Going Nomad: 10 Lessons we Learned after 2 weeks on the Road

It's hard to believe that Eric and I have been living in our RV for almost two weeks now. We officially left Georgia on July 30th and drove nearly all day to get to Ohio, where we visited family for a couple days. While there we stayed at Buck Creek State Park and it didn't take long for us to feel like #RVnewbies.

Going Nomad: 10 Lessons we've learned after 2 weeks on the road in our RV. Hopefully you can learn a thing or two from our mistakes | MountainModernLife.com

Going Nomad: 10 Lessons we Learned after 2 Weeks on the Road

Let me first say that this post is a bit long, but I wanted to bring you up to speed on what we've been going through as we become accustomed to the RV lifestyle. Now that we have working wi-fi AND a desk to accommodate my computer (woo-hoo!), our updates will be a lot more frequent. 

It's amazing what you can learn after just two weeks on the road. Here are 10 lessons Eric and I have learned thus far and hopefully you can learn a thing or two from our mistakes.

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Lesson 1:

Open your fridge very gently after parking. Or maybe just don't squeeze items that don't fit that well to begin with…

The first thing we did after parking the RV was attempt to give the cats some water. Only once we opened the fridge our favorite water filter pitcher fell, broke and poured water all of the floor. Booooo. What's funny is we had two Soma water filter pitchers, but in the spirit of becoming (somewhat) minimalists we decided to leave our second one with my mom. That probably would have been the better one to bring since it was slightly smaller, but I really loved the wooden handle on this one.

Going Nomad: 10 Lessons We've Learned after 2 Weeks on the Road in our RV | MountainModernLife.com

Luckily, the water cleaned up pretty easily from our new flooring, and we had enough left in the broken pitcher to give the cats water.

Then it was time to check the rest of the water systems in the RV…

Lesson 2: 

Don't forget to close the hot and cold water connectors to your shower BEFORE you turn the water on.

When it came time to test out the shower we heard the water coming out only it wasn't coming through the shower head, and instead sound like it was coming from below the shower. Ut-oh.

Chances are, you probably never opened these in the first place, but just in case you do, don't forget to close them. And it may also be a good idea to keep items you don't mind getting wet in the storage bay underneath the shower, just in case.

Going Nomad: 10 Lessons We've Learned after 2 Weeks on the Road in our RV | MountainModernLife.com

Lesson 3:

De-winterize BEFORE you officially leave on any long or far away trips.

You see, we winterized the coach several months ago but since we had been parked in our neighbor's driveway we were unable to hook up to water, or de-winterize the RV. Now was the time to do so. However, I recommend doing all of this before you drive 11 hours or officially leave on any far away RV adventures.

While flushing out the systems we noticed the hot water wasn't working and on top of that the bathroom faucet was spitting out water in bursts a bit more like a geyser than a faucet.

Going Nomad: 10 Lessons We've Learned after 2 Weeks on the Road in our RV | MountainModernLife.com

We apparently forgot to close the connectors a while back when we considered removing the shower to get to the wall behind it. Oops. We never did remove the shower once we realized what a pain it would be to get out or put back in.

Luckily Eric figured this out pretty quick but one of the bins we had in the storage compartment below the shower was already filled to the brim with water. It was a bin filled with some Christmas decor because small space or not, I was determined to bring some of my favorite holiday decorations with us.

Despite all of these things going wrong within the first 15 minutes of us parking and getting set up, we stayed in good spirits and laughed it all off. Partly because we were excited to be on the road, and probably because we were slightly delirious from driving 11 hours straight.

The cats seemed a bit confused the first day but it didn't take long for them to enjoy the window views or get comfy on the couch.

Going Nomad: 10 Lessons We've Learned after 2 Weeks on the Road in our RV | MountainModernLife.com

Lesson 4:

Even Big Cats can Squeeze into the Smallest of Spaces

Then when we were packing up from Ohio to head out to Wisconsin we noticed neither cat was anywhere in sight. We looked everywhere but couldn't see or hear them. I tried not to panic too much.

Luckily, a little shake from a bag of treats got Kobe out of his hiding place… inside the dashboard! What the?!?!

I had actually read about this happening in some RV forums a while back and remember telling Eric about it but he was all like “there's no way they can get in there, there's not even a hole big enough…”

Ummmm… guess there is, eh?

Seriously though, the area on the floorboard of the driver's side that goes into some of the mechanical wiring isn't anything I would consider a “hole” and since our cats are far from little, it didn't seem like anything they could squeeze through. WRONG.

With Kobe out of hiding, it was time to get Duckie out who we figured must still be in there. Treats wern't doing the trick but when Eric went to remove the slide out desk from the passenger area the noise must of scared him out.

We currently have pillows and blankets squished up into that space while the RV is parked, but will have to make some adjustments for the long-term.

Traveling to Eric's Family's Farm in Wisconsin

Let me say that in the future, we don't plan to drive all day to get to our next destination, but since we had planned to be in Ohio on a specific day and Wisconsin on another, we decided just to drive all the way through. We did do a little research first to see how we could avoid driving the RV through Chicago and luckily we only hit one toll road.

Going Nomad: 10 Lessons We've Learned after 2 Weeks on the Road in our RV | MountainModernLife.com

Lesson 5:

When in doubt, ask around

We're super lucky that Eric's family is nice enough to let us park on their farm while we get acclimated to the RV lifestyle. The campsite we stayed at in Ohio didn't have water or sewage connections so we were unable to really “flush” everything out, but knew we could do that once we were connected to water in Wisconsin. We were hoping this would help with the bathroom faucet “spitting”, which it did 🙂

So, at this point we still didn't have hot water (I took shower's at my dad's house while we were in Ohio), and Eric was looking up all sorts of solutions but nothing was working. Then while he was talking to some of his family members about the issue, one of them had the idea to slightly move the hot water heater rod (I'm not really sure what it's called) and BAM it connected to the gas and worked, woo-hoo! There are tons of resources out there, so if you're having issues be sure to browse online, check RV forums, ask members of RV groups, and of course checking with family and friends (or perhaps your RV neighbors) is a good place to start as well.

Lesson 6:

Sleep is NOT overrated.

To be honest, the first week we were in Wisconsin is a bit of a blur because I was so darn exhausted. Once we had the water and power all set up and began organizing some of our belongings, the land of nod was calling my name. At one point I thought I must be getting sick because I was so tired and it took everything in me to keep my eyes open. So we slept. And slept. And slept.

We've been going for so long with projects and packing and moving and just everything that we've hardly had time to catch our breath, and I think everything finally caught up to us at once. All I wanted to do was “nest” but my body wouldn't allow it. So instead we slept.

Going Nomad: 10 Lessons We've Learned after 2 Weeks on the Road in our RV | MountainModernLife.com

For those that are curious about the inside of our RV, Eric recorded a quick walkthrough video last week, which you can watch below:

RV Walkthrough Update:

Lesson 7: 

You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone, especially when it comes to Wi-Fi.

Internet hasn't been the best, which is to be expected but that may be what I miss most about our sticks and bricks home, haha. There are some really great resources out there for getting internet when you're traveling and we are certainly learning what does and doesn't work. It's all about having multiple solutions because the same one won't always work. We'll get more into our setup in a future post, but at this moment I have really good service, so I'm happy.

If you follow us on Instagram then you may have seen a few sneak peek photos here and there, like this one of our expanding table that we'll be sharing next week:

Going Nomad: 10 Lessons We've Learned after 2 Weeks on the Road in our RV | MountainModernLife.com

Lesson 8:

Finding the food you want isn't always easy ( I guess I'm pickier than I thought)

I'm a vegetarian and Eric and I try to eat organic whenever possible. With that said, finding organic or vegetarian/vegan food options while traveling isn't always easy, or it's EXTRA expensive. I've been dealing with this for 15+ years but I can say that things are getting at least a little easier than they were back when I was a kid.

We are learning to be flexible and have visited several local grocery stores to figure out where to shop. It's been a bit of trial and error. Before we moved into the RV, we were within 5 minutes of pretty much everything we could want so I'm not used to “driving into town” for what I need. I certainly don't mind it, but it can be a little frustrating at first when you can't find what you need even after driving 15-30 minutes.

Then there's the fridge situation. Don't get me wrong, our fridge (although not residential) is a pretty decent size but we do have to be careful of container sizes. Especially when it comes to items that are both wide and tall like creamers or almond milk, which can quickly take up space.

Being in a small town also means that the smaller size containers I may want may not be available, so it's really just about making adjustments, being flexible and figuring out what to buy and where.

I think moving forward we will probably travel just a tad bit further to get the store we want where we know we can get everything we need, and just plan our trips accordingly. On the plus side, our convection oven does cook pizza WAY better than we had expected 🙂

Lesson 9:

Mother Nature happens whether you're ready or not

I know I've mentioned this before, but one of my biggest fears about traveling in a RV is weather. I used to enjoy a good storm until I moved to Georgia where the lighting is intense and you can feel the cracking of the thunder below your feet. Eric loves it, but I get anxiety. It probably doesn't help that during one of the first storms we experienced in Georgia, a huge tree branch fell on my Jeep while I was stopped at a light or that our neighborhood would be filled with fallen trees after a night of windy thunderstorms.

I know I need to get over this but we've already had a few thunderstorms roll through while we've been parked here in Wisconsin. The good news is they haven't scared me nearly as much as those in Georgia. We do keep an eye on the weather so if anything too terrible looks like it's going to come through, at least we have the option to drive away 🙂

Going Nomad: 10 Lessons We've Learned after 2 Weeks on the Road in our RV | MountainModernLife.com

Lesson 10

Don't Forget the Bounce Sheets

So another fear I have had about traveling in the RV is critters. I did a bunch of research on how to keep them out after we bought the RV and then stuffed the entire place the bounce sheets, steel wool and Irish spring soap. Some people swore by these products and said it kept mice out of their RVs or campers, while others said they did nothing. I decided it was worth a shot, especially in the beginning of our renovation since we had some open pipes and what not.

Going Nomad: 10 Lessons We've Learned after 2 Weeks on the Road in our RV | MountainModernLife.com

We never had issues while our RV was parked in our neighbor's driveway and I've kept a few bounce sheets here and there in some of the RV storage compartments, but I sorta forgot about one very important area… the underneath storage bays.

A couple nights ago I woke up to what sounded like a chewing and it seemed to be coming from just below the bedroom closet. At first I thought (and hoped) it was just one of our cats in the closet so I opened up one of the doors and the sound stopped, only to begin again about a minute later. At this point I woke up Eric who walked over to the closet and knocked on it. Again, the noise stopped. And again, the noise began just a minute later. It was definitely a chewing sound. Yup, we both knew what it was. A mouse. Eeeeeeek!

Luckily (and not so luckily) it was coming from below the RV, ya know where all of our important electrical wires, water pipes and hoses are located. The next morning we considered throwing some bounce sheets down in the storage bays, but Eric was worried the mouse may still be in the undercarriage of the RV and if that was the case the bounce sheets may not keep him out if he's already in. So he decided to place a couple traps in the bays instead.

All I'm going to say is it was exactly what we thought it was, and now it's gone.

Now we have bounce sheets spread throughout our storage bays (along with a few traps). It's been two days and we've been mice-free (as far as we know), so we are hoping the bounce sheets will do the trick in the future. I'll have to keep you posted on how they work for the long term….

Eric put together a video talking a bit about our last two weeks, which you can watch below:

Moving Forward…

Well that about wraps up our last two weeks, and I honestly could have gone on…and on… and on. The plan moving forward is to stay here for a few more weeks while we continue to get acclimated, make small trips to Northern Wisconsin, and then get up to speed on scheduling our RV project posts while we know we have (semi) decent wi-fi, as well as make travel plans for the months that follow.

As far as space goes, there haven't been any concerns with the exception of the tank sizes, but we'll get into that in another post.

Sure the RV can get messy A LOT faster, but it's also a lot easier AND quicker to clean up. I also plan to write a post about downsizing and adjusting from 1800 square feet to less than 300 in the near future, along with some organizing hacks, but so far I really like it 🙂

Random Side Note: Did you know that John Muir spent his childhood here in Wisconsin? I had no idea until Eric's grandpa filled us in on the history and took us to the Ice Age Trail not far from where we're staying, which we'll touch on a bit later.

John Muir Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin

Do you have any tips for RV newbies that you'd like to share? Or maybe you have questions about our RV? Feel free to leave them in the comments below!

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3 Comments
  • BettyAnne Cinnamon
    Reply

    Fun to watch your Posts. I can relate to many of your stories. For mouse control we use a Botanical product found at TCS and some camping supply called Fresh Cab. It lasts a long time and works well. For cats in the dash I have cardboard which I cut to fit to block the areas. I then covered it with Black sticky vinyl and wrapped the edges with black duct tape. While travelling it slides behind the sofa. Another place my cats go is under the bed. We have left the screws out of the panel under the bed so we can easily grab them out when packing up. I don’t move the slides before I know where they are because I have heard that they will go up on top of the slides when they are in too.

    August 13, 2016 at 12:05 pm
  • What an adventure! I am enjoying your journey. Thanks for sharing!

    August 18, 2016 at 3:55 pm
  • Mom
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing! We can keep up with you and what you are doing! Be safe! Love you two!

    September 8, 2016 at 12:26 pm

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