Thursday, April 6, 2017

What's Life Like for Us in an RV - Part 2

A friend of mine interviewed me, so I'm going to post some Q and A here about living in an RV after 6 months on the road.

For Part 1 of this interview, click here. 

My friend, the interviewer, is M. I'll post her questions
bold and green. I'm E, and my answers, as ever, will be purple. J is my husband and K is my son. And now, on to the interview! 

1. How DO you plan? Do you plan as a family where to go?

It varies greatly, actually. For the first portion of our trip, we knew we wanted to go to LEGOLAND. That was the end goal. So we planned everything around going to LEGOLAND, and I researched and found places we'd want to visit in between.

K loves aquariums, so we knew we had to go to Monterey Bay aquarium. We all love beaches, so of course we went to a beach in every place we stopped in California. I'd find places within an hour or two of each other for us to stop in, then find RV parks on or in the Good Sam road trip planning app.

I like because it gives you real people and real reviews for places. But also tells you exactly what amenities are there, what hookups they have, and if your rig will fit. Sometimes a place's website will say one thing and the reality is different, and this site tells you that.

I like the Good Sam road trip planning app because it will tell you the mileage between each RV park, the approximate time it will take to drive there going 60MPH, and it also gives you the campgrounds and things to do in the area if you check those boxes. That helps for the spreadsheet I keep, too.

I keep a spreadsheet that has places we're going, arrival and departure dates, address, phone, email, website, how much it cost us, mileage, deposits, etc. I got this from another Rver who uses it as a template, adjusted it to our needs, and it has been so great.

Google maps also has a feature called MyMaps that I use to keep a map of places we want to go, the RV parks we'll be staying in, attractions and where to get groceries nearby those places.

For the second leg of our trip, K had made a group of online friends, most of whom happen to live in the US. Two of the kids he was really clicking with were in Arizona, so I connected with their Mom and we planned a visit. That's where we are now. The next leg of our trip includes a visit to family in Missouri as we make our way to a gathering in Ohio where a good number of the kids from that group will also be.

From there we haven't decided yet. And a month ago we had no idea we'd be going to this gathering, either. 

2. Who drives?

J does. I keep saying I'm going to learn to drive the RV, but I just haven't yet. I thought I'd really need to because I get carsick when I'm not the driver, but because we've been able to drive for shorter periods, that actually hasn't been an issue at all. So there hasn't been a huge push for me to learn. But I will. 

3. What's the bathroom like (plane bathroom-like?)

It's not like a plane bathroom. It's different in every RV, but ours has a compost toilet in a room of its own. There's a cabinet behind the toilet where we keep toilet paper and such, and a magazine rack that we keep cloth wipes in, and a towel rack. There is a window to the right of the toilet if ou're sitting on it, so you can look out at the view when you're in there. It's actually quite nice.

Outside of that, the shower and the bathroom sink are connected to our bedroom, so the counter of the sink makes sort of a half wall. It makes it feel much more spacious having that "open floorplan". The shower is small but big enough to shower in, so it works. The water pressure isn't like a house, but it still works. The one thing most RVers dream of is having a proper bath and real water pressure for a shower. Oh, and hot water that lasts way too long.

Water conservation is a necessary thing in an RV shower, but you get used to it. 

4. Do you have a budget for accom, gas, food, entertainment?

Basically since right now we're living on savings, I "pay" our checking account out of that every month, the salary my husband was making, and that's what we use for our expenses. So not specifically, but kind of. Our grocery budget is similar to what it was in a house, and although usually we don't have utilities like gas, electric, water, or trash, we have monthly rent and storage fees, and internet and phones and of course fuel. Entertainment varies by where we are. In California it was really expensive, but in Arizona it's been almost nothing. 

5. Does the RV require repairs? Who does that?

RVs always require repairs, yes. There is always something coming apart or needing resealing because of travel and wear and tear. Luckily almost every RV park we've ever been in has a relationship with a mobile RV repair guy, and they will come to your site to do most repairs.

J can do the non-engine or electrical things that need doing like resealing and caulking the roof, and he does regular battery and tire checks, but for things like replacing the radiator tank we call the RV repair guy. We'd like to replace our refridgerator with a residential one, but that's going to take some modification to the inside of our RV, so we're waiting until we're somewhere for a longer spell and can remove the old one to do the modifications. 

6. What Mileage are you getting?

I have no idea, but it's probably something like 6 MPG. It's a 40' diesel pusher pulling a small car, plus all of our stuff, so it's not going to be good. 

7. How is exercising- walks?

Lately because we got sick again, plus the heat, not as good as we'd like. But usually in a new RV park the first think K and I like to do is take Muffins and explore the park. Usually there will be some sort of trails or cool plae to walk to, which has been great. Part of the fun of being in a new place is exploring it, even just the RV parks themselves. There can really be a lot to see!

When we were on the beach in San Diego, at the bay, we'd go every day for walks. everyone loved doing that. We really have gotten out of the habit here, because walking in the desert heat with the sun beating down on you just isn't fun. But there's always the next place!

8.Favorite place so far and why.

Monterey Bay/Santa Cruz. Everything. The aquarium is just spectacular, and they were super ADA compliant, and I felt really well taken care of there. Plus the aquarium itself is just the most amazing aquarium I've ever been in.

The bay and all the beaches are beautiful. It's a smaller place and just feels happy to be in. It has incredible character, and you can tell that the people who live there are there because they want to be.

Santa Cruz is the same. Smaller, gorgeous, artsy, kitchy, fun. I really wished we could stay longer than we did but we were running from the cole weather and the rains. They actually got snow this year!

I'd definitely go back again, it's a place I'd like to live for awhile maybe. 

9. What do you like most- and least- about the RV experience?

What I personally like most is the travel. I really never believed I liked traveling, so it makes it extra weird that I am the one who bought us an RV and said, "Let's go explore the US and see if we find somewhere healthier for me to live."

But it turns out that I don't hate travel, I just hate flying and staying in spaces that might potentially get me sick. I actually really love traveling when we get to bring all of our comforts with us and be sleeping in our own bed every night. If only we could take the RV to Hawaii, Europe or Costa Rica! Then we'd be set.

I love exploring new places and seeing all of the birds, flora and fauna in different places. I love seeing how different the foliage is to the places I've lived. I love feeling sand on my feet on beaches, and seeing all of the different skies and sunsets. And I love that I get to do all of that with my family.

What I like least is the things we miss about having a house. Space - being able to spread our stuff out all over. Separate rooms to go to for privacy and just space alone. Having a garden (although I do currently have a small herb garden in a pot and an aloe plant and am thinking of adding a small tower garden of herbs and leafy greens as well). The trampoline. 

10. Is it bringing you closer as a family?

In ways it is, because when we travel and aren't visiting someone, it's just the three of us (five if you count the pets). It's just us doing stuff together, exploring together, and that's pretty cool. We've always been a pretty close family though, so this is just even more of that I think. Especially right now with J not working and being a part of everything. I think it's helping him understand us better to be so integrated into our daily routine like this, since it isn't usually the case when he has to work 40 hours a week outside the home.

But yeah, it's really nice being this little unit together right now. 

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