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Relationship 911: How to Survive and Thrive in Small Spaces

Alexandra & David

So here you are, together in your very own 25 feet of luxurious Leisure Travel Van that you are presently calling your home-on-wheels. You’re lovingly living The Dream, driving on the highways and down the back roads through quaint towns, stopping at idyllic vistas… sighs of contentment, right?

Maybe? Or maybe not so much? As you look over at your Darling Significant Other, maybe you’re (gasp, and perish the thought) thinking some terrible thoughts and itemizing the ways you could, you know, tell them exactly where to go!

Wait, what? And why?! Because… 25 feet!

The question that we most often get asked, is how – really and seriously, HOW – do we live with each other 24/7 in such small spaces? How do we handle being together All. The. Time?

Dave and I have been living together in relatively small spaces for quite some time now, sharing our Snowbird time in a 40-foot sailboat and a 25-foot Leisure Travel Van (Unity IB) for over 6 years. It hasn’t been all newly paved, flat roads ahead of us, and there have been days when we’ve faced some interesting warning signs on the twisty, windy roads of our many adventures – signs that we’ve learned to pay special attention to before making any Relationship 911 calls. 

RV Lifestyle Handbook

The RV lifestyle is unique. Exciting, yet kind of frustrating. Rewarding, yet somehow challenging. Doing it all with the love of your life in 25 feet of space can prove to be quite the Learning Curve. Unbelievably gorgeous vistas that will remain imprinted in your memory banks, as might those pointy and jagged spires.

It’s all an Amazing Journey that should come with a Handbook, right? Great! So, where do I buy it?

Our Advice? Don’t !! Create your own! Draw your dreams, yet chart your limits.

Remain inspired by that couple who is out there hiking rim-to-rim of the Grand Canyon, but before you go buy those hiking boots and poles, you most certainly need to figure out if walking to the local Farmer’s Market is more your type of hike. We’re not saying not to try something that’s interesting and new to you, but we are saying that sometimes the idea of something is not quite the reality of something. Try it and see if you like it before you buy into it.

No matter how many blogs you read or vlogs you watch, inspirational people you talk to, or Facebook threads you scroll through, remember that it is ultimately your life, your journey, on your terms, with your partner, on your own budget, living your dream, doing things that make your heart sing.

Which makes creating your very own RV Lifestyle Handbook such a personal experience, one that should grow, expand, and change along with the mileage you put on your RV.

Road Signs 

Along the way, you’re certainly going to see some road signs. Here are a few of our favorites:

Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

Everything feels magnified in small spaces, and those objects laying around really are closer than they appear.

Thunderation,” you mutter, as you trip over your S.O.’s shoe just laying there, smack dab in the middle of the very narrow hallway! 

Our advice? Clean up after yourself!

In small spaces, the walls can quickly feel like they’re closing in! When there’s not a lot of room around you, it’s worth the effort to keep the room around you clutter free. And believe us when we say that when you clean up after yourself, you’re not only making room in your space, you’re actually creating room for each other! And that makes a whole room-full of difference in a relationship. 

Use your Blinkers!

Communication is EVERYTHING. Nothing is more frustrating than not knowing what the other car on the road – aka your partner – is up to. In the morning over coffee, why not discuss your goals for the day? Some mornings I wake up and just want to sit there and surf the web for an extra hour. Other mornings I wake up and want to hike a mountain with all the energy I’ve got. But dagnabit, Dave’s not always waking up in the same bed as me, figuratively speaking. 

Our advice? Communication is key!

As much as you might want them to, your partner cannot read your mind. Remember that although you may be together 24/7, you cannot simply take each other for granted, or assume you each know what the other is thinking. Ask to know, and if you’re still unsure, ask again. Use those blinkers! 

Yield!

The biggest challenge when living in small spaces is that, like it or not, you are going to get in each other’s way no matter how hard you try not to – literally, physically, and, as a result, emotionally.

Geez Louise, why and how do we always end up in the same place at the same time?!”

In small space living, this happens constantly.

Our advice? Sometimes it’s best to just yield!

Life in small spaces quickly becomes a choreography of dance steps. It’s twice as important to give each other space when you have very little space. It is what it is! Yield the way, add a giggle and a hug, and move on. There’s no need to build mountains out of molehills. 

Do Not Enter – One Way!  

Ahh, adventuring, living the dream, and doing things together! But no matter how much love there is in your relationship, there’s no way around it – we all need some Do Not Enter time for doing our own thing. Don’t take it personally when your S.O. desires some time on a One Way road.

Our advice? Don’t be afraid to communicate your need for some “me” time.  

Trust us on this. Take some time for yourself, and it will supercharge your relationship. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love each other, it actually means that you love each other enough to give the gift of space and time.

Stay in Your Own Lane  

Whether it’s a two-lane street or a four-lane highway, when you’re driving out there you need to remember to stay in your own lane.

You are two different individuals with different wants and needs and ways of doing things. No two people are exactly alike, and no couple is totally the same. Figure out what works best for you, and do what you’re good at.

Our advice? Find the comfort zone of your own lane, both as individuals and as a couple. 

The next time you’re sitting by the campfire, take a moment to thank your S.O. for something they did that day that made you happy, that made you smile, or that you’re grateful for. There’s no better feeling than to know that your efforts were seen and that you are appreciated. Respect each other’s strengths, and remember that there’s no need to harp on weaknesses. The campfire always burns brighter when you tend it!

STOP!

Travelling the roads of your dreams can be exactly what you’ve both wanted to do forever. So why are you suddenly and seriously stressed? Jumpin’ Jahosafat, your nerves are fried! What is going on?!

Triggers you didn’t even know were triggers will suddenly flare, and can certainly bring out the worst in you. Disagreements in small spaces quickly feel like arguments of monumental proportions.  

Our advice: Stop!

Learn to recognize when your stress levels are building. Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do about it; it is what it is. But even in the darkest of moments, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Take a few deep breaths, but most importantly, don’t take it out on your S.O. Or maybe take the next exit and stop for a bit of fresh air and some fun!

Detour 

You’re merrily driving along when suddenly, here comes a detour! Darn! Ending up somewhere other than where you originally planned can be just as much fun, if not more, but admittedly not without first causing some stress, right?  

Our advice? Remember to plan some extra time in your schedule.

At the end of the day, the difference in time will be minimal, yet having a more relaxed schedule will maximize your relationships, both with each other and with others who will see you feeling relaxed and full of smiles.

One time we were looking to cover some miles. We were hoping to run some errands, go for a hike, get to a boondocking spot, and have an early night so we could get to our friends reunion the very next day. However, the day found us running late, and we were starting to feel the pressure of our rather ambitious to-do list. Then, the The Detour appeared: we zigged when we should’ve zagged, and we got lost, which got us frustrated. We ended up driving down a small country road, muddy and full of potholes, and that got us cranky! Eventually, The Universe had us turning right on Musket Lane (no word of a lie), and we found ourselves right in the middle of the birthplace of Davy Crockett! The site was complete with a campground right beside the State Park – who knew?

We called it a day, booked ourselves into the campground, and had one of the most incredible and memorable walks touring about the very historical and picturesque lands around us. Thank goodness we had allowed for an extra night before our scheduled arrival the next day.

The next morning we woke up rested, left a little earlier to run our errands and got to our destination in plenty of time – and with a story to tell. What a lesson learned! Embrace the detour! 

Now that you’re aware of some Road Signs out there, there’s one more sign that is crucial! 

UNDER CONSTRUCTION! 

Travel affects you in ways you never thought possible. Every new experience changes you, and as a result, changes your relationship. We’re always evolving, growing, learning, and adapting. 

Our advice: It’s important to remember that you’re always Under Construction, and as a result, so is your relationship.

Have Fun – You’ve Got This!

So, grab the current version of your very own RV Lifestyle Handbook and excitedly get in your 25 feet of home-on-wheels with your Darling Significant Other by your side, know that you are a little better armed for those road signs that might obstruct your vision as you drive on your Path of Happiness. There’s no need to call a Relationship 911 – you’ve got this! After all, living in small sSpaces is not about confinement, it’s about the conFUNment. Right?!

Alexandra & David

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