Apr 232014

Yesterday I wrote about how much we love the fulltime RV lifestyle, but it’s not for everybody and we have seen a lot of fulltimers come and go over the years. Some dropped out because once they were out on the road away from family and friends they realized that it just wasn’t for them, some had to hang up the keys due to illness or a death, and some just couldn’t afford it.

And then there are some people who just couldn’t get it right and failed Fulltiming 101.

So how do you fail at fulltiming? How hard could it be? I’ll give you a few examples of things we’ve seen people get off the road for.

One complaint I have heard over and over again from wives is that their husbands want to drive 400 miles a day, never stop for a break, and sleep every night in truck stops and WalMart parking lots. One guy bragged to us that in their first 13 months on the road he had never paid for a campsite and had never spent two nights in the same place. His wife was absolutely miserable. She said she didn’t sell her house and leave her grandkids to look at the world through a windshield. They are now off the road. Another fellow told us that their long awaited Alaska trip was a total bust. They left their daughter’s house near Seattle on June 1st and were back July 4th. He told me they never saw an animal. Broke both windshields in their motorhome as well as their dinghy, blew four or five tires and basically tore the RV and toad to hell. Once they were back at the daughter’s house I don’t think the wife ever went back inside the motorhome.

Inflexibility is another killer for fulltimers. We met a couple once that at any time had reservations made and paid for a full year in advance, all in two week increments and never more than 200 miles apart. If something happened to delay them, like a mechanical problem or breakdown that put them off the road for a day or two, they couldn’t just go to their next stop and stay 12 days instead of 14. No, he had to cancel the existing reservation and make a new two week reservation, and then change every reservation after that to get back on their two week schedule. Within six months he was constantly sick to his stomach and having chest pains, and a doctor told him he needed to change his ways or make a drastic lifestyle change. While most people become RVers to escape a stressful lifestyle and relax, this man found RVing too stressful and had to stop so he could relax!

A husband and wife have to be on the same page about their RV travels. We have met couples where all they did was go to bluegrass music festivals, or tractor pulls, or places to play golf because that’s what one person (usually the husband) wanted to do and the wife never got to go to the places where she wanted to go, or do the things she wanted to do. Or one person is a Type A who wants to be on the go all the time and the other prefers to sit in one place and smell the roses. I am guilty of that myself. I like to run around and see everything there is to see, and sometimes Terry has to remind me that she needs some downtime to weave, spin, cook or just recharge her batteries. I need that downtime too, or else I’d burn out, and I have worked at moderating things so we’re both healthy and happy.

But it’s not just us guys who are guilty. We’ve met some wives that seemed to work very hard at making their RV experience less than pleasant. A couple of years ago we were at the Escapees Sumter Oaks campground near Bushnell, Florida and met a man whose wife refused to leave the motorhome for the three months they spent in Florida every winter. He said she told him she didn’t want to leave the kids and grandkids in Wisconsin and that if he insisted on dragging her away in an RV she wasn’t going to make it easy on him. She had no interest in anything there was to do or see, or in meeting any of her campground neighbors. She preferred to stay inside and pout. I’m pretty sure that was their first and last attempt at RVing.

Those kids and grandkids I mentioned seem to be the biggest problem for a lot of women. They just can’t handle not being a part of their lives every day, and we have known several couples who stopped RVing because the wife was miserable away from the little ones. I’m not sure what they plan to do when those kids grow up and go off to college or get married or whatever. “Wait up kids, Grandma’s going on your honeymoon with you!”

If you’ve read this far, you probably realize that the way to avoid a lot of these problems is with two simple words, communication and compromise. Talk about what you both expect from your RV lifestyle. Be honest and say, “This doesn’t work for me. How about we do this now and that next week?” When we were teaching at Life on Wheels, one of our most popular seminars was The Reluctant RVer, which addresses these issues and more. I’ll be presenting this seminar at the Escapees Escapade rally in Goshen, Indiana in May. I hope we see you there.

It’s Wednesday, and you know what that means. It’s time to kick off a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake Blizzard, the fourth book in my Big Lake mystery series, set right here in the beautiful White Mountains of Arizona. All you have to do is click on the Free Drawing link and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

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Nick Russell

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  16 Responses to “How To Fail As A Fulltime RVer”

  1. Nick,
    I so much appreciated today’s post. I wish to comment on the” kids and grandkids being the biggest problem for most women”.

    It is not that we don’t know what to do “when those kids grow up, go off to college or get married or whatever.” The fact is that we know precisely what lies ahead as far as the grandkids growing up, that is why we try to make the most of the time when they are small and so much desire to part of THAT life.

    Those are the times that we cannot get back and to be able to share in part of their upbringing and “be a grandma” is the greatest blessing to many of us.

    When the time comes, as it naturally does, we will then be able to go out and enjoy our golden years. And if the Good Lord be gracious, He will provide those golden years according to His will.

    Thanks for allowing me to post. I love your blog and Miss Terry’s cookbook.
    God bless, Karen

  2. Nick – We experimented with long RVing trips before we decided on full-timing or not. In our case, it was not to be. She prefers coming back to our paid off little slice of heaven in the Ozarks while I would like to be more nomadic. We compromised and we both enjoy getting out in our RV for a few weeks to months each year.

  3. So true Nick and to those concepts of communication and compromise I would add flexibility. Not only for full-timers but for those of us who are part-time full-timers. We are on the road for 6 to 8 months a year and then winter in our house with RV port in FL. We are now in our 18th year out on the road. We too have seen examples of folks who won’t last long on the road. Also, children don’t necessarily want their parents constantly in their lives. We stopped to join some friends who had stayed in their RV on their son’s driveway for a month. As an aside, the son said to me, “Please, Please, take my parents with you when you leave.” He was joking but not really. You could see that he was glad his parents were leaving with us. So for all those women who want to be with their grand kids all the time, I would ask them how would they have felt if their parents were in their house and lives all the time.When I got married while I still loved my parents I didn’t want to live next door to them or be with them all the time. Independence is important not only for the children but also for the parents. Just some thoughts.

  4. I can’t imagine being married to anyone who is so inflexible he “made me” do something I was so totally against. If that works for them, no matter how they live, that’s their choice. We have found that being together 24/7 – no matter how big or small the roof over your head – either works for a couple. or it doesn’t.
    OTR truckers learn very quickly whether their spouse can ride with them – or not.
    MY DH and I have to compromise on occasion – more so with TV shows and movies than anything else. When it comes to where to eat or what to see, we are pretty much in sync every time, and when we disagree we give & take.

    We also work together and we have found that each one’s asset is the others weakness. So I let him do the mechanical stuff and I take care of the navigating and accounting. So far, so good – except once in 10 years … and we won’t go into those details here 🙂

  5. Years ago I had the “drive-till-I-drop” RV husband. We never even stopped to let the dogs out until we got to our destination, usually 8-10 hours away. Some people just don’t know the meaning of compromise. Now, even being a single RV’er I sometimes argue with my dogs about when to stop, but at least I’m not seeing the world through a bug-covered windshield.

  6. My RV life is a bit different than most. I call myself a homebody in that I prefer to create a home base and work from there for 3-6 months and then relocate my home base. I may work a few shows or rallies from each base but I am not excited about moving on every week or 2. I have visited 47 of the 50 states and several other countries so much of my bucket list is fulfilled and I like to know my neighbors and enjoy local life but I am sure not ready to “pull the wheels off my coach” and just stay in one location. Just a different full time lifestyle.

  7. I like that style Al 🙂 it’s the best of both worlds … RVing FT AND being connected to a local community. It sure is fascinating to see how many different styles of RVing full-time there are in the world 🙂

  8. My first wife refused to leave her mom and sister even during my 20 year Army career. She would not go with me to stateside assignments and insisted I buy her a house across the street from her mom and 3 doors down from her sis. I’d come home on leave if I wanted to see her and our 2 kids. I should have pulled the plug way back then but I was raised to make your bed and lay in it as they say. When I retired I worked for the post office for another 20 years and all I ever wanted to do was travel. I finally convinced her to go full-timing after my 2nd retirement and it was a nightmare. We never got more than 500 miles away and either had to go back home or she would fly back because of some family crisis that was never real. The last time she did that she bought a house in both our names and said no more traveling. I was stuck paying for it and put up with that bullcrap for 2 more years and then the light finally went on in my thick head. Why was I nuking TV dinners and sitting home alone while she spent all day and most evenings with her mom and sis. I got enough of that crap over the years. So I walked away from all of it and lost half of my retirement and just about everything I owned. But now I have a new life and a new wife that sees I am more than a meal ticket. We bought a little used gaser Class A and are loving every minute of life as we travel here and there.

  9. The comment about compromise was great along with the word compaction for me is what me and mine r about I retired in 03 she still works. Her career is hers not mine so we do our RVin for vacations long weekends and the big bonus is she travels in a 3 state area 12 months a year 2/3 nights a week by car or air. Well quess what we do starting April thru Oct the modeof travel is RVin and were she needs to be is where we are at. Then go back to another base of operations and get back to see our home base and plan the next trip. We are having fun. Full timing may come later in our lives and the the comprised and agreeing on every thing is still working now. Isn’t that what it is suppose to be with your life partner?

  10. I was just reading a poster’s comments on another forum. He wants to fulltime for exactly 1 year, staying in spots only 2-3 nights, sometimes just 1 night. His question was about discount camping. Being the smarta** that I am I posted a reply and asked if his wife/partner was in agreement with that travel plan. A whole year of 2-3 or 1 night stops? I can’t imagine what they will miss in this great country and how sick of traveling they would be (and maybe each other). Oh well, to each his own!

  11. Nope, this life sure isn’t for everyone – but is ideal for some of us. I do miss the grandkids. This year is the longest away from them. 9 months.

    Scary – that mans one month to Alaska. We will be in Alaska this summer about 2 1/2 months. Can we expect 5 broken windshields, and 12 blown tires? OH NO!!!

  12. As to spending our life next door to our kids I have to day that all 7 of ours are deeply attached to us and we only see them twice a year for a couple weeks. We FaceTime, text and talk on the phone every couple weeks. When we visit we are the greatest thing since sliced bread for about 2 weeks and then they are off to their lives. So our time is super Quality time. Even the little guys are bonded. We left in Sept and in March when we met our daughter in Vegas the 2 year old ran to my arms hollering Nana. The added bonus is that we are also out of the adults lives and marriage. Our teen grands take my calls and they call us too. I don’t think we are missing a thing. As to being apart of rearing them, well that’s their parents job not ours

  13. I think everyone’s idea of how a family should function will vary. I see nothing wrong with being close to family. But today that is a rare thing…either in location or in relationship. And communication has never been quicker or easier either. NO excuse. One of the main reasons we are considering a full-time RV lifestyle is that we are not very involved with our kids…not really. And that is something you have to accept if that is what they want. We are living close to one now that wants a lot of help from us…but she in no way spend all that much time with us…we babysit some and currently are working hard to help get her old home on the market soon. After that? Well, we have plenty of interests and other people to be with so we will not be in the way…plus we located some distance from them. It takes a 25 minute drive to get there…close enough and far enough. My mom was my best friend until she died…but we did not get to see very much of each other as most of my married life we lived in another state. So the phone and letters had to do. I consider the best years of my adult life was when I lived closeby for a couple years. She helped me in so many ways!!

  14. Excellent article, hit a few soft spots with the wife’s being away from their children, although truthful. I learned Lot. Thanks

  15. Our daughter, who has been encouraging us to enjoy the lifestyle for now 8 years and is now expecting her first gave her mother the speech the other day about being home for concerts etc. We think we need to reach her to video. We love the life and the more we compromise the more we love it.

  16. We are full time rvers and would never go back to a stick a brick house again.
    The freedom is great.

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