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Earlier this week Alyssa and I stayed in an awesome RV park just outside of Madison, Wisconsin. We were blown away by the crazy amount of amenities they offered. Most RV parks we stay at offer your basics: electric, sewer, water, and if you’re lucky, wifi. But Smokey Hollow Campground blew away all of its competition. Upon arriving we were greeting by a large man-made lake with giant blow up slides and lawn chairs sprawled out every direction in the sand. There were tons of kids running around, golf carts, basketball, a 12 foot tall motorized shopping cart, and then we noticed their slogan, “It’s all about the stuff.”
I wasn’t sure what they meant, but the more I looked around I began to realize what they were talking about. They had a ton of STUFF. Seriously, more stuff than most RV parks with their game room, business center, ice cream shop, and pumpkin carriage rides. Although I understood the message, I have to say what it struck a cord with me because if there is anything I’ve learned from full-time RVing, is that its not about the stuff at all.
If it’s not about the stuff, what is it about?
Three months ago Alyssa and I packed up our 1994 Coachmen RV with all of our essentials, or so we thought.
As it turns out, almost half of the “essentials” we brought along for our trip turned out to be non essentials. Stuff like the extra supplies for the kitchen, any utensil that wasn’t plastic, and the two suits I brought along that I thought might come in handy at one point (dumb). These essentials turned out to be more of a pain in our butt than actually something we needed for our travels. In fact, the more time we’ve spent RVing the more we’ve learned it isn’t about the stuff. It’s not about the stuff at all.
For us, RVing is about creating risk-taking memories, learning to live with less, and leaving behind the comforts of your old life.
We replaced “stuff” with moments.
A sun set over the Pacific Coast highway with my new bride.
Hiking into glaciers in northern Montana.
A fancy dinner in our RV for absolutely no reason, just because.
These are the moments I cherish. This is what is meaningful to me at this point in my life. These moments are less expensive than a night out on the town or a new pair of cowboy boots, but they are longer-lasting. They are pieces of my memory I will remember forever.
Learning to live with less
Less clothes, less things cluttering up our RV, and limited pots and pans are a few of the things we’ve given up in order to live on the road.
I’m a guy, so learning to live with a smaller selection of clothes is no big deal to me. I have a few pairs of shirts I really like, and one pair of jeans. That is about as much diversity I need in the clothes I wear on a daily basis.
As far as food goes, we cook almost every meal in our RV. We don’t go out to eat nearly as much as we used to, and every meal is a great time for us to connect and be together. We turn off the TV, put our phones and computers away, and just enjoy the moment with each other.
It would be nice for Alyssa to have more pots and pans while we’re on the road, but she realizes that’s one of the sacrifices we made in order to travel.
Leaving behind comfort
Showers on the road are rough, mostly for my wife. She wants a nice, hot long shower. I don’t blame her, so do I. A nice bath wouldn’t be a terrible thing every now and then, either. This is something we’ve had to give up while traveling. It’s far and in between that we have a chance to really take a nice shower.
However, we’ve taken this small discomfort and it’s given us a huge amount of perspective on how we’ve taken little things like showering for granted. Have you ever though of it? What a privilege it is to be able to take a nice, hot shower whenever you want. How many people would love to have that luxury? And don’t kid yourself, it is a luxury. There are millions of people who don’t have access to something as simple as a shower.
Leaving behind great showers has taught us how to appreciate the simple things in life.
The best part of life on the road is realizing you don’t need all the “stuff.”
A year ago I called Alyssa from a boot store and told her I was buying a new pair of $200 cowboy boots. “I need them,” I remember telling her.
I look back at myself and wonder how I could have ever been so blinded. I was so wrapped up in my own desires that I couldn’t separate needs from wants. Obviously, I needed the perspective of being woken up to reality.
RVing and travel has opened my eyes to just how fortunate I’ve been for all my life. I was never rich, but I never had to go without either. I was never said no to. It’s taken three months of travel to awaken myself to what really matters in life, and it’s not the stuff.