Lessons I’ve learned in my first
5,000 miles full-timing in an RV
5,500 miles. 11 weeks. Parked in 10 different states and passed through a few more. Phew! For how much I’ve seen and done, I am having trouble believing that it has barely been a few months since embarking on this new adventure of full-timing in an RV. I’ve been moving along at a quick pace and trying to squeeze in as many opportunities and visits as possible, all while working and trying to take care of myself! I’m exhausted and I am ready to slow this thing down. This post is as much for me as it is for you. It is so helpful for me to write out my thoughts in one place like this, so it might feel more like a journal entry than a typical blog post. The nice thing about traveling by myself is that it has provided a significant amount of time for contemplation. Here is what I’ve uncovered so far…
I love to drive!
The driving days have been some of my favorites because I love the long interrupted days of contemplation. Sometimes I jam out to good tunes, sometimes I listen to audiobooks, and sometimes I enjoy a variety of podcasts. These days feel almost like a wrinkle in time, like the rest of life pauses for a day. I’m just traveling through space to emerge in a new location while the rest of my life waits for me. It’s rather peaceful and rejuvenating.
Traveling isn’t the same as Vacation.
Not only do others often mistake my travels as me being on this endless vacation, but sometimes I get caught up in that idea too. It’s easy to mistake one for the other and get caught in the loopholes that we often utilize on vacation. “I can stay out late, I can eat out and indulge, I can buy things I wouldn’t normally buy, I don’t need to follow my morning routine… after all, I’m only here for a few days.” However, I’ve found that the more I maintain my daily habits and structure, the happier and more at ease I seem to feel. Sure every now and again I’m ok making exceptions. When I do it for days on end though, I notice that I don’t actually enjoy it as much anyways. There is freedom to be found in structure.
You can be living a “simpler” life and still be stressed out.
A large part of embarking on this new lifestyle adventure was to simplify my life in as many ways as possible. I am looking to relax more and stress less. And while physically it appears that I may be achieving that in some way, I’m certainly not finding the inner peace that I am looking for. The big “aha” is that stress comes from within. It’s not coming from what life looks like on the outside or how much stuff I have. Therefore, I’m realizing that I need to tame the inner beast if I really want to get a handle on my stress levels. I’m also realizing that this is way harder than it sounds and way more work than just giving away a lot of my possessions and moving into a tiny home.
Me time is just as important as time spent deeply connected with others.
The older I get, the more I realize that the greatest joy in life is in deeply connecting with other people. Building community through authentic connections with others is the most uplifting and beautiful part of living on this planet. I have met some of the most fascinating, generous, compassionate, and beautiful people in my travels thus far and I am most grateful for these connections.
Part of uncovering who I am is knowing that as important as these relationships and moments are for me, equally important is time spent deeply connecting with myself. Maybe this is what defines an introvert versus an extrovert, or maybe this is just a personal quirk. Either way, I am realizing very quickly that I need that time on my own, too. That quiet time to myself is where it really all comes together for me. The contemplation, the recharging, and the relaxing into the woman I truly am.
It’s ok and necessary to rely on the kindness of others.
This is a big one. Receiving graciously is as much a gift to the giver as the gift is to the receiver. As an independent woman who was raised to believe that she can stand on her own 2 feet without relying on anyone else, this is a very hard lesson to learn. And traveling by myself is really amplifying this lesson for me.
People want to give to others. When I remember this and remember how good it feels when I give to others, life unfolds much easier and with more grace. In fact, it really is the only way to survive and thrive. We need each other! We need that community and if we try to go it alone, we end up making everything so much harder for ourselves than it has to be.
There have been a number of instances already that have been clear signs that it is ok to rely on others. It has been surprising to me how many people have thanked me for visiting them! I mean, here they are providing me with a place to park, electricity, food, running water, etc. and yet they are thanking me for just being there. This feels a little awkward still, but I’m learning to graciously receive kindness from others and trust that I will pay it forward in my own way.
Here’s a fun little story about the kindness of strangers:
I was driving through the backroads of NY when I came upon a situation that is dreaded by anyone who has ever driven an RV. The dreaded height restriction of an upcoming bridge or overpass. Here I am on my way to have my engine serviced with an appointment at 10 AM and I come across a bridge that says the height clearance is 9’0’’. I’m 11’6” to the top of my air conditioning unit. Shoot. I pull over to look at my map and am beginning to realize that if I try to back track and go around it’s going to easily take me another 30-45 minutes to get to my appointment at which point I will be very, very late. As I’m sitting there with my hazards on, a young lady pulls up next to me and rolls down her window.
She leans out and says, “Don’t worry, you’ll make it. It’s marked incorrectly. School buses make it through all the time.” I look at her confused and clearly worried and say, “Are you sure? I’m 11’6” to the top.” She says that her dad is a mechanic and has said that it’s marked incorrectly but she can call him just to be sure. I look at her with this look of unreal relief and say, “Would you, please?”. She pulls up in front of me, calls her dad and confirms that the clearance is over 13 feet. I let out a huge sigh of relief and say “Thank you, thank you so, so much! I really appreciate it.” She says, “It was not a problem at all.” Then she kindly leads me through the overpass and waits for me on the other side to make sure I’m ok.
This young lady couldn’t have been older than 25 and yet she wore her kindness on her shirt sleeve and it was obvious that she wouldn’t hesitate to help a stranger. How she even knew that I was in need of help, is beyond me. But I am so grateful that she stumbled upon me and I wasn’t too stubborn to accept her help.
Of course, there are all the (not-so) little things I’ve learned too…
- Being level is critical! It’s easier to raise the front wheels than the back wheels. And if you can’t be level make sure your head is going to be higher than your feet when you sleep!
- Driving always takes longer than anticipated. I’m starting to figure out how much extra time to allow versus what the GPS predicts.
- Rain and thunderstorms are amplified like crazy in a RV!
- Be careful opening cupboards after driving. Items may have shifted during travel!
- It’s worth getting up early if it means not having to drive or set up after dark.
- It’s more challenging to stay connected when you are far away, but picking up the phone and actually calling really helps.
- An awning is good for both the sun and the rain.
- State parks are really great places to camp and there are so many beautiful state parks all over.
- I have wonderful friends all over this beautiful country!
- Trying new things is scary and totally worth it!
This has been an amazing few months and I’m just getting started! This fall I’m looking forward to heading back to the west coast and spending time in the warmer winter climates and near the friends I’ve left behind this summer. I’m also actively going to work on slowing down, spending more time in each location, and getting away from the “vacation” mentality and to more of a “this is my life” mentality. I’m sure I’ll learn more about wintering in a RV as well more about maintaining my new home on wheels.
For all those who are wondering, I have no timeline for how long I will live in my RV or travel full-time. For once, I’m just letting the Universe guide me to where I need to be next without concern for what that might bring or what shape it will take. I’m focusing on this present moment experience and bringing my joy to every minute of it.
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments, I love hearing from you! Spread the Love and share this post with someone!
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Disclaimer: The information in this post is not intended as medical advice, or to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional. Marcelle encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research, and in partnership with your doctor, licensed dietitian, or nutritionist. The information provided in this post and the entire contents of www.marcellephene.com are based upon the opinions of Marcelle Phene and are for general educational purposes, and have not been reviewed nor approved by the FDA. You are solely responsible for your health care and activity choices.