The best and worst of full-time RVing?

Mary wrote us to ask, “. . .what are the ins and outs of full-timing, the best and worst, how you actually do it?” She pointed out we have hundreds of posts but how can she get a feel for “how it works?”

Mary, instead of looking at our posts you might peak at our website, The FAQ and Home Improvements pages touch directly on practical aspects of living in our airstream. Too, we’ll touch on the answer as best as we can here.

First, the worst: The worst part of living full time in our RV might be dumping and filling tanks? There aren’t any bad parts, really. The advantage of having holding tanks is, we don’t pay sewer fees in a town or pay to have a septic tank pumped or repaired. Dumping and filling tanks lightens up in this comparison, we think.

No, I think this might be the worst of living full-time in an RV: thinking you’re in the path of a major tornado or hailstorm and can’t move the RV to safety. We’ve been fortunate so far on both accounts, but know it can happen sometime unless we avoid the zones.

The best part of full-time RVing for us? This is easy! Hitching up the trailer to the truck, starting down the road on a driving day. The tires singing and the engine humming, we’re on top of the world. We enjoy the diversity of sites we visit, the somewhat tempered weather we enjoy by avoiding deep snow, desert heat, and hurricane seasons, and the continuing education we receive as we study the places we visit.

We love the coziness of our airstream. Many people think it would be too confining, probably far too small for the things we need to have with us. None of our cabinets are overflowing with stuff. The refrigerator does sometimes eject a beer when we first open it after a driving day, just a matter of things rearranging themselves in the fridge. We have storage space to spare (although we lack extra weight capacity so plan not to fill those spaces.

Another thought about what bugs us on the road:
Sometimes we think the worst part is dealing with a resistant problem. This is something that just doesn’t want to be fixed and takes two or three or more attempts to get it right. The solution might be simple but we don’t know what it is. A few years ago our refrigerator only controlled properly on propane and it would relentlessly freeze on shore power. As problems go this is a pretty good one, at least the fridge wants to cool. But we’re tempering it manually, off a while and on a while, to keep things from freezing.

The service place said the control board checked out okay although we were 100% certain it was the problem. A month later another service place identified the same control board as the culprit and ordered a replacement. The replacement was incorrect, they located another and finally we fixed our fridge. You wonder why simple things, upon which we depend so much, should become difficult.

Almost three years later our refrigerator fell to relentless cooling on shore power and propane, either one. We didn’t ask a service garage to diagnose, we went straight to the Dinosaur Electronics folks via They promptly sent us a main control board which we installed. At first it didn’t seem to be working and we called the good folks at Dinosaur Electronics.

They worked through the issues with us, had great ideas, never rushed the calls, and sent us a warranty board yesterday. Plugged it in last evening and our refrigerator is automatically controlled again. The fix was easy, it just acted difficult. All we had to do was replace a part. Any service garage could have done it.

Our truck, on the first day out of Phoenix heading back to North Carolina, showed a check-engine light. We found it was intermittent and not fatal. We worried about it all the way across the country, hoping it was as benign as they declared.

After addressing it somewhat as we crossed the country we learned it probably was caused by operator error — when we cleaned and re-oiled our K&N air filter we almost assuredly over-oiled it and had some carryover onto the mass air flow sensor.

The MAF sensor doesn’t like this oil stuff and says, “check engine”. Recleaned, lightly oiled, and we are having no more such issues. For now. We’re 82,000 miles into this truck and, knock on wood, it has been brilliant. The same goes, really, for the trailer.

Living on the road, we hesitate to have work done by someone we might not see again. We don’t suspect they’ll do less than their best. Rather, we won’t be around to check back with them if we continue to have a problem. Which problems we sometimes have had, eh? We have tried to learn, over the past 5 years, everything we can about maintaining and fixing stuff ourselves. Generally works for us, so far.

The best is the freedom from household concerns like roofs, basements, gutters, lawns, bushes and neighborhood changes.

The worst is the potentially trip-crippling mechanical or electronic breakdowns of the truck or the trailer. We haven’t had any show-stoppers yet and hope we don’t.

Life on the road is good for us. We fly home to see our children, siblings, and parents at least once a year. We have fun, sightseeing and playing tennis in as many cities and communities as we can. We enjoy taking it as it comes, seeing the select cuts of North America.

North America, like all the continents, holds so many treasures for us to discover and explore. How else could we approach finding them if we weren’t at it full-time?

Jim and Debbie
dreamstreamr odyssey, chasing 75 degrees

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2 responses to “The best and worst of full-time RVing?

  1. Richard Hunt

    As half timers, one big attraction for us would be to not have the expenses of the house AND the expenses of the Airstream. I am very tempted to the idea of not having property taxes on the house, maintenance on the house, lawn service and the myriad of dollars that go that place. The hesitation: What happens when we get to old and/or feeble to manage being on the road? It is a big decision, Mary, and best wishes on which ever way you choose to go. Isn’t it great having Jim and Debbie share their adventure with us!

    • Rich, When we get older and feebler we don’t expect to require staying on the road. Two ready options are the CARE Center in Livingston TX, and buying into any continuing care community we think attractive to us at that time. Check out the link to the CARE Center, it is a neat program under auspices of Escapees Club. Good caravan friends, Frank and Carol, volunteer a month there and have encouraged us to try doing the same.


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