Guess what folks, it's raining again! The clouds moved into this area about 4 p.m. yesterday and it has rained continually since with no relief in sight until tomorrow. As fate would have it, we chose to undertake our travels in the wettest season for the Northeast states in over 100 years. Thankfully, in contrast to past postings, there are no leaks in the unit. I have spent a great deal of time over the past month re-sealing the roof seams and, so far, it appears to have solved the problem. If nothing else, the constant rains have helped us better understand some of the realities of full-time RV living.
As with all things, perceptions are often much different than realities. One of the reasons we began this blog was to explain the realities of our full-time RV lifestyle; both for those who may be considering undertaking the same path and those we talk with who still seem confused about the concept. Almost a year before we bought our unit or hit the open road, both of us completed extensive research on motor homes and RV lifestyles. It is amazing how much solid information on these topics can be found on the Internet, ranging from those with over thirty years experience to those who, like us, are just beginners. Thank God, because there's nothing worse than discovering, after the fact, that where you ended up is not how the territory looked going in.
So, based upon both our research and other aspects we have learned along the way, here are a few thoughts on the matter.......
First and foremost, a full-time RV lifestyle is not suitable for everyone. This was a major topic discussed by all experts and has proven true from our experiences. It requires major shifts in how one perceives - and reacts to - concepts of time, space, shelter and relationships. It requires a "paradigm shift", as it were, in relating to what you were raised to think about a home and/or shelter and then residing in an entirely new way. It requires being open to constant changes in both your environment and within yourself. It requires giving up material things and adjusting to more basic necessities. It requires adapting to new patterns in living in a smaller space, and spending more time with your partner. It requires thinking things through in a new way.
Before this is mistaken as a means to discourage others from the lifestyle, let me make it clear that is not my intention. The full-time RV lifestyle can be both adventurous and rewarding. There are just some basic realities that should be considered before making a major lifestyle change. Ask yourself these questions; how much time each day do you actually spend one-on-one with your partner?; how many of your current possessions could you fit into an RV?; could you adjust to living with fewer, or no, TV channels for weeks at a time?; could you plan ahead enough to stock a food supply for seven days?; would you know where to stop for enough fuel to fill an 80 gallon tank? These are all realities that are important for determining not only if you are suitable to the lifestyle, but also important in determining which RV your purchase and how you plan your travels along the way. They are all realities that we have found to be core to our experiences so far.
A few other things we have learned....
Become a member of AAA Auto Club, Camping World and Passport America: AAA provides up to 100 miles in towing and roadside assistance for RVs. Camping World is an invaluable resource for supplies and maintenance. Passport America provides deep discounts for stays at private campgrounds throughout North America & Mexico. The small fees required for membership in all three will save you a tremendous amount of money over the long run.
Know basic mechanical skills: Over the past four months I have re-sealed the roof, repaired a leaky toilet valve, tightened exhaust couplings, repaired cabinets, completed routine maintenance on fluid levels and oil changes in both the engine and generator, changed lightbulbs, replaced bad fuses and learned all systems of our unit inside and out. There is nothing more important when you are miles from a major population than an ability to complete quick repairs and having the tools on hand for any task that may arise.
Learn to cook with smaller appliances: Even though we have a four-burner gas stove and oven, we have found it saves a tremendous amount to cook on as many electric appliances as possible; we are paying for the electric we use at each stop, so why have the added expense of using our LP for the same purpose? Appliances like a crock pot, toaster oven, electric skillet and a small electric burner have proven invaluable in keeping our expenses as low as possible.
Be wary of GPS directions: GPS systems are an essential item to have in an emergency on the open road, but can be very unreliable in the best routes for large RV units. Had the owner of the Beaver Springs Campground not warned us to take a different exit than GPS provided we would have faced a very steep incline along narrow, twisting mountain roads. For the same reason, purchase the National Geographics Road Atlas: RV & Camping Edition: it is an invaluable resource.
Be open to change: Part of the fun we have found in this lifestyle is being open to new experiences and learning quickly to adapt to unexpected changes that arise along the way. It's part of the adventure.
Hope you have enjoyed these thoughts and insights. Will update you later from somewhere down the road.
copyright 2009 Lane A Geyer