The Peanut Gallery: RV naysayers

As with anything in life, the minute you start telling people about this crazy plan to sell everything and ride off into the sunset in an RV, they’re all free with advice. Most of it comes from people who’ve never done what you’re thinking to do.

My father, for example, thought it was nuts. First, he didn’t think we’d be happy in such a small space — he’d seen our gigantic house. Second, he didn’t think the political climate created a safe and happy journey through the far western states, which is where we’d told him we wanted to go.

This was the Year of Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency, and the country was at war with itself. It seemed as if everybody hated everybody, and riots in the streets were the new normal. My father was afraid for us, afraid for our safety.

Beyond that, my father also pointed out that driving a big rig was hard. He described what it would be like for my husband Bear, and he didn’t mince words:

“Pulling a trailer that size on a road full of impatient people, or a rainy day, or a windy day… his balls will be right up in his throat.”

It was easier to drive a bus, he said, only we’d looked at the buses and we didn’t like them. We hadn’t seen a single layout that suited our needs, and we weren’t rich enough to completely gut a bus and renovate it to our specs. We just weren’t big on motorhomes in general, we liked the 5th wheels.

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  • Every day my father came up with a new kicker, designed to kill the dream completely and utterly. Arizona was too hot, people died out there from heat stroke because it didn’t FEEL as hot with the low humidity. Florida was no good because not only was it hot, but far too humid to even walk out the front door and see the sights. And on it went, state by state. As far as my father was concerned, the only state worth a doodle was New York state, where he lived.

    And then he’d go on extolling his little corner of paradise, but we knew the game. He wanted us to move up there, and every word that came out of him was rigged toward that end game. Our friends and other family members weren’t much better.

    Everyone added a spin in the hopes that we’d give up on moving into an RV and instead just relocate somewhere near them. You couldn’t trust any of them to give unbiased sage advice. They all tried to lure us back to living in the snow states, knowing full well that neither of us wanted any part of the wintery climes.

    Their focus was on what THEY wanted, and what would make THEM happy, not on what we might enjoy as we moved into retirement. We were like fish in the water, surrounded by fishermen trying to outdo each other dangling the juiciest bait. That left stories on the internet from other people who’d made the move.

    One internet blogger bemoaned their awful decision to give it all up and move into an RV. Five months in and they were miserable. Another had given it three years, ending up in the same misery, and now they were upside down on the RV and didn’t know how to get out.

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  • And yet I personally knew people who were overjoyed with the decision, who’d given up as much as we had to live in a tiny rolling house. Their thoughts: “We wish we’d done this ten years sooner.” That sentiment echoed across the country, from young folks to old folks in every walk of life, “We wish we’d done this sooner! Why did we wait so long?”

    You just can’t rely on the advice or opinions of others as to whether the decision will be the best thing that ever happened to you, or the worst mistake you ever made. None of us can know that until we take the plunge.

    In the meantime we devoured information, pouring over websites and blogs devoted to living full-time in an RV. We read about happy people, and miserable people, and gripey people, and rude people, and guardian angels coming to someone’s aid in a pinch. Bloggers regaled us with “the worst” that living in an RV had to offer, because misery sells better than joy. We joined Facebook groups. We immersed ourselves.

    And all the while my father kept hammering, he was on a mission. What he didn’t understand was that in an RV, we’d spend a lot more time visiting Upstate New York because the lakes were beautiful and there was so much to see. In an RV, we’d spend a lot more time with all of the folks, while retaining the freedom to leave and explore the country, the wild blue yonders out west, and across the northern regions in the summer where people were sparse and nature ruled. None of them understood. None of them had ever done it.

    Besides wanting to visit the Grand Canyon, the Oregon coast, the Badlands, Bryce Canyon, Black Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, the Everglades, Grand Teton, Kings Canyon, the Redwood Forest, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion, Las Vegas, Roswell, the Thousand Islands, the Florida keys, and the states of Utah, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, California, Washington state, Maine, Vermont, oceans, and lakes, and mountains, and so many other places… we had people scattered around the country that we’d be able to visit.

    From North Carolina to Texas, Illinois to New York, Florida to Georgia, our people were scattered hither and yon, and living in a rolling house would allow us to visit people we never got to see.

    But the naysayers didn’t get it. They didn’t understand that traveling on a time crunch sucked the goodie right out of vacations. You arrived at the destination already exhausted, and right about the time you were really starting to enjoy yourself and relax, and finding the sights you wanted to see, it was time to pack up and leave. That wasn’t fun.

    In a rolling house, we’d pick a place and stay awhile, exploring at our leisure, becoming one with the local scene. It sounded so peaceful, but all the while the little voice whispered negatives, echoing the doom and gloom of the naysayers until I couldn’t differentiate between the negativity of the peanut gallery and my own innate Wisdom from the Inner Voice.

    Everybody has a peanut gallery in the form of friends, family, coworkers, social media, and the like, but few are qualified to truly give you good advice. So that leaves advice about advice itself:

    • If you want to keep on getting what you’re getting, then keep on doing what you’re doing.
    • Make sure you’re looking for advice, not validation.
    • Look for ulterior motives in the advice.
    • And ask yourself honestly, does the person giving advice know anything about the subject? Have they done what you want to do, and were they successful enough to be qualified to give advice? Or did they fail spectacularly enough to give you insight on the pitfalls?

    Just remember, there’s not a wise man in the world who can answer the question: “Will the gains outweigh the losses?”

    That’s such a personal issue when it comes to living full-time in an RV. Will traveling to places you’ve always wanted to see, be worth trading a back yard for the side wall of someone else’s RV? Will making a radical change in your finances bring freedom and joy, or retirement destroy? Is there a safer option you’d be happy with? Do you have an exit plan if it fails? Can you rebuild your life if you decide that living in an RV isn’t the right lifestyle for you? Are the risks worth the rewards? And most of all, what do you want to accomplish? Where do you want to be in five years? Ten years? Twenty years? And does living in an RV have the potential to take you there?

    We were still in the clueless stage, just trying to figure it out. And in the meantime we focused on clearing stuff out, weighing other options, and getting the house ready to sell, all the while knowing that we could still back out and make a different choice.

    * * * * *

    Follow along with us as we share the full lead-in for the Big Change to full-timing in an RV, and to what lies beyond…

    In the meantime, join me on a very different journey of high strangeness. Alien Nightmares: Screen Memories of UFO Alien Abductions shares my memories and dreams relating to personal experiences with extraterrestrials, along with the little-known UFO flaps from the time periods which swept me up into an extraterrestrial neverland of high strangeness.

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