11 things I have learned from living full time in an RV
Let’s face it. Living in a confined space sounds challenging. To the majority. Luckily, our family is ” Outside of the Box Thinkers “. Agreeably, doing anything uncomfortable requires an extraordinary thinking. Living in a small house could be challenging enough, but what about living in a 27″motorized vehicle?
First things first, let me take you to the pre-history of the new lifestyle. Becoming minimalists wasn’t anywhere on my radar until we hit the certain point in our lives where it seemed like the only ( and quite successful ) idea. I have written about it here.
Surely, buying an RV and disappearing in the woods sounds appealing, although I wish someone told me the bare truth about living full-time in a house on wheels. Note: travel and living in an RV are two different things! At least, we would’ve been prepared a little better.
Here are the 11 things I have learned from living full time in an RV:
Wearing the same outfit day in day out isn’t that hard
Actually, 2-3 per week per person is more than plenty. Ha-ha, I brought all my fifty plus outfits simply because I didn’t know what else to do with them and “just in case” ( don’t we all ? ). Now I quite like to dress simple and comfortable (that doesn’t always include the track pants ). I still have my expensive pair of boots I kept for a colder weather and for going out occasions.
Washing clothes once a week is a relief
That might sound quirky but I used to have an overfilled washing basket every two days. I have no idea what and why I was washing so much. Now we do bed linen/towels once a week and a whole pile of clothes once per fortnight. What a relief!
Buying minimum food supplies for a week requires readjusting
That was the most challenging part for me. I have always been a bulk buying believer, especially if I could get all my staples in one go. Now I understand why my pantry never got empty and (embarrassing to admit) I had to throw out food now and then. Took me a good month to readjust the thinking and get better at organizing stuff. I had to plan way ahead for the meal preparation and cooking ideas. Having no oven to bake, it was somewhat challenging. I still am in the stage of figuring out how to make the planning quicker and more efficient.
I have given good tips on the RV cooking in an early article, go have a read.
Losing a personal space is overrated
This is the first thing I was warned about after we notified everyone that we bought a van. The first thing people get so scared of. The first thing they believe is the most important in one’s life.
Personal space? What is that? No, never heard. I don’t know about you but my “personal space” was gone with the baby”s arrival. It became something non-existing. If you have a good helping partner, this same applies to him as well. The question here is not how you deal with losing a personal space. The question is how you make it comfortable for all family members.
We have a double bunk, that allows Nick to spend some quiet time with the curtains shut. He can also swivel the TV all the way into his ” cave ” and watch a DVD on his own. Being an introvert, a little of ” me time ” every day is important. People often perceive the “me time” or a personal space as something physical. It is not. I tell you as a true introvert. To me, personal space is as simple as withdrawing my mind from everything around when working on the computer. Or taking my dog out to do his business. A few minutes “by myself ” keeps me sane. I don’t physically need a whole room for that.
Meeting different people every day is a fun and beneficial experience
We have met so many lovely people that want nothing but help. They have given us plenty of tips and tricks on anything we needed to know about a life in a van. The best part: we don’t have to either like or tolerate anyone. If something isn’t great with neighbors, we could start an engine and move as little or as far away as we are pleased.
Realizing that I can drive my own home where and when I want to
Wow, what a concept! No packing or stressing over moving. If we want to see ten different locations in a week, we can. There are no utility bills to pay. No unpacking to do. Although our van is fairly large, it still fits under a small truck sizing which allows me to get behind the wheel. OK, maybe it took a while to brave up at driving this thing but hey, when I did, I nailed it. Now this smells like FREEDOM.
Homeschooling on the road is more than just educating
We visit local libraries, they all offer FREE WIFI. We borrow books and DVDs. There’s a TV in our van but we do not watch it. Life outside has so much to offer! Nick meets other homeschooled kids, they run around in afternoons, not giving a damn thing about the Internet or technology. I used to absolutely utterly hate the need of having to book a play date with his friends. It felt like a prison for kids, having to be confined into a box of organized play times and catch ups. Same goes to mothers. Sometimes we waited for months to see a friend, simply because their mother was busy looking after other siblings or some other busyness. In the end, I gave up on all of it. Kids should be going out freely. That is the principle we are living and breathing now. That is what I will never give up.
Living and working with a limited Internet access is possible
Have lived in a house, this part was taking for granted. It was normal to spend half a day online reading or researching. Some schools force kids to do a homework on the internet. I wonder at times how we survived the 20th century?
Once the decision to go on a road was made, it took me a while to adjust to the thought of not having this allowance anymore. The research began immediately. I spent hours googling and reading forums on what others use for travels. Luckily, there are few choices. Some I never heard of. Thank God for Google!
I am at peace with myself now, it’s all working out really well. The huge plus is my boy doesn’t care about it any longer.
Using amenities in RV parks is a good thing
It saves us time and money on cleaning. No scrubbing showers or toilets. EVER. No leaking washing machines to replace. Clothes drying is always available (very handy in a wet weather). No humongous electricity or water bills to follow. Barbequing is made in the most fashionable way. On an electric hot plate. Soaps and sponges to wash are provided. Bonus.
Let me expand on this. We own a motorhome, right. A MOTORISED vehicle. A van classified as a home on wheels that is fully equipped. So why do we need to use amenities? The answer is Why not? Yeah, we could do ALL THIS in our van comfortably without a need to ever leaving it. Not sure that’d be seen as a great road adventure though. Yes, everybody loves privacy but no one loves cleaning.
Staying for free or paying a weekly fee in RV parks is a personal choice
Of course, I could start with like: Oh, why would you be so silly to pay rent as you travel? Placing your van on a paid ground is often seen as paying a rent, right? Here is the thing. No matter how self-sufficient your van is, there will always be expenses. Either buying a lot of gas/petrol or installing quite a few solar panels, there will be always something you will be paying for continuously.
We have been mixing free campgrounds and paid park stays successfully. Free isn’t always free as they say though. Some charge between AU$10 and 20 per night if you need a powered site. Completely free of charge are the ones that don’t provide anything. No power. No water. They are great for only a few days. After that, you’ll be running mad every time you run out of the water. I do. To fill a water tank, you still need to go pay for that. In simple terms, being 100% self-sufficient requires a lot more work. For a lot less ongoing price. I think, given a choice, we would all rather pay a cheaper but set in a stone amount to run UNLIMITED electricity and water at home, wouldn’t we?
11. Getting kids into doing chores is a lot easier
No lie. They somehow find it amusing to get involved in anything to do with a van maintenance. Around a house – nope, never. Scrub a toilet? Not them! In a van… oh, what is that thing? Let’s go see what it does! Yep, it works.
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