Pretend you’ve just finished a plate of sweet and sour chicken and your bill and fortune cookie have arrived.
Now instead of every fortune being followed by “in bed” (i.e. “You will experience great adventure—in bed, “Someone you love will let you down—in bed”), replace that with “in a RV.” All of your RV fortunes will ultimately answer the most commonly asked questions about the nitty gritty details of nomadic living.
Without further adieu, you may proceed, but don’t eat your cookie until you’ve finished reading this article. If you ignore this warning, you will have bad sex for the next seven years; not to mention, you’ll never know the ins and outs of dumping an RV shitter, and you don’t want to miss that.
Cookie No. 1: You will eat exquisite foods and sip fine wines—in a RV.
Yes, it’s true. I’m cooking the same thing you’re cooking at home—the only difference is that a RV oven is smaller than a conventional oven. Don’t go thinking you’re gonna fit a fully-dressed turkey in that baby come Thanksgiving. With a 22-inch oven, even some large pizzas won’t fit. Aside from size, baking can be a challenge in an RV oven. Because the heat source is a single, horizontal, propane flame, which you must ignite each time with a lighter, cookies are cooked from the bottom up and tend to scorch easily. I usually move the cooking rack up as high as I can and sometimes cook at a lower temperature for a longer period of time to prevent burning by biscuits.
As far as cooking on the stovetop, this too is relatively the same process that you folks not living on four wheels follow. I actually love my propane burners, because I like it nice and hot—in bed. Though there isn’t a huge difference in cooking, space is limited (even more so in a campervan, where most of our meals consisted of one-pan stir frys and other meat and veg concoctions). Despite tight quarters, I still make room for a coffee maker and toaster on the counter. Just remember: What goes on must come down every time you move the RV.
Aside from a smaller stove, the fridge is also smaller (unless you’re forking out the big bucks for an $80,000-plus RV). You will have to grocery shop more frequently, but just look at the bright side: everything is fresher and you end up wasting less. Trust me, you don’t need a whole door filled with condiments. A half door filled with condiments will suffice.
Cookie No. 2: You will enjoy all the comforts of modern living—in a RV.
One of the most frequently asked questions I get living in a RV is “Do you have television?” Well yeah, I’m not a cave woman, for crying out loud (though I have been known to drag my husband around by his hair, which would explain why he doesn’t have much left). Yes, our RV has two, yes two, flat-screen TVs—one in the living room and one outside in the man cave, aka the flip-open barbecue unit. Heck, we could have a third TV in our room if we really wanted to be living the American Dream. So we have the hardware, but can we get the game? That depends. We have an antenna on top of our RV so we can get a few local channels. Some RV parks have a cable hookup, so once in a while we can get up to 40 channels. For my husband and me, that’s plenty, but most people living in an RV full time also have a satellite through Dish Network or Direct TV so they can tap into all 700 channels. Living in an RV naturally lends itself to being in the outdoors more and living simpler, so I actually appreciate only having to decide between two shows. With that said, not having Wifi is the real issue, as it can interfere with my work productivity. RV parks generally have free Wifi; however, in some cases there are more than 100 campers trying to connect, including all the angsty teens dragged into the woods by their parents and desperately trying to connect to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Lord knows what else. If we are within our service area and the free Wifi connection is slow, I use my iPad as a hot spot and pay $50 a month for 5 GB.
Cookie No. 3: You will rest soundly on your throne—in a RV.
Oh yeah, I’m talking about the porcelain throne. Hey, we had to get to the poop talk eventually. Yes, you can go No. 2 in a RV, but you must get over the hurdle of disposing of your own excrement. You folks on a foundation flush, never to smell of it again (unless you have plumbing issues), but us RVers have our holding tank right underneath our feet. As soon as that baby fills up, she must be relieved. “Shitter’s full!” You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever seen “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” We are a little more civilized though, dumping our sewer in the proper dump station instead of the storm drain, which I do not recommend. Basically, when the tank fills, you have to connect to the sewer and pull a lever. First you dump the black, followed by the gray, which is the dishwater and shower water. It’s not as bad as it sounds.
Cookie No. 4: You will live an adventurous life—in a RV.
It may not be the most glamorous lifestyle, but that depends on who you ask. Sure, there are days when I get tired of packing up every unstable knick-knack, tying down the kitchen chairs and laying all my hanging clothes on the bed so not to rip the closet rod from the wall when we’re hauling, but when I look back on all the sights we’ve been able to see and the money we’ve been able to spend on experiences instead of stuff, I feel incredibly blessed. And, as far as my friends are concerned now, we aren’t so much bums as frickin’ rock stars.
So contrary to popular belief, living in a RV is pretty darn glamorous.
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!