Ultimate Guide to RV Living for Beginners | 17 Tips You Need to Know

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RVing can seem really daunting if you've never done it before especially when considering full-time living in an RV. But, don't worry! You are not alone in feeling overwhelmed by the idea of starting out on your own journey as a beginner RVer. I know how terrifying this all feels because my first time was in 2017 and I had never traveled in an RV and now I'm still out on the road, full time RVing!

Once you’ve learned these RV living for beginner tips, especially if you decide to travel full time, it will become second nature in no time at all and will help make your transition into nomadic living much smoother.

I've got you covered, from figuring out your budget, buying a recreational vehicle (RV), learning how to get mail on the road, and so much more!

Becoming a nomad is very foreign to most people, but it doesn't have to be scary. It's a big change, but it's also an incredibly rewarding one.

You can do this!

With a bit of preparation, you can make your dream of living in an RV a reality.

Full Time RV Living For Beginners Tips

#1 What RV Costs Can You Can Expect

Story Chasing Van Life Amber Baldwin

When considering full time RV living, the biggest questions are:

“How much does it cost to live in an RV?”

and

“Is living in an RV cheaper than a house?”

It's tough to give a definitive answer because everyone's costs will differ. It depends on your travel style, how often you stay in parks, whether or not you boondock (which means to camp for free typically in nature), and many other factors.

RV Living Costs

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Some main costs are pretty universal for all RVers. Here's a look at what you can expect to spend money on when living in an RV:

An RV

Of course, you'll need an RV! The cost of your RV will depend on the size, type, and age of your rig. You can find RVs for sale, new or used.

Then you'll need to decide whether you pay for it in cash or finance it. If you finance you're RV, then add this cost to your monthly budget.

Park Fees

If you plan to stay in RV parks often, you'll need to budget for those fees. The cost of a campsite varies depending on the location and amenities offered.

Utilities

Just like a house, you'll need to pay for water, sewer, and electricity when RVing.

If you're in an RV park, then it generally comes with the nightly cost of staying at the RV park.

RV park hookups
Photo credit: Campspot

However, if you're boondocking in the wild, you can sometimes find free services for dumping your RV tanks and getting fresh water, and other times facilities will charge you.

Maintenance

RVs require regular maintenance and repairs, just like any other vehicle. You'll need to budget for things like:

  • Tires
  • Oil changes
  • Regular wear-and-tare
  • Alignments
  • Unexpected repairs

RV Insurance

Don't forget to get insurance for your RV! You'll need both liability and comprehensive coverage to protect you in case of an accident.

Also, if you've decided to be a full time RVer, then look into full-timers insurance. I'm with Progressive, and they have an excellent full time RVer insurance package.

Roadside Assistance

This is another important one! Roadside assistance will come in handy if you have a breakdown or other emergency while on the road.

I recommend signing up for an RV roadside assistance program like the Xscapers/Escapees program which is very specific to RVs.

Gas or Diesel

You'll need to factor in the cost of gas or diesel when budgeting for your RV travels. How much you spend on fuel depends on the size and type of your RV and your travel route and style.

Activities

Just because you're living in an RV doesn't mean you can't be a tourist still and partake in quality-of-life activities! You can still enjoy all the fun activities that come with exploring new places as RV begginers, you're bucket list of places is going to be long.

However, some activities will cost money like:

  • Entrance fees to national parks and state parks
  • Museums
  • Tours
  • Renting bikes or golf carts for exploring towns
  • Zip lining
  • Water rafting
  • Kayaking
  • Movies
  • Theme parks
  • Monuments

RV Memberships

Some memberships are available specifically for RVers that can offer discounts on camping, gas, and other travel-related expenses. These memberships usually come with an annual fee as well.

Xscapers is another example of a great RV membership club and has a lot of great education as well for full time RV living, especially if you're just beginning your journey.

Groceries

You'll need to budget for food just like you would if you were living in a house. The cost of groceries will obviously depend on how much you cook in your RV kitchen and whether or not you eat out.

Eating Out

Speaking of food, you'll probably want to eat out at restaurants sometimes. Eating out costs money, so be sure to factor that into your budget as well. Though, you can save money and use that out other cool quality of life activities in opt for eating more.

Hot Spot & Internet Data Plan

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RV newbies can be quite confused over how to get the best hot spot and data plan on the road. I once was there too – plus I had a full-time job then and needed constantly be connected to the Internet.

If you want to access the internet while on the road, you'll need to get a hot spot or another type of mobile internet device. These devices usually come with a monthly fee.

I've been using this one from Reliable Internet for since 2018. It is completely unlimited, with no caps, and unthrottled, and I recommend it to anyone living on the road, especially if you're working from the road.

I liked it so much that I negotiated discounted rates for you all so make sure you use this link to get the best rate.

Laundry

You'll need to do laundry just like you would at home too.

Funny story, as RV beginners, we sometimes turn our nose up at laundromats but I learned quickly that I could hang out in my RV while doing all of my laundries at once in about an hour since you have access to more machines. Now I love it!

Get a coin purse and carry some quarters and dollars to make change.

Subscription Entertainment

If you want to watch TV or movies while on the road, you'll need to factor in the cost of a movie streaming service like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.

Cell Phone

Don't forget about your cell phone bill! I'm assuming we all have one these days.

Propane

If any of your appliances in your RV use propane, like the stove, furnace, or water heater, you'll need to buy propane. You can usually find propane at Camping World, UHaul, and my favorite – Tractor Supply.

Water

You'll need to have a way to store and haul water for your RV.

Most RVs have a fresh water tank already, but if you're custom building a camper van you might have portable water containers instead.

I recommend getting a portable water filter that attaches to your hose to fill up your tanks so it's filtered on the way into the RV and then a Berkey water filter for drinking water.

The Berkey can filter river water! It's that good and I've used mine for years, even down in Baja California, Mexico. The filters will last for years!

Sewer

You'll also need a way to store and dispose of your sewage. Most RVs already have some sort of black water tank for storing, but you'll need to find a place to dispose of it which can cost money too.

Mail Forwarding Service

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If you plan on buying an RV for living full time on the road, you'll need to get a mail forwarding service to have a permanent address. I recommend using Escapees/Xscapers mail fowarding. They're the gold standard when it comes to mail forwarding services and are very reasonably priced.

How Much Money Do You Need to Live Out of an RV?

This is a question I get asked a lot, and it varies from person to person.

Some people can live very cheaply in their RV, while others need to spend a bit more money. It depends on:

  • Your travel style
  • Where you travel to each month
  • How often do you eat out
  • Whether you stay in an RV park or boondock more

As RV beginners, you may not know your travel style yet, but, I've put together a free budgeting and RV costs mini-course on this very subject so you can know exactly how much you can afford.

These are just some things you'll need to think about when budgeting for the RV lifestyle. There are plenty of other expenses that I didn't mention here, but this should give you a good starting point, and you will learn more in the free budgeting mini-course.

You Don't Have to be Out of Debt to Begin an RV Lifestyle

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Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to be out of debt to travel in an RV. In fact, many people who live in RVs are still paying off student loans, credit cards, and other debts. The key is to create a budget and stick to it.

This nomadic lifestyle can be much cheaper for many of you, so knowing your numbers and what you can afford is one of the first steps to starting your RV journey.

#2 Income and Working Remotely on the Road

One of the many amazing things about a full time RV lifestyle is that it's very conducive to working remotely. If you have a job that allows you to work from anywhere, you're in luck! You can pretty much take your office with you wherever you go.

There are also plenty of opportunities to make money on the road:

  • You can work as a campground host
  • Do odd jobs for people in the places you travel to
  • Start a YouTube channel or blog about your RV adventures like I did!

Of course, there are also many ways to make money online, so if you have internet access, you're never really far from your office.

Check out my video on this very topic here.

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#3 RV Beginner Tips for How to Buy a Motorhome

Most importantly – know your travel style first.

  • Do you want to RV in winter climates? If so, you'll want a four-season RV. These RVs are built to withstand colder weather and have features like insulated tanks and double-paned windows.
  • Do you want to boondock or dry camp often? If so, you'll want an RV with a large fresh water tank and maybe even a generator, or even better, an excellent solar power system.
  • Do you want to be able to take your RV off-road?
  • Do you want a travel camper trailer, fifth wheel, toy hauler, truck campers, Class A motorhome, Class C motorhome, or a Class B (think vans) like me?
Class B Conversion Van
Schoodic Point, Maine

These are some things to consider when knowing your travel style and what RV to purchase.

Let's start with the different types of RV classes.

Class A Motorhomes

Winnebago Class A RV
Photo credit: National RV Covers

Class A motorhomes are like driving a condo on wheels and can be very luxurious.

  • The motor is attached to the “home”
  • One of the more expensive RV options
  • Offer the most amenities
  • Can be the hardest to drive and maneuver
  • Can limit your options on places to travel due to length

Class C Motorhomes

Class C RV
Photo credit: Camping World

Class C motorhomes have a large range of options, sizes, and amenities.

  • The Motor is attached to a truck chassis
  • Usually has an overhang over the front cab for more storage space or another bed.
  • They're shorter than Class A's
  • Easier to drive than a class A and more versatile in terms of where you can take them

I started RVing with a Class C Winnebago Spirit for my first RV and then quickly realized that, while I loved the space, I wanted something more nimble.

Class B Motorhomes

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Class B motorhomes are like vans that are outfitted with a camper.

  • They're the smallest of the RV classes
  • Most maneuverable type of RV
  • Can park in most car parking spaces
  • Very popular for its nimbleness
  • More expensive than some Class C RVs

After being on the road for 1 year, I purchased a Hymer Aktiv Class B camper van on a Ram Promaster 2500 chassis, and I've been living in it for 4 years now full time.

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Travel Camper Trailers

Camper travel trailer
Photo credit: Airstream of New Mexico

Travel trailers are another type of RV that you can also live in full time and pull behind a tow vehicle.

  • Camper Trailers can range in sizes
  • From tiny “teardrop” trailers to large fifth wheels
  • Can be towed by trucks and SUVs depending on the weight of the travel trailer
  • Can also be towed by some cars, again depending on the trailer weight
  • Less expensive than other RV classes
  • You can unhitch it and leave it at your campsite and explore in your tow vehicle

Truck Campers

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Truck campers are like camper trailers, but they sit in the bed of a truck instead of being towed.

  • They're generally the most versatile type of RV because you can take them anywhere a truck can go
  • Can be very heavy especially when you add slides to it
  • Can park in normal car parking spaces
  • You can remove it and leave it at your campsite and explore in your truck

It's important to remember that if you decide on a truck camper, then buy the camper first, then the truck to make sure you buy enough truck that can handle the weight.

So many people buy the truck first and realize they need a bigger one with more load capacity when they find the truck camper of their dreams.

Toy Haulers

toy hauler
Photo credit: Leisure Land RV Center

Toy haulers are a great option if you want to bring your toys on the road, like ATVs, motorcycles, bicycles, hot tubs – yup people even bring those portable ones on the road – workout equipment, smart cars, kayaks, canoes, and more.

  • Similar to camper trailers that you pull with a tow vehicle
  • They have a ramp in the back that allows you to load up your toys and take them with you wherever you go
  • Towed by heavy-duty trucks
  • Less expensive than other RV classes
  • You can unhitch it and leave it at your campsite and explore in your tow vehicle

I've even seen RVers turn the “garage” part of the toy hauler into an office and make the ramp area an outside deck of sorts.

Pretty fancy.

The bottom line is that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing an RV. It just depends on your travel style and what you're looking for in a mobile home.

Set your budget and stick to it! There are so many RVs out there. It's easy to get caught up in the “I want the best RV with all the bells and whistles” mentality. But trust me, you don't need all that stuff.

We have a saying that we live “out” of our RVs, out in nature, and exploring.

Buying Your RV

Once you've made your decision, it's time to start shopping! Here are a few tips to help you get the best deal on an RV.

  • Know what you want and don't settle for anything less
  • Do your research and compare prices from different dealerships and private sellers
  • Get a vehicle history report
  • Have a certified mechanic inspect the RV before buying it
  • Don't be afraid to negotiate a better price
  • Find your own bank to finance the RV
  • Compare interest rates to get the best deal
  • Be prepared to walk away from the RV if you don't get the deal you want
  • Look for RVs nationwide instead of locally to find a better price. RV Trader is a great resource

Have fun! Buying an RV is an exciting experience and should be a fun process.

I’ll never forget the day I picked up my first RV. I was thrilled knowing that one of my biggest dreams was being fulfilled – to travel full time in an RV and see the world!

#4 How Do You Drive a Motorhome or Tow a Trailer?

If you're like me, I was so scared and intimated thinking about driving an RV for the first time. However, I assure you, with practice, you'll feel confident in no time.

Here are some RV tips to help you get started.

Don't Forget Your GVWR

The first and most important thing you need to know is your Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). GVWR is the maximum weight your RV can safely be driven, including the RV's weight, passengers, cargo, fuel, and yes, even your fresh water, black and grey tanks.

You can usually find this information in the owner's manual or on a sticker inside the driver's door.

Keep the GVWR in mind when you drive your RV and fill it up with cargo because if you go over the GVWR, it's dangerous and can lead to tire blowouts and axle failures.

Driving an RV

Get comfortable with the size of your RV or trailer. Before you hit the road, practice parking and maneuvering in an empty parking lot.

Drive slowly and be aware of your blind spots. It takes longer to stop an RV than a car, so give yourself room in front of you and just slow it down.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you're feeling overwhelmed, there's no shame in asking a friend or family member to help you get comfortable driving your RV.

Check your mirrors often and use your turn signals. This is probably the most important tip! It's easy to forget about your blind spots when driving, so keep checking those mirrors.

Take your time. There's no rush when you're on the open road. If you need to pull off the road and rest or take a break, do it. This is supposed to be a fun experience, not a stressful one.

Towing a Camper Trailer

Towing travel trailer
Photo credit: Camping World

Towing a trailer is a different animal altogether.

If you're towing a trailer, there are a few things you need to know.

Always check your RV mirrors and those blind spots before switching lanes or making turns.

It's also vital to make wider turns than in a car because the trailer will swing out behind you.

Anti-sway bars are a must if you're going to be doing any kind of serious towing. It will keep the trailer from swaying back and forth and make towing safer.

Emergency brakes are also a must when towing a trailer.

I also recommend getting a weight-distribution hitch with anti-sway for any serious towing. This system helps distribute the trailer's weight evenly between the trailer and the tow vehicle and makes towing safer and easier. Make sure you talk to the RV dealer and research the best anti-sway bars and how to set up the system properly.

Always give yourself plenty of space when braking. It takes longer to stop a trailer than a car, so give yourself room in the front.

And finally, when you're backing up, it's helpful to have someone outside directing you because it's hard to see behind you.

Walkie-talkies are your friend if you're traveling with somebody who can help direct you. I also use the walkie-talkies when I'm caravanning with others so we can communicate when there isn't cell service.

#5 Rent an RV Before You Buy

If you're not sure if full time RV living is for you, I recommend renting one before buying one. This way, you can get a feel for what it's like to live in an RV and see if it's something you could see yourself doing long term.

There are a few different ways to go about renting an RV.

You can rent an RV from a dealer, online, or through a private owner.

Outdoorsy is a great option for renting from private owners, kind of like Airbnb for RVs!

Or, if you want to go super cheap with no frills, and you're looking to tow or buy a van, consider renting from UHaul. I know, kind of crazy, but you can get a barebones van and throw in your RV camping equipment for the weekend or an extended camping trip to see if you like the small space.

Uhaul van
Photo credit: UHaul

If you have a tow vehicle already, you can rent a cargo trailer from UHaul, throw in your RV camping gear, and hit the road. Either option will give you some idea of what it might be like before purchasing one.

Of course, the best way to try out the RV life is to borrow an RV from a friend or family member. If you know somebody who already has an RV, see if they're willing to let you borrow it for a weekend or longer. This is a great way to get a feel for it without any financial commitment.

Now that you have an RV let's talk campsites.

#6 How to Find Campsites and Free Boondocking

One of the things I love about the RV life are the many options for RV camping based on your travel style.

Of course, there are some rules and regulations you need to be aware of before you head out.

For example, in most National Parks, you can only stay at a designated campsite for a certain number of days, and having your pets on the trails is a big no-no.

Free Camping on Public Lands

Story Chasing van boondocking

National Forest land or BLM land (Bureau of Land Management), you can boondock for free as long as you follow the Leave No Trace principles. Some of these areas have a 14-day limit for camping, but each one is different, so make sure to do your research in advance.

Boondocking is a great way to get off the beaten path and find some secluded camping spots if you enjoy hiking.

Think privacy, peace, quiet, and nature.

Of course, you'll need to be aware of your surroundings and make sure you're not disturbing any sensitive areas.

Other Free Camping Options

Many Walmarts, Cracker Barrels, truck stops, and rest areas offer free “camping” in their parking lots. This is called overnight parking, and it's perfectly legal in most places as long as you're not blocking any lanes or bothering customers.

Just check the signs before you park, and be respectful of the business and its customers.

Don't throw out your chairs and camping equipment, please. This is what gets places like this shutdown.

Camping at Private Campgrounds

RV Park Camping

There are also a ton of private campgrounds all across the country that range from super basic (think just a patch of grass to park on) to full-blown resorts with swimming pools and golf courses.

Thousand Trails is a membership-based campground that gives you access to a network of over 200 campgrounds across the US.

If you're planning on doing a lot of camping, this could be an excellent option since it can significantly reduce your camping costs.

I signed up with Thousand Trails because it makes RV life easier on the road when you have access to many campgrounds, with amenities, showers, water, sewer, electricity, and sometimes pools and hot tubs.

Moochdocking Camping

And then, of course, there are always friends and family members who are more than happy to have you stay with them for a few nights. This is affectionately called, Moochdocking.

Apps and Websites for Finding Campsites

The best way to find campgrounds, especially in the beginning, is to use apps and websites. These can show you all the different camping options in any given area, whether it's public or private land, if it has a cell signal, costs for the campsite, reviews, and so much more.

Here are a few websites and apps to help you find a campground:

  • Campendium
  • IOverlander
  • Harvest Hosts
  • Hipcamp
  • FreeCampsites.net
  • AllStays

You can also enlist Google Maps by searching for “campgrounds near me”.

#7 How Much Does it Cost to Live in an RV Park?

There are so many variables to consider, like the location, the amenities offered, and the type of RV park.

Generally speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere from $20-$80 per night for an RV spot with hookups (or partial hookups).

If you want full hookups (electricity, water, and sewer), you'll be looking at the upper end of that price range or more on the East Coast of the United States. But, surprisingly, the coast you are on depends on the price.

The West Coast is cheaper, while the East Coast is more expensive.

Of course, there are always discounts and deals to be had. For example, many RV parks offer a weekly or monthly rate which can save money in the long run if you're planning on staying in one place for a while.

#8 Domiciling in a State

If you plan on full time RV living, you'll want to establish what's called “domicile” in a state if you don't plan on keeping your home state as your residency. This is where you technically “live.”

I domiciled in Texas as one of the 3 best states to domicile in for RVers. So I put together a video that details that entire process here.

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#9 RV & Health Insurance

RV Insurance

As far as RV insurance goes, you'll want to make sure you have full coverage on your RV in case of any accidents and look into full-timers insurance. I've used Progressive for since 2017, and I've been very pleased with their service and rates.

Plus, they are RV-friendly.

Health Insurance

Health insurance for RVers can be tricky when considering all the options.

If you're full time RV living, you'll want to consider getting a nationwide health insurance plan in the state you are a resident in or domiciled in so you can go to any doctor in the nationwide network of your health insurance plan.

Otherwise, doctor visits outside of your network, if you have insurance only in the state you are domiciled in, will not be in the network and will be subject to higher out-of-pocket costs to you or not covered.

#10 Full Time RV Life

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When people find out I live in an RV full time, the number one question I get is,

“How do you do it and aren't you scared?”

I've been living in an RV since May 2017, and it's been the best decision I've ever made.

The benefits to living in an RV are numerous, but here are a few of my favorite things:

  • Wake up to a different view every day
  • No more commute! I can work from anywhere there's an internet connection
  • Cheaper cost of living
  • More time and freedom to travel
  • A minimalistic lifestyle that declutters your life and allows you to live with only what you need

Of course, there are some challenges that come with living in an RV, but nothing that can't be overcome with a little bit of creativity and resourcefulness.

If you're interested in learning more about how to live in an RV full time and need some help with the next steps, check out my Nomad Mentorship Bootcamp.

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#11 Internet for RVers

In today's day and age, it's pretty much impossible to live without some sort of internet connection.

Whether you're running a business on the road or just trying to stay connected with family and friends, having a solid internet connection is essential for most people.

There are a few different ways to get internet while RVing:

Mobile Hotspot

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This is probably the most common way people get internet while on the road. You can use your phone's data plan to create a hotspot and connect your devices to the internet.

However, if you're a heavy consumer of data, like me, where I run my entire business online, you should consider an unlimited, no caps, no throttle hotspot data plan.

I've been using this hotspot data plan since 2018, and it has never failed me! It's on the AT&T network and has far more coverage and reliability than my Verizon hotspot plan.

Satellite Internet

If you're traveling in remote areas with no cell towers, satellite internet is probably your best bet.

A few different companies offer satellite internet plans specifically for RVers and just recently the new Starlink service. It's a bit tricky right now with Starlink and more in “beta” mode, but in time, it could be a great addition to your Internet hotspot devices.

Most of us RVers who are still working need 24/7 connectivity on the Internet so we have multiple devices.

I use AT&T and Verizon right now, but if Starlink proves to be a great option in time, then I will get rid of my Verizon and get Starlink.

AT&T will still be in my van since satellite service doesn't always work in some areas. If it's stormy or heavily forested, then it won't work well so AT&T would be my other option to connect and still be able to work online.

Campground WiFi

If you're staying in an RV park or campground, most of them these days will have some sort of WiFi that you can connect to; however, just know it can be challenging to get a fast signal, if any at all, depending on the campground and location of your campsite.

Public WiFi

If you're in a pinch, you can always try to find a public WiFi connection, like at a coffee shop or library.

#12 RV Travel Tips with Dogs

Van life with dogs
Van Life with My Dog Lily

If you're like me, your dog is pretty much your best friend, and you can't imagine hitting the road without them.

RVing with dogs can be a bit challenging at times, but it's definitely doable and so worth it!

Tips for RVing with Dogs

  • Make sure your dog is comfortable in small spaces. If your dog isn't used to being in a smaller space, start by slowly acclimating them by spending short periods of time in the RV with them until they get used to it.
  • Exercise your dog regularly. This will help burn off some of that extra energy and make them less likely to go stir-crazy in the RV.
  • Make sure your dog is up to date on all their shots and vaccinations. This is especially important if you're traveling to different states or countries where there may be additional regulations.
  • Invest in some good quality gear like a leash, harness, and tie-out stakes to keep your dog safe and in your line of vision with the RV.
  • Be prepared for bad weather. If you're traveling in an area with lots of rain, snow, or extreme temperatures, make sure you have a plan for how you'll keep your dog comfortable in those conditions.
  • Microchip your dog and consider getting a GPS device, like an Apple tag, to put on their collar.

#13 Types of RV and Van Toilets

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One thing you'll have to get used to when RVing is, well, dealing with your poop and urine. Gone are the days of flushing and forgetting; now, you have to think about what type of toilet you have in your RV and how to maintain it and dump it properly.

There are 3 main types of toilets that are used in RVs.

Cassette Toilets

These portable toilets can empty into a dump station, traditional bathroom toilets, and rest area toilets. In addition, they're usually pretty small, so they don't take up a lot of space in your RV.

Mine even comes with a suitcase handle on it so I can roll it to the dumpsite.

Composting Toilets

A composting toilet uses no water and turns your waste into compost. They're great for people who want to be more eco-friendly and dump less often, except for the urine in the urine diverter.

Traditional Toilet with an RV Black Tank

This is a regular toilet you would find in a house, except it has a black tank that you must empty periodically in designated sewer dumping sites.

I recently had to go through an exercise of deciding whether to get rid of my cassette toilet and get something else or fix my problem. I put a pretty detailed analysis of the differences, as well as cost variances, together in this video.

#14 Travel Safety in an RV

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When you're on the road, anything can happen; that's just the nature of travel.

You can do a few things to help keep yourself and your family safe while RVing.

Get to Know Your RV

Before you hit the road, take some time to get familiar with your RV.

This includes understanding where all the exits are, how to operate everything, and where all the safety equipment is stored.

Check Your RV Before You Leave

Before you start driving, walk around your RV and check for any potential hazards.

This includes making sure there are no loose items that could fall and injure someone, checking your brakes and tires, and ensuring all the lights are working.

It's good to have a checklist of items to check before leaving and when arriving so you don't forget an important step.

It's even more crucial with travel trailers compared to a van or motorhome where you don't have as much of a tear-down process or hitching safety issues.

Plan Your Route

Don't just wing it! I'm all for spontaneous travel, but this one is very important to plan.

Make sure you know where you're going and what kind of weather and road conditions you can expect along the way. This will help you avoid surprises that could put a damper on your camping trip.

You also don't want to arrive in the dark at a new place.

Drive Defensively

Be aware of other drivers on the road and always give yourself plenty of space to react.

Traveling more slowly is better for your blood pressure anyways. So take your time and enjoy the ride and scenic views.

Know Your Limits

Don't push yourself (or your RV) too hard. If you're tired, take a break.

If the weather is bad, find a safe place to park and wait it out.

Trust Your Gut

If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.

Don't be afraid to change your plans or take a different route if it will help you feel safer.

Check Weather

Check the weather conditions before heading out.

The last thing you want is a surprise storm, wind, or worse snow to catch you off guard as your driving to your destination.

Don't Arrive After Dark

Story Chasing Van camping baja

Whenever possible, plan to arrive at your destination during daylight hours. This will give you time to set up camp and get familiar with your surroundings before it gets dark.

There's nothing worse than arriving in pitch-black darkness to a boondocking site and trying to find a spot, then realizing you're right on top of somebody in the morning and have to move again.

How do I know this? Yup I've done it before.

Multiple Overnight Camping Spots

Always have 2 places picked out to overnight when boondocking or dry camping in case the first one doesn't work out when you arrive.

Be Careful Estimating Time to Travel

Plan on doubling Google hours if you're in an RV or towing a trailer.

I've found that Google Maps is pretty good at estimating travel times, but it's always best to plan on taking twice as long when you're in an RV or towing a trailer. This way, you're never rushing, and you can take your time to enjoy the scenery along the way.

Safety Gear

Don't forget your safety gear. In addition to the safety equipment that comes with your RV, make sure you have a first aid kit for you and your pet, a fire extinguisher, and a flashlight. In fact, I suggest at least two fire extinguishers and three if possible.

I had a fire in my van when I was in Alaska, and thankfully we only needed the one fire extinguisher in the van, but little did I know that you only get one shot from those small extinguishers, and it's out.

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Garmin Inreach Satellite Device

I also highly recommend getting a Garmin Inreach satellite communicator. This little device uses 100% satellite technology to allow you to send and receive text messages, track your location, and even call for help in an emergency, all without cell service.

Google Location Sharing

If you don't want to invest in a Garmin Inreach, at the very least, enable location sharing in Google Maps, so your family and friends can track your progress and know when you're expected to arrive.

If you don't have a cell signal, though, they can't find you, and you can't call for help. This is why I always have my Garmin Inreach with me when traveling and hiking.

First Aid Kit

Ensure you have a first aid kit for you and your pets, especially since you might be far away from a hospital or vet.

Flashlights

Flashlights are a must-have ranging from military batons to headlamps, to a keychain flashlight. You never know when you'll need one and how you'll need to use it.

Roadside Assistance

I highly recommend getting AAA or some other roadside assistance plan like the one with Xscapers/Escapees specifically for RVs.

#15 RV Memberships

There are some incredible RV travel groups out there that offer discounts and education, and ways to help build community on the road.

Xscapers/Escapees

This is a group for working-age RVers that offers tons of resources like education, discounts, and even events where you can meet up with other members. I love that it's a group of like minded people so you make friends fast and can caravan together.

Passport America

This is a great membership to have if you plan on traveling to areas considered off-season where you get the most discounts because it gives you 50% off at participating campgrounds.

Good Sam Club

This membership gives you 10% – 20% off at most Camping World locations and other benefits and discounts.

#16 Getting Mail on the Road

Another common question I get is,

“How do you get mail while you're on the road?”

The answer is that there are a few different options, and it depends on your needs, but trust me, it's easier than you think.

Mail Forwarding Service

If you need a place to send and receive mail, you can use a mail forwarding service like Escapees/Xscapers. This is how I opt to get my mail since I'm domiciled in Texas.

Amazon Lockers

Amazon lockers for nomads

You can also have your Amazon orders shipped to an Amazon Locker, which is located in select cities across the country. This can be a great option if you're looking for a place to receive packages and don't need a physical mailing address.

USPS General Delivery

Another option is to have your mail sent to a United State Postal Service (USPS) location via General Delivery. This one can be tricky.

Not all locations will accept general delivery so call ahead first to find out which location does before having your mail sent there.

Friends & Family

If you can use a friend or family member's address to maintain your legal residence, you can have your mail sent there, and then they can forward it to you at your request.

#17 Gear You'll Want to Have

Over the many years of RVing, I've compiled my favorites and must-have RV gear. Everything from RV kitchen appliances and gadgets, to camping furniture, the critical gear you'll need to RV, pet supplies, camera gear, Internet set-up, and WIFI equipment, and more.

You can find my entire list here on my Amazon store.

Summary

People have been living in RVs for years, but the idea of RVing full time is still a new concept to many. I'm excited to help change that by sharing some of my RV tips for beginners that I've learned from my own experience and from others who have been on the road for a while. Whether you're just starting or are already an experienced RVer, there's something here for everyone!

If you're like me, the thought of hitting the open road and traveling wherever your heart desires is incredibly appealing. I have zero regrets about my decision, and I hope you give it a try too.

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