Celebrating Our One Year RV Life Anniversary

In the past year, we’ve traveled around 15,000 miles just in the RV (RV life for the win!), with even more miles put on our car (when we tow it, no miles are added, so in total we’ve actually traveled more than 30,000 miles). In the RV, we’ve already traveled to many awesome places such…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 25, 2023

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We've been RVing for over one year now. We absolutely love RV life and couldn't imagine life any other way. Are you interested in RV life?In the past year, we’ve traveled around 15,000 miles just in the RV (RV life for the win!), with even more miles put on our car (when we tow it, no miles are added, so in total we’ve actually traveled more than 30,000 miles).

In the RV, we’ve already traveled to many awesome places such as:

  • The Pacific Northwest (Wes cycled 1,000 miles from Port Angeles, Washington to San Francisco, California while I drove myself and our two dogs in the RV). We went to Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, Kalaloch and Ruby Beach, Hoh National Rainforest, La Push Beach, and many other beautiful places. This was the trip of a lifetime!
  • Utah (many times) – Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Moab, and many other places.
  • Colorado (many times) – Rocky Mountain National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado National Monument, Dinosaur National Monument, and many other places.
  • “Home” in Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Arizona – Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Sedona, and many other places.
  • California – This was a part of the Pacific Northwest trip, but we continued on and hopped along beaches all the way to Los Angeles.
  • Wyoming – Yellowstone National Park and Grand Tetons National Park.
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park

And much, much more.

Here are some pictures from our RV life in the past year:

Arches National Park

Big Sur

Canyonlands National Park

Golden Gate Bridge

Huron Peak

Huron Peak Top

Land's End

Moab

Monument Valley

Pine Cove Campground

PNW

RV Life Setup

Trip of a Lifetime

Tucson

Twin Lakes

 

We bought an RV and sold our house in Missouri a little over a year ago. It’s crazy to think how much time has already passed!

We started out with a smaller motorhome when we first started RVing. Then, in early 2016, we decided to upgrade to something bigger. See, when we bought our first RV, we had no idea that we would be doing it full-time. We bought it mainly as a way to travel on the road, but we always thought that we’d still have a “real” house somewhere.

Well, we fell completely in love with RV life.

So, we decided to buy something a little bigger, so that my husband, me, and our two dogs would be a little more comfortable. Plus, we wanted to tow a vehicle, and our smaller RV couldn’t tow anything.

We ended up buying a 2016 Winnebago Brave. It’s a 33 foot Class A motorhome. Yes, we have one of those big RVs now!

A lot of people have called us crazy for living in an RV, and I’m sure even more people think we are. I still get the “you’re absolutely crazy” look or the “poor you, I can’t believe you are forced to live in a vehicle” look when we tell people that we live in an RV.

However, we absolutely love it.

I’m so glad I gave RV life a chance, because I honestly couldn’t imagine life any other way.

If you’re interested in RV life, check out these other blog posts on Making Sense of Cents:

Below are some updates about our RV life.

 

Our lives have changed dramatically.

We often say to each other, “I can’t believe this is actually our life.”

When we first starting RVing, we told ourselves that if we ever got tired of being in such a small space, that we would stay at hotels occasionally or rent Airbnbs. Funny enough, that hasn’t even come up once!

Living in an RV full-time is the experience of a lifetime, and we completely love it. I never thought I would be a full-time RVer, but I’m so glad I gave it a try. If any of you are thinking about doing the same, I highly recommend it!

We’ve met many great people, we’ve made awesome RV friends, we are exploring so many amazing places, and we are doing all of this comfortably from our home. Plus, even our dogs are happy traveling this way!

Seriously, life couldn’t be any better.

 

We got rid of our storage unit.

In July 2016, we cleared out our storage unit. We were paying $185 a month for a small storage unit, mainly for photo albums and childhood items.

The storage unit wasn’t bad, but there were some negatives:

  • It seemed wasteful to spend $185 a month to store things that we don’t use.
  • When we got the storage unit, I had to sign a paper that said we wouldn’t store photo albums in there. In fact, I found out that this was normal. This felt like I was jinxing myself, and I was afraid that something would happen to the hundreds of photos albums that my dad left for me after he passed away.
  • The storage unit was in an odd location. We put everything from our last house into storage. However, that was in a town where we knew nobody, and we knew that we wouldn’t be going back too often.

So, we rented a UHaul and had everything moved to Wes’s parents attic. Don’t worry, they lucked out as well. We gave them all of the expensive, new furniture that we had stupidly bought right before we fell in love with RV life, haha.

 

Being in a tiny space and downsizing has been great.

When we sold our house and decided to give RV life a try, we donated and got rid of a TON of stuff. At first it was difficult to get rid of so much, then it got easier and easier.

Now, all we have is what we have with us. We have a small amount of everything, and we like it best this way.

We are much more mindful of what we buy, we waste hardly anything, and this is allowing us to save money as well.

Read more at Downsizing Your Home? Here’s How I Went From A 2,000 Square Foot House To An RV.

 

Working and traveling at the same time is going fantastic.

One thing I have learned since being on the road in the RV is that my income and business have not been negatively impacted by our new lifestyle. In the beginning, I was a little nervous about what would happen. However, I now know that everything is going to be just fine.

I actually believe that full-time RVing has helped me. Being able to work while traveling is really amazing. It gives me great motivation and it’s very refreshing.

I’m still trying to focus on working ahead. Even though I’ve fallen behind dramatically, I’m hoping to get ahead in case I come across an area with bad internet, which happens all the time when RVing.

Also, I’ve had a lot of you ask what I’m using for internet. I am using a Verizon MiFi Jetpack. Then, I also have AT&T for our cell phones so that we are always covered. This may sound crazy, but every RVer we’ve met has the same set up.

Note: Read more about how I earn a living on the road.

 

Our future plans.

We are often asked about our plans for when we will buy and live in a house again.

I really don’t see that happening any time soon. We often say, “Oooh, this would be a great place to buy a house!”

Then we joke about how we’re just not at that point again.

Instead, we plan on RVing for a few more years, we want to try out full-time sailing, and living in numerous other countries.

But, for now, our RV plans for the rest of 2016 are as follows:

  • The Rocky Mountains in Colorado
  • Moab, Utah
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Zion National Park
  • San Diego, California
  • Palm Springs, California
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Mojave National Preserve
  • And, several other places located near these destinations.

Also, we just placed a deposit and are turning our Jeep Wrangler Rubicon into an overland vehicle, which means that we will be parking our RV in places and taking the Rubicon to harder to get to places.

For us, this is the best of both worlds and will allow us to see even more!

Are you interested in RV life? Why or why not?


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Gosh, I LOVE hearing about your RV life! It’s so good to hear that you’ve created a very successful business but are also living a life you love. (And one that I’d love too! :-))

  2. Great photos, I admire you I’m not been able to live forver into RV, it is ok for holidays but I need a house where return, but this is personal, however seems that you had and still having great time:D

    1. It’s a lot of fun ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Kate @ Cashville Skyline

    Wow, I can’t believe it’s already been a year! Amazing! I’ve loved following your journeys through Instagram. Y’all have hit some gorgeous spots. And full-time sailing sounds fantastic! Looking forward to seeing you next month!

    1. Yes, can’t wait to see you!

  4. What an incredible life you live Michelle. I’d die to have the freedom you are experience although I wonder how you’d cope with kids in an RV (and likely having to home school them).

    1. There are plenty of families who travel full-time with children and do it just fine ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I think it’s amazing how you’ve increased your income and started living a dramatically simpler life. More people should do this!! I think we’d all be much happier. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I am so excited for you. When I look at all the traveling you’ve done in the past year, it amounts to my bucket list…for my lifetime! How you have both found ways to make this life not just work but absolutely rock is so inspiring. It’s very motivating to look at someone who is chasing their dreams and killing it career wise. Happy one year! I’m eagerly awaiting all your stops this next year…and your photos!

  7. Wow, you have been able to visit some amazing, wonderful places and still make a great income. Love it. So Dry camping out in the wild with the “Jeep”. Awesome.
    cd :O)

  8. Looks like you’ve had an amazing year! We are moving to Australia in 7 years and I’d love to do something like this to show my husband my beautiful country!

  9. Wow, I can’t believe it’s been one year. Pretty awesome and love the pictures! It’s wonderful when your job is flexible and location independent!

  10. So jealous, Michelle! Our goal is to be RV people within the next year or so. Love it.

    1. Awesome! You can email me if you have any questions about RVing ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. sabina edwards

    Wow , neat, do things while you can when you are young!!! When you get older your body doesn’t always allow you to do the things you could have when you were physically able.

  12. Vicki@Make Smarter Decisions

    Your pictures and the story are so amazing. I am going to go back through all of your old posts this winter as we get ready to head out on a long term camping venture next fall when my youngest goes to college. Did you just trade in your other RV when you upgraded? We are looking for something small at this point – and just don’t know whether to look at dealers or through owners.

    1. Yes, we just traded in our other RV. They gave us the same amount that we paid for it, so it was a great deal.

  13. Lindsey

    I absolutely love the idea of packing everything up and living out of an RV full-time, however my BF not so much. I want to travel and would be totally happy going from place to place and seeing the US from a small space. He isn’t such a big fan of the go and go lifestyle and also says he wouldn’t get any downtime to just hangout or watch netflix.

    Do you guys have a lot of downtime/time to do those things? Also any suggestions for your spouse if they’re not on board?

    1. Don

      Same boat for me. I would love to go rving, but my wife of 50 years has absolutely no interest in even considering it.
      Oh well, I will continue to just do solo camping.

    2. We have a lot of downtime. We travel pretty slowly, though. We like to stay in places for a few weeks.

      It always seems like there is one spouse who absolutely wants to do it and the other is not interested, haha. Just keep showing them cool people who are doing what you want to do!

  14. Make sure the next time you are in PNW to go to the San Juan Islands – especially Orcas. Anacortes with Deception Pass is also something gorgeous to see! Looks like you had a wonderful time!

    1. Yes, that is something we definitely want to do. We stayed in a cabin right next to there and it was absolutely beautiful!

  15. Sara

    I love this! We owned a travel trailer for several years and talked about full-time RV living but we just aren’t that point in our lives I do enjoy looking at all of your beautiful photos on Instagram though of our adventures with RV living. You visit some amazing places! Best wishes for the next year of RV life.

  16. Congrats Michelle! Love how you model that a full and happy life can be one that goes against the norm and the expected! Thanks for inspiring us all!

  17. Very cool, and amazing photos! I took a roadtrip this summer to many of the National Parks you mentioned in the post, and I’ve been dreaming of going back ever since!

    1. They are so wonderful ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Debbie

    We are living in our RV and so ready to leave the driveway! We are waiting for our house to sell. It is a dream we have had for 15 years. We planned, saved, and bought our 5th wheel 3 years ago putting our plan in place. Thank you for sharing your journey!

    1. Awesome! Congrats on being so close to your dream ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Amanda

    Thanks for sharing your RV adventures, Michelle! It looks to me like you’ve had an amazing year and visited some beautiful places!

    Yes! My husband and I will one day wonder the country in an RV! We’ve camped for 20+ years and both LOVE it. Our teenagers aren’t loving it as much as they did when they were younger, so we may be looking at a hiatus for a few years (much to our disappointment). After they are out on their own, we plan to take off.

    I’ve always wondered if you always have a good internet connection. When we went to CO camping this summer, I struggled with getting a good connection with my hotspot (and the campground Wifi wasn’t great either. I think we may just need to switch carriers.

    1. Colorado is pretty tough when it comes to RVing and internet. I’ve always had trouble there and I have both AT&T and Verizon.

  20. Danell

    I plan to live and travel in a van in a few more years after my youngest heads to college. I can’t wait! In the meantime, I like hearing how well it is working for you.

    1. Thank you! We absolutely love it ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Wow that is absolutely amazing! Reading this post and looking at your pictures gives me an itch that I never thought I’d have… RVing too!

  22. Michelle,

    Your blog inspires me to continue pursuing travel as a way of life. I absolutely love your photos and is that a Jack Russell? It sounds like you are saying that it is never about the stuff, it’s about the experiences. Us humans are often misguided on the point. I think I could absolutely live the RV life. Thanks for sharing all that you’ve learned.

    Anna, the Curly Vagabond

    1. Thank you! Haha, definitely not a Jack Russell. She’s about 80 pounds and is a Boxer mix.

  23. Eric Bowlin

    On a side note, I used to work for a Verizon authorized retailer…

    You can get rid of the mifi and just use your phone. Unless you have very very old phones, you’ll be fine. All newer phones with updated OSes can work as a mifi.

    You can save the 10-20 per month depending on your plan.

    1. This is true even though we use AT&T for our cell phones?

  24. Wow that absolutely sounds like a fantastic life, Michelle. Very jealous and going to use it as motivation to reach financial independence that much earlier ๐Ÿ™‚ beautiful pictures!

  25. This lifestyle sounds so exciting Michelle! It’s harder for me to consider it with a child, but I think you’ve convinced me to try some RV traveling during the summer later down the road.

    1. It’s so much fun ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Liz

    So cool! This is so inspirational. I don’t know yet if RV life is for me yet, I’ve never had the opportunity to try… But how cool that you can work and travel at the same time!

  27. Congrats on your one year RV life anniversary! Very inspirational. I am striving to be able to do something similar in the future. Thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. We LOVE Utah! It is so gorgeous! Congrats on your RV anniversary, we hope to do something similar when my husband retires from the military here in a couple of years. He wants to get an RV and explore the U.S. for a year!
    =) Bridget

    1. It’s a ton of fun! ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Gosh. Consider me a skeptic for fearing such large change but its amazing for me to read about those who have actually gone out and done stuff like this (yes I am afraid of taking the proverbial leap haha). I recently met someone who was/is up and leaving Virginia (where I am from) to tackle California for a while so you’re post got me thinking again about what it would be like to travel (more than just a short vacation). Few questions for you of which I am sure you have answered over and over before (sorry!):

    1) Were you attached to Missouri/your family still there (is it hard being away from them so much or do you make a point to make it back)?
    2) Tied to 1) i.e. do you get homesick often or does the uniqueness of getting to travel to such cool places trump that?
    3) Any other draw backs that you could spit off?

    I am fairly established at the moment but if the opportunity were to arise one day I’d like to perhaps jump on it!

    1. Haha, we love traveling full-time. It’s a blast!

      1) I actually don’t have any family in Missouri anymore, except for Wes’s. My dad passed away, my mom moved to Chicago to help care for my grandmother, and my sister just moved to Austin. Wes’s parents just moved to Memphis too. We do have close relatives and friends in Missouri, but it’s a little different now.

      2) I got homesick the first few months, but haven’t since.

      3) No other drawbacks. We love this lifestyle.

  30. It was an easy decision actually ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. Just stumbled upon via friends of friends blogs and social media posts and can’t wait to troll through your history of past posts to see where you came from to now as it appears y’all started off small (Class B larger sprinter style RV) and moved up. Being on the verge to take the leap ourselves for our next adventures I can’t wait to see how and why y’all moved on up and to follow the future adventures; plus the love of biking!

    1. Thanks! We mainly moved up because we wanted more space and to give our dogs more space as well ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. I think it’s an amazing opportunity – and truly think that everyone should live in an RV at some point in their lives! I definitely love this idea and want to do this someday (but with a home in the process of being built, it’s looking like many years from now. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) Love reading about your lifestyle and seeing the photos from your travels. Definitely keep sharing!

  33. Amanda-LivingFullyandFree

    I love hearing about your RVing life! You should do a series on it like a weekly vlog or something! That would be so great to see what you are seeing!

    Amanda

    1. I was actually just thinking about this. Perhaps a blog post every other week about where we’ve been or something ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Donna

        That’s a wonderful idea. I love all your pictures and would like to know specifically where they are.

  34. Gurki Bhamber

    Wow! Lovely pictures. I am not sure why you get “those” looks. I say, if you can manage to live a life of freedom, like you are doing right now, you can do anything. I look forward to many more post updates on your travel and RV life.

  35. That’s awesome. We’re avid travelers too. We don’t live in the US (which IMO is the perfect country for RV’ing) but we do plan to buy an RV there in about a decade and live the RV lifestyle for at least several months a year, moving between Canada, Mexico and the US itself.

    We can’t do that now because our two teenage boys need to be here for at least a decade, finish school/college/military service and we need and want to be here with them during this period, providing them with a homebase and with our close support. Until then, we just travel a lot. In the past 7 years we visited 44 US states already, Canada, the UK, Switzerland, Italy and France. Adding Alaska to our lists in the summer of 2017!

  36. Lila

    I think it would be fun to travel in an RV but my American Dream is to live in a home. I want to do this wisely though. I’m not interested in a 15-30 years mortgage. =)

  37. Wow Michelle – your photos are amazing. I wish I would have traveled out west like this before I had children. When they are older we will all go as a family, but there is nothing like being totally free and unencumbered to travel the way you are – good for you. It is truly inspiring just to read about. This country – it is painfully beautiful. I don’t think I could live in an RV, but I sure would love to experience taking a trip in one. One day…

  38. Hi Michelle:

    I love this! I am interested in learning how to make a living while traveling across the country, or the world. I am glad I found your site!

  39. We did a 6 week trip this summer with the 5 kids and dog. I was actually a bit surprised by how great it went. We considered just continuing on. It was also way more affordable than I expected. But you are right about the internet! 10 days in Yellowstone, and I didn’t have connection once. I hope Glacier National Park gets added to your list! We love living here. But you might end up looking at real estate. =)

    1. Yellowstone was the absolute worst for us when it came to internet. Yes, we definitely want to go to Glacier soon! It was on the plans for last summer but the wildfires changed that.

      EDIT: When I say “the wildfires changed that” I meant that the only road in that was accessible by RV on the route we were on wasn’t allowing traffic because of the wildfires.

      1. The fires were horrible last summer! Really the whole Northwest corner of the country was on fire it seemed. But it’s worth a second try! And we have great internet connection. =)

        1. Haha, we will definitely try again – possibly next summer. Can’t try in the fall or winter, or even early spring, since we’re RVers, but hopefully next summer we’ll have some time ๐Ÿ™‚

  40. I also think you should start posting photos and blog posts of all the places you have been. It’s good for your readers and family, too. =)

  41. Natasha @ Inspiring Single Mothers

    Congratulations to you, your husband, and dogs! It’s great to live life the way you want! Gorgeous photos and continued happy RV’ing!!!

  42. Allan Seabrook

    Hi Michelle,

    The fact that you’re able to run such a successful business even when as mobile as you are really intrigues me. My simple on hour commute to work on a train poses serious connectivity challenges and I can’t imagine what not being connected must feel like. Perhaps its all about working around planning and time management?

    Another couple who makes a very successful living on the road are the guys behind http://www.technomadia.com. And they write a lot about the equipment they use. Have you ever come across them, either online or even at a camp site?

    Thanks,
    Allan

    1. I haven’t meant them in person, but yes, I do know of them ๐Ÿ™‚