What are You Waiting For? The Scary Leap to RV Ownership

What are You Waiting For? The Scary Leap to RV Ownership

Myrtle Beach Ziplining

I’ve refrained from writing this post for a long time because, contrary to what my husband and kids might tell you, I really do not like telling people what to do. And I hate writing posts that inevitably lead to the each to his own reactions, comments, and feedback. I respect that everyone has their own set of circumstances and reasoning behind life decisions.

But still.

We receive so many emails and messages on social media from people who are saying a version of the following:

I wish we could own an RV. One day we will get an RV. We are on the five-year plan. We are on the seven-year plan. When we retire, we look forward to buying our first RV.  Etc, etc.

And then the story of Driving Miss Norma went ripping around the internet over the last couple of weeks. I had two thoughts:

  1. That is amazing that Norma is living her life to the fullest.
  2. I don’t want to wait until I am 90 to have the time of my life.

In almost every single case, people who tell us they are waiting to get an RV cite financial reasons. It is not in the budget right now. They don’t want a payment. They are saving up.  On the surface, these statements seem completely reasonable and even downright responsible. In fact, I presented them all to my husband over the course of buying our first pop up.


The arguments don’t really fly. Why?

Because so many of us (most of us, really) have payments on services like cable, internet, and cell phones which far eclipse the monthly cost of financing a travel trailer. And you can’t tell me that your cable is an investment. I’ve checked the programming.

So I’m going to keep my bossiness to a minimum here, and boil down my advice to all of our listeners and readers and social media followers. In my mind you have two options:

  1. Cancel your cable and use that money to finance an affordable travel trailer. We canceled our cable last year, so I can offer this suggestion without feeling like a hypocrite.
  2. Buy the cheapest preowned RV you can find and use the living daylights out of it until you can afford to upgrade. Our friends bought a pop up camper off the side of the road for $500. Then sold it two years later for $1,000.

Here’s the thing. I’m glad my husband fought against my ‘let’s wait and save up’ mentality when it came to buying our first pop up camper. That early $110 monthly payment brought more value to this family than all the mid week takeout dinners, cable bills, and smart phone payments that we ‘invested’ in over the years.

So even though it might sound like it, I’m not trying to tell anyone what to do. I’m trying to encourage those fence sitters to live life to the fullest now. Not when they are 90 years old.

Because for the record, we have never received a single email or message from anyone saying they wished they waited just a bit longer before buying that RV. Just sayin’.


  1. Outside Inn

    We had the exact same thought the summer we were 22 and spent 2 1/2 months living in a VW van driving around Alaska. “I don’t want to be 80 with a huge RV I can barely see over and not be able to do that glacier hike” and life only gets more expensive, so always best to travel when you’re younger or the kids don’t know that you went for the free entertainment option of the park or the beach.

  2. Travels with Birdy

    Heck yeah, sister! We pay $112 a month for our travel trailer. Best investment ever! We bought it used, with a few nicks and dings (knowing we’d add a few of our own). It’s not big nor is it fancy, but it’s enough to get us out there on the road! I can hardly begin to explain how this has changed our lives. It’s made us able to take huge road trips to see the wonders of the US, and it’s made us more committed to getting out of the house for weekend trips. To anyone considering the purchase, I say do it now, especially if you have children. You may not be able to afford your dream trailer, but I bet you can find something. My husband always says if I compare ours to a tent, I will forever appreciate its luxuries!

  3. Gail Crawford Bable

    I agree with you 100%. You are making memories with your children that you all will have for a lifetime. I have been camping since I was about ten years old and my best memories are of times in the camper. I love it so much that I now live from April to November as a campground host (in our 5th wheel) and have made wonderful friends, seen amazing sights, slept under the stars, ate loads of camp food and have memories that keep me going over the long winter months. I recently listened again to your podcasts about the pop up camper and the hybrid and bought myself a neat little Jayco pop up so, I can camp with the girl campers! We had a pop up for about 15 years and you brought back all the fun memories I had of it.

  4. April

    You go Stephanie! My husband and I were one of those “let’s save up people” about buying a camper and financing it. But then we looked at how quickly our kids were already growing and we didn’t want to waste this precious time NOT camping (and tent camping was a no-go for this Mama #sorrynotsorry). So we took the financial plunge but we haven’t regretted it so far. We look forward to getting a lot more use out of our camper even after it’s paid off (then we can really customize it to our taste too). I totally agree with your cut-the-cable idea too!! Love this post and sharing with my parents since they are on the fence about buying one right now too.

  5. RVFamilyTravelAtlas

    April, I’m glad you guys went ahead and started enjoying the RV with your kids. I can’t imagine having missed all the time we have spent traveling in the last 6 years. When I think about the experiences I have had with my three little guys, it ALMOST makes forget about all the sleepless nights and meltdowns as a mom of young kids:-) And yeah, #sorrynotsorry on the tent thing.

  6. Samone

    I completely agree. We purchased our camper a year ago and it was the best decision we have ever made I regret not doing it before now.

  7. JP

    Every time I read one of your posts I have these mixed feelings. While we do, as you know, have the hybrid now we are saving up for a class B. But, buying our first PUP for $800 back in 1984 was absolutely the best decision we ever made. I have been thinking about my Mom and her house in Florida (long story here, we are driving to Florida on Friday to help her move to assisted living). My parents bought the house so they would have someplace to go to in retirement. We have that house in our back yard with tons more flexibility and a lot less cost and upkeep. If we want to winter in Florida we can do that. If we want to escape the heat in the summer, Maine calls. Go to the Grand Canyon, done, Mt. Rushmore, Done, California’s Coastal highway, done! AND, having the RV experience here gave us the ability to spend a summer in Europe with our kids back in ’87 and a couple of weeks in a campervan in New Zealand. What would we be doing without our RV, that initial $800? Going to the shore for two weeks? I don’t think so. So, bottom line, go out, find that inexpensive first camper and go explore.

  8. musicalknittermom

    I completely agree. We have made the plunge and purchased this year. Our kids are just as excited as we are to start adventuring and going different places year after year. Is it an expense for the RV and stocking it? Absolutely. But, we feel the dollars invested in that are one of the best ways we can spend for our money for the memories it will create with our family.

  9. laraegarrett

    We are so happy with our decision! My husband and I decided to skip Christmas presents for one another and instead used that as a down payment on a travel trailer! We shopped over winter break and came home with a nice little KZ Sportsmen the first week in January. It’s perfect for our little family, and we’ve already been out 8 nights and can’t wait for warmer weather to spend even more time in the camper! No second thoughts or buyer’s remorse. We’ve not regretted it for a minute.

  10. Dianne

    We are on our 4th RV. The last two have been falling-apart-pieces-of-crap, but we’ve still had great times camping! Older tent trailers are a great way to start and can often be found very inexpensively. Do it!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Our Official Sponsors

Sign up for our newsletter

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this podcast with your friends!