Photo of a 2017 thor chateau in a green field with purple flowers under aa double rainbow with white text that reads: RV Life Lessons: Fulltime RVing on a Budget - RV Living isn't always glamorous. Sometimes it sucks. There have been many lessons in the past year, some painful, but I try to learn from my pain.

RV Life Lessons: Full-time RVing on a Budget – RV Living isn’t always glamorous. Sometimes it sucks.

Welcome back to another Founding Member Friday!

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Hello from the road! David and I have been on the move and learned a lot of lessons recently. 

People often ask about what life’s like on the road or see travel photos and assume that RV life is always wonderful when sometimes it’s exhausting. Don’t get me wrong, I love RV life and can’t picture myself ever living in a stationary home again, but this life (like every life) has its ups and downs.

Being on the road as an Autistic person, I struggle significantly with the uncertainty of not knowing where we will be when we’re not settled in, and we haven’t been settled much for the past few weeks.

Our home is the one constant thing that I cling to. It is my security blanket in a world of uncertainty. I may not know where we will be at the end of each travel day, but I know I will be at home.

Photo of a 2017 thor chateau in a green field with purple flowers under aa double rainbow with white text that reads: RV Life Lessons: Fulltime RVing on a Budget - RV Living isn't always glamorous. Sometimes it sucks. There have been many lessons in the past year, some painful, but I try to learn from my pain.

Ideally, because we moved into an RV to save money, in addition to the perk of being able to travel, we RV on a budget. 

It’s most affordable for us to stay in states with many public lands offering free camping where we can find a spot in the woods and know where we will be for the next fourteen days (the maximum amount of time most campsites allow you to stay in them before moving to a new campground). However, in states south and east of the Rockey Mountains (like in Texas and Oklahoma, where we’ve been this spring), public lands that allow free camping are few and far between. 

Most camping spots in these areas are developed paid sites (vs. free boondocking or dispersed camping) and cost $20-$100 daily. These are costs we (Autistic RVers on a budget) can’t afford – potentially an extra $600-$3000 a month. 

Our solution, when traveling through states that don’t have free camping, is less than ideal but works for us: sleeping in rest and truck stops and commercial parking lots (like Walmart, Bass Pro Shop, and Cracker Barrel). Sometimes casinos also offer RV parking. 

NOTE: Because of increasing legislation criminalizing camping or sleeping in vehicles, more and more businesses that used to offer overnight parking have begun to put up signs that forbid overnight parking in cities with legislation against it. 

Big cities and populated areas with large populations of unhoused people are less likely to allow overnight parking. Also, some cities have codes that enable police to trespass people from businesses if they are on their properties after business hours. 

A lot has changed in the last twelve months since we started this journey. Last summer, I thought we had a good chance of seeing all 50 states, but now I’m not so sure. 

We had hoped we travel to all 50 states, having meetups with readers all over the county, however because of how much it would cost to travel to states that don’t offer free camping (combined with how many states have been listed as dangerous for trans people to travel through), I’m feeling disheartened at how much smaller this country feels

Only seven states of the few that offer enough free public lands for us to stay in a small area and not break the bank are considered “safe” for trans people. 

SIDE NOTE: Most of the free public lands that allow camping are in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

In general, we try to stick to states offering free dispersed camping on public lands. However, our home base is in Texas, and our mechanic is in Oklahoma, where these resources are unavailable (and anti-trans legislation is heading in a dark direction). 

The uncertainty of all that movement and being in an urban environment drains me. We didn’t get into RVing because we like sleeping in Walmart parking lots and fighting with cops who try to kick us out of public parks (a story for another day), but that’s what it’s like when we don’t have public land to stay on (like this past spring).

We spent some of the spring in Texas, taking care of personal business and seeing a few loved ones. Unfortunately, the weather got hot early (no surprise for Texas) before we saw everyone and got what we needed to do done. 

Since we still didn’t have a working generator onboard (to run our AC), we had to cut our visit to Texas short and head back north to cooler weather.

If you’ve been following us for a while, you may ask, “Wait a minute – hasn’t your generator been broken for like a year?” 

Yep. That is, unfortunately, correct. 

We left our generator with a shop in Colorado many months ago. However, their diagnosis was that it was already past its life expectancy (they have a timer that keeps the hours on them) and needed to be replaced (we bought it that way). 

However, because we had an extended warranty that included our generator, we weren’t worried… yet.

Initially, when we bought our RV, we were told an extended warranty would cover any repairs our home/truck needed for the first two years of ownership. 

We were happy homeowners, thinking we wouldn’t have to worry about repair costs for the first two years in our new home (unfortunately, we were wrong or misled).

Some Autistic People can be great lie detectors. However, one of my weaknesses, as an Autistic Person, is taking people to mean what they say when they say it.

Unless a lie is evident to me, I often won’t catch it, so when the dealer told us we could rest easy because our RV would come with an AMAZING free warranty covering ANYTHING in our home that broke, I believed him. 

Because I am honest and transparent in my business dealings, I expect others to be transparent, but that’s not reality. Some people will lie, cheat, and steal from others whenever they can. I’m learning to be more cautious and aware of those people.

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