When someone asks how long Jim and I have been on the road, I tell them “eight years!” with tremendous pride. You might assume that after putting 125,000 road-tripping miles under our belts that we never make mistakes, but nothing could be further from the truth.
For example, last summer we had more slip-ups in one day than we had in an entire year, all because we were in a hurry. Each blunder piled up until we were hit with one huge mechanical issue that almost destroyed our Cummins engine.
As the saying goes, hind sight is 20/20 and now I’d like to share the gory details so that you can try to avoid making similar mistakes in your own full-timing adventures.
Mistake #1: We left too late
When we know we have a lot of driving to do, we make it a point to leave our destination by 8 am. But that day we had a leisurely brunch date with friends and didn’t depart until noon. Our late departure set the blunder ball rolling.
Mistake #2: We drove too long, too far in one day
When you don’t think you will have a lot of driving to do in one day, the universe makes sure you will. That night a suitable overnight location eluded us and we drove twice as long as we intended. Exhausted, we fell asleep in a Reno casino parking lot in stifling August heat.
Mistake #3: We drove off without giving the RV a once-over
That morning we hit the interstate tired and irritable from lack of sleep, without bothering to give the rig a quick visual inspection. Doing so could have helped us avoid the next boo-boo:
We left the RV stairs out!
Our rig has manual front steps and as we pulled onto the freeway, I was shocked to see that our stairs were sticking out. That was a first in eight years of full-timing!
We didn’t lock all exterior compartments
Later that day our truck bed toolbox lid flew open on the highway. We didn’t lose anything, but we could have.
Mistake #4: We didn’t speak up when something odd happened
The long drive between Reno and Salt Lake City can put anyone into a trance, so when I saw a black object fly away from the rig, I neglected to say something. Five minutes later when our rig started swerving, we realized what it was: a tire blowout!
Mistake #5: We didn’t think to ask ourselves: “What’s that gunk all over the rig?”
We were in a hurry to get to our destination, and although we noticed our rig was covered in “dirt,” neither one of us thought to examine it. Had we done so, we would have realized that it was oil covering the sides and undercarriage of our rig – oil from our Dodge engine! The moment our Check Engine light came on we knew what it was.
Yes, all of those gaffes happened in a single day! Thankfully our engine survived a blown seal, and we were able to get the repairs handled in Salt Lake City in just three days. It was all so ridiculous though: if we had just allowed ourselves one extra afternoon to get to our destination, we could have saved two days of downtime, emotional upheaval and a huge mechanic’s bill.
The lesson here? Don’t be in a hurry, you’re a full-time RVer after all! That destination isn’t going anywhere and even if you’re a little late, it’s not that big of a deal if you get there with your RV and your sanity intact.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.