RV Real Talk

by Cristina | Last Updated: July 30, 2021

My family just came back from a 40 day RV trip.  During this time I may have mentioned how crusty I became.  I may have perhaps brought up how there was a thin layer of dust tracing my skin from the tips of my toes to the very top of my head. Or told you how it is blazing hot in some of these campgrounds, and deodorant has been categorically important.  I mean, maybe I haven’t mentioned any of these things because I’m not really a complainer.  I just go with the flow.  Yup, that’s me.  LOL

For all the complaining I have done on this trip, it truly has been one of the best summers of my life.  I was blown away at each stop. There was always something beautiful to see, or interesting places to find and great people to meet and get to know.  The kids got to roam around a little more freely and gained a little more independence.  We did hikes and day trips that forced us all to work together and bond in ways that are just irreplaceable.  All of this being said- there are some sacrifices you are making. 

I’m here to give you some real talk about what it is like to be in an RV.  After spending 40 days aboard our Bubba (30 ft Cruise America RV), I am ready to give you the doable, the bad, and the ugly details about life on the RV.  

I want to start with the one major positive about renting or buying your own RV, and that is the control.  If you do a road trip and go from motel to motel, you are constantly packing and moving and these motels are at times a little sketchy.  When you have the RV, the move from place to place involves less packing and you can kind of manage how clean your space is.  This was a major plus for us, as we kind of had an “at home” feeling to our RVs.  Now with that said…,

The Cleaning Situation

Along with having control of the space is the real fact that you are on your knees with your cleaning gloves and clorox wipes every day.  You may be thinking that I am exaggerating and am probably just a crazy cleaning OCD lunatic when it comes to dirt, but my husband would be more than happy to tell you that isn’t true.  On the RV if you do not keep your space clean every single day it will get very messy and gross fast.  The good news is, the space is small so it does not take much time at all.  Just plan to have enough clorox wipes or paper towels to allow you to clean as much as you like. 

How much cleaner is enough? I have gone through three Meyers cleaning spray bottles over the last 37 days.  If you are one of the aforementioned cleaning lunatics adjust accordingly. 

I would also say that if you are doing this long term, my sister-in-law, Leann, had a dust buster and that was one of the best, most useful things we had out here.  

Is a swifter a good idea?  We had a swifter out here, and I would still end up on my hands and knees cleaning with a wipe.  It was just quicker and easier.  The space is so small that it was more of a hassle to get the swifter out than to just quickly wipe up the floor.  

The Space Situation: 

Considering all the cleaning you have to do, it definitely works to your advantage that the space is small.  However with a small space comes limited storage space and a lot of accidental injuries.  

In regards to the storage space, I would advise to pack light.  In our experience, it is better to have space than to have more stuff.  Stuff you will ultimately not use or have to clean or wash.  As you can see in the pictures, you have a limited amount of storage.  This storage has to hold your clothes, food, tools, utensils, and whatever else you will need for the enjoyment of your trip. 

How much clothes is too much clothes? I don’t want to tell you how to live your life.  I will tell you, there is a fine balance here.  You want to have enough clothes to get you through at least 5-7 days without having to do laundry.  We will talk about the laundry situation below, but trust me when I say you need that 5-7 day minimum.  

I would say to have a bathing suit or two, because most sites have a pool or you will do an excursion or activity that will require one.  I would also say have some clothes to go eat in town, but not too many outfits.  Again- you are washing your clothes, or will need a place to put it in your teeny tiny RV closet. 

Along with limited storage, there are also the inevitable injuries you are bound to incur.  If you are already a naturally clumsy person (like me), then you are really in for a treat.  I have lost track over how many injuries we have due to the lack of space:

The list goes on and on.

The Bathroom situation: 

Everybody will have their own opinion on this.  For example, my husband’s opinion is that we should always use the community shower.  There is almost no circumstance where he feels you should use the shower in the RV.  I would personally want to solely use the shower in the RV.  There is almost no circumstance where I want to take a shower in the community shower.  But, hey! We all have different comfort levels.  

This topic is usually the cause of some of our biggest arguments throughout our camping experience.  By day 6 and we had  gone at it twice already.  Unfortunately for me, both times I lost and ended up in the community shower.  Because ultimately he is the one who has to deal with the plumbing.   

So now you may be asking yourself, is it that bad? Is Cristy just absolutely spoiled rotten and it can’t be that bad.  My answer to you- is both are correct.  Our first stop in South Dakota was at this lovely campsite called The Buffalo Ridge.  As of today, I would say this has been my favorite campground on many levels.  (I can tell you more about that HERE).  But they had individual shower rooms. So you could go in and do your business, and take a shower and not worry about anybody else.  

I know this is too much information.  But poopy time is sacred.  I cannot be expected to be “regular” when I have to do it in front of an audience.  It is also very hard to be regular when you are far away from the bathroom.  I don’t know about you, but when I have to go- I have to go. I can’t be expected to take a 5 minute stroll to the bathroom and still have the same urgent need.  One time I got the urge to go, and in the name of “being a team player” (as Bobby calls it) I walked the 7 minutes to the bathroom, and when I finally sat down- nothing.

However, privacy and distance are really just one piece of this very layered problem.  Do me a favor and picture this:

There you are, you have surrendered to this idea of showering in the community shower.  You are excited.  This place has private bathrooms, which should make the bathroom problem much better.  You pack your caddy, filling it with all the soaps and creams and your favorite face wash.  A little “you” time in the midst of camping chaos.  You slip on your shower shoes, grab your change of clothes, and towel and off you go.  You’re even going to wash your hair! You walk into the cleanest bathroom you can find and set your stuff down on the bench.  You turn the shower on and turn to hang your towel.  You’re so excited.  This shower is going to be as awesome as it can be.  

But then, your towel falls of the RIDICULOUSLY SMALL TOWEL HANGER and onto the floor.  The floor layered with the bath water from a bath prior.  Your towel, your only towel because you’re in an RV park in the middle of nowhere has fallen into another’s bath water.  Game Over. 

If that didn’t terrify you the way it should have, then let’s just say this: I don’t like the idea of taking a shower in someone else’s bath water.  No matter how clean these showers are, there is water lingering.  I don’t like it.  Don’t even get me started on the shower curtain.  Can I do it? Yes.  Do I hold my breath, blast music and move as fast as I can? I move like my life depends on it.  Bobby didn’t even know I was capable of showering that fast and we have been married 14 years. 

Here are my shower hot tips for any of you feeling crazy enough to take this little journey:

I will leave you with this… Please take note of the extra towel on the floor (money moves)

The Laundry Situation

If you are going to be staying on the RV for more than one week, than laundry may be inevitable. I would suggest bringing along a bag, or a collapsible basket like THIS

The laundry bag, will work to collect the clothes, easy to bring the clothes to the washing machine, and you can use it to bring the clothes back once it’s dry. That specific bag was the one I used, and it was great because it had pockets to put the quarters and a place to hold the dryer sheets and other essentials.

Is it hard to do the laundry on these campgrounds? Your biggest obstacle is timing. Sometimes you go to the machines and they are wide open and you can get 2-3 loads going at the same time. Other times, all the machines are taking and you find yourself setting timers and stalking the machines until you can use them.

I will advise you to only bring liquid detergent. Most machines do not accept any pods. I will also advise you to head into the situation with some quarters on hand. You don’t want to have an emergency and not be able to get quarters. Each machine varies in price but they were all somewhere between $1-$2.50.

Bottom Line

If you also have a husband or an very insane pushy sister-in-law that is pushing an RV trip on you, I would consider it.  Listen, they don’t have to know you are considering it.  Just take some time to yourself and think about it.  I am an absolute city kid.  I say this with zero judgment towards those who love to camp. Everyone is different.  My point here is simply this, even the citiest of the city kids, can survive this trip.  The space and bathroom situation are challenges, but they are far outweighed by the experience.  There is nothing quite like nature.  There is nothing quite like the absence of Wifi to really bring a family closer. 

While I am smellier than I have ever been, I am also willing to say it is worth it and is very doable.  You can do hard things! Or at least that’s what Glennon Doyle keeps saying and I am just hoping she is right.