It all started with Tiny House Hunters on HGTV. It became a dream. Then an idea. And eventually, our reality. We moved out of our large rental home into our GD Solitude on July 25, 2018. We have officially been full time RVers for over one month!
We made this drastic life change having no experience whatsoever in RVs. That being said, this has been one HUGE learning experience. Let me tell you about some of the good, bad, and straight up UGLY lessons we’ve learned from one month on wheels.
Look at Value
REALLY look at your belongings while downsizing. How often do you use that blender? When is the last time you wore that shirt? Have you seen your kid play with that toy in a while? It is harder than it seems. We started with a 5x7 storage unit but had to upgrade to a 5x10. Now that it is all said and done, we probably could have pared down on our belongings a little harder and managed with the smaller unit. I’m sure we will be selling stuff again once we get back in there.
Picking Your Rig
We spent a year researching fifth wheels until ultimately deciding on our Grand Design. This is a HUGE purchase. Take your time! What can you absolutely not live without? For us, it was a separate room for the kids. Also, remember that the outside of your rig is just as important as the layout. Is it 4 seasons capable? Do you need it to be? Ask about the r values in your insulation. Living in Alaska, ours had to be winter capable. Remember that not all fifth wheels/RVs are created equal! I think we will always have some envy of other rigs, layouts, and features, but ultimately, our rig is the perfect fit for us. We love our fifth wheel and are so glad we took a long time to make a final decision and considered every option out there. Don’t rush the process!
Know Your Rig
Even if you think your significant other will handle the tank business, you need to know how it works too! I’m guilty of this. A week in, I couldn’t tell you the difference between a black tank and a grey tank. We had a problem with our black tank early on and I just stood there like a deer in the headlights. I read the owner’s manual from cover to cover that night. If my husband wasn’t around and something went wrong or stopped working, what the heck was I going to do?! Ever since that moment, I make the effort to pay attention to tank levels, amp consumption, propane changes, the dumping process, the leveling process, etc. I’m now confident in my ability to keep this rig functioning if my husband isn’t around. It’s pretty scary to think that I didn’t know though, huh? Keep your owner’s manual nearby and actually READ it.
Know Your Route
Plan ahead! Look at your campground or RV park destinations website first (if you can). They may list specific directions to help you navigate with a trailer best. Take it from me – I ignored the RV Park Owner’s directions and followed Google Maps down a dead end dirt road onto someone’s private property in Canada. Luckily, the owner was extremely kind and helpful (Canadians, eh?) and allowed us to turn around in their tall grassy field. It was terrifying considering it was only our second day owning our rig. We were certain we were about to mess it up. Fortunately, nothing bad happened to the truck or rig, but I will always kick myself for that!
Use RV Specific Products
It may be inconvenient to go to a different store just for RV toilet paper but it really is necessary. Take it from us. We were using “septic safe” toilet paper (the same stuff we used in our house) because our dealer said it was fine. It was not fine. We encountered a BIG clog and without going into too much detail, my husband had to use a crazy act of physics and gravity to jar the clog loose. I’m trying to convince him to clog it again so I can film this insane method to share because it was GENIUS. But I do not wish that kind of tank issue on anyone. Save yourself the trouble. We get our RV toilet paper at Walmart.
Another RV product (fifth wheel specific) we swear by, is our RV SnapPads. They “snap” onto our levelers permanently so we don’t have to run around placing blocks in the perfect position during the leveling process. We just press “auto level” and we are good to go! We highly suggest SnapPads for their convenience. There are so many awesome RV products to make RV living easier or just better. We are constantly finding new things!
You totally CAN live in a small space. We do it with four bodies, a dog, and a cat! It took us a while to realize that we all can’t stand in the kitchen or master at the same time but eventually we learned to take turns and it makes for a much more cohesive living arrangement. Set boundaries such as, no more than one person in the kitchen while meals are being cooked (my pet peeve). Utilize your outdoor space, weather permitting. It takes some getting used to but I promise it is doable.
I like to look at everything as a learning experience. We went into this blindly so we were bound to encounter some mishaps and looking back, I am glad we did. We are better RVers for it! I hope these lessons can steer other RVers in the right direction. Happy camping and check out more of our journey @RVwiththeZs on Instagram and Facebook!