Way back in May and June of 2016, when we first hit the road, we were really deer in the headlights. I’m not saying that we are seasoned vets now, but we have settled in to road life. Not surprisingly, it takes quite a while to really find your rhythm and preferences for traveling. But, I’ve learned a little.
Most new full-timers, ourselves included, make the mistake of trying to fit in too much, too fast. After all, our only basis of comparison were road trips where you might cover 3 states in a couple of days! We learned early on that going too fast is just not sustainable. Not to mention that a day where you pack up the RV, run errands, dump tanks, drive 4 hours, and then try to find a boondocking spot is just WAY too much. We (ok, I) would end up worn out and snippy long before it came time to maneuver into a site.
We also realized that especially given the need to work during the day, we want more time in each place to explore. We try not to give up precious weekend days any more. Instead, we opt to move a couple hours after work and save weekends for big hikes and such together.
To us, RV life is NOT camping and we are (for the most part) NOT roughing it. Figure out what is making you physically or emotionally uncomfortable day-to-day and come up with a solution. This year we replaced the foam in our dinette cushions because we sit there the majority of the time and were getting sore backs. No more!
We also got a solar shower, which we fill up in town and use outside (with biodegradable soap). Along with some awesome “Wilderness Wipes” our friends passed along, we are generally actually clean (!) without using too much water. That’s a big morale boost, and showering outside is actually really enjoyable and refreshing. Plus being clean means that Nik and I can hug without one of us being like, “Oh… um… high five instead?” 😛
My point being: the little annoyances add up. Identify them and see if you can come up with solutions.
Finding a Routine
Maybe this is just me, but I am someone who needs some structure to be happy and productive. When we hit the road, all that structure totally evaporated. While I became a lot more flexible, I also have had to learn how to structure my days without the externalities of commute, meetings, in-person work, or even that every-Tuesday-night yoga class. I’ve been much better this year about identifying what I need in my routine to thrive and be happy. I have a set time to wake up, I try to exercise each day, and I devote some time daily to career goals and chores. Sometimes chores take a lot of time (like on laundry day, which may require driving 15 miles to a laundromat and spending several hours there), and sometimes I focus most of my time on career. It changes a bit, but generally exercise, chores, and career are the “bones” of my day.
Last year, I didn’t fully identify that and felt adrift for the first few months. It was hard to choose goals for myself and create my own structure and routine from nothing. It’s still not always easy, but I have learned a lot about myself and how I operate through the process.
Caring Less about Opinions of Others
When we first started out, we thought we were so cool and so unique. I wanted to tell everyone about it! Now the novelty has worn off and I know I’m not really all that unique (everybody and their mother is doing the #vanlife thing, it seems). And ya know, those conversations were really uninteresting.
Last year, I felt very strongly that I was NOT A TOURIST. I was simply living somewhere very short-term. Now, I don’t really care. In some places, I’m totally a tourist! And ya know what? It’s fine. Generally, I just try not to be an insensitive jerk and that matters more than being placed into the correct tiny box.
I still don’t know how to answer the question, “Where are you from?” Oh well. Maybe next year.