Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life. He shares his experiences along with valuable tips for RV owners.
Living the Camping Dream in your RV
Far too often I meet other RV owners in the campgrounds I visit; who act disappointed about “the whole RV thing” as one of them once said to me.
They walk around the campground complaining about; the cost of their RV, the cost of traveling and camping and of course, the realities of what a campground is really like.
On the other hand, being one of the many people who actually enjoys “the whole RV thing” myself, I’ll often step in and sit down with one of these complainers, just to hear about what made them feel so negative about camping. And, of course, try to help them relax and enjoy their experience, in some way.
After meeting like this with several such dissatisfied campers I found that the conversations I was having with these people were amazingly similar.
And thinking this situation over, I believe the first problem for many of these unhappy RV owners is the fact that they were never trained in how to use and care for their shiny new camper.
The realities of learning to do things like; leveling a camper, dumping tanks, cooking outside or in a small kitchen, using campground bathhouses, and other such tasks that are unique to the world of camping, will quickly frustrate them.
Balloons over the Campsite near Orlando Florida
The Impossible Dream
That’s what I call the expectations of so many people who are new to camping in general, and especially are new to the wide variety of camping opportunities they encounter; the Impossible Dream.
Sadly, this is often true for many retirees who, once they finally do retire, jump into the RV World feet first, with their checkbook and their idealized expectations.
The first thing so many of them do is spend tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars from their hard earned retirement savings on a new trailer camper or motorhome that they think will fit their new lifestyle.
Then with little or no previous experience camping to base their expectations on, they drive into their first campground, usually selected simply because it was right along the major highway they selected to drive on as they went from point-A to point-B of their first RV adventure.
But the problem is; once they pull into that first campground, their expectations are, far too often, shattered by the reality of what they experience.
In their dreams, the campgrounds had; large wide campsites, new clean bathhouses, olympic sized swimming pools and maybe even a Tiki Bar along the adjacent river or lake.
And the campground staff would be waiting with a frozen Margarita just for them to sit and relax while watching the beautiful sunset they expect each campsite to see.
And their RV? Well, it would always fit perfectly in the campsite the first time they backed into it and they only had to plug it in to the Power box and wait for the AC to cool things down.
And the TV would automatically scan the clear sky before locking onto the right satellite antenna and then their favorite TV stations would show up on all of the TV screens in their camper.
There would be, No muss, No Fuss, as the old saying goes.
This is their expectation, because that's what the RV sales guy told them would happen. Right?
A Campsite at a Moose Club in Virginia
The Real world of Camping is a little more, well, REAL
For so many of these new campers, that first trip or two they take is when they begin to encounter the real world of RVing and realize their dreams aren't attainable without them learning more about their RV, and how to use it.
On the other hand, the experienced RV owner, who has made numerous trips traveling in their RV knows that the campgrounds, campsites and local towns of this great country are filled with real people who work their jobs and have dreams just like they do.
Don't get me wrong, some of these campgrounds may actually be as wonderful, in some ways, as any traveler’s dreams might have been.
But the realities are; you will probably have to drive somewhere else to see a sunset or sunrise, your campground will have some faults, and the people you meet will usually be, well, just people.
Your campground will often have potholes in the streets. The voltage at your site may vary as the load changes throughout the day causing some of your appliances to act weird or possibly even kick a breaker Off.
The pool will probably be a lot smaller than the picture on the web site implied, and the bathhouses and restrooms can have often plumbing problems with the water or the sewage.
And, most of the time, when you go into a nearby town, you quickly realize most of the local people could care less about the fact you have a camper and are looking for great and memorable experiences.
Their attitude can often be; Sure, come on in and have a burger, or a steak, but No, I have no idea where that place you’re looking for might be, but i do hope you enjoy your meal.
Adjust your Dreams and enjoy this new Lifestyle
I know I've painted a terrible picture, but in reality, a smart camper soon learns that the pool is big enough, the campsite isn't the problem, but rather the RV driver's experience backing up is the problem.
And, they find that sure some of the locals are indifferent to them being tourists, but there many more who, like most Americans I have met, are ready to give you a hand finding what you are looking for.
An experienced RV owner knows he has to take the time to do research on every campground they plan to visit.
And they know that the campground, the local people and the local attractions which drew them there are providing them with a new place for to set up their home on wheels and then take their time exploring and looking for things you always wanted to see and do.
What I'm saying is most people living an RV lifestyle, even the most experienced Rv owner, will quickly adjust to each “real world” they encounter and learn to make it something they can really enjoy.
You see, when someone builds an imaginary world of expectations, regardless of whether it involves owning an RV and traveling, or maybe flying around the world in jet planes and staying in expensive hotel rooms, eventually they will both become disappointed, or at least bored with what they are doing and want to move on.
With an RV, moving on is what you do, and that next campground will be a new adventure for you.
I guess what i’m saying is; Dreams are just that, little pieces of your heart’s desires that you have often built up in your head, into something beyond what you will ever find in the real world.
But at the same time, the RV owner who takes what they find RV ownership and camping to be really like, and uses it as a way to encounter new adventures?
Well, they will invariably become another advocate of this unique way to travel, live and explore the USA.
by Don Bobbitt, November, 2017
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on November 16, 2017:
Mary - That was my point, civilizations and society as a whole, is quite different when you just travel in the US, but this is especially so, when traveling around the world.
When my job required me to travel around the world and spend a majority of my time in different countries, one of the first things I made myself do was accept the fact that every country's rules, social styles, lifestyles and even the way they cook foods are based on both centuries of evolving to what they are now. And, then I always kept my perspective when dealing with the people, whether in a restaurant or in a business environment, the fact that I am a VISITOR, and I should act with respect for what I was lucky enough to experience.
But, like you said, there will always be people who believe "their way is best" and the world should change, and not them.
Oh Well, like I wrote in my article, accept the reality that surrounds you when you travel, and make the most of what you see and you will invariably have a better day.
Thanks for the comment,
Mary Wickison from USA on November 16, 2017:
This is exactly the attitude we see with expats who move abroad. The reality is far different than expected. Whether a person chooses an RV lifestyle, sailing or moving abroad
I think it has to be a mindset to accept things are going to be different and not an idealized version.
Complainers are a pain and I personally find it difficult to be around those type of people. They often wouldn't be happy no matter where they are.
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on November 15, 2017:
WillStarr - You hit right on the head. The new RVer has to understand what he really wants to do, before he goes out and plops down his money. I had a friend once tell me that the difference between a CAMPGROUND and an RV RESORT is about $30 to $50 a night. And, honestly, it is beginning to seem that way.
Thanks for the comment,
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on November 14, 2017:
Very well done. Yes I guess expectation not met is a bummer.
WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on November 14, 2017:
Excellent reality check, Don. I prefer a little bit of roughing it over luxurious (and high dollar) RV resorts that would never stoop to calling themselves mere 'campgrounds'! In fact, our favorite places are clearings in a tall pine forest with no facilities at all, or next to a lake. And yes, if you're going to RV, get to know your unit, because it is going to need maintenance and repairs sooner or later.
If you've never RV'd, it might be a good idea to rent a unit for a month or so just to see whether it's for you, rather than jump in and regret it.