October 3, 2012

Retirement RV Travel: A Wife's Persepctive

Last month Betty and I took our first-ever RV trip. If you missed the posts that covered that adventure here they are: RV Virgins No MoreRetirement RV Adventure Part Two, and RV Travel: What It Taught me About Myself.

A comment or two left on those posts wondered what my wife's reaction was to this trip. I asked Betty to share some of her (uncensored) thoughts! Was it a positive part of her satisfying retirement?

What was the overall experience like? Is it something you'd do again?



Frankly I was a little apprehensive about trying this adventure with my husband who is a bit more serendipitous than I am. I have always trusted Bob and usually am always ready to try new things. (within limits!) As it turned out it was quite enjoyable. We were able to get up where it was a little cooler and leave our worries behind for a week and a half.

This was a test not only to see if we could manage the hookups but also to see if Bob and I could live with each other in small quarters for an extended period of time. I’m happy to announce we did very well and passed both tests! Yes, I’d love to rent again maybe with a slightly larger camper. The big test next time is to try this with a puppy who barks at everything. There will be obedience classes and lots of socializing with the pup before venturing out. I’ve suggested to Bob that we go somewhere close to test the waters.


What were the biggest surprises of RVing...both good and bad?


Everywhere we looked we ran into friendly people who were willing to lend a hand, come and visit and knew when to give you space. It was so refreshing to meet people literally face to face. In this world of texting and Smart Phones it was great to sit outside and have someone come up to your “front porch” and chat a while.

About 2 in 3 campers had a dog. There were all different types of dogs from the tiniest to huge breeds. Out of all of the dogs that we saw all but two were extremely well behaved. I loved watching the dogs go by.

The showers/bathrooms at the two RV Parks/Campgrounds were beautifully maintained.

It can get to be a little boring if you stay in the same place for an extended period of time. Unlike Bob, I can get antsy in a short period of time. Except for photography, and reading, my hobbies can be quite messy and take up a huge amount of space. Painting, carpentry, scrapbooking, and building things are hard to do in an RV. But with a little imagination everything can be geared down to a miniature level. I even saw a man with his saw horse and table saw set up outside his RV. One word of caution… Don’t scrapbook outside on the picnic table on a windy day!


What were your favorite parts?


The people!

I love getting outside during most of the day and I don’t do it very often when I’m home. It was wonderful being able to get to the cool weather.

I loved seeing all of the different breeds of dogs. It seemed as if every other RV had one or two dogs enjoying the RV life as much as their humans!

Having the ability to pack up and leave with your “house” anytime you want.

What were your least favorite parts?


Alas, it is kind of a working vacation for all. Since Bob will be doing all of the driving, (especially if we tow a car) and hook up, it falls to me to pack, unpack, prepare meals, and clean up.

The bed in a 25’ camper is small, (a double?) and they supplied us with only a flat sheet, making it next to impossible to make the bed. The sheet and comforter kept coming out, plus I had to crawl over Bob to get to my side of the bed.

What I worried about most was what and how much stuff I should I bring with a rental. I am sure it would be loads of fun supplying your own things when you have your own camper. Because we were in a class”C” camper and we needed transportation to get supplies, go sightseeing and go into town I had to drive our car from Flagstaff to Show Low and then back to Flagstaff. Next time we’ll try and tow our smaller car behind the camper.

The air conditioning was loud. (Question – Are most RV air conditioning loud or was it just a rental thing?) You couldn’t watch a video with the air conditioning running.


What advice would you give to someone thinking of taking their first RV trip?


The most important thing to bring is painters tape. We used it to hold several drawers and the stove grate in place because they rattled.. Painters tape does not leave residue like duct tape.

I would pack everything in labeled (Kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, tools, clothes) appropriate sized plastic totes. Labeling everything makes it so much easier to find it in the storage area underneath the RV.

I literally went room to room before leaving and put things in that I thought I’d need. . I won’t bore people in this blog, but I have made an extensive list of things I’ll need for our next rental that I can e-mail to anyone who is interested.



Betty hugging a tree (don't ask)
So, there you have it: RVing from my wife's perspective. I must say I am very happy she enjoyed the experience as much as I did. I would add one essential ingredient to her list: good WiFi availability at your campsite. With the need to maintain the blog, respond to e-mails, pay bills, and watch movies on Netflix, solid Internet service was a must-have.

Oh, and yes, she does have a long list of things she decided to take/not take next time. If you are interested e-mail me and I'll pass her list along to you. Maybe that will help you make your next RV trip part of your satisfying retirement journey.

Note: I was just interviewed about our first RV experience on the Florida Outdoors RV blog: http://goo.gl/ySzPK.  Please read and leave a comment!

31 comments:

  1. A hearty BRAVO to Betty for her willingness to try something new, and her organization skills that make new experiences so much more viable. She's golden, for sure.

    Also evident and oh, so important, is the obvious teamwork that exists in the relationship. Lots of emotional support as well as specific "zones of responsibility". All of which allows you to work smarter instead of just working harder. Best of good times to you both in future adventures.

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    1. Actually, Steve, I have checked. It is even on her birth certificate. Her middle name is "Organization." It is a good skill to have in many situations in life, but vital in RV travel.

      36 years of marriage does give us a good sense of who can do what, and who should should never try that! Thanks for your good wishes.

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  2. Hi Bob, I really enjoyed reading your wife's perspective of this as it is my husband who is more keen on getting an RV than I am. Your wife called it a working vacation, which is what I think it would be for me since I'm chief cook and bottle washer.

    We want to take our dogs too and one worry is that the one will bark at all those dogs walking by like she does at home-lol. It is very important to socialize your pup early to be able to be around other dogs in a public situation.

    Thanks for presenting your wife's side of it!

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    1. At home we food shop together and prepare most dinners together. In an RV, the kitchen space is so small only one person can cook. But, then the other one does the cleanup and taking out the garbage so we tried to keep things as even as possible.

      It not like staying at a hotel or resort where you eat in a restaurant. The normal daily chores of living continue...even sweeping the small floor space to keep it clean (Betty wields a mean broom!).

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  3. I'm having a difficult enough time adjusting to being together in our small home 24/7... can't imagine much time in such cramped quarters. It's good to know your limitations and I know I couldn't do this. But, I'm glad you tried it and discovered you liked it. We all have to find balance and what provides our own satisfying retirement, don't we?
    b

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    1. There is the reality that the time in the RV will end and you can return to "normal." There are thousands of folks who live full time in their RV...no thanks.

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  4. I sure wouldn't want to prepare meals in a cramped space, or do any kind of clean up in one, or even have to make a bed, let alone take out trash etc. while on "vacation." But it's interesting to read particulars about RVing, and seeing pics. Sandy

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    1. I think many RVers who have been doing this for awhile use a small propane grill outside for most cooking. Yes, the kitchen is small and cooking is tougher in such a situation (we set off the smoke alarm a few times!). Of course, the people in the giant RVs that look like buses have a kitchen that is as large as many home setups.

      Wanting a vacation to be a total break from the everyday routine is the more common choice. Having someone else make your bed, clean the bath, and prepare all the meals has its benefits, and we will still vacation like that. But the RV experience is just a different approach to stepping off the merry-go-round for a time.

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  5. I bought my 34 foot RV last year, not knowing if I enjoyed driving or road trips. I then decided to tow my car, since parking the Beast on city streets was not going to happen. I had never driven anything bigger than a mini van. I then decided to drive from Vancouver to Northern Ontario as my first "road trip". It turns out I do like road travel. What was a bigger surprise is that the RV is easy to drive and you don't even feel the car towing behind you. Betty - I really think you should learn to drive the thing. If anything should happen to Bob (e.g. you sprain your wrist or develop carpal tunnel syndrome), you would have to take over. It's a good skill to have and it's better to learn it at leisure instead of in a panic situation.

    My advice: get something with a queen island bed. I've never heard anyone say anything good about those corner beds in small Class C's.

    As far as living in reduced space: I find it much easier to live in the RV than at home. In the RV, you have to live "smart": everything has a place and you have to keep the place tidy or it starts to deteriorate very fast. Five minutes of clean-up a day is all it needs.

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    1. I agree with Betty trying to drive. Two people who have some idea what they are doing is better than just one!

      You are absolutely right about the bed in the 25 foot Class C we had. It is oddly shaped and impossible to keep the sheets on. Once you go to 30 feet, suddenly there is a queen bed with the ability to get around it to tuck in the sheets.

      I am a minimalist at heart, so the less junk the better.

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  6. Hey! Congratulations Betty on a successful test RV drive!As I learn about the RV lifestyle from so many different people I'm learning that it's about the people. The people who have RVs seem to be very nice to each other. I can imagine that it's nice to actually talk to people!I shared this on Twitter, it has some great RV advice too!

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    1. Here's an idea, Florida RV Sales Guy: Betty and I will drive one of your RVs around Florida for a few weeks and blog about it, complete with Betty's photos.

      Yes, the people seem very open and friendly. Since we all share some of the same experiences it is very easy to strike up a conversation. And a dog makes it super easy!

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  7. I could relate to Betty's description of the packing process. I did not like packing and unpacking at all. When you spend extended periods of time traveling, returning home feels like "moving". But, on the plus side, when you own your RV, you can actually leave most things that are not perishable in the coach. The decision has to be whether you want to own 2 of a lot of stuff!

    I really never did feel bored because I did what I would do at home. When we started out Earl and I golfed together. The crossword puzzle book saved my bacon in the late afternoon. That is the time of day when I am done, tired and the day stretches out before me. I can relate to Betty scrapbooking dilemma. I did everything in miniature.

    It was wonderful to "hear" Betty's voice. Thank you for sharing.

    b

    I am urging everyone that has reviewed Galen's book to Tweet the other reviews up. I think it will help get the review out.

    My Galen's Book Review: http://www.retireinstyleblog.com/2012/10/charity-begins-with-book-10-steps-to.html#.UGyeW_kf9a-

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  8. Betty and I have talked about the positives of being able to leave many things in an RV on a permanent basis. We own enough stuff that getting some of it out of the house and into the RV would be great.

    Betty read your comment and wanted me to pass on two things: she really misses seeing you and Earl, and she wants to do miniature watercolor paintings while traveling. Of course, with a laptop she has a ball editing all her photos in the evening, too.

    There were at least 5 reviews of Galen's book over the last few days. It is for a great cause and a very good book.

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  9. Interesting, it sounds like overall you had a wonderful time. I fully admit that when I travel I want someone else to do the "doing". While Im happy having lunch from the grocery store, I really want someone else to wash the sheets and cook the food and so on-I admit it. I have managed to adjust with the hobby stuff, because I take that in a car now, although I do downsize it.

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    1. We plan on an extended trip to Europe for my 65th birthday in 2014. That trip will definitely be the "someone else" do the cooking and cleaning type of getaway!

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    2. I should also add that we went out to several dinners and lunches on the trip. This RV didn't have a conventional oven so we were restricted to stove top and microwave meals. So, this is almost a half and half eat in-eat out trip. But, no one offered to come inside and make the bed!

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  10. Betty,

    I know you love scrapbooking, and because of the supplies involved, it is hard to do while camping. You might want to try Shutterfly as a good alternative. I was an avid scrapbooker for years until I discovered this on-line service. The site is user friendly and you can produce professional quality books that will satisfy your need to be creative along with preserving your wonderful photos. I promote Shutterfly so often you'd think I have stock in the company - truth is, I just love the quality of their products and ease of use.

    I am glad you guys enjoyed your experience and hope it works out next time with the puppy.

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    1. Betty has used Picabo for the same purpose, producing excellent books for various family events. The quality is good and the prices are quite reasonable. But, I know she likes the cutting and pasting and creative aspects of scrapbooking.

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    2. Me too. Im very tactile oriented and NEED to touch and cut and so on....I have used some internet scrapbooking but its not a substitute. My solution is a yearly computer album and many smaller projects including cards.

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  11. So enjoyed Betty's perspective! RV'ing is definitely one of those things that you're either going to love whole hog, or simply not at all.

    Mike and I are in the "love it whole hog" camp. I actually enjoying packing up and getting ready to go, and I enjoy thinking up interesting meals to enjoy while we are out on the road. When on the road we keep our meals as simple as possible, focusing on searching out fresh local ingredients to give our meals interesting pizazz.

    I understand Betty's comment about possibly getting bored at staying too long in any one location. We've learned its important to do research in advance to determine how many days of activities the area offers, so we can move on when we've exhausted them.

    The biggest "plus," in my opinion, is that we can travel for days and days and days without blowing our travel budget. We do still enjoy traveling to foreign countries and taking cruises, but can't afford to do either one more than one or twice a year. RV'ing fills in the gaps nicely, allowing us to be away from home months and months at a time, for about the same cost of a two week cruise.

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    1. All great ideas from my go-to RV expert! Betty is interested in learning more about your recipes. I suggested she start going through this year's posts on your blog. There are lots of great ones to choose from.

      Researching what is in the area is an excellent idea. It is too easy to just sit and miss what is worth seeing.

      The more we talk about all this the more Betty and I see a real value in shaking up our life a bit. Being on the road for extended periods wouldenergizegize our retirement and outlook on things. Besides, isn't part of a satisfying retirement being able to shift gears now and again?

      I wrote an Arizona travel book a few years ago that was only published for family members. But, I think it has commercial potential. We talked about visiting the places in Arizona that would need to be freshened, both in text and photos and how much easier and fun it would be with an RV and the dog.

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  12. Ah! An organized wife who is a good sport! Aren't you lucky?

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  13. Not to change it up too much, I'm curious about Betty's photography hobby. You mentioned that she loves to work on photoshop in the evening. I'm wondering what type / quality of camera Betty believes is necessary to really enjoy and appreciate her work. I've read a lot of 'reviews' but not much from real people who love the hobby.

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    1. She uses a point and shoot camera with the normal ability to adjust for various lighting and speed conditions, along with settings for bright beach or darker insides, extreme closeup, back lighting, etc.

      For her the key has been to use the camera's maximum 14MP setting and fine JPG mode to get the highest resolution to work with. Then, she spends a lot of time using many of the enhancement and editing options of the software program. That is really where she shines.

      At some point she wants to get a camera with more capabilities and step up to the next level of software editing programs. But, for now she really just uses a basic digital camera and an off-the-shelf software editing program....and lots of time.

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    2. Well, please let her know that she gets wonderful results. And the whole process seems like a lot of fun.

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  14. I have enjoyed reading this blog immensely. As relatively new RV'ers ourselves I have discovered that the crock pot is the campers best friend. You can set your breakfast at night and wake up to heavenly smells and set your dinner in the morning and come home to a delicious meal with minimal effort. With crock pot liners there isn't even much cleanup!!! For me this is the answer to preparing good meals in a small space.

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    1. Crock pot liners? Sounds great. What is it?

      I had never thought about letting it cook overnight for breakfast. That is a good idea.

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  15. You can buy them in kitchen stores, sometimes a bit hard to find- google them to find a supply near you. Just called crock pot liners- they are similar to a cellophane or plastic bag and they are meant for a slow cooker. With virtually no clean up you will be a convert in no time. Can even make deserts in a crock pot. There are a ton of recipes online.
    Don't try and use the oven bags- they are not meant for the sustained heat of the slow cooker.

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    1. I see them for sale from several different places on Google. That is going on the list.

      We have a mini slow cooker in the RV. I will have to see if these can be cut to fit that one since cleanup in a tiny kitchen while traveling can be a pain.

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  16. Don't worry about trimming them to fit. They are supposed to hang over the edge of the pot for easy removal. They are large to fit any size pot. Cleaning a slow cooker anywhere can be a pain- but cooking and cleaning in a small space is really challenging. These make meals so much easier.

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