I was inspired to write down a few of my musings tonight while sitting here in our 7 foot by 26 foot travel trailer, observing that we’re the smallest rig in this RV park by many linear feet and flaunting considerably less width and height as well. You can even see for yourself how tiny we are (by comparison) in the picture above!
There’s a 45-foot luxury bus next to us that’s likely worth a half million dollars, and yet people were strolling around taking pictures of our trailer tonight while we sat inside eating dinner. We’re getting used to the RV park paparazzi the longer we’re on the road, but it’s still odd to be the campground equivalent of a circus freak show most places we travel!
When people stop to talk to us, we hear a lot of “Ooh I could never live in such a small space” after telling them we’re fulltimers. Sometimes it’s “I could never live in this with my husband/wife/life partner/traveling companion. We’d kill each other.” Their intent is innocent and lighthearted enough for us to let it roll off most of the time, but it can become quite insensitive when it’s assumed we live this way because it’s all we could afford. We’ve even had people hint that when we’re retired we’ll want to have the finer things they do and “really do RVing right.”
Lifestyle choices, just like RV choices, are not “one size fits all” – everyone finds different meaning and happiness for themselves.
By pushing personal preferences on others as the only/best way to live, we’d be making a lot of assumptions about why someone is traveling in the first place, and what makes them happy. Now, I’m not saying all RV owners are like this. It’s true that all of us judge others initially by their chosen RV/vehicle to some degree. There can be snobbishness over brands/types of RVs, to the extent of immediate discrimination at times. RVers are not immune to the old sticks ‘n’ bricks neighborhood feeling of “keeping up with the Joneses.”
No matter what size RV you live or travel in, we all gave up a lot of things to embark on this grand lifestyle experiment of existing simplistically, pushing our own limits of how radically we can change our habits while still being comfortable and, in our case, making a living while chasing a different dream than most people.
So as the jabs sometimes hit from other RVers about how small our trailer is, how often we spend in “cushy” commercial campgrounds versus “roughing it” out in the wild, how much battery power/water capacity/solar wattage we have, the tow vehicle we use, or why we chose to do _____ instead of ______, I wish they’d consider that for us, at this point in our lives, this works for us. We’ll change it if/when it doesn’t. Life is about growing, learning, and evolving.
We didn’t take on a vintage Airstream because it was all we could afford, so we certainly don’t want anyone’s sympathy. We picked this trailer because we fell in love with it and it was a blank canvas to make our own work of art. We were unquestionably drawn to the style of it, the history, the slice of Americana it represents, the ease of towing, and the freedom it gives us to have a smaller tow vehicle that we enjoy driving after we unhitch.
We rebuilt this old trailer to be our home together, with our own four hands and the loving help of many friends and family members over that long, exhausting year, to serve our needs for a while, but not necessarily forever. While we hate it sometimes for sometimes being finicky, parts being so hard or impossible to come by, not being able to call someone when something breaks, or all the time and energy we gave up to do the remodel ourselves, it’s ours through and through.
In return for all that hard work, we can look around and laugh as we remember the day we rested on the newly-installed toilet together, drinking a beer, because there was no other furniture inside. There was the day we installed the new subfloor and thought about sleeping on it that night because having a solid floor in our trailer seemed like the most luxurious thing in the world. We laughed, cried, froze, sweat, bled and cursed in this trailer, and while I don’t ever want to do a renovation again (at least in the same way), I cherish the experience and how we grew from it.
Before we think, imply or say to another RVer that their home on wheels is too large, small, old, new, or any number of other nit-picky factors, we need to take a moment to consider that the variety of options out there is exactly what keeps this lifestyle, whether full-timer or vacationer, within the grasp of so many. It’s the reason we get to meet such an amazing variety of folks every day, and what makes some of our most precious nomadic friendships possible.