Owning an RV means learning how to care for your RV! This might include gathering some new skills to keep up with maintenance, being prepared to have a running fix-it list, and, once in a while, taking your rig somewhere to have it worked on. Living full-time in your RV can make maintenance an extra challenge since you may have to reroute travel plans or find a place to stay while your home is in the shop. We’ve gathered a few tips and tricks for planning maintenance, and have learned a few lessons for when we unexpectedly had to leave our RV to have work done on it.
Repairs are inevitable
When you purchase your RV, you can expect to have issues come up. After all, you’ve got a home that rolls down the road, bounces through bumps and potholes, and withstands parking and moving repeatedly. Even if you buy a new RV, it will require you to use it for a little bit to see what happens during the break-in period. This is when your RV will need some careful attention, and likely a trip to the shop to take care of problems that may come up. For example, when we got our brand new Newmar Baystar and drove it up the coast of Maine, it wasn’t until after 300 miles that we found a leak due to a seal that had come loose during travel. Think of your RV as a new pair of shoes, sometimes you’ve got to wear them a while to see how they truly fit you. With our Keystone Alpine, we didn’t learn until our first winter that our furnace needed replacing! RV Life quickly teaches you how to go with the flow and be prepared to deal with the challenges that accompany this lifestyle.
Finding places to stay
Since we’ve established that problems will arise, the next question is, what to do to best address them? Some full-time RVers have a sticks and bricks home they can return to while their RV is in the shop, but some of us don’t…and that can make things tricky. Here are a few options for when your RV is in for repairs or maintenance:
At the repair shop
Ask the RV shop if you can stay in your RV while it’s at their location. Some repair shops even have some hookups available, and will let you stay overnight while they wait for parts or diagnose issues! This is a great option to consider that can save you some money, but also keep you in your rolling home. We stayed in our Baystar for 3 weeks at an RV repair shop, while waiting for a part to come in to fix that leaky bay! They even had full hook ups for us, so we were able to keep our daily routine during a potentially stressful time!
Plan a getaway
If you can’t stay with your RV, consider places to stay that might give you a “vacation” from RV life. We know this isn’t always possible with budgets and life commitments, but if you can, plan some of your maintenance around a birthday or an anniversary, and rent yourself an Airbnb with a hot tub or big kitchen…something you don’t get to access in your day-to-day RV life! We planned a five-year anniversary getaway to Lakeside, OR for when our RV was in the shop getting some annual maintenance done. We took advantage of the hot tub, big space, and high-tech movie projector!
Rework travel plans
If a getaway isn’t in the cards for you and your traveling family, but the RV won’t be accessible, consider doing an extended hotel stay and reworking some travel plans. We scheduled our RV to have some work done while we were close to Chicago and Vegas over the past few years because it gives us the opportunities to explore bigger cities by staying closer to the city center than we can when we’re in our RV. We were able to work from both places, and also got to experience a bit of the city life while waiting on our rig.
Check your insurance
If an unexpected problem arises and your RV needs immediate attention, call on your resources! We ended up purchasing RV insurance that includes a hotel rebate. This means that if our RV is in an accident OR has unexpected issues, we can book a hotel and get reimbursed for up to $750. This usually won’t cover the entire cost of a hotel stay, but it can help with the cost.
Reach out to your support system
We have also called on family and friends to host us while our RV was getting fixed. It isn’t always our first option, but we appreciate that our support system is there for us when we need it.
When all else fails, and the RV has a problem, we wait to take it to the shop until we can come up with a plan that works best for us. It’s one of the difficult and rewarding parts of this lifestyle. We both have to forge our own paths, but we also get to call the shots on how our lives look.
Wouldn’t change a thing!
Having an RV, and living in it full-time, means being adaptable. We say that to each other time and time again and it always rings true! We learned quickly in our RV journey that things will constantly be breaking, that maintenance is part of everyday RV life, and that there will likely always be a project list. Acknowledging these things makes us resilient and resourceful. We are constantly learning and understanding new parts of being full-time RVers. Maintenance and repairs are part of that learning. We know that it takes time to do things ourselves, like resplining our screens, installing stabilizing jacks, or replacing our toilet seal.
We have also come to understand that sometimes we need help, which means bringing our RV to a shop where they can service our AC units, fix our furnace, and stop a leak. No matter what maintenance needs to be done, or issues that come up along the way, living and traveling full-time in our RV is always a choice we are glad we have made.