“It’s either going to make you or break you,” our Travel Channel film instructor told my husband, Spanky, and I as we prepared to spend seven-straight months together circumnavigating the planet.
We took the class so we could learn how to make masterful videos and maybe even submit some clips (until we realized we needed a release form from all 87 people that may or may not show his or her face in each three-minute clip). Though we ended up opting not to work on our first round-the-world trip, the class was still useful. But, it’s the instructor’s relationship advice that still reverberates in my mind.
He was right. That trip would make us or break us. Thankfully, it made us. Then, we decided to do something even riskier. We decided to push our luck and try living in a RV. Heck, we lived in camper vans for two months—if that’s not a trial run, I don’t know what is. So we went for it. We bought a 27-foot travel trailer and took our romance permanently on the road.
If you are like most Americans, you work at least 40 hours a week, which means the time spent with your significant other is limited to 44 hours a week (I figure four hours per night on weekdays and 12 hours per day on weekends, and that’s being generous.) My husband and I have been together for a decade, and two years of those 10 years have been spent traveling together overseas; I’m talking 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Another two years have been spent living in a RV, from a 27-foot travel trailer with one rear pop out to the 40-foot, triple pop-out mammoth on wheels in which we currently reside. Sure, life on the road might seem free and easy, but when you put one and one together, it can lead to division.
So, what’s the secret to not stabbing, strangling or otherwise inflicting harm upon the one that you love whilst living in a 150-to-300-square-foot tin can on wheels? I have a few tricks up my sleeve (along with the shiv I whittled during the first few months of RV living back in 2010).
Leave. Me. Alone.
Just like location, location, location is the key to real estate, free time, free time, free time is the key to a successful RV relationship. Staying sane on the road and staying together means having time apart; this is something my husband Spanky and I actively practice, especially during periods of extended travel. We always know when it’s time for a time out. Tensions are running high, stress levels are peaked and someone (usually me) just flew off the handlebars because it’s 12:01 and she hasn’t had lunch yet. The “free day” is something we found useful during our first round-the-world trip. Seven months of seeing the same face every second of the day is made bearable only by a day of solitude every 28 days or so. In places like New Zealand, I would just take off on my own on a hike. If we are in a location that is less safe, I usually will just post up at a cafe and read or write. When traveling stateside, I escape through fitness, going out and tying my TRX to a tree somewhere, heading out on a bike ride, or taking off on a trail run or hike.
Developing hobbies together and separately
They say opposites attract. While that may be true, you also tend to choose a spouse based on compatibility, common interests. Based on the material you read, I’m guessing you both enjoy the outdoors and travel? Wow, I should be a psychic. Like you, my husband and I both savor our outdoor time—that’s one of the reasons why RV living fits us so well—however, he and I have different hobbies within the natural world. While he can go out and gold prospect all day, every day for a week straight, I can go about three hours before I’m bored to beers. Did I say beers? I meant beers. Shoot, tears. As for me, I cherish the time I can spend decompressing, meditating, or just reading a book lakeside or creekside. No matter what your hobbies are, take the time to invest in each other’s passions, but also make sure to carve out your own interests and partake on your own or with girlfriends.
Keeping it hot: Shacking up in hotels & B&Bs
The love life can get a little stale at times, whether you live on four wheels or have a foundation. But, living in 200 square feet tends to get a little more cramped than say, a four-bedroom house. As I’ve said before, it doesn’t take long for the walls to close in when you live in a RV with your significant other—that’s why spicing it up is important. If you plan on living in a RV, you should also plan on having a hotel budget. It’s nice to trade one small space for an unfamiliar (though equally small) space every once in a while. If you’re choosing the romad lifestyle, chances are you’re already traveling like crazy. Just park the home on wheels for a night and splurge on a room where you can escape the new norm. My husband and I frequently browse Groupon for good deals on B&Bs or hotels. We have also used casino hotels for romantic rendezvous. We joined the players club and gambled at the Grand Sierra Resort once in Reno, and after that they would always send us free rooms, meals and free slot play. When we finally worked in Reno for three months, we milked the casino for all it was worth, staying for free twice a month with free or half-priced buffets and sometimes as much as $100 in free play (that is, until they caught on to our cheapskate ways). Just see what kind of deals you can find and use them to keep the flame ignited.
Going romad is not for every couple. I suggest a trial period before tossing a hefty chunk of change out for a RV. Try renting first, or take a gap year to see if the two of you can spend long periods of time together with just each other.
It’ll either make you or break you.
Keep up with Sarah Reijonen’s nomadic lifestyle in her bi-weekly column called “Home on the Road.” If there’s a topic you’d like her to cover, please comment below or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @spankyandsarah. Instagram: @countrygrlswrld. Happy Trails!