March 29, 2020

RV Travel: A Wife's Perspective

How about something very different today? No virus talk, no worries about the future. A look back when things seemed easier.


It has been a few years since we sold our RV. There are times we really miss the freedom and excitement of cutting the cord that binds us to home and setting our sights on someplace down the road. After almost 5 years, though, we felt it was the right time to sell it and try other experiences.

A post from our RV days did receive a lot of interest, so I have decided to rerun it. I asked Betty what she thought of RV travel after one of our first trips in a rental unit before we plunked the money down on our own rig. While we shared the duties, there was still shopping, cooking, and cleaning every day. So, time on the road still meant the same type of duties we did at home.

Overall, though, what did she think?


What was the overall experience like? Is it something you're glad you did?


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 go someplace where it was a little cooler and leave our worries behind for awhile. 

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! 

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.


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 Smartphones 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 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, something I don’t do it very often when I’m home. It was wonderful being able to get to the cooler 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 did all of the driving and hooking up, it fell to me to pack, unpack, prepare meals, and clean up.

The bed in our rented 25’ RV 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 how much stuff I should I bring. 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 behind the RV for the whole trip. Next time we’ll see if we can our car behind the motorhome.

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 in our home before leaving and put things in that I thought I’d need. Overall, we did well, though I  got kind of tired of the handful of clothes that we brought. 



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. Unfortunately, our experience was that most campgrounds and RV parks do not have good WiFi. At times that was quite frustrating. I am afraid we were unable to leave all the electronics behind.
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Followup: As regular readers know, after this positive rental experience we did buy our own RV: a 30 foot Class C that could tow our car.

We visited 32 states, a dozen National Parks, and had a ball. It was a part of our satisfying retirement that was worth every penny and all the hassles. 

If this is a dream of yours, Betty and I urge you to go for it. The memories will last a lifetime.

19 comments:

  1. We rented an RV first, too, before buying one. It quickly became our favorite way to travel. My husband always called it our rolling dog house because, basically we did buy it to make it easier to travel with our dog. We divided the 'chores' the same way you guys did but threw in restaurants whenever we could. I felt like I was playing house when I did what needed doing in the RV and we both loved, LOVED the people we'd meet in the parks. My husband, who was a born storyteller, was in seventh heaven because he had a new audience to swap stories with every so many days. It was a sad day when I had to sell the RV after Don's stroke.

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    1. YOu are so right about the dog. Traveling with a dog in a car is not easy. The RV makes that part so simple. I doubt we would take a long trip with Bailey now. The whole hassle of motels, meals, and keeping her calm in a car = not worth it.

      There are times when we really miss our "freedom machine."

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  2. The thought of being in a trailor...any trailor, makes my skin crawl. It's a childhood nightmare, kinda thing.
    b

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    1. Picky, picky.👍 It is good you know that. I have the same feeling about tents. I disliked tent camping as a boy scout and will never do it again.

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  3. Thanks for sharing your past adventure. My wife and I are seriously considering following in your footsteps by renting one first. What company did you all went from if I may ask? Was the process of renting easy?

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    1. We used Cruise America for the rental, and then purchased one of their refurbished 30 footers for our own. It was easy. The vehicle comes supplied with the basics. There was a brief review of how things worked as well as a complete manual. Learning about dumping black and grey water and hooking things up at a campsite were probably the trickiest part but even those are rather straightforward.

      It takes awhile to get used to no rearview mirror and planning for lane changes well ahead of time. Otherwise, it drives like a very big car.

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  4. Bob,
    I discovered your blog about the time you were winding up your RV travels. You posted an article about a trip you made to the East (I even think you came through East Tennessee). That was also about the time that Helen and I were flirting with the idea of RVing and we bought one within a year. Your post helped to convince us. We have never regretted a minute of this wonderful lifestyle and we stay on the road at least four months a year. We have a big trip planned beginning in June...hope we can do it. Tell Betty we loved her perspective and that Cruise America has great specials. Maybe you can stick your toe in again. Stay well. Joe

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    1. We toyed with the idea of a Class B this time...much easier to drive and park. That has been put on hold for now. Maybe when life gets back to normal, whatever that may look like, we will really want to hit the road again.

      Thanks, Joe, and I will pass on your thoughts to Betty.

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  5. We have a caravan here in Australia, and have travelled most of our country over the last 10 or more years. We don't live in it full time but go away during our winter in the south and head north for the warmer weather for up to 3 months. We love seeing the country and of course the people, but for us it is mostly about nature and history we are interested in seeing. We like the idea of being able to unhitch our van and then have our 4wd to do trips into the rugged areas or just to get fresh supplies when camped in a park. When allis back to normal we will be out there again. The little outback towns really need the help we give them when we are on the road. Thanks for your post and take care.

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    1. I think we are giving some serious thought to rejoining the world of RV/Caravan travel when things are under control and the stock market is not decimating my investments! The downside of a Class B unit is that it is too light to tow a vehicle. But, unhooking and driving off for the day to explore is not very difficult in such a rig. We will see.

      Thanks for your comment and you take care, too.

      Besides the people, we also enjoyed being closer to nature, and we made it a point to visit as many National parks as we could on our various trips.

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  6. Bob, it was a treat to hear from Betty and to see her photos in your post! It's often said that RVing is a "lifestyle thing" and I believe that to be true. I love the freedom it represents, the experiences it provides and the comfort it ensures. There is much to be said for sleeping in your own bed every night, using your own bathroom and having a refrigerator and pantry that are full of your favorite foods and drinks with you at all times. Sure, we could have made all the cross-country trips we did by car instead of RV and had a good time doing it, but we would have been dragging our suitcases in and out of hotels for weeks at a time. We never would have slept within a stone's throw from the edge of the Grand Canyon or beneath the towering presence of the Watchman (a magnificent rock formation in Zion National Park) or woken to the sound of ducks splash-landing in the lake outside our door. There is an RV to meet every need, and a wide variety of places to camp, whether you prefer resorts with full amenities or campgrounds whose only amenity is that you get to wake up in the beauty and solitude of nature. No worries though, because your very own bathroom is just a few steps away.

    For anyone interested in RVing, but concerned about making a large investment and not enjoying the lifestyle, renting one is the best way to test the waters. Another, less expensive, way to experience RVing is to stay at a campground that rents onsite travel trailers. Although you won't have the opportunity to practice hooking up your RV to water, sewer or electric, it will still put you in the midst of the RVing lifestyle for the approximate cost of a hotel room. Either way, you'll know early on whether or not the RVing lifestyle is for you. For many of us, it was love at "first night."

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    1. It is not for everyone. Some people like to get away from it all, which includes cooking, cleaning, and other household chores. Anm RV would be a bad choice. But, for others, it really is a freedom machine that can transport you almost anywhere.

      We will never forget our time in an RV place at the entrance to Devil's Tower in Wyoming. The rock dominated every view, and each evening the the campground showed Close Encounters of a Third Kind. It was quite an experience to watch that movie which was filmed right where we were sleeping!

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  7. We are thinking about RVing next year. What resources do you use to pick your campgrounds? Do you make all your reservations before you start your trips? Thanks for your blog!

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    1. We normally do make reservations if we have to be at certain places on certain dates. Otherwise, I like to drive no more than 150 miles a day and pick a nice spot. If we really like it we have no problem staying for a few days.

      We tended to use KOA, Good Sams, and campground reviews to help find a place to stay. Printed guides are often out-of-date before they go to press. Call ahead when you are within an hour of a place you like (or a region) and see if they have room. Most times that is no problem.

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    2. CampgroundReviews.com is another excellent resource for identifying campgrounds that fit your needs and preferences. You can search by city and read numerous reviews posted by fellow campers.

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  8. To Unknown: I use a subscription based website called RV Trip Wizard to plan our trips and select campsites. Great resource. Because RVing has become so popular, reservations are almost mandatory and you should begin planning months ahead of a trip. Enjoy!

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    1. Easin' Along is right if you are going to or through a popular destination or during certain times of the year. We never had a problem in some of the out-of-the-way places. But, if we wanted to be in a place like Gatlinburg or near a national Park in the summer, then I would book ahead at least a few months.

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  9. Bob, I've been reading your blog for over a year. I retire on July 1. My husband and I recently bought a 2016 Class C Winnebago and hope to travel once the situation in the US allows. Right now most state parks and sites are closed. We've already needed to postpone our first excursion. We are hoping the Class C, being small, will allow us to go into towns with minimal difficulty as we don't want to tow a vehicle. Time will tell.
    Thanks for your insight into retirement.
    (And thanks for taking down that incredible post from the Millennial)
    Stay safe!

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    1. The hate fulled comment is put up, virtually verbatim, on all sorts of blogs all the time. Personally, I delete it about once every two weeks. At this point it is almost expected on popular posts.

      You might find using your motorhome as a vehicle is not very convenient. You have to unhook everything and then rehook when you come back and stow everything inside so it doesn't fall when you are driving.

      Adding a towed vehicle is a big step, however. Very few cars can be towed 4 wheels down and the ability to back up is lost.

      As you say, time will tell.

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