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Full-Time RV Life: 3 Years, 28 States, Countless Memories


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Hey there, fellow roadtrippers! I’m Brandyn. Before becoming the RV aficionado you’re about to get to know, I spent 12 years in the hospitality industry. 

Yep, that’s right – I was the guy making sure your hotel stays were top-notch. But burnout got the best of me, and I underwent a drastic career change and became a full-time writer. 

After spending some time working from home, my wife and I looked at each other and thought, “Why are we stuck here? Why don’t we show our two young boys the entire country instead of just one corner of it?”

So, on January 1st of 2021, we ditched our “sticks and bricks” home and the idea of being tied down to one spot and embraced the freedom of full-time RV life. Fast forward to today, and our family’s travel map looks like a toddler’s coloring book – 28 states colored in and counting! 

From majestic national parks to those hidden gem state parks, we’ve been there, done that, and got the RV sticker to prove it. And let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like watching your kids experience the wonders of nature firsthand, doing things that many only dream of.

From Caves To Coastlines

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to crisscross the country, visiting some of the best states in the US and diving headfirst into nature’s most awe-inspiring offerings, then you’re in for a treat. Our family’s adventures have taken us from the mesmerizing caves of Pinnacle National Park (a hands-down favorite) to the blockbuster-worthy waterfalls of Yosemite. 

Imagine standing in White Sands National Park, where the world looks like it’s sprinkled with sugar, or gazing up at the towering cacti in Saguaro that would challenge even the tallest NBA players.

But it’s not just the national parks and natural wonders of America that have left an indelible mark on our hearts. The state parks, often overshadowed by their grander counterparts, have been the unsung heroes of our journey. 

We’ve played ‘Spot the Manatee’ at Crystal River Preserve and kayaked alongside these gentle giants at Silver Springs State Park. The pristine beaches of Sebastian Inlet made even the seagulls look like they were posing for a travel magazine. 

And then there was the family fun at Table Rock State Park, where peddle boats became our chariot of choice (I did most of the peddling while the family enjoyed the views). The fantasy-world sea stacks at Ecola State Park, the inviting trails of Lake Louisa State Park, and the refreshing (freezing if you ask my wife) dips at Bottomless Lake have all etched their own unique pages in our travel diary.

And just when you think it can’t get any more surreal, there’s the otherworldly landscape of the Bonneville Salt Flats. It’s like stepping onto a different planet where the ground sparkles and the horizon seems endless. And driving the truck out there without a speed limit made me feel like Ricky Bobby.

And yes, it tastes like table salt. Just ask my youngest son…

With their boundless curiosity, our kids were over the moon (pun intended) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, gawking at rockets and space shuttles. Our quirky stop in Roswell, NM, had them wide-eyed at the sight of ‘aliens,’ and their fascination only grew as we discovered dinosaur bones in La Cruces, NM. 

From campfires on Oregon beaches and thrilling drives on Washington shores to the historic coke ovens in Utah and the ancient Escalante Ruin in Colorado, every stop has been an exciting page in our family’s adventure book.

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What I’ve Learned: Embracing the Unpredictable

Alright, so you’re probably wondering, “Brandyn, what’s the secret sauce to living on the road?” Well, my friend, if there’s one golden nugget of wisdom I can share about mastering the art of RV life, it’s this: always expect the unexpected. And I mean always.

Living on the road is like being in a relationship with a spontaneous partner who loves surprise dates. You never really know what’s coming next. Think you’ve got it all figured out? Think again! 

One day, you’re sipping your morning coffee, gazing at a shimmering spring that’s clearer than your future (kidding, your future’s bright!). You’re soaking in the serenity, thinking, “This is the life!” And then, bam! The very next day, you’re waking up to the glamorous view of… a Walmart parking lot. Yep, that’s road life for you.

But here’s the thing: it’s all about perspective. The road teaches you to embrace change like an old friend. It’s a rollercoaster, and while you can’t always control the dips and turns, you can control how much you scream (or laugh) during the ride. 

So, what is the best piece of advice I can give? Keep an open mind. Revel in the unpredictability. Because every experience, whether it’s a breathtaking sunrise or figuring out the best parking spot at Walmart, adds a unique chapter to your epic road trip story.

Yosemite National Park waterfall
Full-time travel can be full of amazing memories. See some of ours at @peaceloveandfamilyadventures

Tips For Aspiring Full-Time Travelers

Alright, future road warriors, if you’re thinking of diving into the full-time travel lifestyle, I’ve got some nuggets of wisdom for you. And these aren’t just pulled out of thin air; they’re tried and tested from our own adventures (and misadventures). 

Here’s a quick teaser before we dive deep into our upcoming “10 bits of advice” blog:

  1. Be Open-Minded: The road is full of surprises. Some days, you’ll find a gorgeous hidden waterfall that’s not on any map, and other days, you might end up at a “world-famous” pancake house that’s… well, just a regular pancake house. Embrace it all! The beauty of traveling is that it broadens your horizons and challenges your expectations. So, let go of any preconceived notions and enjoy the ride.
  2. Expect Plans to Change: Remember that one time we planned to stay at that cute campground on the Washington Coast and then didn’t have a spot when we got there? Yeah, the universe has its own itinerary, and sometimes, it’s not shared with us. Flexibility is the name of the game. When plans go awry, take a deep breath, adapt, and remember: it’s all part of the adventure.
  3. Always Prepare for the Unexpected: Speaking of surprises, let’s talk about the time our camper’s tire decided to go on its own adventure and detached itself from the camper going 60 mph down the road. Always have a backup plan (and maybe a spare tire or two). Because, as we’ve learned, the unexpected moments often make the best stories later on.
  4. Memory Overload Alert: Imagine cramming a lifetime of memories into a summer vacation. That’s full-time traveling for you. From your kid’s first encounter with a bison to that unforgettable sunset over the Pacific Ocean, your heart (and your camera roll) will be full. Cherish these moments, jot them down, and maybe even start a travel journal (or blog). They’re the treasures you’ll carry with you forever.
  5. Plan Your Stops Well in Advance: While spontaneity is the spice of road trips, a little planning goes a long way. Trust me, you don’t want to find out that the only RV park in town is fully booked after a long day of driving. A bit of research can save you from a night of parking lot camping (though to be fair, that’s an experience in itself!).

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Stay tuned for our deep dive into these tips and more in our upcoming advice blog. But for now, keep these in mind, and you’ll be off to a great start on your own epic journey.

Some Of The Challenges Full-Time RV Life Has Thrown At Us

Alright, folks, buckle up! While our RV adventures have been nothing short of epic, we’ve also hit a few speed bumps along the way. Here’s a deeper dive into some of our most memorable challenges:

  1. You’re Not Welcome Here: Picture this: We roll up to a Cabela’s parking lot, ready to settle in for the night after many hours on the road. But surprise! We notice a few “No Overnight Parking” signs, so we go inside to speak to the manager. We eventually discovered that this store had changed its policy on overnight parking, so we had to drive into the wee hours, searching for a safe haven. It was a night filled with coffee, road tunes, and a lesson in adaptability. Note to self: always call stores ahead of time, and sometimes, the road has other plans!
  2. The Campsite Chase: Those first-come-first-serve campsites? They’re like golden tickets. And just like in Willy Wonka’s world, not everyone gets one. We’ve had our share of arriving early at a dreamy campsite only to find it packed to the brim. Always, and I mean always, have a plan B. And maybe even a plan C because nature’s popularity is no joke!
  3. The Double Whammy: In a twist of fate that even M. Night Shyamalan couldn’t have scripted, we totaled our first camper and truck in a single month. The aftermath? Homelessness and a week-long stint in a hotel, and not the fun, “we’re on vacation” stint. More of the “where will we stay if we can’t get a new camper” stint. It was a test of our resilience, patience, and the kids’ ability to turn a hotel room into a playground. Silver linings, right?
  4. The Costly Myth: Think full-time traveling is always a budget-friendly choice? Think again! Sometimes, the open road can be a bit pricier than you’d expect. From unexpected repairs to those tourist traps (admit it, we all fall for them), the costs can add up QUICKLY. But with every expense came a lesson in budgeting and the art of finding cost-effective alternatives.

Stay tuned as we dive deeper into these challenges (and more!) in our upcoming biggest challengesblog.

a photo of the road with trees either side and our rv shown in front
Driving across the United States

Pit Stops and Pushing On: The Realities and Rewards of RV Living

Alright, road warriors, let’s set up camp here for a minute and recap. I’m Brandyn, your go-to guy for all things RV. From serving up hospitality delights for 12 years to penning down tales from the road, I’ve swapped hotel lobbies for campfires and wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Over the past few years, my family and I have made three coast-to-coast trips, crisscrossed through 28 states, parked our RV in the most scenic spots (and parking lots), and collected memories that’ll last a lifetime.

Now, I won’t sugarcoat it – full-time RV traveling is a bit like that mixed bag of trail mix. You get the sweet chocolate chips (those breathtaking sunsets and family campfires) but also the occasional raisin (hello, parking woes and unexpected detours). 

But here’s the thing: every raisin makes you appreciate the chocolate even more. This lifestyle, with all its ups and downs, is incredibly rewarding. It teaches resilience, adaptability, and the art of finding joy in the little things.

So, if you’re sitting on the fence about hitting the road full-time, remember this: every adventure, every challenge, and every mile adds to the story. And trust me, it’s a story worth telling.

Rev up those engines, and until next time, keep chasing those horizons!


Brandyn Shoemaker


I'm Brandyn, a contributing writer here at The Road Trip Expert. Over the past three years, my family and I have embraced the nomadic lifestyle, traveling across the U.S. in our RV. We've journeyed from coast to coast three times, making memories in 26 states and countless National and State Parks. From the crystal-clear waters of the Florida Springs to the towering Sea Stacks off the Oregon Coast, we've seen some truly amazing sights.
I'm excited to bring my experiences and travel insights to The Road Trip Expert community. So buckle up, and let's hit the road together!