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12 Things I Learned About Being a Young Husband While Full-Time RVing

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Full-Time RVing

The best thing about traveling around the country this year has been everything I’ve learned about how to be a better husband while full-time RVing.

Before getting married I received a lot of advice. How to reconcile arguments, how to treat her like a princess, etc. However, nobody gave me advice on how to handle moving into a 29 foot motorhome together. I couldn’t seem to find a book on “How to make your marriage work while traveling to all 50 states as newlyweds.” It seems that one must have slipped through the cracks somewhere. That being said, Alyssa and I have now been on the road together for a little over five months and I wanted to share what I’ve learned through all of life’s little (and big) moments together.

1. It’s better to have no where to run during fights.

We live in a 29 foot RV.

Full-Time RVing

We have also been married for less than six months. Trust me, there are fights to be had. The GPS is wrong or I didn’t do the dishes. If someone ever told you their first year of marriage was pure bliss, then either they are lying or should write a book on marriage for all of us to read.

We fight, but unlike having an apartment or house where there is more than one room, we have no where to run to. We can’t avoid each other. It’s like putting on the boxing gloves (metaphorically) and just seeing things through together. I can’t drive away, even if I wanted to because we don’t have a car. We have to sit across from each other, side by side, and work out our problems.

It’s perhaps the most challenging and fruitful part of living in a small space together.

2. I can’t succeed in my work, business or anything else- unless I succeed in my marriage.

They are synonymous in every way. If I make a lot of money and my marriage falls to pieces, then I’m a big failure. Period.

Yesterday I woke up determined to get a lot of work done. I didn’t take the time to spend with Alyssa, even in between work sessions I was on my phone checking email. As the day went on, I felt her angst towards me and it only got worse as the day went on. At first I was agitated with her because she didn’t understand that I needed to get my work done. However, I was being unreasonable. She is constantly supporting my work and I literally wasn’t giving her the time of day.

It was a rough day for us, honestly. But it’s moments like that that help me realize how it’s impossible for me to succeed in my life or business without first succeeding to love her. Did I get a lot of work done yesterday? Yes,  but so what? I had no one to enjoy or celebrate with because I had neglected her in the process.

She comes first, and then I do what needs to be done.

3. Clean up my stuff after dinner.

It’s wild how something as simple as picking up my stuff after dinner can make all the difference. She cooks dinner for us every night, the least I can do is wash a few dishes… even if I am stuffed.

4. She’s so much happier when I wake her up with coffee

This maybe goes without saying, but this is the holy grail of our marriage. I wake up first and when I finish my coffee I make her a fresh pot next. When she smells the delicious aroma she’s all smiles and it’s the best part of my day.

If you can do one thing right for a woman who loves coffee… wake her up with a fresh brewed cup in hand.

5. I can’t love her the way I accept love.

If you’re not familiar, there is a book called The Five Love Languages that basically says all people accept love in one of five ways; physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, and quality time.

My love language is quality time and also words of affirmation. I spend a lot of my day telling Alyssa how much I love her and she appreciates those words, but what really stirs her heart is when I do the dishes or sweep the floor without her asking. She loves acts of service. It doesn’t make sense to my brain, but it doesn’t have to, because that’s what she loves.

I have to give love (acts of service), even though that’s not the way I accept love.

6. Going on adventures together is the greatest and happiest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

Full-Time RVing at Hearst Castle
Visiting Hearst Castle
Full-Time RVing in Glacier National Park
Seeing the Glaciers in Northern Montana
Full-Time RVing at the Grand Canyon
Breaking our first martial arts boards and seeing the Grand Canyon all in one day.

I thought maybe one day when I was married that I would do fun stuff like go to the beach or an amusement park with my wife. Maybe we would even take off work spontaneously and have day dates or go to a baseball game. I never imagined I would renovate an old motorhome, travel to all 50 states, and do all of the crazy things we have done together.

There is a big difference between a fun day and an adventure. What I’ve realized is that Alyssa and I are our best selves when we are out of our comfort zone, where things are a little risky and unsure. We thrive in that environment. We don’t do normal, and sitting still is a recipe for a slow death (in our minds). It’s the reason we decided to act big and make this trip happen.

However, after making the choice go on this big adventure I’ve had to be intentional about creating mini-adventures for us to go on. Believe it or not, it’s really easy to work the day away in the RV and miss out on the mountain or ocean that’s right outside the window.

The moments that stick out on this trip for me are the days we didn’t plan, the days where we messed something up, and the days where we threw conventional wisdom out the window and went with our heart. It’s all of the days you couldn’t have planned so perfect, yet just happened because you let them.

7. Being able to work, side by side with my wife, is the coolest thing I never knew I wanted in my life.

Alyssa’s parents own a business together and she grew up watching them work together. However, my parents and most of the parents I knew growing up had very different jobs. I never imagined that one day I would actually make a living while also sitting next to my wife.

Sometimes it’s stressful, absolutely. However, we complement each other in nice ways and find ways to integrate spontaneous fun into our work. For instance, we created a rule that whenever we talk about money or do our budget together, there always has to be chocolate and wine involved.

Full-Time RVing in South Dakota
Office de Franklin

8. Five minutes of cuddling in the morning goes a really long way.

I wake up in the morning really wanting to “get to work.” I have my set routine. I read and journal for a half hour each morning. However, taking the time to wrap up and hug Alyssa for a moment means the world to her and me. If nothing else were to go right during that day, I at least created one awesome moment with her.

9. Sharing a spotlight as a team, is infinitely better than one of us succeeding without the other.

The last couple weeks we’ve been featured on a lot of media and websites. The best part is, the story has been about us, not one or the other. If it were about only one of us, then that would be okay too and we would be happy for the other one. But it’s awesome being able to share the wins together.

Full-Time RVing on National TV
She’s a boss

10. Just because we are together all day long, doesn’t mean it’s “quality time”

Sometimes it’s easy to sit across the table from Alyssa, both of laptops working, the day goes by and we’ve been together, but we really haven’t been together. There has been no quality time and even though we’ve been close in proximity, our hearts are far away.

A couple days ago to help solve this problem, we came up with something called family time that we’re now doing in the evenings. We turn off all electronics, sit at the table, and talk about five things. We share three things we’re looking forward to, one thing we’re grateful for, and one thing we are actively working to be better at. It’s some of the best conversation we’ve had in a while, and it makes such a big different in how close I feel to her. It’s a way to be close in proximity and close to her heart.

11. Finding a wife who has a heart of service is the greatest gift God could ever give me.

As I’m writing this, I feel a little emotional. In order to think about all of the things I’ve learned about marriage on this journey I referred to our photo album while writing this blog. We’ve saved several newspaper clips of our time on the road. Every one of the clips Alyssa is off to the side, filming me work. She is literally the glue that holds our little family together. She keeps me aligned in every way.

Full-Time RVing problems
This picture was staged, I work on the outside of the RV and she works on the inside. The team work is real.
*Couple
*Couple

I’m a dreamer, but she kicks my butt into gear and makes me follow through after declaring my audacious goals.

She doesn’t always ask for credit, but the real truth of this blog is to give her credit for what she deserves. Which leads me to my last key learning.

12. Any married guy with half a brain would admit that he is only able to do half of the work he does because of the woman that stands by his side.

Sure, it’s easy to be motivated, work day and night, and be super successful as an individual. But when you’re a team, it changes things. You have to be willing to make sacrifices, and yet still find the time to pursue something meaningful with your life. These things are impossible to do without a wife that believes in you, who challenges you to be better everyday, and does all she can to help you be great.

In the words of Keith Urban “They say every man needs a good woman, well I say that’s a lie. Because when it comes to you, I’d rather have you by my side.”

Before we left on this trip a lot of people thought we were crazy for doing this all during our first year of marriage. I wouldn’t try to make a defense against someone who thinks we are a bit off our rocker. But I would say that learning how to live in a really small space, travel the country, work together, figure out money together, and deal with an ever-breaking RV has been all of the things that have made this trip so bitter sweet.

It’s only possible to grow stronger through obstacles, right? So what happens when you face obstacles day and night, and week after week?  We have a choice to make, to either cave in and quit or go through the trials headstrong. We made our choice, and because there is no other way out other than together, that’s the way it has to be.

P.S I recently launched a free 7 day email course for RVers called How to See America on $2,000/month! It’s everything my wife and I learned about how to travel CHEAP and enjoy a lifestyle of full-time RV traveling.

[button url=https://app.convertkit.com/HeathPadgett/cheap-travel]Grab your free course here[/button]

Follow Heath:

Cofounder of CampgroundBooking.com and host of The RV Entrepreneur Podcast. From 2014-15 my wife, Alyssa, and I traveled to all 50 states making a documentary about hourly work. I love sharing this RV lifestyle with new people, meeting friends on the road, and the occasional binge of Tex-Mex food.

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  • Tara

    Love this, Heath. My husband and I are in our late twenties and have been seriously contemplating doing full-time RVing. I’m finishing up a Ph.D. first (almost, almost, ALMOST done) and then we’re wanting to hit the road. Your blog has been fun, inspiring, and helpful as we start to mentally prepare for our future travels. Keep up the writing – I appreciate it!

    • Hey Tara! So great to meet you! That’s awesome that you’re almost finished with your Ph.D, that’s huge! I keep a group of young RV/travelers/almost travelers over in a private group on Facebook you can join here. Would love to help be an encouragement for you guys! https://www.facebook.com/groups/makemoneyrving/

  • Justin Powell

    Hey Heath,

    I came across your thread and I’ve got to say, great read! I’ve been contemplating the RV life with my wife, being as I’m a network field engineer and travel all over the country (and sometimes the world) doing my job. I’ve got my companies full support in doing this and I’d make much better money than staying in hotels all the time (which I hate) only obsticle I have is convincing my young wife that this is a great idea. Any suggestions?

    • Show her this blog? Lol. No, but seriously. I think one of the best things we’ve done is just talk with other young RVers who are doing this thing full-time. I will say it’s not for everyone. But at the same time, we’ve had so many memories that have shaped our lives and given us a ton of adventure at a young age. We feel like being married in an RV and traveling/seeing the world together is something we’ll cherish forever. You hear so many people saying they “wish they would have traveled more when they were younger”. The simple truth is, you can. Plus, an RV feels MUCH more homier than staying in different hotels all the time. Hope that helps man.