When you are considering moving into an RV and becoming a full-time traveler, there are many things to consider. While it’s easy to get caught up in planning your travels, organizing the RV, and preparing to begin your new life, there are a few important details that can’t be missed. Here are some of the things you need to take care of and plan for before you start out full-time traveling:
Specialized RV Insurance
Before transitioning to full-time RV living, make sure you understand that regular auto insurance may not cover your camping rig anymore. Only a few insurance companies will insure RVs for full-time use. Because these RVs are being moved frequently and are always inhabited, there are greater risks that they will be damaged or will be in an accident. Make sure your insurance company knows you are planning to live full-time and get a policy that approves that use.
Remember, your auto policy won’t cover any of the things inside your camper. In order to cover your belongings, valuables, and other personal possessions, you will need to have a renter’s policy or something similar.
When you are traveling full-time, having a roadside service plan is essential. However, if you are new to traveling you might not know that most insurance plans won’t cover you in a large rig like a fifth wheel or motorhome. This is because many of the roadside service companies that work with these plans can’t tow large campers or RVs. Instead of using a roadside service membership designed for ordinary vehicles, look for a plan that specifically works with RVs and mobile truck repair companies. Remember, these plans might cost more than ordinary memberships but when your rig is broken down on the side of the road, the peace of mind will be worth the expense.
Weight Limits and Storage Planning
When you are loading all of your belongings into an RV, it’s easy to overload the vehicle. Pay close attention to the weight limits of both your camper and your tow vehicle. Most campers were designed for occasional use, and don’t have high weight ratings. When you’re shopping, look for a camper that allows you to carry several thousand pounds of belongings. Once you add up all your clothes, food, kitchen supplies, camping gear, and other belongings, you will be surprised at how much it can weigh.
In addition, you should carefully consider the weight distribution within your RV to maintain stability while driving. Plan your storage efficiently, keeping heavy items low and distributed evenly to prevent imbalances that could affect the vehicle’s handling. Unbalanced trailers can easily become out of control when driving at high speeds, and a fish-tailing or swerving RV is very dangerous. If you don’t know how to load a trailer correctly, talk to experts before you organize your new home.
Many new full-time RVers don’t realize that the size of your camper can make a big difference in where you will be able to visit. It’s natural to assume that larger vehicles are better when full-timing because your camper is essentially your home. However, if you plan to spend a lot of time visiting national and state parks or boondocking in national forests, it’s a good idea to reconsider.
Because most national and state park campgrounds were built decades ago, many as public works projects during the New Deal, they tend to be much smaller than modern RV parks. The sites were often created as tent sites and have been revamped over time. However, many public land campgrounds simply can’t accommodate today’s huge rigs. If you want to camp in these public land areas, try to choose an RV that is smaller but still comfortable for daily living.
While many full-timers begin their adventure with the dream of spending time boondocking, that doesn’t always work out. Recognize that boondocking (camping without hookups in remote areas) might not end up being enjoyable for everyone. While some enjoy the freedom of off-grid camping, others may prefer the amenities of established campgrounds. When you are boondocking, you might not have internet service or cell phone reception which can be essential for those who work remotely while traveling. You also might not be able to use your built-in amenities such as your shower and air conditioner unless you run a generator or have solar power. Be mindful of your own preferences and needs so you can plan your stays accordingly.
Buy a Surge Protector
Many new RVers aren’t aware that they should have a surge protector to keep their electrical components from being damaged due to voltage fluctuations or surges while plugged in at campgrounds. Many campgrounds are still using old power systems and they can be faulty or prone to problems. In some situations, failures can happen even in new systems. The electrical system in your RV is very expensive to repair or replace, so a surge protector is a sensible investment.
Consider Your Residency
While legal residency isn’t something most people think about, it becomes important when you are traveling full-time. Legally, you have to have an address or state where you reside. Many full-time RVers simply keep their residency in the state they lived in before they started traveling. This can be the easiest option but remember you have to have a physical address available to use on tax forms and other legal documents. This can be the address of a family member if you aren’t keeping your sticks-and-bricks home.
Another option is to join a mail forwarding service that allows you to use their address as your legal residence. Not only does this give you an address to use on legal documents, but it will also solve the problem of how to get your mail. Remember that in order to legally change your residency to another state you will have to follow that state’s rules, and in most cases you will have to be physically in that state to make the switch.
Plan How You Will Get Your Mail
Before you start traveling full-time, consider how you will get mail and packages. You won’t have access to your mailbox regularly so you’ll have to make a plan. Consider using a mail forwarding service that acts as your mailbox. These companies will gather your mail and regularly forward it to you at the address you specify. You could also coordinate with a friend or family member whose address you can use on your mail. They can then forward it to you when needed, or scan and email important documents.
You should also do what you can to reduce the amount of paper mail you receive. Contact banks to receive digital statements and cancel your magazine subscriptions.
No matter where you are on your full-time traveling adventures, it can be easy to get caught up in the exciting aspects of this lifestyle and forget about mundane matters such as mail service, maintenance, weight restrictions, and residency status. Take a bit of time to research your options and develop a plan for handling these tasks so that they won’t get forgotten or neglected as you travel. Use a schedule to help you stay on track while you move around the country.