Updated: Nov 21, 2018
Living with your husband full-time in an RV can be a challenge, but it’s doable. It’s not for the faint of heart, however. Here are some suggestions on how to make RV travel work without losing your mind.
I am sitting peacefully on our #RV porch enjoying the solitude while my husband, John, is inside working. He doesn’t know I’m writing a blog on how to survive in a 400 square foot RV with a husband around 24 hours a day.
We’ve been on the road for the last eight months, have visited 22 of the 50 states, and I still have my sanity. Prior to departing on our adventure in May, I was a full-time college professor. My husband had retired the previous year.
Even my last year of teaching was a co-existing challenge. I would come home from work and it appeared he hadn’t moved from his desk. I had to do the cooking and the cleaning, plus prepare for my classes. He paid the bills and managed our rental properties. Although it sounds like an equal division of labor, I felt like I had all the manual labor and he was just using his brain.
It was time for a change, and what better opportunity was I going to get that when we bought a 5th wheeler and decided to explore America!
Here’s how I’ve survived so far (not in any particular order):
Have a clear understanding that this is a new life and roles are going to change. Discuss those roles before you head out on the road and make sure that both parties can agree to them. They can be as simple as he kills the cockroaches and you handle the spiders.
Never do all the cooking. We have a kitchen with a 12 inch oven. Although I can prepare our traditional meals relatively well in that kitchen, I’m not a big fan of cooking. So, John does all the prep work (cutting up the vegetables, etc.), then I take over. Having both of us in the kitchen at the same time is a bit of a joke (a video on that later), so it’s less stressful if we let John do the prep, leave the kitchen, then I step in.
Regarding meals, make sure to buy a propane grill as well as a flat griddle that can be used outside. It breaks up the monotony of cooking, plus hubby can at least prepare some of the dinner for you. Buy an electric fryer that can also be used outside. You don’t want grease smells inside a small RV.
Enough about cooking! Let’s talk about quality time together. Find a hobby that your husband doesn’t appreciate and do it on your own…preferably in another room. I use our toy hauler room to sew and quilt. I can shut the door and have some quiet time.
Learn the value of silence (this one came from John). You don’t have to talk to your spouse constantly. He might want to get lost in his own thoughts. If you need solitude, so does he.
Cultivate friendships with other RVers so you can widen your circle of friends and not depend so heavily on your husband to entertain you, etc.
Ask your husband to run as many of the errands as possible—or you do it. Grocery shopping can net you up to two hours of alone time.
Don’t expect a bad marriage to get better simply because you’re traveling. Keeping an RV functioning properly can be stressful. John destroyed our RV roof in a battle with a tree (he lost), and you never know when you might get lost on the road or run out of gas. It’s NOT easier than living in a sticks and brick home. You must learn to communicate and tell your partner when there is a problem and you need to discuss it rationally...and as soon as you calm down, not the following week.
Take a few minutes each morning to discuss your plans and make sure you’re on the same page. If you planned to see the sites, but he wants to go fishing, you need to agree on the day’s goals. It’s also a good time to connect and have some quiet time together. We do a devotional each morning that helps ground us.
Worship and pray together. With God, all things are possible, including a smooth-running marriage.
Find things that you can both enjoy that take you out of your small tin can that you call an RV. John and I love to fish, hike, and play bridge…among other hobbies. When we are doing them together, especially outdoors, we look forward to returning to The Beast (the name of our RV).
Learn to say “I’m sorry.” Enough said on that one.
Find each of your strengths and play to them. If you are more organized, you be in charge of finding the campsites. If he likes to cook, let him. Do you have mechanical skills? Be in charge of RV maintenance. It’s a great time to switch up the roles.
This one is important. Make sure that each of you is carrying your fair share of the responsibility. Talk about it. Come to an agreement. Then don’t forget to do your share. You might have to change up the duties as you become more experienced RVers, but that’s part of the learning curve.
Even if it’s not your responsibility, be willing to pitch in so things can get done. A happy husband is much easier to live with.
Best advice I can share is this. Develop a sense of humor and learn to roll with the punches. Things go wrong. You must learn to take them in stride. Here’s a great video from my favorite comedian, Jeanne Robertson. It’s called “Baton.” Please watch.