Hey savvy savages! We have an absolutely incredible story to share today. We had the privilege of interviewing one of the coolest couples around. Heath and Alyssa from HeathandAlyssa.com share their story on how to live in an RV full time. This young couple is the definition of daring to live different and we are obsessed with their story. Enjoy! – T$C
After reading their story, if starting a blog is something you are interested in we put together a step-by-step tutorial for you. Like Heath and Alyssa, we have discovered that starting your own business, like a blog, can lead to a TON of freedom in life. If you have the desire to live in an RV and travel full time starting a blog should be one of your top priorities.
1) Tell us about your story. Who are the two of you? What do you do?
We are Heath and Alyssa Padgett and we’ve been full-time RVing for the past three years, the exact amount of time we’ve been married. Together we run a popular blog about traveling in an RV over at HeathandAlyssa.com.
Heath hosts The RV Entrepreneur podcast, the #1 RVing podcast, where he interviews full-time RVers who run their own business on the road.
I manage most of our blog, run our film production company, and just launched our Youtube channel where we are sharing vlogs about our travels. During our first year on the road, I filmed a documentary about our honeymoon adventure to all fifty states (which you’ll read more about below).
Heath just launched CampgroundBooking.com, a software startup for campgrounds who want to accept online reservations. Right now, a shocking number of campgrounds manage reservations on pen and paper and only accept check or cash as payment. It. Is. So. Frustrating. We are trying to bring them into the digital age.
2) How did the conversation go when you guys had the idea to travel and live in an RV full time right after getting married?
We definitely had this conversation in stages and not all at once. At first, our goal was just to escape Texas summers because they are so unbearable. We chose five states we thought we may want to move to: California, Oregon, Colorado, Tennessee, & North Carolina.
At first, we thought we would live in each of these places for a month at a time. Then I realized that required driving from the coast of Oregon to the coast of North Carolina. And it really seemed like a waste to drive all that way just to visit five measly states.
So I called Heath–and I’m very adamant about this because everyone assumes this was all Heath’s idea–and said, “If we’re going to drive cross-country anyway, why don’t we just visit all 50 states?”
Heath agreed instantly because he’s crazy.
Over the next few weeks we had a series of conversations that went like this:
Heath: “Hey babe look at this inflatable bed I found on Amazon. We can just sleep in the back of your car while we travel!”
Alyssa: “You want to spend our first months of marriage living in my car?”
Heath: “Camping is so cheap. We can just buy a tent and stay in state parks.”
Alyssa: “You want to spend our first months of marriage sleeping on the ground?”
Heath: “Dude, truck campers are so cool! Let’s live and travel in one of those. They can’t be that expensive.”
Alyssa: “Okay this has a bed, that’s better. But I’m barely over five feet tall and I can hardly stand up in this thing!”
Heath: “Let’s buy an RV and live in that in travel in the country.”
Alyssa: “SOMETHING WITH A BED AND A SHOWER FINALLY. I’M IN!”
Buying an RV ended up being the most comfortable and financially viable option for us and I was shocked to find just how cheap some RVs are. We bought ours for $11,500 (and sold it 20K miles later for $10,000).
3) Tell our readers about the documentary you made.
After deciding to travel to all fifty states for our honeymoon, we knew we needed a mission or purpose to go along with our travels. We wanted to do something with our time that would be beneficial and force us to grow together…and we had ZERO ideas.
So Heath met with a mentor and he suggested that since we didn’t know what we wanted to do, why not try everything? Why not work a different job in every state?
Heath LOVED this idea. So we had this conversation:
Heath: “…so in every state, we visit, I’ll get a new job and work it for a day! Doesn’t that sound like fun?”
Alyssa: “You want to spend our entire honeymoon working?”
Once Heath refined the idea, found us a sponsor, and convinced me to film the adventure for our first ever documentary (but mostly because of the sponsored honeymoon part), I decided his idea wasn’t half bad. I would like to note, however, I had absolutely ZERO experience in film at the time. I YouTubed and googled the whole process to act like I knew what I was doing.
We spent a year traveling 20K miles across the country and Heath worked 51 jobs all for one day. (He worked a double shift in South Dakota because a puppy store and a cupcake shop both wanted us to come and HOW DO YOU SAY NO.)
The documentary focuses not just on the actual work, but mostly on the people we met along the way and how they approach their jobs. There’s a lot of stigma with hourly workers, but so many of these people quit high-paying jobs so they could do work that was meaningful for them.
Historically, documentaries are a terrible way to make money, so we opted to make our film available for free on Facebook, and just a couple weeks ago added it to Youtube.
4) How did you save up enough money to live in an RV and travel full time?
We didn’t! We didn’t save at all, at least not purposefully. I had savings from working all through college and that all went toward buying the RV. But we did not have any savings built up to keep us traveling full-time.
That probably sounds stupid, but we were 23 and paying for our wedding at the time. Plus in order to travel full-time, we both had to quit our jobs. So saving money for travel wasn’t possible.
Fortunately, Heath works best when his back up against the wall. Knowing we didn’t have money to fund the adventure ourselves, he found us a sponsor and we started our first service-based business on the road. He’s like an entrepreneurial superman.
5) Tell us about finding the right RV to start in and how it progressed to what you travel in today?
We bought what we could afford–a 1994 class C Coachman Leprechaun named Franklin. He was old, but he had character. We renovated him to look more like home (this was our first home together, after all).
This is probably the most important thing you can do after you buy a used RV. Since we traveled to all fifty states in a year and life was always crazy, having a place to call home that actually looked and felt like home really kept us sane.
We lived in Franklin for a year and a half before we wanted to upgrade. We had a couple leaks in the roof that were driving us CRAZY. (This is the death of an RV: water leaks. If you see water damage in an RV, run.)
We knew we needed a new home, one that was more reliable since we wanted to keep RVing indefinitely.
After our documentary was picked up on CNN, CBS, and a handful of international news outlets, we had a few bargaining chips to start talking to RV companies in search of partnership.
We chose to work with Winnebago, because they have the best reputation among American RV companies. Also, we had a standing opportunity to be on Going RV, which is the RV version of House Hunters. We leveraged this national tv opportunity plus our growing online presence to partner with Winnebago on buying an RV and blogging for them on the road.
To be clear, we did not get a free RV and RV companies do not give away free RVs. People ask us how they can get a free RV all the time. It doesn’t happen! I don’t know why so many people think this.
6) If someone were to come up and ask you how can I RV full time? What would be the advice you would give them to get started?
I don’t think anyone has ever actually asked us that, but we do have a bunch of free resources available to teach that. The course is all about the financial side of things and the guide focuses on all the logistics of actually transitioning into RV life.
Really, the hardest part to getting started is recognizing that it is possible. It’s so easy to get caught up in finances, the stress of picking an RV, figuring out a work situation, explaining the lifestyle change to your family, etc. But if you can put it on paper, assign a launch date, and say I’m going to make it happen, you will.
When we started RVing, there was no one our age RVing full-time (and if there was, they weren’t blogging about it for us to be able to find them!) We were 23 when we started and looking back, there were no two people less equipped for this lifestyle than us. But we knew we wanted to make it happen, and we did.
7) A lot of people love the idea of living in an RV and traveling full time across the country. How realistic is it financially? What is your monthly budget like?
So I manually update our finances every single week to keep a good pulse on this. We spend anywhere from $1,500-$2,500/month on living expenses, and usually another $1000/month on business expenses. Our business expenses are a lot higher now that we’ve hired on an editor for the podcast and started hosting more events.
Financially, most RVers find the lifestyle is significantly more cost efficient than living in a sticks-n-bricks. Especially if you can buy a used RV and avoid a payment, and if you travel slowly, opting for week or month stays instead of nightly, you can save a TON of money.
As far as making the lifestyle affordable, work exchanges or bartering with RV parks is extremely common! Many RVers just starting out who want to save money will go this route, working in park offices or cleaning bathrooms in exchange for free rent.
Related: The Honest Truth About Budgeting
8) How long do you plan on traveling for in your RV? Do you have any long-term plan of starting a family?
We plan on RVing for the foreseeable future. I think this will be our last year to RV in America. Since we’ve already done all 50 states and a good portion of Canada, I’m really getting the itch to go abroad. Our goal is to spend next year RVing across Europe or New Zealand.
We plan on eventually stopping our full-time travel lifestyle to start a family, but I don’t see us giving up the RV. I would be bored out of my mind if we lived in the same house year-round.
Right now our biggest goal is to make our personal website profitable enough that we don’t have to take on any additional clients. Once that happens, I can devote more time to growing our Youtube channel and Heath will have more time and money to invest in Campground Booking.
As far as following us online, a great way to start is by downloading our guide or joining our course. You’ll get a link with access to our private Facebook community of 6000+ other travelers when you join the course, which is a great place to ask questions and learn more about the lifestyle.
If that isn’t your style you can…
Have you ever wanted to live in an RV full time?
What is the one thing that holds you back from following your dreams?