When you’ve been out there, once you have an insider view of living on the road, things look a lot different. Not all good, not all bad and definitely not at all what you expected. You’ll have a more balanced view of life on the road once you’re out there a while. Doing lots of research is only marginally helpful because everyone’s experience is different. You’re basically researching other people’s experience which may, or may not, be relevant.
So, no matter how prepared you think you are, there will be a learning curve. Here are three big things you can expect to learn the first year.
Emergency Fund – Not Optional
There will be breakdowns, unexpected repairs, personal, medical and pet emergencies. One of the first we got hit with was a tire emergency that cost us $258. On the same trip we had a $3,500 bill for emergency surgery for one of our dogs. Compared to a lot of people, we had it easy. We shared campgrounds with people on the financial edge due to medical bills, a couple who had their canopy blow off on the road and damage their RV, and many others.
The road is a rough place, just ask any truck driver. If we could put your house on a shaker that bounced it around, your home would crack, things would break, and the roof would leak, too. The better you’re prepared for different types of emergencies, the better your travel experience will be.
Travel Fatigue Is a Thing
You’ll get tired of traveling. People who haven’t been out there insist I’m crazy for suggesting they’ll get enough of the road. Sure, you got tired, but we won’t. Yeah, you will. It may take a few years, but you’ll become more stable over time. Many people living the RV lifestyle will eventually transition to migratory pattern of moving twice a year with the seasons. Sure, you make take the occasional road trip, but you’ll positively travel less over time.
The things that take you off the road may not be anything related to your desire to travel. I’ve seen mobile lives sidelined by accident, injury and illness. Our journey was interrupted by family needs, which is actually fairly common.
I’m so certain you’ll get road fatigue someday that I recommend having both a “travel less” and “back to a house” plan in place before you leave.
You Don’t Need a Huge Camper
Your changing travel pattern will change how you relate to space. When you start out, go light and simple. Find a floor plan that’s open and roomy in a lightweight camper. The lighter your camper, the more fun you’ll have on the road and the more areas that will be accessible. When you eventually start traveling less, then look at a bigger camper. People who only travel seasonally sometimes don’t even own a big tow vehicle. They just hire someone to deliver their park model or 5th wheel for them.
Of course, we did the exact opposite of that. We traveled with a 10,000 pound 5th wheel and hauled that load across the country. Then we settled into a much smaller travel trailer with a heavy duty weight distribution hitch. It tows so easy I forget it’s back there. We should have started smaller and worked our way up to the fiver. We might not have ever gotten there.