A&A Things We Would Do Differently After Full-Time RVing For A Year
End of Week #57
Gualala River Redwood Park, Gualala CA
Miles traveled since last week's post = 0
Total miles traveled to date = 7,955 with trailer
So here we are at Tuesday evening, late again for my weekly blog day. Sunday Adam and I each worked our 'regular shift' and some additional hours as well, and yesterday we took a day trip inland to Santa Rosa and we were gone for about 8 hours. Today we headed out to the beach, regardless of any wind - and we sat in the sand all day listening to the waves crashing. It was a marvelous last day off before the madness of the holiday week begins. It is going to be a busy weekend here at the park with 4th of July, as we are sold out to occupancy and we will be having an employee cookout/party Saturday night at one of the campsites.
Today also happens to be Adam and I's one year anniversary since we had our 'See You Later' party in Stillwater, MN and where we got surprise engaged! So much has changed in just one year time and there is so much that I am constantly reflecting on too. I love looking back at how much we have grown together in such a relatively short time, and all the lessons for the future that we have learned along the way.
This week's post will specifically dive into things we would do differently in our full-time RV life after being on the road for a year now.
A&A Things We Would Have Done Differently After Full-Time RVing For A Year
You don't know what you don't know until you do know it... and it's hard to make the best decision for uprooting your whole entire life when there are so many different options available that could work for you, but you've just never tried them all yet. I like to think we did a really good job with the process of elimination when we were doing our research and discussing how we wanted things to go. We made a lot of lists with pros and cons and really tried to walk through different circumstances to justify our decisions. We also watched a lot of hours of YouTube videos online, read articles, looked at blog posts and did our very bests to prepare for anything the open road might throw at us.
Regardless of how hard we tried to prepare, there are always things that come up that make you realize you could have done things differently, and may have been happier in doing so. Here is our current lists of things:
1. Different rig, different truck.
There are so many different options to choose from when looking at an RV to live in. We tried to make lists and analysis of things we saw and researched and to then decide what would work best for us, for the cats, and for traveling and living in full-time. Last spring, when we purchased our RV, we were weighing options between a motorhome and a trailer. Now, in hindsight, we see more benefits to a motorhome than we did a year prior and we would even enjoy the idea of a 5th wheel too! If we would have gotten a motorhome, traveling with the cats might have been a lot easier and it would have been easier to take a nap while driving or fix snacks for us both too. We could have kept my Buick car that I loved so much and towed that behind us and used that for adventuring so that we did not have to drag our home everywhere. Years ago Adam also had a really nice Chevy truck that he loved and we could have kept that to use with a 5th wheel.
But that's the thing, you don't know these things until it's too late and you often just have to make the most of what you did decide to do, as at the time it was the decision you felt the most strongly about! We absolutely love our Grand Design travel trailer, but sometimes towing with the van is really stressful (and you can't tow it everywhere you want to), and the way we situated the inside of the van for the cats did not at all work out how I had imagined. Since we really don't let them roam free in the van while driving, the extra space is really only used for us to store more of our things, and ultimately we could have fit the whole crew in a cab of a truck just fine.
2. Saved up longer.
Everything unfolded really quickly for us, as this plan to go nomadic was birthed in the middle of October 2018, and put into full initiation in May 2019 when we quit our jobs and moved out of our house. Of course we saved up as much as possible during that time frame, saving Christmas money, bonus money at work, and all of our tax return money to put into preparations. But having an additional year or so to save up even more could have really benefited us tremendously in the long run. Ideally if we could have each saved an additional $10K personally that could be used as emergency funds, on the road funds, or funds for buying land in the future, that would have been great to have. (Not to mention having some funds to plan a small wedding would have been wonderful too!)
I do like to believe that things worked out how they were supposed to, no matter what, as another year of saving would have brought us to the crazy year of 2020 when covid happened and everything went to hell. If we waited any longer our plan may have never got off the ground.
3. Sold house sooner.
We sort of missed a grand window of opportunity with our townhouse, by just a few weeks time. Two townhomes on each side of us went up for sale in early April 2019, and ended up going into a bidding war that resulted in offers $20K over asking price. If we had just put ours up for sale sooner, we could have been a part of that bidding war too and came out of the gate a little more prepared. But unfortunately for us, when this was happening, we had not even quit our jobs yet, hadn't sold everything yet, and were feeling very unprepared to put the house for sale. We ended up waiting until Memorial weekend in May, and by that time the market in Woodbury, MN had already changed so much. We waited over a month just to get the one and only offer that allowed us to sell our house, and that was such a long stressful process to ride out!
We also should have did more preparations to tidy the house us, such as replacing blinds, carpet, and other things that would make it appear more profitable. The townhome desperately needed new windows, but that was something we were unfortunately not prepared for financially and had to let slide, thus diminishing it's value. Lastly, we should have kept some of our belongings in the house to stage it while it was on the market. We truly believed at the time that it was the easiest to just get out of the way with all of our stuff instead of having to make trips back and forth from Wisconsin, with random things still left inside that we would have to scramble to get rid of. But ultimately it made the house so empty and uninviting and I think that could have steered some people away too!
4. Moved the trailer to Wisconsin before we moved into it.
Don't get me wrong, we were completely new at all of this, but one thing I think we both just overlooked in the midst of all the stress and chaos was the idea of going to pick the trailer up from the dealership a weekend or two before moving into it and bringing it to Wisconsin where we were staying for a few months. If we would have done that, it would have made moving out of the house so much smoother and our trip up to Wisconsin would have only been about 3 hours instead of 10 hours. Not to mention we were not able to fit everything we were keeping into the van on move out day, and had to leave some of it unattended in the garage to come back for the next weekend, during an open house. If we would have moved some things up north and into the trailer the weekend prior, it would have been a lot easier on us (and the cats) and we would have been able to grab everything too!
5. More practice runs with the cats while driving.
In all honesty, I probably only gave them a handful of test runs in a vehicle, our big block van, for about 1-2 weeks before departing. As they are older cats, and more set in their ways, this was absolutely not enough time for them to get used to being in the van, traveling in the vehicle, and staying in it for extended amounts of times. They were (and still are) constantly scared, nervous and anxious while traveling. I don't blame them - they have no idea what is going on and I have no way to explain it to them, but I like to think that they are getting more used to being nomad cats over time, and it will hopefully only continue more.
I also wish that over the course of their little bengal cat lives, they could have had more interactions with humans and people in general. We love to take them out for walks at every new campground and campsite and they get so startled and scared by other people who are just trying to admire them. Not to mention if any of our friends or family were to come into our RV, they would immediately still try to hide - and there sure are not a lot of places for them to go!
6. Boondock more.
Honestly, we went into this experience planning to boondock as much as possible every place we go. We told our friends and family we would be doing that, I wrote about doing that, we envisioned doing that... and when it came down to it we really only did it a few times. After having a pretty traumatizing experience in the Badlands with severe weather, and after staying in a few sketchy places elsewhere, we became really reliant on hookups and safety of camp hosts and other people to be around us. We became dependent on WiFi and electricity and really felt the most safe leaving our home someplace with a gate or host in order to go off for the day to explore other places. Not to mention we were not prepared the best for harnessing the sun, and don't have any solar set up yet, and have been experiencing some issues with one of our RV slides that makes us scared to not have electric hooked up to it.
Another thing we have not utilized enough yet on this journey is the ability to boondock on business land and private lands through the use of Harvest Hosts and Boondocker's Welcome. This is something we will look into more when we hit the road again this fall after our workamping job ends. Memberships are only around $50 a year and allow you to stay at host locations for free!
7. Started out a little slower on the road.
I look back to those first two months on the open road after we left my grandparents house in South Dakota, and as we cruised through Wyoming, southern Idaho, Utah and Colorado, and it really comes to me as much of a blur. I wish we would have taken our time more through those states and realized that all we really have is time, and there is no reason to rush through any part of this journey. Of course we had the seasons changing going against us and we were outrunning snow for almost that entire journey, but it would have been great to spend more than a few days in a lot of those locations.
One of the reasons why I felt it was right to take this workamping job we are currently fulfilling in northern California was to give us an opportunity to pause somewhere we would have really never have gotten the chance to experience in this way. it allows us time to immerse ourselves in the community, the people, the places, and pause and rest somewhere safe during these unknown times. We are definitely all about slowing down, as there is no rush to finish anytime soon, and we have done a great job in staying in many places for a month or longer in the past 6 months.