Time flies when you’re having fun! We’ve been living life on the road for over 90 days. While it’s been amazing, we’ve learned some important lessons along the way.
Small space living is becoming more popular. Recently we laughed as we read an article entitled, “Dear People Who Live In Fancy Tiny Houses” because the questions posed are so true. Even after 90 days into our own small space adventure, we still don’t have all the answers. But we have learned a lot about traveling and living life in a motorhome.
When we started our adventure at the end of April, we had no idea what to expect. We certainly didn’t expect it to be easy, but neither of us really fancied it would be hard either. Don’t get me wrong, most days appear idyllic: the sun is shining, the view is incredible, we get our work done, and we can enjoy an evening in our new surroundings.
But some days just spiral downhill. Everything is 10x harder than it should be: we can’t find a place to park and spend three hours driving around; something breaks; there is no hot water because the LPG system doesn’t work properly; getting out one basic ingredient requires emptying an entire cabinet; etcetera. Nothing, absolutely nothing seems to be right in the world and we just want to give up (or throat punch the other person).
Thankfully those days are few, but it does happen. If you think life in a small space is paradise, it is… but paradise still gets a few storms! (it wouldn’t be green without the rain, right?)
Observations on Traveling Full-Time
Full-time travel is challenging. Even more so when confined to a small space 24/7. Here are five observations I (Andrew) have made about traveling together after 90 days on the road:
- Everyday is an adventure, enjoy it. We have no idea what we will see, experience, hear, or even do every day. There is very little consistency other than the rhythm we are trying to build around each day. Sometimes this makes travel frustrating but it has also revealed some spectacular parts of Europe we didn’t even know existed. Travel should challenge each of us, because it forces us to learn and to grow.
- Motorhome’s are big! Amelia weights 3500kg (with all our stuff) and measures 6.5m long, 2.4m wide, and 2.9m tall. Her front grill is also surprisingly low. I have learned this by hitting not one, but two trees with the back left fender and by scraping the front grill through gravel. I’ve learned (the hard way) to be patient and to ask for help. I’ve learned this lesson before about traveling, but I feel chastened to have learned it again.
- Everything has its place and everything must always be returned to its place. There is no room in a small space for things to pile up. Space is at such a premium that before we bring anything into the motorhome we must first carefully consider where it will be stored. Same for food. Our fridge is big by motorhome standards, but it still only holds 2-3 days worth of food. We’ve already spent a day removing the items we don’t use. Balancing what you need versus what you want is an ongoing battle when traveling.
- Give each other space. A corollary to #3, with two people and two cats, there is no way to escape (unless someone wants to sit in the bathroom). Sometimes one of us just needs to step away and let the other one have some space to breathe. We are working hard on finding ways to support each other without stepping on toes.
- Traveling in a motorhome can be quite cost effective. We planned for this when we budgeted but didn’t realize just how cost effective it can be. France has a huge network of free overnight parking spots for motorhomes, called Aires. Other countries have similar networks but not nearly as extensive. In 90 days of travel we’ve only paid for 15 nights and our most expensive Aire was 8€ per night. If you stay in a campground every night, the price goes up quickly. But if you want a different travel experience, compare the cost of renting a motorhome to staying in hotels, B&Bs, or holiday rentals. Motorhome rental prices seem high, but if you stick to the free parking spots your cost per day will be the same or better and you’ll get to visit places off the tourist track.
A few other quick tips we’ve picked up:
- When you have access to a real shower, use it. As frequently as possible.
- Go outside. The outdoors is like a really big living room.
- Trees bite. Stay away from trees.
- We are rarely in a place where we can plug into 230V power meaning our primary power source is a large battery charged by the engine and a solar panel. Thus if it’s sunny or we’re driving, plug in all the electronics. Don’t charge at night or you’ll have a flat battery in the morning!
- Double the estimated time to get anywhere. Then add some extra time just in case.
- Bungee cords are extremely useful, bring lots.
- Be patient. You’re not in a hurry.
- See point about trees above.
I’m sure there are plenty of other tips I’ve already forgotten about, but the above is already a long list!
Your turn. I’d love to know if you have any tips for people living in tight accommodations.
How do you cope?
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