"Thanks to Heartland RVs for partnering with me for this post. All opinions expressed are my own."
Have you heard those Tom Selleck narrating the Go RVing commercials and how beautiful and peaceful it is with campfires, roasting marshmallows and singing songs while sitting on logs under canopies of trees under the stars?
You've perused multiple brochures of rows upon rows of beautiful RVs parked in a resort amidst its immaculate grounds of groomed palm trees, perfectly manicured lawns, etc.
Here we thought, before we pulled out of our first berth, that we were going to be hiking constantly, writing postcards like Hemingway wrote books, going out every day sampling local cuisines, sightseeing, etc. I mean, that's what all the pictures of campers and RVers show, right?
Now now, before you get all anxious thinking we're going to throw in the towel, let us give you a small dose of what we wished others would have told us. I know that some things are left to find out yourselves but hey, we're all about helping others get to their own 'living the dream'. We will gladly tell you about the exciting and fun things we endure during our RV adventures, but we feel compelled to tell you our list of 'KNOW BEFORE YOU GO!' challenges.
As full-timers, we are always 'new' to an area unless we've been there before and even then, it's still unfamiliar. I swear the highway engineers method to designing city highway systems is to throw cooked spaghetti up in the air and wherever it lands, that's the road system. Between arguing with the GPS, each other, drivers racing by you like angry NASCAR drivers while flipping the bird because you're not going the speed they think you should be driving. Or, how about the tailgaters, drivers wanting to take their half out of the middle, racing up the on-ramp while you're pulling your 42' fifth wheel and they 'don't see you'? OH, and add in a little nasty weather makes us want to go nuts. Trying to even get to our destination can be downright daunting. In fact, the first thing "I" do the minute I hop into the passenger seat is bury my face in my phone.
Our solution? We pay attention to peak traffic hours and avoid them whether transporting days or our daily errands. If we have to go into the city or navigate our way around it, we do everything in one day (chiropractor, office supply store, health food store, post office or shipping center, etc.) Then we take the other 6 days to recuperate or go where people aren't. We rely on the WAZE phone app that gives updated traffic.
Yep, you've heard them...make a U turn...recalculating...make a U turn...recalculating...take a right turn in 100 yards...only to find you're in the middle of another abandoned construction zone that takes you on one-way streets with dead ends.
Our solution is to prepare ourselves by mapping out our route on paper, gps'ing and verifying it with our Truckers/Motor Carriers Map. It also helps to check the stat construction info on their DMV sites.
Inaccurate Campground or RV Park Review
Everyone's standards are different as are opinions. We've parked at campgrounds or parks based on reviews only to find they are so polar opposite that we either suck it up and stay or we pull out early losing our prepaid fees.
Our solution is to stick with 'like-minded' folks' opinions. We tend to take stock in others of the same RV size, same interests, same standards as ours.
For a rather 'amusing' RV park/resort blunder, check out a recent blog we wrote:
It never fails that when we are on the other side of the country, something happens that requires us to go home. Now, on top of having to navigate city traffic and finding the airport, we have to park our big dually in a parking spot made for a Yugo and be at the mercy of hoping our Captain America will be there when we return.
Our solution is to get to a destination that's easy to rent a car and drive home; or, a major airport and fly home. We've found other RVers will gladly take us to and from the airport. We've learned that our RV family understands and are ready to help because you would do the same if it were them.
No Separate Home Office, Studio, or Garage
While this probably doesn't phase others, it does for us. We like our 'separate spaces' where we each can go to get a little alone time without leaving our home. Now, any bit of crafting is done on the tiny dining table that has to be cleaned off 3 hours later and Dan has to sit outside at the picnic table in 30mph wind to do some maintenance and repairs.
Our solution to this dilemma is if its nice outside, we set up a little crafting, workshop or office table. We get fresh air and really, its so nice to not work between walls.
Being assumed we're wealthy
That myth is SO far off, it's pathetically hilarious. Like the evil glares we sometimes get from truckers as we fill up our diesel at truck stops or people who meet us giving us the subliminal 'must be nice to be on a perpetual vacation' look.
Our solution is to politely tell them that this is a 'lifestyle' and not a 'vacation'. Once we tell them our story, they seem to nod and understand. We tell them we still work. We still have chores. We still have to do maintenance. We still pay bills. You get the idea. We tell them that they TOO can do what we are doing (if they want to).
Different and Confusing State Laws
Seriously, the 'United' States is an oxymoron. Each state dictates their own laws which leave transients like us confused and oftentimes pushing the envelopes of legalities. All the way from buying beer on Sundays, firearms laws, tow length restrictions, etc.
Our solution is again, 'be prepared'. Before going through or parking in a different state, we look up the laws that apply to our needs.
Continuity of Health and Dental Care
Admittedly, this has been probably the highest speedbump in our (and other RVers) travels. Even though we have good health insurance, if either of us get sick or injured, we end up telling our life health history over and over again to new area medical facilities. Chronic health conditions, required labs and testing is a challenge because we first, must schedule to see a PCM (Primary Care Physician) and even then, they schedule an appointment a month or two out. If we need a referral, well...oh geez!
Our solution is to really 'try' to use MTF's a.k.a. Military Treatment Facilities because their computer system is supposed to be integrated all over the U.S. It works most of the time. I said 'most', right? For my Chiropractic, we use The Joint Chiropractic wherever they are as they too, have integrated computer record keeping.
Researching Roads, Routes, and Parking
This makes me laugh. When we sit down to plan our routes and places we want to go, it looks like we're on a quest to take over the world with paper maps, IPad open to Google Earth, the laptop open to Campground Reviews website, my phone open to researching individual campgrounds or parks and our tablets open to campground site maps. It's hilarious. We should videotape it sometime. No...no, we'll not do that.
Our solution is to know it's going to take some time. We pick a rainy day, and we do this together. It used to be I who did all the travel planning. However, that grew tiresome and sometimes overwhelming because well...I'm a woman and sometimes making decisions without changing my mind ten times isn't my strong suit. We work together, plain and simple.
If you're new to RVing or contemplating it, keep these in mind. We admit fully that RVing isn't all fun and games. While most of the time, it's adventurous and fun, there's still the work-life balance we're still hammering out. You just have to find what works for you and whomever your travel partner is. You'll figure it out. After you've been around the block a few times, you'll sit back and say, 'now that wasn't so hard'.
If you're new to RVing or contemplating hitting the road, we blogged another comprehensive list that you might enjoy: 10 Things We Should Have Known Before Going Full-Time.