As we completed our 5th year as full-time RVers or as they say in the RV community ‘nomadiversary’, I felt compelled to write about how our lives have changed. Here’s our candid view of RV Life: what we’ve learned as full-time travelers and some tips on how we deal with issues and circumstances that surround our RV lifestyle.
Before we set out for the open road in 2014, we had come to the hard-core realization that RV life is vastly different than living in sticks and bricks house. By sharing our RV life skills and how we do it now, we hope others won’t have to learn the hard way like we did. Bear with me in my tongue-in-cheek approach to keep things light in this blog piece. It’s what keeps things going for us. And, we’ll get to that in #5.
Before we started turning the wheels of our RV, we’ve researched, read blogs, watched videos about RV club memberships. Talk about massive overload of information. Although they are great for discounts at campgrounds or RV parks, we needed a few that are more so about community.
For those who think that we live on this perpetual vacation of puffy clouds, rainbows and soft kittens, I’m sorry to say, that’s a huge fallacy. As RVers, we still go through trials of life. There are some that may try to make us want to give up the ship. Amidst our amazing experiences of RV Life, we still have let downs, things that just piss us off and huge disappointments that make us cry.
Every RV remodel or renovation project needs to start with a good plan even before picking up a paint brush or hanging art on a wall. But, what if you don’t even know where to start? We’ll help walk you through the interior design planning process of your future RV makeover.
In the past year or so, we’ve met up with some of the cast members from the upcoming Open Road RV Nomads Movie Documentary; either one-on-one or at convergences. While we were living up the boondocking life (no utility hookups) at Quartzsite and American Girl Mine in January, we worked closely collaborating with
Do you know what today is (day after Thanksgiving)? It’s probably just a regular day for you; some returning back to work from Thanksgiving or for you diehard shoppers, it’s Black Friday. But for us, today is our third Nomadiversary and we are celebrating BIG! We wanted to share with you all our ‘Year in Review’.
We recently wrote a blog piece 10 Things we should have known before going full-time. It was our list of challenges we have faced since full-time RVing. We hope that didn’t scare those of you who are contemplating this lifestyle. Though being brutally honest, we hope it saves future RVer’s sanity or helps to better prepare them, then that piece was worth sharing. We certainly don’t want to be a downer. Ya just gotta see the grit and dirt. We get asked a lot about full-timing and the romance of it but sometimes that may obscure the real deal. So, take that for what it was intended. Nothing is all puffy clouds and rainbows; RVing included.
Okay, now that we got THAT out of the way…
We’ve come up with our own list of Why RVership is Better than Homeownership. This is a fun list we put together for your enjoyment and perhaps may be that nudge you need to push yourselves over the edge into selling it all to go on the road.
1) LAWNSCAPING – We hope we never have to pull the cord to a lawn mower ever again…or firing up a chain saw or weed wacker. Our dreams of never having to pick up a shovel to dig holes to plant things or worry about our hard-worked gardens and lawns drying up in the heat of the summer have come true. Admittedly though, it is fun to sit in our chairs outside with our cold beverages while watching others do it. That said, we aren’t total jerks; we always offer a cold bottle of water or ice tea to them as they painstakingly do their chores. Sorry…not sorry!
|Our water garden (we built) at our former sticks & bricks home.|
Though it was beautiful and serene, it required maintenance.
Now we enjoy gardens without ever having to pull a weed or water.
2) ALL DAY HOUSECLEANING – Never do we miss a day of taking three days to thoroughly clean our former 3600 square foot home. NOPE! No more lugging that big monster Kenmore vacuum up and down the stairs, dusting four bedrooms, laundering curtains and washing window, organizing the never-ending craft room mess, scrubbing floors, and constantly wiping knicknacks and wall art. It always seemed to be endless chore after chore. Now, we can have the bed made, dishes done, bathroom cleaned, deck swabbed, pillows fluffed, lateral surfaces dusted, etc. all in the course of…*drum roll*…ONE HOUR. Can you imagine? Our 380ish square foot 5th wheel doesn’t need massive cleanings anyways because we always keep it clean and picked up. We have to or we’ll trip over it.
3) COLLECTING STUFF/CLUTTER – We simply can’t be collectors of stuff anymore. We don’t have the room and we have to be mindful of our weight. Every few months, we purge. If its not been used since the last purging, out it goes. We buy ‘disposable’ holiday decorations. When the holiday is over, ‘out, out damn spot!’ If its good useable stuff, we usually put things in the RV park or campground laundry rooms. Two or three hours later, we’ll notice its gone which means others enjoy our givings. If they are big things or clothes, we’ll donate or pass them on. Our choice donation centers are on military posts/bases where young military families can get our contributions for nearly nothing.
4) HOUSEFUL OF FURNITURE – When buying an RV, it comes completely outfitted with furniture and even decor. Sure, we’ve picked up a couple pieces of small basket holders and purchased a better mattress but that’s it. We have a couple photo frames and two small table lamps. We may pick up a piece or two of wall art but when we put up the new, out goes the old. We usually buy less expensive decor so we don’t feel bad about getting rid of it when its time.
5) PAYING REAL ESTATE TAX – While some may this might seem selfish, it’s not. We paid dearly for years while we owned three homes at different duty station locations. Don’t think we get off scott free; we still pay federal tax on Dan’s military pension and our contract work, sales tax on purchases, taxes on fuel and road tolls, and truck/RV/motorcycle registrations but we don’t miss having to set aside upwards to hundreds a month for real estate taxes…a savings of about $4000/year (seriously!).
6) SHOVELING SNOW – NOPE!! We prefer consistent 70’s and 80’s but unless we’re in Cabo San Luca, that’s not going to happen. We have been bit by cold snaps a few times so we’ve quickly looked at our map’s latitude lines and told each other, ‘let’s head for better weather!’ Once in awhile we have to run our furnace…and we hate it!
7) OBNOXIOUS CABLE BILLS – Some RVers have Direct TV or Dish Network. We prefer not to. For fun watching, we subscribe to Netflix or Hulu for occasional movies and we have a case full of DVD movies or we swap-borrow. If an RV park or resort has cable tv in their hookups that’s part of their rate, fine but we won’t pay extra just to have it. Its not important to us. In fact, all of January and most of February, we’ve not even turned the television on. We went hiking, walking, sightseeing, played cards, visited friends, and just enjoyed the other things. You can’t believe how liberating it was not having to watch the elections leading up to the Presidential Inauguration.
8) WASTING FOOD – Rarely do we throw food away because simply, we don’t have the room for two loaves of bread and bagels, numerous boxes of crackers, etc. We don’t do a monthly grocery shopping anymore or bulk shopping at Costco or Sam’s. We plan out our meals each week and shop for those provisions accordingly. We don’t cook for an Army (er…Coast Guard) anymore; its just us and perhaps a couple more servings for leftovers for lunch the next day unless we’re entertaining.
9) JUNK MAIL – We don’t get bills in the mail because we ‘went paperless’. Not only are we conservation-minded, we have more time to do the things instead of opening mail, putting it in a pile, sorting and shredding it. To read about how we handle our physical mail, read our blog piece You’ve Got Mail.
10) SAME BACKYARD – Seriously, with our nomadic life, our aft picture window views change frequently. Sometimes we have the beach or mountains, and other times we have the forest or desert. Our neighbors change also; if it’s not us that’s relocating, its them. If we end up with boring scenery, we hitch up Liberty and find something better to look at or interesting places to go. Even Krissie and Kandi, our nomad cats, enjoy seeing different views.
As you have just read, while it may sound like we’ve gotten lazy, we have not. We fill our time with exciting activities like hiking, ADV motorcycle riding, visiting friends and family, playing tourist, blogging, writing, jewelry making, etc. We even volunteer sometimes! We keep busy. Our days still start early (just kidding!) and our nights…well, we don’t have set bedtimes anymore either. What’s funny though…it may seem like we have all the time in the world, we manage to live one moment at a time. We now have time to really ‘stop and smell the roses’. We’ve learned how to LIVE and enjoy it living in an RV instead of a big McMansion.
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
We’ve been asked numerous times to share our story of how our dream began over lunches, dinners, campfires, happy hours and small talk. Though our story resonates with other full-time RVers our age, it still piques interest of those who may think we’re crazy. Though we’ve been doing this for over a year now, we thought a thorough explanation might help some appreciate the process we went through to get to where we are now.