I absolutely loved our nine months of full-time RV travel. If it were up to me, I’d sell everything and hit the road permanently. There are many aspects of full-time travel that are appealing to me, but of course there are downsides to everything. So here’s a post about the pros and cons of full-time RV travel with kids.
Pro: A different place every day
I loved being able to explore a different place almost every day on this trip. It was so exciting to be out in the world, discovering, meeting new people, showing our kids the beauty of Canada and the US.
Con: A different place every day
While meeting new people almost every day is a lot of fun and gives us memories we’ll remember for a lifetime, it’s been hard on our oldest, who gets attached to people very easily. Meeting a new friend only to never see them again isn’t all that fun. But this is real life, and often times, we make acquaintances with people we don’t see again—in line at the store, a brief conversation on the bus, a chat on a flight.
Pro: A small space to live in and clean
A surface clean in the RV takes all of half an hour at most, and a deep clean might take an hour or two. Back at home, a surface clean would take hours, and a deep clean might take a day.
Con: a small space to live in and clean
While the 32-foot size suited us just fine, you do get in each other’s ways sometimes. And because cleaning doesn’t take as long as cleaning a large home, you end up putting off the cleaning, because “you can do it later; it doesn’t take long.”
Pro: Only one bathroom to clean
Con: Only one bathroom to use
5 people and 1 bathroom… it can get chaotic. We recommend an “emergency potty.”
Pro: Less space for stuff
Living in a small space makes you more conscious of how much junk you acummulate when you have the opportunity. We’re not pack rats by any means, but we did have a lot of “stuff” in the house. With a daughter who likes to save everything because she’ll create something out of it later, and children who have a hard time parting with broken toys, plus a mom who loves all things paper and pen, we did acummulate a lot in the house.
Con: Less space for stuff
As homeschoolers, we do tend to have a lot of materials, and because of the lack of space, we didn’t bring all of our manipulatives and books. I did miss a number of homeschooling materials, especially the math stuff. We also love all our books in general, and you can’t carry 5 bookshelves in an RV. We still managed to carry quite a few books and to do lots of read alouds on the road.
Pro: More read alouds for entertainment
Because we travelled nearly daily, I read aloud to the kids quite a bit this year. We went through several classics: The Wizard of Oz, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Anne of Green Gables, Charlotte’s Web, and we’re currently reading Tom Sawyer.
Con: Having to constantly entertain
Because we were travelling a lot and the kids would ge tbored, I did feel obligated to constantly entertain them on the road. Often times, I could have used the time we were on the road to get some of my freelancing work done, but I ended up feeling guilty and just reading to the kids instead. It’s not all bad, but it’s not all good, either.
Pro: More closeness
Because we’re living in a small space, we spend a tonne of time together, and I feel that we’ve become even closer as a result. Having Dan with us full-time was also a great experience, and all of us feel fortunate to have had him with us for this trip.
Con: Less privacy
Because we live in a small space, it’s hard to get some alone time. You often need to leave the RV to have that, which the adults do—Dan does his exercise outside and I often go for walks. It’s harder for the children to have some alone time in a space like this, because they’re too young to go out on their own. We managed, though, and I don’t feel like there was any more fighting than there normally is.
Pro: More convenience in the vehicle
It can’t be denied that having a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom everywhere you go is ultra convenient. We basically have our house with us, and it’s pretty comfortable to have everything available. If there’s no electricity, we have a generator, so technically we can make a hot cup of tea or microwave some food anywhere we are. But having everything with you can cause problems, too.
Con: Less convenience with the vehicle
Having your whole house with you in a comfortable space for 5 people also means that you’re in a very large vehicle. Because we didn’t pull a vehicle, we had to park our 32-footer in many places, and parking wasn’t always readily available. We had surprisingly little trouble with parking, though, and only really couldn’t find parking once—at a beach in California. For the most part, we did pretty well. In the big cities like Dallas and Boston, we just parked the RV at a train lot and rode the train into town.
There were many pros and cons to living in an RV full-time. It’s a matter of perspective, really. I personally love the uncertainty and the excitement of the road, so I’m cool with the few cons that come along with it. But when I’m older and hitting the road on my own, I’ll most likely go for van life rather than RV life. A van is more convenient, it’s easier to park, and can still have everything you need.
Do you full-time travel (or plan on doing so)?