Two years ago this week, we raised our jacks for the first time and headed for Hershey, Pennsylvania on our maiden voyage. At the time, we had no idea if we would love this project or regret every choice that had brought us to that point. We had done our research, planned, saved, and planned some more. But we did not, and could not, know whether we were making a terrible mistake.
Two years later we can confidently say we made the right choice. And one of the things we’re most proud of is, with minimal exception, there have been few surprises along the way. All our research and planning truly paid off. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t had rough days; days that were draining, frustrating, or that left us with our heads in our hands. As I’ve said before, just because you’re “living the dream” doesn’t mean bad things don’t happen. Life is life and you still gotta deal with it.
On balance, however, we have no regrets, and there hasn’t been a single time we’ve said “we wish we never left.” The truth is, this has been the best experience of our lives and we consider every day we’re able to travel a gift for which we are endlessly grateful.
Anyway, two years in, we’ve figured some things out, noticed some things, and learned a whole lot about ourselves and our country. Many of these items are things I want to write about more substantially, but that sounds like a lot of work. Luckily, it is a scientifically proven fact that blog readers love lists, so, here you go….
In no particular order, 100 thoughts from two years on the road:
- No factor has a greater impact on how we feel about a place than the weather we encounter while there. It is rare that we love a place where we had bad weather or really dislike a place where we had good weather.
- Timing is everything. Both good, and bad.
- No matter how much time we spend in a locale, we almost always want more. I can think of only a handful of places that we felt “ready to leave” when it was time to go.
- The staff at a campground makes all the difference. Friendliness, or a lack thereof, at check-in makes a huge impression. Many of our favorite campgrounds have been otherwise completely forgettable places where the employees were just super nice.
- People in campgrounds tend to be pretty friendly. It’s one of those places where most people are happy to be where they are.
- Older people make the best neighbors. The older the better. They’re nice, they’re quiet, they’re neat, and they go to bed early.
- On a related note, we think these 55+ campgrounds are seriously missing out. They would totally love us if they would just let us in.
- It’s easy to chat with other RVers because we all have so much in common, but also plenty of differences. We’ve never once had a hard time making conversation with people doing what we’re doing.
- I wonder how people traveled before the advent of Google maps, RV specific GPS, Yelp, Tripadvisor, weather apps, emergency alerts, etc. People were just flying blind all the time.
- Yeah, yeah, I know. “Rub some dirt in it…” Whatever.
- The flip side is all this technology has made it easy for thousands of yahoos like us to travel, and the sudden ubiquity of said yahoos is exacting a hefty price on a lot of people and places.
- People who own Airstream trailers always refer to their rigs by their brand name. One does not “live in an RV.” One “lives in an Airstream.” One is not “an RVer.” One is “an Airstreamer.” From what I can gather, based entirely on my assumptions, the purchase of an Airstream contractually obligates the buyer to refer to his purchase only by its brand name. I’m not sure what happens if they fail, but I assume, given the consistency of owners’ compliance, it’s pretty bad.
- My current goal in life is to convince one of our Airstreamer friends to just start referring to their Airstream as a “travel trailer” or “RV” in front of other Airstreamers. I just want to know what happens. Will the offending owner be banished? Will there be an intervention? Will they be reported to the Airstream Corporation who will respond by sending in a hovercraft to whisk the offending owner’s Airstream off like a dead tribute in the Hunger Games???
- Yes, I should probably work on coming up with bigger “life goals”….
- Speaking of companies with a cult-like following, since becoming a fulltime RVer I have seen more glamour shots of Jeeps than any other object. Holy crap, people love their Jeeps.
- If anyone ever figures out how to safely pull an Airstream with a Jeep, Instagram will melt.
- And yes, I AM just jealous of all our friends with these super cool and capable set-ups. We live in a beige on beige bread box that looks like it was painted by someone having a seizure and our Xterra does “0 to 60 at some point, but not necessarily… and don’t be alarmed if some springs pop off on the way.”
- We’ve met the BEST people because of this blog.
- A lot of campgrounds, and a lot of jurisdictions in general, don’t offer recycling. We’ve gone so far as to drive around with bags of recycling in our car for days at a time hoping to find an appropriate facility, but that invites bugs, so, sometimes, our perfectly recyclable waste ends up in a landfill. Which is disheartening.
- You should never assume anything about a destination.
- Yes, even Ohio.
- It could be even worse than you thought it would be
- Mother Nature is the boss. And she is a badass.
- Every time we’ve had a major disaster, we’ve had friends or family nearby who’ve saved the day for us. It’s a heartening yet sobering realization. Heartening, because we realize how lucky we are to have good people in our lives; sobering because we can imagine how bad things would have been had the situation been different.
- Trip planning always takes a lot longer than expected. Probably because I’m easily distracted and end up spending hours looking at “Stars! They’re Just Like Us!” compilations on Us Magazine.
- A lot of RV related websites look like they haven’t been updated since 1997.
- Speaking of which, a lot of campgrounds still require that you pay by cash or check, and some even handle reservations on paper, which is a heartwarming reminder of yesteryear… right up until the point they lose your reservation and you have no email confirmation to hand them. That’s when the charm wears off.
- When you live an alternative lifestyle, you have the same conversation about where you’re from and what you’re doing over and over and over and over. And over. And over.
- On occasion I’ve tried shortening the explanation, but it never works.
- Grocery store discount cards are great – until you realize you need to carry 20 of them.
- Costco is, hands down, the best store in the country.
- When you live on the road, you’re always lost. Every trip away from home is an adventure – or a giant hassle – depending on your attitude that day.
- It probably takes us 30% longer to complete an average weekly grocery store trip since we never know where anything is.
- There are noticeable differences in the way people drive in certain places. Connecticut drivers are jerks. San Antonio drivers are crazy. We’ve concluded that Idaho drivers are unaware of the practice where a driver waits for traffic to clear before turning onto a road. Idahoans just go and everyone else slams on their brakes.
- You can burn yourself out on any kind of food. Except tacos. Tacos are always awesome.
- Once you get used to doing things during the week, running errands on the weekends becomes super annoying.
- Right now, there are a whole bunch of people sitting in offices dreaming of stabbing me in the forehead.
- Spring break is terrible.
- There is a constant pull between wanting to book things in advance and leaving gaps in our calendar to see how things come together. Planning almost always wins out, but every so often, we wing it. So far, so good, but we still find it stressful to not know where we’ll be in a week.
- The best decision I made was writing this blog. Between the things we would have forgotten about, the places we never would have known about, and the people we never would have met, this blog has been a fantastic travel hobby.
- Writing a blog is a balancing act – on the one hand, you want to share a lot to give people a reason to connect with you. On the other hand, if you’re naturally private people which we are (true story), it sometimes feels like you’ve got a ghost writer at the keyboard.
- Blog readers love negative stories. My articles involving catastrophes, disasters, and screw ups, get way more clicks than the ones where everything is awesome. I’m not saying y’all are negative or anything, but….yeah. Y’all are negative.
- You can drive 100 miles in any direction and the clientele and ‘feel’ of a grocery store will be completely different.
- There are some towns that are just weird. The people are weird. The vibe is weird. Everything is weird.
- The current record for “number of people shopping in a Walmart on a Wednesday night wearing head-to-toe camouflage” is eight, and it was in in the Florida panhandle.
- New RV warranties oftentimes aren’t worth much for fulltimers. Given how difficult it can be to get an appointment at an authorized facility, and given that we need access to our homes (ie: we can’t just drop it off and pick it up a week later when it’s ready), it’s frequently easier to just fix stuff ourselves.
- Being handy, or being married to someone who’s handy, is almost a requirement of living in a home on wheels.
- Adjusting to a much smaller space was not a big deal at all.
- There is nothing we tossed or stored that we miss
- Which is good because I have no idea where half our stuff is – we divided a bunch of boxes between family and friends and I have no idea what stuff ended up where. Writing a list probably would have been a good idea.
- I used to LOVE severe weather – blizzards, thunderstorms, etc. Now? Not so much.
- Youtube is a life saver for how-to videos
- Living in a normal house, you take a lot of things for granted – where to ship Amazon packages, not having windshield wipers on your picture window, having insulation that actually, you know, insulates.
- Stainless steel appliances look great except for when they’re covered in fingerprints, which is pretty much all the time.
- I don’t get divided kitchen sinks. I want one giant sink. Why do all RVs have divided sinks? And why am I the only one who rails against this injustice??
- When things go wrong, it will be on a Friday afternoon. If you’ve really pissed off God, it’ll be Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend
- One of the things that often comes up in online discussions about fulltime travel is safety. Over the last two years, we’ve experienced only one situation where we were a little weirded out by someone’s behavior at an overnight stop. When you consider it, one out of 730 nights is pretty good. We had concerns a lot more often when we lived near D.C.
- We don’t mind having to work to get level in a pretty state park. In an overpriced commercial park, we get pretty incensed by it.
- All things considered, RV’s – at least ours – work incredibly well given how complex they are and how much abuse they take just driving down the road.
- There’s an inverse relationship between privacy and seclusion of campsites vs. convenience. You’re in the woods, but you’re on a slope. You’re on a beautiful lake, but it’ll take you 35 minutes to get to a grocery store…
- When we find exceptions to this rule, we want to stay forever
- There are a significant number of places in the west named “Butte.” I giggle every time.
- You should always have a list when you’re packing up and moving. You will forget something and only realize it when it comes crashing down an hour into the drive. Hopefully it won’t be the knives that hang on your wall.
- People buy million dollar rigs, but they still have to handle their own poop tanks. If I’m gonna spend a million dollars on an RV, it better come with a “poop tank manager.”
- Also, the insides of the million dollar rigs always look like an over-the-top Vegas hotel room.
- On a related note, Winnebago is the first big manufacturer we’ve seen break the beige/swirl mold and build a motorhome with a sleek, modern, interior that looks really nice. Of course, the $400,000+ price tag might scare some folks off, but hopefully this is the beginning of a new design focus for manufacturers.
- If either of our unlimited data plans ever disappear, I will ugly cry.
- RV travel can be really expensive.
- There’s a difference between “living in an RV” and “traveling in an RV.” People need to be realistic about what their dream is and what their budget can actually pay for. In other words, there are folks online who will claim “you can travel all over the country in a motorhome for $1,000 per month!” Those people are full of shit.
- There is huge freedom in getting a small RV.
- There is huge comfort in getting a large RV.
- Freedom in travel is inversely proportional to comfort in travel. ie: If you have a small Class C or a van, you can go anywhere and have complete freedom, but you sacrifice many creature comforts. Big rig owners can live in complete luxury, but there are a lot of places they simply can’t go. We can see the value in both options.
- Full time travel is all about inconsistency. Inconsistency in campgrounds, grocery stores, medical and veterinary care, salons, mechanics, social life. Most times it’s all “part of the adventure!” but there are times the constant uncertainty can wear you down.
- We’ve stayed at hundreds of campgrounds since we started traveling, but only one was so depressing that I actually pulled our window shades down in the middle of the afternoon (to be fair, it was also raining and super gloomy). Anyway, that campground happened to be a roadside stop in the great state of New Jersey. Way to live up to expectations, Jersey.
- There is a certain amount of snobbery among some RVers – Diesel owners who look down on gas owners, motorhome owners who look down on towables, big rig owners who look down on vanlifers, etc. I don’t think it’s widespread, but we’ve heard enough comments to know it exists, which is unfortunate.
- Speaking of vanlifers, we have been on the road for two years and I have seen exactly zero super hot girls wearing bikinis cooking bacon and eggs while standing on top of their vans performing tree pose at sunrise. And yet, according to Instagram, that’s just what happens on a Tuesday.
- Older people like to blog. Younger people like to vlog.
- Supply and demand work the same in the travel world as it does everywhere else. We are all experiencing the effects of more and more RVers on the road in the form of higher prices and policies that are less consumer-friendly.
- If we were smart, we’d all zip it about RVing already before we end up pricing ourselves right out of the market.
- But I, for one, am not smart and, therefore, I will not be silent!!!
- We are amazed by how few people we see building offline businesses that cater to this exploding market. Lots of people are trying to figure out how to make money on the road, but we rarely see RVers advertising mobile RV or appliance repair services, mobile dog walking/grooming, wash and wax services, etc. We would have paid for many of these services at one time or another, yet, they are oftentimes hard to find.
- The one thing I had at home that I don’t have now that I truly miss is a kitchen sink disposal.
- The sine qua non of this project is health insurance which means we are living with a lot of uncertainty these days.
- An Airstreamer could post a picture of a Bengal tiger leaping over a zebra who was performing multivariate calculus on an iPad and it would get less “likes” than a picture of their Airstream sitting in a asphalt parking lot next to a chain link fence. Seriously. It’s weird.
- We have a bunch of friends who have Airstreams. Or, we did before I posted this. I guess I’m about to find out how good their sense of humor is. #unsubscribe
- The more people we meet who do this in retirement, the more I believe Tom Petty had it right: “I don’t know, but I’ve been told / you never slow down, you never grow old.”
- The more we travel, the harder it is to figure out where we’re going to land.
- Every area of the country is subject to some sort of extreme weather that makes living there unappealing. Humidity and hurricanes on the east coast, freezing cold winters in the north, heat and tornadoes in the south, wildfires in the west. Southern California has some of the best weather, but… earthquakes.
- There are many areas in the United States that are completely homogenous. After having spent 20+ years in an incredibly diverse metropolitan area, it is weird when we realize we haven’t seen a person who doesn’t look exactly like us in weeks or even months.
- If we had to pick somewhere to settle down right this minute, it would be San Diego. While we love the beauty and peace of the wilderness, at the end of the day, we are always going to be happiest in or around cities. And, if we’re going to have to deal with the downsides of city life in terms of more expense, less space, and higher stress, then we want to be somewhere where it’s sunny and beautiful.
- The contents of our home seems to “explode” every time we stay in one place for more than a day. The nice thing is, it’s easy to clean it all up. But even a small mess is a BIG mess when you live in a tiny space.
- While staying in the desert too long was a mistake, not having to deal with mosquitoes, gnats, flies, or ticks for those months was priceless.
- Speaking of which, mosquitoes are almost enough for me to get over my phobia of spiders. Almost.
- There’s an interesting argument among travel enthusiasts about the value of NOT sharing their finds on the internet. The minute pictures start appearing on popular sites, formerly unknown places are oftentimes overwhelmed by visitors, and the damage to the fragile environment can be devastating. On the one hand, we agree with this idea because we’ve seen what can happen to these over-visited places. On the other hand, we ourselves have frequently benefited from people sharing their finds online. It’s a typical tragedy of the commons problem without an easy solution.
- There are a fair number of vegan RVers so we see a significant amount of their stuff online. All of which has made me conclude that I could be vegetarian, but not vegan. (Because: cheese. And butter. And eggs. And milk. Basically, I just really like breakfast food.)
- Instagram is great but it was even better when it was chronological. Facebook is helpful for staying connected with friends and organizations but irritating if you use a ‘page’ rather than your personal account for a blog. Youtube can be a lifesaver, but you often have to wade through a ton of garbage to find what you’re looking for. I don’t get Pinterest.
- There are an inordinate number of businesses in this country that intentionally misspell their names – oftentimes substituting a K for a C. “Kountry Kitchens,” Kravings Kafe,” Klassy Kuts,” “Happy Kamper” Why’s everyone gotta hate on the “C”?
- A lot of campgrounds are built near train tracks which totally makes sense because the land is cheap…which totally makes sense because no one wants to sleep next to train tracks.
- 86.4% of RV parks that call themselves “resorts” are not.
- Seriously Airstream friends, we’re still friends, right? Look…
It’s an Airstream Hat Trick! Even I find myself compelled to photograph such glory when it’s laid out before me!! #dontbemad
So, what do you think of this list? Agree? Disagree? What did I miss? Most importantly, is anyone ever going to stand up for Ohio’s honor???
Next week: Yellowstone. For real this time.
Great Post. I can’t believe its been two years. We are envious of your travels and your photography skills.
In the past 2 years, we have been from NOVA to Florida 8 times, Red Bay twice, a Tiffin Rally in West VA, Hershey twice, and a few other places. At the end of each trip, we always have to return to Holly Acres to park the RV so I can go back to work. We have not been able to harness the true Freedom a RV can offer.
This fall we are doing New England culminating at the Tiffin Rally in Vermont.
Next year it is out West.. Can’t wait to see what you have to say about Yellowstone. We are just starting a plan for the route and are trying to determine the time we will spend at each stop. Finding campgrounds is a real endeavor.
We still love our Tiffin 36LA.
Thanks for your comment. You guys are definitely doing an impressive amount of travel given that you’re still working. I feel like that would be a pretty significant challenge in itself – just getting the RV out of storage and ready to go and figuring out travel plans and the actual travel time — that’s a lot to handle when you’re still dealing with a full time job. I feel like there are a lot of people who buy RVs expecting to use them a lot and then they just sit because all of this stuff is just too much to handle. Good for you guys for actually making it a priority to travel.
As for Yellowstone, we loved it.You could spend weeks just touring and hiking around the park, but if you want to visit a bunch of other places in a short period of time, you could probably hit the highlights in just a few days.
Ha ha! Some of these really made me laugh. Not full timers but we been on enough long trips over the last 12 years that I can relate to a lot of these! We are one of those retired couples who traveled before google maps and smart phones. We had no reservations for a two month summer trip and ended up in some pretty iffy Rv parks. When we bought our 35 foot fifth wheeler were told we would not be able to camp in a state park. Wrong! Now we mostly camp in public campgrounds. Love the one not being able to find things in a new grocery store!
I feel like a lot of things have gotten so much easier for RVers – with all these incredible online tools and apps that make our lives easier, but I have to assume its gotten harder too. I always hear how it used to be people didn’t need reservations other than for Florida in the winter. Now, it seems like everywhere we go is pretty packed in, and the prices keep going up. Our absolute preference is state and county parks. We just about never fit in the national parks and if we can fit, we can’t get reservations, so it’s kind of a lost cause. But the state parks have been wonderful!
I actually made notes while reading this list thinking, “Oh, sure, she’s going to want your 100-point opinion!” And then I get to the end, and you actually asked for our thoughts! So here you go, in no particular order:
*I don’t hate beige, but have written before about the swoosh & swirl RV exteriors — why?!
*Airstreams — too shiny! Road glare!
*We all aren’t negative per se, we just like to know we’re not the only ones who are occasionally dumbasses
*I like grocery shopping. Speaking of that, did you know there exists a faction of people who believe that retirees have no business whatsoever shopping during the evenings or on weekends since retirees can go whenever and shouldn’t take up the space and time of those who cannot?
*I was born and raised in NE Ohio. A lot of really cool people have come out out of Ohio. But that’s the point — they come OUT of Ohio.
Thanks for sharing your relatable, funny, and wonderfully long list!
I ALWAYS want to hear people’s opinions! I love chatting about this stuff! We’ve been told the exterior paint jobs are done that way because most RVs have uneven windows (some wider, some taller, etc) and it looks odd to have these oddly sized windows on one color background. So they add all these swirls to make those and the various vents and outlets less obvious. However, if you look at the exterior of the Horizon, they still hide those things, but without all the crazy swirls. I hope that’s where things are going. I have not heard of this grocery store rule, but it does kind of make sense… and I would think your average retiree would want no part of grocery shopping on a Saturday anyway. As for Ohio… HA! That is so true! Even the people I know who love Ohio got the hell out of Ohio and never went back…. That’s gotta mean something, right? 🙂
*Now I’m waiting impatiently for sunrise so that I can look at the side of the RV to see if the swirls camouflage the uneven windows. Once the industry stops painting them that way, everyone’s going to want them that way so they can be vintage and retro.
*Having a weird work schedule has allowed me to usually grocery shop at “off” times for years, but this 24-hr world is eliminating those quickly. I used to love shopping in the middle of the night when I worked night shift. There were no employees to help with anything, but I could bop around to the Muzak and read labels to my heart’s content!
*One more thing I’ll give Ohio — lightning bugs.
#35 ????, #37 ????, #84 ????????????????????????????????!!!!! Simply. Awesome. Post!
Miss you, and can’t wait to see you and catch up in December.
You know, if you laugh too hard at #37, our friends in common are gonna want to stab YOU in the forehead too! (But it’s totally true….)
Can’t wait to see you too! Lots to catch up on!
Ok. I just figured out why my post just now was listed as “anonymous.” I’m a little slow, no?
You know I can’t comment on people being slow with technology. I can’t even figure out how to use Pinterest. 😉
I think we all should inundate your comment section with answers to each one of your 100 thoughts, wouldn’t that be fun to go through? I found myself commenting, out loud, shaking my head, and/or laughing as I read this post. Dave though I’d lost my mind as he walked past me. I only disagree with two things, but I’m not going to tell you which ones……. I DO love my two sinks though. It allows me to hide dirty dishes under the cover of one to bolster the appearance of neatness until it’s time for Dave to do the dishes. We are two of the “old people” who are quiet, neat and go to bed early you know! Great post, we loved it!
You HAVE to tell me which ones you disagreed with. I will not rest until I know! Trust me – I grew up with two older brothers and was a prosecutor for 12 years. You CANNOT hurt my feelings by disagreeing with me. As for the sink thing, I just want to be able to wash my big pasta pot and huge mixing bowl without dumping water all over the counters…. It always ends up making such a mess. But – I do love the panels that hide the sink and I’m not sure they would be possible without the divider. Boo.
Alright…..I’ll admit it…..I’m not a Costco fan. It’s not the world’s best store for me. None of the big warehouse stores are. Just my opinion, and I know I’m the only one, I’m sure of it. RVr’s, where do you put all the huge boxes of cereal, the 45 pack of paper towels, etc. We joined because we found a huge bottle of Tanqueray Gin for $19 once but some stores don’t even carry liquor so what’s the sense!
And the sink thing. Why are you using huge pots and bowls that don’t fit in the sink for the two of you? You don’t have to answer that.
I might add a 101 though. If you park next to a fifth wheel they will always leave their searchlight quality bright outside door light on…..all night long. It will shine directly into your eyes as you try to sleep. It will seep around your shades, peek through the little holes, directly onto your pillow. Perhaps it’s a rule or something. (I know, I know, you don’t want to fall down the stairs, you must keep intruders away, the dog has to go out in the middle of the night, etc., etc., etc.)
As for everything else, you’re absolutely spot on. You’re an astute observer of rv life.
So for Costco, we don’t generally buy paper goods or dry goods there. We get a lot of meat, fish, dairy, and veggies… the stuff is always high quality and much cheaper than at the grocery store. Veggies can be a problem because we only have so much time to use them, but we’re pretty good about planning multiple meals that will utilize things and not letting anything go to waste. And I agree – the Costcos that sell liquor are amaze-balls, but not all of them do. When you find one though, it’s like Christmas morning!!!!
As for the cooking, Kevin loves to cook. It’s one of his big hobbies. The cooking supplies we are currently carrying are ridiculous…. I’m talking ice cream maker, dehydrator, smoker, multiple cookbooks…. ridiculous stuff for an RVer. But we’ve got the space, so he brought it all… including our regular pots and pans from home. Good luck on getting him to give that stuff up. 🙂
I can’t believe it’s two years already! Feels like just yesterday you two were up visiting and told us about your plan (and that was almost a year before you officially left!!). Maybe all of us can send you a list of what we have to help you out some day, lol. Not being an RVer, I had no idea what an Airstream was. Thanks for the pic – then I was like, oh, it’s one of THOSE. Honestly they look like big toasters to me ????. I’m sure Jeremy will jump for joy at your San Diego comment because he wants to live there, too. Glad things are still working well and can’t wait to hear more stories and see more of that map covered. You really need to add Canada in there, too. You loved it there as well. See you next summer!!!
I can’t believe it’s been two years either! It’s gone by fast! But then I think back to the start of the trip and all that craziness and it seems like eons ago. As for San Diego, it truly is the best city we’ve found. We just need the prices to level off…and then drop… a lot…. because holy crap, it’s expensive! We absolutely want to get back to Canada. We loved the tiny bit we saw, but there’s SO much more. Anyway, first thing’s first… Let’s get through a disaster-free summer in new England and then we can take it from there!
So true! We were just talking this morning about how you’d better be handy if you’re going to own an RV! A few remarks from Ed:
Hooking up the tow in the rain is a joy.
Mechanics working on your RV invariably track in dirt all over your carpet.
When the RV specific GPS tells you to take a right turn and puts you on Brooklyn side streets … they need to rethink that.
And so forth…
Judy and Ed.
Haha! I know you know about the challenges that come along with this type of travel… Things really do seem to go to crap all at once and when the weather is terrible. As for Brooklyn, I cannot even imagine. Seriously… I would just throw it in park and start crying…. It would be quite the scene. 🙂
What a fun post & all true! Thanks for # 6 & 86!!
I think of that Tom Petty quote all the time. It is so incredibly true. The people who get old really quick are the ones who sit home in front of the TV all day. My grandmother was in her late 80’s and still driving herself to the local college and taking classes. That’s my goal… You don’t have to be climbing Everest, but you have to stay engaged with the world. Otherwise…. it’s just depressing.
This was fantastic!! I have to know now though…how much DOES it cost to be an RV traveller?!?
To answer without an answer, “it depends.” Here is part I of a very detailed two part write up Nina over at WheelingIt did all about the costs of fulltime RV travel. It’s the best overall guide I’ve seen.
She estimates that most people spend in the $2500 to $4,000 range per month, and I think that’s right.
At the end of the day, it just depends how much you travel and how you like to travel. We usually stay in each place for a week to ten days and we tend to stay in campgrounds… That means we’re spending more than someone who only moves once a month and we’re spending more than people who are work camping or who boondock out on public lands for weeks or months at a time. On the other hand, there are some people who move every 3 or 4 days. Those people are spending a lot more than us. In general, the more you move, the more expensive it is.
Also, where do you spend your time? When we were in San Diego, we spent a lot. When we were in Utah, we spent very little. If your version of “RV travel” is exploring cities, it can get expensive. If your version of RV travel is strictly hiking and biking in beautiful state and national parks, it can be a lot cheaper.
If you have a big diesel motorhome, you house cost more to start and it costs more to maintain than our gas motorhome. If you have a lightweight travel trailer, it costs less than our motorhome.
So, there really is no one number. It all depends on how you travel…. Nina’s posts give some valuable guidelines…
Great list for someone only the road for two years. You quickly found the good, bad, and ugly of life on the road. But, luckily, most are very good experiences:) That Mission Bay photo is what finally drove us over the edge. We were fine til all the vacationing families came out the week before Christmas. We had families with at least three children out our drivers side window for two weeks. We tried to remember they were on vacation but, seriously, did they have to yell to talk to each other!! Yes, we do love our Jeeps (which is why we wave to each others). We always feel we can tackle any road (trail) with our Jeep. So funny…you are so right about the Airstream crowd:) Thankfully, after eight years on the road we have never had a bad incident (knock on wood). I believe higher powers know I live on the edge all the time and wouldn’t handle it well. Thanks for the morning humor!!
I agree… this was a fun post to write, but really, most of our experiences have been really good. And the things that have gone wrong, could have gone wrong at home just as easily as on the road. Sometimes things just go badly. But the travel part has truly been wonderful. As for Mission Bay, our big mistake was not moving sites. As soon as those folks moved in next to us, we should have asked for a different site, but we figured “how bad can it be?” Not smart. In the future, we’ll just ask to move. That was one of the most frustrating experiences we’ve had and we won’t make the same mistake again.
We agree especially having a handy person around. Our most camo sightings were SC. They ladies favored the pink camo in Walmart.
Ah yes… the “I’m not sure you understand what the point of camouflage is” camouflage…. 🙂
I took pics for you when your coach was being built in Red Bay and have followed you since you hit the road. We have been fulltimers for about 31/2 years and have some observations, relating to your observations…
15. Our Jeep has been the most reliable vehicle we have ever owned – even better than Toyota and Honda – and it is incredibly easy to hook up to tow. And it will go almost anywhere. And is really cool.
30. Get STOCARD for your smartphone. Takes a pic of your grocery store cards and show it at the register. No more toting around a wallet full of cards.
36. No visits to Costco on a weekend. Ever.
38. Prime RV season for us? When the crumb crushers are back in school.
42. Negative events make for the best stories. Ask me about leaving the Jeep keys hanging in the door at the U of Maryland train station…and not realizing it till we got to the Air & Space museum in D.C. Good times…
59. If your sticks and bricks did 70mph on some of the roads in this country, it would fare much worse than our RVs do
101. National Parks rock. They’re National Parks for a reason…because they are awesome. Except for Hot Springs in Arkansas. National Monument? Maybe. But National Park? Nope, not seeing it.
Enjoy your travels – the good and the bad.
Haha! These are GREAT! I completely forgot to mention our adoration for the National Park System. That definitely should have been in there. And I agree – Hot Springs was interesting, but it didn’t feel like a National Park. Kevin JUST downloaded that card app recently and keeps telling me I need to get it as well. Thank you for sharing your key disaster story, because, you’re right, they really do make us feel better. Also – we still owe you a beer for the build pictures. If we’re ever in the same area, let us know!
Well, that makes my two year post in November easy, I’ll just link it to yours and say ditto…if you ever get a Jeep you will understand…take care and keep having fun…and why did I think of you when I was in front of Calimity Janes grave???
Oddly enough, Kevin actually had a Wrangler when we started dating, but it was a bit of a lemon. That’s how we ended up with the Xterra – which we’ve loved. It’s showing its age now, but it’s never let us down and it’s almost 17 years old, so we’re quite attached to it. But yes, I can certainly see the appeal of the Jeeps… the shorter wheel base alone would be great. And the reason you equate me with Calamity Jane is easy. It’s because we’re both awesome. 🙂
Great list, enjoy this freedom while your young, someday you will look back and remember these days as the best of times.
That was our whole plan from Day 1! So far so good…
This is perfect! We just passed the one year mark and have learned many of the same things.
I would also add 101. I love you, you’re perfect, now go away for a few hours. Sometimes 24/7 in 400 sq ft is too much no matter how in love you are.
And yes, we love our Jeep. There have been so many places we’ve been able to go – I wouldn’t trade it for anything! Keep learning, keep living and keep writing!
Haha! Yeah, I don’t know why it is that Kevin and I never get on each other’s nerves, but we never do. I think we just get into our own hobbies and can be 5 feet from one another without talking for hours at a time. Or maybe one of these days it’s all gonna boil over and we’re gonna get into a massive hair pulling fight. I have no idea…. 🙂
Absolutely hilarious, and so much truth! But hey—what’s wrong with paisley? I love paisley! And if it’s purple, even better!
We’ve met the best people on the road and through our blog, too. Like you, we’ve yet to travel anywhere that we didn’t find to be interesting—including Ohio, which was a huge surprise. Tacos really are the best (especially creative, gourmet tacos). Weird haircuts have become my norm. Trip planning is a vortex, made up of infinite possibilities which makes it exciting and sometimes overwhelming. And I’m glad we’re not the only ones who want more time just about everywhere we go.
Happy second anniversary on the road, you guys—wishing you many more years of glorious adventures!
It’s not that I don’t like paisley, or flowers, or plaids, or any of the typical design stuff the RV manufacturers use. I just want them to stop overusing them. And perhaps find a color that is not beige. There’s light blue! They could use light blue! Or light grey! Light grey is an option! Heck, they could even get crazy and use a little sage green!! Do they even know about sage green? It’s a lovely color!!!! And if they used sage green, they could use a nice lighter purple as an accent color. How bout that?? You would LOVE it! Everyone would love it! Who doesn’t love that? No one. That’s who.
Anyway…. Thanks for the good wishes! As long as we keep connecting with nice people like you guys, I have no doubt we’ll continue to enjoy this lifestyle!
What a great list! #76 though – so hilarious and soooooo true!!
I am not proud of how many hours I have spent looking at some of those accounts and saying things like: “Oh, just stop!!” and “Seriously??? No. Just…no.” 🙂
You’re definitely right in the mark in my book! I have the same problem getting distracted when travel planning or getting online for any reason. We’re not saving any money over our expenses in an S&B, but we never planned to either. And I am so glad Sean can fix stuff.
Yeah, the distraction thing is a real problem, especially because sometimes one decision is dependent on some other decision or situation (ie: what route you take it dependent on campground availability), so things can easily be derailed while you wait to hear back. And then you start reading about what Megan Markle wore to dinner and the next thing you know, it’s been 3 hours and you’ve accomplished nothing….
100 lessons learned in two years! Congratulations, Kevin and Laura you are on your way to more freedom and adventures for more 100 when you hit your fourth year on the road. Ha ha ha I can relate to some but not all. You better be careful, your airstreamers friends might throw eggs at Barney 🙂
I think 86.4% is a low number it seems it’s higher now since we started six years ago.
That new Horizon is a dream but we wont trade in Betsy for anything!
# 47 is so true so is #1
Great Post Laura, Steve and I had fun reading this. Cheers and here’s to more years of explorations and discoveries.
I think I’m gonna have another 100 in like a week… between the things I forgot and some of the great ideas from commenters here, I have a whole bunch of new ones already! Give me another two years and I’ll have a book’s worth of them! I think you’re probably right about the number of non-resort resorts and I think it’s only gonna get worse. And I’m with you on the Horizon. While our RV isn’t always perfect, it’s been pretty great and we’d rather stick with what we know than take a chance on something different. (Not that we could afford the Horizon anyway, so it’s kind of a moot point. 🙂
You made me smile , you made me laugh , you made my day . Thanks
And you just made mine with this comment! So, we’re even! Thank you!!
Perfect compilation – and about those #vanlife girls. We met a couple and stayed next to them at an RV ‘Resort’ and not once did they do anything remotely resembling their Instagram feed. And believe me, I was watching! See you soon as you drag the hot weather here with you:-)
You know, the whole reason we started RVing was because I was sure I would become an amazing yogi and Kevin would be a professional surfer as soon as we started living in our car. I can’t believe they lied to us!!!!
Can’t believe you dissed Ohio! I’m never reading your blog again. Okay, just kidding. Still love ya!
FINALLY – I have been waiting FOREVER for someone to tell me to shut up about Ohio already…. The fact that it’s taken this long… I mean, I’m just sayin… it kinda proves my point. 🙂
We just started 4 months ago and these observations are so true. But I miss my sewing machine. My husband’s relatives live in Boise and I loved your post about Idaho, it’s a gorgeous place and I thought it was Mr Potato Head.
Once I was in the car with my sister in law and she’s waiting patiently for a break in the traffic to turn left. Suddenly she said “I’m tired of waiting” and just went. I didn’t realize it’s a thing.
We got a great spot in Glacier right now but no hook ups. Constant tension!!
And vlogs are troublesome because of limited data! So many full timers post video. Seriously think about it
I’m telling you, there’s something about Idaho drivers… we have been amazed at how many times we’ve seen them just peel out in traffic with no regard for other drivers…and the other drivers don’t use their horn or anything. It’s just an expected thing! As for youtube, I agree. I don’t really want to sit there and watch tons of lengthy travel videos and we definitely don’t want to burn through a ton of data. Yet, we seem to be in a minority because a lot of those vloggers are super popular! I much prefer reading blogs.
I think I might have broken my neck from excessive nodding in agreement with many of the items on this list. But really why did you hate Airstreamers so much? Haha ???? Still haven’t seen hot chicks (or dudes) in their minimal clothings who are vanlifers either.
It’s crazy how not a single one of us full timers can verify that these super sexy vanlifers even exist!! It’s shocking!!! Next you’ll tell me all these gorgeous hikers with perfect hair and makeup, who don’t seem to have broken a sweat, are not actually hikers!!! 🙂
I really loved your post! Have you ever thought of submitted it as an op-ed to the NY Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, etc. It is too good not to share with rest of the world.! Good luck with the next two years of travel!
You are too nice, Maura! I very much enjoy writing these types of articles and I’m glad to see people responding to them. Maybe some day I will submit one to another publication. These days, I’m just having fun here, (but you’re right, I should probably get off my duff and try….) Anyway, thank you for the kind comments and good wishes. Hope you are doing well!
Too funny Laura … especially the Airstream rant 🙂 Congratulations on your two years on the road … may you have many more, and may our paths cross somewhere along the line!
Thank you – and yes, we’d love to meet up with you guys at some point!
So many of these items resonated with us completely, especially the ones about grocery shopping, recycling, constant repairs. And the one appliance we miss is our garbage disposal! I, too, have noticed the brand loyalty of Airstreamers, and we are in that category. (And not offended at all.) Your comments were hilarious, but I think you also answered your own questions. They are not “an RV” but instead they are a thing of beauty, as all of Instagram can attest. Good design makes such a difference.
Yeah, I can’t argue with that at all. Airstream definitely knows how to build a modern, sleek, efficient product. It’s shocking to me that more manufacturers don’t make an effort to emulate them. Airstream kindof reminds me of Apple when Apple came out with the iPhone…A totally new, sleek version of what everyone else was making. With cell phones, other manufacturers immediately recognized that people loved the iPhone and they started building their own less expensive versions of the same thing. When it comes to RVs though, the other manufacturers never seem to notice what their super popular competitor is doing. This new Horizon is the first time we’ve seen an attempt to design interiors in a more modern way… It’ll be interesting to see if that goes anywhere.
#37. Nope. That would be too quick and painless (not to mention unimaginative)…
Thanks for sharing your adventure with the world. Safe travels!
Hahahaha! So what you’re saying is, it’s probably a good thing that I’m far away from my old office these days, huh? 🙂
Thank you so very much. We’ve been in our 5th Wheel for nearly a year, but the first 10 months were spent finishing up work and disposing of the house. Just hitting the road, and adjusting as we go. Really enjoying the freedom, and learning to relax now that work commitments are gone. Your blog is delightful. All the best!
Thanks so much for stopping by! We had a very slow start too because I broke my leg just after leaving, so while we’ve been living in the RV for two years, we’ve really been traveling in it for about a year and a half. The first couple months were definitely not fun. We often discussed how we were dealing with the downsides of RV life without the upsides. But, once we really got moving, it was awesome, especially once we figured out our preferred pace and how to balance different types of stops. It just keeps getting better as we go. Hopefully it will for you as well… It takes some time to let go of all the old stress and the manic lead-up to making such a huge life change and then finding what works for you. Best of luck to you as well!
Yup, when we bought our Airstream we had to sign a silver gilded document declaring that we would never refer to our precious metal tube as a common “RV”, or even worse a “travel trailer” (which no self-respecting full-timer would ever admit to living in). If we violate this rule even once our punishment is 2 years inside a beige bread box parked next to a family with 6 kids. So far, I haven’t wanted to risk it. 😉
I KNEW IT!!!!!!! This is like learning the secrets of the Illuminati…. but better!!! 🙂
Interesting list. We have been traveling since 2008 and full timing since 2013 and can agree with a lot of these. One I have to point out to you, and I hope you knew this already, is #30, the grocery store discount cards. You don’t have to carry them all around with you. There are lots of apps for that. I have been using KeyRing for many years. I have cards from all over the country. Just scan them in and you’re good to go! I have never had one that was in my phone, in this app, refused. The cashiers now a days can even scan the card right from your phone. Hope this helps 🙂
Hey Brenda – thanks! Kevin actually just recently downloaded one of those apps and has been trying it out. So far so good, so I’ll likely grab it as well. It would certainly be nice to have since I always have my phone with me, but sometimes don’t carry my wallet…. It would be great to scan all of these rarely used cards and not have to carry them at all. There truly is an app for everything, huh?
Terrific post(s) – ALL OF THEM!
As my better half and I prepare for our Canadian Snowbird Dream of living in Canada and traveling the States, your posts are truly inspiring!
There is so much to explore and see in both of our great countries, and so many amazing people to meet!
I hope one day our paths will cross – you will know us by the 25′ Airstream we tow!
Keep up the great writing, it touches many, many, people!
Thank you so much! I really appreciate that! And I agree – there is SO MUCH to see! After two years, we feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s out there. And we hope to spend LOTS more time in Canada. We adored our visit to the maritimes last summer and can’t wait to get back and see more. You all are definitely doing it right – having your home base there and then escaping the winters to hang out in the U.S. We’ve met many of your fellow Canadian snowbirds and they really do have the best of both worlds. I do hope we cross paths at some point!
I was.still.laughing about your blog as we were doing our three hour drive home from a wedding this weekend so i had to read it to hubby … he loved it and we both had some good laughs at your very true statements ????. Now hubby finally believes me that he needs to start reading your blog! And kitchen sinks in RVs need to he divided so that you can use less water when boondocking.
Haha! Glad you guys got a kick out of it. It was fun to write…There are many of these ‘truisms” about RVing that you don’t really realize until you sit back and think about them. It is certainly an interesting world we all live in, that’s for sure. 🙂 Anyway, glad you guys liked it!
I totally agree with you about the sink. The first remodel we did was new counter tops and one big, deep sink ! Guess what…we do not have a range either. Had that taken out too. Works great for us to use an induction eye and electric fry pan which both stay stored in the cabinet until we need them. I have even mastered cooking noodles in the microwave! Anyways, I loved your post and think you are off to a great start and many more adventures. P.S. Thanks for the compliment about the older people being good neighbors and yes, we LOVE our jeep!
Oh wow… I would love to know more about your kitchen sink replacement. I’ve been wondering if it was possible for us to do it, but I also don’t want to have to replace the entire counter top. We have two panels and they rest on the sink divider, so I’m assuming they need that support, but I have no idea. I’m also glad to hear I’m not the only one who wants one big sink. The range thing is interesting too because Kevin recently bought an induction cook top and now it’s all he ever uses. I still use the propane stove for some things, but it’s not getting much use these days. Every little bit of counter space really does help!
Brilliant post. I absolutely love your humor. You nailed so many points. The only thing I could think of that you left out is the need for people to huddle up. i.e. 17 parking spots in a row, we park at one end and yep, someone pulls in next door. Thanks for blogging! -Joy
Oooooh that IS a good one! We’ve heard the complaint several times from our friends who boondock that they’ll be out in the middle of nowhere and someone will park right near them. We haven’t done much boondocking, but we have absolutely had the experience of campgrounds putting people right on top of one another when there were plenty of open spots. I’ve never understood why they do that. It’s so frustrating!
Great post and so relatable after 5 years on the road. Love it when we’re in a place long enough that we don’t have to use a GPS to get everywhere. I just don’t get Airstreams or Casitas, but then different strokes for different folks which makes for a great big wonderful world. The best part rv’ing is the great friends we’ve made, some we’ve yet to meet in person.
I agree! There’s a whole bunch of people we’ve connected with through blogs that we haven’t met yet, but I’m looking forward to it! It’s been a wonderful perk of traveling.
[…] of our fellow Tiffin bloggers posted a very entertaining and informative “musings” post that had one thing in particular that was interesting to us. Winnebago has a new line, the Horizon, […]
Ditto to all the above! Born in Ohio, then left. ????. Full timing since April and put 13,000 miles on the odometer towing a Toyota Tacoma from NC to Alaska, staying in parks/campgrounds only a handful of times. I love boondocking, but my wife likes to be around people, so we mostly pull over to the side of the road so we can have both. ????
Love the blog and subscribed. ❤️
Wow! 13,000 miles in less than 6 months – that is no joke! I bet you guys have seen some awesome stuff! We’d love to boondock more, but ti’s just easier said than done in a lot of the places we’ve visited. Oftentimes, campgrounds are just easier…. Sounds like you’ve found a way to keep everyone content. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and thank you for subscribing! I appreciate it!
Laura, your comment about the 20 different store cards made me laugh. I got the Key Chain app for my phone. You take pictures of all your cards and never have to search for the one you left ‘in your other purse’. Happy travels!!
Yes! StoreCard and Keychain have both been recommended and my husband just started using one of them. I’ll check them both out and download one! Anything has to be better than carting around all these cards!
Happy Second Anniversary! We will be at two years in two months, and I definitely agree with many of your observations! About those Airstreamers though…
When we got the idea to full time travel, I wanted an Airstream because they are just sooooo cute! Once we got on the road, that didn’t matter nearly as much as the travel. I feel more comradery with other fulltime travelers than I do with people who happen to have the same kind of trailer as we do.
However, we still flash our headlights and wave when we see other Airstreams on the road! I think the brand-love is a way to console ourselves for picking a trailer with waaaaaay less storage and space than I’m sure you have ????
Haha! I totally get it. Hell, I’m seriously jealous of the coolness factor and the camaraderie that Airstreamers have! They are unquestionably cool RVs and it’s neat to be part of a club no matter what your particular situation is – younger or older, newer Airstream or older one. It’s nice to belong to a group of likeminded folks. Even if they are a cult. ????????????
Yes San Antonio drivers are crazy. We spent five months there but survived it! Lol
Ha, great stuff! I’ve long been convinced that at night, “Airstreamers” can push a special button which vacuum seals the entire canister, gravity is removed and then…. they communicate with aliens!
I agree with you on the missing “C’s” as well- KOA’s make me think of kozy komfort around the kampfire!
Haha! Maybe Airstreamers really ARE special!!! ????
Always enjoy reading your blog! Thought you might find it of interested that we saw a Airstream being towed by a Jeep last week (at the Catalina State Park in Tuscon, AZ)!!! Re #16: Can’t speak to the “safely pull” part (i.e., doubt the specs on the Jeep allowed for towing that large Airstream), however to date, I don’t think Instagram has melted. ????????????
Ha!! Oh no!!! My worst fears are coming true!! I sure hope no one else finds out about this!! (I also hope no one gets hurt as a result of these folks towing unsafely ????).
Spot on! Loved your list. I love your blog…so funny, but real. ????
Thank you, Tami! That’s always my goal… To be honest, but to keep it light and have fun. I’m very happy when people enjoy reading it!
????????We have an Airstream name “Queenie” that should make ya laugh! Not only do we call her ( I think she’s a she????) but all our friends always ask “How’s Queenie “?????????????!! We just started following you & you guys keep it real!! So on that note we won’t tell Queenie what you said about her????????????
Haha! Hey, ours has a name too! I’ve just accepted that, as regular motorhome owners, we will never be members of the “cool kids group.” Airstreams are definitely the hippest RVs out there. I wish other manufacturers would take their cues from them…. Anyway, thanks for following along and thanks for your comment! Maybe we’ll see you down the road somewhere!