With some time under our belts now living on the road, we felt it was time to compile a list of some of the biggest adjustments we’ve made and the things about living on the road that continue to be weird to us:
1.) Waking up each day and needing a moment (or several!) to remember where we are! If we’re living somewhere for less than a week – and especially if it’s a one-night stopover somewhere – it’s a surreal and confusing moment looking out the windows or stepping out the door in the morning and re-adjusting to our new surroundings, especially if we arrived late the previous day. Many of our mornings start along the lines of “Oh that’s right, we’re living next to a lake!” or, “I just woke up in a parking lot – that’s different!”
3.) We never know where anything is in an area unless we stay a while! We have to do research constantly or ask someone where things are, unless we drive past them first and remember their locations. At any given time as we pull into a new place, we’re hurriedly memorizing everything we see: grocery stores, gas stations, car washes, laundromats, post offices, RedBoxes for movie rentals, you name it. We took for granted the familiarity of always knowing where anything we needed would be after living in a place for a few years. Now we need directions for just the most basic essentials, and it takes a while to find what we need in unfamiliar grocery stores. We have become very good at asking to borrow other shoppers’ discount cards, though! We’d have quite the collection if we applied for one everywhere we went.
4.) We have new neighbors constantly. It seems like a dream come true not having to deal with bad neighbors for more than a day (or few, at most), but it’s also hard to see our new friends come and go so quickly. We’ve met some amazing people in our travels – and quite a few of them travel while working, like ourselves – each has an interesting story to tell, and we get to be in their company for what seems like far too little time. We have exchanged contact information with many though, and use social media and email to make plans to cross paths again! And as an added bonus, we now have an amazing social media network just for RVers, called RVillage, to find and keep track of each other on an interactive map.
5.) Moving is no longer so stressful or expensive. Relocating used to be such a time-consuming, annoying and costly process that we swore every time we’d never do again – but not anymore! Most of the barriers we used to have against living somewhere really different are gone now. If we get to a new area and it’s just not our cup of tea, we move on. If we get somewhere and love it, we can stay as long as circumstances will allow us to. One week we spent two days in a place, didn’t care for it, and decided at 10:30 one morning that we wanted to move two states away. By noon we were on the road, and by 2:30 we were parked and settled in. We loved that new location and decided to stay a week! Having that kind of flexibility helps alleviate a lot of the negative external factors we run into, like extended periods of bad weather (we just leave if we’re able), bad neighbors, getting bored with the area, or wanting to visit friends and family.
6.) We have most of the comforts of a home, and they go everywhere we can drive! Before we move locations, we like to sweep and tidy up our “house” so it’s clean when we arrive somewhere, just like you’d clean your house before vacation so it’s nicer to come home to. It’s still such a weird sensation, though, cleaning up our home so it’ll be ready when we settle into it again in a few hours, but it makes us happier upon arrival somewhere. There are other conveniences too, like making our own coffee and lunch during a stop. Instead of a gas station toilet that’s dirty or has a line, we just use our own! If we get tired of driving, we can find a place to park and stop for the day if we don’t have other plans, or take a nap and get back to driving later. We’ve done that more than a few times at rest areas, Wal-Marts, Cabela’s, casinos, or the best option: Harvest Hosts farms and wineries. Other than the occasional noise and bright security lights at night it’s not half bad – and did we mention free?
7.) Even though we’re always surrounded by the great outdoors, we still have to force ourselves to go outdoors sometimes. It’s hard to get over the “office mentality” of keeping ourselves inside because that’s what we’ve been conditioned to do all day thanks to many years spent working in offices and working outside can be hard. It’s nearly impossible to see your screen, it’s windy, there’s insects, and lots more distractions. We got around some of those with a great little screened room we purchased from LL Bean and a couple comfortable chairs so we can work outdoors and feel like we still have a respectable and productive office space. It even has a cover for rainy days. Sometimes other campers give us funny looks because we’re at our computers most of the day during the week, but they probably don’t realize we aren’t on vacation like they are!
9.) We no longer want to shop for fun or increase the number of things we own – we just replace existing, less-useful or worn out things with better ones that serve more purposes. Seeing an item in a store and debating how many uses it has, where it will be stored, and what you’re willing to part with to be able to add it to such a small place is all a new sensation after having thousands of square feet to store our stuff previously. We don’t really miss paper books as much as we thought we would, even though they were prized possessions in our previous life. Our e-readers have given us so much more flexibility in what we can read and how many books we can own, versus the alternative of having just a handful of real books. We do still have a few prized paper books, but the transition was pretty easy when it became one of utility. We also visit thrift stores frequently to donate items we aren’t using (especially clothing!), and only buy new things if they’re extremely useful and make life easier. If we need something for a short time we’ll buy it at a thrift store and donate it back when we’re done with it.
That’s it for now, but I’m sure we’ll come up with even more as time goes on!