Well we did it, after talking about it for more than 6 years, planning and researching for over 2 and seriously considering it for about a year we dove in and bought an RV! Ok we really bought a Travel Trailer to tow and upgraded our SUV to a Ford F150 in order to tow it BUT we did it! Living the dream! It just didn’t seem like that at first…we almost quit and even now we have considered it a time or two but we are sticking with it and over all loving all the places we get to go and things we get to see. This world of ours truly is amazing.
First there was a HUGE learning curve! It started out ok, nervous and learning with some issues, then went to OMFG why did we do this! and then a great period where it was amazing and the best thing ever and OMG I’m so happy we did this!, and then…crying, tantrums, giving up, wanting to go home (which we sort of didn’t have) and the kids weren’t happy either! We had issues with weight (we were a lot over), placement of items in the TT to avoid sway, which we didn’t…that is always scary! and not knowing ANYTHING about living in an RV while you travel the world….or at least the USA.
Our learning curve consisted of first not having the right tow package on the truck we bought, then said truck not coming with the right fuse box to install the brake system for the trailer installed, to finally the place we bought the RV from installing the brake system on our truck to the lights would work on the TT and could finally pick the thing up a week later than planned.
Next on our “oh joy” list we went to MN to visit family we hadn’t seen in awhile and sort of test out this new lifestyle. Well, we figured it would be just fine if we just put all the stuff we were taking in the TT and when we stayed at places along the way and when we got there we could organize it. For the record…no…just no..do NOT do that. Organize and love where every thing is FIRST. It was so stressful my anxiety meds were not working at all and may have been the only thing preventing my whole head turning white in one day. But wait..there’s more…
On our way to MN we had to stop over night a couple of places (visiting family along the way) and holy cow the thing was skidding all over the road! I mean we had NO clue about weight and sway and why the hell does it feel like we are ice skating on the highway! So we asked in FB groups, researched online and stopped at a CAT scale and found out we were over our weight limit on the trailer by 200 lbs….yeah..we donated a LOT of things that week. While we were in MN we were organizing and putting things in their places and donating a few things we didn’t really need or want any more and trying not to stress out. Well…too bad for us cause another problem came up.
Our first campground was nice, naturey but a bit pricey. The space was not level, which we didn’t know was a needed or preferred thing. We had to back it in which turns into the 30 point turn back in for someone who has never done it, not being level and sinking in the ground after rainfall…yeah that was fun and frightening! A kindly neighbor and the MGR lent us wood to put under our jacks and all was well and we learned a lesson…now we have professional type..ok no but we have purchased those orange giant lego things to put under the jacks and tires now.
The way back to IN wasn’t much better, especially with the weight. This was back in May and we just now figured out the weight adjustments…well mostly….weellll 90..85% at least. I think it is a constant learning point….and no matter how your weight is distributed watch out for wind! Good…ness does the wind mess with you while you are driving! It is ok to go under the speed limit believe it or not and if going up a hill and you want to take it slow (recommended for curvy hills) just put your hazard lights on first. I think it is a trucker courtesy but trucker manners are great to learn when #RVLife is your life…just fyi.
Our route was MN for a week, IN for about 2 weeks, 1 night at Ohio, WV, VA for a week, 1 night at SC then 20 days in FL! In Florida we had a jack break. Bent almost in half, replaced that. Then back up to VA with an overnight in NC and a pitstop on GA. The converter went out in VA. Got that replaced, thank goodness for warranties then set off for Salem, MA! Boston and Cape Cod were next for 2 weeks and then PA for 3 days where we realized our fridge wasn’t working right and we had been losing a lot of food from spoilage. Went back to IN and got it looked at but not fixed…sometimes hate warranties oh and a tire went flat and needed to be replaced too.
Our schedule was chaotic…we were living the dream! We wanted to see everything We didn’t plan well at first…or now really. MN again where our beloved cat, Pixel, got out one night and we couldn’t find her and she has been missing for a month now…we had to move on and it was heartbreaking. South Dakota was next and we finally got the fridge fixed there…I think, but our awning broke in MN. We can’t get that fixed til we get to Seattle though.
SO many things can and have gone wrong for us through out our adventure but then again so many have gone right! We have walked the Freedom Trail, saw Plymouth Rock and the Salem Witch Trial victims memorial. We were part of a reenactment at Deadwood, SD for Wild Bill Hiccocks murder, saw Mouth Rushmore and the Badlands. We’ve seen Bison in the wild, prairie dogs and the worlds largest boot! Yes things have been awful and I’ve cried a lot but I wouldn’t give it up. I might even be able to help you out a bit if you are currently or thinking about full-timing…
Some tips from us to you…and so that I don’t forget them and make them again…
- Know what tongue weight is. Seriously, research tongue weight, weight distribution and towing weight and how they are different. I actually thought that since our truck could tow 13k that meant we could load it up with up to that amount of weight. Turns out that is not true. The trailer itself can only safely hold so much weight and it all needs to be distributed evenly or you could have some serious issues while driving.
- Purge, purge, and purge! You do NOT need even half of what you own. We purged over half of our things when we went from a house to an apartment and over half again when we went to the RV. Then purged even more while on our first adventure. I had almost a room full of craft items and now I have two smaller bins with enough to keep my card-making hobby and the kids painting hobbies going. I almost cried losing that much of my favorite hobby but I did learn that I had more things than I actually used…well used more than once every few months anyway.
- Learn to use a laundromat. I actually embraced this one since laundry was my job in the apartment and I hated that it took all day to do. Now I can spend a couple of hours and have a weeks worth of laundry for 5 people, plus swimming towels and blankets, done in one go. It DOES cost money, roughly $35 each time for us but I consider this totally worth it.
- You are NOT on vacation. This is your life. Plan longer stays at places to help balance pay checks with fuel costs and costs to stay at parks. We are actually still learning this one…the hard way of course.
- Hang in there. Bad things can and will happen. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing this, it just means it is going to be amazing and you have to earn it…well that is what I tell myself and so far it has been an absolutely amazing journey!
I could go on and on about learning curves and various tips and things but I feel like I should spread it out over a few posts so I don’t scare you into NOT doing this but also so I don’t remember everything all at once. I’m thinking I might go catatonic if I have to relive all of it at once…sigh…learning curves…necessary evils and omg they suck!
Please enjoy some pictures of our travels to counter the somewhat (ok a lot) negative post =D.