3 Hard Truths Behind Living the RV Lifestyle

It's not as easy as it looks.

Heath & Alyssa Padgett Heath & Alyssa Padgett  |  03.04.2016

At 25-years-old, my wife Alyssa and I live, work, and travel out of our RV. I post a lot of cool photos on Instagram of us traveling around the country and going on adventures, but I want to get real for a moment.

Our lives aren’t always this never-ending, nomadic fairytale (although from the photo below it looks like I’m trying to convince you otherwise).

facing each other copyI know it seems ridiculous that we get to live and travel in an RV at 25 when most people work their whole lives to do what we’re doing, but it’s not that simple.

I wanted to share a few hard truths behind our seemingly epic and adventurous RV lifestyle:

  1. We’ve never leisurely traveled in our RV: At this point in time, our travel schedule has been nearly entirely dominated by our projects that pay the bills (i.e our Hourly America documentary, work with film clients, speaking gigs, etc.). The idea of roaming from place to play without a care in the world isn’t something we’ve had the luxury of enjoying yet.
  2. 85% of our time is spent working our butts off (inside our RV). We don’t spend every day outside hiking in national parks. Most of my time is spent figuring out how to increase our income, hone our craft of writing & film, and finishing our documentary
  3. We don’t splurge on the lifestyle. In an ideal world, we could toss money to things like a white water rafting trip in the Grand Canyon or hot air ballooning in New Mexico, but those are luxury items for us at this point. Because we made an intentional decision to pay off my student debt (paid off over $14k in the past year), we don’t get to splurge on those luxuries that would make life a little more exciting (at least not yet).

This begs the question, if we spend most of our time working and not exploring and we can’t yet afford some of the higher luxury experiences, why even live in an RV?

  • First of all, I still love the freedom to move around and see different parts of the world. While we have spent a good deal of time working on the road, the places we’ve seen still beat a cubicle any day.
  • I believe our lifestyle has helped me cut out a lot of distractions. We completely side-stepped the typical route that most couples venture towards (9-5 job, mortgage, etc) and instead crafted lives that reflect doing what we enjoy. Sure, we’re still working our butts off at this stage in our lives (what twenty something isn’t?), so it only makes sense that we spend more time inside the RV working than outside exploring. 
  • Living in an RV has helped me realize that I don’t need to splurge to enjoy any type of lifestyle. Sure, life could be a bit more exciting if we could go on more exotic adventures in different locations. But it doesn’t mean our life would be better. After living in a 21 year old, Breaking Bad lookalike RV for two years that was struck by lightning, had a leaking roof, and only occasionally provided hot water, I realize that we need much less than we ever thought to be happy.

All things aside, I wouldn’t trade this lifestyle for the world. It’s pushed us outside our comfort zone, given us a community of friends all over the country, and forced us to grow closer, together. But, I don’t want to ever try to put up a facade of some ideal lifestyle that isn’t true.

Being able to live, work, and travel in an RV at 25 years old is awesome, no kidding aside. But not every day is spent laying on a new beach somewhere or doing yoga on a mountain top.

Sure, we explore. But we only get to explore because we do the work. It’s that simple.





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  1. Frank Posted on 03.15.2016

    I turned 62 last week and will retire at the end of April. My wife and will hit the road for a long awaited road trip.

  2. Jerry & Dee Newman Posted on 03.14.2016

    I admire all of u, my deceased husband and I did the traveling. We worked at several camp grounds for several years as I did Office work and he as gardening. He over saw the camp grounds until his passing. We had worked all over Oklahoma. I have now remarried and we just bought a new 5th wheel, we had planned do the same. But we decided to be foster parents. At the time we have fostered 8 beautiful children. And our last 2 we got were 1 and. 3 now 4 & 6. And plan on adopting any day will be final and plan on them. Hitting the road again. Hope to see some of you. God Bless. PS kids are excited as they have never had a vacation. Or had anyone to ❤ and care . Jerry & Dee

  3. Gene Szaj Posted on 03.14.2016

    I’m almost 67 years old, my wife will turn 65 tomorrow. She’s a former full-time school teacher who now does sub jobs when we’re at our bricks & motor home in Wisconsin. As for me, I own an investment firm, so I’m able to perform my job duties from anywhere – just give me a laptop and a decent cell connection. As we travel around the country, I feel as if we’re semi-retired. For example: it now being winter in Wisconsin, we’re in Florida at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. We’re here for a month. We get up in the morning, get the coffee brewing, while I check the markets. I work (in the RV, of course) until around 11:00 or noon. My wife takes a long walk, goes swimming, or whatever. Then, we’re off to see the sights for the rest of the day. Full-time retirement is definitely not for us – but my definition of “semi-retirement” works just great for us!

  4. Sandy, Florida Posted on 03.14.2016

    I also appreciate your story. I am a 40 year old traveling nurse and live in my Micro Minnie. It is a life that I choose and wouldn’t have it any other way. I couldn’t imagine living out of a suitcase or in a rental apt. I pick my assignments based on RV parks nearby the hospital and I am free. Good for you too to put in the work- excellent choice!

  5. Blair Pritchard Posted on 03.14.2016

    Gwyn and I are into our semi retired stage of our lives now and are interested in the live style you are living. We have are talents but not sure if they would work along with the ring way of life

  6. Celeste Posted on 03.13.2016

    Good for you! My husband and I are in the planning stages of purchasing and living full time in an RV. We are working on purging and doing some various repairs, painting, etc., to sell our home. We have no debt, so that’s one thing we don’t have to worry about, and plan to buy an RV, and vehicle to tow it with outright (if that’s the route we go). No financing. We are ready to retire at 62 and 63 and have a different type of life. We have had the house, eaten out at many of the finest restaurants, traveled extensively in the US and Europe, and stayed at many fabulous hotels.

    Some how that just doesn’t appeal to us as much anymore. The house, while a great “home” and in a great location, has been wonderful and we have hundreds of wonderful memories of big family gatherings. But over the last couple of years we kind of look around and wonder why we have so many things! So, many things that we just look at. We have become tired of yard work and the chores required of at least half of every weekend, and some after work too!

    I grew up in a family of 7 children, and camping was pretty much the ONLY vacation we ever had and I always loved it. I love being outdoors, and we are ready to see and enjoy the natural side of our vast country, even though we have seen some of that as well.

    We do not consider ourselves “old”, although many would just by our ages, but honestly most of our friends are much younger than us.

    We probably will workamp or take odd jobs as we need, because we are not independently wealthy. But we’re OK with that. I’m not sure that our former careers lend themselves to an on the road lifestyle – I am in banking and my husband is a trade show audio/visual specialist. However, my husband does have a great talent for drawing and painting. Maybe now he will have time to do it.

    The way you have done it is the exact opposite. You are not having to divest yourself of a lifetime of things collected, shared and treasured (it’s hard sometimes). You are “going” in your youth, as well as working, of course. That’s so awesome. Wish we had thought of that! You are in beautiful places even though you are working hard inside. For most of us, there will never be a time when we don’t have to do the mundane, boring drudgery of some kind, whether it is repairing an RV or mowing the yard, so revel in what you enjoy. When you step outside, it’s not the suburban back yard. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (as Seinfeld says)!

    Keep going for it – you seem to be enjoying the life you are making. Hope to see you on the road somewhere in the near future!

    Grapevine, TX

  7. RICHARD BETTENCOURT Posted on 03.13.2016

    I appreciate the honesty. My wife and I are a lot older but we look forward to the freedom from a conventional life style to one on the road in our RV. Right now we are cleaning out the house and hope to have the place sold by summer. Enjoy your stories and perspective on life. Stay safe and happy trails.

    Richard and Claire