Nomader Where, Nomader What –Our first 3 weeks of RV living–What we’ve learned (and where we’ve been)

The sun rises on a beautiful, normal drive day…Tuesday as it happens to be, and everything was packed and ready to roll. Just a few miles into our calm, scenic drive the unthinkable happens…well not the unthinkable, I’m being dramatic but halfway down a hill the electronic brakes decide not to work. Lucky for us our truck brakes did their job and kept us (and our home) safe.

Here we are troubleshooting possible brake issues on the side of the highway in Kutztown, PA and I’m thinking…this isn’t supposed to happen 3 weeks into full timing. This is only what you read on those other blog sites…we’ll be fine, our camper is only a 2016.

I wanted to be mad, but I wasn’t. I had nothing to be mad about…except maybe the unforeseen cost. Everything that had happened so far has been a blessing. The fact that we were able to stop and pull over safely was a blessing. We called around to a few local places and was put in touch with a repair shop only a few miles down the road that was busy but happy to check it out since it was clearly a big safety issue. They squeezed us in and even called our travel trailer manufacturer who offered to split the cost of the brakes with us due to the fact that it may have been a faulty part. We also were able to stay the night in our travel trailer in the RV repair shop lot. They were able to provide us with 30 amp electric and water which you full timers know can be a blessing itself!!

This was just our first side track, our first ‘aw crap’, our first ‘how much is this gonna cost?’….and all I can think about is how happy I am. I’m so grateful we are to be able to be together as a family, dealing with it together and overcoming the obstacles that are part of full time RV living!

These past 3 weeks have gone by seriously fast, have been tremendously fun, totally exhausting and full of learning curves.

Here’s a few things we’ve learned real fast that may help you as you prepare to embark on your full time journey.

  1. For all my girls…forget about your hair and makeup routine. Chances are if you are going to be boondocking or staying at a lot of state or national parks (they’re cheaper and prettier) then you more than likely are going to have less than 30 amp service and that hair dryer just isn’t going to have enough juice! What I figured out quickly is most campground bathrooms have an electrical outlet….you may find the tent campers using it to charge their cell phones, but they won’t notice if you take 5 minutes to blow out your hair. As for the makeup part, if you plan on doing a more ‘organic’ approach to your fulltime RV experience then you aren’t going to need or want to wear a bunch of makeup. I bought some glorious new bare minerals concealer and a few other items and have hardly touched them. What has been my savior is their complexion cream. Lightweight tinted moisturizer with SPF…it’s a win, win, win! Here’s a quick link: Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue
    My other hair saving grace is dry shampoo and more dry shampoo…I found this Detox brand spray that smells amazing, makes your hair feel amazing and has a tint to cover your roots! All in ones are a must with rv living! Check it out: Detox Dry Shampoo for Brunettes
  2. Be mindful of tank levels! The first week was a test run…what did 1/3 full really mean in shower time? There’s only one way to find out…we maxed out after 4 days of no hookups and learned really fast you DO NOT want to overflow your grey tank…it’s stinky!!! Yes, even just shower water and a little kitchen sink water can be extremely stinky and you don’t want that coming up into your drains because it’ll force you out of your home until you can dump and get rid of the stink. Word to the wise…get the water saving shower head by Oxygenics. We’ve gone from 3 days of boondocking with water to a comfortable full week with water saving showers that still get the job done and doesn’t leave you feeling that you only had a partial shower.
  3. Your RV is gonna get dirty…fast! With two big dogs and a 3 year old it’s nothing but in and out, in and out…dirt coming in and dirt going out, but mostly in. We almost skipped the large ground cover mat, but this is one of my favorite purchases so far. Since we’ve picked one up we use it everywhere and it has cut down on dirt being tracked in to about a 1/3 of what it was! Not to mention, it doubles as an exercise/stretching mat for anyone that’s into yoga in the great outdoors! This is the one we picked up: Reversible Outdoor Camping Mat For the dirt that still makes its way in or the bag of pretzels your child rips open and disperses across the camper floor we picked up a Hoover vac and that thing is amazingly good at sucking stuff up in tight spaces (and without taking up a bunch of space) without costing an arm and a leg. The battery lasts forever too, which is helpful when you are boondocking without power!
  4. We are still struggling with sleep…Ella Jo and I are super light sleepers and everything seems louder inside the travel trailer. Shane still snores away all night long, but Ella Jo and I are having a hard time adapting to our new nightly noises. From the rumbles of thunderstorms and hard rain pelting the roof (may as well be in a tent) to traffic noises and unknown nature-ific noises (we heard some rustling and huffing in Shenandoah followed by car alarms which I later found out were bears snooping around!) Another side note…if you have children you will learn to whisper A LOT. Whether it’s naptime or bedtime, Shane and I have most of our conversations in whisper mode. Seeing that it’s such a tiny space and we don’t want to disturb Ella when she is sleeping, whispering has become the norm.
  5. We need to get better stabilizing! We thought we had everything we need…purchased these levelers and leveling blocks along with an impact drill to bring down your jacks in two seconds (after hand cranking them once that purchase was a no brainer!) but on a few surfaces we could still feel a lot of motion and I felt like I was on a boat! We made a slightly larger investment into these JT strong arms (this is the link to the travel trailer arms) that we read some awesome reviews on. So far, I feel way more sturdy when walking through my RV home. If the little wiggle doesn’t bother you, you may be fine with using a simple level and basic blocks, but I can’t do the constant ‘We’re on a boat!’ feeling.
  6. Have cash! And more specifically, change. I knew having a few bucks nearby would come in handy when it was laundry day but I didn’t expect so many other occasions to pop up when we need cash. Cash only restaurants (a lot of places!), cash for unexpected tolls, cash  for entertainment in some towns (we ended up at a random race track on a Saturday night in North Carolina and had to drive 15 miles to the nearest gas station for cash for the entry fee) Some camp stores are cash only and parking meters when you go explore different cities and towns are common. It just makes everyday life a little simpler…don’t forget to stock up before you get on the road.
  7. And to reiterate my opening to this post, EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED! We have reservations coming up for a few popular locations in Maine and on Labor Day, but for the most part are winging it so we don’t have to change travel plans around when stuff comes up like….crap, we need brakes. OR, you may end up at a random campsite in the middle of nowhere and before you realize it you have ZERO cell service and can’t find anywhere for the life of you where you can just make a call to your parents to tell them you didn’t die. Make sure you are OK with that…because it’s going to happen. (PS that also meant we lost our gps…thank goodness for random ‘campground this way’ signs lol) Since we never know where we will be staying make sure your water is full, your grey and blacks and freshly dumped and your devices are charged (some places don’t let you run your generators) Oh and since I like watching tv before bed and haven’t done that in the past week, get yourself an Amazon Unlimited Kindle subscription and read some books! Link to membership:
    We are still super newbs at this full time RV-ing lifestyle, but I wanted to tell the world what WE learned our first few weeks out. I didn’t go over the basic ‘what do you need for your RV’ shopping list because I’m pretty sure there’s enough info on that, and I’m sure plenty others have touched on what I have, but these are the things that stood out to me the most in our first 3 weeks. Just a disclaimer…yes, these are affiliate links, no it doesn’t cost you anymore to purchase through them. These are all actual products we have found extremely useful in our new full-time RV lifestyle.
    Now go have an adventure!

Recap of our first 3 weeks: Where we’ve been so far…

First week we boondocked ion a friends property in St Simons Island, Ga…where we learned the valuable lesson of ‘don’t overfill your grey tank’.

Bridge to St Simons Island, GA

3 nights in Charleston, SC….it was a little quick and I felt we missed a lot, but still saw a lot of wonderful things Charleston had to offer.

Angel Oak Tree on John’s Island

Next stop (unexpected and lost in NC and ended up at Medoc Mountain State Park – PS I saw a cougar on a hike! Pretty and secluded…no hookups or AT&T service! 2 nights there…our destination was supposed to Shenendoah National Park in VA but we had gotten tired and lost and needed a place to stay.

Grilling out

2 nights with some new friends we met on Boondocker’s Welcome (look into this if you aren’t already a member!)
Boondockers Welcome - Be My Guest RV Parking

5 nights at Big Meadows campground in Shenandoah National Park VA (absolutely stunning but no hook ups and limited generator time) Got lost on a crazy hiking adventure and ended up climbing up a damn mountain for 11 miles where I saw 3 bears and a ton of deer!

2 nights boon docking at a brewery (we are new Harvest Host members…another awesome membership to have!)

Short rib nachos at Saucony Creek Brewery

Current location….RV repair shop parking lot in Hamburg, PA. Hoping to make it to Green Mountain National Forest VT tomorrow, but you never which way the wind will blow!