Oct 082009

We met a very nice couple at the Escapees Rainbow’s End campground in Livingston, Texas during our first year on the road and really hit it off with them. They were about our age, had retired early, and were ready to see America. They lasted about a year on the road, because they found the fulltime RV lifestyle too stressful.

Stressful? Isn’t one of the great things about fulltime RVing the lack of stress? Not for these folks.

Early in our friendship, I noticed a trait in the husband that made me wonder just how well he would be able to make the transition from the working world to RVing; he was just too regimented. He needed a schedule for every day of his life, and whenever something happened to mess up that schedule, he went into a mental tizzy.

One day they were going to have dinner at a restaurant in Livingston, and asked us to join them. We agreed they’d pick us up at about 5 p.m., as I recall. He called me a couple of hours before the appointed time to tell me that we were going to have to reschedule, because they were getting an oil change in town, and the shop was running late. I said we could wait until they got back to Rainbow’s End and then go to dinner, but he said no, their whole schedule was shot for the day. As it turned out, they were back in the campground by 4:30, but they could not go to dinner with only 30 minutes to prepare, so they cancelled.

Another time, we ran into them at the Escapees Rainbow Plantation campground in Alabama, and a couple of days later they left because they had reservations in a campground in the Florida Panhandle. Two days later, the husband called me to say that their new “campground” was actually a redneck trailer park, with long term units up on blocks, Rebel flags in the windows, and pit bulls chained to the porches. They hated the place.

I suggested that they leave and come back to Alabama, or go on down the road to some other place in Florida. “We can’t,” my friend replied, “we have a schedule to keep. If we leave here now, it throws it all out of kilter.” So they stayed in a place they didn’t like, with neighbors they didn’t like, just to maintain their “schedule.” As it turns out, as I learned in later conversations, at any give time, they had one year’s reservations made and paid for in advance. Their schedule called for them to drive no more than 300 miles in a day, and then stay put in an RV park where they had a reservation in place. When the week was up, they went to the next place on their schedule, and stayed there a week.

Any experienced RVer will tell you that sometimes things happen we don’t plan for. RVs break down and need to go into a shop for repairs. Bad weather can keep us off the road. Maybe we get sick and are not well enough to travel. If we do have plans, we change those plans to fit the new situation. Not our friends! If they had a breakdown and were stuck someplace for two days waiting for parts or repairs, they could not just go to the next RV park on their list and stay five days instead of seven. No, he had to cancel all of his future reservations, and then remake them again, one week at a time!

I tried to tell him that he needed to relax and just take life as it comes, but his mind was not programmed that way, and he just couldn’t do it. It didn’t take long for the stress of his self-imposed schedule to get to our friend; he started having stomach terrible pains, he couldn’t sleep, and he was miserable. His poor wife was just as miserable because she was witness to his stress and could not change him. They decided that the fulltime RV lifestyle was not for them. It’s probably for the best, because otherwise I think he’d have had a massive coronary.

We learned early on in this lifestyle that anything can happen, and often will, so we roll with the punches. It’s a lot easier that way. We seldom make reservations, and we try not to have a tight schedule. We may have a breakdown. We may find an interesting small town festival to take part in, or a historical site to explore. We may run into friends unexpectedly and want to spend time with them. So we take life not just one day at a time, but one mile at a time.

For example, we know that we’ll be in Florida sometime in the next few weeks, but we have no idea just when we’ll get there, where we’ll go when we get there, or which route we’ll take to get there! We may drive straight through, stopping only to sleep and eat along the way, but more likely, we may take a meandering route, and discover interesting places to distract for an hour or a day along whichever route we decide to take. It’s a lot more fun and a lot less stressful that way!

Thought For The Day – Can an atheist get insurance against acts of  God?

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  9 Responses to “Flexibility Is A Great Asset”

  1. Perhaps it was before your time, but there was a radio personality of Art Linkletter who had a program called “People are funny”. It is still true today. People will buy an RV that allows them to really park anywhere for at least a day or two, yet their mind set is that they have to be in a full service RV park every night.

    i found the recent video on “The National Parks” interesting, especially the few photos on “camping in the various parks”. Those people probably had no Woodalls or Trailer Life campground guide to help them. They really knew how to “roll with the punches” and always seemed to come out on top.

    Travel with a tight schedule or no schedule, in the end it seems like we always get there. Keep up the good work.


  2. We’re with you Nick. We love the freedom and flexibility of RVing. The only time it becomes a problem is not with us but with our friends who don’t understand this lifestyle – usually those in stick houses – who want to know exactly when we’ll be showing up to visit. Telling them that we don’t know – sometime this winter, or in March, or next week, etc. drives them crazy!! Telling them not to fix dinner because we don’t know when we’ll arrive and we have our own food with us since we are in our own house always doesn’t work either. One friend prepared dinner for us just in case we came that night (we didn’t). I felt bad, but we’d told her. It becomes a balancing act to be considerate of those we are visiting and keeping our freedom and flexibility.

  3. Interesting blog … I often wondered if you are a list maker with all the deadlines that you have to meet. Some of us are list makers and schedulers, the thing to do is recognize our personality and work within it. For me, part of the enjoyment of the trip is to plan it …even scheduling downtimes and alternatives. The trick for those of us that are that way is to build flexibility into our schedules so we have the option of staying or moving. Once you feel you can change things but are still in control, the stress is much less. You may laugh, but something as simple as realizing you can camp at least 3 days without full hookups (1 shower for me and 2 for DW) or 1 day without any hookups, gives the scheduler the flexibility needed to still be in control.

    A good seminar for your rally may be advice from a list maker and scheduler on how they can enjoy the RV life. I bet a lot of spouses would sign their spouse up for it. I know mine would! L ist makers and schedulers can be women just as well as men!

    I hope a list maker/ scheduler will also comment on this blog … I need some advice on how to handle the fears of having a gasser and not finding a station I can get into. Currently I have all the Flying-J and other Truck stops in my GPS. If there are no Flying-J’s, I do a satellite view of the stations on route to be sure I can get in:)

  4. Hey Illinois Snowbird. I’m with you! I love to plan the trips. All the mapping and figuring out things to see, places etc. are the most fun for me. Like you, I build in downtime etc. I also usually have several options and we choose one when we arrive. I’m not TOO structured and I’m working hard to learn flexibility. Yes, I have lists. How does anyone get anything done without them? But some days, the priority thing on my list is “do nothing today” or “explore” 🙂

    We also had a limited fuel capacity in our first truck. We could drive about 150 miles pulling the fifth wheel. I was ALWAYS reading the truck stop book, looking for a place we could get into. And yes, we used Google Earth to scope it out first. We now have a different truck with an auxiliary tank and drive almost 1000 miles without a fill up. I am enjoying the journey so much more. I can actually sit back and enjoy the country we are driving through. Another plus, we hardly ever fill up with the fifth wheel hooked up anymore, so no more tight squeezes into those “car” pumps:-)

    With some people, flexibility and impulsiveness are “built in”. Others of us have to learn it. Please be patient with us:-)

  5. The fast answer to the gas station question is to never let the tank go below half full. That way, you can always make it to another station somewhere!

    Flexibility? We are moderate on that point. We’re on a two week trip, with a local festival on the front end, an SKP chapter rally on the other (we HAVE to be there as we are the newletter editors), and sightseeing near Truth or Consequences in the middle. Yesterday my camera batteries both died and there’s nowhere on our planned route to get them, so we’re taking a mid-schedule detour and will spend one night in Las Cruces to see if we can find a battery. We had PLANNED to stay in Deming at the SKP park there. Stress? No, just a shift in plans.

  6. Yep! I’m a “list maker”…married to a “let’s go with the flow” kinda guy! We’ve only been married for 6 years and fulltiming for 2, but we’re blending!! I make the lists and when we have a “challenge” like last weekend when we developed a stress fracture in one of our rig’s wheels, I can bend and rearrange the list…we have to!!! We did it the week before when we arrived late at the GJ Rally because our service call at Newmar took 7 days instead of 2-3…and we were battling colds!! Retirement gives us the opportunity to flex with time as needed. (Now we’re in the Chicago area and can’t leave until Monday because of weekend commitments and we’re facing dipping temperatures. We have our eyes on AZ, our travel destination for the winter, where the weather is sunny and warm!!! This is Life!!!…and it’s all part of the journey!!!

  7. Nick,
    I’m sure your friend had a lot of German blood in him since this is one of our major traits. I’m a planner but nothing is locked in stone, I normally plan 2 or 3 different routes and then we decide in the morning which one we want to take. For destinations we make a list of things that we want to do or see along with their information, Hours, Admission, etc, then when we get up in the morning depending on the weather we pick one or two to do, then scratch it off the list. Whatever doesn’t get done we save for next time, sometimes like today we look out the window see the nasty weather and just say the hell with it, roll back over and sleep in.

    I remember my dad planning our vacations back in the 50’s & 60’s, before the computer or internet. He had to mail to the various states to get the pamphlets and then read them all while he was hunched over the card table with all the maps trying to figure out the best route and where the campgrounds where located. He would spend 4 to 5 months planning our 4 week vacation and I think he got almost as much fun or of that as he did the vacation. Like father like son, it’s his fault NO MINE!

  8. You have to feel sorry that guy… we had planned to be in Souther Utah by now seeing all of the wonders of that area again. We did it several years ago, but it was very, very hot and we did not enjoy it, so we wanted to do it again.

    After a major detour We are now at Guaranty RV in Junction City Utah for the third night waiting for repairs to two of our slideouts. We also found out that since Monaco declared banrupcy that our extended chassis warranty is no longer valid. Monace stuck Guarantee with over a million dollars of repairs!

    We are afraid to see the coming bill at $105 an hour….but we WILL be in Southern Utah when we are done…schedule be damned!!!
    Jim and Linda Mossman

  9. When I bought my RV I made the decision to always take my time on the road, not try to drive too far in a day, and just enjoy. I get a big kick out of eating a sandwich for lunch at my table while parked in a rest area. Everything about RVing is fun!


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