in front of our motorhome, Trudy.

 

1. Saying “Goodbye” is the Hardest Part

 

You can’t have it both ways - I wanted to live a simpler life in a smaller space. The contents of an entire house just wouldn’t fit in a house on wheels.

Donation receipts from the months leading up to the move

Donation receipts from the months leading up to the move

Going from a 3 bedroom 2.5 bath house to a 38-foot motorhome was quite an exercise in downsizing. I spent months donating and selling the vast majority of what we owned. As difficult as it was to get rid of so many things, saying “goodbye” is the hardest part. Once an item was in a garbage bag or box and was taken to a donation center, I didn’t miss it.

 

2.  Some Things Cannot be Planned

This lifestyle is not a good fit for type-A planners. There are a lot of things that just cannot be planned ahead of time. Until you know your travel pace (your comfortable travel pace will become apparent within the first couple of months), it is hard to make reservations. If you make reservations, then you lose some flexibility if you end up liking an area and want to stay longer, or don’t like an area and want to move on more quickly. It’s all pretty hard to know until you are doing it. Trust that as you life live in an RV and move around, you will get to know your preferred travel style. But as far as having an agenda, dates, and reservations before you even leave? Don’t count on it. This is a lifestyle, not a vacation. Some things are too hard to anticipate. You’re forced to embrace the unknown!

This stop in the Ocala National Forest? Not planned. These guys swam up to my kayak.

This stop in the Ocala National Forest? Not planned. These guys swam up to my kayak.

3. Responsibility Still Exists

Just because we live in a motorhome doesn’t mean we don’t have bills. Campgrounds are expensive, particularly if you’re only staying for a week or less at a time. We pay a high cell phone bill to get internet on the road, RV insurance, health insurance, fuel, propane to keep us warm...the list goes on.  Our toddler still needs her doctor’s visits and vaccinations. We both still work. Sure, we no longer have to mulch flower beds, cut grass, and pull weeds, but responsibility still very much exists on the road.

RELATED: Exactly What to Say to Customer Service Reps to Save Thousands

Putting the USA sticker on Trudy. You fill in the states with stickers as you visit them.

Putting the USA sticker on Trudy. You fill in the states with stickers as you visit them.

 

4. Expect bumps in the road - literally and figuratively

One common theme to every blog post we read and YouTube video we watched about RV life before we left is that things WILL go wrong. Now that we’ve been on the road for 4 months, we’d like to add to that chorus: things WILL go wrong. Your RV will break. Simple things like getting gas are extremely difficult with a big rig. You suddenly have to worry about bridge clearances and road weight restrictions.  There’s quite a learning curve to the RV life. The more you accept these bumps in the road and embrace them as lessons learned, the better off you will be. It’s all about how you react to the challenges that RV life throws your way.

Toilet replacement while parked in Hilton Head. One of many fixes done on the road.

Toilet replacement while parked in Hilton Head. One of many fixes done on the road.


 

5. The Rewards are Great

Selling our house, getting rid of so much of what we worked hard for, buying a RV, saying goodbye to friends and family - it was all hard. Really hard. It was a risk - all for a lifestyle we weren’t sure we were going to like. However, the rewards have been numerous.

We are making amazing memories. Our little family gets more time together in one day than we used to in one week. We have seen things we didn’t know existed. These are the things that are important to us. We took on this lifestyle to better align how we spend our time with what is important to us. Gaining that alignment has been the greatest reward of all.

Our family in front of Trudy in New Orleans, LA. December 2017

Our family in front of Trudy in New Orleans, LA. December 2017


RESOURCES

I get asked all the time: what are your favorite money management tools?

Charlie: My go-to (free!) budgeting tool that tracks your spending and progress towards goals.

Ebates: Gives you free cash back on almost all your favorite stores via a desktop plug-in.

Trim: You remember that time where I talked about how you should be negotiating all of your bills? (You should.) I know it's scary — that's where Trim comes in. Trim will negotiate cable and phone bills FOR YOU.

Status: Wanna see if you’re on track when it comes to your monthly spending and total savings? This (again, free) tool compares your financial numbers to others in your age group, city, etc.

Personal Capital: The tool I check daily, Personal Capital is the best tool for tracking your net worth and your progress towards goals like saving, debt payoff, and (yes!) $100K.

The $100K Club Facebook Group: Need some honest money conversations in your life? Join my free community to get your burning questions answered.


Dec 31.png