Stay flexible while RV living

“Life is what happens to us while

we are making other plans” –Allen Saunders.

This quote has a message that we found to be very true during our full time RV travels. Living in an RV year round has some unexpected things, and we’ve needed to adapt to those changes.

In life, there are no guarantees that things will go as planned.  It’s one of the biggest lessons we’ve learned, and will continue to experience as we travel in the future.  So many things can pop up in the middle of your well planned travels and require you to divert, reroute or cancel things altogether.  There are unforeseen health issues, injuries, mechanical breakdowns, family emergencies, and even natural disasters lurking around the bend.  However, there are also ways to prepare yourself to deal with them without letting them ruin your happiness.

We’ve learned to be more flexible and roll with the punches out of necessity more than anything else.  In just 2 months time we had to change our plans several times due to situations out of our control.

When Jarod crashed his bike at Pinnacles National Park in Northern California, we had to extend our stay there by 5 days to make sure he got the Medical and Dental attention he needed to get him on the path to recovery.

We also had to change our plans of where we were staying in California due to the massive wildfires that were burning in Central and Northern California.   And recently, our travel plans were again uprooted when we had to reroute several hundred miles to the West when when Hurricane Florence was bearing down on the East Coast.

Each of these times, and more, have all tested our flexibility and ability to roll with the punches.   We’ve found that the following these tips can help you be more flexible and be able to get through these types of issues when you experience them.

1.  Always Have a Plan B

We’re not even that good at coming up with Plan A, so this one has been challenging for us.   But if you approach plan B as just a general idea of some other options that are available to you, it will make things easier.  For example, we’ve discovered that if we’re in need of a place to stay on very short notice, KOA campgrounds have a very user friendly reservation website and we can usually find a spot.

Even if it’s a busy time of the year or a weekend, cancellations come through that free up a night or two.

San Diego Metro KOA Site

KOA camprgrounds, like the one in San Diego pictured here, usually will have last minute openings.

Plan B can also be for the attractions you’re planning on visiting or activities you have planned.   You should build in some extra time or a day with not as much planned, where things can be rescheduled if there’s bad weather or any other issues.  There have been many occasions where we simply planned too many things in one day or in a week.   If you have the expectation that you might not get to everything you have planned, and that you have an alternate day set aside as a potential reschedule, there won’t be any disappointment and you’ll still be able to enjoy your day.

2. Be Prepared

When you arrive at a destination, find out where the nearest hospital, gas station and propane filling station are located.  It could also be important to locate an RV dump station and potable water source.  We learned the hospital lesson the hard way when Jarod got injured in his bike crash.  Luckily we were able to reach a camp host who put us in touch with an EMS dispatch (we couldn’t call 911 due to lack of cell service).   However, we could have gotten him to the ER faster if we had predetermined where we needed to go in case of an emergency.

Although not as critical,  it’s also important to know where you can go for things like gas, water, propane and an RV dump station.   One of the national parks we stopped at had RV dump stations, but they had both failed and were closed when we were staying there.   So we had to drive 40 minutes to the nearest town that had a county park with a dump station so we could dump our tanks for a $5 fee.

Filling up with gas when you know you will be camping in an area without a lot of services is also a very good idea, and also important for times when you don’t have electrical hookups and need to run the generator for extended periods of time.

(Learn from our mistake:   If your generator gets its fuel from the same tank that the motorhome engine uses, there’s most likely a safety feature that won’t let you run the tank below 1/4 full and your generator won’t run below that level.    So keep that RV fuel tank nice and full!)

3. Don’t Do It Alone

When situations arrive that require changing your plans or coming up with entirely new ones, discuss it openly with your significant other and the kids if you have them.   Having some other suggestions and alternative plans from others can reduce the pressure and make thing less stressful.  Unless of course you’re traveling alone, then it’s all on you :).  We include our teenagers in these types of discussions and they have been very helpful in finding ways around unexpected plan changes.   When we had to change our route from Pennsylvania to Florida due to hurricane Florence, the whole family sat around the computer looking at Google Maps trying to decide which way would be safest and where we should look for overnight camping along the route.

4.  Saying Goodbye Isn’t Easy

This is a pretty straightforward tip, but not always easy to follow.   Don’t get too attached to Plan A (see tip # 1 Always Have a Plan B).  Yes, you spent a lot of time and put a lot of thought into coming up with Plan A, but once a disruptive event changes things, there’s no going back.   Sometimes you’ll be able to salvage some parts of the original plan, but there will be times when it’s just not possible.   If you are willing to say goodbye to the old plan and embrace the new one, you’ll be happier and much more able to enjoy the journey.

5.  Learn From Your Own Experiences

It’s easy to say you should take things in stride when dealing with disrupted travel plans, but it’s not always easy to do when you’re confronted with issues.   One tip that we rely on is to think back at past issues we’ve dealt with and all of the uncertainty of having to change plans or deal with unexpected challenges.   Without exception, we are always able to see something positive that came from unexpected changes.   Whether it’s staying somewhere new and wonderful, meeting new people as a result of being somewhere you weren’t planning on going, or just finding joy in being with your loved ones in whatever setting you find yourself in, focus on the positive and leave the negative behind.

Pine tree with silver blue clouds at sunset

Look for the “Silver Lining” and don’t dwell on the negative.

The more you go through these types of issues and challenges, the more confident and less stressed you’ll be, because you will know from experience that things will turn out OK, and there will be a silver lining waiting for you.


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Able Family Travels