Recently I was asked about the dos and don'ts or RV living so I thought I would tackle the topic in today's blog. I'm no expert on the right or wrong way to do things when it comes to this lifestyle, but I can share some things I've learned along the way. I think that many of these points are true no matter where you live or what you do.
DO your homework. Before you go anywhere take the time to look at your options carefully and investigate where you will be and what you should expect. This is especially true when choosing a boondocking site. Always check the distance, and the satellite views as well as reviews to be sure that you and your rig can get in and out without trouble. More than once we have found ourselves in a tight spot and trying to turn around.
DON'T beat yourself up when you get in a fix, it is going to happen. Learn from the mistake, add it to your check list and move on. Getting upset with each other, or angry about the mistake is not going to get your rig turned around and back on the open road. If this means that you have to jump out in the middle of a one lane dirt road and unhook the 'toad' (the vehicle you are towing behind your rig) then just get on with it. The five minutes someone waits on you to 'unblock' the road will not kill them.
DO plan your trip at least enough to know that you'll be safe along the way. Have a plan and stick to it. Most of the situations we've gotten into, like ending up in the wrong place, was because we didn't stick to what we said we would do. It is important to make sure you have your coordinates logged in before you hit the road, at least this is true for us. We don't need to know every detail but if we plan on moving to a new city or location we get that set up the night before and double check it. GPS apps aren't always right you know.
DON'T forget to be flexible. Some days things won't always go to plan but roll with it. This could mean stopping for the night in a pull off along the road but that's fine. Take the time to enjoy what that spot has to offer. The important thing is that you are safe and have a place to sleep. You don't need to drive tired.
DO use your resources. Living in an RV means that you have limited space and resources. You fresh water and power won't last forever so unless you are moving from campground to campground you'll need to use the resources wisely. Still they are your resources so use them to make your life comfortable. I'm a big tea drinker and if I can't have a cup of tea in my own home because it uses power than I don't want that home.
DON'T be wasteful. As much as you need to be comfortable and enjoy your living situation you still need to remember not to be wasteful. Army showers are the order of any day or you'll quickly be out of water and your gray tank will need emptied pretty quick. It isn't inconvenient to get wet, switch off the water, soap up, and then rinse. Of course when you are plugged in at a campground you can really feel like you are being decadent and run the hot water dry if you wish.
DO be prepared. Make sure you have the right gear. Know what you like to do and be prepared for the weather. We love to walk or hike so we need to be ready for a change in weather or conditions all the time. Having a good day-pack is step one of being prepared. Our packs each carry a 2liter water bag so we can stay hydrated on walks. Remember that at elevation you will get thirsty quicker. We also have good rain gear. Not only will our jackets keep us dry in a sudden shower putting it over a warmer fleece jacket will keep you warm and break the wind. We also carry a good first aid kit and bear spray while hiking just in case. The last item that is a must have is good shoes. We both have good sturdy waterproof shoes. On our adventures so far we have walked through enough snow, and enough water to prove that these are a must.
DON'T forget your manners. There are several unwritten rules to camping and a few that are written down as well, especially in areas like National Wildlife Areas. If you pack it in, pack it out. This means clean up after yourself and don't leave a mess. Also if you are going to do any boondocking (which is what we primarily do) remember to give each other space. Don't pull right up next to someone because you figure if they are there you can be too. On most National Forest sites, or Bureau of Land Management Areas there is plenty of room. You don't need to be right next to your neighbor. Most people who boondock do it to be out in nature. If you do get into an area where there isn't a lot of room don't block another camper's
View of what ever is around or their access in and out of the area. When we camped along the Susitna River we made sure to park so that we didn't cut anyone else off. We can't say the same for everyone. On the other hand these areas are free to the public so you have to put up with things sometimes that you might not have in a paid area. Over all people are pretty good about it all.
DO get the rewards cards. Have all of the grocery and gas rewards cards you can get. Most stores will ask if you have them and offer you one on the spot if you don't. These little gems can save you money everywhere you go. I probably have at least half a dozen so far and they really help. Fuel reward cards also add up fast and save you money at the pump.
DON'T over extend yourself. Make a budget and plan reasonably. We are NOT on vacation
we are living a different way. We have to remember that we do not have unlimited resources and that though I do earn a modest income with my writing it isn't anywhere near the income that we need. When planning something special we make sure we chose what experiences are truly important to us. Normally we cook and eat at home and we do actually eat peanut butter and jelly pretty much everyday for lunch. It's cheap and nutritious. Saving money on everyday things means that we can have the occasional treat along the way.
DO keep learning. One of the things we love about this lifestyle is that no matter where we go we keep learning new things. As an historical romance writer I love learning about the history of any new place and have been amazed at some of the things I have learned.