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How to Pick Your RV

We left in the new RV Friday afternoon. We drove through Jacksonville during rush hour towing a huge toy hauler with a small Suzuki Sidekick in the back. We were beyond terrified. This learning curve is steep. The truck and trailer were chucking and swaying and our adrenaline and grips on the seats were through the roof. We had been moving all day and figuring out tie downs and trying to keep the babies sane and fed. To say that it was a lot is undercutting the narrative. We made it a couple of hours away to Lake City. The first night’s sleep was not great. We could not get the furnace working and it was 41 degrees outside, it was 55 inside. Turns out we had to let the burner on the stove go for a minute to clear the lines so the furnace could come on (thank you Google and owner’s forums). The next day’s travel was better. Less wind, but we were still worn out. We drove a long time and had to stop to pee about 5 times. We stopped in Robertsdale AL for our second night and finally got some decent sleep. Now we are on the road on Easter Sunday and mostly having a good time. We are going to stay in Lafayette for a couple of nights and attempt getting groceries at Costco and then we will have to re-hitch the truck before we leave for the first time since leaving the RV dealership.

So far, our RV has mostly had everything in working condition. We know there will be things broken along the way. There are a lot of pros and cons so far with the new set-up. In the 5th wheel, you have to stop to pee, and much more often with a toddler in tow. We are working on “holding it” and “waiting to make sure you get it all out before you leave the bathroom.” Not being able to just pop to the back to use the toilet on the road is less convenient. Although, I will say, trying to go to the bathroom while hurtling down the road in a big tin can is not super fun or easy.

I will regale the reasons we switched from the Class C with toad (tow vehicle) to the truck and 5th wheel. First off, there were no seats to put car seats in while driving down the road. The babies were just bouncing around in the back and I was having a heart attack every travel day trying to keep them safe. They ended up on a screen the whole day just so I could keep them in one place. Though it is less fun for them, it is much safer. Secondly, the size. We have 3 adults and two children. The Motorhome was about 100 sq ft. The new 5th wheel is about 400. It might not seem that important at first. It was not important to us in the beginning. I thought “I’m a minimalist, I’m earthy, I don’t need anything.” I scoffed at modern conveniences. I thought, “I’m going to learn to deal with it if it is all I have.” I was unrealistic about my ideals and what I needed in a home/RV. I was unrealistic about my need for personal space (I have a large personal space bubble). The Class C has two twin beds in the back and a fold-out couch in the front. My husband and 4-year-old can sleep easily in a twin bed together. I thought I would be able to do this. I cannot. Neither the baby nor I got any sleep the first few nights. Our nanny was sleeping on the fold out couch which is a little bigger than a full size. After those first few sleepless nights, I asked her if we could switch and we did. The sleep was better. Except, there is nowhere to go when you wake up and the whole RV is full of sleeping babies (and when you sleep in the kitchen). You cannot make food or a smoothie or really be anywhere but outside. Generally, this is okay in mild climates, but our first trip was in January. In the 5th wheel I have a bedroom with a door, and I can go make breakfast without waking the baby or toddler. It is so freaking awesome... I can take a shower with both girls or with my husband in the full sized shower (alone time! Hello!). In the Motorhome the shower was nice, but extremely small and you had to watch the babies like a hawk because it was a detached showerhead and there was carpet right outside of the shower. The new shower also has a sliding glass door, so they can spray with reckless abandon (ok, within reason). The carpet is a whole other issue. The carpet was pristine when we got it. But the previous owner did not have children. The 5th wheel is all linoleum floors and a wet-wipeable couch. It is so awesome (I know I keep saying this). I thought I would not mind unfolding and putting away my bed each day, and though that part is tedious, not having a bed to go lay in during the day when you need a nap or just a break was oddly jarring. MY bed became the couch, and other people were on it all the time. There was no quiet, private space to call my own. I hated it.

My husband asked me after the first few weeks of having the Motorhome how I liked it and I sat silently in the passenger seat as we were rolling down the road to our next location. I was trying to think about how to delicately tell him I was having a lot of fun seeing our beautiful country, but I was not enjoying our particular RV. I can tell you I did not deliver the message in a way that led straight to understanding and a healthy discussion of my issues. We argued. And then when we came back to the topic, we argued again. We went round and round for two and a half months. You see, my husband LOVES our Class C... He was HAPPY with it and did NOT want to entertain getting something else. We flew to California to pick it up and drive it back. We looked for it and waited a month to get it. We paired down all our stuff and moved in. It was our home… We took a trip to the Keys for 3 weeks From mid-February on. We had a great time. My feelings did not change. We had to decide if we wanted to keep doing RV life or move up our move to Hawaii. I was starting to wear thin. My shoulder was hurting from sleeping on the foam couch. I was tired of not having any space. I had been asking nicely for a while.

Then one morning I woke up and on my way to the grocery store I put on some Beyonce (this is going somewhere I promise). I love Beyonce. She is a Boss. And rightly so. So, I channeled Queen Bey and told Jason it was time to go look at new RVs. He fought me kicking and screaming but relented eventually. I wish compromise looked better than this sometimes. But sometimes, you gotta just point out, that if one person in the relationship is uncomfortable, you stop everything and address it. There are only so many options here. I needed him to choose. My growing discomfort was not going away.

I also know, it probably had to happen this way. He was not going to sell our house and move into an RV unless he got to choose how it went down, and I thought “I don’t care what it is, as long as we get to sell our house and move into an RV!” So, the Motorhome was the icebreaker. It assuaged his fears of life on the road and kicked up his wanderlust. And in the end, I now have what I want too.

I want to mention too, that there are no perfect RVs. They are all small, no matter how big. They all have things you wish were done differently. They all need repairs eventually. They are all slower and more difficult to drive than an average car. They all have to be parked somewhere and finding that somewhere can be challenging (especially when you are 43ft plus a truck). But as I sit by myself eating tacos in Waco TX, I am really happy to be out here. I am happy we have an extra car. I am happy we have the privilege and freedom to go exploring. Tonight, we go see Grand and the cousins. Tomorrow we find a new adventure.

So as much as this article is to help you choose your RV bliss, it is also to tell you to roll with the punches (there will be many), compromise, but also to thine own self be true…Amen

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