Full-time RVing Defined (or at least, how I see it)

I want to clear up a few misconceptions about full-time RVing, at least from my perspective and how I see things. Upon mentioning that Brendan and I had decided to begin a new lifestyle of full-time RVing, several people I know mentioned something along the lines of, “you must really enjoy camping.” Others have also referred to our lifestyle as full-time camping and many other similar suggestions. Now I know none of these were ill-intentioned in any way, but let me just clear this up: fulltime RVing and camping are not the same thing!

Now, before you think I am correcting just a technical error, let me explain. Camping, at least how I see it, is a temporary vacation in which one leaves their home for a short while in order to experience “the wilderness” more close-up, often from a tent, but occasionally from a camper. Most people see less technology during a camping trip as a plus, and these often offer a back-to-nature type feel, or an escape from the typical, mundane day-to-day. In general, when one is on a camping trip, they are “roughing it,” or rather, doing without real showers, running water, electric, a bathroom, and many other standard amenities. While we certainly enjoy a good camping trip, I would have to say that, for us, full-time RVing could not be further from camping. We do not feel as if we are roughing it at all, and we actually often feel like RVing is fairly luxurious. Here’s why:

While we are not yet even a full two months into our new RV lifestyle, I can tell you that, in many ways, living in an RV is remarkably similar to living in a small house. We have, on board, all the amenities found in your typical, modern home, which is one of the main reasons why we love RVing so much. In fact, there is much about our lifestyle that has hardly differed from living in a house.

For instance, our RV is equipped with tons of storage space, and we had room to bring all the most important things from home. Prior to beginning our journey, I had worried that I would need to give away a majority of my wardrobe due to lack of space. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was enough room on board for my entire selection of clothes. In addition, we have a very comfortable queen size mattress in our RV bedroom, exactly like what we had in our house. We also have a futon/couch, a comfy reading chair, and a little bookshelf. Further, back in NJ, we had a large indoor garden, and, surprisingly, we were able to bring all of our houseplants along when we transitioned to RV living. And, of course, we brought all our pets with us, but this is not something we would have been able to do if we had chosen a form of full-time travel which did not allow us to bring our entire home with us everywhere we go.

On board, we also have a full kitchen, complete with a stove-top, oven, microwave/convection combo, coffee pot, sink, fridge, and all the little kitchen appliances we often used in our house. We cook every day in the RV, just like we cooked every day at home. We have plenty of room for all necessary toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc., similarly to what we had in our house. We have a full bathroom set-up, a shower, three sinks, and even a washer/dryer combo machine. We have running water and a full, solar electric set-up, which powers everything we need and use on a daily basis. All our outdoor gear is with us, just stored in the bays under the RV, instead of in our garage at home. And most importantly of all, we have a full WiFi connection set-up, which allows us to work at home, from anywhere. In all honesty, full-time RVing is very comfortable and, in many ways, not too different from our life in a house.

Here’s how our life has changed: our RV home is much smaller than our previous house, but it never feels small. We expected moving into the RV to feel like a huge change in space, given that we were downsizing from 1500 square feet to 300 square feet. However, the space in our RV is so well-optimized and we never feel cramped or squished. The smaller space is also much less work to clean and maintain, which frees up a significant portion of our time. In our house, we used to spend several hours a week keeping the place clean, and Brendan also put many hours a week into lawn and garden care. In the RV, we spend less than a half hour each day cleaning, which is great because neither of us enjoys cleaning in any way (really, who does? ?).

Another huge difference is that we are completely mobile. While this is obvious, given that we live in an RV, it is, clearly, one of the biggest differences between an RV and a house. In a house, we were tied to one specific location, but in our RV, we can take our entire “house” wherever we want to go. Our new home is fully portable and accompanies us to each new location, which is really just so incredible. I never have to worry about forgetting something when we move from place to place, because everything we own comes right along with us.

A final defining difference is that we are always close to nature. While many RVers prefer to stay in RV parks with full hook-ups, we consider “boondocking” our preferred method of travel. For those who do not know, boondocking is free camping, where one stays on public lands, or anywhere that is free, without hook-ups to water and electric. While boondocking, we simply conserve water as much as we can and fill our water tanks every 10-14 days. For electric, we use a full solar set-up, which powers all the devices we need.

Boondocking is also more private than staying in RV parks, where RVs are usually packed in like sardines amongst their neighbors. Avoiding campgrounds allows us to feel more like we are living in a house, rather than in a camper, given that houses usually offer more privacy. Similarly, when we park in a boondocking location, the natural scenery becomes like our own yard, whereas, in RV parks, you are often sharing a yard with several neighbors.  Being out in the “boondocks,” up close with nature, is also very fun and rewarding for us and is half the reason why we decided to pursue full-time RV living in the first place! In many ways, we feel as if this lifestyle allows us to experience the outdoors up close, but still from a comfortable, home-like environment.

Parked outside of Joshua Tree National Park, boondocking on BLM lands
Earlier, I mentioned that we had our outdoor gear with us. Included among this gear, are our actual camping supplies (tent, sleeping bags, etc). We brought these along with us with the intention of taking short-term camping trips from our RV home when opportunities present themselves. We feel this provides the best perspective in the discussion of fulltime RVing versus camping.

In short, RVing is, for us, a very convenient, comfortable, and cozy lifestyle, which allows us to take our home with us wherever we want to go. While we love camping and enjoy it as an occasional getaway, we feel that it is fairly different than RVing in many ways.

If you are a fellow RVer, what has your experience been like thus far? If you have anything to add, feel free to share in the comments below.

About Samantha Binger

Samantha BingerSam is one-half of the Life Among Pines crew. She is an animal-loving bookworm, an avid photographer and an amateur chef/wanna-be foodie. Travel and adventure are two of her biggest passions in life, and she loves living life on the road, where she can explore new places on the daily. When not writing a new blog post, you can find her sipping tea, hiking with her dogs, sampling a local brewery, or fulfilling orders for her Etsy shop, MugsySupplyHouse. Feel free to reach out and say hi!