Choosing an RV as a Healthcare Traveler

We often receive questions from travel therapists about how to set up housing as a healthcare traveler. Some therapists and other healthcare professionals (nurses, etc.) choose to live in an RV during their travel healthcare journey. We at Travel Therapy Mentor personally lived in a fifth wheel camper for about 3 years during the beginning of our travel PT careers.

There are a lot of pros and cons to consider when deciding if the RV route is right for you, and when comparing RV life to finding short term housing. But if you’re fairly certain you do want to pursue the RV life, the next thing you may be wondering is how to find the right RV for you. We’re excited to share this guest post from Travel PT Kayla who lives full time in an RV with her husband and pets.

As traveling healthcare workers, we are often moving all around the country. Living full time in an RV can be a great way to have a permanent home on the road that can help to provide comfort and stability. It can also provide fun and adventurous journeys.

If you’re a traveling healthcare worker considering pursuing the RV life, you may be wondering how to choose the right RV. Here are some tips to help you find an RV that’s right for you.


My name is Kayla Eldridge and I am a traveling Physical Therapist. My husband, Ryan, is a remote software developer who travels with me, and we have been living full-time in our 5th wheel camper with our two cats since 2020. We chose RV living because we found it to be difficult to find affordable, pet friendly short-term housing. We also want our cats to be happy and comfortable in a permanent living space where we don’t have to worry about them ruining other people’s furniture. We bought our 2021 Grand Design Reflection 31mb and 2014 Ford F350 truck in June 2020. 

Overview of Different Types of RVs

If you’re new to RVing, you might be unaware of the different types of RVs. There are two main styles, each with different classes within them. Motorhomes are drivable RVs with an engine, and towables are towed behind a truck.

Motorhomes are broken up into 3 classes:

  • Class A are big rigs with panoramic front windows. These drive like a bus so there can be a bigger learning curve.

  • Class B are vans. These can get you into smaller campsites easily and quickly. Driving them can be more familiar and easier. They have a very small living space which can be challenging but not impossible for some people.

  • Class C is between class A and B in terms of size. They tend to have more beds than Class A so it can be better for families. Like Class B, they typically use gas instead of diesel, making it more cost effective.

Towables are generally broken up into two categories with a wide range of different options in each:

  • The first is a travel trailer. These are lighter, shorter, and smaller (though, not always). This makes them easier to fit into locations that have height restrictions from bridges or trees. They are towed behind the vehicle using a trailer hitch. They are sometimes referred to as a “pull-behind.”

  • The second is a fifth wheel which is bigger, heavier, and taller. These offer more living and storage space but will require a bigger truck to tow (maybe even a dual rear wheel). They are easier to maneuver than a travel trailer (especially in reverse) since the pivot point is closer to the midpoint of the truck. These are towed from a hitch that is installed in the truck bed. This means you’ll need to install the special fifth-wheel hitch and can’t tow with just any regular trailer hitch.

Within each category, there is a wide array of different layouts and the potential for a number of slideouts which can create extra space. For example, a “toy hauler” model has an opening on the back of the trailer that opens up like a garage, which can allow you to haul extra equipment like motorcycles or have extra space for an office or extra bedroom.

There are many considerations, so it’s important to look at each of them and determine which style would best suit your needs.

Process of Searching for the Right RV

Searching for an RV can be a long and daunting process, but if you put in the time and do your research, you can find the right one to call home. It’s important not to rush the process and make uncalculated decisions, especially if you plan on living in the RV full time. 

There are many considerations for navigating through this process. They all overlap, making it difficult for this to be done as a step by step procedure. You will likely go back and forth among each area multiple times until you figure out what works best for you.


Start thinking about your lifestyle and what you need in a home to be happy and comfortable.

When you search for RVs without making these considerations, it’s possible that you could get caught up in the moment and let the excitement cloud your judgment. Having a list of your wants and needs can prevent forgetting necessary qualities. 

Motorhome vs. Towable RV

Deciding between a motorhome or towable RV depends on a few factors. Would you rather drive your home and tow a smaller car behind it, or drive a truck that tows your home and use the truck as your in-town vehicle after unhitching? Who will be driving and what type of vehicle are they comfortable driving? Not just when you’re moving the RV but after the RV is parked and you need to drive to work or around town. 

Motorhomes can be easier to park, especially in reverse, because there is no pivot point. This makes them great for a single person. Towables can be more difficult to back into spots, often needing two people. It requires good communication, time, and patience, especially for the challenging spots. A backup camera could help for either type of RV. Pull-through spots would make parking easier, but these usually cost more and are only available at some RV parks.

Motorhomes allow you to tow a small, fuel efficient car, which is easier for around town; whereas with towables, you only have the towing vehicle. If you choose the motorhome and car, you will have two engines to maintain, which can be costly. Whereas the towable and truck only has one engine.

If a motorhome engine requires maintenance, you may have to find a hotel to stay in while it is being repaired. Towables can be unhitched so that you can stay in your RV while the tow vehicle is repaired.

Both motorhomes and towables have options for slideouts which provide more living space. We felt that towables had a larger variety of floor plans giving more options for living spaces.

Additional vehicles

If you purchase a towable RV, make sure to check the RV and Trailer towing guides to determine what size/type of truck you will need to safely tow the RV.

If you buy a motorhome, you can tow a small car behind it, but you have to make sure it’s compatible for towing as not all vehicles are.

If you already have a vehicle you’d like to keep that can tow or be towed, this might help you decide on the type of RV you get. Otherwise, you will have to consider getting a new vehicle along with your RV purchase.

Finding the Right Floor Plan

View as many varieties of floor plans as you can to figure out what you like and what meets your needs. Being inside the RV is drastically different than looking at floor plans online. On top of seeing them at dealerships, try to go to an RV show or rally if there is one near you. Just don’t let the salespeople tempt you into a purchase before you are ready.

If you plan on staying in parking lots or truck stops on travel days, check if you can access your refrigerator, bathroom, and bedroom with the slides in. Most of the time you will not be able to open the slide-outs in parking lots, so plan accordingly. If you can’t access the fridge, you could also use a cooler or a mini-fridge in an outdoor kitchen for meals on travel days.

If you have pets, you will need space for crates, litter boxes, and food/water. Make sure these are also accessible with the slides closed during travel days. We built a tunnel into a storage compartment to store the litter boxes. It keeps the RV from smelling and tracking litter on the floor while also providing us with more space inside. When we travel, we move the litter boxes to the shower since the cats can’t access the tunnel with the slides closed. A second bathroom would also work.

If you travel with a partner who works from home, they will need a work space. Using the kitchen table could be a nuisance if they have to keep moving everything. Having a good setup will help them to be more successful when working from the road. Finding a floor plan that has additional space such as a bunkhouse, mid-bunk room or toy-hauler garage will allow them to set up a permanent desk space. We built a desk in our mid-bunk and we have seen many great renovations to turn the garage of a toy-hauler into really cool office spaces.

Some smaller details to consider include location of the windows, whether you’d prefer a booth or dinette, the color scheme and decor, and storage space. Check if you can see the TV comfortably. If you plan on bringing bikes, make sure the hitch is rated to carry them.


You will need to come up with a budget to follow. Consider the above categories when you create your budget and remember that the budget should include cost of the RV, insurance, extra vehicle (if applicable), hitch or tow device and accessories. Repairs can also be expensive, so it is important to set money aside in your emergency fund for when unexpected things happen.

You’ll need to consider if you can buy the RV in cash or will need to finance. If you decide to finance, it is a good idea to get pre-approved to know how much you can afford.

Purchasing RV from Dealership or Independent Seller

Buying a new RV from a dealership can guarantee that you know how well it has been taken care of, if you don’t mind taking the depreciation hit. Depending on the brand though, big issues are often seen right as you take them off the lot, so make sure it’s a reputable brand that is known for good customer service. In our experience, Grand Design has proven to have good customer service.

Dealerships provide inspections to make sure the RV is in working order, but they can often miss a lot. So don’t be surprised if there are issues even after buying brand new from a dealership.

Dealerships can also provide a bigger range of RVs to see in person and provide financing options, which can be beneficial.

When buying from an independent seller, you will have to provide your own financing, but you can find good deals if you search around. Keep in mind that if you buy used, many RV parks do not allow RVs over 10 years old to stay in their parks, so consider the age when you’re buying it plus how many years you plan to use it.

When buying used, you will want to do a full inspection of the RV to assess if there is any damage prior to buying it. You can either do it on your own or hire a professional. This cost will be out of pocket, but it can be worth the added expense to ensure you made a good purchase.

When assessing an RV, there are a few things to look out for. Look for any water damage or mold, as fixing it can be costly and difficult. Check that the appliances are working properly. Make sure the furnace, air conditioners, water pump, and water heaters are in working order. Also, if possible, check underneath for water leaks in the pipes as that can be a common issue as well. 


The process for choosing an RV to live in can be overwhelming, but when done correctly, it can be extremely rewarding. We have lived in several different types of housing, but our RV has been our favorite place to live by far.

We have been to a lot of incredible places and have enjoyed many adventures throughout our travels that we wouldn’t have had without our RV. We hope our advice can help you to also choose a wonderful home to take on the road!

Written by Kayla Eldridge, PT, DPT – If you would like to read more about how Kayla and her husband Ryan got started traveling, living in the RV or about their adventures, check out their website at or follow them at EldridgeExpedition on Instagram and Facebook. They have pictures of their RV when they first bought it and pictures of all the updates they made to it over the years to make it feel more like home.

Thank you Kayla for providing your insights to healthcare travelers making decisions regarding housing and RV living!

If you’re new to travel therapy and have questions, be sure to check out the resources we have available at Travel Therapy Mentor, including getting connected with our Recommended Recruiters. Feel free to contact us with any questions!

Travel Therapy with My Spouse & Kids

Here at Travel Therapy Mentor we often get questions from clinicians who are considering travel therapy but who are wondering if they can make it work with their spouse and/or kids. Fortunately, we know many healthcare travelers who have hit the road with their family and found different ways to make it work.

You can check out this post where travel nurse Alex discusses how her and her husband, a physical therapist, travel with their kids and alternate taking travel healthcare assignments. Or this post, where Kayla, a physical therapist, discusses traveling with her spouse who works remotely.

Below, we are excited to bring you Michael’s story. Michael is a physical therapist who travels with his wife and two kids, and his wife takes care of their children while they travel. We hope these stories will be inspirational to you and give you insight if you’re considering pursuing travel healthcare with your spouse and/or family!

Pursuing Travel Therapy with My Family

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I am sure I can speak for many people when I say that working as a healthcare provider, especially in the hospitals, was utterly exhausting. I love what I do as an acute care physical therapist, but the feeling of burnout really started to feel overwhelming as we were pushed to our max, with little hope in sight that weekend requirements and work-life balance would improve.

It was at this time in the early months of 2021, that I began to sincerely feel a change needed to be made. Shortly after I had started to feel this stirring for something different, my wife, Tessa, suggested one night the idea of doing travel therapy. Tessa expected me to say something along the lines of, “No way, you must be losing your mind!” But unbeknownst to her, I had already been considering it.

I was both surprised and a little scared, if I’m being honest, about the real prospect of leaving our permanent positions to pursue the travel therapy life. But, WOW, am I glad we took a chance and decided to embark on this new adventure together!

One of the most important factors for us as a family was ensuring our “why” aligned with this transition.

We realized that travel therapy could help us towards our ultimate goals:
  • avoiding burnout professionally
  • our desire to travel and explore this beautiful country rather than waiting for our “some day”
  • continuing to make progress towards our financial goals of paying off student loan debt and saving for a house
  • allowing Tessa to spend more time at home with the kids during these important formative years, without completely sacrificing our income
  • and seeking opportunities which offer a better work-life balance to open up the door for more quality time as a family

As we more seriously considered this opportunity, we began to dig deeper into researching what we would need to do to prepare ourselves to make such a transition. From me leaving my permanent acute care position, to my wife deciding to leave her PRN nursing position, we decided to say “YES” to our new adventure!

Making it Work: Logistics of Traveling as a Family

Getting On the Same Page

It may sound cliché, but I truly believe the most important first step in making a transition to travel healthcare, if you are married, is to ensure that you and your spouse are both on the same page. Tessa and I promised each other that we must both be in agreement that this is the right step, since this wasn’t just going to affect the two of us, but our two young kids, Luca and Marley, as well.

Telling Our Families

We knew telling family would be tough, and it was, as they were sad that we would be gone for several months at a time. With the kids having grown up no more than ten minutes away from all our Ohio family, we knew that being away from family for possibly half a year at a time would be extremely difficult for everyone at first. However, after the initial shock our intentions sunk in, they were very much supportive and understanding of why we were pursuing this lifestyle change.

Deciding on Housing

Once we were committed to pursuing this journey, we started doing research on the housing type that would best fit our needs. RVing was something we were strongly considering. This led us to joining a few full-time living RV Facebook groups to learn about family life in an RV, what we would need, and how to take care of an RV. The more we discussed and researched, the more we felt ourselves leaning toward getting a camper instead of navigating short-term housing. We ultimately decided it was important for us and the kids to have consistency when it came to “housing,” so the RV life it was!

Buying Our RV & Truck

We decided on a fifth-wheel camper (33 ft 2012 Keystone Cougar), which meant we would need a truck to pull it. In order to stay on budget, and to meet our goal to not go further into debt to start this endeavor, we made the tough decision to sell our beloved Ford Explorer in order to purchase our camper and truck. We did a lot of research on trucks as we wanted to ensure we had “enough truck” to safely pull our camper from the east coast, through the Appalachian Mountains, or even as far as Arizona. After much searching and patience, we settled on our 2008 Ford F-350 dually, which we have been incredibly pleased with throughout our travels.

When traveling, I will drive the truck, pulling the camper, while Tessa and the kids follow behind in our Honda CR-V.  Once at our campground location, I drive the CR-V back and forth to work, while Tessa and kids have the truck available if they need it, but typically there are enough things to keep them entertained at the campground.

Getting Prepared to Start

If anyone is a very “Type A” personality like myself, you will understand the stress and worry that goes into preparing for such a big transition. I am definitely one who researches and plans as much as possible beforehand, so this is why I was so relieved when I found out that Jared and Whitney had created a comprehensive, everything-you-need-to-know travel therapy course to get us started. Their course gave us the insight and guidance we needed to go into our first travel therapy assignment well prepared and confident. It also personally gave me such peace of mind that I was doing the things I needed to ensure my first assignment was successful and a good first experience.

Day-to-day Life, Adventures, and Making Memories

Tessa and the kids have found fun things to do during the days while I’m working. Depending on the area, Tessa will occasionally take the kids to a local library for group activities, story times, socialization, or to simply read books.  Between bike rides, playgrounds, swimming, visiting other campground friends, playing outside (or inside on the rainy and/or cold days), and our kids’ always-favorite golf cart rides, there is usually plenty to keep the kids entertained during the day.

It’s no secret that Tessa has the harder job, entertaining two highly energetic kids, while managing the cooking, cleaning, and also performing regular weekly emptying of the RV tanks if it needs done during the day. Outside of managing all that, Tessa takes advantage of nap times (or “quiet time” for our 4-year-old) to exercise, including walking/running outside around the campground, cardio workout videos, or body weight exercises (inside or outside weather permitting). Depending on the location, a few campgrounds have had workout rooms, but if not, another option has been for Tessa to look for workout facilities that offer childcare (ie. YMCA, Crunch Fitness).

Some people considering a transition to the travel life may fear feeling alone or isolated with no friends or families to connect with during assignments; because I know we did in preparation for our first assignment. But we have been so blessed to have met so many wonderful families and people whom we now consider great friends. We even had previous campground friends from North Carolina come to visit us for a week while we were on assignment in East Texas. The ”regulars” at campgrounds definitely promote a family atmosphere, and as such look out for each other, especially those with young kids so that new families to the area feel safe and supported.

Outside of the campground and day-to-day life of living in a camper, we have had so many great experiences exploring the beautiful areas of the places we’ve been. Thanks to some of my assignments allowing me to work four 10-hour days each week, we have been fortunate to do some fun site-seeing. While in the Carolina’s, we took advantage of the beautiful landscape to experience some amazing hikes and checked some state and national parks off our list. While in Texas, we experienced the Stockyards (highly recommend if you’re ever in the Fort Worth area), the Dallas and the Fort Worth zoos, and of course some amazing BBQ.

However, don’t let some of our highlights give the impression that you have to spend a lot of money to have fun. We are also diligent to look for “free fun” and budget-friendly activities most of the time, such as parks, picnics, and hiking. Our kids have loved all of our adventures so far, and many weekends will ask, “Can we go on an adventure?” as they look forward to doing something new and exciting. We are thankful for these times we’ve had exploring different parts of this beautiful country, but the most important part of this experience is the valuable memories we have made together as a family.

Suggestions for Others Looking to Travel as a Family

Depending on the size of your family, and the ages of the kids, you may decide, like we did, that consistency of environment is an important factor and lean toward getting a camper/RV to begin your travel healthcare journey as a family. This option also provides an easier route for transporting items such as books, bikes, swim toys/inflatables, bedding and stuffed animals, kitchen items and utensils, and more.

One of the most important factors to making a successful transition to traveling if you are considering getting a camper/RV is to do your research ahead of time. Some may be in a position to make this transition happen sooner, but for us, this meant spending several months researching, learning, planning, preparing, and saving money before we could begin our journey.

Based on the needs of your family, you may decide to be pickier when it comes to camper layout. For us, having a separate bunk room for the kids was important so the kids can have their own space for toys and clothes, and also provide a quieter place for nap times, or “quiet time” if they are growing out of naps. 

There is a lot to learn about living in a camper, whether it’s a travel trailer, fifth wheel, or drivable RV. Plus, if you don’t have, plan on having, or are unable to afford a drivable RV, you will definitely want to research dependable truck size (and power) to ensure you have “enough truck” to pull your camper weight. You also want to determine what types of areas you might look to travel. Are you wanting to stay more local, within your state or maybe only 1-2 states away?  Or are you open to, and possibly considering, going anywhere and everywhere? You want to consider some of the possible distances you might cover, and if you’re going to be going through mountains to get there.

A great resource is to join Facebook groups related to full-time RV/camper living (ie. “Full-time RV Families”, “Full time RV Living with Kids”). These groups provide a wealth of knowledge from individuals and families living life in a camper/RV. You will learn some very useful tips and tricks, especially recommendations and lessons from people who have “learned the hard way,” helping you to avoid similar mistakes.

Some areas may even have Facebook groups that can provide helpful information in regards to alternate campground vs. housing options (possibly outside of the typical platforms of AirBNB, Furnished Finders, Vrbo, etc.), or recommendations for family-friendly things to do or see. When considering short-term housing vs campground RV living, finding and moving to short-term housing may be easier at times, but campgrounds will typically always be cheaper. Although, buying a truck and camper will be a bigger up-front cost, so I recommend crunching the numbers and determining the potential cost-analysis based on how long you may potentially travel.

Looking Toward the Future

Overall, we have been very happy with our decision to pursue travel therapy as a family, and very happy with our choice to travel in a fifth wheel camper. We have had amazing experiences as a family and made many life-long friendships in the process.

As for the future, we are definitely discussing when we may settle down vs. continuing to travel. In regards to school for the kids, Tessa currently does pre-school level activities with Luca who is 4 years old. Marley is 2 years old so we have a while before school will be a concern for her. We have talked about the possibilities of home-schooling the kids for a time, but haven’t completely decided how long into school years we will travel. We are currently saving to buy a house, and possibly might settle down by the summer of 2024, which would be a good time for Luca as he starts school. But, we are still open to extending our travel adventures if we decide it’s still what we think is best for our family!  Home truly is wherever we’re together!

About Michael & His Family

Hi, I’m Michael. I was born in St. Louis, Missouri, but my family moved to Mount Vernon, Ohio when I was 6 months old.  I transferred high schools going into my Junior year, which is where I met and started dating my now wife, Tessa. We got married in 2016, after dating for nearly 9 years. I got my undergraduate degree in Exercise Science from Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois. Then I completed my Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree in 2017 from THE Ohio State University! I started out my PT career in acute care in a level 2 trauma hospital in Columbus, Ohio. This August (2023) marks 2 years since my family and I started doing travel therapy, but I still hold two PRN positions at a few hospitals back home in Ohio, which allows me to pick up shifts any time I am home. Tessa and I have two wonderful kids, Luca (4) and Marley (2), and they LOVE the travel life and all the places we get to explore. Marley was only 10 months old when we started traveling, so travel life is pretty much all she’s known.

Feel free to follow along with us as we continue our adventures!  Follow us on Instagram or email us if you have any specific questions or just want to connect as a fellow travel family.

Ready to Start Your Own Travel Therapy Journey?

We here at Travel Therapy Mentor would love to help! Our free Travel Therapy 101 Series is a great place to start learning some of the basics. If you’re ready to dive deeper and learn everything you need to know to be a financially successful travel therapist, take a look at our comprehensive travel therapy course.

If you’re within a few months of starting your journey, you can fill out our Recruiter Recommendation form to get connected with the best travel therapy recruiters. Feel free to message us if you have any questions!