The prospect of living full-time in a 220 square foot travel trailer for a year with my brand new husband was initially daunting to me and I wasn’t sure what to expect with certain things. Five months into travelling, I feel that I’ve gotten a pretty good feel for what it’s like to full-time. Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned about RV’ing and myself:
Expect things to go wrong, but to get through them. Before we left for our trip, we had heard from numerous full-timers to expect the unexpected, and they were right. We’ve needed to be bailed out not from one, but two lockouts, broken our tongue jack and had to prop the trailer up with a truck jack to replace it, searched far and wide for RV service providers who have time to take us while we are in an area, and hence done some small “repairs” ourselves, have gotten to campgrounds where we had been told on the phone they had openings to find they are full… The list could go on, but hey, things happen when you’re not living in an RV, too, right? That’s just life and we always find some sort of solution.
24/7 with your significant other really is possible: We’ve learned that you really can spend THAT much time with your significant other in a small space and not kill them (and given that other people do it, too, I don’t think we’re just in the honeymoon phase!) Even when John tries to stretch the limit on how long he can go without showering (a recurring argument, believe it or not) or when he gets stressed with me for giving bad directions (when I say there is really just a special place in hell for our God-forsaken GPS), we still genuinely enjoy sharing all of these experiences and time together. And we can always take a little alone time if we need it, but we honestly rarely do. At most, we do our own thing just in close proximity to each other.
Just call me Danny Tanner. – Such a small space reeeally forces you to keep clean and neat to keep your sanity! (Especially when you’re often camped on a dirt site and dragging in dirty hiking clothes!) But it’s a lot less work to clean up 220 square feet than a normal sized house!
You really CAN fit a good number of clothes in these things, among other things. The seemingly impossibly small amount of storage turns out to be better than expected, you just have to be stringent in what you buy and lose what don’t need, and get creative in where/how you store and secure stuff. It just may not all be as easily accessible for you as you are used to, which can be annoying at times, but you get used to it and at least it’s there.
You are constantly planning…where to sleep next, how to get there, what to do and when, where to get water, dump, charge the batteries, do laundry, or take a shower, where to position ourselves to make a Costco run or to pick up prescriptions. It can be exhausting but it is certainly never boring. I have fallen asleep with an atlas on my face numerous times…
How to disconnect. We really don’t have a choice some places we go, where we don’t have cell reception, wifi, or electricity for that matter. It has led us to remember how to keep ourselves occupied without electronics and it really can be refreshing. This is when we REALLY spend time together.
“But what are the showers like?!” Since we rarely go places with sewer hookups and I still don’t want to resign myself to only taking five minute, low pressure showers in the camper, nor do we want to move our rig just to dump our gray water when we’re in a spot for a while, I can’t lie, I still rate most places based on the quality of the shower I can take. Whether it’s in the campground or at the closest pay shower, or my least favorite, sometimes not at all (and sorry, not sorry, I can’t get by on those tiny shower bags unless it’s just a quick rinse to get caked on hiking dirt off), they all vary place to place in cleanliness, water temperature, or even the number of gigantic spiders that haunt my dreams lurking in the upper corners. That’s not to say that areas we’ve stayed with less than ideal shower situations weren’t worth it, but I’m definitely a happier chica when everything’s good.
You can get by pretty well not making reservations ahead of time. We still do a decent amount of research before heading to a campground (mostly some Google searches in an area, and checking the Passport America and Harvest Hosts sites), and might have to try a couple of places to find an open spot for a price we like, but we have yet to make reservations more than a few days in advance. We just like to keep our plans open, and usually don’t have a problem with getting a site with a little bit of strategizing (see this video, for example). You never know when you might love a place and want to stay, take that detour, or get the heck out of a place you don’t love. This is why we chose to travel in an RV, after all.
Walmarts are a beacon of light. I’ve historically been a Target girl myself, but Walmarts have been a lifesaver on this trip. Besides many cheap nights in their parking lots, positioning ourselves for the next move, they are often the most reliable source of affordable groceries and just plain civilization in a surprisingly vast part of the country. And it does feel generally safe staying there! Between being open 24-hours, the constant traffic, and security surveillance, you certainly never feel alone.
It’s all worth it. Though we don’t want to full-time forever, we have a feeling that this won’t be the only stretch of time we do it in our lives. For all of the sacrifices, the benefits of being able to take a working life’s worth of vacations all at once, being able to make our schedules as we please, have the time to go off the beaten path, and have few responsibilities other than making sure our basic needs are met, are all worth it. It is a truly unique feeling as an adult and one we wouldn’t trade for the world right now.
So there you have it, just a few things I’ve learned on this crazy journey we call a honeymoon. Granted we don’t plan on full-timing forever, but overall, it has really been much easier than expected and oh so worth it. The feeling of being able to hitch up your house and go where the wind takes you is something we will never forget…