Top 10 Frustrations About Living on the Road in Our RV

In lieu of the previous post listing the things we love about our life on the road, we thought it only right to also share some of the frustrations we’ve encountered along the way.

1) Size limitations on roads and in campgrounds. It doesn’t happen all the time, but sometimes we are detoured from our intended route due to size restrictions on the road. Either we won’t fit through a tunnel, a grade is too steep, or the turns are too sharp to accommodate large vehicles. This is obviously not a problem on interstates, but some of the mountainy back-roads can prove troublesome. Luckily, our GPS lets us know these things ahead of time. Also, some campgrounds have length restrictions, such as can’t be over 24′. This can be frustrating for us (sometimes I swear we could fit in those spots!), but we’ve always managed to find pretty good alternatives. Also, most places are good about putting this on their website. We have discussed however, that if we did anything over, we’d probably go with a smaller RV. I’m not sure we could have gone smaller initially, because it was already like pulling teeth to get Matthew to pair down his belongings to fit in our 29′ home (I graciously gave up much of my storage space for him). But now that we have lived in a small space for a while and know how many things we still have that we haven’t touched since moving in, I have no doubt we could pair down even more.
2) Traffic can be maddening. It is obvious that many car operators have no idea what it’s like to maneuver a large vehicle. For example, when traffic is heavy, it’s not a good idea to suddenly pull out in front of the 8 ton vehicle that takes at least 4 car lengths to stop. (Oddly enough we’ve noticed the same lack of technical awareness from cars when it comes to motorcycling as well). We’re also one of the slow ones on the road (especially when it comes to climbing hills), so it gets monotonous having to use the turnouts every 5 miles to let the line of cars that have built up behind us pass. But alas, we are polite and considerate RVers. And seeing as we are such, please do not try zipping around us in the turnout lane the minute it begins. Keep your panties on, we’ll move over and let you by without causing an accident.
3) It can be hard to just park and leave. There are times when the RV can be a downright burden. We can forget going to any sort of downtown area in this behemoth as parking is nonexistent and streets are narrow. If we want to explore tight mountain roads or hip downtown locations we have to find a safe place to park her before offloading the motorcycle to zip around. Also, any kind of backpacking excursion must be thought out, mostly because we don’t like leaving the refrigerator on for days on end without being there to check on it. So, we normally try to eat everything out of the fridge and freezer before taking off on a multiple night excursion.
4) A big gas tank and low gas mileage means high $ refills. Luckily, we picked a great time to RV around the country as gas prices are reasonable. But, being a chronic saver, that still doesn’t ease the sinking feeling I get in the pit of my stomach when I watch the gas pump tick away (actually I make Matthew do this while I sit in the passenger seat and cry…just kidding…or am I :). At a whopping 8 miles/gallon, gas is by far our biggest expense and that’s why we try to utilize the motorcycle as much as possible, not to mention the motorcycle is fun and can go just about anywhere.
5) We have to carry around our poop. So this doesn’t seem to bother Matthew, but it’s my number one dislike about RVing. Most nurses have one bodily excrement they just have a hard time dealing with. Some can’t tolerate sputum or tracheal secretions, for others it’s vomit or puss. For me, it’s poop. I just don’t like it. I know it’s completely natural, healthy and that everybody poops (and, yes, bears go in the woods), but that doesn’t mean that it’s not weird and slightly disgusting. This was one of the biggest advantages to working on Mother/Baby; postpartum moms usually don’t have a bowel movement until they go home and newborns have small, mostly non-stinky poops. Now in a normal home, you do your business, flush and away it goes. In the woods, you dig your trench, do the deed, cover the evidence, and leave the scene of the crime. But in the RV, after you flush, it goes in to the black water tank, also known as the poop tank (unless you are hooked up to sewer), and it gets carried around with you until the next time you dump your tanks. I can’t explain why, but this just grosses me out. I also hate emptying the black tank, so that’s another task I have graciously bestowed upon Matthew.
6) The whole process of setting up and leaving is more time consuming than you expect.
There is a lot to this RVing business and there is definitely a learning curve* at first. It takes a while to get a routine down. And because the process of leveling, unpacking and packing loose tid-bits for safe travel, emptying tanks, filling up water jugs and tanks, loading and unloading the motorcycle, and leaving camp usually takes at least an hour or more, we have set a 2 night minimum rule for ourselves. That means, if we set up camp somewhere, we stay there for at least 2 nights, otherwise it’s just too tiring and stressful.
7) Things break easily. On top of the contents of our home experiencing constant earthquake-like conditions, there’s a lot of plastic and flimsy materials that make up the RV, keeping it lightweight. Unfortunately, this means that things break easily, especially if your spouse has floppy, Big Foot tendencies. Once every month or so we end up breaking something, or we make a sharp curve, a cabinet flies open and something tumbles to it’s death. Either way, things break a lot (luckily they’re usually small things), that’s just part of it.
8) RV specific things are expensive. We realized this after we had to purchase a new refrigerator 1 month in to our travels. The old one finally gave out, and it was rather astonishing to find out that a tiny RV refrigerator costs as much as (or more than) a fancy full-sized house refrigerator.
9) It’s hard to have a community. Constantly travelling means that we are not members of a community, we’re continually hopping around and experiencing places, but never are we in one area long enough to make friends or form long-lasting relationships bonded by common interests. We knew this when we set out, but it is still something we miss a little.
10) We never know where anything is. While we love exploring and always being somewhere new, there are times it can be frustrating never knowing, for example, the best place to get groceries, which parts of town to avoid, what way the one-way streets are headed, or the best coffee shop in town. Yes, trying out new places and options is part of the fun, but there’s a comfort in knowing exactly what you’ll get if you go to this one shop and the best way to get there.

In spite of these frustrations, we both agree that we love our life and feel blessed to be living out our adventures. We wouldn’t give it up for anything.

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* The learning curve includes figuring out the answers to questions like:
⦁ How long can we make our fresh water last? With supplements, 10 days.
⦁ How long does it take us to fill up the black and grey tanks? Anywhere between 3-10 days.
⦁ How long does a full tank of propane last? About 10 days with heater usage and up to a month on only the fridge.
⦁ How long will the auxillary batteries last before we need to hook up? Still not positive – roughly every 3 days.
⦁ Why is the generator not working? Too little gas in tank (there’s an emergency shut-off system) or the elevation’s too high or it’s too cold.
⦁ Why is the refrigerator not working? Propane isn’t turned on, elevation’s too high, or something’s broken.
⦁ Why is the propane detection alarm making that god-awful noise when there is not a propane leak? Batteries need charged.
⦁ Can we run the heater off of the auxillary batteries? Yes.
⦁ When should I turn on the hot water heater in order to have a warm but not scalding shower? Still not sure – takes roughly 12 minutes to not be cold.

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