You KNOW you can handle driving the RV. You’ve read the manuals and you KNOW what all those buttons do. You’ve pored over maps, downloaded apps, and you KNOW you’re ready to go! You’ve talked to people, joined Facebook groups, and added enough comments to the various chat room groups to make you an expert. But ahh, the emotions: are you ready for them?!
“Sure,” you respond, “I’ll just find an emoji for that!” ?
Travel is totally limited at the moment with the COVID-19 restrictions in place, and I would imagine that you – like many of us – are spending much time reading, researching, and dreaming, looking forward to the day when travel will once again take us all on the Roads to Adventure. In fact, with lots of time on your hands, right now is the perfect time to empower your planning with knowledge. Where’s the emoji for that? ?
But if you’re new to the RV lifestyle, your idea of it may have you driving away to idyllic locations with colourful panoramic sunsets where you end the day roasting s’mores around the campfire. Your dream of a lifetime is something you’ve prepared for, worked for, and retired for, complete with hearts full of love and smiley faces! ?
But then there are THOSE days. You know – traffic on the roads. A detour sign that had you zigging when you should have been zagging, and now you’re lost. You’re itching to get to the campground before sunset so you have enough time to get your workout in, and then – phew! – it’s time for a campfire, until your partner comes back saying the campground office is closed and there’s no campfire wood to be bought. On top of that? The password for WiFi isn’t working and you have no cell service, so you can’t call home to wish your favourite person beautiful celebrations. ?
The bright side of this pandemic-induced isolated condition (it’s important to find a bright side) is that it has you already (like it or not) practicing for this lifestyle. If you can live together in your house for days that are turning into weeks and months (and let’s hope they stop soon !!), then I’m sure you can live together in your 25-feet long, 8-feet wide Leisure Travel Van. Right? RIGHT??
One thing’s for sure: emotions will ALWAYS rear their ugly heads when you least expect them. They are the least talked about and most volatile disruptor of your idyllic RV lifestyle. It’s easy to find an emoji (which is essentially a picture character ?) to click on and use for your most current statement of feeling, but emotions? Wikipedia defines them as “biological states associated with the nervous system, brought on by neurophysiological changes variously associated with thoughts, feelings, behavioural responses and a degree of pleasure or displeasure.”
Key word there is “changes”.
Sometimes it’s not so much about the prep work you can do for the Road Ahead, but more about acknowledging what needs to be Left Behind.
Leaving Expectations Behind
You’re expecting clear blue skies, easy driving, beautiful campsites. Time to go hiking or kayaking, and time to put your feet up by the fire. Ahh, sweet – just like those highly altered, picture-perfect people enjoying idyllic moments on your social media newsfeeds.
But wait. I’m living the life of my dreams, yet I still have to do laundry and housekeeping chores? The RV needs to dump, and is that the hose leaking? ? I’m done! I just want to go home!
What are you expecting this RV Journey to be like for you? Remember, there’s no such thing as A Perfect Journey!
Leaving Your(self) Behind
What makes you tick? Do you like to go to the gym? Do you like to wake up an hour before your partner for that solitary cup of coffee before you start your day?
Discovering what satisfies you is important. You have to figure out whether you enjoy the gym because you get to exercise, or is it that you crave the social time the gym brings you? Depending on the answer, you might simply need to make time to exercise while on the road, or you need to find something that allows you social time while traveling – maybe also while exercising? Perhaps the local campground has a walking club (why not start one?), or maybe there are local drop-in yoga classes.
Make it a practice to discover, and fulfill, your passions. ?
Leaving Your Existing Relationship Behind
It’s not about leaving your old relationship behind as much as it is discovering how to build a different relationship in the newness of going forth together. Couples that have been united for many years are now finding that they’re going from a routine of being two very separate people leading different lives in the same household, with identities defined by their jobs, extracurricular activities, hobbies, and stuff, to being together 24/7 in 25 square feet of space (GASP), adjusting to each other.
There will be compromises and conversations to be had. Should you boondock tonight, or head to the very expensive campground site? Should you make dinner, or spend mucho dinero eating out? What do you want to do tomorrow? What attractions are on each of your must-do lists?
We all know that relationships, like plants, require daily watering of your own turf, no matter where you are. Travelling will change you. It will change your partner. And it will change your relationship.
Make sure you’re not using travel to run away from your problems, or your partner. Remember to not only communicate, but listen as well. If you don’t speak up, your partner can’t hear you. Simple idea to grasp, harder to execute. Ensure you’re running together towards shared passions ahead. ?
Leaving Home Behind
Are you worried about leaving your home behind? Why not ask a family member or friend to check up on it, maybe even send you photos of your growing garden as they water it? If you’re really not comfortable with leaving your home empty, there are plenty of websites around that allow you to hire a house-sitter. If you’re gone for a long time, you can always think about putting your stuff in storage and renting out your house.
All of the above have their own sets of pros and cons. Only you know which options will make you the most (un)comfortable while you’re away. ?
Leaving Loved Ones Behind
You’re waving goodbye as you’re driving away from your friends and family. If you’re going away for a short while, it’s much easier to say, “See you soon!” But if you’re leaving for the season, you KNOW you’ll be missing out on some events.
Being away from loved ones is hard! You’re going to miss birthdays, special occasions, even illnesses. In this day and age of technology, it’s easy to get connected, with many apps showing you faces inches away from yours, but that doesn’t always help.
For the times you’re not connected, how about preparing a collage of framed photos to hang on your RV walls? (Remember to use those 3M Command Strips to hang those frames!) Or how about sending an old-fashioned postcard, by snail mail, from all the places you’ve visited? Start a journal, work on a blog, or write travel e-mails to a group distribution list to share your news.
There are no words of wisdom here. You’re going to miss people. You’re going to miss events. And you will likely feel guilty. You need to find different ways to connect, ways that work for both you and the people you’re connecting with. And you need to understand that your partner will get emotional over missing a special someone’s hug, and the only words of wisdom here are hugging them so tight that it makes the tears go away. ?
Leaving Normal Behind
This lifestyle will be exposing you to an ever-increasing change of EVERYTHING, with the only constant being your RV and the person you’re with. You’ll be moving your RV constantly, and each stop confronts you with new environments that you have to adapt to – which in most instances is awesome, but damn… every time you go into another grocery store, things aren’t where you expect them to be! It takes you twice as long to find what you’re looking for… frustrated!!
Add to that the different visual scenery – have you ever gone from snowy roads to the sunny Spanish-moss covered live oak trees of the Carolinas to the dry desert landscapes of Arizona?!
Your body is adjusting to yet another new climate (OMG, you’re sweating profusely and you haven’t even gotten out of your chair!) – talk about feeling prickly. ?
Allow yourself some TIME to adjust to your new normal.
Leaving Routine Behind
We’re human creatures of habit, functioning well on our own routines. Change your environment, and old routines don’t work anymore, which can leave you feeling disoriented.
Enjoy that each day is open to exciting possibilities of your own creation. And if that’s feeling a tad overwhelming, stay put and have a “no” day. ?
Leaving Control Behind
Uh-oh… weather raining on your parade?
It’s easy to blame our partner when we have no control over the changes that are happening around us. When that happens, it’s especially important to take a breather, and remember that every problem has a solution. Shake your head, brainstorm together, and in a few hours/days, it’ll become history – part of your very adventurous story. Getting mad isn’t helpful when it’s truly no one’s fault. ?
And sometimes it just is what it is. And that’s okay too. You’re living your dream of a life, with the love of your life, in the RV of your life. The sun is shining, you slept well, the coffee is hot, yet you’re just feeling sad, anxious, nervous, depressed. There’s no reason why. It just happens. Embrace that you’re not having the best day. Share this tidbit with your partner. Give yourself some TLC (Tender Loving Care), and ask for some in return. ? A long hug with no words is most often the answer to almost everything.
Sometimes, it just is what it is. Shouldn’t there be an emoji for that? ?