Last week I took to Instagram/Facebook and asked what you wanted to know about RV life, and boy did you guys deliver! Thank you for all of your questions! I’ve now got topics for Q&As for days!
This question though, the one asking what has been the most challenging part of RV life so far, well I was most tempted to write on this topic. And as a bonus, my answer is going to give me an excellent opportunity to paint you a picture of what the first couple of months of RV life were like for us!
In the beginning, I thought the switch over to RV life was going to be a piece of cake, and in no time we’d be living a carefree, delightful life on the road. I tend to live in the clouds sometimes. 😊
So, the Question at hand: What was the most difficult part about transitioning over to RV life?
Answer: Going from purchase to full-time living immediately, and not being able to retreat to our old lifestyle in times of stress and defeat.
You guys – we knew NOTHING. I mean we’d been reading books and blogs and getting as prepared as possible, but we had no hands-on experience except for a few camping trips in a Roadtrek for me as a kid and a few in a popup camper for Barrett as a kid. At Camping World, they recommend you take the camper on a few trips here and there before living in it full time. But winter was closing in on us, and I did not have the patience to wait around for spring. Now, four months later, after many lessons have been learned, I can honestly say I understand why the people at Camping World made that recommendation, and I agree with them.
So let’s rewind to the beginning of our RV journey. We were just starting to turn our lives completely upside down. Here’s how it all began:
Before the move-in phase, we had spent the previous couple of months selling or donating about 85-90% of everything we own. That period included selling both of our cars, returning a third car to Barrett’s dad and then hunting across multiple states for the best possible truck to tow our new home. The purging of our “stuff” was an emotionally draining effort all in its own that I will be sure to blog about at another time. (And yes! I used Marie Kondo before it was even cool to use Marie Kondo! Her method really is that good and life-changing! But I recommend reading and using her book over watching the show.)
Next, we started to move all of our remaining things into our Fifth Wheel at Camping World, including everything we were going to be storing near my family. We had four days set aside for the move. We lived about 30 miles away, and since we only had the one truck at this point, it was going to take a few back-and-forth trips to get everything there. The whole move ended up taking us four round trips, in the pouring rain.
One more thing about the first two days, we also had some required downtime for a few install appointments. These appointments involved getting a gooseneck installed in the truck, having the Anderson installed on the truck and the camper, and then getting a general overview of how to use everything from the kind people at Camping World. Here’s the very first picture I took in the RV from my temporary workstation during those installs:
During our last two days at Camping World though, things started getting messy…
- First, we got hit by another RV. (Yes, our home had been hit before it had even touched the road.)
- We took our last truckload of stuff to the camper, just to get there and realize we left the keys to the camper behind at the house.
- We failed at quickly installing a backup camera. It was supposed to take minutes; it took us half a day.
On that last day though we were feeling pretty pumped! We were excited to start our journey. You can see the
But our excitement on that day was brief because time had caught up with us and before we knew it, it was dark. I sat with Barrett as he practiced driving the fifth wheel around in the dark parking lot for about an hour or so. What followed was a moment that I did not realize would be oh so frequent in RV life. Barrett wanted to take off. I thought it was way too late and dark for our first venture onto the road. Also, we were too tired; we had been working all day. After some back and forth, I was able to convince him we should spend one more night there, and then start our trip in the morning. I stepped out of the truck feeling super proud of our powers to work together and of my abilities in the area of persuasion. But my ego was quickly checked as we walked into the camper to find out we had managed to run out of propane, while it was 19 degrees outside. We had been running it since we were handed the keys, not once thinking about the fact that it was a limited resource. 🤦♀️
Little did I know at the time, this moment would come to define much of our RV life experience in the beginning. The first few months have been full of little wins and then getting knocked right back down on the ground moments later. We’ve been learning lessons and fixing problems, as quickly as possible, over and over again, all while becoming better partners and campers along the way!
That night, I thought I was going to cry. I balled myself up in all the blankets we had and laid next to the electric fireplace space heater while Barrett went to buy anything that could keep us warm for the night. He also came back with chocolate and Taco Bell. What a guy! Eventually, the RV got warmer, and we were able to fall asleep
The next morning, we woke up and took off! We successfully got everything to our first stop near Barrett’s family.
With our next couple of days, we had planned on sorting everything into where it belonged in the RV and then hosting a family potluck before heading down to the warmth of the south. However, it didn’t take long for us to realize that everything we had to store was bulky and heavy. We decided we didn’t want to bring the weight of it all down south, just to store it in hurricane-central. We were also pretty anxious to have the room those boxes were taking up ASAP. So we decided to find a storage unit in Maryland instead. At this point, we were now six days into our RV journey, including the days at Camping World. The next day entailed a whirlwind of moving boxes into storage and then hosting a Potluck.
The following morning we were told of a severe snowstorm coming in that evening. We decided to get the remainder of our items to storage right
At this point, once we finally reached the sunny south, we were exhausted. But the real fun hadn’t even begun yet! We still hadn’t even really started to figure out much of anything about the actual RV. The following are ALL fodder for new posts in future themselves, but we still needed to:
- Get an RV GPS, so we didn’t crash our home into any bridges or power lines.
- Flush out all of the factory winterization (this one actually ended up being NBD but seemed super important and scary to us at the time).
- Buy a water hose.
- Figure out how to dump our tanks.
- Buy dump tank hoses.
- Buy second dump tank hoses after the first one broke within a few weeks.
- Cut and sand the sides of our bed platform so we would stop scraping our kneecaps open.
- Figure out how to remove the stuff that fell behind the fireplace space heater.
- Get our internet set up.
- Get a signal booster, so our internet was usable.
- Get our cats setup with a comfortable living, travel and litter box situation.
- Research and purchase a bike rack so we could get the bikes out of our living room.
- Build our desk, so we have a separation between where we eat and where we work.
- Figure out how we get our mail to us.
- Realize our recliner is super uncomfortable. Sell our recliner on Facebook Marketplace. Go shopping for a new soft, fluffy couch.
- Go Christmas shopping.
- Figure out where our license plates were for the truck and RV, and if the delays meant whether or not we’d be grounded for a bit or free to travel on the road to our next stop.
- Spend time with family.
- Research and install a surge protector inside the RV, so we’re protected in case of power issues at any of the campgrounds.
- Realize our fridge had an issue. Search all over for the proper fridge fuse. Finally, five stops later find the fridge fuse and buy it in bulk. Install the new fridge fuse.
- Wonder if we should remove the glass shower doors in our bathroom so it would feel cozier. Walk in after a trip between Florida and Louisiana to find our shower doors had exploded into small glass pieces everywhere. Clean up the glass. Buy a curtain rod and curtain.
- Find a water filtration system that we could use so we could have drinking water.
- Fix a DEF Heater issue with our truck (which ended up being covered under the truck’s warranty, thank goodness!)
- Fix a Catalytic Converter issue with the truck (which ended up being covered under our extended warranty, thank goodness again!)
I’m sure you get the point by now. If we had taken Camping World’s advice, we possibly would have slowly gone through these learning pains in which all beginners must go through at a more casual pace while having the comfort of a brick and mortar home to go back to in the evenings when the going got tough. Instead, we only had our fifth wheel home. We were forced to figure out the answers to new questions at a rapid pace per day. We were stressed! We kept trying and failing at getting on any kind of schedule or setting any routines. Needless to say, it was not the best of times. We ate out a lot. I got acne. Barrett got cold sores.
All of that being said, I’m happy to say that we’ve finally moved beyond the “transitioning” phase of RV life. If we hadn’t made it here by this point, I’m pretty sure there’d be a brand new fifth wheel listed on RVtrader right now!
And while learning on the go was perhaps not the smartest way to start off this journey, it did strengthen our relationship as a whole and each of us individually. We’ve both been tested in the areas of know-how and patience, and through trial and error, we’ve still learned how to be comfortable in this lifestyle, just a bit quicker and sloppier than recommended. Barrett has been more hands-on with maintenance than I’ve ever seen before. He used to be of the “call a mechanic” world. This lifestyle has introduced him to the “fix it yourself” world, which has been exciting to see.
Life is starting to look more and more like what we imagined, and we’ve fully grown accustomed to what we need to survive happily in this lifestyle. It’s taken time though. RV life is definitely NOT carefree, but the freedom it provides is incredible, and I would still recommend it to everyone!