Mileage And Potties

 Posted by at 12:45 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 242012

A few days ago we were talking with some brand new fulltimers and they said that they seem to be running from one corner of the country to another all of the time visiting kids, grandkids, and other family members. The husband said it was fun, but also exhausting.

That’s when Terry told him to get used to it, because all new fulltimers go through the same thing for the first year or two. There is so much to see and so much to do, so many old friends and long lost cousins you want to visit that you’re like a pinball bouncing here, then there, and then off in some other direction.

Nobody can keep up that pace forever. Our bodies, our RVs, and our budgets just can’t handle it. Eventually we realize that we’ll never get around to seeing it all anyway, because there’s just too much of “it” to get to in two or three lifetimes. That’s when you start to slow down and begin to enjoy the RV lifestyle as it should be enjoyed.

Sunday, just as we pulled into Bass Lake RV Campground in Dillon, South Carolina, the odometer on our Winnebago turned 10,000 miles for the year. Last year, we traveled 9,842 miles. So we’re up a little bit this year. By the time we travel down to the Keys and then back to central Florida we’ll add another 1,000 miles or so before year’s end. That’s way down from the 15,000 to 20,000 miles a year we did when we were teaching for Life on Wheels. What’s your average annual miles traveled, and has it gone up or down over time?

Another topic that recently came up, this time in a conversation with some weekend campers, was the use of campground bathrooms and showers. They said one of their criteria in judging a RV park was the condition and cleanliness of their restrooms and showers.


We have our very own clean bathroom and shower in our motorhome. I can’t imagine why anybody would prefer using a campground’s facilities over the ones in our RVs. I even know RVers, including some fulltimers, who will pull into a highway rest area and use its bathroom rather than the one in their RV. Yuck!

I guess I can understand it if you have a popup tent camper, or maybe a fifth wheel that won’t allow you to access the bathroom with the slides pulled in. But otherwise, I much prefer doing my business in my own “office,” so to speak.

One explanation I have heard is that it’s too much hassle to dump the holding tanks, or even worse, to drive to the campground’s dump station if they don’t have a full hookup site. To each their own I guess, but I don’t see any real chore in going outside and pulling the black tank handle if we’re on a full hookup RV site. And even if we do have to drive to a dump station, I’d rather do that once every week or ten days than trudge down to a bathroom and shower just vacated by somebody I don’t know. How about you?

Okay, one final question on the topic of toilets. (And what a subject to read about with your morning coffee, right?) How many RVers are willing to ask to use somebody else’s bathroom when visiting in their RV? Most folks I know will hold it until they get back home if they can. Why? Would they hesitate to ask to use a friend’s bathroom in a sticks and bricks house? Somebody told me once it was because they were worried about the “sound effects” in the thin walls of an RV, or odors.

Now, on that issue, I’m another one of those who will wait until I get home. But that’s not because of worrying about offending somebody’s olfactory senses. I’m pretty much convinced that mine doesn’t smell.

No, in my case, it’s simple; they never seem to have anything good to read in there, and that’s where I do my best reading.

Thought For The Day – A true friend knows when to listen, when to talk, and when to pour the margaritas.

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Nick Russell

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  21 Responses to “Mileage And Potties”

  1. I agree, I have never understood why anyone would go to a campground shower or restroom if they are in a fully equiped rv. If you lived in a stick and brick house, you wouldn’t walk to the station down the street to do you buisness, would you? I try to hold it when I am in someone elses rv too. The only thing I can think of there is they have to dump the the tank. I don’t think a thing of dumping mine, but then I’m a plumber. I have dealt with other people’s S*** all my Just don’t want someone else to have to deal with mine.

  2. I agree, also on the use of one’s own bathroom. We would never think of using the campgrounds shower or restrooms. First it is to much trouble to get all of your shower stuff together and than be in the CG’s shower and to find out that you forgot the soap or whatever. Also we do not use the CG’s laundry as we have our own in the unit. You never know what was in that washer or dryer before your load.

  3. Good Morning Nick,
    We travel a lot less miles these days. On our first fulltime trip (in ’98) we plotted the first 6 months AND MADE RESERVATIONS in “flatland freeway” miles than proceeded into the Rockies. Hilarious looking back…it was even funny then but it took us a while to figure out!

  4. Oh Wow!!!

    All these years I thought that some of those big Motorhomes and 5th wheels didn’t come equipped with bathrooms!! ; )


  5. Good morning to the ‘Andy Rooney’ of the RVing community! 😉

    We’ve noticed that non-RVing friends don’t have a problem w/using our facilities whereas our RVing buds ( us included) wait to use our respective facilities. I agree with Duane – I guess we just don’t want to add to the workload any more than necessary. And we would MUCH rather use our own facilities than those in a rest area (sure do miss that when we’re traveling by car only). About the only time we use a CG’s showers is if we are parked somewhere for several weeks during one of our volunteer projects, don’t have sewer and can’t dump gray on the ground, but that is few and far between. We are self-contained so why not use our own facilities!

    Lu & Larry

  6. Your post should generate a lot of comments today. I think the shower issue has to do with stall size, water pressure and amount of hot water. Lots of people want to take long, hot showers and can’t do that in a RV. I personally know people who have their cat litter boxes in the shower and don’t move it to take a shower – they use the park’s shower instead. Personally, we don’t use public showers. We have a 10 gallon water heater with a dual heat source so we have quite a bit of hot water and we got a rig that had a pretty large shower stall. Our previous motorhome did not have a large stall so this one is a lot more comfortable.

    As far as the toilet facilities go, I think that in general people hesitate to use other people’s facilities. I also think the noise factor is a big reason. In a sticks and bricks house you can go down the hall and do your thing and not be heard out in the family room but in a RV you are 5′ away with a thin wall and a door that is 2″ off the floor. Sounds and smells permeate the entire rig.

    As far as mileage goes, our first year of fulltiming was about 9,000 miles and every year thereafter has been just under 7,000 miles.


  7. We used campground facilities when we first started full timing, this is because our shower had stuff stored in it and it was a pain in the fanny to take everything in and out. Now we use it period. As for using a fellow RVers bathroom, I try not to, not because I am afraid of someone hearing me or the smell, most have air fresheners just for that reason, it is because of the the fact it was pointed out to me that it was rude to do since they have tanks they do not need extra in. In an emergency because of old age sometime though I do use them. It is silly to use rest stop facilities if you have your own, but it is is different if you are in a car.

  8. I totally agree with Lu & Larry’s salute! You ARE the Andy Rooney of the RVing World 🙂 which is why everyone wants to hear the truth and the rest of the story from you!

    It’s how I usually start my day, often while taking care of personal business … in our own facilities, of course!

  9. When we camp at Maryland state parks that only have electric, we try not to shower in the MH. We have a very small freshwater tank so a long weekend is all we can manage without carrying 5 gallon containers to refill the freshwater. The Maryland state parks are in the process of remodeling their bathrooms and they are constantly cleaning them so they are well maintained. Also it is more convienent to use the bath house to wash your hair.

  10. This is one place where being female with a purse helps. You can carry your book into your friend’s bathroom without them even knowing it.

  11. The one and only time I used a rest area bathroom it was so filthy it was disgusting. Never let anyone tell you it is just men who are pigs! I was in my car and didn’t have my Class C then, but now I would never use one!

  12. I don’t use the bathroom in friends’ RV because I’m a very tall man, very large man and it’s usually a tight fit. A bathroom and shower that fit me were a major criteria in choosing my motorhome.

  13. I know a couple that the male half will use the campground shower. His reason is size. We use ours, even at rest areas. We did do a couple long car trips this summer and did use rest areas, but surprisingly the ones we used in Colorado, Idaho, Utah and Oregon were much nicer than those at the Fuel/Mini Marts we stopped at. As for using a fellow RVer’s restroom, I agree with Nick, my best reading is in the bathroom. I would not feel right going to someone’s RV to visit with my Kindle, “just in case.” Course there can be ten of us in someone’s RV and occasionally someone will excuse themselves, leave the RV, be gone for 10-15 minutes and then return. Course those trips are just to “check on the RV.”

  14. Just an observation: It seems to me that RVing etiquette allows for discussion of sewer issues at the dinner table. Maybe it is just the quality of RVer we hang out with. It sure seems to come up a lot. 🙂

  15. So does this make me a Potty Mouth, Jodie? 🙂

  16. Our mileage seems to vary with with the trip that we plan. We usually park host for 6 months and travel 6 months. In 2011 we went from the west coast to the east coast and all the way up to Niagra Falls, all together about 8,000 miles. This past summer we went north to Idaho across I 90 and down through MO, AR and back to the west coast, about 6,000 miles. In 2013 we are going as far as Goshen, IN and back to the west coast. There’s always someplace we want to see! As to the bathroom issue, I’ve heard of fulltimers that use their shower for storage and would never use it to shower in. We try to avoid campground bathrooms & showers and use our own. When we do use them we always wear flip flops in the shower. In public bathrooms I always wash my hands and use the towel to open the door. I don’t even like potlucks that much because you don’t know if someone’s cat walked across the counter or they have been kissing their dog, YUK.

  17. I can’t remember the last time we have used a campground or rest area restroom and never have used a campground shower. None of the explanations of those that do make no sense to me.

  18. Mileage: anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 miles a year. Just depends. We start out and end in Florida each year. If we go out west, it’s more miles than if we stay east.

    We always use our own shower. I don’t even go into the shower blocks to check them out. Cat has own built in cat box which is not in the shower.

    Using some one else’s potty: usually not because of adding to their RV black water. If desperate, yes. We use our RV toilet when traveling. I don’t go into rest stop toilets or use other toilets unless traveling in the car. We definitely prefer to use our own bathroom over any other.

    And I agree that RVers do talk about black and grey water anytime, even at meals. Just seems to be one of those topics that interest us.

  19. Nick: It takes one to know one.

  20. The strangest excuse I ever heard for not using “on board” facilities came from a couple of weekenders. They thought the trade in value would be higher for a unit that had unused and therefore clean tanks. DUH?

  21. First to all new RVers…remember this is now your lifestyle not a vacation. You will be doing this every day until you decide to come off the road. Second, as far as using public restrooms…if they happen to be covenient & clean fine but just to not use the “library” in your RV, I don’t get it. You paid for that as well as the rest of the rig,USE IT! As for the facilities in another’s RV, you can ask but remember that they have to deal with what you leave behind & your own bathroom may only be steps away in the RV park you are staying.

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