How can we afford this? Is living in an RV cheaper? Affording Fulltime Travel

Affording Fulltime Travel

How do you afford fulltime traveling?

This has got to be the most frequently asked question I receive. It makes sense to ask, for sure, and, no, we are never offended. How can we afford this? Our case is pretty simple, we sold our house after 6 years, made a really nice profit, and have been using that. I sold my wedding-planning business and my husband put his real-estate license on hold. We plan to do this for 2 years. We adjusted our initial plans to go abroad and stayed in the USA to both stretch that money and because we had a laundry list of personal issues to resolve first (more on that in another post.)

Our Old House

Our situation is pretty abnormal though, I would say. Most of the families we have met work jobs on the go. We have been traveling for a year, and are planning another year before settling, but some families never really “settle.” I thought to give this article more depth and, to show you that almost every family can do this, I would interview a few fellow travel families.

When polling other fulltime families I found that many of them have pretty normal jobs; only, they take travel contracts. For example: Russ, from @mobile_mainahs is a travel nurse. He takes contracts with hospitals for anywhere from 4-13 weeks. Deon (@slobrood) & The Huggins Dad are both engineers. Erin Grant from (Fun for Granted) is an ESL teacher through VIPKid (if you check them out, mention her name!) and The Wilson Family dad is a Union Millwright. Nathan programs/installs robots in manufacturing facilities. MLM companies are a popular choice for many like Bill & Lisa Anderson who work a Rodan & Fields business (Lisa is also a Lead Solution Consultant for a large software company). Even I could count here because I sell Usborne Books & More (although, in truth, I am just a heavy-user myself.) As you can tell from their website, Ditching Suburbia, Micheal & Crissa have an internet content building and marketing business. They do a great job with their site and I can honestly say I have visited often.

Aside from holding jobs, many fulltimers have kept their old houses and rent them out. Mail goes to friends and family and is forwarded when stationary for a few days.

Fulltiming looks different for every family, but I can say that, if you have school-aged children and travel fulltime, you are homeschooling. You can’t be moving all of the time and have your children in a M-F, same-school environment. We don’t have school-aged children, yet. Just like, Fun for Granted we find local events to attend; local library programs and parks. Heather and Deon Todd, @slobrood, travel with 6 kids, unschooling the oldest. Nathan & Heather are just gearing up to homeschool Jarek, their 4-year-old son. Heather is blogging about it!

Airstream Adventures- Picking up our Airstream

A lot of families start out with a 2-year plan (it seems) but some families just keep going. Micheal & Crissa Boyink from Ditching Suburbia, have been traveling for 6 years! I don’t know what their original goal was but they are still going strong. They started out with older children, raised their teens and built a business on the road! Heather and Deon plan to travel for about a year and half and then they will have to stay put for a round of braces. Yes, those annoying life activities still take place.

Is living in an RV cheaper?

Well, that depends.

A little less than half of those that answered my survey spend $25 or less per night on a campground space, most of the budgets came in between $2001-$4000/month. A quarter of the people surveyed (again unofficial and small) spent between $4001-$6000/mth. Boondocking (staying with no hook-ups on public land for free) is a popular option to save money. This is doable in smaller RV’s and trailers. We love boondocking in our 30 foot Airstream but can’t imagine trying to do it in some of the bigger 5th wheels. Overall, I would say that living in an RV isn’t necessarily cheaper but it is more fun! A lot of our money (personal experience) gets spent on activities and trying new restaurants across the country. Other expenses went up, like vehicle maintenance and fuel while traditional home expenses disappeared (cable, pool, yard, water.) Electric is usually a non-expense but if you stay at some campgrounds over 30 days they will bill you for electric. Internet is a whole other thing,  most people pay for a Verizon Jetpack/hotspot. They range from $140++. We haven’t done this yet, we just use the campground internet, which is usually terrible or hotspot our phone for faster service.

Airstream Boondocking
Willow Trees “Campground” cost us $20 to stay on someone’s property with no hook-ups

There are plenty of camping memberships to get to help you save money but buyer beware. KOA, Good Sam, Passport America, Escapees, and Thousand Trails are popular options. We have KOA, Good Sam, AAA, and Thousand Trails but we won’t be renewing our Thousand Trails. We have had our own not-so-great experiences, but to save myself the effort of sharing them I will just link to this article by Ditching Suburbia about their thoughts, which mirror a lot of my own. Staying in a campground for a month or more is cheaper but as Bill & Lisa Anderson mentioned, a lot of fulltime travelers are ready to move every 2 weeks! Russ & Morgan call it “hitch-itch.”

Airstream Flying Cloud 30FB
Washington State Parks were more expensive than most of the state parks we encountered- usually between $30-$45/night

The Huggins have some great advice about starting as debt free as possible. The first year will be more expensive than expected and no matter what RV you purchase there will be hiccups.

Russ and Morgan live in an Airstream like us and the advice they wrote hit home:

“I would encourage any family that is on the fence about traveling fulltime to just do it! Our tipping point was when we realized how short our time with our daughters is. Soon they will be grown and out of the home and that opportunity to travel the country and explore the world through their eyes will be past. Don’t wait until it’s convenient, or until the kids are older, or until you’re retired. I frequently take care of adults who are nearing retirement and their health fails and now the dreams of travel and adventure that they’ve been waiting for their whole working lives have vanished. We have sacrificed convenience, comfort, and things and have gained so much more! It’s not always romantic and we definitely know that Instragram and Pinterest can provide a rose colored glasses kind of view to fulltime travel. We’ve learned that living in 200sqft is very similar to living in a big S&B home. Your toddler will cry because…well who really knows why toddlers cry. Your baby will have a major blowout and you are fresh out of quarters for the laundromat. Your new RV neighbors will have a strong desire to start their diesel truck every morning outside your bedroom window, the list goes on.The best part about a bad day now is that we can walk across the street to the beach and watch our girls play in the sand as we stare at the beautiful Gulf of Mexico sunset.”

Gilbert Ray Campground Airstream
Arizona- Gilbert Ray Campground was $20/night with electric only. It is worth every penny.

Thank you to those of you who contributed to this article: 

The Bergmarks

Michael & Crissa Boyink- Ditching Suburbia

Adventuring Andersons. Bill & Lisa. Lisemicheal
The Wilson Family- Our Rambling Road
Erin Grant- Fun for Granted
Russ and Morgan-@mobile_mainahs
Heather and Deon Todd-@slobrood
Nathan, Heather, & Jarek Pease- Thingsfordreams

 

4 thoughts on “How can we afford this? Is living in an RV cheaper? Affording Fulltime Travel

  • March 22, 2017 at 5:44 pm
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    Thanks for the mention! Our original goal was to travel for a year. Our website tagline – and decals on the truck – said “A family of 4 on the road for a year.”. Then I had to scratch off the ‘for a year” part..;)

    Our goal now is to travel until it doesn’t make sense to. But the RV part might change. Who knows?

    Reply
    • April 4, 2017 at 5:23 pm
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      So funny! Scratching off the “for a year.”

      Reply
  • March 24, 2017 at 10:26 pm
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    We sold our house and contents, quit our jobs, and moved into our 2005 25′ Airstream trailer ten years ago. We are saving $20,000 annually from the house-related accounts. Our site rental budget is $20/night. Sometimes it costs more, sometimes less, but we’ve annually stayed within the budget.

    Great post! I like your poll findings and that you quoted and credited those involved.

    Reply
    • April 4, 2017 at 5:22 pm
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      Awesome! We just love the Airstream community and how many fulltimers there are!

      Reply

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