J. Dawg Journeys

Five Secrets About RVing

The idea for this blog post came to me while I was reflecting on the last few years of RVing.  I was thinking about all the great places I’ve visited, the wonderful things I’ve seen, and the new things I’ve learned.  That’s when a sentence popped into my head and started rattling around in my cranium – “There’s a lot that they don’t tell you about RVing when buy an RV and start traveling”.

Reflecting back over the past 5 years of RV travel, that sentence rings very true for me.  There are things the RV dealer never told me.  There are things that I haven’t heard from other RVer’s.  And there are things I’ve never read about on a RV website or in a RV travel blog.

These “things”, which I call secrets, have not been purposely hidden or kept from people.  They aren’t closely guarded pieces of information.  They are not reserved for only the most worthy or experienced RVers.

They’re just out there waiting to be found.  The secrets that I found slowly revealed themselves to me once I started on my journey of RVing.  They are the things I discovered and learned once I took my RV on the road and start going places.

I’m sure there are more secrets about RVing that I have yet to uncover, but so far in my travels, I’ve found these five.

RVing Not About the RV

Before I made my first RV purchase and handed over several thousands of dollars, the RV was all that I thought about.  I went through a selection process, looked at floor plans, and analyzed features.  I researched brands, read reviews, visited showrooms, and talked to others about their RVs.  All my efforts were focused on the RV.

The selection process should be focused on the RV to make sure you buy the one that best suits your travel needs.  The same is true for the education process to learn how everything works in the RV.  I know some folks who keep much of their focus on the RV and become experts on their particular model of RV.  That’s all fine.

But, once I got on the highway and started traveling, I learned that RVing is not about the RV.  The RV is just the vessel that is taking me places.  It’s just a replaceable mechanical thing.

Roadtrek 190

J. dawg and wife with our first RV

When I bought my first RV and handed my check over to dealer I was immediately filled with a sense of joy.  I realized that my life had just changed and that the vehicle I bought was going to help make my dreams come true.  I stopped thinking about the RV and started thinking about all the places I was going to visit.

RVing isn’t about the RV.  It’s about your journeys and all the places and experiences you’ll have once you get behind the wheel.

The RV is Going the Break

Sorry to be the one to break this news, but all RV’s break.  Testimonials, JD Power Reliability awards, dealer assurances, and positive feedback are all great, but I can tell you with certainty that RV’s will break.  Engines will sputter, tries will go flat, appliances will stop working, and leaks may happen.  Usually it will happend when you least expect it.

Mercedes Benz

I have been fortunate that my RV has never stranded me on the roadside.  But I have had to limp into a service dealer, cut trips short and head home early due to malfunctions, and had appliances quit on me.  It can be maddening when it happens (like having the AC unit quit in FL when it was 97 degrees out with 90% humidity.).

The secret here is not to let the RV get the best of you.  Know that it’s going to break, be prepared the best you can to deal with it (like having roadside assistance, emergency lights/flares, dealer contact numbers), and just learn to deal with things in a calm manner.  Things breaking is just part of life and its happens to everyone who owns an RV.  Yes, a broken RV can ruin your day, but don’t let it turn you into a different person.

You Will Find the Unexpected

My RV has taken me places that I’ve seen in books and in other people’s pictures.  I’ve visited places that I’ve read about and even dreamed about.  I’ve been to many known and popular places.  And when I visited these places, many were even better than I expected.

But, I’ve also visited places, seen things, and learned things that I never planned, never heard of, and never expected.  These were the unexpected.  And many times the unexpected left me awestruck.

Here’s some samples of the unexpected that I’ve stumbled upon while Rving;

  • Finding and camping at the Chalk Lake USFS campground up in the Sawatch Mountain range in Colorado.
  • Chalk Lake Campground

    Camping at 9,000 ft in June at Chalk Lake

  • Driving slowly through a herd of buffalo that decided to cross the road in front of me while I was in Custer State Park in South Dakota.
  • Walking in wagon runts near Guernsey, WY made by thousands of wagons from the people who migrated on the Oregon Trail over 150 years ago.
  • Standing in the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, IA and learning that Waylon Jennings was the base player in Buddy Holly’s band that day in Iowa when the Music Died.
  • Buddy Holly

    Buddy Holly playing in the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, IA on the evening on February 3, 1959. Waylon Jennings is on the left playing bass in the background.

  • Talking with a Navajo jewelry maker at Canyon de Chelly National Monument and listening to his stories of what it was like growing up as a boy in Canyon de Chelly.
  • Making an unplanned stop at Pompeys Pillar outside of Billing, MT to look at a rock monolith and finding William Clark’s (of Lewis and Clark fame) signature that he carved in the rock in 1806.
  • Clark Inscription

    William Clark’s signature that he carved at Pompeys Pillar in 1806

To find the unexpected takes a willingness to venture beyond the planned route (e.g., I wonder what’s down this road), to strike up a conversation with a stranger, to get out of the RV and take a walk, stop and read a historical plaque, to change your route or itinerary based on someones suggestion.

You Will Make New Friends

I like traveling solo but I’m not a hermit type person who seeks solitude.  I like meeting new people and chatting with total strangers on my travels.

When I retired, one of my concerns was how to deal with the loss of all the social connections I had at my work.  One of my friends assured me that I would find and make a whole new set of friends.  She was so right.

RVing has brought me in contact with some great people and many have become good friends.  There are my music and dance friends I’ve met while camping at music festivals.  Friends I’ve met at the RV park and who I play pickle ball with where I winter in Florida.  And there are the friends I’ve met in the RV blogging community.

Jim and Jeni

J. Dawg with long-time music festival friends Jim and Jeni

Most RVer’s are friendly and engaging people.  All you have to do is stop by a campsite and ask someone where they’re from and you’ll get a conversation going.  Leave an interesting comment on a blog that sparks a response from the author.  Or pull up a chair and join in at a happy hour.  I’ve found that friends are easy to find when you’re RVing

Awe Will Overtake Fear

I have found that RVing can at times bring with it some trepidation.  Especially if you travel solo.  At the start of a trip, my mind will sometimes start to focus on “what if” scenarios..  Things like – “What if I get sick while I’m traveling solo and I’m thousands of mile away from home?”, “What if my RV breaks down in the middle of no where?”, “What if I lose my wallet or get robbed and have no money?”

Focusing on these types of questions can sometimes make me think that’s it would easier and safer just to stay home.  Especially after I’ve had a series of malfunctions or read about someones recent bad experiences.  But then, I tell myself that I’d be letting fear of the “what-if’s” drive my life and I’m not going to let that happen.

I’m RVing because of all the positive things that I’m going to experience.  I like doing it because it makes me happy.  I’m living my dreams, not hiding from possible nightmares.  Any type of travel has risks.  And that’s all they are – risks.  Things that might happen.

I’ve learned that good things will definitely happen to me when I’m out RVing.  Just about every day that I’m traveling, I’m going to learn new things, meet new people, and see new sights.  Shifting my thoughts to the  wonder and awe of all the good things instantly melts away any fear or trepidation.

Field of Dreams

J. Dawg at the Fields of Dreams Movie Site in Iowa

And there you have it.  The cat is out of the bag.  These are my secrets of RVing.  Please leave a comment is you have a secret about RVing you’d like share.

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10 thoughts on “Five Secrets About RVing

  1. Terri Reed

    Back in the late 1980s I started traveling solo full-time in a compact truck with a camper but I slept in a small tent. Life was simple! All I had to worry about for three years was how to quickly make friends (got rid of my undesirable personality quirks), figure out a good safe and level place to park and erect a water-resistant tent (a good night’s sleep is essential), and which foods don’t spoil quickly. “RV-ing” is all about discovering concepts, places and humanity, don’t you think?
    Terri Reed recently posted…The Good, Bad and Ugly of Returning Home to East TexasMy Profile

  2. Jeff Pierce

    Our mini-Wini has convinced me that Murphy’s Law ‘if it can go wrong, it will go wrong’ is real! We’ve been towed 3 times, limped into service one, water and drain leaks. The microwave died as did the TV. But we did our research and LOVE the floor plan, no bedroom and a massive window on the passenger side and the good mileage (16 mpg) is a nice touch.

    Like you we are Travelers with a sticks-n-bricks home and just half to laugh at which ‘home’ to repair this year. Like you we’ve been to awesome places (even followed behind you this year), met the best people, all of us living the dream.

    You’ve covered many of the bases, but you did not mention medical coverage. Medicare is NOT usually good outside the US. If travels outside of the US are planned make sure there is some coverage.

    Safe Travels!
    Jeff Pierce recently posted…Tecate – Urban hiking Tecate MexicoMy Profile

    1. J. Dawg Post author

      Sorry to hear about all your bad luck. At least you haven’t let it get the best of you. One of the reasons I keep a home is because of medical care. I have a chronic disease (ulcerative colitis) and want to keep the doctors I have. I have to get infusions back in New England every 8 weeks so my trips are limited to that interval. No plans to leave the US other than short day trips into MX if I’m near the border. One more yr for me to get Medicare. Thanks for commenting.
      I’m going to check out your website.
      J. Dawg

  3. Bob Parent

    Good read J Dawg, my wife and I are excited to get back on the road. Tomorrow we pick up our View 24 J We named it Willie cause we’re “on the road again”

  4. John

    J Dawg,

    Thank you for writing this post! I think this way and am driving myself crazy to the point I thought of selling my RV. Your prescription is just what the Dr. ordered and you have calmed me to the point I have planned a spring break trip with my family. Please keep writing and thinking of things you can explain to the rest of us over thinkers.

    1. J. Dawg Post author

      After a sequence of malfunctions this summer, I contemplated selling my unit. Nothing major. It was just a minor recurring problem that frustrated me. But it got fixed and I’ve had two nice error free trips since then. Yes, its easy to over act and over think.

    1. J. Dawg Post author

      I started playing pickleball last year. It’s easy to pickup and great way to get active. I try to play twice a week during the winter.