This is a deeper dive into RV life pros and cons beyond the obvious reasons every other list gives you…
If you read any list of the top ten pros and cons of RVing, you’ll pretty much get the same answers.
Pros like freedom, traveling with the comforts of home, flexible schedule, priceless experiences, and cheaper lifestyle. (The last of which is only sometimes true.)
The cons on those lists always include limited space, RV maintenance, travel stress, and climate control / unpredictable weather.
While all of those are true (well, except the “cheap” part), they are rather obvious even to non-RVers. So, this time, I want to dig deeper and list the pros and cons that we’ve learned from our 10+ years living the RV lifestyle.
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5 RV Life Pros You Don’t Expect as a Newbie
There’s quite a bit to cover here so I’m going to jump right in. The following 5 things came as a happy surprise to me when Jennifer and I started our RVing journey over 10 years ago.
Mike and Jennifer and Tai with their new eTrek in 2012!
1. More Quality Time with Family & Friends You “Leave Behind”
Now, it’s obvious that an RV opens the door for more quality time with the people you travel with. However, most people don’t realize that it can greatly increase your quality time with those you “leave behind.”
Jennifer and I travel in our RV about ¾ of the year, and pretty much have since the beginning. When we started off, we were really worried about the time we would lose with our family and friends by our sticks and bricks house.
But something great happened! Whenever we were in town, everyone excitedly got together and we spent more quality time together.
So, even though we didn’t see each other nearly as often, our time together was better spent. That’s why if you’re getting ready to embrace the RV lifestyle or even become a full-time RVer, I recommend you read How to Tell Family & Friends.
2. Deepening Your Connection with Your Travel Partner
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Now, I have to warn you that this “pro” can be a con if you don’t already have a good relationship with your partner. In general, RVing will expand upon whatever type of relationship you have (good or bad).
However, it does provide an amazing opportunity to deepen your connection with your spouse or travel partner. You have to learn how to work together, respect each other’s space, and communicate with kindness if you are to stick with the RV life.
It helps to learn Our Top Ten Rules for Getting Along in a Motorhome (You can click this link or watch the video above.)
While learning how to do that at home can be an impossible challenge, there’s something about RVing that enables you to reset. It’s like there’s a natural understanding that things have to change to make the most of your travels.
If you both have that mindset and are willing to work together, your relationship can be better than ever before.
3. Dogs Are Amazing Travel Companions
Too many RV pros and cons lists forget to include the ability to travel with your pet as a top reason for RVing. Dogs, in particular, are amazing travel companions!
Yes, this is coming from a lifelong dog lover, but there are several reasons this is true beyond the fact that dogs are great in general.
For one, dogs need to be walked when you travel in an RV. So, that encourages you to stop and stretch your legs while driving as well as spurs you to be more active while you camp.
For two, dogs are natural ice breakers. RVing can get lonely (even when traveling with a partner) and dogs are a fool-proof way to meet new people while you travel.
For three more perks, you’ll need to read the 5 Best Perks of Traveling with a Dog.
How many people want to go RVing to escape the doom and stress of the “real world”? Clearly the answer is A LOT!
A lot of people enter the RV world as an escape but, surprisingly, it’s much more like a return. A return to the “better days” where people say hello and your neighbors are there to help whenever you need them.
Granted, there are always bad apples in the bunch, but it’s safe to say that the RV community as a whole is a wonderful group of people. They are kind-hearted, approachable people that enjoy life to the best of their ability.
We all need more of that in our life!
5. Practice Makes Perfect (& Builds Confidence)
The thought of driving, maintaining, and living out of an RV (whether for a weekend or full-time) can be overwhelming. I know I was scared when I started!
But let me tell you something, YOU CAN RV! If you give yourself the chance and go for it, you can do it.
Yes, I’m talking to you women RVers. Yes, I’m talking to you solo RVers. Yes, I’m talking to you senior RVers.
Practice truly makes perfect… or rather, good enough! You can learn how to RV and enjoy it to its fullest.
Trust me, I know this from experience!
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5 RV Life Cons That May Surprise You
Alright, now it’s on to the downsides of the RV life. The following are the things that surprised Jennifer and me (and not in a good way.)
1. Decision Fatigue is Real
I’m not sure if I ever heard of “decision fatigue” before I started RVing. But, boy, did I become very familiar with it once we hit the road.
When home, you take for granted the things that are just “givens.” You realize you followed a routine more than you ever thought, even if you consider yourself a spontaneous person.
When you start having to make hundreds of decisions every day that you don’t normally have to make, it gets exhausting. You have to learn to make quick decisions without putting too much weight on it.
2. Campgrounds Are Noisier Than You Think
When people think about RVing, they often envision a secluded campsite surrounded by trees. Birds chirping. Squirrels frolicking.
Well, let me tell you, that is not the case! Granted, these campsites do exist, especially if you boondock like Jennifer and I prefer to do.
However, most campgrounds are quite noisy. Instead of birds chirping, there are kids screaming. Instead of squirrels frolicking, there are drunk people laughing.
I know that doesn’t paint an ideal picture, but it’s better you’re prepared for that possibility with every new campground you visit. It’s almost a given in a lot of places during peak summer months.
Expecting that, you can prepare with 5 Privacy Products to Make Your Campsite More Private and How to Deal with Bad Camping Neighbors.
3. Non-RVers Will Question Your Choices (& Sanity)
This con is mainly for people planning to go full-time RVing or most-time RVing (like Jennifer and me).
While some people will be excited for you, most will question your choices and your sanity. They’ll even mock you.
I honestly wasn’t prepared for that when we made the decision, and Jennifer and I even questioned our decision. Thankfully, we didn’t listen to the naysayers.
Again, I recommend reading How to Tell Family & Friends You’re Becoming a Full-Time RVer.
4. The RV Life is NOT Cheap
Remember how I said in the intro that lots of RV pros and cons lists tout “more affordable lifestyle” as a pro? Well, that’s a load of bologna.
Let me be clear on this before those who have achieved a cheaper lifestyle by RVing attack me. The RV Life can be cheaper; however, that is not a guarantee! It’s probably not even the norm.
It takes a lot of planning in advance, budgeting, and ongoing effort to make RVing a more affordable option to living in one place. Fuel, RV repairs, campground fees, and loss of income pose really big obstacles to overcome.
The more you want to actually travel (drive all over), the more expensive it becomes. And fast. If you’re expecting it to be more affordable, you’ll likely have to stay in place a lot more than you think.
Boondocking is one of the biggest solutions to a more affordable RV life. So, I recommend learning more about that and the following:
I’m not handy, but I did put this Hollywood Rack together by myself (well Jennifer helped) 🙂
5. You Need to Be Hands On with RV Maintenance
I am not a very handy man. And I certainly wasn’t a handy man with any mechanical inclination when I first started RVing. However, I am a handier man now that I’m an RVer.
I’m handier because I have to be handier. It’s one of the first surprises I had as a newbie RVer when I naively thought my new RV wouldn’t give me trouble. And if it did, I’d just let the professionals handle it.
Boy, did I have a rude awakening when I realized that it’s impractical to think you could hire everything done. For starters, there’s a big shortage of RV mechanics! The waiting time for even the simplest repair and maintenance is usually ridiculously long.
So, out of necessity, I learned how to do basic RV maintenance and repairs myself. And now I suggest that everyone (male and female) do the same!
Thankfully, it’s easier than you think. Otherwise I certainly wouldn’t have been able to learn it!
Also thankfully, there are now online courses you can take to teach you RV maintenance basics, like the following…
Get the Home Study Course today and worry about the road, not the repairs!
Every time you move your RV it’s like driving through a hurricane during an earthquake. Parts break and many items need to be maintained, this program will show you how you can save time and money by gaining the confidence to take on the majority of the issues you’ll come across. Don’t get caught with your RV in the shop! Learn how you can maintain and repair your RV at your own pace and at the most convenient time for you! This course is produced by the National RV Training Academy.