I have traveled extensively throughout the US for many years and enjoy helping people to make the most of their RV vacations.
Couples who RV all year, every year encounter a lot of potholes. I’m not talking about the ones in the road. Those I’m referring to deal with the relationship problems this type of lifestyle can create for married couples.
If you are a couple that wants to start full-timing, there are a few things you need to consider before actually deciding that this will be the kind of life for you.
Have an Honest Conversation
Before you decide to take the leap, you should sit down together and have a serious conversation. Here some issues you should discuss:
- What are your expectations?
- Can you handle living for long periods of time together in a very small space?
- How will you deal with being separated from your loved ones?
- Will you be able to create some private space for yourselves?
- How will you financially support your lifestyle?
- What type of traveling do you expect to be doing?
- What will your individual responsibilities be?
It is important for the two of you to clear the air with regards to these and similar questions before you ever set foot in a coach because if you don't, you'll find yourselves squabbling all the time.
If you are able to find ways to compromise, you'll avoid many problems that could make your RV adventures uncomfortable and problematic.
One thing you may find very helpful is The Complete Idiot's Guide to RVing. There are a number of other good books about this topic that you can purchase, but I own this one because it is written in simple, understandable terms about issues that can be very helpful for traveling couples.
If you purchase it, do so before you buy your RV because what you learn there will help you to find a unit that can do a better job of meeting your needs. You can also use this book to help guide you with the discussions I mentioned above.
Separate Dreams From Realities
Many couples decide to live in campers, travel trailers and motor homes because they feel that doing so will free them from the responsibilities and costs of owning homes. They also dream about traveling to beautiful places, meeting new people and eliminating stress.
These all are realistic thoughts, but before jumping in, people also need to understand that
- not everybody can handle living in 500 square feet for long periods of time,
- staying in campgrounds can be expensive and far from comfortable,
- some of the chores involved in maintaining a coach are not pleasant to do and
- costs can be much higher than expected.
The bottom line is that if a couple only thinks about the dreams and doesn't consider the realities, they will be creating an experience that will deplete rather than enhance their marriage.
RV living is costly, is a lot of work and is not always pleasant. However, it can be a wonderful way to live if partners are willing to compromise and make the right kinds of sacrifices.
A good friend of mine who was planning on purchasing a camper asked me about the amount of personal space people have when living and traveling in recreational vehicles. He was shocked when I told him that there wasn’t any!
I explained to him that even the largest RVs are usually only 500 square feet or less in terms of internal living space. Some people’s bathrooms are bigger than that, and most kitchens definitely are larger. If you pace off 500 square feet in your house or condo, you’ll get a quick idea about how much room you’ll have!
So, the first step in maintaining peace when RVing is to understand living area limitations.
The good news is that most coaches have at least one sliding door that separates the bedroom from the rest of the unit. Many now also have enclosed toilets that can serve as reading rooms or places for private phone conversations. Also, when the weather is agreeable, people can set up outside living areas beside their units where they can read, visit with friends, watch TV or cook meals.
However, you need to know in advance that the weather is not always going to be good. There can be days when it rains continually, are cold, windy and sometimes snowy. These are the times when you will need to wax creative if you need some space for yourself by using those bedroom, bathroom and living room areas that can be closed off from one another.
The most important thing if you want to maintain the peace is to respect your partner’s needs.
- If he wants to be alone, let him be alone.
- If she needs to talk to her best friend on the phone, step outside.
These may not seem like important things to do, but they are vital if you want to avoid discomfort, irritation and arguments.
What About Friends and Family Members?
People who have warm, loving relationships with their friends and relatives may not realize that being away from home for long periods of time can make them long for those people. I’ve seen more than one couple end their RV plans because one of them simply gets so homesick that it makes both of them miserable.
You both have to be on the same track when it comes to this kind of issue, or you won’t be full-timing for long! The good news is that with today’s technology, it’s fairly easy to minimize homesickness.
Here are a few ways that technology can help you stay in touch while you're on the road. For example
- if you make sure everybody has Skype on their phones or computers, you’ll be able to stay in touch and even see one another regularly,
- Having a cell phone can provide you with many opportunities to talk with loved ones and
- you can start a private Facebook page where all of you can post photos, information and updates.
Also, if you have loved ones who live in other cities, you can travel to their homes as time permits so you get some “touchy-feely” times, too. In addition, if you are outgoing, you’ll meet new people along the way who will help to heal those loneliness gaps.
While none of these things are the same as “being there”, utilizing them is really the only way you’ll be able to deal with that feeling of separation that makes you uncomfortable.
Finally, if you make it a point to go back home every so often, you’ll have the best of all worlds and will find contentment sharing your adventures with your family and friends.
It is common knowledge that finances are one of the biggest reasons for divorce. This will not change just because you’re living and traveling in an RV. You need to make sure, before you become involved in the life, that you will have enough money to support yourselves.
- Do you have passive income of some sort?
- Do you plan to work camp or find jobs?
- How much will your lifestyle cost?
If one of you is frugal and the other is a spender, you had better work out your differences before you hit the road. If you don’t, you’ll be fighting all the time.
It is extremely easy to overspend when RVing because you are normally going to feel relaxed, comfortable and feeling like you’re on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. You’ll want to see and do everything, but whether you can afford to do so is another question!
- Participating in the big events you’ve heard about is expensive.
- Camping can cost plenty.
- The costs involved in driving long distances can be significant.
So, unless you have endless amounts of money, you must agree to compromise when it comes to handling your finances. This means doing some research and finding things to do that are fun but don't break your bank. For example, you can visit the popular and famous Wall Drug in South Dakota for free unless you choose to enjoy one of their great meals or buy something.
Another thing to consider is how much time you want to spend traveling. Just about all RV owners purchase them because they want to hit the road, but doing this can be tiring and expensive. If you decide in advance about this issue, you'll enjoy your travels more.
It is impossible to see and do everything, so you need to pick and choose. You also need to agree! Compromising is the key word when it comes to making important choices such as where to go, when and how often.
To keep the peace in your relationship, it is very important to agree with one another about who will
- prepare meals,
- empty and clean out tanks,
- choose campgrounds,
- decide on entertainment and activities,
- set up and take down campsites,
- handle mail and
- take care of other day-to-day tasks.
If you don’t do this, you’ll find yourselves bumping into one another a lot, doing things twice and wasting precious time.
You should not only decide who will do what, but also set up a little routine that you follow regularly so that you can avoid problems. It’s a good idea to prepare checklists to make sure you get all of your bases covered.
For example, if you forget to lower your antenna or lock your storage doors before driving away from your site, the person who is in charge of these chores is going to catch hell from his or her partner because you’ll have had an accident!
In our situation, my husband handles the exterior, and I take care of the interior. So, for example, while I’m cooking breakfast inside, he’s outside checking tires, putting things away, closing awnings and making sure the lights are working. After we eat, I do the cleanup, clear all counters and secure all windows, doors an cabinets for travel. Then, before we pull out, we go over our checklists to make sure we haven’t forgotten to do anything.
Works like a charm!
RV Together. Stay Together.
There’s a lot of work to do every day when living and traveling in a recreational vehicle. Couples who don’t want this lifestyle to get in the way of their relationships must make it a point to be realistic about what to expect and follow the guidelines in this article.
If they do, they’ll be able to enjoy year-round RV living and travel, have less stress and keep their marriage happy. The couple that full-times together with compromise and fairness is the couple that will have many happy times on the road.
© 2018 Sondra Rochelle
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on March 05, 2018:
Dora Weithers: Yes, it's very important to retain those special relationships when you plan to be away for long periods of time.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 04, 2018:
Wise counsel for full time RVers. Especially appreciate reminding them of family and friends.
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on March 01, 2018:
Jennifer B from Bolingbrook on March 01, 2018:
i should send a link to this to my brother in law