Things I Never Did Before Travel

kids on trailer copy

Travel opens up numerous opportunities to explore new lands and new parts within ourselves. Each new adventure  we embark on changes us in small ways. I’ve  been mentally cataloging some of the ways our  family’s small, daily tasks have been altered by full-time RV travel.  Life inside a rolling 36 foot box can’t, and shouldn’t be, the same as living in a bricks ‘n sticks back home.

Here’s just a few of the things I’ve been reflecting on this week.

 Before travel I never:


Thought about Finite Resources-

Of course when I lived in a house I tried to be mindful of how much energy or water I was consuming so that I didn’t have to pay a high utility bill, but I never thought about it in terms of their being a limit to it. The RV has a finite amount of water it can hold, and electricity is only available if we buy it (stay at an RV park) or run our gas generator, which we can only store a few gallons at a time.So we quickly became aware of how much we use on a daily basis and we’ve grown accustomed to the quirky changes our daily routines have made.For example:

  • Amps have their limits. Usually we have to turn off most the lights to run the microwave or blow dry our hair. AC won’t work off a battery. I know more about kilowatt usage, and acceptable power payloads than any other mom I know. 
  • Water is precious commodity- 5 showers and 1 round of dishes will completely fill up our grey tank, so sometimes we shower every other day to stretch out our water tanks. Every time we wash our hands or flush our toilets, we are consciously aware that we are that much closer to needing to find a dump/fill station.
  • Free wifi is a premium-We try to only use our portable WiFi hubs for work or online school, so we are constantly on the hunt for free wifi we can use for recreational surfing, watching TV online, etc.
  • Laundry- Machines aren’t always available, so we can’t just throw a load in whenever. We’ve learned to wear things more than once, or make sure it is indeed dirty before haphazardly throwing it in the dirty clothes basket.
  • Sewage. Not a pretty subject, or something I ever thought about back home. I just knew when I flushed it went off to some faraway place that I never had to worry about it. Now that we are in charge of disposing of it in designated places, we’ve become keenly grateful of modern plumbing, and empathetic of those who live in worse sanitation circumstances than this.

Used public resources regularly


Living in a traditional home we are more autonomous and self-contained. Being on the road we’ve needed to rely on outside resources to get some of our needs met.

  • laundry mats- Never used them before, but are a great way to get 6 loads done at once. Not as scary as I’d perceived, and met some really nice people in them.
  • parking lots- Didn’t realize people slept in store parking lots, or that I’d be joining them several nights each month.
  • campground showers- Showering in a public bath house would’ve been at the very bottom of my comfort list before full-time travel. But now, it’s the only time I get to linger in hot water and take the time to shave my legs. (remember the limited RV water?)
  • library- Sure I went occasionally to pick up books for my kids, but I never hung out there. Now, we frequent them in order to get school work done or print stuff off the computer.
  • Chain stores-(starbucks- B&N, Apple store, McDonalds) Once again I’d only visit these placed if I had something specific to buy, but now they are staples in our weekly schedule as they offer free wifi and it’s sometimes easier to spread the kids out in a more spacious environment, and let them tackle their work load. They’ve become good at self-monitoring their learning and schedules.

An unexpected side benefit of our travels is that I believe these experiences have made them more adaptable and resourceful perhaps than their same-aged counterparts. When the time comes I’m confident they’ll be ready for college, missions, voluntary service, marriage, travel and whatever the future holds for them.

Grateful for the really small things

  • Quarters- I never gave a second thought to loose change before now, but quarters have become a precious commodity in our household. Between laundry and toll roads, quarters pass through our hands like water. Finding one in my the bottom of my purse is as delightful as discovering a treasure chest.
  • Streets w/o low branches- Visually, I love driving down tree-lined streets and basking in the beauty of the mature trees. As co-pilot of a 13 ft. tall vehicle, it can be a nightmare navigating through streets riddled with low hanging branches that are begging to rip through the roof of the RV. I thank the heavens every time we turn down a residential street that’s open and clear.
  • Towns w/o low bridges- Growing up in the Southwest it’d never occurred to me that low bridges would become my biggest nemesis once we crossed into the Mid-west and East coast. Most of our travel nightmares have been caused by low bridges, so I say a silent prayer of gratitude in each city we don’t have to worry about clearance issues.
  • Tires- They are an unglamorous part of any vehicle, but the work horse in any situation. We’ve put ours through a lot- Numerous surfaces, weather conditions, and situations. Usually they come out ok, but after 23, 000 miles, 4 flat tires and a cracked rim, I’ve come to appreciate and think about them more now than ever before. Tires are my friends!


These are just some of the ways my awareness levels have been raised through our travels. Each adjustment has brought it’s own teaching moment, and I’m grateful for what traveling has taught me and given my family.

What are some things you’ve done, or do now, that you never did before traveling? I’d love to hear your responses!




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