We all have those moments of clarity, when the cobwebs of life are brushed aside from the recesses of our mind and we’re able to grasp something useful enough to be considered a life lesson.
Shifting from a stick and brick home to the full time RV lifestyle definitely speeds up that process. If you’ve ever made this transition, you may be able to relate to the top 10 life lessons we’ve learned. If you’re still thinking about making this change, we hope our experiences will be of use to you.
We promised to be transparent at the outset of creating this blog. By doing so, we hope you’ll learn from both our victories and mistakes. If you read this article, you’ll know we really don’t hold back on our flaws.
In order from 10 to 1, these life lessons refer to when we first made the transition, to now that we’re making our life on the road.
So without further ado, here we go…
Life Lesson #10: There is no shame in not knowing.
We were clueless. The good news is that no one has life all figured out. As it is in life, so it is in RVing. There is simply too much to know about RVing for any one person to be an expert.
- “Are we really doing this?”
- “Diesel or Gas?”
- “Class A or Class C. What the heck is a Class B again?”
- “Can I cook a meal in such a small kitchen?”
- “How tall is this rig exactly?”
- “What about hot showers?”
- “What happens if I push this button?”
- “How will this compare to our budget in our stick and brick home?”
- …and on and on
We’ve learned so much since we rolled down our first highway that it has been like drinking from a firehose. For those of us on the more clueless side, let’s just say we we’re soaked.
Thankfully, we’re not the first people down this road, nor will we be the last. Already in our journey, we’ve met seasoned veterans with decades of full-timing, and folks who are literally on the cusp of taking the step into the full-time RV lifestyle.
The lesson here is twofold: 1. Ask questions. 2. Verify the answer. There are countless forums, blogs and websites run by and for RVers. Use them, and make sure you verify any answers you’ve been given before you make any major decisions.
Life Lesson #9: Don’t buy things you don’t need, with money you don’t have, to impress people you don’t like.
You’ve heard this lesson before I’m sure, but how does it apply to the RV lifestyle? Let me tell you…
When we first started looking at RVs, we toured all the big rigs. Those fancy new 45′ Class A diesel pushers by the top brands are pretty darn impressive…and expensive! Perhaps it was a bit of ego or pride that had me (Eric) touring these coaches. Ok, so it was completely pride and ego. I mean, I didn’t want to be rolling up into the campground in hooptie and have strangers judge me!
When I couldn’t afford the $250,000+ price tag of those super mega rigs, I got practical. I started looking at brand new gas rigs, you know, because those are only around $180,000+. ~rolls eyes~
Brittany was really patient with me. For the record, Brittany is much more practical than I am, and clearly the sensible one of our duo.
Seriously, there is nothing wrong with getting a top of the line rig IF you can afford it and IF it is what you really want. But in our case, that was way outside of our price range. To be completely honest, those rigs were too big for what we wanted anyway. So even if we could afford one, it was still not what we were looking for. What was I thinking?
We ended up going with our rig, “Meriwether,” a used diesel pusher that was two feet longer than what we were wanting and a lot older than what I wanted. But it was in our price range. We got a fair deal from a good couple. We own Meriwether and have the title. No payments = better options for campgrounds and fun! We’re really happy with our home. Yes, we’ve had issues that came up, but thankfully they weren’t anything we couldn’t overcome.
Oh, and no judgmental stranger has ever called Meriwether a hooptie.
We’ve also found that now we are living the full-time RV lifestyle, we don’t really need that much stuff. Space is at a premium, so nowadays when we look to buy anything, it has to pass the “Where-Will-It-Go, What-Can-It-Do, How-Will-It-Travel” test.
The lesson here is simple: Remember once you have your rig, you’ll still need to find campgrounds where you want to stay. These can range in price drastically. So depending on the lifestyle you want to live, you might want to save those dollars for locations rather than having a rig that is one year newer. Also, don’t buy stuff unless it passes the “Where-Will-It-Go, What-Can-It-Do, How-Will-It-Travel” test.
Life Lesson #8: The most valuable lessons in life must be experienced.
There is a big difference between knowledge and experience. You can know intellectually that if you skydive from a plane, your body will plummet to the earth at around 120 mph. But until you’ve jumped out of a plane, you don’t have a clue as to what it is really like.
The one phrase that has come out of my mouth most since we started this adventure is, “This is awesome/amazing! We would never have done/seen this if we hadn’t started this journey.” Brittany will vouch that my favorite phrase is uttered at least once a week.
It seems as though we’ve put more into the past 5 months than most people do in 5 years. Intellectually, you can know what it would be like to bask on the white sand beaches of Pensacola, walk through the Cypress Swamp, listen to the blues in New Orleans, jump into a spring-fed pool, canoe past a wild gator, or go 1,120 feet underground inside a mountain and see a waterfall…but until you’ve been there, you really haven’t lived. (For the record, this is just a small sampling of what we’ve actually done in the past five months.)
The lesson here is: Don’t get so busy making a living, that you forget to make a life. There are two types of people in this world. Those who talk about doing things and those who do them. Fall into the latter group and experience life!
Life Lesson #7: No matter how slow your progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who hasn’t started.
It took Brittany and I nearly 3 years to purchase our RV and hit the road, from the first time we discussed the idea to the moment we locked the door of our stick and brick for the last time. No matter where you are in the process of your RV adventure, know that as long as you are progressing toward the dream, you are ahead of 100% of the people who aren’t progressing.
It’s a big decision to make. We get it. But I’ve yet to meet anyone on the road who hates the lifestyle. If you are contemplating it, go for it. You only live once. #YOLO
The lesson here: Count the cost, make wise decisions, pursue your dreams, and make sure you are moving toward the goal. Don’t be stagnant and let your dreams pass you by. In short, get out of the starting gate.
Life Lesson #6: Pace yourself.
When we were researching the full-time RV lifestyle, we read so many forum posts and articles from RVers who were suffering burn out because of the frantic pace they had set. They were ALL recommending to slow down and enjoy it.
We read the words, and we didn’t heed the warnings.
Five months into our adventure, I turned to Brittany and said, “If we don’t slow down, I’m going to get burned out.”
We work for ourselves online, and we have clients Monday through Friday. We were traveling every Saturday hooking up, going out Saturday night, blazing through the area on Sunday. Then working Monday through Friday and going out 3-4 nights during the week. Then Saturday would come and we were back on the road. Exhausting!!!
As I write this article, we’re actually staying in a spot for two weeks for the very first time! This means we got to enjoy our first full weekend without having to move. All of the ol’ timers are laughing at me right now as they read this. Guaranteed.
Our new two week minimum stay rule has been so nice already. Both of us are feeling a sense of peace we haven’t felt for awhile. Who knows, by the time we’re ol’ timers, we might be in one spot for a month at a time. ~gasp~
The lesson here: Don’t do what we did. Set a slow and steady pace from the get go and remember to stop and smell the roses.
Life Lesson #5: People who want to be a part of your life will make an effort to do so.
One of our concerns was staying in touch with our friends. Together, Brittany and I have been blessed to know a LOT of people. Like everyone else, we have friends who are closer than others. However, one thing full-time RVing will teach you is who your real friends are.
They are easy to spot. They are the ones who do whatever they have to do in order to stay in touch. Whether it is a phone call, text, Facebook message, an old school letter, or even smoke signals…the ones who go the extra mile are your hardcore friends.
If you’ve been alive for any length of time, you know that friendships are deeper and more connected depending on your season of life. Like the tide, there is an ebb and flow with friendships.
The lesson here: Don’t worry about this too much, but be ready to do your part. Friends who are true friends are friends for life.
Life Lesson #4: There is nothing better than finding someone who knows all about your flaws and still thinks you’re completely amazing.
If you really want to get to know someone, I mean REALLY want to get to know someone…live with them in an RV. You think you know your other half? HA! Try living with them for just a month in an RV. Then tell me you know them. There is no hiding of flaws, BO, or farts for that matter. Privacy is at a minimum, and any OCD type tendencies will shine like the North Star on a dark night.
But if you are blessed to find that perfect soulmate, the one who knows all of your flaws and still thinks you’re amazing, there is nothing better than sharing the full-time RV life with them.
The full-time RV lifestyle is a magical journey of non-stop exploration and adventure. If you are going to share it with someone, make sure YOU know all of their flaws and still think they are completely amazing. It takes two to tango.
The lesson here: Brittany is taken; find your own. ~smile~ Seriously, if you have that special someone in your life, be transparent with one another. Anything you aren’t transparent about will come out when you full-time in an RV together anyway.
Life Lesson #3: You’ll find out just how patient you really are when being patient is the only choice.
For those who follow along with our adventures at RV Wanderlust, you’ll remember we had our first major mechanical breakdown in Orlando, FL. The entire event was captured in this article. (<~~ Click on the previous sentence to read it.)
Grandma was in town, all four kids were with us, and Meriwether wouldn’t start. We had one week to get him fixed to stay on schedule and it was the week before the 4th of July. Tow trucks were hard to find, and RV repair shops were booked solid. We finally got him to the shop where he needed to be fixed, and then we waited.
Waited on word from the shop, waited on our future plans, waited on the unknown and waited on the repair bill. We were actually waiting in line at Disney’s Animal Kingdom when we got the call. That entire week was a test of our patience and faith. The only choice we had was to be patient in this situation and make the best of it.
The lesson here: There are things that are outside of your control. Let them go. In the full-time RV lifestyle, you’ll be thrown curveballs from time to time. Work toward resolutions, but don’t beat yourself up over things you can’t change. This reminds me of the serenity prayer: “God, grant me the ability to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Life Lesson #2: Don’t regret the chances you didn’t take, the relationships you were afraid to have, or the decisions you waited too long to make.
I’m an extrovert, Brittany is an introvert. Together we’re a beautiful mess.
I like to take chances, but I’m not as bold as Brittany. I like to meet new people; Brittany is more reserved. I like to jump at decisions; Brittany is much more practical and methodical when it comes to decision making.
All that said, we do take chances, initiate relationships, and move forward on decisions. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be where we are today. We’ve made the leap into the full-time RV lifestyle without a parachute. We’ve met some wonderful people along our journey thus far and, because we’ve made decisions without waiting too long, we’ve started our full-time RV journey at a much younger age than most.
It hasn’t been without its challenges. It hasn’t been without those “Oh crap!” moments. It hasn’t been without learning the hard way. But we’re doing it, and that should count for something.
There is a window of opportunity we are afforded in life. Often times there is no telling how long that window will stay open.
The lesson here is: Live a life without regrets, take a chance, be willing to meet people (many of them have fascinating stories), and don’t take so long making a decision that you miss your window of opportunity.
Life Lesson #1: Time flies. Cherish every moment.
Recently, a friend of ours had her husband pass away unexpectedly. She was heartbroken and devastated. I just happened to be one of the last people to take a photo of them together. That image is emblazoned in my mind. It is a constant reminder that our days are numbered.
There are no re-dos on time. There is no reset button. I remember vividly that when we were living in our stick and brick and we were done work for the day, we’d often just turn on some Netflix and do nothing but watch shows the rest of the night. Not that there is anything wrong with watching Netflix (we still enjoy a show or two), but this had become a routine for us.
In the full-time RV life, you can also get into routines, but it is much harder to spend time watching Netflix when a new world of adventure sits just outside your doorstep every time you move locations.
In the past 10 days or so, we’ve visited slave houses, toured a 738 acre plantation, listened to a Gullah woman sing and share the history of her people, sat on a swing overlooking a marina and harbor, walked underneath 250 year old oaks, sat at a rooftop bar overlooking Charleston harbor, and walked through old town holding hands and seeing what others only see on TV or in books and movies.
I hope that when my day comes, or when Brittany’s day comes, we’ll both look at one another and smile, knowing in our hearts that we didn’t waste a moment of time and our lives were worth cherishing.
The lesson here: Time waits for no man. You can’t get it back. Take a look at your routine. Is it really what you want out of life?
Leave us a comment!
We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below and let us know what you think of these life lessons. Do you agree with them? Are there any you disagree with? Would you add any that you have learned?
Also, if you have any questions for us, please comment and ask. We’d love to hear from you and we’re happy to be transparent in our answers. No topic is off limits.