If nothing else, automobiles have an uncanny ability to stir wanderlust in their drivers – and perhaps no other vehicle is more effective in that regard than the recreational vehicle, or RV.

Whether for a memory-making haul with the family or a solo quest for something hiding just beyond the horizon,  RVs are often the vehicles of choice.

At least, that is the fantasy.

To find whether the RV lifestyle was as idyllic as it sometimes appears, BBC Autos scoured Quora.com, the question and answer community, to peek into the lives of true RVers. Some answers propped up picturesque notions, while others spoke to the harsher realities of a life lived mere feet above the pavement.

Everybody has their reasons
Many people who live the RV life full time are retirees looking for adventure. Quora user Stephen Frantz, who decided to live in his RV full-time with his wife two years ago, fits that profile – and that suits him fine. "We sold our house and everything that didn't fit in the RV. We have lived full time in our RV since then and plan to for years to come," he wrote.

But not everyone waits until they've completed their working years. Some travel in search of a calling that has eluded them. "I did it in my 30s while traveling across country to decide what career would be best for me," Quora user Teri Blaschke said. "I was amazed at how easy it was to obtain employment at a variety of places [on the road], as long as you weren't too picky. It really opens your eyes to how other people live and the possibilities out there."

Blaschke said RVing brought the things that were most important to her into focus, something that has stayed with her since. "In short, it was an experience that changed and formed my life in so many positive ways," she said. As for that career path? She eventually chose to work in the hospitality industry, with a specialty in RVing.

The pros and cons

For all its appeal, RVing – or caravanning as it is known in the UK – is not all sunshine and rainbows. "Sometimes it feels like living the dream. Other times it feels like… well, not like that," Brett Florio demurred. An entrepreneur, Florio can work remotely, and often travels with his wife and three young daughters.

He explains that travelling in an RV full-time can be liberating, exciting and relaxing, but notes that it can also be "frustrating, lonesome and stressful." Following bad directions and getting stuck in detours top the list of frustrations for Florio, but they do not deter him. "Above all, it's a learning experience," he writes.

Nick Lee's family of six moved from a 4,000sq-ft home on 300 acres to a 350sq-ft RV. But the transition has been easier than he initially thought it would be. "All of the issues that we had anticipated with six people shoved into a tiny space amounted to nothing much." He admitted that having neighbours around the RV park has been one of the biggest changes, but he's adapting.

Adventures around town
Not everyone has to drive an RV around the world for a sense of adventure. Quora user Vanessa Donley lives in her Class B RV – basically a van converted into a living space – in and around San Francisco, California.

"Some days, I feel like I'm one of the most clever of individuals," she wrote, for having stumbled on a lifestyle that gives her so much freedom. But other days, she plots her return back to the walk-in closets and creature comforts of her previous apartment.

She lives in the RV with her dog and gets more than a few strange looks when performing everyday tasks such as taking out the trash. Donley says some people assume she is homeless or poor. "A young woman stepping out of an RV is an odd thing to see, unless you are in the natural habitat of RVs."

Whether driving to dog parks around town or recreational parks across the country, none of these full-time RVers appear to regret choosing a mobile life. One theme that constantly emerged in the Quora responses was the ability to tailor their lives to suit the setting.  Now, if only those settings always had reliable internet connections.

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