Today marks one month since we moved out of a house and into an RV full-time. In some ways, it’s been the hardest month of our lives – and that’s saying something, considering we spent the previous five months preparing for this lifestyle transition. That being said? It’s also been one of the best months we’ve ever had as a family.
We started our trip by heading south from the Twin Cities (our home base) to my parents’ house in Whitewater, WI — they live near a campground I grew up going to almost every summer, so we thought it would make for a good first stop so we could get our bearings, learn the ropes of RV life, etc. Unfortunately, my uncle unexpectedly passed away the day we left for Whitewater, so instead of staying in the RV, we held the fort down at my parents’ house while they traveled to Alabama for the funeral. Little Harvey stayed at the campground all by his lonesome, but it worked out just fine in the end (it was hotter than Hades that week, so we were pretty grateful to have AC in a house for a few extra days).
The very first night we spent in the RV was our last scheduled night at the campground near Whitewater. Avery stayed at my parents’ house so it was just us and Addy. She had one of the worst nights’ sleeps of her life. This isn’t too surprising, since she doesn’t do well with changing sleep environments, but nevertheless, we weren’t too energized the next morning to travel to our next stop.
Thankfully, our next stop was just an hour north of our current location, so I drove with Addy in our toad (tow vehicle) and Elliott drove the RV up to the campground. We met my parents there to camp with them for the weekend (they stayed in their pop-up the next site over). We had no hookups, but since I grew up tent camping and knew nothing different yet of RV camping, it wasn’t too difficult to get by.
We stayed at the campground through the weekend, then headed up to Brunet Island State Park for a few days. This was our first true experience of living on our own in an RV full-time. And it was exhilarating! And scary! And my thoughts bounced from “what have we done” to “this is so awesome” at least a dozen times a day.
From there, we drove to Duluth and stayed at our best friends’ house for a few days, leaving Harvey parked in their driveway. This was a great time for us to get some rest in an actual house, enjoy the company of old friends and have some sense of familiarity. From there, we headed to Lamb’s Resort in the North Shore of Minnesota (right off Lake Superior, electric/water hookups, showers, a playground for the kids, trails right off the lake… we highly recommend it!), then to Leech Lake Recreation Area in Minnesota (where we took a drive to the Mississippi headwaters… also recommended!). From there, we drove to North Dakota to Mel Rieman Recreation Area, and from there, to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, where we are now.
In this short month, we’ve traveled a lot and learned a lot more. Here’s just a smattering of what we’ve learned:
- Everything about RV life is stressful the first time you do it. Hooking up the tow vehicle, dumping the tanks, filling the tanks, leveling the RV, figuring out what works on electric vs. propane, etc.
- Everything about RV life is slightly less stressful the second time you do it. But only a little.
- People love to comment about “your rig.” We’ve had several people compliment us on our setup, which I find kind and amusing.
- We’ve had to shower outside and do our laundry at laundromats and deal with bad cell signals and go without electricity for a few days and… it’s actually not so bad.
- Having the right gear will be a huge blessing (example: the mosquitoes at Leech Lake were THE WORST, but we had a Thermacell Backpacker mosquito repeller and it actually helped a lot).
- Meeting up with other full-time RVers is fun and refreshing (we had pie at Betty’s Pies with The Bohemian Travel Family, and it was so nice to be able to talk to another family about living life like this).
- You will fight. You will hate some things about this lifestyle (I absolutely despise clutter but I feel like it piles up on the daily in a small RV and it can’t be hidden in a closet and while I do my best to stay on top of it, a lot of times I have to just deal with the mess because we have small children who make it their goal to explore and destroy but I’m not ranting or anything). You will love some things about this lifestyle, too (I doubt waking up to nature-filled views out our bedroom window will ever get old).
At the end of the day this way of life, we’ve learned so far, is not all that different in the day-to-day than our “old” life. We still need to do laundry and dishes. We still need to work. We still need to keep a nap and bedtime schedule. But we get to do it all together, out in the wild, somewhere new almost every week. We get to be intentional about our free time, exploring hiking trails or walking along the rocky beach or visiting new places we’ve never thought to see before (like Judy Garland’s childhood home, which was a last-minute but actually very good choice, especially for the littles!). Just being open to the day and where it takes you is a lesson we are still learning (mostly me, as I’m not the most spontaneous person) but is something that has served us very well so far.
We can’t wait to see where this journey takes us next month, next year and beyond. And we can’t wait to share it with you, either. If you have any questions for us, please let us know in the comments! We are up for any suggestions for posts, RV gear and lifestyle tips, etc.