THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT living life on four wheels. Even when you have a kitchen, a bedroom, cable TV — things feel different when nature is right outside your door. The moments feel more vivid, more authentic, and more connected. RVing somehow allows you to relinquish the hardships of camping without sacrificing the good stuff.
If you’ve experienced RV life — even if it was only once — odds are you understand. And odds are you’ll recognize these 13 moments.
1. That moment when you find out how wide open your options are.
Just a quick Google search will yield RV campgrounds galore. And thanks to websites like Go RVing and podcasts like Campendium, you can find everything from RV resorts with hot tubs and gazebos at each site to remote RV camping spots on public lands near places like Sedona, the Grand Tetons, or even on the beach in Texas. You can even RV it up at Burning Man.
The options astound you, but dang — now your bucket list is 10 times longer.
2. That moment when you realize you paid zero “additional fees.”
You’ve traveled enough to have learned all the tricks of packing a carry-on bag, from rolling your t-shirts into cigar-shaped tubes to wearing multiple layers on the plane. You’ve learned to watch out for secret fees to purchase an actual seat, how to cram exactly 22lbs of luggage into your carry-on, etc. It’s becoming a nickel-and-diming situation and a headache.
So when you started loading the RV with the things you needed for the trip, you were impressed by how much you could actually fit in the dresser and (get this!) closet. Sure, this caused you to overpack, but you never know what to expect on the road, and having a pair of stilettos sitting next to your rock climbing shoes isn’t hurting anything.
3. That moment when you discover you can cook…anything.
You probably should’ve figured it out earlier, but it took actually cooking in your RV to realize that you can make a full meal in your kitchen-on-wheels anytime, anywhere. (And it doesn’t have to be hot dogs and baked beans.)
You have a refrigerator, freezer, stove, and an oven at your disposal. All you have to do is fire up the stove or microwave and feed your face. Spaghetti? Falafel? Freshly baked cookies? Lobster Thermidor? Your tastes know no bounds! You are a gourmand!
4. That moment when you rejoice in going to bed — because it requires no setup.
It’s late in the day and you’re feeling road weary. You made the mistake of driving as far as possible and that sunset was just too beautiful not to stop. What once sounded like a great idea, to cover 500 miles in one day and stop and sightsee, now leaves you beyond exhausted.
Oh, wait. You’re not in a tent — you’re in an RV. No pitching required. Head, meet cozy, not-on-the-rocky-ground pillow.
5. That moment when you brew a pot of coffee in mere minutes.
While you may have fond memories of sitting around a campfire drinking cowboy coffee, you also remember waiting for what seemed like an eternity for said coffee to percolate. Now, you get to experience the joy of waking up early to catch the sunrise and having a steaming cup in your hands — without struggling to start a fire or the rocket stove in the cold, damp, early morning hours. Thank you electricity and trusty ol’ coffee maker!
Of course, you can still rough it. Just sit around the campfire and pop back into the RV for a refill as needed — no one has to know how easy your adventure outings truly are.
6. That moment when you don’t have to hold it till the next rest stop.
You’re miles from anywhere when that coffee kicks in. It’s imperative you find a bathroom, like, right now. Gratitude to RV plumbers everywhere washes over you when you remember you brought your own flushing toilet and soft TP with you. The same holds true for when your bladder wakes you up at 2am and the bathroom is halfway across the campground. Maybe there’s something romantic about peeing with a flashlight…no. No, there isn’t.
7. That moment when you realize you’ve just doubled your camping season.
It turns out the only weekend you and your family have off together is calling for unseasonably cold temperatures and — gulp — rain. For all but the most diehard, a rainy weekend can ruin a camping trip. Trying to keep the tent dry and start a fire to heat up a much-needed cuppa can take the fun out of any woodsy getaway. To make matters worse, reluctant family members will use this experience to remind you why they will never go camping with you again.
But here you are in your RV — warm, dry, and without so much as a drop of rain dampening your bangs (though you still get the noise to fall asleep to). You feel invincible in your cocoon and start dreaming of a snowcation with the same setup.
8. That moment when you understand you’ve become part of a community.
You’re having difficulty backing into your campsite when Jim from Canton, Ohio, moseys over to lend a hand. Within minutes you’re parked, leveled, and swapping stories over a cold beer. And you now have a free driveway to park in next time you’re driving through Ohio! Score.
In general, RVers are a friendly bunch and eager to help each other with any task. Need a ladder? A hose extension? Help figuring out which holding tank to empty first? The best part: After this first trip, you’ll be the one helping out the newbies.
9. That moment when you find out the words “happy hour” and “RV parks” are synonymous.
You stroll back into camp after a morning of hiking and hear the tinkling of ice in a glass and the chorus of opening and shutting coolers. It may only be 3pm but, as the flag hanging in front of the RV parked next door declares, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.” Then Canton Jim beckons you over — cheers!
10. That moment when you understand the benefit of a large windshield.
Maybe you’re chugging up a mountain road, wishing you were road tripping in some fancy sports car so you could take the curves at speed and get to the top a little quicker. But then you see it…a glorious view through the largest HD screen you’ve ever seen: your windshield. Suddenly, nothing matters but that view, and you wouldn’t want your windshield any smaller — and you wouldn’t want to drive any faster, either.
11. That moment when you realize you’re King of the Road.
Once was the time when the thought of driving an RV down city streets made your palms instantly sweaty. But you’re days into your trip, and it isn’t nearly as difficult as you first thought. As a matter of fact, it handles quite nicely. And it sure is sweet being King of the Road!
12. That moment when you learn camping with your kids and pets isn’t nearly as stressful as you’d imagined.
You packed extra clothes for the baby and toys for the toddler. You didn’t have the heart to send Fluffy to the kennel while you were enjoying nature, so literally everyone came along…and guess what? It’s not so bad.
There’s enough storage to keep the toys corralled, and the baby’s clothes fit nicely under the dinette seat. Fluffy is safely contained in the hard-sided RV with no fear of him ripping through a tent wall to chase off invading raccoons. You realize this is likely your first stress-free camping trip to date, and you’re really, really glad everyone could have this experience together. Fluffy included.
13. That moment when you realize you can still create memories despite camping in luxury.
A few friends of yours have probably joked that RVing isn’t really camping. They even accused you of “glamping,” and claimed you can only get your adventure badge when your toes are cold and you barely sleep at night.
But now here you are, sitting around a late-night campfire, eating s’mores, and howling at the moon. You’ve hiked, tried to identify flora, fauna, and scat, fought off mosquitoes, and smell like smoke. And you don’t feel one bit of regret when you climb into that bed without worrying about rocks poking into your back or snakes trying to spoon you at night. This is truly an adventure you’ll remember forever.