People ask us repeatedly why we gave up everything, our livelihoods, jobs and house with everything in it, to live in an RV full-time. To be quite honest, we sometimes ask ourselves that same question but we always come to the same answer we did back in 2014. Though it was a challenging and downright scary time for us, we’d do it all over again. Here’s why, for the time being, RV living is so much better and easier than in our former sticks and bricks. Let’s see why.
RV and Camping Hacks are inexpensive remedies utilizing objects that are meant for other intended purposes. Through our years as full-time RVers, we’ve come up with our own list of cheap camping hacks and tips to make living in an RV motorhome or camper trailer simpler.
We’ve lived and traveled in our RV for going on 3 years and absolutely wouldn’t trade it for the world. Our lifestyle is incredibly amazing. We’ve been told people want to ‘be us’. While we adored our previous sticks and bricks home, we love the tiny-house simplicity, liberation and freedom to go when we want and where. We are blessed with so many people who come into our lives through our travels and remain friends for life. But that doesn’t say there aren’t things we’ve missed or day dream about that we had living in our former ‘S&B’ (sticks and bricks) home. We’re being honest here. In this lifestyle, you trade one for another.
This lifestyle brings a whole new set of challenges. That military mantra ‘overcome and adapt’ has followed us. It’s okay though, it’s what makes us stronger to enjoy the reason why we are doing this whole nomadic lifestyle. We consider ourselves lucky to be doing this but that doesn’t erase some disappointments or things we’d wished to keep. This is a brutally honest, hearts-on-our-sleeves blog piece. Don’t think for a minute that we’re complaining but, if you’re ever contemplating a nomadic lifestyle whether it be RVing, sailing, backpacking across the country, etc., you might want to know before cutting the cord:
- Soaks, Salts & Suds – I miss my big jetted tub! I used to take 2-3 baths a week with my favorite soaps, salts and essential oils; whether it be therapeutically or simple relaxation. Now, I’m lucky to get one every 2-3 months. If I visit a friend or relative, I always ask, ‘may I?’ and when we get a hotel room, I splurge and get one with a big soaking tub.
- Endless Hot Water – It goes with the bathtub soaks. Admit it, long showers rock…where it meant using the entire water heater tank in our former sticks and bricks, that we could stand in the shower for a good 30 minutes of pulsating hot water on my back and shoulders, but I digress. Now, our showers are limited to about 5 minutes unless we use the bathhouse where we are parked but then there’s the whole privacy thing. We sacrifice one for the other.
- Down The Drain – Doing dishes back then was so much simpler with one less step. Now, we scrape our dishes well or wipe them with a napkin before washing them. Weird I know, but we watch everything we put down our plumbing and tanks. If not, we’re in big trouble…perhaps bigger and more costly than when we had our S&B. On the same note, if we’re not hooked up to sewer, we then are very conscious of how much we put in our gray tanks. So, even that five minute shower gets cut to about two.
- Friends and Family – This is probably the biggest ‘low point’ but we try not to dwell or think about it. Our families are in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia and elsewhere and Lisa’s best friends are in Florida, Maine, and Kentucky. We make it a point to fly or drive to see our families and friends. It takes extra planning because of where we may be parked, who will care for our nomad cats and how we get there.
- Forever Neighbors – We knew exactly who had coconut sugar or special spices to borrow from in our former neighborhood. If a neighbor needed a babysitter, we were always there to help them. The Early Wyne Ladies gathered every month for Bunco, baby and wedding showers, cooked for sick neighbors, and took care of each other’s neighbors and pets while we would step away on vacations or trips. We miss the annual Kentucky Derby parties, Halloween Parties at Kim & Jim’s, Christmas Parties at Amy & Paul’s and New Year’s at whomever was bold enough to volunteer. We’ve even hosted a few. We miss the neighborhood community we had. We knew we could depend on each other without worry.
- Butcher, Baker and Candlestick Maker – It might sound like a fairy tale we lived in however, this part was important to us. We got our meats and groceries from our small Kentucky town Country Mart, our pastries and baked goods from The Tea Cup and whatever handcrafts, I bought from locals I knew. We don’t have that anymore. I miss it. But it won’t keep us from not finding the best in the places we visit. We make talk with the locals wherever we go to find their recommendations. We enjoy visiting Farmer’s Markets everywhere to compensate.
Dave & I chatting at our favorite bakery
the Tea Cup in Taylorsville, Kentucky
- Girlfriend Dates and Outings – nothing like all my peeps packing into our former home in funny themed pajamas to scrapbook until 4 am, lunch dates at the local cafes, and ‘playing the ponies’ at Churchill Downs with ‘da girls’ at Kentucky Derby time. But on a good note, I’ve met some fabulous lady friends whom I’ve gotten to know to do ‘girlfriend things’ with on the road. Some of us have grown extremely close because of what we have in common.
- Doctor, Dentist & Chiropractor – They knew us and our health like their own familys’. They knew our stories and personals. The knew how to treat without having to go through continuous comprehensive exams every visit. Our military medical care is perhaps, one of our biggest challenges on the road, but we make it work. We have to.
- Our Nomad Cats’ Veterinarian – As with our own Doctor, our fuzzyheads miss Dr. Shelley and the staff at Elk Creek Animal Hospital. They know them well and have been their patients since they were frisky kittens. Doc Shelley diagnosed Kandi’s Feline Hyperesthesia and understands her need for separate visits to get her immunizations because of her allergic reactions if taken all together. He also knows that Krissie is a Prima Donna, loves to be held by him but hates opening her mouth for him. On a good note, each year we return to Kentucky to get their well-kitty checks and to play with the staff.
- Home for the Holidays – Most look at this as a heartbreaker but we make the best of it. I can honestly say, ‘we’re used to it’ because of our former military lifestyle being stationed away from our families. We love the holidays and we love our families. But because of where they weather, location and time of year, travel is most times difficult, especially when we are parked a couple thousand miles away. We try to situate ourselves where we may meet with other RVers in the same situation or choose a location near(er) to other family or friends. Its hard to be alone but really, we’re not.
Our ‘RV Family’ OwnLessDoMore‘s Emily & Tim and son, Dane
joined us for Christmas dinner at Wine Ridge RV Resort
in Pahrump, NV
Almost every week it seems, on one or more of the RV related Facebook group pages we frequent, a topic we call ‘RV Wars’ happens and sometimes…no…EVERY time, it gets very heated. Comments end up getting deleted by the Admin of that group or the discussion is just plain shut down. They always end badly…ALWAYS!
Anyways, this morning, I rose with the sun, grabbed my big cup of hot joe and sat down to see what excitement I missed our favorite pages since during the eight hours I slept. All was going well until…yeah, until I start reading a new member post the forbidden, nails-on-the-chalkboard question that had me snort coffee out of my nose. There it was, staring right back at me on the computer screen…“Hi! We are newbies and were wondering what is the best RV type we should buy?” Now if that ain’t a loaded question, I don’t know what is. If only facebook groupies knew how to use the ‘search bar’ for said group’s page and typed that question instead of posting it, we wouldn’t have this come up almost every week…oh, and my laptop screen would be cleaner, but I digress. We wouldn’t have these perpetual ‘forgive me if this has been posted before but…”; its like watching the movie ‘Groundhog Day’.
Hold onto that thought…
Look, there is no right or wrong answer or best or worst RV out there. Its all a matter of perception and opinion. Everyone’s journey and dream is different. There is no ‘one size fits all’. Our perspective and experience will be different from others. We each find what fits our situation, family size, interests, toys, cost, floorplans, etc. So when someone posts that unnerving comment, “well, motorhomes are better easier…” or “5th wheels are so much better because…” or the bold faced question in the previous paragraph, you can begin to understand why it is such a controversial subject. So to help with that, we’ve compiled lists that may help answer those unnerving questions or comments.
- Easier to set up/take down (this is hugely debatable)
- Huge windshield for awesome viewing and photography
- Comfy passenger seat with platform area for laptop computer working in transit
- Passenger(s) can watch tv/movies while in transit
- Passenger(s) can make sammiches or go pee while in transit
- Generator enabled at the push of a button from inside
- Driver/Passenger(s) don’t have to leave the inside of the coach
- Large propane tank which results in less visits for refill
- More comfortable ride in transit
- Price tag; much more expensive unless you hit the lottery or heir to the queen
- Engine and Maintenance Costs are significantly higher
- Two vehicles to finance; Motorhome and Toad (transportation vehicle)
- Insurance Cost is higher; don’t forget to add in the Toad
- If your engine breaks down, could cost $$ for lodging while motorhome gets serviced
- Built in generator malfunction requires garage service
- Bigger Propane and Fuel tanks scream OUCH at the pump
- While in transit, driver and passenger(s) hears every shake, rattle and roll of everything inside
- must use high clearance/truck stop type fuel stations because of height
- Affordability (new and pre-owned)
- Maintenance is much simpler and less costly
- Space inside RV is not taken up by engine, transmission or cockpit
- Don’t lose RV home to a garage if mechanics needs to go for service
- More floor plan options and roomier
- More homey feel; residential recliners, fireplace, large entertainment centers
- Larger kitchen/galley with island
- Storage is inside the RV (cabinetry) and not underneath
- Extra storage space in truck bed away from hitch (if needed)
- Insurance is substantially less
- Easier to resell
- Can fuel truck at any fueling station without tow
- No making sammiches or potty breaks while in transit; need rest stops
- Setup/Take Down requires precise hitching/unhitching & leveling
- Smaller windshield and cockpit
- Must be proficient in large vehicle towing and backing up
- Most states disallow passengers to ride in the trailer in transit
- Lighter in weight means less stability during transit
- Riding all day in a pickup truck can be uncomfortable
Both still have to hook up or unhook utilities outside (ie. electric, water & sewage) taking the same amount of time. The only difference we’ve observed is that Class A owners can auto-level from ‘inside’ whereas 5th Wheel owners must level or auto-level from an ‘outside’ cargo compartment, however, that said, if both measured on a stop watch, the task length pretty much equals.
Class A owners claim that 5th Wheel Owners must take extra time to hitch and unhitch however, if Class A owners are towing a toad, they still have to take that same time to hitch or unhitch their toad, sometimes taking longer. As well, Class A owners claim in foul weather, they can pull into a campsite or park, lower their jacks and be done with it while its assumed that those towing a 5th wheel or travel trailer must get out to unhitch to do the same. Not true. If its nasty weather, as 5th wheel owners, we can stay hitched, level the front jacks quickly to take the weight off of the hitch and go inside to put the slides out. We can properly unhitch and fully level in the morning or when the weather breaks.
Just keep “living YOUR dream”!
Do you know what the number one that will absolutely destroy the inside of your RV? Mold and Mildew! And not only will it damage your RV or camper, it will make your family sick. But a good dehumidifier will quickly reduce and maintain a healthy level of humidity in the air creating a healthy environment for your family.
Spit polish shoes….CHECK!
Army Ball Tickets….CHECK!
Just because we live full-time in an RV doesn’t devoid us from partaking or attending formal events. In early 2015, Dan bought himself a set of tails and myself, a ball gown…or two…or three…for a Mardi Gras Ball we attended with our wonderful friends in Mobile, Alabama. This year, we dug them out of our tiny closet and took them to the cleaners, did a quick spit polish on Dan’s shoes, bought me some new jewelry and donned our formals again for the Medical Command Army Ball.
We were guests of our dear friends, Leon and Barb, who are stationed in San Antonio at Fort Sam Houston. We were stationed with them back in Kentucky years ago at Fort Knox.
We were in good company of some great Medics and Officers! Great group picture…even if it IS a proof! LOL
We felt like fish out of the water as Dan was the only Coastie in attendance; as well though, he was in his tails and not his Coast Guard uniform. But dang, we looked sharp! It was a great evening of pomp and circumstance, honor and several happy hours!
So, until next time, the ball gown and tails goes back in the garment bag and gets put back under the bed. Even RVers get to go to the ball!
We did it!!! We believed in our dream and now are living it! We didn’t give up. We didn’t throw in the towel when the worst storms hit us. We were told if we can make it through our first year, we can do it for 20 more. This was no easy feat. We trusted our hearts and souls, held hands together and plunged into the unknown. We left the rest up to God.
|Two days before leaving Kentucky|
The eve before Thanksgiving 2014, we passed papers on our S&B (Sticks and Bricks…aka ‘house’) and that’s when we held our breath. Coincidentally, our very first RV friends we’ve met, Kristin & Jason Snow aka the “Snowmads” who we’ve networked through the past months were attending a RV convention in Louisville, so who better to get the straight scoop before hookin’ up and hauling out. They were fantastic! They reassured us that it gets easier as each day passes. They were so helpful and encouraging. They’ve been full-timing for some time; they were experts. So we went with that and flew! Thank you Kristin & Jason for pushing us off the edge. Love you guys! Can’t wait to see you again!
So the day after Thanksgiving, we rose with the Kentucky sun once more; said our goodbyes to our terrific Kentucky peeps and neighbors, loaded up one last time (we did practice runs each month prior), and pulled out of Taylorsville.
|Captain Dan locking the gate before departing|
To say the least, being the sentimental type, I (Lisa) started crying happy tears and grabbed Dan’s hand. Dan…well, not so much…he had that deer-in-the-headlights-look on his face as he gripped the wheel as we embarked on our maiden voyage. I couldn’t tell if it was fright or overwhelming jubilation. Either way, there were no more second thoughts; no going back. This was it. We were about to trip the light fantastic.
Fast forward 365+ days…
OH WHAT A RIDE IT HAS BEEN!!!
Thanksgiving 2015 marked our 1st year RV’ing! Happy Nomadiversary to US! We survived the test of time. Our marriage met challenges (who’s wouldn’t from downsizing from 3300 sq ft home to a 400 sq ft RV?). Doing this isn’t about only ‘loving each other’, its about ‘LIKING each other’. It’s also about meeting in the middle and making sacrifices; one or both of us. It’s taking both of us out of our comfort zones and taking a chance at a different lifestyle. It was OUR TIME! Time to throw off the bowlines and throw caution to the wind.
So, in a nutshell…
We got lost more times than we can count; not even hard sometimes! We ducked under overpasses that were a mere inch taller than RV Liberty was. We almost ran out of fuel three miles before one of our destinations. We cursed at our GPS’s while at the same time, celebrated technology.
We cried when we received phone calls of devastating news that took us miles away. We slammed doors in anger or frustrations. We opened our hearts to new friendships. We cheered at professional hockey games. We watched Army Rangers jump out of big airplanes and boasted American pride each time we heard the sounds of freedom.
We caught tons of Mardi Gras beads and throws. We dressed up and dressed down. We danced barefoot on beaches in Alabama and Florida and two-stepped in Texas.
We rode our motorcycles to honor our Nation’s MIA’s and Fallen Heroes and Segways through battlefields. We tossed nickels and dimes into fountains and humbly placed pennies on graves at Arlington.
We’ve tried cuisine that we would have passed on before. We had a tiny Christmas tree and handed out treats to ghosts and goblins from our RV door. We visited family members. We kissed puppies and petted kittens.
We dared to try something different….always. We’ve watched the sun set, sun rise and stars twinkle. We interrupt dinner to run out to see a rainbow. We quietly watched thousands of fireflies in woods and fields on the darkest nights. We stop to smell roses and pretty flowers that we used to just walk by. We take pictures of silly things.
We went to two churches in one day! We climbed up sand dunes and slid down a mountain. We left breathless; by attitude and by altitude.
|Enjoying Jamestown, VA|
We fit our RV in places that even professional drivers would scratch their heads at. We learned things not taught in school or read in history books. We saw things that others will never be able to see in their lifetime.
We passed on buying ‘things’ because they wouldn’t fit in our RV yet filled our minds with overflowing memories.
Each day was not always a vacation yet, no two were the same. There was always work to be done. We’ve read books at the laundromats. We enjoyed coffee and donuts just because. We’ve learned to lean on and learn from our RV’er Families.
We learned patience. We embraced our failures. We laughed at ourselves over silly and sometimes, costly mistakes. We each grew individually and together; spiritually, inwardly and outwardly too. We are not rich but we are enriched. We are happy. We love our life. We are living our dream.
So far, each day, each hour, and each minute blessed us with a memory. Have we done it all? Oh heck no! That’s why we’re going on year two!
Now that we have passed our inaugural year of successes and failures, we wanted to share our list of our first year RV’er WTF Moments:
- We sold our beautiful Kentucky home
- Two tornadoes
- A hurricane
- A snow storm and frozen waterlines
- Both of us got pneumonia immediately after casting off
- Our son deployed to the Middle East (4th time)
- We attended our first Mardi Gras Ball (Ball gown and tux tails)
- Met and chatted with a prominent NASCAR personality
- Visited NASCAR Driver Ryan Newman and his wife Krissie’s Rescue Ranch
- Wined and dined at Richard Childress’ Winery
- Dined at Charlotte Motor Speedway upper deck
- Hugged shipmates whom we’ve not seen in over 32 years
- Lisa was ‘patched’ (motorcycle club…a ‘good’ one LOL)
- Rode Segways
- We learned how to blog
- Changed state residency
- Left our broken down Harley in the middle of nowhere Virginia
- Broken Campsite Reservations during the busiest season in Pennsylvania
- Our first National Heartland Owners Club Rally
- A major RV repair (went back on assembly line)
- We became hikers and explorers
- Dan hiked up to the top of the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado
- A very sick kitty crewmember (twice)
- A sudden death in the family
- Unforeseen Medical Emergency
- Our son’s homecoming from the Middle East
- Attended a formal Army Ball (ball gown & tails)
- A difficult major family medical decision
|Another RV couple, Eric & Brittany Highland of RV Wanderlust |
that we meet up with occasionally on the road
- We each put on 15 pounds
- We succeeded at living in a 400 sq. foot RV (and we’re still married!)
- We’ve made hundreds of lifelong RV friends
- We’ve reunited with over FORTY of our former Coast Guard shipmates
- We’ve reunited with our Rolling Thunder Brothers and Sisters
- We visited Dan’s parents in Pennsylvania and brother’s family in Virginia and my brother in northern PA
- We stayed in 18 states (1 night or more)
- We visited over 20 National Parks, Historic Monuments and Landmarks
- We visited 5 nationally known cemeteries.
- We camped/parked at 7 military bases/posts
- We’ve taken over 30,000 photos
- We’ve traveled over 7,000 miles
We’ve come to the point now where we don’t count; there are no more numbers. We live one day at a time and enjoy the life God has blessed us with.
|Our First Anniversary with fellow RV’ers and our Army family|
We hope you have enjoyed our blog thus so far. So much more for us to share with you all.