Wednesday, February 8, 2023


Pros and cons of RVing with mother-in-law

Dear RV Shrink:
We have had a large motorhome for many years. I always thought that after I retired, my wife and I would travel several months during the year. Now that I have retired and have all my ducks in a row, my wife refuses to go because her 83-year-old mother would be left alone. My mother-in-law is healthy and active but my wife is afraid she would feel abandoned if we were gone that long.

Can you give me some suggestions on how to convince my wife we need to have a life too? I love my mother-in-law but I don’t want to miss traveling in our golden years because she might need us occasionally. Any help would be greatly appreciated. —Momma-in-Law’s Boy in Bowling Green

Dear Momma’s Boy:
If you really love your mother-in-law, take her along. There is a large percentage of boomers who have parents to care for. I think that is an honorable responsibility in most cases. If you have a large motorhome and everyone gets along, why not travel with mom if she is willing. It’s like a mother-in-law apartment on wheels. I have seen this work out wonderfully in many traveling relationships. It sometimes takes a while to work out all the scheduling bugs between a couple and a parent all living in a small space, but it is very feasible.

With cell phones, email and even Skype on today’s portable computers, it is easy to stay in touch with loved ones while traveling, but those devices do not replace spending quality time with an aging parent.

Another plus could be having a live-in referee. I know one couple, both with Type A personalities, that seem to argue all the time. Once her mother joined them on the road it mellowed them both out, added a third voice to the conversation, and they often used her for the tie-breaking vote involving important decisions.

This third-wheel relationship is not going to work for everyone. Don’t make any rash moves until you consider all the negatives that could positively drive you to drink. Good luck. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his e-books, including the brand-new Book 2 in his two-book series: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.

(Previously posted July 8, 2017)


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Tom Gutzke
3 years ago

While we were still working we took my wife’s Mother along. With only one child, we became a four-some – perfect for tours, amusement rides, etc. My wife and I would each pick out an area/place to visit. The mother-in-law broke the tie and we always had a great time. We miss her terribly and are grateful for the many happy trips we took and shared with her. She loved to talk about them when she went to her bi-weekly Senior Club meetings. I’m glad that I had the perfect mother-in-law. She was never judgmental and always impartial. Heard of some that are not that way. Got lucky in that aspect. She went to a better place six yeas ago.

3 years ago

Leave wife and mother in law behind and travel.

3 years ago

I totally agree with the shrink. If she is active and able to travel? Why not. My mother has gone on 2 major vacations with us the third being our Colorado trip in 8 weeks. It is also a wonderful time for bringing along the children to enjoy their grandparent. We traveled with my mother and my daughter and let me tell you, it was challenging at times when it came to parenting issues but grandparents are a great help when you do travel with little ones. I with the shrink adding one addendum. It also gives children time with their grandparents without the electronics. OK so I brought the e book to read while grandma played with them in the lake. So shoot me. But it was a great hour off.

Thomas Becher
3 years ago

We didn’t full time, but we did take father in law along. Traveling was a pain. Every 20minutes or so pull over,get him out,walk him to the camper,pull down the stairs help him into the camper,wait while he tinkled,reverse and repeat in 20 minutes or half hour. He was a ? great guy, but not one to travel with. Maybe if I had a motor home it would have been better.

5 years ago

We had lots of adventures traveling with my mother.She camped all her married life and after my father passed away, she missed it. When we asked her if she wanted to go with us in our 29′ class c, she said yes if we really meant it. When we traveled she was a great help when we went places she had been and could tell us great places to see. She went with us till she was 92. She passed away at
93. Left us with wonderful memories.

Chuck Woodbury
5 years ago
Reply to  Paulette

How wonderful for you and your mother! All that time together. I feel happy just reading your story.

3 years ago
Reply to  Paulette

My mother while growing up wanted to go camping and my father absolutely refused. So when I went to college that is when we discussed getting a tent and trying a camping outing. Did it for 10 years until I got married. Then it was me and my husband. Then our daughter came along and it became two camping trips. One with the girls and one with the family. Now it is seems we are combining them. With an occasional girls weekend camping trip. So yes, I do agree, have fun and enjoy. We don’t know how many we will have left.

Dennis Johnson
5 years ago

After the kids grew up and left the nest, me and my wife left the security of our Northern Minnesota life time home. We moved to Missouri, then Texas, and finally Iowa. We had a motorhome and invited the Mother in- law to Mo. for winter trip, and it continued for all our adventures until she passed away. I realized never really got to know/love her before, my mother in law.

5 years ago

Traveling with a parent or parents is a great option. We took our two mothers to Alaska in a Class C purchased for the trip. We all had a great time. The tow moms were cranky about activity, but they enjoyed staying “home” and just chilling while we were out. Now the only one left is my dad, who would probably be fine with it, but we only have a class B with seating for two. Our chosen option is to take nice trips and swing by for visits every so often, Dad has a nearby relative who provides needed assistance. We’ll make the trip starting from home, 350 ambling miles to his home, then out for a couple weeks and back around. That makes for a 3 or 4 week travel cycle, or longer.

5 years ago

You might be interested in reading the recent book Driving Miss Norma. It’s about the adventures of a middle aged couple traveling the U.S. in their RV with their elderly mom.

Driving Miss Norma: One Family’s Journey Saying “Yes” to Living

5 years ago

Offer “some” trips with mom in law, and some without. If wife rejects that compromise, take trips without them. Life is short, go live your dream.

Tom Gutzke
5 years ago

My mother-in-law took two- to four-week vacations every year with my wife, our young son, and I. That made us a “four-some” which was great for many things we’ve done. She was a great traveling companion. Our son is now close to forty and my mother-in-law has passed away. I was truly blessed with having two “mothers” in my life. I wish she was still with us as we travel 3-5 months a year. so she could see more of the natural beauty of the U.S. – along with a few ‘quirky’ attractions along the way.

Marv Thomasson
5 years ago

Another choice, talk to mom-in-law, see how see feels. She may not want to leave friends and activities behind. M-n-l might also get a kick out of hearing about your adventures on the road. I know we reported regularly to my wife’s mom while we traveled around the country as fulltimers until she fell sick and we were able to spend her final 2 months in hospice by her side.

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