When I think about RV travel, I envision places, destinations, camping, adventure, and the open road. There’s also lots of mechanical and how to stuff that comes to mind.
But RVing is also a people activity. It can be done with groups, by couples, or solo. I have yet to RV with a group, but I’ve done it with my wife, son, and solo. I don’t mind traveling solo. But, having a partner along to share the fun and adventure with enhances the whole RV travel experience.
There are blogs and articles written about how to do solo RV travel. But, I haven’t seen much written about the interpersonal aspects of RV travel. And, that got me thinking about this subject.
I was going to write a piece about how to enjoy RVing with your partner. But, then I turned it around and thought, perhaps writing an antithesis piece on how to drive your RV partner nuts would be more fun.
Being married for almost 40 years, my wife and I have quite a bit of experience in driving each other nuts. In fact, I may be an expert at it. My wife and I are polar opposites. She’s an extrovert and I’m an introvert. She’s left brain and I’m right brain. She’s a touchy feely socialite and I’m analytical loner. But most of the time it works really good for us because we complement each other and fill in each others gaps.
Author Robert Fulghum said – “Where ever you go, there you are.” When we’re RVing, our personalities and behaviors come with us. I can attest that what drives us nuts in our normal life, also drives us nuts in our RV life. Driving someone nuts is not all bad. It’s just part of normal life. We are all capable of doing it. When traveling with a partner it’s good to know what some of the triggers and behaviors are so you can minimize the breakage and misery.
I know from my experiences that these nine things can drive your RV partner nuts!
1. Never Doing What Your Partner Wants
A trip plan / idea has to start with someone. On many trips, I usually take the lead on the trip planning. But, not soliciting input from my wife on the timing, schedule, places, or attractions is a sure recipe for a trip disaster. Also, not listening to her ideas on things to do is just asking for fight and will easily lead to items #3, #6, and # 7.
I always review a trip idea and potential schedule with my wife before I book anything. I know how she likes to travel so I plan accordingly – no long drive days and plenty of rest stops. I also try not to over schedule so there’s extra time for unexpected stuff that she might come up with.
2. Over Reacting to Little Annoying Stuff
I’ve been guilty of this. Your partner cooks a meal and sets off the fire alarm in the RV. How about flushing the toilet while you’re flushing the black tanks. Or, your partner doesn’t understand conserving power while boondocking and drains the house batteries by leaving all the lights on for hours.
Some of this stuff can be maddening. But I have to remind myself – it’s all little stuff, it’s all easily fixable, and not worth having a hissy fit over.
3. Holding A Grudge
The small confines of an RV are a bad place to hold a grudge. Driving down the road with hours of the silent treatment takes the fun right out of a trip like a flat tire. When I sense that something is bothering my wife, I try to get the issue out and discuss it. At least we’re talking. And I try to resolve the issue before nightfall so we don’t ruin another day. If it was something I did, I am quick to apologize and try to make amends. And, I try to remember the adage – “Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?”
4. Not Sharing the Work
I don’t expect my wife to do all the cooking and cleaning on a trip. We share the chores. I cook about half the time and do my own laundry. When traveling we’ve worked out our routines. I do the driving. She cleans out the RV when we stop, helps with the setup, and keeps me fed with snacks and treats when we’re on the road. We’ve found a good balance so no one person feels overburdened.
5. Constant Critiques
This rarely happens with me or my wife, but it is one I’m sensitive to. I have certain codes of conduct that I live by. One of those codes is to never ever criticize or make fun of your partner in public. Also, if you feel you have to give a critique, then pick the right time, say what you need to, and be done with it. Don’t belabor a point or constantly relive a bad experience. Constant critiques will lead to the next item.
6. Not Wanting to Be on the Trip
Traveling with someone who is miserable is no fun. My wife doesn’t enjoy traveling as much as I do. So, when contemplating a trip, I always make the offer to my wife – “Is this something you want to do or do you want to pass?” I don’t want my wife to feel pressured to do something she won’t enjoy. It’s no fun for her and no fun for me. That’s the main reason I travel solo at times. My wife is fine with me going off on a solo trip. She’s not holding me back and I’m not imposing something on her. If a trip isn’t going well, it’s best to turn around and head home. RVing shouldn’t be the source of misery.
7. Non Stop Texting & Talking to Friends on Your Cell Phone
This is sort of related to #6 above and a pet peeve of mine. If you can’t be present on a trip or can’t stand to be away from your friends, then don’t go on the trip. It’s fine to be sending pictures and messages to friends while on a trip and to stay in touch with family and friends. And, if a real family or friend emergency comes up, then you need to deal with it.
But, ignoring your partner so you can be consumed with the daily minutiae of your friends lives or spending the day on the phone helping them deal with their child’s latest bad behavior crisis, is bad behavior in my book. It doesn’t happen often but when it does, it drives me nuts.
8. Not Giving Your Partner Girl / Guy Down Time
RV travel can foster closeness with your partner. But unlike being at home, when you’re in the RV there may not be many opportunities to go off and have some girl time or do some male bonding. I’m sensitive to this. My wife needs her nap time, shopping time, Facebook time with friends, etc. Every so often I need to go off and do some male bonding or zone out on TV sports. Not respecting these needs will cause discord. My wife and I are pretty good at respecting each others needs for down/alone time.
9. Driving Around Aimlessly
This one drives my wife nuts. Trying to find a place to park the RV when out shopping or dining can sometimes be a challenge. I’m a little picky about where I leave my RV. I want enough space to get in and out and need a space that’s fairly level. My wife doesn’t seem to fully appreciate this because she doesn’t drive the RV. So, when she catches me driving around searching for the right spot, it drives her nuts. It’s right up there with being lost and not asking directions.
I know this behavior can set her off. So, I have to prep her, keep talking about what I’m trying to do, give assurances, and make fun of myself when I’m caught driving around aimlessly. Otherwise, there’s a risk of getting the silent treatment.
So that’s my list. My wife helped contributed to the list so it’s really our list. Such a list may make us look like a couple of psychos, but we’re two lunatics who love each other and most of the time enjoy traveling together. We’ve learned to be aware of each others crazy quirks and are doing our best to deal with them or make light of them.
Being in a small RV traveling for weeks can amplify the good and bad parts of a relationship. Luckily, my wife and I have a lot more of the good than the bad.
Driving each other nuts has been part of our 40 year journey. It’s not all bad because driving another person nuts is one of the key features of real true love!