We have been full-time RVing for a year. While we adapted to the nomad lifestyle quickly, we had our fair share of stumbling blocks along the way.
For those considering full-timing, we wanted to share lessons we learned during our first few weeks on the road. Rather than review basics, like sewer hoses, surge protectors, etc., we are focusing on things we didn’t realize would be a challenge when we started our journey.
1. Forget about your hair and makeup routine
If you are going to be boondocking or staying in state and national parks, then you will likely be hooked up to a 30-amp electricity source. That isn’t enough juice for your hair dryer. However, if your campground has a bathroom, it may have an outlet with enough power you can use.
As for makeup, you aren’t going to need or want to wear much. A lightweight tinted complexion cream with SPF 30 has been my savior. For my hair, I love all-in-one dry shampoo. I found one that smells amazing, makes my hair feel great and has a tint to cover my roots.
2. Be mindful of your water tank levels
During our first week full-timing, we maxed out our gray water tank after four days. We learned fast that you do not want it to overflow. It’s extremely stinky, even when it’s only filled with shower and kitchen water. If gray water starts flowing up into your drains, you will be forced out of your home until you can dump it.
We installed a water-saving shower head to cut down on our usage. We extended our water supply from three days to a full week and the shower head is powerful enough for a satisfying shower.
3. Your rig is going to get dirty
With two big dogs and a 4-year-old, we have dirt coming in and going out all day (but mostly going in). We purchased a large ground cover mat, and it has become one of our favorite items. We use it everywhere and it has cut down on dirt by at least a third. It also doubles as a great outdoor yoga mat. For the dirt that still makes its way in, we use a vacuum built to clean tight spaces. It has a battery that lasts for a long time, which is helpful when we are boondocking without power.
4. You need to adapt to new nighttime noises
We are still struggling with sleep. My daughter, Ella Jo, and I are super light sleepers and everything seems louder inside the travel trailer. Shane still snores away all night long, but Ella Jo and I are having a hard time adapting to new noises, like traffic, rumbling thunderstorms and unknown nature sounds. One time, when we were camping in Shenandoah National Park, we heard rustling and huffing noises followed by car alarms. It turned out to be bears snooping around. Also, living in such a tiny space, we have learned to whisper, so we don’t disturb Ella when she is napping or sleeping.
5. Invest in your stabilizer
We thought we had everything we needed. We purchased levelers and leveling blocks along with an impact drill to bring down our jacks in two seconds (this was a no-brainer after hand-cranking them once). But we could still feel a lot of motion on a few surfaces. We made a slightly larger investment in a well-reviewed jack stabilizer kit, and our RV feels much sturdier when we walk through it.
6. Keep cash on hand (especially change)
I knew having a few bucks available would come in handy when it was laundry day, but I didn’t expect so many other occasions when would we need cash. Many small towns have cash-only restaurants or businesses and some camp stores are cash-only, as well. You’ll also need change for tolls and parking meters. Cash makes everyday life simpler, so don’t forget to stock up before you get on the road.
7. You need great cell service and a backup entertainment plan
You may end up at a random campsite in the middle of nowhere, realize you have zero cell service and you can’t find anywhere to make a call. Cell service with a wide-coverage area will help you avoid this problem. Also, if you can’t connect to a TV or streaming service, get an Amazon Unlimited Kindle subscription and read some books!
Want to learn more about the Simple Nomad’s journey? Read our previous blogs about full-time RVing:
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