@Baconsontheroad Detail What It’s Like Being A Full-Time RV Family Traveling Around The United States
What is GAFFL?

GAFFL connects solo travelers from with similar itineraries to explore destinations together. Whether you are backpacking in Asia, road tripping in Australia, or exploring national parks in the US, simply type the destination you are traveling to, find travelers who are going there at the same time as you, connect with them, plan trips, meet, and travel together.

15th Jul | 7 min read

The Bacons are a family of five – Wesley, Mallory, and their three little boys (aged almost 6 and 4, 2.5). They’ve been a full-time RV family since April 2019 and have visited 29 states since they began. For more on the Bacons and their adventures around the US, follow @baconsontheroad on Instagram. 

The Inspiration For Being A Fulltime RV Family

We sold our house and most of our possessions to do this. We wanted the opportunity to explore more and spend more time as a family. We got sick of the daily grind. At this point, we have an open-ended timeline. We plan to continue this lifestyle until we are ready to settle down ... if and whenever that is.

The Benefits Of A Full-Time RV Lifestyle

Honestly, this lifestyle can be as expensive or cheap as you make it. You can spend tons of money on nice campgrounds or you can camp on the cheap at national forest campgrounds. We do as much boondocking (dry camping AKA no hookups) as possible on BLM or National Forest land when we are out west, which is plentiful and completely free. On the eastern side of the country as well as the Midwest, it is incredibly difficult to find free camping. So we always spend a lot more money whenever we are in those areas. There are also several camping memberships that can save you money. Basically, tons of ways to do this lifestyle. Everyone’s budget and preferred way to do this lifestyle are different.

Read more: This Family Of 5 Sold Everything A Year Ago And Have Been Fulltime RV-ing Around The USA Ever Since

Our RV

We have a 2005 Keystone Cougar. We found it on Facebook Marketplace. If you’re looking to buy used, there are actually a lot on the Marketplace. For our family, we decided a fifth wheel was the best fit since they have more storage than travel trailers. They also sway less when you are towing. I would say a majority of the families we know that are full-time have fifth wheels, but of course, you’ll find plenty of families in travel trailers, motorhomes, etc. Every family’s needs are different. 

We purchased a used RV because we wanted to pay cash and not have payments. I have no idea how much new ones cost but I think it’s a pretty wide range. We have heard not to buy new because they depreciate so quickly. Also, we know many families that bought new and have many more problems with their newer RVs than we have with our old ones.

We have been told (and I don’t know how true this is) that they “don’t make them like they used to” AKA the older ones are more sturdy and actually tend to have fewer problems overall. If you do buy used, you want to make sure you are checking for water damage because that can be a very big issue.

Read more: These Two Outdoor Lovers Traded In Their Sticks-And-Bricks House For A New Home On Wheels

Where We’ve Traveled To So Far

We've been all over the place! The only area we haven’t explored really is the west coast (we are hoping to head up that way this spring en route to Alaska, which we also haven’t explored yet). As mentioned before, everyone has different preferences with RVing. For us, we prefer mountains to beaches. So we would say we love being out west. As mentioned before, we also love to free camp. But others may have different opinions and preferences! We know some people that mostly camp along the coast at beaches, and some people that love the desert. It’s all a matter of opinion!

For our family, we love to hike and be outdoors, so we tend to spend a lot of time around national parks. But we also know families that aren’t really as into that.

We typically move locations every 7-14 days. We used to travel at a quicker pace, but with work, homeschooling, and just general “life,” we have slowed down this past year. We don’t get out and explore every day, because that is just not realistic. We need days at home (wherever that is) where we can just do “normal life.” So staying longer at places allows us to have more of that balance.

Read more: After Quitting Her Career Of 15 Years, Kelly Moved Into Her RV And Has Been Traveling Around The USA Ever Since!

Join The GAFFL Newsletter

Join our subscriber list to receive the best tips on solo travel, helpful travel guides, inspirational travel stories, and more. You can unsubscribe anytime with just one click.


Typical Costs Associated With RV Living

You need to factor in gas, campgrounds (if not free camping), any membership fees, and park passes (if visiting these places). All of these vary so much. One thing to keep in mind is the gas mileage is usually pretty poor if you are towing, so you need to calculate your gas budget off of that.

It may sound crazy, but one thing that has saved us a lot of money is having a composting toilet (We have Nature’s Head brand). It helps us conserve a ton of water, which makes boondocking easier. It also means at campgrounds, we don’t need full hook-ups. We still enjoy having full hookups every now and then, but we really don’t need them. We can go up to 14 days without having to dump our tanks.

We also did an extensive solar set up this past summer, which has made being off-grid so much easier. You can always use a generator, but if you’re planning to do this for a longer period of time, a solar setup is well worth the money.

Read more: They Sold Everything 4 Years Ago To Live In Their RV Full-Time: Justin & Stacy Share What RV-Living Is Really Like

Some Challenges We Face

One of the hardest things is the weather. Obviously, you can try to avoid hurricane territory in hurricane season, the plains during tornado season, etc. But there’s still so much out of your control! For example, wind storms or thunderstorms can be dangerous as well (especially if you are near dead trees, etc.). Nowhere has perfect weather so there’s not really a solution to this. Obviously, you can move if you see a serious storm front coming, but overall, you just need to be aware of the weather.

Another challenge is just living in a tiny space. At this point, we are so used to it! But of course it has its challenges, especially with kids. Because we live in such a small space (just under 300 square feet), we are outdoors so much more than we would have been in a “sticks and bricks.”

Something challenging as parents is always adapting to the elements/nature around us. We love to let our kids run around outside, but always have to be aware of what’s out there. For example, when we are in a grizzly country, we have different precautions than when not. In some areas, we have to be more aware of snakes, scorpions, etc. So as we move around, we are constantly adapting.

Read more: The Wickes Family Sold 99% Of Their Belongings And Moved Into Their RV Seeking Adventures In All 50 States!

COVID-19 Precautions With Campgrounds

We don’t ever use the shared campground facilities, as we are 100% contained and just use our own toilet, shower, etc. But from what we know, campgrounds are taking extra precautions with cleaning these common areas. We know a lot of families that do utilize campground showers, and we used to do that occasionally since it’s nice to have nonstop hot water! But we personally avoid it since COVID started. I’m sure it’s okay with the extra cleaning as long as you are also being smart and washing your hands, etc. – ha. But since we don’t need to use those facilities, we currently don’t.

Our Advice To First Time RVers 

It may sound cliché, but our number one advice is to be flexible. Whether it’s the weather, being unable to find a spot, something breaking down, etc.... things WILL go wrong. So hold your plans loosely and enjoy the ride.

Other RV travel stories you might enjoy!

Join The GAFFL Newsletter

Join our subscriber list to receive the best tips on solo travel, helpful travel guides, inspirational travel stories, and more. You can unsubscribe anytime with just one click.