If you’re like us, you might have several strong reservations about moving out of your home and into an RV. Homes are places of comfort, safety, and are a focal point where habits and routines are fostered and maintained.
But by moving into a camper, we are taking ourselves out of our comfort zones and thrust into situations and challenges that we, as stationary homebodies, aren’t accustomed to facing. So we were understandably nervous when it came time to set off for our adventure across the US in our van.
But although we humans are ‘creatures of habit’, we’re also surprisingly capable of adapting to new and changing environments. And within just a few weeks, many of the worries and hesitations we had about RV life had vanished.
We’ve learned a lot during the past 2 years of traveling in our camper and in this post we want to share some of the things we’ve learned after transitioning from our home into our motorhome.
Up & Out of Your Comfort Zone
Life in a motorhome means you’re often on the road. It also means your surroundings, where you sleep, and even the people you meet are always changing. No two days are exactly the same.
And that’s one of the best parts about traveling in an RV!
Every day is, quite literally, a new adventure.
But it also means you never develop a true ‘comfort zone’ because you’re always picking up and leaving to the next destination before your body has a chance to develop those mental habits that keep your mind relaxed and at ease.
What we’ve learned:
Maintaining a small set of daily routines and habits, despite the ever-changing outside environment, is key to keeping us grounded and fresh during full-time RV life.
No matter where we parked; whether it was at an RV park, National Park campsite, or even a Walmart parking lot, we always made sure to stick to our daily routines. This consisted of:
- Sweeping our floors & shaking out our pillows immediately after waking up;
- As we say in Japan, to clean your house is to also clean your own minds and souls from clutter.
- Eating a slow, relaxed breakfast and sharing a single cup of coffee;
- This helps set the pace for our day and ensures we don’t start our day stressed and rushed.
- Play the same 30-song playlist from our Bluetooth speaker…every day.
- Having something that is familiar & predictable in our day helps create a new type of comfort zone even while we’re on the road.
Maintaining a small set of routines has given us familiarity in a day packed with new sights and sounds.
Learn to Plan Ahead (Especially For Big Rigs)
Few things are more stressful when traveling in an RV than for your sleep accommodation plans to fall through…that very day.
Whether you arrive at a fully booked RV park or are asked to leave from an area that prohibits boondocking, the end result is the same; scrambling to hash out last-minute plans before it gets dark.
Learning to plan well ahead and make necessary reservations, if needed, makes motorhome travel, particularly in a larger RV, less stressful and more predictable.
What we’ve learned:
Depending on our situation, we’ve learned to take advantage of 4 apps to help us plan our sleeping accommodations ahead of time:
- Good Sam App: We use this app to help us find quality RV parks. We then call ahead to make reservations.
- Bonus: For $29/year, you can purchase a ‘Good Sam’ membership, which gives you a 10% discount at all RV parks affiliated with the program.
- Recreation.gov App: Useful for making online reservations for campsites within National Park & Forest lands. Simply select your national park (or forest), pick your dates, choose your campground, and pay.
- Pilot Flying J – myRewards Plus App: Sometimes you’re longhauling on the interstate highways and you just need an easy place to pull over for the night. Nothing fancy. Sleeping at Pilot (and Flying J) service stations along major highways are popular options for commercial trucks and RV travelers. This app helps you to locate which service stations allow overnight parking.
- Bonus: This app also gets you fuel discounts.
- iOverlander App: This app is a must-have if you enjoy boondocking out in nature, like on National Forest and BLM lands. Of all our camping apps that we use, the iOverlander app is used the most.
Enjoy Being Offline…Often
Being comfortable with poor, or non-existent, Internet reception is harder than it might seem at first. You can’t load your maps, can’t share your experiences with friends, and ALWAYS can’t get enough reception bars to send that critical email.
And you might be surprised to learn that there’s a lot of reception dead zones in the US, especially throughout the western half of the country.
Adjusting to a life ‘less connected’ was difficult for us at first. We were so used to instant and blazing internet speeds during our past lives that not being able to upload even a single low-quality photo to Facebook became a real frustration.
What we’ve learned:
‘RV life’ has been a real boon to our online sanity. We’ve since learned to let go of our Internet addiction and connection insecurities. Life feels slower, but more fulfilling. We hike more and spend more time outdoors. We also read much more than we used to!
We also feel the need to share much less of our daily lives to our social networks.
And when we absolutely need some decent WIFI, we keep our eyes open for a Starbucks, McDonalds, or even a Walmart; which are almost always guaranteed to have an available WIFI network.
Toilet, Showers, & Everything Hygiene
By far our largest concern before we took off in our camper van was how we were going to deal with the dreaded bathroom issue. We had so many uncertainties and questions!
- Would we constantly run into bathroom emergencies while on the road?
- Is relying on public bathrooms a good enough solution?
- For women, how difficult would it be to handle that ‘time of the month?’
To ease our initial anxieties, we even purchased a ‘Porta Potti’ chemical toilet to keep in our camper. However, we were so hesitant to live and sleep with a blackwater tank inside our van that we never used our toilet once in our first 7 months of travel.
After those 7 months, we ended up just throwing the toilet out altogether.
What we’ve learned:
Regarding bathrooms, we’ve learned that 90% of time there are enough public bathrooms out there to satisfy our toilet needs. Once you learn to keep an eye out for them, public bathrooms are everywhere. And for that other 10% of the time, well…it might not be for everyone, but it does involve an empty water bottle. If you’re interested to learn more about THAT, check out our post on why we no longer travel with a toilet in our camper van.
Oh, and regarding that certain ‘time of the month’? With a combination of reusable menstruation products, the Flexcup and Thinx Underwear, period weeks turned out to be fine. Not nearly as troublesome as we imagined.
For more info, we discuss what it’s like to be a female traveling in a motorhome in our post: Van life for women.
Transitioning to life in a motorhome has its perks but also its fair share of challenges. But when taken together, it’s what RV life is all about, and that’s what makes this lifestyle exciting and engaging. Every day you’re putting yourself in new and different situations.
Sometimes those situations are uncomfortable and foreign at first, but humans have a strong knack for acclimating to new environments. So no matter what concerns you might initially have about traveling in an RV, we hope you’ll trust that you, too, can learn and adapt in the face of change.
How To Contact Us
For more campervan living tips, check out our blog: www.asobolife.com.
We also love getting mail! For any questions or comments, please send us an email at [email protected].
Or for more on our current Pan-American road trip visit us on Instagram: @asobolife.