My husband and I have fielded more questions about RVing this year than ever before. We’ve been full-time RVers for well over three and a half years, and I’m actually a second-generation full-timer — my parents hit the road a few years before we did.
Like many people, we’ve spent a portion of 2020 examining our life choices.
While we’ve been lucky enough that the primary impact of the coronavirus on us has been limited to social distancing (which we pretty much did already), the way the world is changing is also helping shape our choices moving forward.
Here are the six ways the pandemic changed our view of full-time RVing.
1. We started buying our own land to camp on
Like many full-timers, we’ve always been kind of loners to begin with.
While we’ve done both, we’ve preferred boondocking in the wide open spaces of free public lands as opposed to staying in RV parks.
We had originally planned to spend 2020 hopping around the country on government land. But coronavirus made that quickly impossible.
In order to escape the RV park where we had found a temporary safe haven, we decided to get into real estate investing and camp on our own land.
Doing this takes a lot of research into county zoning because it’s not actually legal to live in an RV on your own land in most of the U.S., but if you put in the time, you can find some amazingly affordable land — especially out west.
As of mid-2020, we own land in multiple states and know we have safe spaces of our own that we can actually enjoy — and we don’t have to worry about any external factors affecting our stays.
Now that we’ve had the experience of having our own acreage to stay on as long as we want, going back to limited-time stays on public land or in expensive, crowded parks is an option we know we’ll never return to.
2. Proximity to family is more important
When we first hit the road in our RV years ago, we did a lot of driving. We would stay places only a couple days at a time and drive thousands of miles in a season.
Our first year travels ranged from North Idaho to South Dakota to Texas to Arizona.
But our circle of travel has naturally shrunk with each year of being full-timers. Even though we were still exploring new places, we were putting in fewer miles.
But even as our travel habits have changed, the one place we’ve always come back to is where my parents are located. Coronavirus has made it even more important for us to be closer to family.
The pandemic has made it clear that we want to be there to support our loved ones if they need it, and we also just want to enjoy the time we have with them.
3. We consider our impact in different ways
My husband and I love to travel to rural areas, and we especially love small towns. We’ve made a practice of intentionally going shopping and eating at restaurants to spend money and support the local economies.
But the pandemic has messed with our view of travel a bit. I find myself wondering now if traveling less or at a slower pace might be safer.
Traveling less could keep us from harming a community by unknowingly bringing the coronavirus (or some future virus) to the area.
But at the same time I feel bad not supporting small towns with my tourist dollars when I know they rely on that money. This one isn’t a dilemma I’ve solved yet, but it’s something the pandemic has brought to the forefront for me.
4. We’re even more grateful to have a self-contained life
One of the main things we’ve loved about full-time RV living is that we have our whole life with us no matter where we go. This setup has been reassuring during the pandemic.
I’ve always had a month of food packed in our RV for us, and we’ve always had our solar electric system to keep us powered — our life didn’t have to change for us to stay safe at home.
Knowing we have what we need, and that we can just up and move to somewhere else if we need to, has been a good feeling.
While some of my RV friends have craved a sticks-and-bricks place to run home to, we’ve found the liberation of full-time RVing to feel like safety.
5. We’ve realized how fragile full-time RV life is
A lot of our friends assumed we wouldn’t be impacted by the pandemic since we do live a pretty self-contained life, whether we’re camping in the woods or staying at RV parks, but the pandemic made it clear to us how unstable RV life can be.
Not only did many RV parks shut down across the nation, but public lands closed down too.
Some of our full-time friends ended up stranded places or living in other people’s driveways because they were kicked out of parks and campgrounds.
The way the parks were shut down made us realize the world doesn’t really get this lifestyle and how many people are doing it.
We realized we can’t depend on RV park infrastructure to be there for us when we need a safe place, and this again is why we started buying our own pieces of raw land instead.
6. We’ve decided to not be full-time RVers anymore
Yes, I just said it. While we’ll still be living in our RV full-time, we won’t be full-time travelers anymore.
We’re settling down on the pieces of property we own and will be part-time travelers once again.
The RV and all the utility systems we’ve built over the last few years are essential in us being able to do this, and the self-reflection that the coronavirus pandemic prompted for us has made us realize we’re ready for this new “adventure” of not moving around.
RV living has changed our view of life in general in so many ways over the years. It’s helped us manage our personal finances and pay off debt. It’s helped us learn so much about the U.S. and meet amazing people all over this nation.
Even though my full-time years are over, I’m genuinely excited that the pandemic has had the positive impact of encouraging so many new people to give RVing a try.
While there are some definite drawbacks of full-time RV life, even traveling part-time or on weekends in an RV is still an amazing experience. And who knows what realizations your travels will bring to you about the life you truly want to lead.
Other stories you’ll love:
- The best RVs for full-time living
- What is boondocking? How to find free campsites
- What’s solo RVing really like? Tips from a solo RVer.
Becca Borawski Jenkins has been living and traveling full-time in an RV for the past three years. Her journey into finance was facilitated by her passions for minimalism, travel, and geographic arbitrage. She loves to write about saving money, saving for retirement, and cashback credit cards. You can find her, her cat, and her husband generally driving in a big circle around North America.