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!

Thinking Outside the Box for Travel Therapy Housing

Finding housing for travel therapy or travel nursing jobs can be a challenge. Some travelers get very creative when it comes to finding short term housing for travel jobs. Travel therapist couple Hailey & TR got very creative on their recent travel therapy assignment in Alaska! Learn more in this guest post about living in a truck camper!

Living the RV Life

Hey there– we are the Tie Dye Travelers, Hailey (occupational therapist) and TR (physical therapist)! We have been lucky enough to do travel therapy together since August of 2021.

This lifestyle was an easy choice for us. Get paid to go live in and explore lots of amazing places? Yes, please!

We have been living in a Fifth-Wheel RV full time since January of 2017, before we ever started travel therapy. So when we decided to do travel therapy, the logistics/housing aspect was never a question for us.

Onward, to Alaska!

As soon as we started travel therapy, we knew taking an assignment in Alaska at some point was a must for us!

It was April of 2022 when we both landed jobs at the same clinic in Wasilla, Alaska (north of Anchorage) that would begin in late May. The hard part was over, right?! Wrong.

We didn’t want to take our Fifth-Wheel because of excessive wear and tear from the long road trip, and we were unsure what the road conditions would be like at the end of our contract in November. So, we began to explore other options for housing for this assignment.

Housing Options for Alaska

Initially we assumed we would find an apartment to rent for housing during our travel therapy assignment in Alaska. First, we checked out Furnished Finder, however options were limited and pricey (up to $3,000/mo) around Wasilla, so we kept looking.

Airbnb extended stays? Same story, way too spendy.

We are very low maintenance and minimalistic, so we thought maybe a bare bones 1BR apartment to throw a mattress on the floor, but even the less desirable ones were around $1,500/month.

There were more options available in Anchorage, but making the 45 minute commute every day did not appeal to us. It didn’t help that we were arriving in the middle of May where prices were on the rise in preparation for tourist season.  

We thought, surely there were better options than throwing $10,000-15,000 out the window on rent alone by the end of the 6 month contract— not to mention having to pay for accommodations while exploring each weekend.   We always prioritize experiences gained over a dollar saved, but it was time to start thinking outside the box.

Alternative Housing Options

We considered buying a house there, to have our own little slice of heaven in Alaska and to rent out when we weren’t there. But, because we are in the field of travel therapy (viewed as “inconsistent income” with less than 2 years of history) we could not get considered by a lender. Strike two.

Back to the drawing board.

Randomly, we stumbled upon a renovated school bus for sale, and then a light bulb went off that something unconventional may be the answer!

Shortly after, we were driving along the Oregon coast and saw a truck camper for sale. Sure, we had seen many before, but never knew much about what they were actually like or capable of. That specific one wasn’t exactly what we needed, but it broadened our horizons.

A quick search on RV trader led us to Mrs. Barbara and Bob, the sweetest couple who were selling their truck camper and truck as a combo deal. The four of us were definitely kindred spirits, and they had even bought the camper years ago for an Alaskan adventure of their own! The stars were aligning as far as we were concerned.

When we stepped inside, it was evident this would be the perfect cozy little home for our Alaskan adventure! The set-up of this specific camper (2015 Eagle Cap 850) was surprisingly spacious and livable, with a queen bed, propane stove/oven, decent sized fridge, dining table and a wet bath. Also, a fair bit of storage throughout (for all of our gear and clothes). Plus, it was already equipped with solar— we were set!

The Journey to Alaska

We picked up our new home on wheels that we named Ash (truck) and Orey (camper)- named after Ashland, Oregon where Mrs. Barbara and Bob lived- on Wednesday, April 27th. Our last day of work and departure date was the following Friday, May 6th. Things were coming down to the wire!

We thought we wanted to have our Subaru in Alaska as well so that we didn’t have to use the truck/camper as our daily driver. Our somewhat hastily devised plan was to sell the truck and camper up in Alaska at the end of our contract, and drive the Subaru back home.

Subsequently, we learned that a Subaru cannot be towed behind a vehicle with the wheels on the ground. Next mission: find a car hauler trailer. After researching different options and considering the 2,700 mile road trip we were about to embark upon, we decided to buy a new trailer, again with the intent/hope to sell it in Alaska once there.

Taking the truck, camper, and Subaru allowed us to take much more stuff with us than we would have otherwise been able to. This led to big financial savings for us by not having to pay to rent bikes, paddleboards, climbing gear, etc. for our adventures in the land of the midnight sun. The camper was fully furnished and stocked with our own things, so we didn’t have to spend money getting the essentials (pots, pans, coffee pot, etc. all the way to tables and chairs) for an unfurnished apartment. We also hung some of our own pictures and decorations to keep the cozy feel of “home,” and this made a big difference.

For our journey north to Alaska, we allowed a full ten days to soak it in. Our “mobile headquarters” allowed incredible extended stopovers and detours including Squamish, Stewart, Skagway, and Hanes. Just to cover accommodations in these places alone during our road trip would have been hundreds of dollars a night. Just as with our entire Alaskan adventure, we spent little to no money for “lodging” during our road trip, as we overnighted at beautifully scenic roadside pull-off vistas, convenient trailhead parking lots, or the occasional less scenic but appropriately priced Wal-Mart or Home Depot parking lots (free ninety free!). Having our own kitchen stocked with groceries was cost-effective as we didn’t have to stop for any snacks, meals, coffee, etc. along the trip, which can add up quick— especially when you’re at the mercy of supply and demand at the only open place within hundreds of miles in some cases in early Spring. Of course, diesel was an expense, but there was no way around that. It did help us feel secure knowing that the 50-gallon tank allowed us ample range before needing to refuel, even on the remote Cassiar Highway.

After what turned out to be an epic road trip adventure, we rolled into Wasilla. The first matter of business was to take Subie off the trailer— because we had already coordinated the sale of the car hauler for a $400 profit to a man in Anchorage for that same day! So far, this thing was working out!

We made our way down to Homer for a little adventure, where we camped on the spit and splurged $50 for a site for the first night. Turns out, that would be the only time we would pay for camping for the duration of our 6-month stay in Alaska.

During our drive up, we got connected with a friend of a friend who lived in Wasilla, who very graciously let us park in their driveway for the majority of our stay in Alaska at a substantially reduced “rental” rate. In an effort not to be too great of a burden on them, we sprinkled in a few weeknights along scenic roadside spots, our favorite lake/park where we enjoyed meal prepping outside, and an occasional night in the gym parking lot. Then each and every weekend was spent on the road to explore, camping in various free spots all around Alaska.

Perks of Living in a Truck Camper

It is safe to say that these months made up one of our favorite chapters in life so far.   A huge perk of living in the truck camper was that we never had to pack a bag! After work on a Friday, we could hop in the truck and just head anywhere – knowing we had all of our gear to be ready for whatever adventures the weekend brought our way!

The full kitchen and fully stocked fridge with us at all times was a continual cost saver. We’d wake up to a picturesque nature scene, and instead of having to drop $40 on breakfast and coffee, everything we needed was right there.

One of our favorite things was waking up every morning, opening the windows, backdoor, or sticking our heads out the skylight above our bed to admire the ever-changing beauty all around us. Check out this quick video for a glimpse at what some of our views looked like!

Countless times we would finish a big day in the mountains, and instead of going to a restaurant or brewery to replenish and recount the day, we could be home at the trailhead. We could even host a friend or two (3 at max, haha). Of course, we indulged occasionally, but by and large we had our own provisions with us and saved a ton of money this way.

Another obvious, but noteworthy, benefit was always having sleeping quarters at our disposal. For the thrifty-minded, in Alaska, this can equate to never having to pay for any campgrounds, Airbnbs, hotels or lodges. With so many fun festivals and outdoor live music events in The Last Frontier, it was amazing to be able to enjoy the festivities and have the camper nearby. This saved us from having to fight for accommodations or pay the premium tourist prices for popular events, like Mt. Marathon in Seward. Incredibly, from our parking spot that weekend, we could see the racers pass by us on the street and witness them barreling down the scree fields above the tree-line from our backdoor! Again, for free ninety free, like every other night. Also, another perk for us was sleeping at the trailhead made it easier to beat the crowds up any mountain.


We went out on a limb and fronted the cost of purchasing a truck and truck camper combo. Clearly this was a large upfront expense, but we bet on the fact that we could recoup that expense due to the price mark-ups we had seen comparing vehicle/RV sales in Alaska with lower-48 prices.

We managed fairly low recurring expenses such as $20/wk for laundry, $10/wk for waste disposal, ~$100/wk on gas, and $140/mo for insurance for the vehicles and camper. And our monthly “rent” to park at our friends’ place was very low compared to traditional campgrounds.

However, these expenses were more than mitigated, because we ended up loving the truck camper so much as a daily driver, that we took advantage of having the Subie to earn a profit. Summer tourism in Alaska is crazy, and the cost of rental cars reflects that. We decided to put the Subie on Turo for the days we knew we wouldn’t be using it, and over the course of our stay we ended up making ~$3,000 in total by renting it out.

Selling the Truck Camper

As our contract was nearing a close, we knew time, unfortunately, was not on our side. Having a long Alaskan winter approaching is not the optimal time for folks to be in the market for a camper.

Our contract ended mid-November, so we decided that for our last month we would rent a room in a house ($800/mo) so that our camper would be cleaned out and ready to sell. It was also getting pretty chilly living in the truck camper as Alaska has a VERY short (but very beautiful) “fall,” and then it goes straight to winter without much of a warning.  

Multiple dealers told us we’d have no problem at all selling the camper in the spring for a profit, so we debated putting it in storage or leaving it with a dealer on consignment. Ultimately, we were concerned about it sitting through an Alaskan winter with no telling how much snow on the roof, so decided to remain set on selling it before our departure.  

We ended up selling the camper for a few hundred less than we paid for it (to be fair, we put our fair share of imperfections in the rig).

We decided to keep the truck for use with our fifth-wheel back home.

We also ended up selling the Subaru in Alaska for fair market price (which was more than they were going for in the lower-48), and we were able to snag a flight home for $11 with credit card perks instead of driving back in the wintery conditions. Shipping the truck back home cost ~$2,000, but it also allowed us to fill it full of most of our belongings, saving us a ton of money on having to ship these items or paying extra baggage fees through the airline.

Was it Worth It?

From a financial perspective, it certainly cost us less to purchase, drive, and live in the truck camper than it would have to rent a furnished place in Wasilla for 6 months and pay for lodging every weekend during our weekly excursions. We also came out pretty even in the end with selling the truck camper and selling the car trailer, plus selling our Subaru and deciding to keep the truck for future use.

Ultimately though, the experiences the truck camper helped enable us to have are truly priceless. Outside of work, our priorities were weekends full of exploring new places near and far, and making the very most out of our Alaskan adventure. And the truck camper definitely helped bring that vision to life!

This isn’t the perfect answer for everyone by any means, because we all have different priorities when we travel, but it most certainly worked out for us, and we wouldn’t have done it any other way!

As long as it’s the right set-up, a truck camper is surprisingly livable! We actually had a difficult time transitioning back into our fifth-wheel once we got back to the lower-48, it was so much more space than we were used to. We still miss the simplicity of the truck camper life and often discuss the option of downsizing.

Our biggest piece of advice to our fellow travelers is to not be afraid to think outside of the box— there’s no right/wrong way to enjoy this adventure we call life! 

About Hailey & TR:

We are the Tie Dye Travelers! We are adventurers and nature lovers to the core, and we love all things involving movement in the outdoors. Moving our bodies in the simplistic beauty of nature is our happy place – whether that’s trail running, paddleboarding, fast packing, rock climbing, wakeboarding, or any variety of other outdoor activities. We live in an RV and are travel therapists (Hailey- Occupational Therapist, TR- Physical Therapist) traveling to various states in this beautiful country, providing therapy to patients in a wide variety of settings, while having endless adventures all along the way. We love nature, we love each other, and we love squeezing as much adventure out of this life as possible!

Follow us on Instagram @tiedyetravelers as well as our (occasionally updated) YouTube channel to keep up with all of our adventures. One of these days we’ll be better about posting updated blogs on our website but for now we’re just enjoying the ride! Feel free to reach out to us on Instagram or by email at with any questions!