RV travel offers an exciting and adventurous way of discovering new places and sites. For some people, camping and RVing quickly become a lifestyle. How to plan your RV trip? What should you know before you choose an RV and start your journey? All these questions are answered in this video interview.
It's definitely a cool way to be able to see the country, see the world, and be able to travel and have a nice experience. So I would encourage anybody to do it.
Pissed Consumers has interviewed two full-time RV travelers of The Adventures of Fox & Miles blog. Fox and Miles share their experience, tips, and tricks on how to start RVing, how to save money on traveling, plan your trip, and enjoy your life along the way.
Top RV Tips and Tricks You Should Know:
- What is RVing?
- How to RV during the pandemic?
- Is RV living cheaper?
- How to shop and eat when RVing?
- How does the solar panel work with RV?
- What are the pros and cons of RV?
- How to choose an RV?
- Planning RV trip: Tips for beginners
What Is RVing?
Miles: Before we started RVing full-time before we made a transition, we were living in Washington, DC. And then Fox actually came up with an idea for us to transition into living full-time in an RV to save money.
And so that we could be able to travel, save money, and also pay down debt. Because, where we were, the rent was increasing and it was getting a little bit more difficult to actually maintain everything. So we were trying to figure out a way to cut costs and lower the cost of living and be able to travel and also pursue some of our dreams and stuff like that.
So, that was the initial plan. I think we had a great experience. Because once we made that transition, we had to make a lot of adjustments. A lot of adjustments to being on the road, working on the road, and also, as you mentioned earlier about adjusting to everything that's going on with the pandemic.
And we weren't able to go to them. And it also started impacting our finances. So to put ourselves in a better position, we had to stop and stay with family for a period of time. And recently, we actually got a place that we can stay part-time, while we save up some money and try to ride out this wave of the pandemic.
How to RV During the Pandemic?
Michael: Is RVing during the pandemic is not that much fun because RV parks are closed, and you simply can't get in, right? Because the state lines are closed.
Miles: It's definitely, some places are starting to open back up.
Fox: Yeah, it depends on what state you're in.
Miles: It depends on the state that you're in and how you feel about traveling, and wanting to be around other people at very low risk, then you probably won't travel that much. But if you don't mind and you're really just winging it and going out there and don't really care about the pandemic, then I'm sure there's plenty of opportunities. If you want to go boondocking or just stand on the road, in more remote areas.
Is Living in RV Cheaper?
Michael: Did RVing make your life less expensive? What is the result?
Fox: I think, in some ways, yes. In some ways, no. So one thing that I don't think we really considered was travel, like gas. Simple things like gas. And park stay and things like that. And things breaking down.
I think we didn't have to pay, say, if your rent is $1,500 a month, we didn't have to pay that a month. But we are paying for groceries, we are paying for gas. And I also think we were traveling too often when we first started. And so that was eating up a lot of our money.
Miles: It's definitely that. We probably overestimated how much it would be to travel as much as we did, initially. Because we were visiting people.
Fox: Or, underestimated.
Miles: Yes. Underestimated, yeah. So we were visiting family, visiting friends. We were doing a lot. We were trying to do as much as we could, which wasn't a good idea, because it was just overwhelming, really. Financially, mentally, and even emotionally.
Because while we were on the road, it was very easy for us to get homesick, but if we took the time to really slow down and kind of pace ourselves, I think we would have done a lot better on saving money. Because another part was, we were getting groceries and stuff, we were also eating out a lot. But we figured that out later, like, "Okay, we need to readjust how we're actually traveling, so that we could be better financially."
Fox: I also think emotions play a huge part in finances. Because I think we were so homesick, and I was honestly struggling with depression, just starting RVing. There were a lot of things, I was trying to feed myself happiness. I was trying to spend money to be happy.
...sometimes we really don't take into consideration how our emotions play in our spending.
Because if I was more stable, if I was calmer and better adjusted to our new lifestyle, then I probably wouldn't have a problem with saving money and just eating in the RV. But because I long so much for home and friends and familiar things, I wanted to eat at familiar places, which is carry-out or Pizza Hut or Burger King.
How to Shop and Eat When You Travel in RV?
Michael: When RVing, how does it change your behavior as a consumer, as compared to other consumers? So for example, online ordering would become a hassle for you. You actually need to know where you are going to be in two weeks when the stuff arrives. What do you do? How do you send your stuff to yourself when you're constantly on the move?
Fox: One benefit for places like Amazon, they have Amazon Lockers. So if you know where you're going to be in two weeks or two days, then you can order things and they'll be sent there and you can pick it up from there.
But like you said, for the specialty things, sometimes we just have to wait. We'd have to postpone our moves. We can't go anywhere. One, because things are broken, but then also because we have to wait for the part to come in. And I think as a consumer, I think we're so used to getting things right now, right here right now.
While we're RVing, for a lot of areas of our lives, it helped us to slow down and be more patient.
That was really just the only option we had, was to be patient. Yeah, you don't get everything you want right away.
Tip#1. Be Mindful of the Storage Space
Miles: Another change would be, you're very mindful of the stuff that you do buy because you don't have a lot of storage space. So even while we're traveling, if we wanted to pick up knick-knacks or souvenirs, we have to be very, very specific on what we're trying to get.
Because we don't have a lot of space, and so that becomes very critical. But if you're in, what we call a sticks and bricks location. If you're going on a trip, you can get as much as you can put in your car and bring it back and store it in the closet, that's fine. But that's not the case.
… you have to be very strategic and very mindful of what you're trying to buy.
And then also, you don't want that much clutter in your space. Because an RV is already small space. Even the larger ones, some of them are very nice, but it's still not a full-blown house. So you have to be very mindful so that you're not super cluttered in your space.
Tip #2. Consider Weight of the Items
Fox: Also, you have to be mindful about the weight too. Even if you only have a few items, RVs can only carry a certain amount of weight of the load, before your tires pop or it burns the engine out. And so for a lot of things, we couldn't get a lot of the heavy things.
A lot of this stuff that we did buy, had to be multifunctional. It couldn't just do one thing, and it has to be able to do a bunch of things and save us time. So with our appliances for cooking, we're not going to have a whole bunch of pots and pans, but we can use an Instant Pot so that we can cook multiple things in one thing. And it's not going to weigh down the RV or take up so much space.
Michael: What do you think about RVing and consumers? Shopping in the stores, is it the same thing as shopping online, when you RV? So you said about the size of the items that you're buying.
Tip #3. Do a Week of Shopping
Michael: Weight of the items, that is important. What else is important for you, when doing the shopping? Are you doing a week of shopping, or are you doing a couple of days’ worth of shopping?
Miles: It's usually a week at a time.
Miles: Typically, a week at a time. Which is, I would say another thing to be mindful of, in regards to space. Our refrigerator isn't necessarily the same size as a normal refrigerator. So we're very, very strategic on, "Okay, what are we going to have to eat this week?" And stuff like that.
We can't just have things sitting in there. So we just have to use all of that space strategically. So yeah, it's definitely a week at a time. I mean, certain stuff, say toilet paper, we might have packs of toilet paper stored away, but that'll last a while.
Tip #4. Plan Your Meals
Fox: It won't degrade. It won't go bad. But definitely, for food, we get time, meals are planned as we said. We have snacks, but we don't have a lot of space for snacks. And it really changes what you can cook.
Fox: Because of space. Some people's RV kitchens are huge. Our kitchen was very small. So we couldn't have three things going at the same time. It was not enough space. So we have to make one-pot meals, like spaghetti or burgers or something. Something simple, that's not going to take up a lot of space and a lot of energy from the RV. So, that too.
Miles: Taking into consideration our resources. So say we were boondocking, that means we have limited access to water, limited access to propane. We have solar panels on our RV, but again, if it's cloudy, where we are right now is cloudy, so we wouldn't get a full charge. So we have to be very mindful of, "Okay, what are we cooking? What time are we cooking?"
Because if we cook at night and we run out of power, we're just going to have uncooked food. It's not going to work out. So being mindful of all of that comes into play. So you definitely try to get things that are easy to clean up. Things that are easy to prepare, and don't take a long time. Because you don't want to be stuck with half-cooked food.
Michael: Did you cook on an electric stove?
Miles: No, our stove is propane. But what we try to do, typically, is use the Instant Pot.
Fox: Yeah, with the solar panels and the generator and stuff.
How Does the Solar Panel Work With RV?
Michael: How does the solar panel work with RV?
Fox: Our RV didn't come with panels. We had to purchase them, we purchased them off Amazon. We did a lot of research. Because we wanted to get the most bang for our buck. We had to install it on top, and then Miles had to feed in the solar panels into the RV, to the battery, to the inverter, so that we can actually get some energy out of it.
But yeah, I think it lasted pretty well. We could cook, the Instant Pot, for example, takes a lot of energy out of your power system, because I mean, just because of what it does, it cooks so fast. And so, we would still have enough to charge our batteries, to watch TV if we wanted to watch a movie.
Miles: Again, we would try to time things as much as possible. And also, we didn't have that many appliances like that. Our heavy-duty appliances were always for cooking. So we would have our laptops to work with and things like that, but once they were charged, we just unplug it so that the laptops are just running off the battery.
So a good full-day charge would be able to do everything. We were able to do lunch, dinner, and charge our laptops. And then later we were, sometimes watching DVDs and stuff on our TV or whatever. And that would be fine.
We wouldn't completely drain the batteries, which was also helpful. The other thing that was helpful about that is that, while we were traveling, we were usually places where it wasn't too hot or where it wasn't too cold.
Because one of the first times I stayed in the RV overnight, was around wintertime. And it was pretty cold, so I was trying to use the heater. But no, the heater is a heavy draining. So, I think I had the heater in for maybe 45 minutes and it wiped it out. And so I was like, "Oh, okay, well I guess I'll just be cold."
Fox: That's definitely something you got to think about when you're RVing.
RVs are not well insulated, so if it's hot outside, it's going to be hot in there. If it's cold outside, it's going to be cold. So mild temperature is the best.
Michael: Do you turn on the engine on a cold night to warm it up? You do it through the engine or, how do you keep warm when it's cold outside?
Miles: Sometimes, there is an onboard heater for the RV and it uses propane. And so we would do that, as long as the propane tank was full.
Fox: But most nights we just had a down blanket, and just wrapped ourselves up.
Miles: And then, I think we had some smaller heaters that we would let run for a little bit and then just turn it off. But yeah, sometimes we would be running the engine and just let the heat from the cab come into where we're sitting. The same thing with the air conditioning too.
What Are the Pros and Cons of RV Travel?
Michael: What is your best and worst time during the RV? What are your best moments and what are the worst moments that you can highlight?
Fox: One of the best moments for me, was when we got to boondock in Colorado. So, boondocking is just RVing without any hookups. So you don't have any water, you don't have any sewage. It's just you, just kind of hanging out wherever you are.
So people do it in a parking lot, people do it in remote areas. And where we were in the woods, in a national forest. And so, it was nice because it was very peaceful. There wasn't a lot of noise. It was just us in the land.
And I think for me, just getting away from all the noise, all the hustle and bustle was just very therapeutic. Also, we weren't that far from, I guess, civilization, so to speak. But it was far enough, where we couldn't hear cars driving down the highway. We couldn't hear, I guess, just people. It was just people spaced out far apart.
And for me, that was the best experience. There was no light pollution so that we can go outside and see the Milky Way, that's crazy. I've never seen it before with my own eyes. And I think, being in that remote area, allowed us to be able to see the magical stuff like that.
Miles: Yeah. I was just going to agree and say, I think our time in Colorado was probably the best. Because of just the sites. From where we are on the East coast, we don't see a lot of the mountains, or a lot of the forest, the way that it is out that way. So it was great.
Fox: Yeah. The worst times...
Miles: The worst time is stuff breaking. Whether it's flat tires or our toilet broke, and we just had to take some time to replace that and things like that. So anytime anything breaks -
Fox: Or pops, or deflates.
Miles: Exactly. Because it's not as super convenient. Because there's some stuff that we were able to pick up from Home Depot or Lowe's, but other things were kind of special. There were very specialty things that we had to order online and that's again, waiting. You have to wait to get this, get this piece.
Or for example, when we first got our RV and we went on a short trip to Assateague Island. During that time, we found out that there was a piece in our water system that broke. And so it wouldn't pump water. So it would just be making lots of noise, but to get that piece, we had to order it offline and then had to wait a couple of weeks until we got it. So that put a damper again on our travels.
Stuff breaking is always the worst.
How to Choose an RV?
Michael: What kind of RV do you have?
Miles: We have a 2014 Thor Majestic. It's a Class C RV.
Michael: What did you experience with dealership services with the quality of their RV, as a whole? And did you buy it new or used when you started?
Fox: Just starting out, we went to the regular dealership. So that would be Camping World or RV World. And we didn't really enjoy that experience. Their RVs are pretty expensive. They're pretty new. They tell you not to buy new because it still has kinks in it. The way that RVs are made, sometimes they are really cheap. Just being honest. When they're new, they're more liable to be broken. When they're used, people are more liable to break.
When they're used, people have already worked on its kinks, people have gotten stuff fixed and broken it in. And so usually you have a better quality RV with used RVs.
And also one thing to note is that new RVs depreciate as soon as you drive them off the lot. They depreciate so much and used usually are a lot cheaper. But yeah, so that was our first experience with just going to RV World. And we did not like it, people were kind of cold if they didn't feel like you were going to get a sale. They were kind of not very helpful. It was just kind of like...
Miles: We bought our RV used from Cruise America, which is a company that allows people to rent RVs. And so for us, since we were going to be living in an RV full-time and this was going to be the first RV that we're purchasing, we wanted something that was going to be as simple as possible, as reliable as possible.
We went used, instead of purchasing a new RV. We decided to go used because a lot of experiences that people from what we found, from other reviews and things like that, buying new is not really the way to go because you're going to spend a lot of money on something that will probably break down a lot. And we didn't want that, since we were going to be living in our RV full-time.
We purchased our RV from Cruise America, which is a service or a company that rents RVs and gives you that option. And they also sell used RVs. And so for us, because we were looking for something that we can be stable in and live in full-time, we wanted to make sure, okay, what we're getting, is it going to be able to take whatever we put at it? There's also, that it's very simple.
The RV that we have doesn't have slides or anything like that. It's just a truck with a space to live on. So it's pretty simplistic and it works great for us. A lot of the issues that we had while we're on the road, was learning curve issues. So issues with the tires and learning that, because you're driving this vehicle, you probably shouldn't be driving as fast as everybody else you might need to be in the slow lane.
So adjusting to that and also being mindful of the type of roads that you're on. For a while, we were trying to avoid paying tolls in certain places. So we were going a lot of back roads and things like that.
Fox: Not a good idea.
Miles: Probably not the best idea. So that there's some wear and tear on our vehicle. But Fox, you were mentioning the different dealerships that we went to -
Fox: Oh, yes. So first, we went to RV World and Camping World. And so we just thought, where to start, we'll just go there. But one thing about them is that they take a commission. And so if you're not going to purchase something right then and there, they're less apt to help you, generally, I'm sure there are really kind people.
But I also understand that trying to make some money. If they don't think they're going to make any money, then they're not going to get as much attention to detail. And with Cruise America, they don't work on commission. So they're more apt to help you. They're more willing to offer you advice, even if you don't go with them, they're still saying, "Hey, this is what it's for. This is what it's not for."
The gentleman that really helped us out with our RV was amazing. When it comes to maintaining your RV or getting it fixed, Camping World and RV World tend to have RVs backed up. Some people will come in for a simple fix, for say, a faucet or something. And their RV will be kept there for months at a time. And so if we are full-time RVers, then that's not going to work for us. We don't have anywhere to stay for three months to get a faucet fixed.
Fox: But also for our RV, because it's so simple. A lot of the fixes we did ourselves, besides changing the tire because the tires are huge. We fixed everything ourselves. And it's nothing that you can't look up on YouTube.
Miles: And we would definitely recommend trying to get something used in regards to price. And then also, at the point that you're getting something used, a lot of the kinks and things are worked out in that vehicle that you're getting.
Fox: Yes, because RVs are made pretty cheaply.
Planning an RV Trip: Tips for RV Beginners
Michael: What are your plans? Are you going to come back to full-time RVing when life becomes normal again?
Miles: We would like to do that, but I think our initial step will probably to go part-time. So instead of traveling completely full-time, we might plan trips out, so that we could travel for maybe two to three months at a time, just until we can, I guess, resituate ourselves. Like financially.
Fox: Because who knows?
Miles: Definitely with regards to the pandemic, but also financially and things like that, because we don't... One of the things that we, I guess, at the low point of our full-time RVing experiences. There were moments where we ran out of money.
Fox: I think for a lot of people who full-time now, either one, they're retired. So they had their living off, I guess, their pension or retirement money, things like that, which is fine. But also I think some other people who full-time, also have businesses back home or online businesses. And so for us, we still have to get that passive income, if we want to have passive income, started up and running. And that takes time, that takes effort.
And so I think the wise thing for us to do right now is, like Miles said, is just to be stationary for a minute, figure out what is our plan. While we can travel, save up money, and then go, like you said, away for three months at a time to actually go out somewhere and enjoy it, as opposed to going out there and be stressed about trying to make money to support the lifestyle.
Miles: Definitely. I think it's something everybody should try at least once. One of the first things that we did before we ventured into full-time RVing, is that we got an air Airbnb stay in a fifth wheel. I think it was in South Carolina or something like that.
Miles: Yeah. It was in Charleston. And so, I would suggest doing that, whether it's renting an RV or do it in an Airbnb, just so you can understand and have that feeling of it. Because I think it's a really cool experience. Before we went full-time, I had never RV'd. I had no experience with it.
Fox did though, she and her family would RV when she was a child and stuff like that. But it definitely was me jumping into the deep end once we moved into full-time.
I would encourage anybody to do it and definitely realize that it's an experience.
So, you're not going to know everything when you do it. Even if you want to watch all the YouTube videos and listen to all the podcasts and stuff like that, you're not going to know everything. But it's definitely a cool way to be able to see the country, see the world and be able to travel and have a nice experience. So I would encourage anybody to do it.
Fox: Yeah. I would also say if you're a maximalist, this is probably not for you. I feel like I had to embrace a more minimalist part of life, for some time. Just because again, we talked about limited space, limited weight…
...what I love about RVing, is that it shows you what you can live without, what you don't need.
All the stuff that we get as consumers, that we think, "Oh, I can't live without this." There were a lot of things when we were packing up at RV that we're just like, "Well, stay home."
Miles: Throw it away. We don't need it.
Fox: And I feel like it helps you to buy quality products over a lot of products, over quantity. So that's one thing I feel like RVing does. It also helps you to slow down. As we said, we kept getting breakdowns, our tires kept popping. And at first, it was very frustrating because we felt like we had to go somewhere.
But I think the more that we started to RV, the more that we just kind of took life as it came. It's like, "Okay, well." Just like this pandemic, who knows where we're going to be next month? I have no idea, but all I can do is enjoy today and what today brings.
Every day's an adventure, honestly. And it's up to you to decide whether that adventure is going to piss you off, or it's going to be like, "Okay, this was a time for us to slow down."
Michael: Thank you, guys. It's been a pleasure.
Traveling in RV can become an exciting journey and lifetime experience. As our expert RV travelers mentioned you have to adjust to the RV lifestyle, learn to be patient and mindful as to things you buy and store.
We thank Fox and Miles for sharing their adventurous story and for useful RV tips. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep updated on expert interviews.
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