RV Living for Seniors

More than 11.2 million households in America own an RV – and the majority over them are aged 55 and over. The statistics on rv living for seniors are the latest revealed by the RV Industry Association, which points to an upswing in the number of Baby Boomers entering retirement and keen to get on the road.

And who can blame them? Post retirement, many people want to travel and get ticking off locations on their bucket list. If they do it with an RV then they can look forward to achieving their lifelong aim in comfort and in way that suits them. Today’s RVs are positively luxurious compared to their early predecessors. They not only come with beds, bathrooms and fully-fitted kitchens, but also central heating, cooling equipment, surround-sound stereos and flat screen TVs. Rving for seniors – what’s not to like?

Camping for Seniors

Most senior rvers are on the road full-time or even part-time. This is often when they have retired from their job. Some do still work while on a freelance basis, on the road, but they’ve cut their hours to a minimum. This means that money is always a consideration. And it’s where rving for seniors really comes into it its own. Travelling around in an RV means there’s no big accommodation costs, merely the cost of your pitch (if at all). And, considering there are more than 18,000 public and privately-owned campgrounds in the whole of America, you don’t have to worry much about finding a space to park for the night.

But maybe you’d love to go on the road in an RV, but aren’t sure if it really is for you and your partner, after all? That’s understandable. After all, transitioning from living in a house most of the time, to going on the road and getting used to a smaller living space for months on end, can be pretty daunting.

One way to find out if rving for seniors is right for you and your partner, is to give it a try first. After all, when it comes to purchasing an RV (which you will surely do if you plan on going on the road for months at a time), means handing over thousands of dollars. Some couples actually sell their homes to buy the RV they plan on living in for years. So, it makes sense to double check that you’re comfortable with the lifestyle before you go ahead and make any dramatic changes.

Renting an RV then, should be the first step in your planned nomadic journey. Start off going away on weekend trips, then week-long holidays and finally do it for a decent length of time, such as a month or two at a time. That way you’ll know if the RV you’ve rented is the size you like, or you’d like something larger or smaller etc. Class A is the biggest size of RV and has a luxury interior, while Class B’s are a smaller and easier to drive. You can try renting different models of RV too to see if there’s one you prefer to the others. It’s worth noting that there are RVs on the market which have been designed specifically with a wheelchair in mind.

If you do decide long-term rving for seniors is for you, then just get out there and do it. Don’t listen to the naysayers – for they will come out of the woodwork, advising you that you’re making a mistake and should enjoy spending your pension at home. Perhaps it’s because they would like to do it themselves but don’t have your courage and they’re just that teeny bit jealous?

RV camping tips

RV camping tips for seniors - infographics

Speak to any senior rving and he or she will have a handful of tips for you. That’s only natural; the majority of people want to help others and pass on what they have learned.

One of the first tips is to consider is taking an RV driving or maintenance training course before you even get in to your first vehicle. There are many online courses available and which can bring you up-to-speed with today’s RVs and how to handle them.

Here are some other more general tips for long-term RV travelling as a senior:

Stick to the 330 rule

When you first start out in your RV it can be tempting to push on and see as much as you can in a day. That’s all very well for the first day or two but do that day after day, week after week, and it’s going to get extremely tiring. Not to mention boring. Surely you’ll want to get out and explore, get some exercise etc. Not only that but being tired can lead to irritation which, in turn, may cause you to argue with your partner. Not a good combination in an RV.

So, the 330 rule is not to go further than 330 miles in any one day. Or, stop driving and park when it gets to 3.30pm in the afternoon.

But maybe even that rota is too much for you. If you feel your back, knees and arms still when you stop then it’s time to rethink your schedule. Another, more comfortable strategy, could be the 222 rule. Keeping it slow means you’ll see more and probably have a better time senior rving too.

Consider installing extra safety features

When you get older your body tends to be less flexible and perhaps you even have difficulty moving certain limbs. That shouldn’t be any obstacle to heading off to the horizon in your RV though. There are hundreds of items out there that you can take with you to make life easier while travelling and to make sure you don’t hurt yourself. These adaptations, aimed at RV camping for senior citizens include:

Swapping out your van steps

If the van’s steps don’t feel particularly secure (many can be pretty wobbly) then investing in new ones could make all the difference when it comes to accessing and leaving your RV. You can buy steps with a side handle, for instance, or a foldable platform step with anti-slip surface. See our article best steps for the elderly. You can even get a hydraulic platform lift or running board to raise you up.

Getting a shower chair

If you find it difficult to stand up for a long time then a compact shower stool could be just the answer. With a padded seat, detachable arms and anti-slip rubber feet, these chairs offer comfort while you’re washing.

Increasing the height of your toilet seat

RV toilets can be very low so it makes sense to get a raised toilet seat, regardless of whether you have difficulty with moving. If you’re older though, chances are you may have difficulty with stiff knees or hips. If it makes it easier, you can also install a toilet safety rail for added stability. There are plenty of adaptations you can consider when it comes to rv camping for seniors.

Take along a four-legged friend

If you’ve ever had a dog before then we don’t need to tell you how much fun and companionship they provide. Another plus is they get you active. Dogs love the outdoors and going for a walk in the wilderness, on a beach or in a park every day, isn’t a bad idea for you either. We’re not alone in thinking that either.

According to a 2021 travelling survey, 44 per cent of brought along their dog (four per cent took their cat). The previous year the number of RV travellers who brought their dog was 60 per cent. So long as you bring their food, water bottles, toys, leash and any medication, camping with your dog can be a breeze.

Look for 55+ RV parks

Now that you’re a senior you don’t necessarily want to turn up to a park where there’s screaming children running around or groups of youths partying. Especially when you’re sitting back relaxing in your favourite camping chair, with a glass of wine and enjoying the sun. Thankfully, there are plenty of RV parks around that are for seniors only. Yes, a fantastic idea indeed!

Not only do these parks guarantee peace and quiet, but there’s also the opportunity for meeting other like-minded individuals enjoying a retired rv lifestyle.

Switch to national pharmacies

As we get older, we tend to have more meds to take – some of which we have to take daily and will feel ill if we miss out on. When you’re on the road you won’t be able to return to a local pharmacy regularly (unless you stay near home or take smaller trips).

Pharmacists are keen on handing out six-months’ worth of meds in one go either. And that’s where the big pharmacy chains such as Walgreens or CVS come in. An alternative is to ask to have your meds posted to you via an RV park that you’ll be staying in for some time. Just check beforehand that the park allows this.

Budget carefully before you leave

Obviously, you’ll sit down and look at your financials before you set off on the road. But do beware that rv living for seniors

long-term can prove expensive. That’s especially the case if it’s your own van and it needs to go in for repair. Even maintaining the RV can prove costly. So do be aware of this.

There are savings you can make while on the road. Joining a camping club can save you a lot of money on site fees, for instance, (anything from 10 per cent to 50 per cent off). They can provide discounts on other items too. In fact, join an RV discount club and you can start saving for important events coming up.

And it’s not just RV clubs you should join. The America the Beautiful Senior Pass is another agency definitely worth signing up to. An Annual Senior Pass is just $20 while a Lifetime Senior Pass is even better value at $80. Joining means you can stay over at more than 2000 campsites in America – often for free or certainly at a discount. Entrance to the parks themselves will always be free. Nope, you’ll find rv retirement living doesn’t need to be expensive when you start really doing your research.

An American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) card doesn’t just get you discounts on restaurant bills and in stores etc, it also gives you a 10 per cent discount on participating campgrounds.

Check out Workamper jobs

Maybe you plan on earning some income while you’re on one of your senior camping trips? So many jobs can be done remotely these days, especially on a laptop. The downside of this is that you’ll need to make sure you have a reliable wifi connection (not all campsites will have). An alternative to earning money then could be saving instead, with Workamper.

You save money on pitch fees by volunteering your time to help at the camp. This could be by acting as a camp host and directing people to their pitch, or through doing some light maintenance etc. Jobs can be part-time, full-time or hourly and are advertised on WorkampingJobs.com. It’s a great way to boost your income or save money while senior rving.

Keep emergency numbers visible

We finish on a sombre – but incredibly useful – note. There may be times when an accident befalls you or your partner, and it’s so serious you may need medical aid. That’s when it pays to know exactly where you are.

When you’re constantly on the road enjoying rv retirement living and staying in different campsites every week it can be easy to forget your exact location. So, a good tip is to write down the address, including zip code, and telephone number of the campsite on a Post-it and stick it on the freezer door. Do this the day you arrive, every time. That way you’ll be able to tell the emergency responder exactly where you are.