A Year in an RV: Dream or Punishment?

In a previous post I commented that there might be no freer form of modern mechanical transportation than the humble personal car. On second thought, a car might take second place to the classic recreational vehicle; better known simply as an RV.

Millions of Americans enjoy RV trips every year. And some even live in their RVs full time – living a nomadic life traveling from campground to campground. Not a bad gig if you don’t mind confined quarters.

Kogo Shuko is curious to know how other travelers would answer the following question:

If you had an RV and could travel year round…In North America…Where would you go…?

Unsurprisingly, this is a dream for many, and there are no shortage of ideas as to how best to RV around the U.S.:

I would definitely spend quite a bit of time initially on the West Coast doing national parks. Since most of my life I’ve been an east coast gal, I think the first 3-5 years I would spend doing the opposite side of the country. ~eliza61

DW and I tell our kids that our retirement plan is to sell our home, buy an RV and spend all our time traveling back and forth between the 2 of them for visits.


It’s not a completely idle threat. ~Praying Colonel

DH’s grandparents travelled in a van when they retired. We have their map showing the routes they took to visit 46 states. DH and I would like to retrace some of their trips. ~Arielle22

As much fun as RVing around the country sounds in theory though, some are quick to point out that there might be better options to see the country:

I’ve told DH that I want to do this when we retire. He said for the cost of an RV, upkeep and gas we could just stay at hotels–I’m ok with that too :D. ~Happy Snowman

But Jaya counters that, while one might conceivably be able to stay in hotels for the same cost as RVing, they would be missing out on quite an experience:

Yes, we could probably do it as economically in a fuel-efficient car and staying at cheap motels, but I’m pretty attached to my own bed, my own shower, my own kitchen. I don’t have to worry about unpacking and packing, bedbugs, dirty rooms. I can take enough clothes along to accommodate different climates. We eat out occasionally, but mostly I prepare healthy meals (we have a full kitchen). That saves a lot of money and is a lot better for us. We meet a lot of interesting people in RV parks and campgrounds; I doubt we would be sitting around a campfire visiting with these people if we were staying in motels. We’ve met people from all over the world…..we’ve traveled across the country and met people who live less than a mile from us at home. It’s a big world and a small world at the same time.

While the idea certainly holds some appeal, I have to admit that to this day the term “taking a trip in the RV” conjures a negative connotation in my mind – and if you are a long-time member of FlyerTalk you understand why. If you aren’t a long-time member of FlyerTalk, check out this classic thread started by Randy Petersen – FlyerTalk’s founder – and all will become clear.

The RV reference makes its first appearance in post #15 and, as they say, the rest is history.

What about you? Would you spend a year or more traveling in an RV? And if you have taken a trip like this, please share with all of us what you did to deserve it 😉

Read the thread in its entirety: If you had an RV and could travel year round…

And if you haven’t seen “RV” starring Robin Williams it’s a sleeper:

Image: “Cottonwood Campground” by Joshua Tree National Park. CC BY 2.0.


  1. Never done this, like to try it.

    Have just completed a meandering family trip by plane and trains, changing hotels and eating in restaurants gets really intensely annoying after a while. Had planned for 30 days but after 24 turned around and came home. How many times can your 2 or 6 y.o. be their picky eater self in a restaurant before you can’t stand it? How many times of packing and unpacking in a row? Now I know our limits for that. We were happiest during the stretch in a rented condo at the beach where we could eat our choice of breakfast items in our pajamas, and not have to get dressed to schlep down to the Fairfield offerings.

    On the other hand I worry about passenger safety in RV. From what I recall only the 2 seats up front can be regarded as safe.

  2. Staying in hotels is more expensive typically than living in an RV if you are a typical “full timer”. They don’t drive hundreds of miles every day. They operate more like nomads. They aren’t in a hurry like you are in a car vacation. They might stay in one place for a day or a whole season. The cost is what you make it. You can buy a $500k motor home or a used $1k trailer. Most “full timers” elect to either drive a heavy diesel pickup with a large 5th wheel or they use a class A motor home with a small car they tow.
    If you really want to learn more I would suggest you check out the RV navigator at http://www.rvnavigator.com This older couple really have it down in my opinion. They also do a nice podcast. The are actually “part timers” but live about half the year as “snow birds”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.