Frequently Asked Questions About RV life
What is it like to live in an RV?
I don’t actually feel like I live in a RV until I go outside and see it. I more or less feel like I live in a one bedroom apartment. My living room and kitchen are in the same room, which has its advantages, you don’t have to pause a show to make dinner or get a drink of water.
This year we will be celebrating our 4th year of RV living. We have adjusted to this life. Smaller spaces mean more time together and more compromises. Less kitchen space means only keeping what we need (yes, a double Belgian waffle maker is a necessity). Closet space is limited so we have to rotate our clothes, off-season clothes are stored in the bays below or in the harder to reach stops.
How did we know what to bring?
We didn’t. Neither Lee nor I had ever RVed before. We started by downsizing and prioritizing what we thought we would need on the RV, knowing we have limited space. We have our favorite clothes, brought both winter and summer wardrobes, not knowing where we would be and I’m glad we did because we have been in some unexpected cold places. We’ve also found that we needed to buy a few things to make living on an RV easier. Thankfully, for everything we couldn’t take with us, our family was able to store in their basements. My advice is to keep track of what goes where, not only for your sanity but for insurance reasons in case something happens.
Moving into our RV, we were pleasantly surprised by how much storage we have. The fun part was and still is finding a place for everything. We have plenty of storage under our bed, as well as in the bays under the RV. Most people would be surprised how much storage space our RV really has.
How do you cook?
Cooking hasn’t been an issue. We have a convection oven/microwave, induction stove, crockpot, air fryer, and outdoor grill/griddle. We can cook/bake anything we want to. On occasion, when I go to my parent’s house, I ask my mom to make bread crumbs for me, since I don’t have a blender.
How do you watch tv?
We ROKU and stream tv through youtubetv, amazonprime and disney+. We turn netflix and hulu on and off when there are shows to watch.
What is it like having to pack up and move?
Not as hard as you think. We have a routine and system we use. We use museum wax to secure things we always want out such as our cooking utensil holder, which stays on the kitchen counter all the time, everything has a place, so I try to keep things in their place. The day before we move, I dust and vacuum, so I try to prevent as much dog hair from getting under the slides. I secure the pantry so that our food doesn’t have room to move around. I secure the food in the fridge, using containers and storing as much as possible in drawers or on the door. Some people use tension rods, I have never found the need to. Then I secure things in the cabinets in the kitchen, again just making sure no glass bottles are going to fall out. Our bourbon is packed into boxes or thermal containers. I use a sock holder to hold our glasses and alternate glass and plastic so there is no clinging going down the road. I also wrap the handles of the pots in towels, to prevent clinging. You have to secure things with the idea that your motorhome is having a mini earthquake every time you move it.
Lee’s mom made a soft protective cover for his large computer monitor so we store that under table. All other electronics get put away.
Lee maps the route and plugs it into the GPS. We have RV GPS, where we are able to plug in our height, length, and weight so it doesn’t take us down the road we shouldn’t be on or won’t fit on.
We also prep by closing our grey tank (non-toilet water), so we can use that water to help flush the sewer hose after dumping the black tank (toilet water). Not a glamourous job, but has to be done if you want to live in an RV. But truthfully not as bad as you think. After the hook up your sewer hose, all you do is pull a lever.
The last thing we do is unhook the water, sewer and electric and pull in our slides. Lee drives the motorhome to a spot in the RV park we can hitch the jeep and we hitch the jeep, which takes less than five minutes to do. I stay outside while Lee goes into the motorhome so I can make sure our brake lights and turn signals are working.
Is dumping your tanks as gross as it sounds?
No. Once you hook up the sewer hose, all you do it pull a lever.
Where do you go to get your RV fixed if something breaks?
We typically do one of two things. If Lee can fix it he does. Sometimes that means calling Tiffin parts department and having them send us the part. Tiffin is really good at this, give them your VIN number, tell them what broke and they will ship you the part the next day.
If the problem is something Lee can’t fix, we take it to Red Bay, AL where the Tiffin factory is. They have a dedicated service center there. The nice part is you can live in your RV while they work on it. They have a campground and there are smaller campgrounds all over town. During the day your RV goes into a Bay to get worked on, at the end of the day 3pm (they work 7-3) you get your RV back and you can go back to your campground. It is on a first come first serve basis, so sometimes you have to wait a few days to get into a bay. Very few manufacturers have this as an option and for those of us who have dogs, it beats having to stay in a hotel while the RV is getting fixed.
The last option, which we rarely use, is having a mobile RV repair guy come to the RV to fix something. The knowledge level of these people is hit or miss, so you risk them not actually being able to fix the problem.
One thing Lee and I look for when buying an RV is the customer service of the manufacturer. We want to be able to ensure we can get parts we need and things addressed in a timely manner.
Can you walk around your RV while driving it?
Yes. There is a path about a foot side to walk, so I can get up go to the bathroom, make a sandwich or get something to drink. On occasion there have been times, I didn’t feel well so I laid down on the sofa while Lee drove. The back of the RV is still accessible but harder to get to as the bed and the dresser come together when the slides are in leaving no walking path. So if I need something or need to check on something I have to crawl over the bed.
Who does most of the driving?
Lee does. I play navigator making sure our two GPS’s agree. I can drive, but I am cursed. Lee can be driving for hours and nothing happens. I get behind the wheel and I am swerving to avoid sofas or chairs in the middle of the road or cars driving the wrong way on the highway. Random things happen that are out of my control happen when I drive, so we find it’s best if Lee just drives.
We try to keep our travels to 4-6 hrs. We have a 100-gallon fuel tank, so we don’t need to stop for fuel, but we do stop every 2-3 hours to let the dogs out. Anything longer than 5 hrs, Akiro starts to go stir crazy. Both he and Scarlet stand or lay on the floor in the space between the two captain’s chairs. There is plenty of room for both of them.
Do the dogs like living in an RV?
Akiro and Scarlet have been adjusting well, we did buy collapsible dog bowls for their food and water, so they don’t take up floor space. We take them on walks and have created a dog run under one of our slides we can attach their leashes to so they can safely be outside with us and have the ability to play and move around. This seems to work out really well. The only problem is Akiro doesn’t always want to come inside. He would lay outside all day if we let him. Most parks have a dog area or even a dog park to let the dogs run around. Scarlet and Akiro enjoy running around freely there.
We also discovered Akiro loves rock climbing and Scarlet loves the beach. Two things we would have never discovered back in Ohio.
Do you get a lot of bugs in the RV?
No more than you get in your home. On occasion, we have had an ant problem, or other bugs local to the area we are in. In those situations, I go into bug-killing mode until I they are gone. Some are more annoying than others.
How do you know where to go shopping?
We either ask locals or search the internet for places to buy groceries and other necessities. Finding good grocery stores hasn’t been challenging yet, as most people are willing to help you. We don’t buy in bulk, because we have limited storage options. I tend to only buy what I will need for the park we are staying at so we don’t have to transport food or supplies we don’t need.
How do you get internet and cell service?
Internet hasn’t been a huge issue. We use Google Fi phones, which use T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular and operates over wifi. We have a Pepwave Max Transit Duo, which is a commercial-grade LTE router with dual modems. That is paired with an external LTE antenna. We have the Pepwave use AT&T and Verizon, so we have all major carriers covered. Once Starlink becomes available we will augment our internet with it.
Many RV Parks offer free wifi, but it often isn’t good enough to stream shows on and they will throttle your usage.
How do you get your mail?
We use a mail forwarding company based out of Florida. They scan the envelope so we can see what comes and if needed, we can authorize them to open our mail and scan it for us so we can see what it is. They weed out all of your junk mail, so we only get what is important. When we want our mail, we request it to be sent to wherever we are.
It’s not always easy, we have to track our packages carefully and if something gets delayed we have run into situations where we have left the RV park before our package arrives. Most owners of RV parks understand this can happen and just ship it to us at our next location.
Are finding places to stay hard?
If you ask anyone in the RV community, the one thing they hate the most is booking RV parks. It can be very time-consuming especially if you are looking for an affordable park that allows 2 big dogs (one being an Akita), has good internet and fits a 40ft Motorhome (it was even harder when we had our 43ft Fifth Wheel). One thing we learned very early on, is just because they tell you on the phone you will fit and their sites are big enough, doesn’t mean you will actually fit. Also depending on the time of year and location, many RV parks may not have any availability. Sometimes you have to book a year in advance.
First, we have to figure out where we want to go and how long we are going to be there. We usually have a general direction we want to head in. There is a great website called RV trip wizard that allows you to plug in where you are and how far you want to travel and it gives you a radius of RV parks to choose from.
Once I have found a potential park, check their rates, and see if they offer discounts, I read the reviews and check for cell signal strength in the area. Then we go on Google Earth and search the address, we look for the RV park and see if we see other RVs our size (ones with 3 AC units on top), wide roads, and not a lot of trees. We then call the park and talk to them and ask if they have availability and can accommodate us. We generally don’t book online, unless it’s with a KOA, because their website does a good job describing the available sites.
What is the most challenging part of RVing?
When you are on the road and have to get something fixed. When we had our truck, we had to get the tires replaced. We got them replaced in Arizona a few days before we were moving to New Mexico. Unfortunately while replacing the tires, they damaged all four rims. It took multiple attempts to get in touch with the dealer who changed the tires to report the issue and by the time we did talk to them we were already in New Mexico. We weren’t going to be there long as we were headed to Texas for Thanksgiving. So I had to arrange for a dealership in Houston to fix the rims and the dealership in Arizona to pay for it. It was quite a challenge.
Another time, someone hit the Harley in a parking lot knocking it over the day before we were leaving town. Thankfully it was rideable and we went straight to the local Harley dealer. They assessed the damages and got us an estimate. We then drove to our next stop where the dealership there fixed what they could in the week we were there and told us they would order a new fender and we could get it replaced on our way back through the town in a month.
Generally speaking, it’s not hard getting stuff fixed, it just takes more effort because sometimes we only have a week or I have to call ahead and make sure they have parts before we even get into town.
The good news is, be it something with the car/truck, RV, or Harley every dealership/body shop has done what they can to help us in the time we are in town. We have been very lucky and grateful for that.
What is something no one tells you about RVing?
Being a full time traveling RVer can be lonely. Lee and I left our family and friends in Ohio and decided to take this trip together with our dogs. What I didn’t expect was how lonely it can be at times. Lonely in the sense you have no one to call up to say, hey let’s go to dinner. Lonely because many times we are not in the same time zone as our family and friends, so calling them at convenient times can be hard.
When you live somewhere permanently, you have your core group of friends and family you see and speak with regularly. You have people to do things with, you go to social events, and you know where to go. But when you only stay somewhere a few weeks, there really isn’t time to make friends, and the friends you do make, you leave behind when you go on to the next spot. You constantly have to look up places to go and things to do. There is more work involved.
Yes, we meet a lot of people, but not every RV park is a social RV park, and when covid hit there were even fewer people to talk to. Your spouse becomes your sole communicator and being with your spouse 24/7/365 isn’t always fun and games. Not everyone can tolerate their spouse in such close quarters, and it can be challenging. Especially this year when the places and things we could do was limited.
What is the best part of RVing?
Being able to do the things Lee and I have done together. We have been able to explore different places, eat really good local food, and meet some great people. Savannah Georgia is the best city for good food, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is our favorite National Park. We’ve been able to go to Mardi Gras, the ABQ Balloon Fiesta twice, meet up with family members who live in other states or who just so happen to be in the same city we are. We’ve crisscrossed the country multiple times and made so many friends.
America is a beautiful country filled with nice people and many hidden treasures. I think everyone should road trip the country at least once in their lives. I was in awe the first time we drive across the country. I’ve learned so much about the history of the cities we have visited and stood where battles were fought and history was made.
How long do you plan to live in your RV?
We never have had a timeline. We will continue to living this lifestyle as long as we can and our work situations allow it.