I get asked this question quite a bit. Usually, I answer, “I didn’t have any real expectations.”
But that is not the truth, is it. I had some expectations, especially after years of watching YouTube videos and seeing posts on Facebook, something had to rub off. We tend to set our expectations to match the glamorized life of RVing seen online, but then reality isn’t always glamorous. It can be beautiful, it can also be tough.
Here are a few expectations from when we started:
1. Fear and anxiety of towing and backing in, a realistic expectation for many newbies.
2. The opportunity to visit places we only dreamed of and to discover places we didn’t know existed.
3. Expected to have more free time.
What people should be asking is, “What didn’t you expect? What were the unanticipated surprises, things you didn’t know when you started.” It is quite astonishing the unforeseen that happens, things you had no idea would exist.
1. Emotions — I thought I was prepared for giving up everything and moving into a tiny home (RV), but the reality was, it was DAMN HARD emotionally. Not so much the “stuff” that was easy to say good-bye to, but leaving everything, and everyone, familiar was a bit of a hardship. It has been over six months now, I still get bouts of homesickness, mostly on the days when I am tired or don’t feel well when I am in need of the comfort I once knew. Read — Emotional February
2. Giddiness — I would not consider myself a person who gets “giddy,” but I have experienced quite a few moments of giddiness on this journey. I was giddy with anticipation when we boarded the boat to Mackinac Island. I was giddy with excitement when we entered the Amish town of Shipshewana. I was giddy and awestruck when we visited Crater Lake. I was giddy and emotionally overwhelmed with happiness when we took the tour of Churchill Downs. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, and the scenic drives in South Dakota. I was giddy with renewed joy when we saw friends in Michigan that we had not seen in close to forty years. And, I am giddy with anticipation knowing there is more giddiness to come.
3. History overload — I was looking forward to visiting some of the histories this country has to offer. I wasn’t anticipating the history we have learned as we venture off the beaten paths. A lot of the small towns we have visited have a history unique to them. I love to photograph old buildings. Visiting these small towns filled that need, but it was their history that added to the experience.
4. Learning about Utilities and how they affect us — I never anticipated learning to assist in installing batteries in anything, let alone a travel trailer. I certainly have not envisioned personally learning how to “dump” and become intimate with our sewer needs. I am not a techie or engineer type like my husband, but it has been interesting to learn about our power needs and consumption, along with our water and sewer. When you live in a house, you don’t pay attention to utilities as intimately as you do in your RV.
5. Proud of what I am accomplishing — I am somewhat introverted and normally not to adventurous, so RVing is a bit outside my comfort zone. In other words, I am pushing myself. My main cause of anxiety when we started this was towing, backing in, and getting into tight spaces. I may not necessarily be the one “actually” doing it, but it caused a lot of anxiety for me. We are both more comfortable with towing. There have been moments of pride after backing in, each more comfortable than the last. We are not afraid of finding parks with back-in sites any longer. It was while we were just outside of St Louis that I felt the most pride. We found ourselves in a situation where we had to maneuver our way through thick traffic and busy and crowded gas stations. We remained calm, evaluated the situation, and successfully formulated plans and navigated our way around, even stopped for a Starbucks. This didn’t necessarily eliminate my anxiety, but it did soften it.
6. BUGS! I absolutely hate bugs. Unfortunately, they are a way of RV life. I expected them, but what I did not expect was for them to be so attracted to our shiny home (the Airstream.) Traveling from spot to spot introduces us to a variety of odd insects, most of which I would prefer to never encounter. Probably one of the reasons why I never took up camping. It is something I struggle with while trying to enjoy this lifestyle. Being inside my little cocoon of an Airstream does not eliminate them either.
7. Facing some of my fears. I knew I was going to work on this once we started. It was part of the reason for the gentle rafting trip down the Truckee River. I had always wanted to go rafting but was too afraid. I can now say, “been there, done that, and don’t want to do it again.” Rving is helping me face some of my fears while creating a few new ones.
8. Finding a gem of an RV Park — I did not expect to become an RV Park snob, someone who is so picky, but over these past few months, I have learned a lot about what I like and don’t like about RV parks and sites.
9. Bucket List Growth — I had a vague idea of places I wanted to visit, so did my husband, but as our journey unfolds we are finding our bucket lists is adapting and growing.
10. . Being on the road, you meet new people, you may form long-distance friendships. A HUGE bonus because you meet a wide variety of people from all walks of life, you get to hear stories that feed your soul. The real treasure is the experience that is shared. There is a wealth of knowledge to be had out there, you need only ask. Most of my social interaction is online. I have formed some deep friendships with people I may never meet, but who have added a profound meaning to my life and my travels.
Things in RV life that I am still not crazy about:
1. Travel Days — I still feel a bit anxious on that day. Even on light travel days, I often find myself emotionally and physically drained once we finish setting up. It has gotten better, but still not my favorite thing to do. I am a bit of a control freak, so I think it is the unknown that bothered me most; unknown roads, unknown locations, unknown possible hazards. As we progress through our journey, I have found moments where I enjoy the journey and embrace the unknowns.
2. Travel Fatigue — It is a real thing and not just from travel days, also from sightseeing. We are learning more as we travel about pacing ourselves. We stay at sites longer and have what we call “down days.”
3. Route Planning — I am getting better at it and more comfortable with the process, but some days it is almost like having a full-time job. With so many people thinking this is the lifestyle for them, we are all experiencing the stress and difficulty of finding a spot sometimes. Parks, especially state and national parks, fill up quickly. You need to plan or hope for cancelations. Even boondocking locations that used to be quiet, where you could experience some solitude, are becoming popular and a bit crowded. RV parks, even the least desirable parks, require advanced preparation. Thanks to the Social Media, sites like Instagram and Facebook, the most secret gems are becoming well known.
There is more to this RV life and more expectations than any of the videos shown to you online. It does matter what my expectations were, but it is unanticipated surprises that add to the journey.
As for our original expectations:
1. Fear and anxiety of towing and backing in. As we gain experience and confidence, this is slowly subsiding.
2. The opportunity to visit places we had only dreamed of and to discover places we didn’t know existed. Since we have been avoiding most of the major tourist hotspots, we have had the opportunity to discover places we did not know about. Most head towards popular National Parks, but we have found National Parks we were not aware of.
3. Expected to have more free time. We originally, thought we would have all this “free” time to explore and expand our hobbies and to learn more in subjects that interest us, this has yet to happen. Instead, we spend most of our time exploring the area in which we are visiting. But we hold onto this expectation, its time will come.