Small House Big World


11 Rude Awakenings – What You May Not Know About Full Time RVing

Anna Edgren • August 3, 2015

Living in an RV is weird. It is a cross between living in a tiny house and living in a boat – there is no room for anything, and everything is constantly being rattled around and thrown from one side of the room to another in violent fashion. I decided to make a list of the parts of everyday life that we deal with differently now that we are full time RVers. Some of these are things I expected, and others took me by surprise. 

1. Living in 300 square feet with another person is an adjustment. Kelly and I cannot both fit our bodies in the hallway, bathroom, or kitchen at the same time, which means if we are both up and about, we had better be on opposite sides of this thing. Otherwise we are literally just bumping into each other over and over again. Of course, I don’t MIND physical contact with Kelly, but when I am trying to make a sandwich, run to the bathroom, or get ready for the day, it’s just not the time for such things. Solution: Kelly, for the love of god and all that is holy sit down and stay put for 5 minutes so I can get some things done. (And as I’m sure he would be quick point out – right back at you Anna!).


You’re still touching me.

2. One by one, every non-plastic dish that we brought on this trip has broken. I have personally broken 75% of them. They fall out of cabinets, they get clipped while washing dishes, and half the time I just knock them over with my elbow. The other day a wine glass completely disintegrated upon contact with the floor, leaving a fine film of glass powder in its wake. We break things so spectacularly that they defy natural law. 


3. Every time we shower, we have to move the kitty litter box. Yes, that’s right, bend down real close, grab a box full of poop, and find a nice temporary home for it somewhere else in this tiny space. Then we have to sweep up the little bits of litter that have made their way into the tub so that they don’t go down and clog the drain (and also so they don’t stick to the bottom of your wet feet). It is not my favorite thing to do (understatement). 

Little poop machines.

Little poop machines.

4. There is nowhere convenient to keep cleaning supplies. The vacuum, broom, and mop are wandering nomads. Anything with some height to it is impossible to store anywhere as all of our compartments are relatively small. We have to keep the vacuum under the bed – the whole bed lifts up to reveal a giant wealth of space, thank god – but it is such a pain in the ass having to get it out all the time. Unfortunately we must, because: 

5. Animals are EVERYWHERE and so is their hair. Nevermind the hassles of living in a 300 square foot box with another living human being, try doing it with 3 shedding, pooping, and sometimes fighting animals. Hint: That is TOO MANY. If we didn’t love them all so gosh-darn much…. we would sell them to the zoo. But we CAN’T. 

No, please, Max, make yourself comfortable. I will just sit on the floor.

No, please, Max, make yourself comfortable. I will just sit on the floor.

6. The airline rule must be respected. Rule #1 for travelling in an RV (or #6 as it is): When you have completed a leg of your journey, and you go to open one of your various storage compartments, replay the all too familiar airline message in your head: “Take care when opening overhead bins, as items may have shifted during transit.” Otherwise you end up with this:

2015-07-15 16.01.30

When a 3 quart pot comes crashing down directly onto your iPhone. All of the animals have instinctively learned to move if we try to open an overhead bin near where they are sitting. If only the iPhone would have had the same foresight. 

7. It takes about 20 busy minutes for things to go from clean to a complete mess. I vacuumed, swept, and wiped down all surfaces. Then we made dinner and fed and pet the animals. Now all the surfaces are covered in various leftovers from cooking/eating and here is hair everywhere again and little pieces of pet food on the floor. Whatever. 

8. The fridge WILL fly open unexpectedly while driving and you WILL have to pull over on the side of the road to collect mayonnaise from the floor. No further explanation needed.

9. Small spaces mean big bumps. I still bump my head/leg/butt on some odd corner every couple of days. Quickly going from sitting to standing and vice versa can be a recipe for disaster. Slow and calculated movements are recommended.


10. Resource management is key. We are constantly reminded of the spectacular amout of waste we create, and have to manage our resources carefully.  If I want to watch TV, I have to calculate if I am going to have enough data coverage to last me for the rest of the month. When we do the dishes, we have to watch how much water we are using – we only have a 75 gallon tank and we want to stretch it as long as possible between fill ups. When we create garbage, we have to hunt out a place to get rid of it.  When we need electricity, we have to find a place to get it, or make it ourselves with the help of our (semi) trusty generator. Not to mention once a week we are rudely reminded that we are carrying around a load of poop and pee that needs to be cleaned out. Back in Chicago, I practically never considered any of these things. Internet, electricity, and water just magically came our of their designated holes in the wall. Garbage went out back for someone else to deal with, and the technical details of the removal of human waste were for all practical purposes unknown and irrelevant to me. How times have changed. 

11. Repairs demand attention – whether you have the time or not.  If something crucial breaks, there’s no telling exactly how inconvenient that may be. You didn’t feel like trying to do work in a repair shop parking lot in 95 degree heat? How unfortunate. Better luck next time. Having an older RV means we have to be ready for a curveball at any moment.  

12. The fun part makes up for everything – 10 times over. My nightly walk with Max is filled with brilliant sunsets, spotting wild animals, and breathing in air that I didn’t know could smell so sweet. I am typing this currently from the middle of a field, surrounded by mountains, next to a big beautiful lake in central Montana. We get to visit national parks all over the country. We get to come and go as we please from one place to the next. Yes, we have lost some stability, but we have gained so much more. Even with all the annoyances of living in an RV, it has been a spectacular experience and I am so happy we get to continue to live this life. 

2015-07-26 17.59.49

2015-06-21 13.17.57

Anna Edgren • August 3, 2015

Previous Post

Next Post


  1. Suzanne Schultz August 3, 2015 - 6:24 pm Reply

    Funny and engaging! I love how you ended it on a positive note.

  2. Kathy Edgren August 3, 2015 - 6:54 pm Reply

    Was worried there for awhile…but loved the laughs and pics. Hope the compensations keep coming!

  3. Katy August 3, 2015 - 8:11 pm Reply

    Told you to get rid of the cats ha…JK! Keep living the dream.

    • Anna Edgren August 5, 2015 - 5:58 pm Reply

      Haha Katy you would never survive the animal overload 🙂

  4. Libby Riemersma August 4, 2015 - 5:43 am Reply

    Having a boat, I can relate.

  5. Alexandra @ Vandy Vagabonds August 5, 2015 - 2:52 pm Reply

    Oh, I cannot express just how timely this post is! My husband + I + our two dogs are embarking on our own full-timing adventure next month. I’m bookmarking this post sort of to hopefully try and avoid the shattered iPhone screen and broken dishware but mostly because I know all of this will happen to us at one point so it’ll be a nice reminder that we’re not alone!

    • Anna Edgren August 5, 2015 - 5:56 pm Reply

      Alexandra – Great to see you are joining us! 🙂 It is all worth it, I will say that 🙂

  6. Dawn August 5, 2015 - 5:05 pm Reply

    Hi there! My husband Bob and I just made the decision to head out, after buying a house thinking it would give us security and peace of mind. Well, it didnt….
    We now know we can’t be happy here.
    We are liquidating, researching and planning. We dream of the day we pack up our 3 legged pit bull and kiss god-forsaken Texas behind. I’m looking forward to hearing about your adventures.
    This community/family/group of like minded nomads have been so welcoming. My initial post got so many likes and replies, seems to be just the kind of people we hope to meet; open, friendly and supportive, so opposite from what we’ve consistently dealt with here. By that I’m certainly not referring to any one group or type of people. We agree, in general, this state has been the worst. People don’t smile, no one knows or cares about their neighbors and we feel the need to be constantly vigilant. We’re not even comfortable being gone longer than overnight. Our vehicles have been randomly vandalized among other problems.
    Best of luck to you both, and your furry babies. We can’t wait to join you!

    • Anna Edgren August 5, 2015 - 5:56 pm Reply

      @ Dawn – Thank you! Best of luck to you. We really enjoy the lifestyle 🙂

  7. Brian Diehl August 6, 2015 - 12:30 pm Reply


    Great blog post! I totally agree and understand. The part about moving the litter box to shower was especially gratifying for me to read as there is where our cat’s litter box rides in our bus.

    The reason I posted a comment was to ask where exactly the picture behind you and and your husband was shot? I think it looks VERY much like the badlands in South Dakota.


    • Anna Edgren August 6, 2015 - 4:06 pm Reply

      Hi Brian! I similarly am glad to hear that someone else suffers through the litter box/shower combo. It really is the best place for it… And yet…

      Yes, that picture is from Badlands National Park. We went through there in June, fantastic area.

  8. Alex October 3, 2015 - 6:43 am Reply

    Great blog, nice pictures. We have been living in our 29′ class C for almost a year now. My wife, 2 boys, our cat, dog and 2 fishes have adapted pretty well living in 10% the space we previously had!
    I giggled reading your challenges that we also deal with. I solved the litter box issue by placing it under the bench of our dining table and removing the door giving access to our cat but keeping the dog out. It has worked out great.
    We are planning a trip from Florida to California next year, maybe our paths will cross at some point.


    • Anna Edgren October 4, 2015 - 5:40 pm Reply

      Hi Alex! Great to hear you guys are also enjoying life on the road. The bench idea is a great one – we hadn’t thought of that. We are going to be getting rid of our (non-functional) washer/dryer combo that takes up it’s own cabinet, so hoping to relocate the cats to that area. We’ll see…. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published / Required fields are marked *