Recently a friend emailed to us asking questions like: What has life been like living on the road? Challenges, surprises, inconveniences. By the time I finished typing the reply, I chuckled, realizing it’s an entire blog! I hope it’s not too long for you, but more importantly, that you enjoy reading it. So here goes…
What has life been like living on the road? Better than we ever expected. Admittedly, we entered into this with very few expectations. Originally just taking a break, getting out of the circles of life we had created, breaking free to start fresh.
Many people ask if we are enjoying retirement. We reply, quite honestly, that we are not retired: We are just taking a break. A break that has lasted three years. It’s been an absolutely fabulous adventure.
The people we meet are so fun, outgoing, thoughtful, helpful, and generous. The subculture of “full-timers” (as we are called because we do this life-style full-time) are a terrific group of people.
Attitudes of full-timers is quite different from vacationers. We remember when we were vacationers: The idea was to cram as much as possible into a very short time period, drive incessantly long hours to “get there”, and be worn out when we returned. But we are not on vacation. This is our lifestyle. It takes a few years to learn to slow down, smell the roses along the way. Now we go out of our way to just “see what’s over there”, walk up to a total stranger and start a conversation, or see a young mother watching her child while they did laundry in a public laundromat and be so moved by her attentiveness and thread-bare clothing as to pay for her day’s laundry. We now see life from a different perspective.
Adjustments: Without a doubt. But difficult? When we first started we both had differing, yet unspoken expectations of how we should hook up the trailer to the car while working as a team, where we should drive, how to use a map, figuring out a GPS that takes us on wild goose chases, how far to drive, where we should stay that night. The decisions were not always made in calm conversation. So yes, there were adjustments we made.
Living together in close quarters for the past three years, we learned to work as a team. We learned to relax. We learned to truly honor the unique differences in each other.
Our trailer is small enough that a television did not fit when we were originally loading everything. Being the American television addicts that we were, having no television seemed like it would be the end of the world to me, at first. A person has to fill the time, or become really bored. Being bored is… boring, (duh), and we hate to be bored. So we started talking, and playing cards. I play guitar, singing to Sherry. She reads to me. I get the pleasure of watching her suddenly laugh out loud while reading. Life is the small things.
She cooks in this tiny little kitchen that has maybe two square feet of counter space. She has never complained about the tiny kitchen. There is no room for an oven, and the three burner range is propane. I joke that I finally got her the gas range she always wanted! She is a fabulous cook, becoming even better in this tiny environment. Her interest in making sure we are well-fed, eating delicious food, has accelerated. I do the dishes. She cooks, I wash. Seems fair. She asked me once if I mind doing the dishes. My reply? Washing dishes is a small thing to do in return for the excellent meals she prepares. And besides, it helps fill a niche of time that I would otherwise have to figure out something to do so I’m not bored. Remember, I hate being bored? <grin>
Showering was an adjustment. We have a tub and shower combo in the trailer. It’s the size of a short phone booth, but everything works really well in it. No leaks. Hot and cold water work really well. The shower-head has a switch to turn off the water when we are not rinsing so we don’t fill up our holding tanks needlessly. Notice I didn’t say waste water? Yes, it keeps us from wasting water, but more important is… don’t ever let the holding tanks overfill.
If we are not hooked up to sewer, then we look for “dump stations” to drain the tanks when we are getting ready to travel. Sometimes, though, we stay long enough not hooked to sewer that we use a “honey pot” (aka either a simple five gallon bucket or a fancy enclosed bucket on wheels) to drain the tanks and carry or wheel the honey pot to a dumping location. Never drain holding tanks onto the ground! Black water (toilet) is obvious. Some people think draining gray water (sinks) onto the ground is OK. We prefer not to. Grey water contains a lot of food particles, toothpaste, soap, and stuff that take longer to decay than just a few hours when the next person pulls into the spot you just vacated.
Challenges: Challenges is a much better word than problems. It’s all a mindset. Challenges are a positive mindset. Problems are a negative mindset. We have plenty of challenges. The good news is: Somebody before us already experienced the challenge and solved it! Often times, we simply need to find out how somebody else solved the challenge.
For example, how do we get our mail? This is one of the top questions. There are many solutions, and everyone seems happy with the solution they use. Some people use companies that scan the mail, emailing the good stuff, and discarding the rest. Other people have a friend or relative periodically box up all the mail, good or junk, then re-mail it all to wherever the travelers happen to be at the time. It’s very doable.
Surprises: How easy this adventure has been. But it was easy because of a lot of people helping! Including friends who have lots of experience living in fifth-wheels who showed us many small things about our trailer, hooking up, using checklists, and other full-timers who willingly share tidbits when we struggle with something.
Inconveniences: Routine medical and dental care that need to have appointments made months in advance. Planning where we will be months in advance is sort of the opposite of the purpose of this lifestyle. But we deal with it.
Experiences of life on the road: How many hours do you have for us to share? The experiences are absolutely fabulous, wouldn’t trade them for anything.
We really enjoy getting your emails and feedback. If you have any other questions, let us know while we are On Our Adventure!
Bob and Sherry