Contrary to popular belief full-time RVers can keep up the same grooming, wardrobe, and overall personal style while on the road as in their traditional home. Maybe some things will need modification, but overall, you don’t have to change your style. Of course, if you were only maintaining those things for others and sacrificing your happiness/peace, this may be your chance to find some freedom to be gorgeous in a way that makes you happy! Whichever fits you and your RV lifestyle goals, let’s find ways to be true to ourselves.
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RV living means tiny closets for sure. Outside of that, you can be as dressed up or dressed down as you like. You can be the person that wears hiking clothes all the time or jeans or PJs or dresses or business casual. The most important thing is to have appropriate clothes for the weather and type of RVing you are doing. If you plan on being outside all the time and boondocking on a mountainside with plenty of hiking, you’ll probably want a bit more hiking wear. If you plan on resorting it with fully paved sites, an on-site spa, and dining options, you might be able to dress up a bit more and keep some of that business casual stuff in your closet.
For us, we find a combination of hiking and office-ready clothes works. We basically have the same wardrobe we had when we were in a sticks and bricks, but just on a smaller scale. Most of our clothes are interchangeable (such as a capsule wardrobe). Not sure where to begin, check out this post about packing light and capsule wardrobes.
Dressing for the weather
As for the changing weather, this can get a bit tricky. Sure that bathing suit might fit in a tiny purse or backpack, but what about your winter coat? Your scarves? We are able to keep ours inside our RV and hang them from hooks, but I know many, many folks that buy vacuum seal bags for their clothes. This way they are compressed and fit nicely in storage compartments. If you have weather-sealed crates, you can also keep them stored away in your truck our under your RV during the warmer months and then bring them out only when needed.
Finding a Stylist
Before RV living, I would go to the same hairstylist. This is someone that I trusted. Being on the road though, I rarely have my hair done. When I do, it’s because I am back home with my trusted stylist. My hair is a bit difficult, so I am super picky with who touches it. I’m perfectly fine with my hair growing very long as well. Most people have their hair done more often though. So what does this look like on the road? For the most part, it means a new stylist every month or every few months. Always check the reviews, find them on social media and see what kind of hairstyles they are sharing. Ask around the campground and see who others are using. If you can wait, see if you can circle back around to your trusted stylist.
If you dye your hair, you might want to see about doing it yourself. When I first started RVing, I was dyeing my hair black (covering that grey) and I did it in my RV bathroom. I didn’t have any issues with staining the beige sink, toilet, or bathtub. I did kill a few towels though. RV parks and campgrounds also have bathhouses. If you are uncomfortable dyeing your hair in your RV bathroom, consider using a bathhouse. You will have more room to work with and a lot less plastic to worry about staining. The last option is, to go natural. I’m proudly sporting my grey these days.
As for styling, you can keep your hair as natural or highly styled as you would like. We are in a 30 amp RV, so we avoid running the AC and blow dryer at the same time. Otherwise, there were no limitations when we were plugged into shore power (hooked up to electricity at a campground or RV park). However, when boondocking, we only had power when we used our generator. For me, it suddenly didn’t feel as important. Fast forward 4 years and I don’t even have a blow dryer anymore. Along the way, I learned how to style my hair without it. If that thought makes you cringe, just keep the blow dryer and try it out. I know a lot of full-time RVers that still style their hair as much as when they were in a sticks and bricks. Do what works best for you.
You might be wondering why I am including hygiene. Here’s the thing, RV water heaters tend to be small, leading to short showers. This might impact your ability to shave and wash your long hair. Can you do both? Is it worth it to get an endless hot water system? Do you really need to shower twice a day/daily?
Dealing with Limited Water and Zero Sewer
As a full-time RVer, you realize there are a lot of things that we really don’t need to do, especially while boondocking or when you don’t have sewer hookups. All your shower water goes to your grey tank. When you shower, you use a lot of water. So you need to decide if this is where you want all your fresh water to go and take up space in your grey tank.
We have small fresh water and grey water tanks. So we either skip the showers or take really short ones – basically super-fast soap and rinse of stinky areas. Long hair gets braided and tucked under a baseball cap. When I’m boondocking, I’m there for adventure, not to dress up and have stylish hair. If this sounds like an absolute nightmare to you, you might want to skip boondocking or experiment a little and see how you can work around this limited water and grey tank issue to make sure you are comfortable. If you want to read more about boondocking, click here.
We found that our hot water will last about 5-10 minutes if we don’t turn off the water while showering. It lasts longer when it’s hot out and when you have a good showerhead with aeration (This is the one we have, but in chrome). After 4 years of living as a full-time RVer, I have learned to shave, wash my hair, and still have hot water left at the end. I never thought I would get to this point and was seriously considering an endless hot water system. Finding out what works best for you and your family takes a bit of trial and error. It does for all of us.
Some folks never even use their RV shower. They prefer using the bathhouses where hot water is unlimited, no grey water to handle, and plenty of room to stretch. Keep in mind that some bathhouses are as beautiful as a home shower, but others are pretty rustic. They vary just as much as RV parks and campgrounds themselves.
In a tiny living space, you might not find yourself walking across the house anymore. You might be able to reach the fridge from your couch. So, how do you make up for that and get moving? I know, everyone is going to say, just go outside, go for a walk, go hiking. Yes, absolutely, but we all know that if you’re working, have homeschooled kids, and the weather is poor (extreme heat/cold, rain, etc.), getting outside can be a challenge. So what do you do?
Join a Gym or Find RV Friendly Workouts
There are plenty of nationwide chains you can use. A bonus to joining a gym, you can avoid your RV shower limits. Another option to working out while RVing, is modifying workouts to do inside your RV or under your awning. A lot of programs have online workout classes you can do in your RV. Since they are online you don’t have to worry about bringing workout DVDs (saves on space). We have an online subscription with BeachBody and have been able to use it inside the RV. Sometimes we have to modify the moves and have to take turns working out. We don’t both fit in our tiny kitchen/dining/living room.
RVing is so much more than camping out and traveling. There is an emotional component as well. For some full-time RVers, it is the answer to depression and anxiety and for others, it is the cause of depression and anxiety. Living in a tiny space, especially with your family, can be a real adjustment and sometimes the adjustment is hard. This is not to say that full-time RVing is a terrible decision or that no one should do it, it is to say that it can be difficult at times. There is no space to spread out inside the RV, you are confronted with yourself daily. It can be taxing due to all the social activities and meeting new people or the total opposite, you find yourself isolated and alone.
For us, we initially found ourselves completely alone. A family of 4 excited to get out and meet new people and other full-time RVers and at first, we couldn’t find them. We had to be proactive and seek out friendships and community. Once we started putting ourselves out there (physically and online), we quickly made friends and found other full-time RVers and full-time RVing families. There are still moments where I find myself completely overwhelmed with my RV life and depressed, but there are so many other times where I find myself happy and capable. I don’t like always feeling comfortable and safe, I do like the challenges and growth I have experienced as a full-time RVer with a family, but I think it is something that I was not prepared for.
Well, I hope this helped you think about how full-time RVers live practically. To know what to expect beforehand and to do what works best for you and for your family. What do you think? How have you handled some of these challenges?