Friday, February 3, 2023


RVing: Is it a magical mystery tour?

RV Shrink

Dear RV Shrink:
We will begin our great RV adventure in about a year. We are newbies when it comes to RV traveling. My husband thinks it is going to be this magical mystery tour. I think he might be building himself up for disappointment. I am trying to throttle him a bit. Is this unfair? Should I just let him dream his dreams and let him find out the hard way that it’s not all utopia out there? —Balloon Bursting in Burlington

Dear Bursting:
Don’t rain on his parade; it can be whatever he wants it to be. Everyone will create a different experience, pursue different interests, follow different highways, pick different places to camp and live. You two will have to find your own way.

I do like to think of this lifestyle as “utopia.” If I were to suggest reading material it wouldn’t be a road atlas. I would suggest starting with John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley in Search of America.” I read it in high school and found it very helpful. I lived in my truck for a summer traveling across America. I used Steinbeck’s method of washing my clothes: He hung a plastic bucket with a lid from bungee cords. After a hundred miles of sloshing around you stop and put the rinse water in. It works great.

My second suggestion would be one of my favorite writers, William Least Heat-Moon. He will inspire you to look for that which is not obvious as you travel. Start with “Blue Highways,” then “Here, There, Elsewhere.” If he inspires you then continue with “River-Horse” and “PrairyErth.” [William Least Heat-Moon’s books are on]

There is adventure around every bend in the road if you have the right mindset. Don’t be afraid to explore, meet people, try new things, expand your horizons. We’ve set crab traps and caught monster fish off the coast of California, and we don’t even like seafood! But now we have stories to tell and memories to tuck away. There may be some trying times. We’ve  driven up a one-lane curvy road to a beautiful National Forest campground. There were a few hairy moments when our motorhome met cars coming down. Sure they think we are nuts, but we had cocktails that night in one of the most beautiful places in California.

My point is, don’t let anxiety turn you into a main-road traveler. The magical mystery tour will be found along the “Blue Highways.” —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

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3 years ago

Ah, Blue Highways….. I read it back in the 80s, long before I ever thought about RV’ing….I just have the gypsy genes. I even met William Least-Heat Moon at a book signing.

I still have that paperback, encased in a plastic bag in a nice secure place. I may have to dig that out and read it again!

After I finish clearing out my house so I can full-time again!

John Koenig
3 years ago

Do yourself (and your husband) a HUGE favor. Find and attend an RV Boot Camp FIRST. Mistakes made with RVs tend to be expensive and, sometimes dangerous. At RVBC, ALL of the systems found on a modern RV will be explained and demystified. You both will also have the opportunity to meet and speak with other “RV newbies” (as well as some seasoned RVers). They’ll have a wealth of experience which most of them will be willing to share. Some insurance companies offer discounts to RVBC graduates. RVBC graduates tend to be smarter RV buyers too. The Escapees RV Club offers an EXCELLENT RVBC, usually over a weekend. Other groups offer their own versions of RVBC (RVSEF, FMCA, RV~Dreams quickly come to mind). Some of these programs last up to eight days (more socializing). When you complete an RVBC, you’ll start your RV lifestyle from a position of knowledge and strength. Many newbies stay in a Camping Cabin or a local motel while attending RVBC. Once they have a good basic education, RVBC graduates are in a MUCH better position to make an informed choice from the bewildering array of RVs they’re going to encounter. Renting an RV for a week or two (although expensive), could save a newbie from making an expensive mistake. Good luck!

3 years ago
Reply to  John Koenig

Just attended in Congress AZ. About a third of the attendees didn’t have RVs yet. I also took the driving course. Learned a lot from that.

Joel L
3 years ago

I find it interesting that you suggested the books Travels With Charlie and Blue Highways. Both of those books were very inspirational to my becoming an avid RVer. Steinbeck started me off and Least Heat Moon kept me going. Both books still reside on my bookshelf.

3 years ago

Well said, Richard. It’s all in your mind – letting your thoughts follow anxious, negative roads will net you just that. Keep your thoughts on (or drive them to) the high road: curious, positive, optimistic and open minded – that’s what your experiences will be.

Bob Godfrey
3 years ago

We have been full timers for 9 years and have hit all 49 States (Fuel to HI is too expensive) and 9 Canadian Provinces. There is a wonderful, beautiful, great big world out there to be seen and appreciated and you really don’t want to miss that. Give it a try!

Marty Chambers
3 years ago

From everything I have read or heard about from people complaining most of the issues they caused. We have heard them all. But it comes down to doing your homework and getting some training.

People tend to be attracted to new and shiny. They will buy a floor plan. And they don’t know that all RVs are not the same. Not all dealers are honest. And not all RV parks are good.

Yes, just like living in a house, something always needs to be done. Buy a cheaply built house and you have many issues. Now considered a cheap house on wheels bouncing down the road at 55 MPH! People have had cabinets crash down in a “new” RV on their first outing.

And don’t forget maintenance. People don’t properly take proper care of their cars, can you imagine the neglect an RV gets?

I was told by a person that RVs are crap. He said his relative blows at least one tire every time they use it. I explained that the RV most likely was not the issue. Knowing the RV owner I said he causes the issues. He is buying used tires not knowing that just because it fits doesn’t make it right to use. Tire’s age? Not a clue. Manufacturer? A tire is a tire. What is his maximum weight allowance? Too big for the bathroom scales.

But even with a quality RV, life is different in an RV. You have to adapt and overcome issues that come up. Can you and the other person even live in close quarters together?

Take a driving class before buying one. Hopefully you will get some hands on training so you can see it is not as hard as you think. But remember, if you have only driven a car a 40 DP will most likely be a huge challenge. And doing so before you buy will give great insight in what to buy.

Michael Sheldon
3 years ago

We began the RV lifestyle back in 2003….when things ‘out there’ were way less crowded and complicated. The ‘life’ can still be lived, but these days takes LOTS more planning (think reservations months in advance!) Even smaller out of the way campgrounds now require reservations…ones you would never think would! Our advice? Many . many things….but…1. Yes! Do it NOW while you still have your health & ability! 2. Plan your travels….then plan some more. Unfortunately, RVers can no longer be spontaneous in their travel. There are still some great ‘first come’ campgrounds but fewer all the time. The effort spent in pre planning your travels is not fun, but when you pull into your reserved great site at Crater Lake NP….etc etc. it will be well worth it! Our time has come & gone; due to health issues we are done RVing and are selling our beloved 2000 Sunnybrook travel trailer. We could’ve replaced her years ago, but we never found a better ‘home’. Good luck & have fun….it’s not as easy out there as it once was, but it’s still a great way to pass some years. PS…we NEVER shared favorite campgrounds tips…but now….don’t miss Cattle Camp campground (Forest Service) near the town of McCloud in N California…and near the great town of Mount Shasta.

Tommy Molnar
3 years ago

My advice would be, try to avoid the interstates as much as possible. Take the two-lanes the freeways replaced. That’s where all the “cool stuff” is. Small town America is where it’s at.

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