Welcome to my first blog in RV Adventures, a category of blog posts focused on RV life and how it works with photography: both the good and bad. I know there are a number of photographers eager to travel who are contemplating if RV life is the right move. So today I thought I would share with you why I choose to full-time RV for photography in hopes it is helpful to your decision process. Be sure to also check out my Top Questions Every Photographer Should Ask Before Buying An RV.
Maria’s RV History
My First RV- A Tiffin Phaeton
My RV life began in 2003 with my first RV, a 2004 Phaeton motorhome, and continued for about 11 years until I sold it. During the time, I traveled full time including a 7-month cross-country trip, traveled part-time, lived stationary in an RV park, and also lived in a home for a few of those years. To be clear, I was not on the road the entire 11 years I owned the Phaeton.
My Second RV- Lance Travel Trailer
It was a few years after I sold the Phaeton before I decided to enter RV life again. Even though I loved the space and amenities of the Phaeton, this time I did not want the maintenance of two engines since my current plans involved travel to some remote locations. I also wanted something smaller, though that did not turn out to be the case.
Nine months of research went into my purchase of a travel trailer and I almost gave up after seeing most travel trailers were very poorly made. In the end, I settled on a Lance Trailer which I owned from January 2017 until June of 2021. During that time, I traveled for 4 straight years full-time photographing primarily the Western United States.
In an upcoming post, I will cover all my thoughts on buying a Lance Trailer including things that worked well and things that weren’t so great.
Why I Choose an RV for Photograph Travels?
Main Reason – Photography
As part of my photography business, I set a goal to produce an extensive portfolio of beautiful images from every state in the United States. I named this project my Mountain to Sea Photo Travels.
I was approaching 62 when I set out on my Mountain to Sea Photo Travels and had a number of destinations on my list that involved long hikes at high altitudes. Therefore I knew I needed to photograph as many states as possible quickly so I gave myself a 5-year time frame to complete 70 percent of my list.
Having established such a tight time frame, this project was definitely going to require full-time travel. Therefore RV living felt like my best option. Please note that all the above related to my second RV purchase of the travel trailer. My first RV purchase was based on two reasons listed below involving hotel stays and owning pets.
I should note that I did not choose to RV for the RV lifestyle like many full-time RVers. Full-time RV living was only a means to an end for me.
Other Reasons I Chose the RV Life
Looking For a New Place To Call Home
A Western Soul on the East Coast
I began thinking about relocating from Florida to somewhere out West but did not have a clue where I wanted to live. Sound familiar? So I decided that, in addition to being able to travel for photography, full time RV travel would give me a chance to explore other places.
Although Florida is beautiful and filled with stunning scenery most visitors never see, it was becoming way too overdeveloped, and I did not care for year-round humidity and roaches!
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Time For a Career Change
I had a 27 + year career as a healthcare finance executive mostly working for a well known healthcare provider. Although I made a very comfortable living, owned a big home, had closets full of clothes and all types of possessions, I was restless and unsatisfied. In fact, the only time I was happy was on weekends and vacations when I was outside with my camera.
Hated Staying In Hotels For Photo Trips
I initially purchased my first RV as just a way to travel during vacation times and weekends and avoid hotels since I was still working in healthcare and planned to continue to work for a few more years. Hotel guests making noise all hours of the night when I had to get up very early for sunrise photo shoots just did not work.
Owning Pets and Travel
Prior to owning an RV, whenever I traveled, I had to leave my two cats at home. Although, I was fortunate to have a wonderful pet sitter, it still limited the amount of time I was willing to be away from home. Having an RV enabled my cats to travel with me.
Here is picture of one of my cats I had at the time I first started RV life. She and I spent many years in the RV before she left this world at the ripe young age of 19.
So for all the reasons listed above, I decided I should give RV life a try and see if it was a good fit for my photography business.
What are your reasons for RVing full-time? I would love to hear your stories in the comments below.
Amazing Places I Have Photographed:
Here is just a small sample of the places I have photographed on my Mountain to Sea Photo Travels made possible only by choosing to become a nomadic photographer.
In summary, I am happy I decided to RV full time for photography. Time on the road taught me a lot about what I need in a home base as well as with how to photograph many new and different places.
I also discovered how difficult it was to run a photography business while traveling full time. Juggling photo duties with travel and RV maintenance became exhausting.
Finally, the lack of internet access was a huge problem due to the remote locations I chose to visit.
Will I Continue to RV for Photography?
Yes but with some major changes.
My future RV travels will only be part time, possibly three months away, three months home, then three months away again.
Advice to Other Photographers Looking to RV Full Time:
If you are a photographer looking to RV part or full time, I encourage you to carefully evaluate how traveling full time will impact the business side of your photography. I am not talking about the actual photography side of things but the hours of computer work that go along with a photography business.
Are you someone who has the discipline to spend hours behind a computer in a new place filled with spectacular scenery? Answer this question honestly before hitting the road full time.
Lastly, although RV travel for photography can offer wonderful opportunities to photograph amazing places, it is not the glamorous lifestyle portrayed on Instagram.. Set realistic expectations and you will be much better prepared to embark on your own photographic journey.
Thank you for joining me in this discussion about reasons to embark on Full time RVing for Photography.