Let us introduce you to our newest RV inspiration, Heath and Alyssa Padgett. The Padgett’s are entrepreneurs in every sense of the word. In 2014 the couple married, quit their jobs, and headed out west with one goal: to explore all 50 states on their honeymoon.
They have since made a documentary of their travels, started a mobile business, launched a podcast, written a best selling book, hosted interactive summits, RVed across the world, and started a family by welcoming their little girl last year. In six short years, they’ve accomplished what some only dream to do in a lifetime. These full-time RVers may be young but they are setting the course for how to live and work remotely on the road.
We caught up with the impressive couple to learn more about their numerous business endeavors, tips for RVing full-time, insight on traveling abroad, with a baby and so much more. Enjoy the full interview below.
All photography provided by Heath and Alyssa
La Mesa RV: Tell us about yourselves! What do you do for a living? How did you two meet? Where are you currently?
Heath and Alyssa Padgett: We’re Heath & Alyssa Padgett and we run our businesses from our Winnebago. After meeting college and dating long distance after graduation, we came up with the idea to visit all fifty states for our honeymoon. We bought an old RV that we knew was going to break down at least once during our adventure and spent a year traveling the country. We fell in love with RVing so we found ways to build a mobile business that allowed us to keep traveling the country full-time. Since 2014, we’ve spent most of our time traveling, finding different countries to RV in, and building three different businesses.
LMRV: What made you decide to turn to the RV lifestyle? How long have you been RVing?
HAP: The decision to buy an RV was purely practical. Heath and I didn’t grow up camping and our families never owned RVs (our grandparents did once they retired though). But with a mission to visit all fifty states in one year, we had limited options. We didn’t have the funds to stay in hotels and there’s no way our marriage could survive sleeping in the backseat of my car for a year (Heath’s idea, if you can believe it).
RVing was the most cost-effective way for us to travel. We could cook our own meals, find free campsites, and always have a hot shower and a bed to sleep in. Back then, the Wynn’s were the only young people we could find online who were RVing and they were great friends to us in those early transitional days.
LMRV: Which RVs have you owned? Tell us about how each served the purpose for that stage of your lives.
Franklin – 1994 Coachman Leprechaun Class C motorhome (2014-2015)
Merica – 2016 Winnebago Brave 31C (2015-2019)
Ron – 2020 Winnebago Forza 38D (2020)
(We’ve also RVed in Canada, New Zealand, and Italy all in smaller Class C or B+ sized motorhomes. Perfect for small mountain roads!)
Each of our RVs has gotten bigger to accommodate our growth. Franklin was a great adventure vehicle. Small enough that we didn’t need a car and could fit down almost every road. We upgraded to a Winnebago with enough room for us to both have places to work to run our business.
Now we’re in a Winnebago Forza that has a built-in desk—perfect for us to work side by side!—and opposing slide outs to create tons of room for our family. Our one year old even has her own room. (Okay, it’s the master bathroom, which is big enough to set up a pack-n-play every night!)
LMRV: Run us through your process of turning living on the road into a full-time job. What made you decide to launch your business and Podcast?
HAP: Our first taste of working on the road came from freelance and consulting work. We were 23 and had no prior experience running a successful business or even doing the work we were consulting on (Heath was hired to plan a book tour). But I think because we were traveling to all fifty states and filming our documentary, we got people’s attention for doing something out of the box.
We started the RV Entrepreneur Podcast mostly out of our own desire to learn and connect with other people crazy enough to think they would work and travel full-time. We knew a few digital nomads traveling the world, but the idea of traveling by RV at our age was so foreign. Heath started our RV Entrepreneur Facebook group to start connecting with other young RVers and once he found a handful of people to interview, he launched the podcast.
For us, working on the road was lonely and isolating at times and we didn’t have any good friends who really understood what our lifestyle was like. We made so many friends from the Facebook group and our podcast interviews that we started the RV Entrepreneur Summit to bring everyone together in person.
LMRV: For those who don’t know about the RV Entrepreneur Summit, tell us a little about how it works.
HAP: The RV Entrepreneur Summit is a business conference for RVers. We bring in expert speakers to share their knowledge on hiring remote teams, outsourcing your business, starting a YouTube channel, making money as a blogger, and more. Every year is a little different (our fourth event was fully virtual in March due to COVID and we can’t wait to bring people together again for year five!)
So far we’ve hosted in Texas and Alabama bringing together a few hundred RVers or soon-to-be RVers to hang out and learn more about the RV Entrepreneur lifestyle.
LMRV: Your book, A Beginner’s Guide to Living in an RV (which can be purchased here) is incredibly insightful. What inspired the book?
HAP: Because we’ve been blogging about RV life since we bought Franklin over six years ago, I’ve received a ton of emails from newbie or wannabe RVers asking the same basic questions:
How do you get mail?
How do you know what RV to buy?
How do you get internet on the road?
Where do you find campsites?
I was replying to emails with the exact same message every day when I realized I should just put all those answers in one book and save people the hassle of reading a dozen blogs to answer all their RV life questions. I started the book in 2016 and published it in 2017. It continues to be a bestseller because RV life has grown sooo much in popularity over the years—especially with the COVID spike in outdoor recreation!
LMRV: Any other books on the horizon?
HAP: I’m currently working on my next book which will share more of our adventures as we traveled to all fifty states during our first year on the road to give better insight to future RVers as to what day-to-day life on the road is really like.
LMRV: You utilize multiple mediums from podcast, blog, documentary, publishing, to summits… was that a conscious decision from the beginning or did those other mediums come into play as your business evolved?
HAP: Absolutely conscious. We love writing and started blogging many years before we began traveling. The documentary came up from an opportunity we couldn’t say no to. It was Heath’s bucket list dream to film a documentary, but we had no film experience so I never thought it would happen. Then the chance fell in our laps so we said yes!
Heath always wanted to start a podcast too and I always wanted to write a book, so we both took some risks and made it happen. None of those decisions were necessarily “let’s make money doing this” decisions, but more like this is our dream, we are going to accomplish it no matter what. Everything was all about RVing and working on the road, so the pieces all fit together.
LMRV: What made you decide to travel overseas in your RV?
HAP: We have a long list of countries we’ve wanted to visit, but RVing in the states opened our eyes to our ideal travel style. If we travel abroad by RV, we can see whole countries but sleep in the same bed every night. We can cook our own meals and camp on vineyards in Italy. It’s dreamy.
LMRV: Do you take your own RV or rent one when traveling abroad?
HAP: Odds are, if you want to RV abroad—and I don’t really count Canada or Mexico here—you do not want to use your own RV. Roads in other countries are significantly smaller and American rigs are massive beats. In New Zealand, we rented a 23-foot RV. One day, we checked into a holiday park (RV park) and the front desk clerk asked what size our RV is. Heath said it was pretty small. The clerk looked out the window and laughed. “That’s the biggest motorhome I’ve ever seen,” she said. We’ve always rented abroad for that reason!
If you want to simply drive across the border to Canada when the border is open, we have a blog post on how to easily manage that here.
LMRV: How are your overseas experiences? Any special places to come?
HAP: We absolutely LOVE RVing abroad. And there are a ton of countries where RVing is a big part of their culture (esp New Zealand!). High on my list are Iceland, France, and Japan. We hope to make it back abroad in 2021.
LMRV: Congratulations on your little! How has life on the road changed since expanding your family?
HAP: Well, first we upgraded to a bigger RV with onboard laundry. GAME CHANGER. In that respect, RV life is so much easier. No more lugging a laundry basket around twice a week! That also means Heath drives 100% of the time while I sit next to Ellie’s car seat at our dinette.
I think if we were new parents + new RVers, life would be crazy right now. But since we’ve spent most of our marriage on wheels, jumping into the RV was a smooth transition with our daughter and babies can adapt to anything.
We’ve traveled much slower than our typical pace this year, opting for month-long stays in many areas (partly because of COVID) and choosing to find places to be our home base for weekend adventures instead of finding some place new every three nights. Between being a full-time stay-at-home mom and running our business and writing my next book, the slower pace is perfect.
LMRV: Any tips and tricks for new parents RVing with a baby?
HAP: I think getting a baby comfortable in her car seat for long periods of time is essential—bonus if they will take naps in it. Makes for much easier travel days! We also use and love our baby lawn/camping chair that we use as Ellie’s high chair for meals. It folds away and washes clean so we don’t have any extra bulky items in our small space. Since we use a pack-n-play for her bed, which also folds away, we can keep much of our floor space open for Ellie to run around and play. Fold away items really help our sanity so the whole house doesn’t always feel a mess!
LMRV: These are surely unprecedented times. How has Covid changed your travels and plans? Has it been a struggle as full-time RVers to find open campsites/parks/etc?
HAP: During the initial quarantine period, we found a month-long stay where we were in Alabama. Everything was open still, including state parks, and we didn’t have any trouble finding a place. (Other than that the first campground we stayed at was on the river and the river flooded, so we had to find a backup option! Just layering onto the craziness that was March!) To read about that experience on your blog, you can click here.
LMRV: Do you have advice you’d like to share with RVers during a pandemic?
HAP: Right now, the biggest issue is that so many people are camping and we have more trouble finding campsites! We’ve got to start booking things ahead of time. Most campgrounds are open, though many attractions may not be.
For up to date information on travel, we use covid.colorado.gov since we are traveling across Colorado. In April, we decided to nix a few of our travel plans and choose one state where we wanted to spend the rest of the year so if there was ever another quarantine, we hadn’t been crossing state lines.
LMRV: What are your top 5 pieces of advice for newbie RVers (of any age)?
1. Travel slowly. RV life is about appreciating the journey and not just the destination. Stop everywhere along the way.
2. Always carry water on board your RV. When we leave an RV park, we try to fill up with at least 20% water in case we break down or end up needing to Walmart camp for a night.
3. Have plenty of driving entertainment. Audiobooks, podcasts, games—you will spend so much time behind the wheel, you’ll want to find a good way to use that time!
4. Be sure to buy a 50-to-30 or 30-to-50 AMP adapter so you can always hook up to electricity. We’ve found so many campgrounds that don’t offer 50 AMP so we have to use an adapter! Worth every penny.
5. Meet up with people on the road if you can. If you’re full-timing, loneliness may be one of the first emotions you feel. Especially if you’re leaving behind lots of friends and family to travel! Find an online community and connect with people as you go.
LMRV: Where is one (because it’s so hard to pick just one) of your favorite places you’ve traveled to date?
HAP: One of our absolute favorite places has been Maine. Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park, Portland—the whole state is beautiful AND delicious.
LMRV: Where can we find you online?
Instagram – @heathandalyssa
Facebook – Heath and Alyssa
Facebook Group – Make Money RVing
Website – Heath And Alyssa
Podcast – RV Entrepreneur Podcast
Documentary – Hourly America
Looking for more RV inspiration? Check out our recent Interview with The Marrs Family. If you’re a full-time RVer and would like to share your story, leave us a comment in the section below for a chance to be featured on our Experience Life blog.