23 Pros and Cons of the RV Lifestyle in 2024

Welcome to my article about the pros and cons of the RV lifestyle! If you’re considering a life on the road or are just curious about the benefits of RV living, you’re in the right place.

I’ve compiled a list of 23 reasons why the RV lifestyle can be an amazing experience and 23 reasons it can be challenging.

This is the time of year people are making plans and becoming an RV nomad is an option many are exploring whether for full-time RV living, snowbird lifestyle, or as weekend warriors and vacation escapes whenever they can get away.

But, like everything in life, there are pros and cons to consider.

From increased freedom and flexibility to the opportunity to spend more time in nature there are so many advantages to living in an RV.

And there are lots of challenges or cons that are involved, too.

So while for many of us, it can be an exciting and fulfilling experience, it’s important to be aware of the RV living challenges you may face along the way.

In this article, I’ll explore 23 reasons why the RV lifestyle may be for you and 23 reasons why it might not!

Let’s start with the positive reasons to embrace the RV lifestyle.

Lower Colorado Potash Scenic Byway near Moab, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

23 RV lifestyle pros

From increased freedom and flexibility to the opportunity to spend more time in nature, there are so many advantages to living in an RV that it’s hard to list just 23. Dania and I have been living the RV snowbird lifestyle for 25+ years and on every new adventure we find a new benefit.

We can confidently say from experience that whether you’re a digital nomad looking to work remotely, a senior seeking new adventures, or a family looking to bond and create lasting memories, the RV lifestyle has something to offer for everyone.

So read on to learn more about the numerous benefits of this unique and exciting way of life.

Freedom to travel and explore new places at your own pace has to be the very top benefit of the RV lifestyle on almost everyone’s list. Wanderlust lovers find a unique fulfillment in this lifestyle.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument in northeastern Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Ability to live a minimalist lifestyle and declutter (or sell) your home. Life today can be complicated. The RV lifestyle forces you to do with less—and that can be a good thing.

2. An opportunity to meet new people and make lasting friendships. If you are a warm and friendly person you will come into contact with so many new people with different backgrounds that your life will be greatly enriched.

3. Ability to spend more time outdoors and in nature. In an RV, you can live right in the middle of God’s awesome creation.

4. Flexibility to work remotely or take extended vacations. Thanks to technology with many jobs you can now work from anywhere your RV is parked. All you need is good Internet and technology keeps improving those connection speeds.

5. Potential to save money on housing and other expenses (notice I said potential). If you budget wisely and can do some basic maintenance and repairs yourself and like to camp off the grid, you can indeed save money.

6. Increased family bonding and quality time spent together.

7. Ability to travel with pets and have them with you at all times.

8. Potential to save money on transportation costs by driving your home with you. Fuel prices have been on a roller coaster lately but for those who work from home, there’s no commute time because your home is your RV.

8. Ability to enjoy a variety of different destinations and climates in one trip. Don’t like the weather? Hitch up and head to somewhere where it’s nice.

9. Opportunity to try out different locations and see where you might want to settle down. Many use an RV to explore the country to find the perfect spot where they can put down permanent roots someday.

Daytona Beach, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Increased sense of adventure and spontaneity in your daily life—–trust me on this, it’s NEVER boring!

11. Ability to have all your belongings with you at all times rather than relying on storage or shipping. You learn to minimize. That is very freeing.

12. Greater sense of control over your living environment and surroundings. Home is where you park it. That’s the ultimate in freedom.

13. Ability to customize and personalize your RV to fit your needs and preferences. It’s so much easier to redecorate an RV than a house or apartment.

14. Opportunity to learn new skills such as basic vehicle maintenance and camping techniques. RV owners tend to be much more self-reliant than non-RVers.

15. Potential to reduce your environmental impact by using a smaller, more efficient living space.  We have a small house but a big yard.

16. Increased physical activity and outdoor recreation opportunities. RVers tend to be fitter and healthier than non-RVers because they do much more.

17. Ability to be self-sufficient and live off the grid if desired. Thanks to solar power and things like lithium batteries, it’s possible to actually be energy independent in an RV.

18. Potential to save money on entertainment by dining out by cooking and enjoying meals in your RV. Most serious RVers prefer cooking their own meals because they usually are camped well out of town.

19. Increased appreciation for the simple things in life. There’s truth in the saying, “Less is more.”

20. Ability to disconnect from the distractions and stresses of daily life and focus on what matters most—time with loved ones, being connected to nature, slowing down, and de-stressing.

21. Opportunity to create lifelong memories and experiences with your loved ones.

22. Opportunity to experience regional culture and cuisine. You can do a deep-dive into any given region. Find all the hidden treasures and sites often overlooked by vacationers. The slower pace is one of the most advantageous aspects of RV living.

23. Spend money on experiences, not things. The final advantage of living in an RV is that you can spend your money on experiences rather than on things. You will be making memories every day that will last a lifetime.

Bernheim Forest south of Louisville, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

23 RV lifestyle cons

While the RV lifestyle can certainly be an exciting and fulfilling experience, it’s important to be aware of the RV living challenges that you may face along the way. From limited space and amenities to maintenance and budgeting many aspects of the RV lifestyle can be challenging to navigate.

This was a hard list to compile. Almost all of these RV lifestyle cons can be overcome. However some personality types don’t do well with new challenges and problems. There is a learning curve to the RV lifestyle.

So in this section, I’ll explore 23 common RV living challenges that people may encounter while living in an RV. I’ll also suggest how you can overcome them.

Whether you’re a seasoned RV enthusiast or a newcomer to the lifestyle these challenges are worth considering before hitting the road.

Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Park, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Limited space. RVs can be cramped and may not have as much storage or living space as a traditional home.

2. Hooking up utilities. Setting up and connecting utilities including water, electricity, and sewer can be challenging and time-consuming. Then there’s the unpleasant task of dumping the black tank.

3. Maintenance. RVs require regular maintenance such as checking and replacing fluids, cleaning and inspecting the exterior and interior, and performing routine upkeep. Things will break. When you are driving down the road, your RV is going through the equivalent of a 4.0 earthquake!

4. Driving and maneuvering. Operating an RV is more challenging than driving a car especially when it comes to parking, backing up, and navigating tight spaces. In heavy traffic or on congested city streets you will need to be extra alert and careful.

5. Weather and road conditions. RVs can be affected by adverse weather conditions and rough roads which can make traveling more difficult.

6. Finding campsites. It can be difficult to find campsites or RV parks that are suitable and available, especially during peak travel seasons.

7. Limited privacy. RVs often have thin walls and limited privacy which can be challenging for people who value their personal space. In campgrounds, your neighbors may be parked just 10 feet away!

8. Limited amenities. Some RV parks and campsites can be somewhat rundown and may not have all the amenities that a person is used to such as laundry facilities, dog runs, level spots, and reliable Wi-Fi.

9. Limited resources. Most RVs do not have the same resources as a traditional home such as a full-size fridge or freezer, an oven, or a dishwasher. Closet and storage space can be limited.

Elephant Butte State Park, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Budgeting. The cost of purchasing, insuring, and maintaining an RV as well as paying for campsites and fuel can be expensive and requires careful budgeting. That old saying Count the cost before embarking on such a change in life is very true regarding finance.

11. Limited access to certain areas. Some roads and areas may be inaccessible to RVs due to their size or weight restrictions. You will want to carefully plan routes to be sure overpass and bridge clearances on secondary roads will safely let your RV pass beneath.

12. Limited socialization. The RV lifestyle can be isolating at times as people may not have the same opportunities to socialize or participate in community activities as they would in a traditional neighborhood. Each time you move camp and set up somewhere else you will have to adjust to a new community. If you are socially awkward, this can be a challenge.

13. Separation from family and friends.The RV lifestyle may involve spending long periods of time away from family and friends which can be challenging for people who value close relationships. You will need to find new ways to stay in touch like FaceTime or Zoom. You will want to plan for regular trips back home for in-person visits.

14. Limited access to healthcare. Some areas may not have adequate healthcare facilities or services which can be challenging for people who require regular medical care. Telemedicine for travelers can help a lot.

15. Limited internet and phone service. Some remote areas may not have reliable internet or phone service which can be a challenge for people who need to stay connected for work or personal reasons.

16. Limited access to groceries and other supplies. It can be difficult to find groceries and other supplies in some areas especially if you are traveling to remote or rural locations.

17. Limited access to entertainment. Depending on where you are traveling you may have limited access to entertainment options such as movie theaters, concerts, or sporting events.

18. Dealing with breakdowns and emergencies, RVs can and will break down and you will experience the same emergencies and other issues that happen in everyday life while you are on the road. Dealing with them in unfamiliar new locations can be stressful and costly.

19. Escalating fuel costs. This has become a major concern and a dealbreaker in recent months for many new fulltime RVers especially those on a fixed income.

20. Limited pet-friendly options. It can sometimes be difficult to find pet-friendly RV parks or campsites which can be a challenge for people who travel with pets.

21. Limited accessibility. Some RVs may not be accessible for people with disabilities or chronic medical conditions as they may not have features such as ramps or handrails.

22. Limited vehicle options. RVs come in various sizes and styles but some people may have difficulty finding an RV that meets their needs or preference.

23. Adjusting to a different way of life. The RV lifestyle is a significant change from living in a traditional home and it may take some time for people to adjust to a different way of living. This can be challenging for some people who are used to a certain routine or way of life.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in Central Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There you have it—23 pros and 23 cons of the RV lifestyle!

Consider using these two lists as a checklist. Which of these is more important to you? Sort through them and find your own way of managing them.

Which of these would you rather spend $200 on?

Going on an all-day whale watching trip which includes sightings of multiple bears and cubs searching for eels along the beach, sightings of numerous humpback whales and porpoises, dozens of different species of sea birds, and the star of the show, the orcas, which are everywhere. All the while the captain is narrating a captivating story of the wildlife and the native cultures that are intrinsically woven around that wildlife. Oh yeah, and the trip includes lunch. 

OR 

Buying a new table lamp or wall hanging depicting sea life!

Where to next?

Explore Arizona with my RV adventure guide:

Worth Pondering…

If you wait for the perfect moment when all is safe and assured, it may never arrive. Mountains will not be climbed, races won, or lasting happiness achieved.

—Maurice Chevalier

The Ultimate Guide to RV Wi-Fi

For many RVers, having a reliable internet connection while camping is crucial. Here’s what you need to know to find the best RV Wi-Fi solution for you

With the right setup and gear, you can have internet access almost anywhere whether boondocking or relaxing poolside at an RV resort. If you’re working remotely or roadschooling the kids, you can power through Zoom calls or stream videos while camping just about anywhere.

First things first: What is RV Wi-Fi? As far as the internet goes, Wi-Fi in your RV works just like Wi-Fi anywhere else. You have a phone, tablet, computer, or any other Wi-Fi-enabled device; you connect it to the Wi-Fi and then browse or stream like you would at home.

The biggest difference is where the original signal comes from. Internet solutions for an RV are a little more complicated than a stationary home and need careful consideration. 

White Tank Mountains Regional Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are several different ways you can stay connected during your travels. The two primary options are using cellular data from a provider like AT&T or a signal pulled from a local Wi-Fi network. This guide will explain how these options work, what the confusing internet terms mean, the gear you need to maximize your connection, and which Wi-Fi setup is right for you and your RV.

How will you use the internet?

The first step in determining the best RV Wi-Fi solution is to think about the level of connectivity you will need. Deciding how you’re going to use the internet while on the road is one of the most important considerations before you purchase anything.

Will you just be using your email and checking in with friends via Facebook? Will you be working from your RV? Do you have obligatory video conferences? Do your kids enjoy playing video games? Are video calls with family and friends from home a must? 

If you use the internet only occasionally like checking email or online shopping then you probably only need a minimal internet setup. Depending on where you want to camp and your cell phone provider, you can probably get by by using campground Wi-Fi or your phone as a mobile hotspot.

However, if you plan on streaming movies or music you’ll need some more gear—and data—for a reliable internet connection. Most people are surprised at how quickly they use up data when they’re streaming.

If you’re working on the road or need internet access for homeschooling then you should be prepared to use at least 100GBs of data per month which is why an unlimited data plan is likely the best option. This way, you don’t have to worry about the amount of data you’re using throughout the month. 

You also need to consider where you’ll be camping as your Wi-Fi needs will vary depending on if you’re staying at campgrounds or boondocking. 

Pala Casino RV Resort, Pala, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do RV parks and campgrounds have Wi-Fi?

You might be wondering why you can’t just use the Wi-Fi network at RV parks and campgrounds. Most RV parks will have Wi-Fi and many RV parks offer free internet but getting a strong signal can be a different story.

We do not rely solely on Wi-Fi at RV parks. While we view it as a bonus if it works well, campground Wi-Fi networks don’t have the best reputation. 

RV park Wi-Fi is slow for a few reasons:

  • The other metal RVs in between your device and the Wi-Fi router weaken the signal
  • The more people who are using the network, the slower the signal
  • Rural and remote campground locations may rely on satellite internet, DSL, or fixed wireless internet which tend to be slower

Generally, you can expect campground and RV park Wi-Fi to be a lot slower than your home Wi-Fi or even other public Wi-Fi sources like coffee shops. If you need a reliable internet signal you need to invest in a little extra gear. 

You can make the most of campground Wi-Fi by purchasing a Wi-Fi extender or repeater. The extender helps by rebroadcasting the campground’s internet signal throughout your rig. Most likely the signal weakens before it reaches your RV so a reliable Wi-Fi repeater will give your internet speed a boost.

Boondocking along Utah Scenic Byway 24 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Internet access while boondocking

Don’t expect to find a public Wi-Fi network when boondocking. Instead, you can stay connected with cellular data. You’ll need to keep an eye on your power consumption if you’re dry camping as many internet signal devices (i.e. boosters, satellites, routers, hotspots) will need to be charged or plugged in to get a signal.

Wi-Fi can vary greatly whether you’re boondocking or staying in an RV park. There are a few ways to check your connection even before you pick a campsite like Campendium for reviews on cell phone coverage. These resources give an estimation of the cell phone signal in a destination. For remote work, you’ll generally want at least two bars of signal.

If the signal isn’t quite as strong as you need it to be, check the settings of your apps to make sure you’re using as little data as possible. For example, with video players like YouTube or Netflix, you can choose a lower resolution. Or, if your email is loading slowly, select the option to load it as basic HTML.

Sea Wind RV Resort, Riviera, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Internet terms you should know for RV Wi-Fi solutions

To help you understand the terminology around RV Wi-Fi, here is an explanation of common internet terms and gear options. 

Speed test: No matter the source, how fast your internet is running ultimately determines what you can do on it. Since internet speed doesn’t necessarily relate to the number of bars of cell phone signal or the level of your Wi-Fi connection, it’s helpful to know how to test it. 

Google has a speed test function. To use it, type “Speed Test” into the Google search bar and click the blue “Run Speed Test” button on the results page. You can also use a speed testing website such as Ookla. You’ll need 1 Mbps (megabit per second) down for basic internet needs like checking email but you’ll want between 4 and 5 Mbps down for streaming.

If you’re uploading files or doing video calls you should pay attention to your upload speed as well. Upload speeds are typically slower than download speeds so don’t be surprised if your results say 10 Mbps down and less than 1 Mbps up. 

Hotspot: This is the device that creates an internet connection from cellular data. Just like at home, you’ll have a password-protected WiFi network to connect to. 

Companies use the term “hotspot” differently: T Mobile refers to its devices as mobile hotspots, Verizon calls its version Jetpack, AT&T uses the term Unite, and Netgear calls its hotspot device Nighthawk. While they have different names, they do the same job of supplying an internet signal. Most of these devices cost $100 or more.

Your smartphone can also be used as a hotspot. This is often referred to as tethering. Tethering your phone for Wi-Fi tends to be slower than using a dedicated hotspot device for your internet. It can work in a pinch but if you’re planning on boondocking or streaming regularly, tethering isn’t a practical long-term solution and you’ll most likely need a hotspot device. 

Booster: Typically referring to boosting cellular data, these devices are designed to increase your signal from one bar of service to two. Cell phone boosters enhance a signal and increase internet speeds. This can mean the difference between getting 3 and 5 Mbps down. These devices range from $30 to upwards of $500.

Jekyll Island Campground, Jekyll Island, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Repeater, Extender, or Ranger: These three terms are essentially interchangeable. A Wi-Fi ranger rebroadcasts by repeating and extending the existing WiFi signal inside your RV. This solves a common connectivity problem when you’re too far away from the campground’s Wi-Fi router or there’s too much interference between your RV and the router. A repeater device can significantly enhance your internet speeds when using campground WiFi. 

Some newer RVs may have these devices already built-in. 

Router: Most people use a router and a modem connected to a professionally installed cable for their at-home Wi-Fi. And while this isn’t the typical internet setup you see on the road, you can use a router in your RV Wi-Fi setup as well. Wi-Fi repeaters, for example, use an antenna on the roof as well as a router inside the rig that broadcasts your RV Wi-Fi connection.

Unlimited Data: If you don’t have an unlimited data plan, you have limits on how much internet you can use. Most RVers will find that unlimited data is a more economical option than limited data where you pay for usage in addition to other fees like a protection fee that prevents you from going over your data limit.

If you plan on using cellular data as your source for an internet connection, consider an unlimited data plan so you don’t have to worry about keeping track of your usage.

Throttling: Throttling is when a cell phone provider slows down your signal. This can happen when you’ve reached a certain data threshold or if a tower is overloaded (for example, when there are a lot of people connected at once like at a festival or a concert). Throttling can be difficult to avoid. To help alleviate this problem, you can use two different carriers so you can hop on another network if one slows down.

Cedar Pass Campground, Badlands National Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Common RV Wi-Fi solutions

Once you understand where and how you plan to use the internet, it’s time to decide what type of RV Wi-Fi solution is best for you. Let’s walk through the different options for getting internet access in your RV. 

Cellular data

This is by far the most popular internet connection option for full-time RVers. For this RV Wi-Fi option, purchase a hotspot from your data provider of choice.

Verizon and AT&T are considered to have the best coverage nationwide. You can opt to use one provider for your cell phones and the other for a hotspot. That way, if you don’t have a signal with one network somewhere, there’s a chance that we will have service with the other provider.

If you plan on boondocking or spending time in national parks and on public lands, you will need to rely on cellular data. While some remote campsites have decent Verizon and AT&T coverage, other remote areas will not. This is where a cell phone booster comes in handy.

The Netgear MIMO cell phone booster has a directional antenna meaning that it needs to face in the direction of a cell tower in order to boost a signal. For a higher price, you can install an omnidirectional antenna.

Best for: Boondocking, campgrounds without Wi-Fi, streaming, and staying connected while driving

Cons: Unlimited data plans can be costly but for many RVers it’s worth the price for having reliable connectivity on the road

Edisto Island State Park, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Public WiFi

For basic internet needs, you can use RV park Wi-Fi. Sometimes you’ll find a strong enough connection for using streaming services but it isn’t always reliable or predictable.

If you want to use campground Wi-Fi but need faster speeds install a Wi-Fi extender in your RV. Installation takes a few hours and the devices will cost a few hundred dollars.

In addition to RV parks, you can often find free, public Wi-Fi in parking lots of businesses like Lowes, McDonald’s, and Starbucks.

Best for: If you plan on staying in RV parks and campgrounds with amenities.

Cons: Public Wi-Fi can be less secure and easily hacked which makes your identity and information vulnerable. If using public Wi-Fi, avoid logging into online banking or any other accounts you wouldn’t want to be hacked. Public Wi-Fi is also unreliable, particularly at campgrounds. 

7 Feathers Casino RV Resort, Canyonville, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Starlink and satellite options

Like most new technologies, Starlink’s satellite internet services continue to change and advance. For RVers using Starlink (now called Starlink Mobile) or those considering equipping their rigs with this system, here are the latest updates you should know about Starlink’s satellite internet system.

HughesNet is another satellite internet option that requires a dish to be installed on your RV. If you plan on staying at an RV park for weeks or months at a time, this could be a good option for you.

Best for: Long-term stays where Wi-Fi networks or cellular data is not available. Also, full-time RVers who like to camp in remote areas.

Cons: Starlink’s initial setup costs and Priority-based plans are expensive. Also, speed is affected by population density so can be slower if you’re in more populated regions.

Frog City RV Park, Duson. Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Global Internet

If you’re planning on crossing borders with your RV, a Skyroam device might be the best option for you. This global internet plan is similar to a cellular data plan and designed for international travelers. You can buy unlimited data for a 24-hour period, a monthly subscription, or pay per gigabyte of data. 

When compared with AT&T or Verizon hotspots, the Skyroam device isn’t as powerful. Plus, most U.S.-based cellular networks work in Canada and Mexico. 

Best for: International travelers particularly outside of North America.

Cons: Cell phone data plans based in the U.S. offer better coverage and signal than global options. 

Tips for installing RV Wi-Fi

Professional installation is available (and sometimes recommended) for any Wi-Fi device you decide to buy. Before you start tackling installation on your own, make sure you read the manufacturer’s installation guide and that you have all the required tools and accessories.

Your router and antennae (which may come housed in one unit depending on what you select) should attach to the roof of your rig to maximize your signal. There will be a few screws plus you’ll need to run a cable inside. Since that means drilling holes into your roof be sure to seal the holes with a manufacturer-approved sealant.

Different Wi-Fi product manufacturers may recommend different mounting locations on the roof. Make sure it has a clear line of sight as anything that may interfere with a signal will impede your Wi-Fi.

Then there’s the power switch. Your product will come with instructions for installing the power switch but a professional can also install it for you. Also, note that adding the router or antennae to the roof of your RV will raise the height of your rig. 

My Old Kentucky Home State Park Campground, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to stay connected anywhere

Since no single internet option will cover you 100 percent of the time, to stay fully connected consider using a combination of the above options for increased reliability.

Mix and match these options to best fit your needs. If you’re planning on spending most of your time boondocking, you could skip the investment of a Wi-Fi extender. If you don’t need a constant internet connection, you can choose between a cell phone booster or unlimited data on a hotspot device. 

Taking the time to properly set up an internet connection makes traveling in an RV full-time possible. In the age of remote work and virtual schooling, the ability to stay connected almost anywhere allows you to see the world and still support your families.

Depending on your needs, your RV Wi-Fi will come with an upfront cost but it’s all worth it when you can take a work-related video call from your hammock while boondocking in a scenic location. 

Worth Pondering…

We are all now connected by the Internet, like neurons in a giant brain.

—Stephen Hawking