You never know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Especially when it comes to your RV kitchen and bathroom. During the last month, we found this to be especially true during our vandwelling cross-country road trip.
From Colorado to Virginia, our comfort levels were tested as we pined for the comforts of our RV and were reintroduced to the unpleasantries of having to use gas stations restrooms, eat convenience foods and sleep in budget motel rooms that were so questionable I checked for bed bugs before putting our luggage inside. We are RVers after all, so staying at the Hilton was out of the question.
We’re Not as Tough as Real Vandwellers
I realize that the fact that we didn’t sleep in our van during our journey disqualifies us as authentic “vandwellers.” We just couldn’t bring ourselves to sleeping behind Home Depots or pitching a tent in a soggy, overpriced Pennsylvania state park campground. The weather was uncoorporative during the first half of our journey, so we nixed any real attempt at vandwelling and instead went from motel room to motel room, making us extremely homesick for our own RV home on wheels.
Along the way I found myself admiring the brazenness of fulltimers who choose to live in vans and other non-traditional vehicles – Jim and I just aren’t made of the same hearty stuff.
During the 5500 miles we drove a Toyota Sienna family van for 30 days in May and June, the comfort and convenience of having our own funky RV toilet and tiny kitchen was apparent. Some people think that RVers aren’t “real” homes but when you compare RVs to the impersonal nature of staying homogeneous motel rooms, eating cheap chain restaurant food and constantly checking for bedbugs, RVs are luxurious!
We really missed our rig but we knew there were many pros to not taking it to the East Coast including:
- Less stress. Driving a passenger vehicle is a breeze in the tiny, winding congested roads east of the Mississippi River. You can U-turn on a dime, park anywhere and pay less for toll roads. You also don’t worry about taking out your air conditioner on those notoriously low bridges of Colonial East Coast cities. Now I see why Class B vans are so popular.
- Sharing the driving. As I’ve previously mentioned, Jim and I believe in Blue Duties and Pink Duties. When it comes to our fulltime RVing travels, he drives the rig and I navigate. I’m a modern lady but it’s just so much better for our day-to-day relationship communications when I leave the driving to him. Being able to share the driving on this trip took a huge load off Jim’s shoulders, and we covered a lot more territory than we could if we had the fifth wheel.
- Decreased expenses. Sure, we paid for more motel rooms than we planned on, but in the end after crunching some numbers, the money we spent on lodging, fuel and food was still less than we would’ve spent if we had taken the rig. Had we hauled our fifth wheel out there, I know we would have stayed much longer to explore the area (and procrastinate getting onto turnpikes!) and paid higher camping fees since free camping in the East is practically non-existent.
In the end, we pitched a tent for a total of one night. Pretty embarrassing considering that I had packed way too much of our old, pre-RVing days tent camping gear. Jim was kind enough not to say “I told you so.”
Like anything else in life, fulltime RVing turns into a patten of repetition once you do it for a few years. If you think you’re in a rut, try throwing a completely different way of travel into your mix. We found our vandwelling experience to be a great reminder of the fun, convenience and comfort of exploring this great continent in our own home on wheels.
# # #
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.