Strangely, we didn’t really know what to expect once we pulled our fifth wheel out of that small Kentucky town. I guess you could say we had visions of visiting everything under the sun, cleverly writing postcards like Hemingway, going out everyday sampling local cuisines and wine tastings, sightseeing every inch of every State, etc. e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y! I mean, that’s the stereotype or perception of what full-time RVers do, right?Well, let me tell you, THAT is so far from a full-timers reality!
We’re about to give you a small dose of what we wished others would have told us to better prepare us for the reality. Though most of our adventures have been super fun and exciting, there’s also the dark side that we feel compelled to share with you.
We’ll call this our list of ‘KNOW BEFORE YOU GO!’ challenges we face in this RVing lifestyle…
As full-timers, we are always new to an area unless we’ve been there before and even then, it’s still unfamiliar because it’s not ‘home’. Trying to even get to our destination can be downright daunting. In fact, the first thing “I” do the minute I hop into the passenger seat is bury my face in my phone because our truck is just not big enough to hold every stress ball I’ll need.
I swear highway engineers method to designing city highway systems is to throw cooked spaghetti up in the air and wherever it lands, that’s the road system.
Oh, and let’s not forget other drivers race passing you like angry birds because you’re not going the speed they think you should be driving.
Or, how about the tailgaters thinking that if they get close enough, their little Passat is going to push our 18,000 5th wheel. Add in a little nasty weather like whipped cream on a sundae makes us want to go nuts.
Our solution? We pay attention to peak traffic hours and avoid them whether driving days or a simple errand. If we have to go into the city or navigate our way around it, we do everything in one day (chiropractor, office supply store, health food store, post office or shipping center, etc.) because Lord knows we don’t want to do this often. We also rely on the WAZE phone app that gives updated traffic.
Yep, you’ve heard them…make a U turn…recalculating…make a U turn…recalculating…take a right turn in 100 yards…only to find you’re in the middle of another abandoned construction zone that takes you on one-way dead end streets or deep in the hood where you need an arsenal to make it out alive.
Our solution is we prepare ourselves by mapping out our route on paper, plugging in gps coordinates and then, verifying the route with our Truckers/Motor Carriers Map. It also helps to check the State construction info on their DMV sites.
Inaccurate Campground or RV Park Review
Everyone’s standards are different as are opinions. We’ve parked at campgrounds or parks based on reviews only to find they are so polar opposite of ours that we either suck it up and stay or we pull out early losing our prepaid fees.
Our solution is we stick with ‘like-minded’ folks’ opinions by networking. We tend to take stock in others of the same RV size, same interests, same standards as ours.
For a rather ‘amusing’ RV park/resort blunder, check out a recent blog we wrote: “and that’s why they have wheels”
This is huge! It never fails that when we are on the other side of the country, something happens that requires us to high-tail it (fly) home. On top of having to navigate city traffic finding the airport, we then have to park our big dually in a parking spot made for a Yugo. With that, we just hope our big blue Captain America will still be there when we return.
Our solution is we get to a destination that’s easy to rent a car and drive home. Or, we situate ourselves near a major airport and fly home. We’ve found other RVers will gladly take us to and from the airport because its what we all do. Our RV family understands and are eager to help because they know we would do the same for them.
No Separate Home Office, Studio or Garage Workshop
We each like our separate space where we each can go to get a little alone time without having to leave our RV.
Any bit of my work or crafting is done on the picnic table if it’s nice outside or at my work space in our 5th wheel. Dan usually sits outside at the picnic table to do his maintenance and repairs or in his recliner while he does research on the internet.
Our solution is if one of us is inside, the other is outside (if it’s nice out). We’ll set up a little crafting, workshop or office table. While neither of us have left ‘home’, we still get our separate space to do as we please. Sometimes, if we’re at a RV park or resort that has a quiet workspace, we look at that as an option as well.
When one of us needs serious concentration and quiet, the other will either go for a short hike or go run errands.
UPDATE: We NOW have a bonafide home office! Check out Our 5th Wheel RV Interior Remodel Makeover!
Being assumed we’re wealthy
That myth is SO far off, its pathetically hilarious. Don’t think we don’t notice the evil glares we sometimes get from truckers as we fill up our diesel or people who meet us giving us those subliminal ‘must be nice to be on a perpetual vacation’ stares. If only they knew.
Our solution is if they start to engage in conversation, we tell them this is our ‘lifestyle’ and not a ‘vacation’. Once we tell them our story, they seem to nod and understand. We explain that we still work but our office is on the road. We still have chores. We still have to do maintenance. We still pay bills. We tell them that they TOO can do what we are doing (if they want to) and then they just shrug and leave like we’re crazy people.
Confusing and Different State Laws
Seriously, the ‘United’ States is an oxymoron. Each state dictates their own laws which leave transients like us confused and oftentimes pushing the envelopes of legalities. We deal with laws regarding beer sales on Sundays, firearms, tow length restrictions, etc.
Our solution is again, ‘being prepared’. Before going through or parking in a different state, we look up the laws that apply to our needs and concerns.
Continuity of our Military Health & Dental Care
This has been probably the highest speedbump in our travels. If either of us get sick or injured, we tell our life health history over and over again to new area medical professionals. Cronic health conditions, required labs and testing are a challenge because first, we must schedule to see a new PCM (Primary Care Physician) and even then, they schedule an appointment a month or two out. They don’t understand that we’re only in that location for a few days or couple weeks. Getting referrals pose their own set of challenges.
We also have to pay attention to what region we are in. That, in itself, makes it a bit of a headache if we forget to report our relocation.
Our solution is we really try to use MTF’s aka Military Treatment Facilities (military base and post medical clinics) whenever possible because their integrated computer system is accessible with other MTF’s worldwide. It works most of the time, however, nothing is perfect. We’ve had our run-ins and a few complications of continuity in our healthcare.
For my Chiropractic and Wellness, we use The Joint Chiropractic in larger metropolitan areas. They too, have integrated computer records so we keep continuity of treatment and care.
Oh, and dental care? What dental care? We have to go to Mexico because our government took retired military family dental away from us.
Researching Roads, Routes and Parking
This makes me laugh. When we sit down to plan our routes and places we want to go, it looks like we’re on a quest to take over the world with paper maps, IPad open to Google Earth, laptop open to Campground Reviews website, my phone open to researching individual campgrounds or parks and our tablets open to campground site maps. Its hilarious. We should videotape it sometime. No…let’s not do that.
Our solution is we know its going to take some time. We pick a rainy day or designate a day to this together. I used to do all the travel planning however, that grew tiresome and sometimes overwhelming because well…I’m a woman and sometimes making decisions without changing my mind ten times isn’t my strong suit.
We work together, plain and simple. That way, we both get to be involved in the planning enjoyment…and it’s much easier.
If you’re contemplating this lifestyle, this is just a small taste of what to keep in mind. RVing isn’t all fun and games but those I’ve listed certainly aren’t deal breakers for us because really, there is no perfect world no matter what your lifestyle is.
While most of the time, its adventurous and fun, there’s still the work-life balance we’re still hammering out. We figure it out by trial and error. Now that we’ve been around the block a few times, we can now sit back and say, ‘now that wasn’t so hard’ and toast each other another successful day.
If you’re new to RVing or contemplating hitting the road, we blogged another comprehensive list that you might enjoy: