3 Lessons I Learned During Our First Week on the Road

by Erica

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Today I want to impart some wisdom for those who may come after us in the full-time RV journey, so I thought I’d share the 3 lessons I learned during our first week on the road. 

 

When we finally left our house after months of renovations on June 22nd – I thought I knew what to expect. And in some ways, I did. But in other ways, I really had no idea what life on the road would consist of. 

 

In my mind, we’d finally have some much-needed down time. I had every intention of spending our first week reading books, catching up on blog posts, and taking long naps in my hammock. Pretty much none of those things happened. 

 

Instead, we spent most of our time in/or around Walmart (sleeping or shopping for missing necessities), and learning how to actually be RVers. After months of research and two decades of RV camping with my family, I assumed there wouldn’t be much else to learn (wrong again) – but there were actually a lot of things we just didn’t have time to figure out before leaving Connecticut. 

 

In all, we spent 10 days on the road with Yoda before delivering her back to our driveway so we could finish up our last RVless obligations at home. During that time, we learned a lot… so I figured I’d share my top 3 lessons for new full-time RVers! 

 

clothes packed for full-time RV living. As a new full-time rver, it was hard to determine what I needed to pack, and what could stay at home. I tried to pack light and minimally, but didn't succeed. This was full-time travel packing attempt Part 1.

My first attempt at packing my clothes for full-time RV living. Each of those bins has at least 15 articles of clothing rolled up. Very space effective, but not practical for

Lesson #1 for new full-time RVers: Pack LESS

 

Lesson #1 for new full-time RVers: pack less than you think you need. 

 

Unless you’re already a minimalist (I am definitely not)… you really won’t need as much stuff as you think you will. Our camper is tiny with very little storage. When packing, I picked “only the essentials” out of my 2 closets and 2 dressers at home and rolled everything up SUPER tight. I made more and more cuts until I was sure I only had the bare essentials. Once I transferred it to the camper, I was amazed at how much stuff I was able to fit into a tiny area and gave myself a little pat on the back! After all, I’d stressed for months about packing space… yet managed to squeeze all of my clothes, 6 pairs of shoes, and a bunch of art/crafts, electronics and books in the camper with no problem. 

 

I seriously thought I did great on packing until the first time I needed to change my clothes. With everything packed so tightly, I couldn’t actually get to any of the clothes I packed. I basically resorted to wearing Tim’s socks and sweatshirts for the week because getting to my own was pretty much impossible unless I wanted to completely unpack and repack my cabinets. 

 

If you’re planning to be a new full-time RVer… pack with intention!! My initial intention was to look colorful and cute everyday (sorry I’m not sorry!), but after realizing how annoying it would be to spend my days playing tetris with everything we packed – I plan to focus on practicality. 

 

A nice shot of Yoda in Acadia National Park. Maine was the primary stop on our "trial run" trip - and we loved every second of it! Our 1985 Toyota Coachmen was a hit with locals.

A nice shot of Yoda in Acadia National Park. Maine was the primary stop on our “trial run” trip – and we loved every second of it! Our 1985 Toyota Coachmen was a hit with locals.

Lesson #2 for new full-time RVers: Make a Trial Run

 

Lesson #2 for new full-time RVers: make a trial run before you drive off into the sunset for good! 

 

If we didn’t have a wedding to attend at home over the 4th of July… we would have driven straight out of Eew England as fast as possible. However, since we did have this week of activities planned before we even bought the RV – we were able to work a few stops back home into our plans. After realizing how ineffectively we packed… I’m happy about having the opportunity to regroup before we travel far away from home for the next 5 months. 

 

Aside from packing problems, making a trial run before your never-ending journey is a great idea to get a feel for what you’re actually doing. Before leaving home… we’d never used the new toilet or fridge we’d installed, nor had we ever dumped our tanks. These were all fun firsts on the road. Another thing we didn’t consider was needing to sanitize our fresh water tank before using it. Luckily we did, because there was a lot of questionable stuff coming out of the faucet when we finally started playing around with it. 

 

The last reason, and possibly most important – is to make sure that your vessel is mechanically sound! Whether it be a RV, van, bus or car… driving it around different areas while it’s packed is an important step to take before you hit the road for good. Since we bought our RV in October, and began the remodel process almost immediately… the furthest Yoda had been driven was home from Maine when Tim’s dad picked her up. As for us, the farthest we’d driven her is to Walmart and back. (I say WE like we’ve shared driving responsibilities. However, I have yet to actually drive the RV myself. Not looking forward to that part…) 

 

So far, we’ve had very few negative outcomes due to our lack of preparedness. But, if we did – we’d be close to home and ready to tackle it (or at least ready ready to call someone to help us tackle it). 

Yoda parked at a small music festival in Connecticut. Our first festival experience with an RV taught me a lot... but mostly that this 1985 toyota camper is not going to be easy to keep clean!

Yoda parked at a small music festival in Connecticut. Our first festival experience with an RV taught me a lot… but mostly that this 1985 toyota camper is not going to be easy to keep clean!

Lesson #3 for new full-time RVers: Go With the Flow!

 

Lesson #3 for new full-time RVers is to go with the flow, and to say YES to as many things as possible. 

 

One of the things that we decided early on in our planning, is that we didn’t want to set a route or a plan for when to visit certain places. We wanted to have as much freedom as possible, and so far that’s served us well and made our time on the road pretty stress free (so far, at least!). 

 

Aside from the ability to be whimsical at a moment’s notice… it also relieves the tension of driving on deadlines. So we didn’t make it to the campground early enough? We’ll just stay in a Cracker Barrel parking lot.

 

The weather isn’t great today? We’ll find a quiet place to park for the day, and carry on with our plans tomorrow. 

 

I’m an extreme planner and also chronically late and slow moving…. so on one side of the coin “winging” anything is very foreign to me, but on the other side, this is working to my benefit. 

 

Having no plans or obligations is also great because it’s the exact opposite of the lives we’ve been living. Like everyone else, we went to school and worked normal jobs before this… so most of our lives have been planned out for us by the hour, day, or month. 

 

The last, and most important reason to go with the flow is out of necessity for your SANITY. Just like normal life, full-time RV living can be unpredictible. You’re at the mercy of the weather, traffic and your vehicle (among 1000 other things) – so be prepared to be flexible. If not, you’ll literally drive yourself crazy. 

Our fully remodeled 1985 Toyota RV after unpacking and cleaning it. While this picture makes it look nice and clean, it's far from that while traveling. Even after repacking everything more carefully, we still have a ton of stuff!

Our fully remodeled 1985 Toyota RV after unpacking and cleaning it. While this picture makes it look nice and clean, it’s far from that while traveling. Even after repacking everything more carefully, we still have a ton of stuff!

Final Advice for New Full-Time RVers & Upcoming Travel Plans

 

If you’re considering this lifestyle, I urge you to move forward! You’re already invested in this lifestyle and in the planning phases – I wish you the best of luck. Even after such a short period of time, I can feel this nomadic lifestyle breathing new life into me. While traveling, even the most mundane things become more interesting – just by virtue of being in a foreign place. For me, this new outlook on life is exactly what I was looking for. In addition to the excitement of newness… the people we’ve met so far have been really great. From our trip to Maine to bringing Yoda to her first music festival… every person we’ve crossed paths with has had an interesting perspective to share. 

 

For the next few days, we’ll be camped in Ohio while waiting to get some work done on Yoda. (more on our mechanical difficulties at a later date) After we get back on the road, we’re planning on driving to the upper peninsula of Michigan. Other than that plan (which is liable to change at any moment), we have nothing planned until Lockn’ Music Festival at the end of August – so if there’s something east of the Rocky Mountains that we need to see, PLEASE leave a comment or drop me an email!! 

 

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