Ten Questions About Motorhome Life …Answered
People are fascinated by motorhome life. We get asked a lot of questions about full time motorhome living. Here are the top ten questions and our no holds barred, totally honest answers after two years of motorhome life…
1. Toilet Matters
Yep, this is the top question people ask about motorhome life, usually when a few bottles of wine have been shared and inhibitions shed….”how do you poo?”
Well, not wishing to state the obvious, but the same way as everyone else! Our motorhome has a fairly standard Thetford loo, which opens into a cassette, which is basically a sealable rigid plastic box. Everything that goes down the loo goes in here, until we get two little green lights on the flushing mechanism to let us know we need to empty the cassette. Woe betide the red light coming on, this usually means some spillage during the emptying process…poo in your sandals is never a good look.
If you really want to know, we try not to poo in the motorhome loo because it fills up quicker and sometimes, when the disposal point is badly designed with small holes or grates it means getting a little too well acquainted with the poo, which won’t go down the drain without a poke! So, we drive around the countryside always on the lookout for likely poo stops and use those as much as possible!
We absolutely have an unequal relationship and Phil always empties the loo because I find it really heavy when it’s full and and …..no excuses, as long as he’s happy to, then I’m going to let him!
2. Money, Money, Money
People will often tell us that they would love to do what we do but can’t afford it. This is usually followed up with the inevitable ‘ but how do you afford it?” Selling up and living in a motorhome is not an easy or cheap option.
We know how fortunate we are to be living full time in our motorhome, but we have made sacrifices to live the way we do. We sold our house, which we we had spent six years renovating and invested the profit so have some interest from that. Phil has a small military pension and we live very simply in our van, spending only on fuel, food and yes, I’ll admit to the odd bottle of wine! We reckon the cost of living in a motorhome for us is around £18k to £20k a year (including motorhome insurance and vehicle maintenance) but you could do it for less if you were really frugal and always wild camped; we probably spent 30% of our time on sites and the rest off grid motorhome living, or wild camping.
What happens when motor home life has paled and we no longer want to be taking a full-time road trip? Well, we have great skills and are confident we can work again and renovate another house if we need to but who knows what the future holds….one of the reasons we jumped off that big ol’ hamster wheel when we did.
3. It Takes Two
“How have you not killed each other?” or words to that effect is another very common question about motorhome life.
Believe me, we ask each other the same question on a regular basis! Living in a confined space, moving on every couple of days and being together pretty much 24/7 has tested our relationship. RV life has brought us closer because we have adapted and our relationship has evolved; before anything else we are best friends who not only love, but like, each other.
We have separate interests, Phil loves to cycle and kite-surf and I enjoy reading and managing the blog. We probably spend a couple of days a week doing our own thing and having space from each other.
Motorhome life is not the romantic dream…we both spent time rolling eyeballs and wishing we where anywhere else but cramped up together listening to the rain! We’ve had some massive rows including shouting, tears and me stropping off (until I got lost and had to call for help…ouch!). You need to be realistic about your expectations of van life, and each other, to succeed.
4. The Rat Race
Surprisingly, people often ask if we miss going to work.
This is both a thought-provoking and insightful question about motorhome life…because, yes, sometimes we do! Despite our dislike of the corporate rat race lives we were leading and our stressful jobs, work provides structure and purpose; highs and lows.
Don’t get me wrong, when we resigned and headed off on a sunny summer day in our motorhome, rolling down the drive for the last time with only one phone in hand, we felt more free than we had done for years. It took months for the realisation to sink in, that we didn’t have to go to work the next day and we felt so fortunate that we had escaped.
Yet over nine months or so, I realised that life could feel a bit, well, flat. Although motorhome travel and adventuring around Europe was awesome, I sometimes missed the high that you get from closing a big project successfully or achieving a huge win for the business. Writing this, it sounds so selfish, we had the dream life but I wanted my old one back? No, never, but I wanted to replicate the highs (hopefully less lows!) that I had had before. BINGO…The Gap Decaders blog was born, not only from a need to achieve something but to share all we had learnt and hopefully help others.
5. Daily Life
People at home often ask us what we do all day. We laugh and say we are busier than we’ve ever been!
Camper life for us does not start super early. We usually have a cup of tea in bed before getting up for a leisurely shower (more of that next!) and breakfast. By the time we’ve washed up, swept the van and dealt with water and waste, it’s time for another cup of tea!
We will maybe head out for a hike, a paddle in our inflatable kayak or on our inflatable paddle boards or cycle ride, often taking a packed lunch. If we’re somewhere specific such as a town or attraction, then we will go and have a look at that in the afternoon. We might do a bit of research and planning (actually we do a lot of research) and suddenly, it’s time for a glass of wine before dinner preparation starts. Bed is usually around 11pm. In the evening we play cards, read, I might work on the blog and sometimes we might watch a bit of TV.
Some days, we set the alarm and get up early; if we’re doing an all day hike or have a long drive for example, but usually life moves at a fairly slow pace and we have learnt to slow down along with it.
6. Personal Hygiene
This is another question about motorhome life which gets asked a lot, often in a roundabout way! “So, where do you wash your hair and stuff?”, really meaning, “where and how often do you shower?”
We are lucky, we have a shower in our van but have also wild camped in the past with just a solar shower and a basin of water! I used to wash my hair every day, I now wash it about twice a week and wear it in a ponytail…it doesn’t look or feel any different!
We don’t shower everyday (and no, we don’t smell) if we’re wild camping, a strip wash works well and baby wipes are amazing. When we do shower, it’s usually quick with the water only going on to get wet and then rinse once lathered up. People are so interested in this, I wrote a post about it which you can read here.
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7. Life Is Too Short
“Do you have any regrets?” Wow, that’s a big question and one which we hear a lot, especially from family and close friends.
Personally, I think life is too short for regrets; you can’t change what is passed even if you wish you could so why waste time thinking about it? Life is about living and making the most of what you have.
However, there are some things we wish we’d done differently, mainly around the sort of life that we lived in the last year or two before travelling. If we had been a bit more savvy, we would have a bit more money in our investments making old age, when it comes, a bit easier. If we had been disciplined enough to have a plan and stick to it, we would not have wasted time, energy and funds. But then, if we did those things it wouldn’t be us!
8. Home is Where You Park It
“Do you miss your house?” Yes, sometimes; it was a beautiful house which we put our hearts, souls and a fucking lot of work into. BUT…without that, we would not have the money to travel.
We love our van, it is comfy and provides everything we need but there is something about being in a space where you can spread out, be ill, lounge, move from room to room, which you don’t get in a van. 95% of the time, the incredible view or amazing place where you are camping more than compensates.
But, just occasionally, when we’re parked cheek by jowl with lots of other motorhomes and the last van to turn up shoe-horns its way into the minuscule gap next to us and the occupants turn up their TV really loudly and burp, I sort of wish I was in a house with a fixed address!
9. Where To Next?
Deciding where to go is something we talk about a lot. Sometimes we’ll want to stop in one place for a bit, and other times we move every day. We don’t always want to go to the same places, or do the same things so we have to….wait for it, compromise.
Phil would route march up and down mountains all day every day, telling me I haven’t earnt lunch until I get to the top (that’s one of those rolling eye moments). I have a tendency to laziness and could lie in the sun and read all day!
As we trundle along our roughly agreed campervan route, we research most days to see what we fancy looking at or doing, or it may be a long held dream for one of us to visit somewhere special and we head there. We have found a pattern which works for us, a mix of activity and sightseeing, and days where Phil route marches and I write!
It probably took about nine months before we arrived at a compromise that worked for both of us; the realisation that we didn’t have to spend 24/7 together was a momentous one!
Although maybe not the most asked, certainly the most thought of question about campervan life!
I know you want to know, and I know I said no holds barred, but I’m not talking about that…not in this post anyway!
If you’re buying your first motorhome and are new to motorhome life or are interested in full time living in a motorhome, drop us a line with any questions. We’re intrigued to know what you’re intrigued about!