TIPS FOR SMALL SPACE LIVING FOR THE ADVENTUROUS RVER

We’ve all heard horror stories about housing in big cities like one bedroom apartments with five roommates and a sixth in the bathroom. More and more frequently, people are paying to live in crawl spaces and walk-in closets. If they’re lucky, they get enough room for a bed and a coffeepot. It sounds crazy because it absolutely is crazy and a little extreme. We are adventurous small space dwellers, but we aren’t living in someone’s closet — we are RV dwellers! Specifically, we’re in a Sprinter RV, and we’ve been living in all 110 sq. ft. of it full-time while adventuring and working across the Western U.S.

 

 

While living in the RV, we’ve learned a lot about how to maximize our time and our enjoyment on the road. We wish we had the benefit of someone slipping us a few tips before we hit the pavement, but we had to learn them for ourselves, sometimes the hard way. So, we thought we’d pay it forward and give y’all some tips on how we manage to live in such a small space and not go completely crazy. We broke it down into some very important categories: Food, Adventure, and the Nitty Gritty. Hopefully, you’ll see why, and how, we traded space and stuff for better adventure and travel.

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TO TOW – OR NO?

Before we purchased our motorhome we had a small expandable travel trailer. Like all camping vehicles, it had its own drawbacks and benefits. For us, the drawback was towing it with our truck, which wasn’t the most comfortable vehicle for long distance drives. The benefit was that, by default, we always had a vehicle available for off-site explorations.

Within days of purchasing our motorhome my husband had made a significant add-on purchase: a Car Tow Dolly. Our tow vehicle is nothing fancy; it’s my husband’s commuter car, a vehicle chosen more for its low cost and fuel efficiency than anything else. Because it is small and light (much more so than my family transporter) it makes a perfect vehicle to tow.

But even with the tow dolly and the small, light car we don’t always tow a vehicle when we head out on trips.

 


TO TOW OR NOT TO TOW – HOW WE ANSWER THE QUESTION

When you’re driving a vehicle that gets 10 miles to the gallon, you begin to pay attention to the decreased gas mileage when you tow another vehicle behind you. So before we hook up the tow dolly we consider a few factors including: distance, location, activities, and our companions.

The example below is the ‘formula’ we use:

 

 

Determine Distance: We see about a 2 MPG decrease in fuel efficiency when we tow our car, so for long trips we really look at rental costs. Our first big RV trip was to Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, 818 miles, or a 12 hour drive from our Iowa home. Towing our car would ‘cost’ appx 23 miles of gas, or nearly $70.

 

 

Rental Resources: Sometimes it is just more cost effective to rent. For the trip to Amarillo we found a small car for $14/ day. The 4 day rental, with tax and minus the prepay discount, came in under the $70 cost of towing. That was an easy decision.

Be sure to check your location! We always tow to Eureka Springs, Arkansas as the nearest car rental locations are Branson, MO or Bentonville, AR. Neither of which are terribly handy.

 

 

Analyze Activities: Do we plan to leave our campsite? Is everything we plan to do within walking distance? Can we bike to nearby sites? Is there transportation available? For our Texas trip we knew we wanted to explore a bit in Amarillo, so a car was necessary. But for most of our state park visits (like Iowa’s 9 Eagles) we leave the car at home as those weekends are just about relaxing and enjoying family time.

 

 

Companion Carpooling: We do a lot of RVing with family and friends and we take that into account before heading out. How many vehicles will we need at the campground? Will there be enough transportation for everyone if we don’t bring our car?

Each trip we take is different – distance, location, activities, and accompaniment- so we do our car necessity overview every time we plan an RV getaway.

Do you have a formula to decide to tow or no?

THE FIT RV’S GUIDE TO “POPCORNING” AROUND THE CAMPFIRE

On a jog the other day, I passed a camper that was permanently set up with some old metal lawn chairs sitting out front around a fire pit. “How quaint!” I thought, even though any evidence of what color the chairs had once been was totally covered up by rust. With a few miles left to jog, I had lots of time to ponder those chairs that were so different from the tiny puzzle-like lawn chairs we travel with.

 

 

My thoughts on those vintage lawn chairs went about like this:

They look so old!

But how old can they be?

How long have lawn chairs been around anyways?

Curiosity (and boredom) got the best of me. I looked it up.

Lawn chairs are, in the grand history of modern American society, a very recent invention, dating only back to the 1930s. They became more prevalent thanks to the GI bill as post-WW2 suburbia (more families with lawns) overtook the nation. Lawn chairs have evolved since then, and thank goodness for it, because I’m not sure how we’d get those metal behemoths to fit inside the small space of our Lance.

 

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HAPPIER TRAILS AHEAD

 

Carole with her snowbird parents!

 

At the age of 6 weeks Carole Steinberg went on her first camping trip. Her British parents took her tent camping in Wales and she has been camping ever since. She and her younger sister Jeanette lived an outdoor life camping all over England and Wales with their parents. When Carole was seven the family boarded the Queen Mary and, landing in northeast Pennsylvania, continued their active outdoor life there. Carole became a US citizen when she was 16.  When Carole married a military man and set out to make a life, camping was in the cards. Together she and her husband, Eric, moved wherever the next deployment took them. They lived in the Azores and Japan and camped there with their sons. Once stateside again they moved every few years. Raising their two boys and a foster son who became their own, they all enjoyed the outdoor life.

 

Carole in her Sprinter before it went in for customization.

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5 MUST-HAVE TO STAY FIT ON THE ROAD

It can be hard to think about exercising when we’re on the road. The brain’s in vacation-mode, which, for some reason, becomes an easy excuse to bail on fitness. But what I learned long ago, right at the beginning of our RVing years, is that workouts on the road are some of the best kinds.

 

 

There’s something strangely appealing about it. Maybe it’s the novelty or the chance to use exercise as an excuse to soak in a new environment. Mix in the right fitness gear and things get even more interesting. James and I don’t travel with tons of exercise equipment, because it doesn’t take much to get a great workout. You can actually stay fit with nothing when you get right down to it. But nothing gets boring, and limits your fitness possibilities. Below is a list of the fitness equipment we never leave the driveway without!

 

#1 Yoga Mat:

 

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