As some may have noticed by reading between the lines, this past year some aspects of our RV-based nomadic lifestyle began to wear a bit thin for us. After four years (five for Chris!) on the road together, our ping-pong route between Florida, St. Louis, Burning Man, and San Francisco had begun to develop ruts, and we have both been starting to itch for some sort of change or new adventure.
The opportunity for us to winter in St. John came at the absolute perfect time for us. This has been a perfect change of pace, allowing us to re-energize, experience a different style of travel, and contemplate what is next.
Over our years of posting on Technomadia, we’ve shared a lot of the positives of full-time RVing:
And there are indeed many incredible positives to this lifestyle. But like all things, there are negatives as well.
Now, after a two month break from our RVing life, I’ve re-centered enough to offer some balance to all the above bravado to give a peak into some of what became frustrations for us.
RV Parks and Campgrounds Can Get Old
With some notable exceptions, we found most commercial RV parks extremely lacking. Most do not provide much privacy or outside space, and some are literally little more than giant parking lots without even any attempt at separation between spots. Very few are well laid out with ample privacy or views.
In general, RV Parks offer significantly less space and privacy than a typical suburban or urban home or apartment. So while RV parks do offer a great service by allowing you to live in a variety of great locations, it’s not always the most comfortable surroundings for spending extended time at your home and mobile office.
Much of the time you will have neighbors within arm’s reach of you, with their windows just a few feet from yours. And all too often they will have a barking dogs (that intimidates your cat), or early rising kids that disturb your restful late morning sleep (‘quiet hours’ always seem to favor early birds, not us night owls).
And while RV Parks offer amenities like bathhouses, it got really old to be showering in public places with bad lighting, poor water pressure, and someone else’s mess. And the worst part – having to get dressed to leave your house to go take a shower in the first place.
And there are also ‘RV Resorts’ which offer more amenities, but mostly we just found “resort” to be code for overpriced with a non-working public hot tub.
We definitely had a preference for public run campgrounds, which tended to be much better laid out and more in nature. Unfortunately, public campgrounds are not intended for longer term stays and often lack basic amenities like full hook-ups.
Stealth Camping is not Sustainable
Street camping, whether stealthily in a city, or in front a friend or family member’s house, is generally a great (and free) option for a night or two. However, in these situations, even with our small trailer we tend to be rather conspicuous, and we need to be in a stealth mode to avoid attracting unwanted attention. While this is fine for a quick visit, it is draining long term. I don’t like feeling that we have to hide, minimize the light at night, and try not to make a peep.
Too Much Motion
When you have a house on wheels, there’s little holding you back from setting off on the next exciting adventure – rationalizing that you can always be still later. And while yes, a house on wheels also means you can just park when you want, it’s really hard to say no to awesome. For us, it became too easy to put our ease of mobility ahead of our needs for still catch-up time – and we had been in deficit for quite a while.
Being in motion constantly takes its toll, especially when you’re also trying to run a business and fit in quality social time. Everything else goes into maintenance mode while you focus on the scarcity of time you’re faced with in each location.
Our Small Space Got Too Small
We absolutely love our Oliver Travel Trailer. Most of the time, it was the perfect balance between functionality, quality, style and maneuverability. But that’s not to say that there weren’t times that we wished we could push a button to expand the space. And that wish became more and more frequent as we went on.
Hosting friends for dinner or gaming was limited to there being good weather outside and access to a picnic table. And when we did have friends join us inside – trying to share a small space often resulted in some frustration.
And there were times when we would have killed for just a foot or two more counter space…
In such a small and unique looking trailer, we constantly had a stream of folks wanting a peak inside our home. We were rarely able to just be somewhere without attracting attention – whether it be at campgrounds, parking lots or scenic overlooks. Usually we loved the opportunity to share, but there were certainly days I just wanted to put a cloaking disguise on the trailer to make it look generic so we could blend in and be left alone.
Will we return to RV’ing?
RVing was good to us for many years, and I don’t regret a single moment of it. And overall the positives of the lifestyle vastly outweighed the negative.
But as with anything in life, if at some point the negatives start to poke their head out more and more often, it may mean that it’s time to re-evaluate that path. Perhaps it is time for something new and different?
We suspect there may be folks who have bets on if we’ll return to the Oliver after our time in St. John is up. Honestly, we aren’t sure ourselves, and we have been making a list of things we’re considering next. Some of our options do include returning to the Oliver (or even a larger RV setup), but we are also considering moving on to other adventures that are not RV-based.
And no, “settling down” in one location is not on the list…