RV Travel :: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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RV TravelThe summer before my kids started kindergarten and third grade, my husband said he wanted to buy an RV. It was a bit of a shock to me, and I had to ask him if he was experiencing some sort of midlife crisis. His response floored me:

“I am working so hard for retirement, but I am not guaranteed that time. I only have today, and right now my girls think I am awesome.”

Thus began our family RVing adventures. Since that summer we have taken some really great trips, had some fabulous adventures, and made some precious memories. We have slept on the top of a mountain and among wild bunnies. We have seen The Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Niagara Falls, and wild horses on Corolla Beach, just to name a few. The memories we have of our excursions as a family are priceless.

But, I have to say, I have a love-hate relationship with RV travel. While we have had some great adventures, RV travel comes with a lot of headaches and sacrifices. So, for anyone thinking of joining the #RVLIFE crowd, here are my thoughts on the good, the bad, and the ugly from my RV travel experiences. And, in the spirit of ending on a positive note, I am going to start with the ugly and work toward the good!

The Ugly

RVs are small.

One wants the shade up and one wants it down.

The space is so limited that you can quickly find yourself pretty sick and tired of each other. Our family recently took a three week trip to Maine in an A Class motorhome. At the end of it, we still loved each other, but we all agreed that we could use some separation. Along the way, there were periods of bickering, arguing, and bad moods. We all found ourselves annoyed at one point or another. This is part of it, though. Fitting four people into such a tight space for an extended period of time can work on anyone’s patience!

Someone has to clean the tank.

I am thankful for my husband because this job landed squarely on his shoulders, and he never complained. If it were not for him, there would be no RV travel because I would not do this job. It has to be done, though. One of the great things about RV travel is that you get the experience of camping and outdoors while still enjoying your creature comforts. But those comforts don’t come without a price, and cleaning the tank is a hefty one.

The Bad

Everything takes time, energy and effort in an RV.

We discovered sea glass in Maine.

With so little space, many areas in an RV serve multiple purposes. This means that you will often find yourself having to put one thing away in order to use another thing. For example, our kitchen table doubled as a bed. So, every night we had to make the table into a bed, and every morning we had to put it back. I also had to rearrange the kitchen area to make room to cook and then again to wash dishes. No matter how you set things up, it will take work to travel in an RV.

Traveling in an RV is a lot like moving.

We leave as much as possible in our RV, including things like toiletries, sheets, cookware, dishes, and some extra clothes. This helps with the packing, but we still spend a day packing our rig before travel, which means we spend a day unpacking it when we get home. All the packing and unpacking makes weekend trips a little less appealing. Regardless of how much you leave in your RV, you will find yourself packing and unpacking for each trip. 

The Good

RV travel gives you the opportunity to see and experience things you might not get otherwise.

When driving or flying to a destination, the goal is to get there. When traveling by RV, the trip can be the goal. We once traveled to Yellowstone and gave ourselves five days to get there. This allowed us to visit Mount Rushmore and the Badlands. Both of these places would not necessarily be destinations for us, but because we were traveling with our own “hotel room” we were able to make time to stop and visit them.  

RV travel provides family time that is unmatched.

Yes, we may get a little cranky at times with all of the close quarters, but the time spent together in nature and exploring God’s creation well outweighs any bickering. When we are at a hotel, we all tend to entertain ourselves unless we are doing whatever activities are the point of the trip. While traveling by RV, the trip is the point. When you step outside the door of your RV, you are in nature and you are together. It is easier to slow down, unplug, and enjoy each other. For our family, this is the game-changer.

The girls slept as we drove late. One night we stopped and slept on top of a mountain. This is what they woke up to.

There are many great ways to travel and spend time together as a family. For our family, RV travel is right there at the top of the list. It is a lot of work and can be frustrating, but the benefits of it are far greater than the drawbacks for us.

Are you interested in RV travel? Do you love it already? Drop a comment or question below!
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Rachel Gunn is a former teacher turned full time mom and family coach. She was born in Pennsylvania and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. Her fish-out-of-water life, melding her northern heritage and southern raising, has grown her as a mom and as a Christian woman. She obtained her masters in Education from UAB and taught middle school for ten years. She lives in the Oak Mountain community with her husband, Brent, two teenagers; Katelyn and Sarah, and their Sheepadoodle, Pearl. Rachel founded Seeds of Impact, a nonprofit with a mission to empower and equip moms to impact the next generation in a powerful way. When not working and driving kids around, Rachel loves to go on adventures with her family. They particularly love exploring the country by RV. To unwind, she loves reading mysteries and Elin Hildebrand novels.

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