We're coming up on a full year of RV travel. I can't even believe that it's been a year. We've seen SO many different things, and explored a TON of new places, it's been a wild whirlwind of fun and adventure. In the spirit of recollection, we've decided to come up with a list of the top 10 things we learned by downsizing our lives and living full-time in an RV.
This article doesn't necessarily apply to RV travelers solely. Truthfully, if Vanessa and I didn't move into an RV and decide to travel, we still would be living as minimally and simply as possible. It's about getting rid of garbage which takes up room in your house, brain, and everyday lives, in order to free up space for other things that make you happy. Take a look at what we learned from downsizing.
1. The Less Stuff You Have, The Better You’ll Feel
This is number 1 for a reason. I really can't describe how freeing it is to have nothing holding us back in terms of excess. Oftentimes in this lifestyle, we're making purchases that really serve no purpose. By downsizing our lives, Vanessa and I tossed or donated an incredible amount of stuff. It's completely freeing to know that anything we own, we can take with us.
2. Less Options, Less Headache
When you downsize things like clothing, for example, you are also downsizing the exorbitant amount of options you have. This is a good thing. When you only have a few pairs of pants, a few quality shirts, a single pair of sneakers, you know what you're going to use. There aren't too many options clouding your brain, making you fuss over unnecessary decisions.
3. You Realize That You Really Don’t Need Much
After we downsized, we really got a taste of what we truly need to survive. Here's a hint: it's not much. There was no reason I needed to hold onto that old iPod in my drawer. I didn't need a second pair of sneakers. We didn't need to keep books that we've already read. Our needs were few and simple. Even in terms of grocery shopping, we downsized to only necessities, instead of shopping in terms of want.
4. Living a More Authentic Lifestyle
By paring down our belongings, and minimizing our things, Vanessa and I were able to live a more authentic lifestyle. For example, Vanessa started making beauty products after she rid herself of a majority of her personal collection. It turns out that she became much happier after learning how to make beauty products, and only making what she needs.
5. 90% of What You Own, Owns You
If you have ever seen Fight Club, then you'll know what we mean by this. If not, then think of it this way...that jetski that you thought you needed to have when you visit the lake twice a year? You probably didn't need. Sure, it's fun to ride around when you use it. But then when you aren't using it, it ends up owning you. Covering it, maintaining it, making sure that it's taken care of during off-season. And what about the payments? If you're financing it, then you're paying for something you don't even use! This also applies to a second card that you don't drive. Most of what you think you own, you probably don't.
6. If You Don’t Use It Often, You Can Probably Toss It
There's a rule we have in the RV—if you haven't used it in at least three months, goodbye. There are things you have that you use everyday, and things that you have that you may not have used in the past three tears. TOSS IT. Get rid of those stagnant items just taking up space. If you don't use it, lose it.
7. You Can Still Entertain the Way You Need
A lot of people think that downsizing means losing out. This is far from the truth. Do we live in a much smaller space than what we have? Absolutely. But do we still entertain the way we can? Indeed. Just a few months ago, we were having cocktails and snacks with Birch and Pine in our small RV, braving a sandstorm in the middle of Joshua Tree. Two dogs, five humans, and everyone fit comfortably inside. And for the record, when that sandstorm wasn't raging, we still entertained outside the rig.
8. You Will Cut Your Cleaning Time in Half
This is probably my favorite. I used to loathe cleaning our bungalow. In order to get that deep-clean that I so desperately wanted, it would take me hours. HOURS. The more space you have, the more you need to clean. With only 170+ square foot space in our RV, cleaning time is a cinch. Actually, it's so enjoyable to clean now, because it takes less than 20 minutes, that we find ourselves doing more cleaning because it's so easy.
9. You Have More Time to Do What You Want
We don't need to organize all our crap, we don't need to go through storage, we don't have bins that need to be sorted and searched. Because we got rid of all of the unnecessary things cramping our lives, we have more time to do things that make us happy. Downsizing has allowed us to have the time to focus on the important things we want, rather than what we have to. This is what has also allowed us to not work full-time, because our bills are few.
10. Satisfying Needs Over Wants Is More Fulfilling
There are certain chores in life that have become more enjoyable now that we have time and finances to enjoy them. Grocery shopping is fun because we're not buying junk, but instead realizing that we're nourishing our bodies. Doing laundry is enjoyable because we have the time to sit and do it. When we satisfy our needs over our wants, we're much more fulfilled in the end.
And there you have it. Have you downsized your own life recently? Share with us how it's worked for you!
We had an idea the other day. At first, we thought it was a bit crazy. But after more consideration, plus a lot of measuring and specs, we decided that maybe this idea wasn't so crazy at all. Maybe, just maybe, we could successfully install a pet door in our RV.
Back in May, we retrieved Vanessa's three cats from her mom's house, where they temporarily sought asylum from our on-the-go RV life. After the cats rejoined the fam, we needed to figure out quite a few logistics in order to fit them back in to our lifestyle. One of the main issues we found, was the dreaded litter box. Dun dun dun.
Now, for me, I'm not a huge cat person. (Sorry, Vanessa). And in fact, I can be quite allergic at times. I've always had dogs in my life, and enjoyed the fact that dogs can be let out to do their duties and then let back inside. No mess, no stress. (sometimes). The thing about cats is that they have to have a box where they do their duties. You need to scoop said box (gross). And litter usually has that awkward perfumy scent. So, we needed some sort of resolution, and we needed it fast. The litter box could not spend it's life at the base of our shower.
The other night, we were brainstorming a few options...
“I wish we could just install a pet door,” Vanessa said.
“Seriously,” was my intelligent reply.
“Wait, why can’t we?”
In the bathroom we have our only closet. If you lift the bottom of that closet out, you find yourself in the largest exterior compartment we have. This exterior storage compartment can only be accessed by the outside, AND can totally fit a litter box. It was genius.
All we needed to do was figure out how to install a pet door to create an entryway from the bathroom to the storage compartment with ease. After a lot of observation, measurements, and specs, we found that there was only a single piece of wood separating the exterior storage compartment and the inside of our bathroom, about an inch thick. No wires, no pipes, nothing else was between those walls. A collective sigh of relief. This really wouldn’t be that difficult after all. So, we bought an awesome pet door from Menards, for only $19. BUT, you can actually find it here on Amazon for less than $10:
We were very lucky to have Vanessa’s dad assist us with the installation process. He’s a genius carpenter, electrician, and total jack-of-all-trades. We quickly rounded up the tools: a power drill, jigsaw, carpenter’s square, and a permanent marker, and set off to work.
In the pet door box there was a template, which we used to draw the door onto the wall with a pen. We made sure that by cutting through the wall, there wouldn’t be any hitting of the sub-floor, or snagging anything we shouldn’t.
After tracing the outline, we drilled holes for where the jigsaw would enter and cut through.
Next, was a very careful cutting process, until finally we had our through-door. From there, it was relatively simple in just drilling the pieces of the pet door into the wood to hold it into place. We also added some double-sided construction tape for good measure, just to ensure the door wouldn’t go anywhere. After the doors were drilled in on both sides—voila! The installation process was complete. Less than an hour, less than $20. Our very own installed pet door in an RV.
Vanessa’s dad did take an extra step, which most likely won’t apply to everyone. Turns out that between the two pieces of wood, the bathroom wall and the storage wall, there was a slight gap. So, he used a bandsaw to cut a thin, curved piece of wood and fit it into the gap so that nothing would get trapped or stuck in the abyss of the RV in-between.
So far, so good. Not only is the bulky litter box out of our shower, but also we can scoop the box from the outside of the RV. No inside mess. It’s a life-saver. We truly couldn’t be happier. Oh, and the cats are diggin’ it, too.
See you on the road!
It's been a while since we last wrote, and for that we apologize. However, it's been one heck of a summer break for us, and we're gearing up to get back on the road. Many people think that because it seems like we're on a perpetual vacation traveling full time in the RV, downtime and breaks are unnecessary. But really, this summer was much-needed. We've been on-the-go for almost a year now, and by on-the-go, we really hopped around the country quite a bit. As you can see in the map above, that was pretty much our route for the better part of the year last year. Granted a whole lot of places we stopped are left off that map, but it was quite a journey nonetheless.
It was nice to be in Chicago for a few months, getting our bearings, fixing up Maude, and planning for the next year of our lives.
We've made some moves with Maude this summer, replacing her batteries, giving her a HUGE scrub down inside and out, and fixing a lot of the little things inside the RV. For example, our roller shade on the door no longer rolled and was stuck in a perpetual down position. So, we watched a YouTube video, wound that puppy back up and now it's good to go! Or our skylight shade, which has a plastic handle that snapped one day. Turns out, some of these replacement parts are a) SUPER hard to find and b) CRAZY expensive. In order to replace that ONE shade, it would've been over $200. We got creative and found a way to repair the handle without needing to replace it fully.
It really was a summer of making moves. Maude's fully re-caulked, repaired, and re-energized for what's to come in this new year.
It's looking like we'll officially be hitting the road in the next couple of weeks, ready for more adventures and all new exploration. See you on the road!
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Marisa & Vanessa have a whole "About Us" blurb that they are dying for you to check out.