This article was written by Molly Barnes, blogger and digital nomad at Digital Nomad Life. Read her article on planning a budget-friendly road trip here.
When you’re a digital nomad, the desert, the plains, the beach, and the mountains can be your family room, your exercise room, and your entertainment center all in one. Home really is where you make it.
Living in your RV means you can park your bedroom just about anywhere, from an RV campground to a Walmart parking lot, then get out and explore. It opens up a whole spectrum of opportunities not available to the average stay-in-one-place, residential homebody, but it’s not without its pitfalls.
In the three years we’ve been on the road, we’ve learned plenty of lessons, some of them revelations, and others painful reminders that we didn’t know everything and weren’t quite as prepared as we’d thought. Here’s just a few of the points on the learning curve we’ve visited so far.
Just a few months after starting out, we got in our first accident. It was just a fender-bender: The other driver sideswiped us, so we all got out and exchanged information. It wasn’t a huge deal, but it made us very aware that we’re not immune to accidents, and that it could have been a lot worse.
We decided to add some extra collision coverage to our insurance and do a little research on what to do in case of an accident, in the event something more complicated happened in the future. For example, we hadn’t thought to take pictures of the damage before we left the scene, but we’ll know to do so next time. Of course, we hope there won’t be a next time, but at least we’re ready.
This is a lesson that applies not just to RVers, but to everyday drivers and travelers as well.
Yep, “be prepared.” That’s the Scouts’ motto, which to them means “you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your duty.”
Since we’re outdoors a lot, we decided to adapt that to fit our own situation. With us, it isn’t so much about doing our duty as doing what’s necessary to stay safe. That means being sure we have everything we need in case of an emergency.
We’ve got a tool kit on board in case we break down on the road, complete with pliers, duct tape, flares, a tire pressure gauge, socket set, wire cutters, gloves, jumper cables, and flashlight, among other things.
Then there’s our first aid kit, which includes gauze, bandages, tape, scissors, tweezers, alcohol wipes, gloves, and antibiotic ointment. (We’ve also got a separate snakebite kit for when we travel in the desert, one of our favorite places to visit.)
Do the work
Just like homeowners, regular maintenance for RVers is pivotal to preventing dangerous and costly problems in the future.
We do regular checks on our roof to make sure there aren’t any leaks in the seal; on the water system; and on the waste system. We change the oil regularly, have the filters and spark plugs checked, and carry extra antifreeze just in case. We make sure to check the brakes, as well as the wheels and tires, which have to carry a lot more weight than your standard passenger vehicle.
This means tightening the lug nuts and checking the tires for tread wear, cracks, underinflation, and sidewall bulges that could lead to blowouts. It’s hard enough to control a car when a tire blows, and it’s a lot more difficult handling an RV! That’s something we knew from the get-go that we didn’t want to chance.
Take a break from routine
We can sleep in our RV, break out the old tent, or ditch the “roof” altogether and sleep out under the stars. But even hardcore, full-time road-trippers like us need a break from roughing it now and then. In fact, one of our favorite things to do is take a breather from the RV and rent a place for the night. (It feels so luxurious to have more than one room!)
Of course, everyone needs a break from routine once in a while. Luckily, homeowners have options too. Members of HomeExchange can trade homes with other members for a change of scenery. If you choose to travel in an RV, you can exchange it for someone's home to have more space for a few days like this family. Or, if you would prefer to head off the beaten path and share your home while you’re gone, you can use the GuestPoints system to bank that time and snag some very nice stays later. The possibilities are endless.
Enjoy the ride
We’ve been to so many amazing places, like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. We’ve also checked out some slightly lesser known scenic spots, like Mendocino in California and Estes Park in Colorado. Each time we hit the road, we are anxious to arrive at our next destination.
But when we focus too much on the end goal, we forget to enjoy the ride. The same is true for any situation, really, whether you are traveling across the country or simply carrying on with your everyday life. It sounds cliche, but watching, listening, and learning along the journey really is the best part.