Meet Glenda, our camper.
On September 13, 2018, we embarked on a month long camping trip. It started out as a possible week long trip to Northern Illinois for my youngest son’s wedding, but it soon morphed into a month long experiment.
Our experiment? Can we as two retired adults live comfortably within the confines of a 27′ camper for a month.
WHY AN EXPERIMENT?
My husband and I have been camping mostly during the summer months for over 15 years. As a teacher, camping could be done June, July, and August – what most people call summer vacation. Most of the time it was a single week or two away from home. We began in a tent; then, a pop-up; then a hybrid; and finally a travel trailer.
If we had tried this in the tent or the pop-up or the hybrid, I doubt we would have enjoyed the experience. The first two lacked air conditioning and heat while the footprint for all three required a creative dance for moving from one area to another.
Several years ago, we entertained the idea of living full time in our RV when we retired. In the past sixth months, we’ve met people who have sold everything they own, even their home, and are living full time in an RV traveling around the country. We’ve discussed the lifestyle with them, and yes, it is a lifestyle because living full time in an RV is much different than “going camping” for a vacation. We’ve discussed the idea of work camping with them as well.
Why? Well, we really would like to be able to be full timers.
Finally, we are planning to explore the western United States in a camping trip that could last us between three to six months.
We had several questions about a one month excursion:
Could we my husband and I possibly be comfortable living in a 27′ camper for a month?
Could we really do without the space, and amenities, our “home base” afforded us?
Could our dogs enjoy almost a week in the confines of the camper?
Would we get bored with an RV lifestyle?
Did we pack enough?
Did we pack the right stuff?
And we found we had questions as we worked through the month.
WHAT WE LEARNED
We’ve been home for less than a month, but in reflection, we have learned a number of things.
We are ready to “set sail” in our camper again. As it came time to return to the “sticks and bricks” home base, we contemplated extending our time away.
After a week or so, we had adapted to the space we had, but I realized I needed to do a bit more to get organized.
If we are going to survive long term excursions in a “three-quarter” RV lifestyle, we can’t consider ourselves on vacation. Living an RV lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean campfires and ‘smores every night.
Exploring “local” grocery stores can create an interesting challenge. Sometimes we found what we were looking for, sometimes we couldn’t.
There are several items that we hadn’t included in our packing that we missed: waffle iron, ice cube trays,
There were several items that we included (especially because we had two weddings to attend) that really weren’t necessary. They have been removed from the camper.
In a long travel from one destination to the next, we have learned our on-the-road limits – six hours seems to be our max as long as we share the drive time, but in bad weather, I may be driving longer. We hit terrible rains as we drove from Amana, Iowa to our part-way campground in Missouri and the drive from the highway to the campground seemed to take forever.
Many campgrounds are relatively quiet outside of the summer months of June, July, and August except on weekends where there is a local festival of some kind. We pulled into our campground in Alabama on Tuesday. While it was still fairly warm the second week of October, the campground didn’t fill until Friday.
Most campground pools close after Labor Day. There were several times I would have loved to sit in the campground’s hot tub, but it was closed. I’m sure further south the campground guidelines are different, when the evening temperatures dip below 60 degrees, most pools and hot tubs are closed.
Although we like building campfires, the rainy fall months make successfully starting a campfire a challenge. “Girl Scout Water” as my husband calls lighter fluid is a must to have, as well as newspaper and other hacks like self-starting charcoal and an egg carton.
Because two of our stops were camping rallies, we didn’t really deal with the “what do we do tonight” problem.
But most importantly, we learned
That we have the patience to live in close quarters with each other for an extended time.
That we can truly work together as a team.
Is this lifestyle for everyone? No, I can’t say it is, but for me, and my husband, it is a lifestyle we are embracing.