It’s March 1, 2022; I have just turned 44; and we are coming up on a year of full-time RV living. In 21 days, we will celebrate of the selling of our house — the day we walked out of our closing technically “homeless,” and into one of the best decisions we have ever made. That day began our journey into this lifestyle and was the day we dreamt about when we decided over our wedding anniversary dinner to see the country. It was at that dinner table that we mused how we could see the country in about a year. See all the things and even scout out some new towns that may be suitable for a possible future homebase. Well, it’s almost a year now, and we haven’t seen all the things. We’ve seen a smidgeon of all this great country has to offer, and I’ll tell you why.
It’s busy out there
When we began our journey into the RV lifestyle, it was pre-COVID. We bought our RV about five months before COVID started, and when we finally were able to begin full-time RV living, it was a year into the pandemic. By that time, a lot more people had joined the full-time lifestyle. Our family being one of them. With the influx of full-timers and people in general RVing more, it’s sometimes difficult to find a spot at a campground we want to go to. It takes a lot of work to plan routes and find areas to call home for a few days. But the benefit to being full-time is our flexibility. We can go with the flow more, and if it takes an extra few days to get to an area we want to go to, then so be it. We call it the “slow down.” I’m sure if we planned our routes six to nine months in advance, we’d have better luck, but to us that seems a little too rigid. We want some flexibility to stay and explore an area if we really like it.
Driving an RV is not like road tripping in a car
When we first started out taking small trips in the RV, the driving was easy. We would drive to a destination, set up for our stay, break down, and then drive back home. Once we started full-time traveling and making daily drives to hopscotch along our route, driving fatigue came into play. Not just for me as the driver but for the whole family. On our maiden full-time voyage, we had 12 days to make it down to the Florida Keys for a reservation. We decided to make some stops along the way to explore, but that led to having to make long drives on travel days. We had an itinerary to keep. We tried to cram a lot into that period of time, and we learned a lot from that experience. Now we limit our travel days to about 3-4 hours of driving, which includes our rest-stop break for lunch. Occasionally, we will break this rule if we have to, but our travel days are a lot easier now. I don’t get overly tired from driving, and the kids and Jordana aren’t stuck in the RV for long lengths of time on the road. With this new strategy, we obviously don’t move very far very quickly, but we are happier. We get to campgrounds earlier and can relax more before the next leg of our journey. If there is one tip I can share with another family, it would be this.
There’s a lot of cool stuff to see out there
I mean it. There is a lot of cool stuff to see in this country. Sometimes we come to an area and are immediately drawn to its character and charm. Our three-day stay may then turn into a seven-day stay. This happened when we visited Chincoteague Island back in November. We originally planned to stay a few days to see some wild ponies, but we just couldn’t leave. We ended up extending our reservation twice just to keep exploring the area more. We made a day to take a boat tour and came within 5 feet of wild ponies on the island. If we hadn’t extended our stay, we wouldn’t have taken that boat ride. It was well worth it even with the modifications to some other reservations that had to be made.
Our kids are 6 and 3, and it’s about them
This is a big one for us. We want to travel and see all there is to see, but it needs to be about our children and making sure we develop great memories for them. If that means not setting out on a 5-hour adventure day but instead just sitting by the pool, hanging out at the playground, or staying at the RV playing Legos, then that is what we need to do. It’s very important to be flexible with them and always evaluate how they are feeling. What good is seeing something interesting if they are melting down and crying out of exhaustion. We take another day and slow it down, or if we can’t, we just plan to come back one day.
I don’t claim to be an expert in RV living. We’re one year into this full-time lifestyle and 2.5 years into being RV owners, but we are learning every day. We still make mistakes. Quite a lot on some days, but our good days far outweigh our bad ones, and it’s because we’ve slowed down more. We’ve eliminated the “See Everything” in a year mindset and now plan to see it all when we get there. It may take another year or two. We’re in no rush.
JP Latkovic is a former New York State paramedic and critical care flight paramedic from Long Island, New York. JP; his wife, Jordana; kids Aurelia and Odin; and husky Odi have been full-time RV living for a year now. You can find them somewhere in the Florida Keys right now.
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