Getting Along to Go Along
Three Rving Families Demonstrate How to Deal with Adversity on the Road
To some people, RV living conjures up images of cramped dining, bored kids, and bickering adults. I would be a liar if I said those things never happen, but after fourteen years of full- time RVing, my husband, Jim, and I find that those random discomforts are a small price to pay in exchange for RV adventures. And we aren’t the only ones who feel this way.
Keep Communication Flowing
Everyone has a role to play on an RV trip. Understanding the duties for those roles is the key to happiness for Robert and Jessica Meinhofer of @exploringthelocal life. Ever since they started full-timing in 2015, they aim for clear communication, whether they’re trying to get parked in a campsite or deciding where to go next.
And after playing with kids in campgrounds from coast-to-coast, even the Meinhofers’ young son and daughter understand that talking out differences with others is good for everyone.
“RV parks definitely have given them plenty of opportunities to interact with other children from different backgrounds, upbringings, and with different personalities,” says Jessica.
The family’s general roles are understood, but sometimes glitches happen. Sometimes tasks are more challenging than others, but in the end, the RV gets parked without incident, kids’ squabbles get negotiated, and life in their twenty-six-foot home on wheels continues.
“Early on we learned that communication is key,” says Jessica. “Talk often, talk early, and be honest and respectful . . . and a cold beer helps, too.”
In 2019, Chris and Mao Baltazar of @familydetour took a year off to travel the US with their two daughters. After months of intense research and planning, the family was well-prepared for life on the road.
But nothing could have prepared them for the stress of RVing through dramatic situations out of their control. A Northern California power outage was the first stressful event. On a hot, windy day, wildfires prompted authorities to cut power to the top half of the state.
As residents scrambled for food and fuel, the Baltazar family happily meandered along the coast, unaware of the mayhem ahead. When they tried to refuel, every gas station had a line twelve cars deep. Their RV fuel tank was low, and they had no idea if they could make it to the next destination, but they didn’t panic. Instead, they stopped to assess the situation before making a move.
“With this problem looming over us, we delayed making any major decision,” says Mao. “Everyone basically took a break.” They parked their motorhome and Chris took a nap while Mao, Caroline, and Jasmine explored the nearby area on foot. A few hours later, the family reconvened with calmer heads.
“We decided to forget about where we were supposed to be going on the trip,” says Mao. To get to an area with power, they agreed to relocate to a relative’s home. By morning, everyone was ready for the trip,” says Mao.
To get to an area with power, they agreed to relocate to a relative’s home. By morning, everyone was ready for their next adventure. Four months later, the coronavirus pandemic tested their resolve again, but they survived intact.
“I think it helps to keep an open mind and be open to the possibility of things not going your way,” says Mao. “One thing that we try to do when that happens is to react to it appropriately but not let it ruin our day. We recognize that bad moods can be contagious, and we try to not let it impact others, too.”
This outlook helped them cope with the heartbreak of stopping the trip to return home. It also gave them skills to navigate the pandemic. “We have figured out how to get along in tight quarters so sheltering in place altogether in our home (which feels huge compared to the motorhome) is no problem,” says Mao.
Don’t Play the Blame Game
The morning that Dave Evans clipped the campground neighbor’s slideout with the awning on his new Dynamax Isata 5 Class C motorhome, things could have ended badly. Embarrassed and feeling the gaze of curious neighbors, Dave and his partner, Nia Fernandes, of @themahoganyroads were already well-versed in the art of problem solving.
After serving twenty-one years in the US Navy, they knew that blame doesn’t solve anything. “Coming from a military background we feel like we have an advantage to dealing with the ‘hard days’ and unforeseen mishaps,” says Nia. “We are accustomed to operating in high-paced settings where the only thing that matters is the safety of your crew and mission success. In order to meet that, you need to check your ego and emotions at the door.”
The mangled awning lay on the ground, but cooler heads prevailed. “We didn’t turn on each other with outrage, place blame, or become too frustrated to work through the problem,” Dave explained. “Rather, we assessed the situation, devised a plan, and followed through to ensure everyone had a solution in place.”
While assessing the moments before the mishap, they realized their campsite predeparture checklist fell by the wayside when a neighbor distracted them. Now, Nia says they know better. “We don’t deviate from the processes we put in place. Otherwise, we will end up buying all our neighbors new RVs!”
In a perfect world, RV trips would always be easygoing and problem-free. But sometimes things don’t quite go as you had hoped; knowing how to get along with everyone on board can ensure your next RV adventure is even better than the last.