November 28, 2016 Blog

Why We Started Full-Time RVing at 23 Years Old

One of the craziest things in my young life has been falling into the RV lifestyle. It wasn’t really planned out, it just kind of… happened.

So, why did we decide to pack up our lives into an RV at 23 years old?

In 2014, Alyssa and I were getting married, and we wanted to move out of Texas. Texas summers are blistering hot and we wanted to explore the rest of America (preferably find a place with summers where you can’t fry an egg on the sidewalk, not that I’ve ever done that). Our hope was that we could find a city to call our future home.

We came up with a list of five places we wanted to visit:

  1. San Diego
  2. Portland
  3. Boulder
  4. North Carolina
  5. Nashville

These were all places we’d heard great things about and we wanted to see them for ourselves. Alyssa, being the planner of the family, sat down and started drafting up a cross-country route. We assumed that we could find an AirBnB in each place for a couple weeks and then move onto the next location. We decided we could take a few months off and this could be our honeymoon.

HeathPadgett-FullTimeRVMap

Once Alyssa sat down and plotted out the map, she realized we’d have to make a giant loop around the country. She sent me a text one afternoon and suggested that we take this opportunity to try and visit every state in the US. This had been something we had dreamed about doing for a long time, but thought it would take years and years to actually complete it.

 

I loved that idea. Why wait? I thought.

 

We decided that we would go for it. I put in my two weeks notice, had some awkward conversations with my parents and in-laws when I told them I was leaving my job, and Alyssa and I started planning our 50 state adventure.

 

After going back and forth, we ultimately decided that it made the most financial sense to drive an RV across the country. Staying in hotels was going to be way too expensive and camping in a tent was out of the question (Alyssa isn’t a camper, neither am I). Plus, with Alyssa’s gluten allergy, having our own kitchen for the road trip would be ideal.

 

We ended up using our savings to buy a 1994 Coachmen Leprechaun off Craigslist for $11,500 (after a ton of research). Thus, the RV adventure begun.

HeathPadgett-FullTimeRV

Figuring out income and RV life

If you’re like most people, at this point you’re probably assuming we are trust fund kids or we had rich parents. Unfortunately, neither are true. We were two kids who wanted to quit our jobs and travel and by the grace of God, hopefully find a way to afford it.

 

To earn an income, I came up with the idea of working an hourly job in all 50 states. Since I was leaving a job behind that I didn’t like in software sales, this was a chance for me to go explore other types of work across America, like a gap year of sorts. I could try new things and figure out what I wanted to do next.

 

My first thought was that I could find different companies to hire me and pay me for short-term gigs. I knew finding jobs wouldn’t be easy, so I reached out to an online job board called Snagajob to help me find work.

 

They loved my idea to work a different job in each state so much that they decided to help sponsor our first year on the road. They helped us find hourly jobs in different states and covered our gas bill along the way (which if you’ve ever driven an RV is quite a bit).

 

In addition to helping us cover our travel costs, they sent along some spare video equipment so we could turn our 50 state adventure into a mini-documentary. Having zilch film experience, we decided why not try it out.

 

A few weeks into our road trip that we called Hourly America, we realized something — the RV life was really cool.

 

Sure, we were literally on our honeymoon, but we could see ourselves in this lifestyle for longer than our initial 49-state road trip. It was hard to imagine settling down in an apartment or house while we were cruising up the Pacific Coast Highway in our RV, hanging out alongside the ocean and watching the sun go down over the Pacific.

HeathPadgett-FullTimeRV4

It was the dream and we didn’t want to quit.

Flash forward to 2016

We hit the road four days after our wedding and have full-timed ever since. We’ve traveled to all 50 states (including driving to Alaska), visited several Canadian provinces, and explored more of North America than we would have ever imagined.

HeathPadgett-FullTimeRV6

The best part about this lifestyle has been crafting a career for ourselves while on the road. Before we started Hourly America, I didn’t know that anyone RVed while working on the road.

 

We both dreamed about doing creative work like writing or film. That’s the whole reason we wanted to quit our jobs to travel in the first time. Now that we’re full-timers, we’ve been able to pursue both. This year I wrote and published my first book, The RV Entrepreneur, and just a few months ago we premiered our Hourly America documentary into a packed theater of more than 300 people in Portland, Oregon.

HeathPadgett-FullTimeRVstage

Learning the craft of film while on the road gave us additional income streams once we finished our honeymoon year on the road. We started producing videos for authors, small-businesses, and entrepreneurs while we continued RVing across the country.

 

Ultimately, the RV life has enabled us to spend time in beautiful parts of the country while also building our careers and marriage together.

 

Plus, last year in 2015 we were able to pay off over $14,000 of student debt while living extremely cheap in the RV we already paid for. While RV living is still predominantly for family weekenders or retirees, we’ve discovered a lifestyle that we thoroughly love.

 

The more we’ve RVed, the more we’ve met other millennial RVers. Most of our friends and people we interact with on a daily basis are full-time RVers who have ditched the 9–5 job, started their own business, and taken their life on the road. This year alone I’ve documented over 35 stories of RV entrepreneurs on my podcast who are running their own business while full-time RVing.

 

It’s interesting that we’re now living in the first generation where we don’t have to choose between one location and a meaningful career, we can have both.

 

I doubt that RV life will ever be the predominant choice for most people, but for us it’s been quite the adventure and we don’t see the end in sight.

HeathPadgett-FullTimeRV2

 

Heath and his wife Alyssa are filmmakers, entrepreneurs, and full-time RVers. From 2014-15 they traveled to all 50 states filming a documentary called Hourly America — a film about meaning in work as Heath worked a job in every state. Heath is also the cofounder of CampgroundBooking.com and podcast host of The RV Entrepreneur podcast, a top ranked travel podcast. You can read more about them on their RVing blog at HeathandAlyssa.com.