A-Z Guide to Full-time RV Living: Great Expectations

Welcome to post 7 of 26 in the A-Z guide to full-time RV living!

G is for Great Expectations

Mark & I have always believed that expectations often lead to disappointment. Our human brains have a knack for painting a picture and often times reality doesn’t align with that picture. I feel like this is even more true when living on the road.

When you live in a house, go to a job at the same place every week, commute on the same roads, frequent the same stores, many of the elements at play are known. When you have expectations for what the traffic will be like, or the weather, etc., chances are decent you’ll be right. But as soon as you move on to the road, many more unknowns are at play, making it difficult, if not impossible, to know what to expect. However, that doesn’t mean our brains will stop making assumptions and setting expectations. I’m pretty sure that’s just human nature, we’re always trying to predict what lies ahead, it’s part of our survival instincts.

Learning to temper those expectations can play a large part in maximizing your enjoyment of this lifestyle.

Some examples of expectations that could lead to disappointment and frustration…

Thinking the perfect rig exists

I feel pretty confident in saying, the perfect rig for full-time RV living does not exist. In life, there are pros and cons for everything, and that feels truer than ever when it comes to the rig you choose. One example of that would be the fact that when you’re driving you want your rig to be small, but when you’re parked and living inside, you want your rig to be large. Finding the perfect middle ground can be tricky. We’ve lived full-time in 3 different rig configurations and while we’re as close to perfect as we’ve ever been, we’re still not there. Letting go of the idea that the perfect rig exists has made it possible for us to love our current setup as much as we do. If you obsess over what your rig is lacking, you’re losing time enjoying what you already have.

Choosing campsites based solely on photos

It’s a natural thing to do, choose places you’d like to go based off of photos you’ve seen on the internet. But there are all kinds of ways that can backfire on you. Seasonal road closures, lack of road maintenance, or washed out roads can prevent you from even getting there. Bugs, trash, bad weather, crowds, etc., can cause a place to be far less appealing in reality than it looked in the photo. As a professional photographer, I know that as long as a photo is taken from the right angle and at the right time of day, a lot of places can look far more appealing than they actually are. I’m not necessarily saying you shouldn’t choose a campsite based off photos, but do maintain an open-mind and know that what you find could be vastly different than what you thought you would find based off the photo.

In addition to looking at photos, Mark & I will research the weather and search through terrain maps and satellite imagery to paint a better picture of an area before deciding to head in a certain direction.

Thinking you can outrun your problems

I’ll never forget the first year we spent living on the road and the things I learned about myself. I didn’t realize it at the time but I embraced this lifestyle with open arms thinking that changing my environment would solve the distress and discomfort in my mind. That’s when I learned that wherever you go, there you are. In other words, you can’t outrun your brain, it’s always with you. Spending time in nature everyday, which this lifestyle is great for, is wonderful for my mental health. But this lifestyle is by no means a straightforward solution to stress, depression, anxiety, etc. The work for that starts within.

Assuming this lifestyle is cheap, easy, simple, glamorous

Living in an RV full-time can be cheap OR expensive. It depends entirely on how you go about it. I wrote about that in more detail here.

This lifestyle is neither easy nor simple. It requires a lot of active involvement in your everyday life. There are always decisions to be made such as where you’re going, how you’re getting there, where you’re going to find water, dump your tanks, fill your propane, knowing how long all your resources will last before you’ll need to do all those chores over again, etc.

Most of all, it’s certainly not glamorous. Some of the things you don’t see in the highlights of social media… Constantly having to find places to get rid of your trash, disposing of your poop, going several days without showering, constantly having everything covered in dirt, the list goes on.

This life may not be easy or simple or glamorous but it is very intentional. You get to play a more active role in your life which causes you to think more often about what’s important to you and what’s not.

These are not reasons to not live on the road. They’re realities that could catch you off-guard if you’ve dreamed up expectations that are wildly misaligned with what this life actually looks like.

3 ways in which we temper our expectations and maximize our enjoyment

Adaptability is key

Anything can happen at any given time and we always try to remember that. The more open-minded we are and accepting of whatever happens, the less we’re let down. Because of all the unknowns that come with this lifestyle, the highs are higher and the lows are lower. So long as we adapt and embrace all the ever-changing factors, we remain open to having a positive experience, no matter now different our expectations are from reality.

Expect nothing, get curious about everything

It’s a beautiful thing to practice tempering (if not entirely letting go of) your expectations. Expectations are like building four walls and hoping reality fits perfectly inside those walls. Replacing expectations with curiosity is how to break down those walls and instead go with the flow.

Expectations are statements. Curiosity is asking questions. What’s next? What will we find? What will happen? Who will we meet? Ask more questions and find excitement in the unknowns. Letting go of expectations opens up the ability to find delight, rather than disappointment, in the unexpected.

Gratitude makes everything better

This is a simple but potent life lesson. When you focus on gratitude you inevitably let go of longing for what you don’t have. “Gratitude turns what you have in to enough” is one of my all-time favorite quotes. Expectations are about seeking out things you don’t have. Turning your attention to what you already possess will have a great impact on how much enjoyment you’re able to derive from living this unconventional, and sometimes misunderstood, way of life.


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We’re Mark & Michele, modern-day nomads perfecting the art of slow, full-time travel.  Our tiny home on wheels and slow-paced travel style allows us to minimize our expenses while maximizing our freedom.  May our unconventional way of life inspire you to design a life that you love.


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