The transition into “RV life” has its own set of stresses: Will we kill each other? Where do we sleep? What do we eat? How do we find all the cool stuff we see on Instagram?! What if a jar of peanut butter we forgot to put away flies into the air and smashes against the wall? (side note: that happened and it was awesome). Learning how to deal with being young, inexperienced RVers has been a constant in our travels, but we’ve learned a lot about how we are going to function as a couple while living this dream. So, for those of you who are young couples (or those young at heart) going down your own path, here are some lessons learned that help us thrive and survive.
Travel Tips For The Young RV Couple
Communicate, communicate, communicate
In almost any aspect of life, open communication is always the best communication. In an RV, we believe this is never truer. If one of you wants to see the world’s largest frying pan (it’s in Iowa), let your partner know. If you don’t, that frying pan you never saw will be a symbol of scorn. Frying pans don’t deserve that.
If it’s important for you to stop, then speak up! One of us, who shall remain unnamed, sometimes reaches a point many of you may know of as “hanger.” You know, the emotionally volatile state of hunger and anger happening simultaneously. Hanger has been proven to ruin many an adventure, and probably a marriage or two, but this is a great example of the basic stuff you need to communicate. Being hungry is an easy fix, and being prepared with a granola bar for the hungry one makes you a hero. We can’t emphasize how important it is to communicate early and communicate often. It helps us make the most of our RV travels, and we never have to guess what’s going on in the other’s head.
Divide and conquer
Keeping any household a functional, sanitary, and sane living/working environment takes a lot of time and sometimes involves a daunting number of tasks. We quickly realized that moving into a physically smaller space that is infinitely mobile doesn’t equate to fewer tasks to keep our home and lives in order. Like most people, we’re also creatures of habit to some extent even if we hate thinking of ourselves in that way. Our RV life has a fixed number of tasks and chores that need to be completed, sometimes in a very specific order, to make our lives functional. Although it was less of a conscious decision, we discovered that we divided up what needed to get done in a regular way so that we could complete the necessary tasks in a timely and efficient matter. We also discovered that we missed or forgot fewer of them if we divided tasks and chores into things that each of us was regularly responsible for completing. We divided in order to conquer. It made us more efficient, which ultimately left us with more time for adventures.
Know your facilities
There’s nothing worse than thinking you’ll get a bag of ice at the general store at your destination, intending to fill up your tank at the next gas station, or relying on firewood from a camp host, only to find out that it doesn’t actually exist. We suggest saving yourself the headache (and possibly the argument), and know what’s available where you’re heading. If you plan on doing laundry mid-trip, confirm where the nearest facilities are (and make sure you have detergent, etc.) ahead of time. If you know you just can’t camp without a campfire, check out the local rules about fire bans or the availability of fire rings or firewood for sale. Take the time to do some research in advance and you’ll be ready for a whole lot more fun later.
Learn from locals
It’s almost always a fact that the locals will know the coolest places to see, the best local bar or restaurant, or the campsite that never made its way onto the map that’s right by the river with the biggest fish. A local who was willing to share some tips with us has rarely, if ever, led us astray. We found that for our interests, places like fly-fishing shops, the local outdoor goods store, and park employees are fantastic sources of local knowledge. Of course, don’t forget that your RV neighbors can also point you in the right direction. We continue to meet some amazing people on the road, some of whom we’ve made great friendships with that will last for years. Remember that karma follows you around, so share what you’ve learned, be friendly, respectful, and hospitable, and you never know what you’ll discover.
Take and make “me” time
Before we moved into our RV, we spent a lot of our free time around each other because we genuinely enjoyed it. We also spent a lot of time doing things on our own, partly because we had some things we enjoyed doing separately (Stephani runs long distances early in the mornings, and Ryan does not), but also because we had a lot of “built in” time that put us in different places with our jobs. As a full-time RV couple on the road, we found that a lot of the time we had apart from each other was removed because we lived in a smaller space, but also because we were now living and working together. All. The. Time. We soon discovered that we needed to build our own “me” time. Fortunately for us, this was pretty simple. For example, Stephani likes long runs in the early morning, whereas Ryan prefers to get to work on his laptop after waking up. Later in the day, we both might be fly-fishing on the same stretch of river, but we weren’t necessarily with each other. The noise of the river gave us our space and we fished different water with space between us. The lessons for us were that we needed to make a concerted effort to build in our personal time and space, communicate when we wanted it, and discover creative ways of making it happen.
Our parents would say something like “there’s more than one way to skin a cat” or some other bizarre saying, but they’re basically right – there’s more than one way for young couples in RVs to make the most of their experience. We team up to make the most of our RV time, and we’ve discovered what works best for us. Even after 22,000 miles in our RV, we’re still evolving how we live, work, and adventure together. But, most importantly, we do it together to make it the best experience that it can possibly be!
Do you have any tips for life together on the road? Let us know in the comments!