How Fulltime RV Families Live Differently
The cruising family over at SailingTotem recently posted an article detailing How Cruisers Live Differently. This is our take on the same topics from a fulltime RVing family perspective.
- Stop by the store on the way home from work, or jump in and drive up to the grocery store as needed. Do this once a week or less on average.
- Buy during sales or in bulk to save money. Build a bigger pantry and add a second freezer in the basement or garage to add food storage capacity.
- Have one or two stores that you always frequent. Know the layouts. Recognize the checkouts and baggers. Know the cycle of sales.
- Have a garden. Do seasonal canning.
- Shop at Farmer’s Markets.
- With each new stop, evaluate the availability of a grocery store using campground review apps and Googlemaps. Sometimes a good store is outside the park entrance. Sometimes it’s an hour away.
- Compare your on-hand inventory against the length of your expected stay. Evaluate risk of running out against time investment of going for replenishments.
- Buy 3-5 days worth of groceries because that’s all you can store.
- Regularly shop at a different store chain with a different layout and price points.
- Collect frequent shopper cards as a hobby.
- Shop Walmart often because it’s ubiquitous, consistent, and can be combined with an overnight stay.
- Usually be in the wrong location, in the wrong season, or on the wrong day to shop at Farmer’s Markets.
- Have several smaller trashcans throughout the house that get emptied into a bigger garbage can in the garage or outdoors.
- Take your outdoor garbage can to the curb on a specific day of the week.
- Have regular cleanup days for bigger items or yard waste.
- Have one main trashcan in the kitchen and one small trash can or bag in the bathroom.
- Consolidate these as needed.
- Consult each RV park’s map/rules about garbage. Most have per-loop dumpsters. Some pick it up from your campsite. Some have garbage cans on each site or shared between sites.
- Unbox large items at the store and throw away the packaging before taking it ‘home’.
- If boondocking, store trash until you can get rid of it at a rest area, public park, Walmart parking lot or other acceptable and legal place to do so.
- Do laundry as needed using your own facilities.
- Do laundry constantly in your (small) RV washer/dryer, if your RV has them and if you have water and sewer hookups where you are camped.
- As you route plan, evaluate the state of your laundry against the facilities at or near the campground you are considering.
- Negotiate shared campground laundry facilities (is it OK to remove someone else’s clothes from a dryer if you need it and they aren’t there?).
- Stop buying white anything, as it won’t stay white.
- Learn that laundromats are great places to meet people and have great conversations.
- Find out that laundromats can also be depressing.
- Learn that laundry can take 1/4 time when you can use multiple washers and dryers at the same time.
- Keep all the quarters you get in change anywhere, plus “buy” more each week.
- Realize that clothes don’t need to be washed nearly as often as you used to think.
- Think you can DIY or hire out as needed.
- End up DIY’ing because you bought as much house as your income allows (or even a bit more house because hey, the bank said you could) which means you don’t have enough money to hire anyone else to do anything.
- Be under constant pressure (or HOA agreement) to keep your yard a certain way, your house a certain way, etc.
- Learn that you are living in an unit designed for occasional camping so usually have things that need to be caulked, reattached, tightened up, painted, or fixed.
- Find out that when you call the dealer for service work (even warranty work) they say to drop it off and they’ll have it done in 3-4 weeks.
- Read that the campground “doesn’t allow RV repairs”.
- Either learn to DIY or call a mobile RV tech in the area.
- Have no lawn to mow, no garage to paint, no cement to break up.
- Find and book regular appointments with barbers, hair stylists, manicurists.
- Don’t (usually) suffer for the lack of choices for barbers, hair stylists or manicurists.
- Find places that take walk-ins
- Roll the dice with each new appointment. Use apps like Yelp to get reviews. Get a decent haircut once in a while. Wear hats afterwards otherwise.
- Decide to learn to cut your own hair.
Staying in Touch/Internet
- Use your unlimited minutes and unlimited (or virtually unlimited) data plan as needed without a second thought.
- Hope against hope that the advertised RV park wifi works.
- Fall back to using your own device when it doesn’t.
- Manage and monitor your limited-bandwidth connection closely.
- Learn to say “Turn YouTube Off!” the same way your parents used to say “Turn those lights off!”
- Learn to have one parent check in at the campground office while the other is checking bars of cell signal on different devices.
- Each month pay the (&)*& overage fees. Again.
- Keep a well-organized calendar on Google, shared by parents and available on all devices.
- Plan ‘play-dates’, homeschool field trips, and community events with other parents.
- Learn to recognize other ‘bunkhouse’ RVs for potential playmates.
- Count bikes. More than two, make note of the site number.
- Prefer sites near to the play structures.
- Send kids out to explore on their own (and then take a “nap”).
- Send them with a family radio and the campground map.
Adult Socializing/Leisure Time
- Know the school, sports, church, vacation, and work schedule months in advance.
- Plan weekend events. Find time between gradutation parties, weddings, anniversaries, work parties, holidays, and other vacations.
- Realize you have about 3 totally free summer weekends.
- Have two of those ruined by bad weather.
- Drag your chair over to the neighbor’s campfire.
- Share a meal with neighbors, coordinated an hour before.
- Enjoy the quiet, empty campground on a sunny and clear Monday after all the soggy weekenders leave.
- Seasonal wardrobes.
- Walk-in closets.
- Holiday sweaters.
- Clothes for when you weigh a bit more or a bit less.
- Out of style clothes you are waiting to come back “in-style”.
- Wear clothes once, then put in laundry.
- Wear the same thing for days in a row (hey, I didn’t sweat in it).
- Realize you have photos of yourself in front of many national monuments and landmarks, and you are wearing the same thing in all the photos.
- Develop a personal uniform / capsule wardrobe.
- Work a consistent 8-5, 5 day a week, 40 hour workweek.
- Plan all outings, explorations, errands or visits on the weekend.
- Learn to recognize days of the week by flow of RV traffic (out = Sunday, in = Friday).
- Get up and go to bed with the sun.
- Work long hours when the work is there.
- Take days off in the middle of the week to explore/hike/bike.
- Work on weekends to make up for it.
- Think of weekends as mainly that time when other people won’t be answering phone calls or emails.
- Be OK with choosing to work weekends, but frustrated when clients ask you to.
- Learn to ignore the “that guy goes camping and all he does is sit on his laptop” stares/comments.
- Have lots of books.
- Have dedicated space.
- Make use of community progams, homeschooling groups, co-ops.
- Be fairly organized and scheduled.
- Make use of online video.
- Worry that the books you want to carry will put you overweight.
- Start out with a fairly detailed plan, and let that unravel as you travel longer.
- Realize that National Park Junior Ranger Programs are a pretty decent curriculum.
- Realize ‘unschooling’ isn’t such a bad idea after all.
- Evaluate the bandwidth requirements of any online classes that look interesting.
- Care less about grade levels, state curriculums, or the entire government-run school system the longer you travel.
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How About You?
What’s your post-suburbia life like? Give us a glimpse in the comments below.