Four Years On The Road As Full-Time RVers

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This summer we celebrated our four-year nomadiversary – four years as full-time RVers. Xscapers asked us if we could share some of our lessons learned with new RVers preparing to hit the road for the first time. So here goes.

Planning - Don't Overdo It!

When we first started RVing full-time, we knew we had a long list of places we wanted to see, so we started planning and making our reservations. We typically spend summer in the Pacific Northwest, which has a fairly short window of ideal weather when everyone wants to be outside. Making reservations can be tough and a little stressful. 

For us it always seemed like after booking campgrounds, something would come up with family or friends to derail our original plans. We eventually learned that it was just best for us to have a couple reservations in our favorite places and then just wing it for the rest of the time.  It helps that we have family with long driveways! 

Our first fall we were really looking forward to spending time on the Oregon and California coasts as the weather is usually ideal in late summer and early fall.  An extremely wet and stormy early October (when we learned the term Atmospheric River) had us desperate for a place to dry out. So, we consulted weather.com and Instagram for ideas. Thankfully, we didn’t have reservations or have to be anywhere, so we were able to head inland to California and the Alabama Hills and eventually Death Valley National Park. 

Look Beyond The National Parks

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Speaking of National Parks, I think many people, including us, initially think about National Parks as being the premiere destinations for RVers. Our first extended RV trip was a summer tour of the parks in the west which we really enjoyed but found that a lot of other people had the same idea. The parks are amazing places but can be very crowded and present issues with getting camping reservations during peak season. Fortunately, there is a lot of public land especially out here in the west and plenty of interesting places to visit. On our Death Valley visit we were only able to stay five days because November turned out to be a very popular time to visit. We found nearby Mojave National Preserve was much less crowded and had a similar, agreeable desert climate. We’ve learned to look for boondocking near the park entrances to avoid the chaos of the park campgrounds. Plus, our setup is pretty long and not many of the campgrounds were built for our Winnebago. 

Maintain Flexibility

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A key to having flexibility and not having to over plan and make reservations is boondocking aka free dry camping. No check-in time, no-check out time, and no reservations required. Sites like campendium.com are helpful in finding spots and our fellow Xscapers are good resources in finding sometimes unpublished secret spots. A night in a Walmart parking lot will also do in a pinch before leaving for some place more to our taste. Free is a really good price, but we did eventually invest in a upgraded solar system and battery bank to make sure we were energy independent and able to dry camp for longer periods. 

Moochdocking or Driveway Camping

We moved away from our families in Oregon to work in LA. When we sold our house and quit our jobs to become full-time RVers, we were able to reconnect with family through driveway camping aka moochdocking which allows us visit with family but have our own space. A big lesson learned, though, is you can tell people the size of your RV but they might overestimate the capacity of their driveway. We know our visits are really appreciated when a family member installs a 30-amp or 50-amp electrical plug for us. We always make it a point to be good guests and make meals and do some chores.

Helping Pets Adapt to Full-Time RV Life

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The third member of our crew, our dog Crosby, has definitely adapted to RV living, but it wasn’t easy. When we first started out, he was afraid of every beeping sound, the rumbling of the engine starting up, the leveling jacks, the slides moving and the air compressor blowing up our paddle boards. Basically everything. After about six months, and many, many treats, he got into the groove of life and accepted that this strange moving house was now home. We like to think he appreciates a new yard every couple of weeks – lots to sniff! 

Keeping Up On RV Maintenance

Being full-timers doesn’t mean we are completely carefree. RVs, and especially Class A diesel pushers, have complicated mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems that require maintenance and repairs. Many of the systems are tucked into small and awkward spaces and expensive to repair or replace. In our blogging and social media, we try to share beautiful and positive images of our travels, but if there was a required truth in advertising, we’d have to include miscues at the dump station, crawling into the storage bay to install a new water pump or the failed toilet repair. Considering that our RV is now thirteen years old, we’ve been pretty lucky that repairs have been minor so far. 

Slowing Down the RV Travel Pace

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When we look at our travel log, we see the pace of our travels has really slowed down over the years. Instead of checking places off of a list and moving on to the next one, we enjoy exploring an area for at least a couple of weeks. We have also revisited some of the same places over the years which would have initially seemed boring, but we now find deeply satisfying. It’s sorta like returning home where you know the best spots, the hikes with the views, or the place to get the freshest fish n chips. Plus, it’s kind of fun to hear, “Hey, the kids are back” when we check in to our favorite RV parks!  This winter we bought an RV lot and casita in Baja, Mexico to have a winter base. We still live in the RV and took trips down South in Baja, but we were especially relieved at the start of the COVID-19 crisis to have some property that was ours. 

In four years, we’ve learned much more than these few points, but who wants to read our travel novel? Well, actually, if that sounds appealing to you, take a look at our blog, Away We Winnebago, or follow us on other social media noted in our bio. We hope these highlights of what we’ve learned along our travels can help you as you set out on your own RV adventure. 

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Author

Scott & Jaime Sichler

Scott and Jaime are originally from Oregon, but left to pursue corporate careers in Los Angeles, California. After 17 years, they ditched the rat race and sold their house to become full-time RVers. Since 2016, they’ve been traveling throughout the US and Baja, Mexico in their 2007 Winnebago Journey with their dog Crosby. They enjoy the outdoors and document their travels at AwayWeWinnebago.com 

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