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We Hit the Road RVing with NO Experience, 4 Kids, a Dog & a Cat—In an 18 Foot Travel Trailer

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Last Updated on September 24, 2022 by Jessica Lauren Vine

When people hear that we RVed for two and a half years, that always sounds so glamorous but it wasn’t really glamorous for a while and I am going to put it all out there. My hope is to inspire someone that might be considering the lifestyle or might be trying to figure out whether they are ready or not.

How Going Full-Time RV Got on Our Radar

Back at the end of 2017, I was talking to my now dear friend, Sandra from 1st Class RV Adventures. When we hopped on a video call, she was coming out of an RV. I asked her if she wanted to reschedule because she was on vacation with her family.

Sandra informed me that they lived in their RV full time with their kids and I was like… ok. Cool. lol

The reason it wasn’t so weird to me was because as a kid, my parents and I lived in an RV from the time I was 5 until I was 12 years old. However, I had never RVed again and had no experience as an adult.

At this time, we were partnered with some friends on a boat detailing company, and winter was coming up so that meant no work for our business.

I had my copywriting business still but it wasn’t going great because I was focusing on the boat detailing business as well as some other opportunities that I didn’t really believe were a great idea. That being said, my business income was suffering and that was pretty scary.

We had some rough times even before this and had ended up renting to own this house and were coming to the end of that two year period. The only problem was that the owner hadn’t kept up his end of the deal and we had literally been living in a house with a hole in the roof for all of this time because, well, we were desperate. Let’s just be honest.

And we were not going to buy a house with a hole in the roof and the owner wasn’t able to fix it even if he wanted to fix it.

So, when I talked to Sandra, I started thinking that this might be our only option. I knew I didn’t want to go move back in my Dad’s house or crash with anyone else, so hubs and I talked and we went for it.

Buying an RV We Could Afford (and Pull)

So, we had a small challenge. Or a couple of them.

  1. We had very little income
  2. We only had a 2002 Acura MDX that we could pull the RV with

So, what do we do?

We got a high-interest loan to buy the smallest RV that I could find online. Our little Wolf Pup 18TO is where we would live for the next year before we moved into a 24 foot RV and it is definitely as tiny as it sounds.

Wolf Pup Pulled with Acura MDX
Getting our Wolf Pup from Ohio

One of the things we learned in this process is that some states have agreements with other states to not collect the taxes. So, we ended up having to come up with money for the taxes that we didn’t know we were going to need.

Honestly, that little SUV shouldn’t have pulled that Wolf Pup, but by George, it sure did. We made it from Tennessee and all the way out to California with that puppy. haha Keep in mind that we did have a brake controller installed on it.

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Now, you might have seen the Mercedes in the feature picture.

You’re probably wondering why we had a Mercedes if we were so broke at that point.

Great question. haha

Picking up my “free” Mercedes

So, I was working with a company and literally won a car out of the thousands of people in the company because of how many entries I got into the pot with the work I put in. It was insanely lucky and pretty cool to get called up on stage, so that wasn’t a bad experience. lol

What we didn’t know is that we would have to go buy the car and they would pay us $1,000 per month for 24 months. Not a bad deal since the car didn’t even cost that much per month, so that’s why we kept it. lol It was actually making us more money and we could have a super nice car while traveling. As soon as the money dried up from that, we traded in our Mercedes and SUV in and got a Dodge Ram 1500 so we could actually have something that could pull our RV. lol

Me driving the RV
Driving the RV out of an RV park in Florida

As you can see, the beginning of our trip was not smooth sailing and we head out on our adventure pretty darn broke.

Thankfully, I had come to my senses and started building my copywriting business back up but I was in such a terrible headspace with everything that took place that it was super difficult for me. I felt like a freakin’ failure and that isn’t any type of energy to really bring good things into your life.

Figuring Out Where to Stay When Starting Out with Full-Time RV Life

One of the things we were freaking out about when we were going on the road broke as heck was where we could stay. We didn’t want to park our RV in anyone’s yard or anything like that. If we were going to live in the RV, we decided we were going to make the best of it. We would RV through the winter and come back to Tennessee for our boat detailing business during the warm months.

To stay “afloat” during the winter, I was building the writing business back up and the boat detailing company was paying us $1,500 per month. If it hadn’t been for that. Well. We would have figured something out.

As far as where we went to stay, Sandra had also told us about Thousand Trails. We ended up putting a downpayment on the program and paying monthly payments so we could stay up to 3 weeks in some of their parks and then the extra membership allowed us to stay 2 weeks at other parks. This made RV stays super inexpensive but limited where we were able to go if we didn’t want to spend a bunch of money.

It was pretty crazy when I think about it, but that’s kinda how I do things. I’ll figure them out as we go and everything is all good.

Full Time RV Living with Kids
Making the best of things with Christmas in the RV

During our time on the road, I dealt with an insane amount of anxiety and really had to work through some mental struggles and mindset challenges.

When we were broke as heck, I ended up hiring a coach for the low thousands on a payment plan. She helped me work through some mindset issues and to really see my worth again. After working with her, I started believing that I was valuable again and that I could feel safe again. Since my beliefs changed, my reality started to change.

I found more copywriting clients and started creating content like a mad woman.

I was working a lot. A lot. A lot. And Joe (hubs) was working doing boat detailing when we were back in Tennessee so that helped and we were able to start doing some fun things instead of just living in an RV in survival mode. However, after a while, both us and our business partners found out the boat detailing business was more of a pain in the butt than profitable so we liquidated it and focused on building my online copywriting and marketing business.

Best RV Trips for Families
Gatorland in Orland, Florida

We started to figure out how to make the road life work and got our minds in order so we could have some fun while we explored the country. It’s so beautiful and I can’t wait to have some more adventure, but we did come off the road in 2020. For now. Who knows what the future holds but as of now, I am glad to be close to my Dad who is 77, and making sure his health stays at its best. However, that doesn’t mean we aren’t adventuring. There are plenty more adventures to come.

Here are some of the other great times we enjoyed that I am so happy we got to experience due to full-time RV life.

How to Travel with Pets in an RV
We found a freezing chicken under our RV, rescued her, and took her to a nearby farm
Looking at a beautiful pond at the RV Park
We upgraded to a new RV (A Prime Time Avenger ATI 24 BHS and got some more room.
Us walking around at the RV park
Taking a chilly walk by the river in Alabama.
Thunder Hole Acadia National Park
Enjoying the beautiful views in Acadia National Park
Cadillac Mountain
Atop Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park

Here are some of our adventures from the YouTube channel we ran when we were RVing. Lots of good times there.

Thanks for reading our story (so far) and we are excited to hear from you too, so make sure to head over to RV Idiots Twitter.

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