Now that you understand some of the technical parts of RV living, let’s get into the types of ways you can live on the road successfully.
A park roamer enjoys visiting new places but also wants the amenities of RV parks. So they go from park to park as they explore.
The benefits are the conveniences. This includes fresh water, the ability to resupply, use the Internet, get easy electrical access, etc. You also meet plenty of other RV traveler, so you’re never short of a social life.
The downside is that some parks can be really crowded, and the costs may add up. What you want to do is obtain membership permits for the major parks in the areas you intend to camp at. This can greatly reduce the lodging expense.
One way or the other you will need to use RV parks eventually, and especially on long road trips. You’ll need their disposal sites to empty your sewage tank, and if you have kids they might desperately want to get plugged into the power for a while to catch up on TV shows.
Who really wants to stay in a stuffy non-scenic RV park all day, though? Really you should think about finding a piece of land or a park somewhere very remote, so you can explore the location, hike, camp, and be able to come back to your cozy RV when you’re done.
There are remote RV campgrounds deep in the wilderness that you can consider, if you don’t mind driving your RV through some potentially challenging backwoods roads. Some very popular remote parks are perfect for week-long or even month-long getaways, complete with deep woods hiking, mountain biking, windsurfing, waterskiing, and much more. One of my favorites is Ridgeway State Park in Colorado.
But you don’t always need a campsite to survive, you can get permission from national parks, as well. But, not every park allows this, which means you must research first.
In the United States, federal land also allows boondocking within 300 feet of any established road, as long as you’re not doing anything funky like cutting off access to the road. This allows you to be in a very remote area for as long as you want, although understand you’ll still need access to a more public park to eventually refill your water tank and empty your storage tank.
A final option is to find a remote area on private land, renting it out from the owner to let you camp there for a while. If you can find an area near freshwater, and if you obtain permission to empty your septic in a designated pit or tank on the land, you could potentially stay in that location indefinitely. If you really want to live in the woods, you could even buy your own acre of land and be free of any further expenses besides property taxes.
Note: When spending a lot of time in parks and on the trail, never neglect personal safety and always consider defense against bears, wolves, and other wildlife.
Believe it or not, this is not the worst idea in the world, and I’ve done it. This is the very luxurious way to “live out of your car”. Here are the steps:
- Find a city you want to live in rent-free. Since you’ll be sleeping in a lot of public parking spaces, you need to make sure it’s a city with very low crime. It’s also preferable to find a city with a nice climate, maybe near the ocean, so the winters / summers are not extreme.
- Find an area you want to base near. You can switch between different parking lots of major stores like Wal Mart and Target. You can also find public urban RV campsites for other people doing the same thing as you.
- You might even be able to make a deal with any commercial or residential property owner. If you can camp on their site, you can keep the place secure while they are away.
- I prefer a place in walking distance to a commercial area with coffee shops and WiFi available + grocery shopping + gym. This will keep all of your needs fulfilled.
- As I mentioned before, this is when I prefer not to use my RV’s septic tank, as unless I’m near a park, I won’t be emptying it for a while. A gym membership is your friend for pooping and showering purposes.
- Do be mindful of: crime and cops. If you notice any suspicious behavior in your area, or people watching you, then have places in mind to quickly move to. As for cops, some ordinances prohibit living in any kind of automobile, and at best you’ll get asked to leave, and at worst you’ll be fined. You’ll usually be let off the first time with a warning, but it means you won’t be able to return to that location.
- A city boondocker will either love or hate the experience. Personally, I think it’s great to know you have the freedom to live even in an expensive city without having to pay even a fraction of what other people have to pay. Pretty cool!
An overseas RV adventure
Another lifestyle option is to take the RV experience across the pond. The problem with Americans is that we get very comfortable in our home country but fail to see the adventure potential of the rest of the world. Likewise, if you’re reading this guide from the EU or anywhere else, you could go experience your RV lifestyle in the U.S. or Canada.
This is a chance to:
- Learn about a foreign culture.
- See really cool places you wouldn’t get to see in your home country.
- Challenge yourself outside of your comfort zone.
The most obvious place to take your RV is Europe. This is exciting because there are plenty of RV parks throughout Europe, as in the U.S., but also endless amounts of old world towns and countrysides. Imagine the possibilities of things you could experience! Medieval towns, ruins, and historical landmarks to name just some ideas.
The only downside is that in many European cities, it’s hard to drive, and it’s especially hard to navigate with something big like an RV. You won’t be driving around the historical streets of Paris, Rome or Prague. However, you won’t have any problems on the highways or suburbs of these cities. The key is to find a nearby place to park while you visit the historic sites, and then take public transportation or rent Vespa bikes to get around. You could even keep a Vespa inside of your RV and roll it out after you arrive in a new city!
If you’re coming from the USA or Canada, you are welcome in Europe visa free. The problem, however, is that your non-visa access only lasts 3 months. So, how do you get around this obstacle? The answer is to apply for an extended visa in a European country, which will then give you access to every other European country under the Schengen agreement (which means most of them). To get one, basically you need to show you have money in your bank.
If you have about $10,000, in most cases you will get a visa, and then you can make an extended trip around Europe for 1-2 years, with the possibility to renew. Now, some countries are easier to apply for extended visas than others. I hear that Germany and Czech Republic for instance are easier to apply for such visas compared to France, Italy or Spain.
A friend of mine from Central America has a 2 year EU visa and he only had to show $6500 in his bank, so there are many possibilities! (He got it via Austria).
Now, there is also RV lifestyle potential outside of just Europe. For instance, Africa. However, this is obviously a bad idea unless you’re a trained Safari professional! Nonetheless, people who are into the “extreme” side of things have attempted such feats before. My suggestion? Bring experts with you, and plenty of self-defense gear. Most regions of places like Africa are not to be trifled with, and you must contend with everything from ferocious wildlife to corrupt police who would love nothing more than to bribe foolish Western travelers.
On the less extreme side of things, if you want another safe option for an RV expedition, I’d highly suggest Australia. The outback is like nothing else you can ever experience, and it’s long highways and big, open cities makes an ideal location to begin a long trek across the endless miles of freeway and countless wondrous parks and scenic locales.
As you can see, there are different ways that you can enjoy an RV lifestyle, especially if you think outside of the box. Your RV can be a vacation getaway, OR it can be your entire life if you choose to be a nomad / vagabond sort of person. For me personally, I think this is a better option in life than going straight for the corporate world and being tied to one place. You can see a lot more places and live with much less stress because your life doesn’t depend on some neurotic boss’s whims.