When I first visited Joshua Tree, in 2019, my goal was to purchase land to build my tiny home on a permanent foundation. I loved the plot of land I had picked out online, but I fell even more in love with another plot. I decided to give it some thought before pulling the trigger and went back to Atlanta with too many ideas racing through my head.
One idea that had taken root was the possibility of buying an RV and starting my tiny living journey there. I reached out to two of my friends and asked them if they thought it was a crazy idea. Both of them decided it would suit me perfectly. After a lot of time, research, saving and setbacks, I paid off my car, sold it, bought Samson (my FJ Cruiser), and bought my RV.
Since then, a lot of people have asked me: how did you learn to RV? Indeed, how did I? I have often asked myself the question. The truth is I did a lot of research before getting my RV. I’m not a dreamer; I’m a doer. I obsess over my goals with intention. So, when I consume content related to those goals, I do so with the intention of learning and making more informed decisions — not merely fantasizing.
I bought my RV from a lovely gentleman and his wife. Mark was so incredibly patient with me throughout the entire process. When lenders gave me a hard time about being self-employed, he still rejected additional offers on the RV and held it for me. His faith in me paid off. Within a week or so, we were signing the paperwork and exchanging checks for keys. He even threw in the full hitch setup he had used to tow the RV for free. He had just upgraded from a 4Runner, so he no longer needed it.
If you know your trucks, then you know both the 4Runner and FJ Cruiser are based on the Land Cruiser platform, so they have very similar dimensions and capabilities. This meant I didn’t need to make any adjustments to my hitch setup and Mark was able to show me how it worked, immediately. He showed me once and his friend showed me a second time. After that, I visited the acreage once or twice per week to practice hitching up and unhitching.
Mark also continued to make himself available to answer my questions. In fact, when I experienced my first winter storm in Nevada, I didn’t ask the neighbours how to turn the furnace on. Instead, I sent Mark a quick message and had it up and running in no time.
Tiny Living Shows
Funny enough, it was my wasband and his mother who first got me thinking about tiny living. While they ridiculed the people living in tiny homes, the wheels in my brain had started turning. I then moved into a micro-home that was 620 SF, which my wasband thought was too small and I thought was a waste of space. When the idea to go tinier resurfaced, I started to watch a lot of YouTube videos about every related topic I could think of:
- How to match a truck to an RV
- How to empty a black tank
- How to level an RV
- How to forward your mail
- How to get WiFi on the road
- How to back up a trailer
I learned a lot from those videos. For example, I received no lessons or instructions on how to back up my RV. I watched one YouTube video about three times. Then, the next time I went out to the RV, I practised what I had learned. It took me about four tries, but by the end of it all, I knew how to back up my RV.
Before RVs got my attention, I was not a fan of reading non-fiction. I’m a social sciences grad, so I read a lot of non-fiction (textbooks) in college, at the expenses of the novels I preferred to read. After six years of pursuing my tertiary education, it seemed only fitting that I should set non-fiction aside to read all the books I never had time to.
Yet, I found that I wanted more organised and centralised information after watching YouTube videos, so I turned to books. I was fascinated by all the things I read and used this information to choose a lot of the features of my current setup before I ever even knew what the inside of an RV looked like in-person. These are my favourites:
I joined Quora years ago, before it became as popular as it is now. I love the site and turned to its users to answer my questions. I asked questions about Joshua Tree before I ever headed out there. Mechanics and car lovers helped me justify why the FJ Cruiser was worth the price tag. I also received a lot of offroading advice and recommendations for RV brands.
Despite tapping into all of these resources, nothing beat getting actual practice on the road. While I certainly knew a lot about the theory of how things worked, I still needed practical assistance. At our first campground, located in downtown Little Rock, the RVers were extremely friendly and helpful. Not only did they help me put my theoretical knowledge into practice, but they also put my mom’s mind at ease about the people I would run into out here.
Since then, my RVing experience has been mostly a confirmation bias exercise. I hate all the things I thought I would and love all the things I thought I would. What can I say? I know myself extremely well, which is why I was able to take a $45,000 leap of faith and know it would pay off.
I have recently bought another addition to my travel setup, which will allow me to ditch the RV and take off to more hard-to-reach places it can’t traverse. But, I’ll share more on that when it actually arrives. Until then, I will be gearing up to make some modifications to Big Boy Samson!
The books recommended above are the ones I rated five stars out of the many I read. If you purchase one of these books using my links, I may receive a small commission from Amazon.