15 Ways to Hit Reset on the Road
15 Ways to Hit Reset on the Road
Tips for making adjustments to your space, travel, budget, and community.
By: Noel Fleming & Chris Miller
Since we began full-timing almost four months ago, we have learned that even after 36 years together, living in our new space required some changes. We specifically came up with a “code word” that either person could say aloud (in our best Phoebe from FRIENDS impersonation) that would be a signal that something needs to change in the course of our conversation or action. Our code word is “reset.”
While having an agreed-upon prompt to shift the tone and focus seemed brilliant, it still required diligent intention to turn thought into action. One time included how to negotiate driving through the hanging moss-covered streets in downtown Savannah, GA, without snagging all of the items on the roof of the van.
Practicing the act of resetting our interactions got us thinking about ways we use the reset button in other areas of RV life. Whether you are a some-timer, half-timer, or full-timer, there can be value in hitting a reset button on your journey.
Life in an RV, whether vacationing or living full-time, causes us to rethink our relationship with space. When we moved ourselves and our relationship into 109 square feet of a Winnebago Travato GL (a Class B campervan), there was yet more learning to be done.
Initially, we found ourselves bumping into each other in the van, or hovering - a bit antsy at times - while waiting for the other to move out of the way. We needed to learn to negotiate our pathways, preparation areas, and lounge areas. It immediately brought to mind cooking shows in which chefs announce the word, “behind” when alerting others of their presence.
We reset our routines and roles we would play in daily tasks to custom fit our particular floorplan. Small things make a big difference when living life in an RV. Who would make the bed vs. would make the coffee? How would we share and access the closet area? Who was going to find the next audible book while seated in the van cab while the other sat at the dinette and researched another Frank Lloyd Wright structure to visit? This was all so different from life in our 1,000-square-foot condo where such negotiations were unnecessary. Soon we were able to do the van shuffle with a more automatic rhythm and the choreography of our days improved.
In addition to rethinking the way we moved through the space, we continue to reset our use of the storage space. What items truly earn their space? I am still amazed at how many times we have purged our van contents in such a short period of time. But I am more amazed at how much more open our rolling home feels when we clear out excess and redefine our space and where things live within it. There was a full-blown celebration when the shore power cord and water hoses were relocated and a dedicated spot for laundry was established! Every RVer has these moments of small victories.
Taking care of the ordinary repetitive parts of life efficiently allows our energy to be focused more on travel.
Top Tips for a Space Reset:
- Give away or donate just one thing you don’t need in your RV
- Re-arrange the contents in just one area of your rolling home
- Relocate where you store just one item in your RV
Another area we continue to reset is our choice of destinations, and more importantly, the pace of our travels. Before we began full-timing, rookie-itis had us racing to get somewhere and do as much as possible before having to race home to get back in time for work.
It’s easy to become overly ambitious about all the possible destinations. Countless roadside signs, seasonal events, travel websites, and social media posts inundate us with invitations for exploration. They beckon to us, and they are speaking our language. RVers are, after all, adventurous at heart - enticed by new experiences and eager to add chapters to our life stories. Who wouldn’t want to make the most of their days?
However, attending to all that vies for our attention creates a pace that cannot be sustained. It doesn’t take long to feel a bit frenetic. Before we began our life on the road, we actually had multiple conversations about the desired pace of travel. We agreed that more was not necessarily better. We even said aloud, “we can’t do it all.” Yet when we hit the road, we moved with fierce gusto, scampering from one cool national park to the next awesome monument, to the next grand experience without slowing down. It was a clear wakeup call one morning when neither of us knew our location. We laughed as we consulted the weather app in order to learn the name of our current town and state.
This has been the most difficult area for us to reset. Now we incorporate action plans that help us see less, but possibly experience more. We research a destination ahead of time, capture notes on our phone. Stop at the local visitor center to inquire about our notes and any other information. We have never been disappointed by the advice of the personnel who know the area and want tourists to experience the best of what is offered. We learned about a local craft fair, an international sheep herding competition, current condition of bike trails, and the local brew of the month.
Top Tips for a Travel Reset:
- Have each traveler choose one thing to do while visiting a particular destination.
- For each destination, choose one way to sit still.
- At regular intervals of RV driving, pull off the road and step outside your rig.
- Remember to stop at the Visitor Center for up-to-date options.
- Always chat up the locals. For us, getting to know people is a huge part of the adventure and they can steer you into gems of places that are not mentioned in any brochure or app.
Though we were routinely budget-conscious and calculated estimated costs, we did not know with certainty how our particular way of RVing would impact our finances. Yes, we’d done recon on others’ RV expenses from eyeballing charts and graphs to exploring saving techniques or actual expenses. But everyone’s travel is unique and will, therefore, be dependent upon what they prioritize on the road.
We needed a clear method to organize the categories of our spending and the expenditures for each category. One tool that we’ve used for many years is Mint.com. It tracks your costs and allows you to customize categories. While happy homeowners might need a category for lawn maintenance or trash removal services, we wanted categories for campgrounds, LP gas, Harvest Hosts, RV supplies, RV service, and of course, dining and fuel.
Once set up, we can easily track our actual spending. This allows us to analyze our current expenditures, see trends over time, and prioritize our future choices. If we find that dining out is adding up, we shift to eating in more, thus allowing for more experiences like bobsledding, road races, and city tours.
Top Tips for a Budget Reset:
- Determine your specific expenses for just one month.
- Consider a tool to track your spending.
- Revise allocations when necessary.
While we traveled the country experiencing many jaw-dropping sights, Chris and I found ourselves out of balance in terms of time to ourselves and connectivity to others. We were missing the interactions of familiar people in our world. This included family and friends from our old stomping grounds as well as new bonds with people in the RV community who we love to spend time with.
On a number of occasions, we have used air travel to get to our tribe. Both parties don’t have to go, but each party needs to get to where they are longing to be. We continue to work on the balance of time to ourselves and time with others. We believe that each person has a happy balance, but that it’s up to the individual to determine what that is and how you make that occur on the road.
In addition to spending time with your own family/community, there’s also a whole outreach opportunity available that can bring a new meaning to paying it forward.
Top Tips for a Community Reset:
- Make a plan for family time (face to face, FaceTime, phone calls).
- Make a plan for staying connected with a group (social media).
- Make a reservation at a meetup, rally, or moochdock at someone’s home.
- Make a commitment to serve someone else whether it’s a fellow traveler at a campsite, a newbie at a rally, or a community outreach program.
There are so many ways in which we can reset our thinking, our mindset, and our outcomes. As the new year approaches, what has been one successful way you have hit the reset button in the past year? What reset action might you consider next?