This Family Of 5 Sold Everything A Year Ago And Have Been Fulltime RV-ing Around The USA Ever Since
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18th Jul | 13 min read

The Durell family is a family of 5, plus a dog, that has been full-time RV-ing for the past year. They have 3 little boys ages 11, 4, and 2. Brooklyn is a travel nurse who works 13-week contracts in the Pediatric ICU. As a family, they do a lot of traveling in-between her contracts in their 42-foot home on wheels! They post a lot about their adventures as well as pictures of the inside of their RV on their Instagram. You can check it out @Durellsdownsize. You can also connect with them on GAFFL.

Why We Became Full Time RV-ers

We became full-time RV-ers in November 2019. We started traveling in our RV to spend more quality time together. Before our RV life, we were both working full-time jobs and the kids were in daycare and school all day. Our weekends were spent doing chores around the house, sports for the kids, birthday parties, etc. These were all of the things we thought we were supposed to do as adults. We bought what we thought would be ours forever home. We had 2 car payments, student loans, and credit card debt. We would take our yearly summer family vacation to the beach. We both had good jobs, a family that lived near us, and great friends. Unfortunately, it never felt right for us. We always felt like there had to be more to life than just working and paying bills.

My mother and father-in-law had recently purchased a motor home and decided to hit the road after retirement. We thought it was the coolest thing ever! We would joke about buying an RV and traveling around the United States with them. We started to find families on Instagram that were living full-time in their RV and followed along their journeys. After watching them travel from place to place with their kids in tow, we realized that it could become a reality for us too if we really wanted it! We talked about it on and off for about 2 years before one day finally saying “LET'S DO IT”! 

So, within the month we found a realtor, put the house on the market, and started looking at RV’s! We probably looked at over 100 RVs before deciding on a 5th wheel. Ours has a bunkhouse that allows each of our boys to have their own bed. They also have their own bathroom, with a tub! We have a washing machine and dryer, a king-size bed, and a huge residential refrigerator! We sold both of our vehicles and purchased an F350 dually to pull the 5th wheel. We had multiple garage sales and ended up donating a lot of our belongings. We put in our notices at work, I found a travel nursing job, we pulled the boys out of school, and hit the road! 

We now full-time RV! We do not know how long we will be doing this, but we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. So far, we have visited 8 states, been to 14 National Parks, and have spent more than just weekends together as a family. We also get to be part of our children’s education now. One of our biggest accomplishments since switching to RV life has been paying off all student loans and credit card debt! We now have fewer monthly expenses. We got out of our huge mortgage and now have more spending money to travel and explore. 

We Purchased Our RV Brand New

We purchased our RV brand new. We had no clue what we were doing! Thankfully the dealership we purchased ours from spent hours going over everything and teaching us what to do, and what NOT to do. The price range varied between all of the RVs we looked at. Ours was in the 50K range. Our monthly payments are actually really affordable. Now that we have been living in ours for a year, we have learned a ton about maintaining and operating it. We decided to purchase new because the dealership offered a pretty good warranty, and since we were brand new to the RV world, we thought it would be nice to have. Thankfully we have not needed any major repairs done to our RV. I would suggest to first-timers to do as much research as they can about maintaining an RV, and knowing what to look for when looking at used ones. They are prone to water damage, so it’s good to know what to look for. When we were looking at used RV’s they were much cheaper, some in the 20K range, but we didn’t know enough yet to know if they had been properly maintained.

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

The Make and Model Of Our RV

We have a Forest River Sabre 38DBQ. I always recommend this one to families that have multiple kids! We purchased ours from Bob Ledford’s Adventure Motorhome in Spartanburg, South Carolina. If you are a first-timer purchasing an RV I would recommend going through a trusted dealership. They almost always do a walk-through with you and teach you how to operate your specific model. Make sure you get some type of warranty as well! 

We have done some remodeling in our 5th wheel. Even though it was a new RV, it is fun for us to paint and make it feel more like us! Our 2 older boys sleep in loft beds in the bunk room. We replaced a couch in their room with a crib for our youngest. We even added shiplap!

Read more: @Baconsontheroad Detail What It’s Like Being A Full-Time RV Family Traveling Around The United States

Where We’ve Traveled To So Far

We are originally from South Carolina. My first nursing contract was in California, so we took a few weeks to drive out West. We were able to visit Louisiana, Texas, and New Mexico on the way. Between contracts, we spent a month in both Utah and Arizona. We are headed back to California for another 13-week contract soon. 

Our goals are to visit all 50 states, visit all of the National Parks, find as many hot springs as we can, visit lots of state parks, and find cool boondocking spots. Our big goal is to make it up to Alaska once the border opens back up. 

I believe that the best places for RV travel are the free, hard to get to spots. The views are always amazing. While I do like to have full hook-ups, it’s always nice to be out in the middle of nowhere to let the boys run wild and free!

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

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The Typical Length Of Our Trips

We invested in a Thousand Trails membership, which allows us to stay at their campgrounds for 21 nights at a time. We can move from park to park. We like to have time to explore the areas we visit and not feel rushed. Since we are homeschooling the boys, we like to have plenty of time to get school work done in the morning and then go exploring in the afternoon. When we are in an area where there is not a Thousand Trails campground, we really enjoy boondocking.

Boondocking is where we park on public land and do not have any power, water, or sewer hookups. We use a generator for power and have a 50-gallon freshwater tank. We can usually go for 3-4 days before needing to fill up on water and dump our tanks. We have to be really careful about our water usage. We take military showers, use bath wipes, and cook meals that don’t require a lot of dishwashing.

When I’m working on a contract, we are stationary for 13 weeks. If I’m lucky and find a hospital that is near a Thousand Trails camp-ground we stay there, without any nightly fees. 

Read more: This Full-Timing Family Of 5 Are Living The New American Dream

The Benefits Of RV-Living Over Road Tripping And Living In Hotels

When living in an RV you get to take everything you own with you. You always have a comfy bed to sleep in at night, a kitchen to cook in, and a hot shower! I can’t imagine how much it would cost to stay in hotels every night while road tripping. We have a truck payment and our RV payment, which I’m pretty confident is cheaper than staying in hotels. You don’t get to make a hotel room feel like “home”. With an RV you can decorate to make it feel like a home for your family.

Our kids always have their toys with them. We don’t even have to pack a suitcase or worry about forgetting a toothbrush for a trip. 

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

Typical Costs Associated With RV Life

It took us a while to get a good understanding of the cost of living in an RV. For the first few months, we were paying an outrageous amount to park in Campgrounds. The nice ones are at least $50 a night, if not more, which adds up quickly. Once we met a few other full-time RV families we learned about the Thousand Trails membership. Now that we have invested in that membership, we are actually saving money by traveling. We financed our membership, so our monthly payments are around $150. We were paying more than $1,000 before to park at campgrounds! Our monthly RV payment is around $350. Then we have the truck payment, diesel cost, our Verizon cell phone bill, truck, and RV insurance, groceries, propane, and health insurance. Our stove, oven, and furnace all run off of propane. Our propane cost is more in the winter, but when we are hooked up at campgrounds, we try to use our electric fireplace and a small heating unit to keep warm.

A cost that caught us off guard the first year was our property tax! The state of South Carolina was expensive! We have since changed our residency to the state of Texas to help with the cost. It also made our truck and RV insurance cheaper! 

We save a lot of money by boondocking. Out west there is a lot of BLM land, which is public land that allows you to park for free! We use the app Campendium to find parking spots, and places to dump our tanks and fill up on water for free. 

Read more: Everything You Need To Know About Road Tripping South Island In A Campervan: Full Breakdown By @Voyageinstyle_

Biggest Challenges To RV-Living

The first challenge when deciding to full-time RV is downsizing! We went from a 2,000 sqft house to a 400 sqft RV!  It can be hard to part with all of your “stuff”. I do miss my big dining room table, my bedroom furniture, and some knick-knacks that I had to part with. You learn that you don’t NEED all of those things, though. I had a whole closet full of clothes and shoes that I hardly ever wore. We don’t have room for a lot of clothes or shoes now, so we don’t spend near as much money on them anymore! We had to get rid of most of the boy’s toys, which I was worried about at first, but now they spend more time outside playing!

One of our biggest challenges now that we are on the road has been finding an internet signal. Some of the campgrounds do not have reliable service, which makes doing some school assignments difficult. Sometimes we have to drive into town so that we can do some work. We use a Verizon MIFI for wifi in the RV, but it’s not always reliable. 

Another obviously challenging thing about living in such a small space is not having a lot of personal space. The 5 of us are constantly together, and sometimes I need a break! I’ve learned to go on walks, bike rides, or just close the door to watch a movie by myself when I need some “me” time. 

Read more: From Teacher To Full-Time RV Dweller: Here's How Hailey's Managed Her First 28 Months Of RV Living

Campgrounds During COVID

That’s the great thing about having an RV. You don’t have to use the campground facilities if you don’t want to! I have actually never used any campground showers. We always use our own! I think all campgrounds have stepped up their cleaning routines not just in the toilets and showers, but in all common areas. All of the pools this summer required you to sign up for a time for just your family to be in the pool area. We have always felt safe at campgrounds during Covid! 

What First Time RV-ers Should Know About Life On The Road

One thing first-timers may not think of right away is having a mailing address. A lot of the campgrounds will let you have packages shipped to them, but not always! We pay for a mailing service that accepts our mail, opens it, scans it, and sends it to our email.

Something I’ve learned over the last year is that things are always going to break. It doesn’t matter how careful you are, or how well you take care of your RV. The roads are extremely bumpy and everything inside your home is going to get shaken around when you’re pulling it down the road. Sometimes when we open the RV back up a cabinet door will be hanging off, things we hung up with command strips have fallen down, and things get scratched and dented. It used to really stress me out, but now that I know we can easily fix most of it I don’t worry so much. My husband is pretty handy, so he fixes it better than the factory did to begin with!

RVs are not made like sticks and bricks homes are. They are not well insulated, they are prone to water damage, you can hear everything going on inside the RV from the outside, and the entire thing shakes when the boys are being rough and playing. 

There is still so much that we want to learn! We want to learn about solar panels, WIFI boosters, increasing our freshwater supply, adding water filters, upgrading our propane tanks, and we really need to get a bike rack to better store all of our bikes! It is a huge learning process. I don’t ever think we will be done learning about full-time RVing. We are so thankful that we are able to live this kind of lifestyle though, and love to try to convince others to do the same!

Other RV travel stories you might enjoy! 

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    Kimberli Hall
    February 16, 2021 at 8:45 PM

    All of that sounds so amazing. I have always wanted to live that way but having the kids always made that dream seem impossible. But thanks to you and your insights, your pictures and your advice, it's something that me and my family are looking into. And I couldn't be more excited! 😁

    Ellen Walters
    February 23, 2021 at 12:35 AM

    Bubba, this is so cool. What a great time you are having and what a nice family! You must be the envy of the old gang. Stay safe and God bless. Jordan's and Hunter's Mimi