10 Things You Need To Know To Survive Living In A Travel Trailer With Your Family And Your Pets
Living in a travel trailer with your two children, husband, cat and dog can be very challenging. I've compiled a list of things that might help make your experience a little more enjoyable.
1. Storage isn't always easy when living in such cramped corners, but there ARE things you can do to make it work.
When dealing with storage issues, creativity is key. What once may have been just the top of your blender can easily turn in to a wifi hotpsot control center. It's high enough off of the counter that the signals can easily flow, and not so low to worry about splash back from the sink.
Or, what normal people would consider just a small bathtub/shower combo, can also be used as a convenient place to stash your dirty laundry basket. Close the curtain and nobody will ever know about the questionable stains currently residing on your favorite Home By Yourself tee. (You know, the one you wear when you are crying over a bowl of rocky road ice cream during your latest rom com movie binge.)
And what once was just useless wasted space above your microwave and the ceiling can now become the handiest three or four inches in the whole place! Pretty much anything can be stored there as long as it fits and you're careful not to cover the vents. It's usually in a place that isn't super visible to the human eye and is handy for storing those treats that you don't want your children to know exist. I prefer to hide something salty here as the chocolate usually gets stashed in the back of the freezer.
2. Showers are now at the mercy of a hot water heater that is so small, hot water is now as valuable as, say, air for breathing.
When dealing with hot water conservation bathing has to be down to a science. You want to make sure to get all of the important bits, but in a way that insures maximum efficiency. You start by getting yourself completely wet from head to toe, relishing every bit of liquid awesome that you get and as soon as you are completely coated and soothed by it's warm embrace, turn off the water. Try to ignore how fast the cold air completely engulfs you as you lather shampoo and conditioner (you can only buy the mixed kind now as you will never have enough hot water for shampoo and then conditioner) into your hair. Cover your body with body wash, being careful to scrub everywhere as you don't want to be smelly AND living in a trailer. Throw a shave in there while you're still all bubbly. Wash your face with whatever cleanser you're into and then, once you look like you are a bubble person from planet Soaptron, turn the hot water back on and rinse. You probably won't have enough hot water to finish this job, so you have to hurry and always always always start from the top and work your way down. It's not as bad rinsing your feet with water that feels as if it flows from the Alaskan mountain peaks as it is in more northern regions. And, bonus, most of the showers in these things have the hand held shower heads that you can grab and move to whatever region you need it to be.
Doing the dishes will now be a chore so great that you will realize just how much you have always taken doing dishes for granted before. The hot water will run out so fast that it will have to be done in stages. Preparing meals will now be done completely around how many pots and pans each recipe requires and one pot dishes are always a plus!
Since we're on the subject I have to add that you will have to turn on the hot water heater 20 to 30 minutes before you plan on having hot water as letting your water stay warm all day quickly drains your propane reserves and becomes very expensive very fast. This means that even the simple task of washing your hands has to be preplanned. Hygiene is important. Even more so when you are finding yourself living in an RV Resort.
3. Your stove is now evil and laughs at your attempts to cook more than one thing at a time.
Cooking on a trailer stove is almost an act that requires circus like balancing abilities. Do you want to boil pasta at the same time that you prepare the meat sauce? Well, you can try! The pot in the back corner will have to be pushed onto the cabinet on one edge and the pan on the front burner will have to be hanging off of the stove a little. Or, sometimes, a lot. This causes the heat to unevenly coat the bottom of both pans and eventually you will have a fully cooked meal, but the constant pushing and rearranging of pots and pans will leave you tired and drained. You will also never want to cook pasta again. At least for as long as your residence stays so condensed.
Would you like to bake anything bigger than a pie? Well, so would I. But with a travel trailer oven anything bigger holds the door open just enough to let out the heat. Even with the heat leak, and no matter how high up you place the wire rack, the bottoms of all of your baked yummies will burn. This will leave you with half cooked food that may or may not have a perfect middle layer. That middle layer is the sweet spot and it's what your family will fight over. Which can be entertaining.
4. Your cat probably will be trying to kill you.
Immediately after moving into your travel trailer you will notice that suddenly your cat is trying to kill you. He will do this in many sneaky ways, but the most blatantly obvious way will be the amount of times he or she will try to trip you, causing you to hit your head on one of the many hard surfaces that will now always be within falling distance of your brain cradling capsule. Pretty much every step you take will end or begin with your cat being under your feet. He will glare at you menacingly after as if it were you who were trying to kill him, causing you great feelings of guilt. On the inside, however, he will be laughing his evil cat laugh because he knows that you will now scratch him in his favorite spot and give him his favorite treats.
Another way that he will try to murder you now will be suffocation. You will wake up to him covering your face with his body and he will pass it off as him merely trying to sniff out the window that is now directly at the same level as your sleeping head. You can't really prove that suffocation was his goal, but the smug look he will give you as you gasp for air after removing his girth from your breathing tubes will be enough to plant the seed of fear.
A third and much more painful way he will show his great desire for your demise will involve his claws. His great talons of pain and owiness. You will be sitting on the edge of your bed, or perhaps at the table and suddenly without any type of warning or notice at all you will have a lap full of razors. You will scream and try to dislodge the furry fists of ouch from your legs or lower abdomen, which will result only in a ball of fury filled flails of needles and the cat will run away as if he never was even there. Until next time. There seems to always be a next time.
5. Don't get attached to your neighbors.
This can be either a gift or a curse. While living in your travel trailer at an RV resort people come and go like the tides. You can go to sleep one evening next to who you were starting to think of as your new adopted grandparents and wake up next to who you will come to think of as those cousins that you always try to avoid at the family reunion. You know, the couple who you are pretty sure that you were already related to individually before they got married? This can lead to tricky situations and awkwardness like you've never quite known.
When you find yourself getting overly fond of someone, and then they are suddenly ripped from your lives with no warning, only to be left with an empty spot where once there stood baked goods bearing grandmotherly types, just tell yourself that it could be worse. They could have been replaced with the guy who leaves his dog on a chain all day, and night, barking at every little noise the universe makes. Or the lady who hasn't worn a bra in 16 years and chases her chihuahua around the park on her hover round yelling, "Come back, Cookie! Come back!"
This also is a great opportunity to re-invent yourself as often as you like. Ever wanted to be a high society aristocrat? Well, as far as the new people in 6F are concerned, you could have been from birth! How about trying your hand at being backwoods hillbillies? 2D will be more than happy to share some homemade moonshine and spit grill a racoon with you! Want to try on the clothes of a mid level corporate lackey? 11A might even ask you to carpool! It's pretty much a sandbox of opportunity to really be able to figure out who you really are, or try being whoever you have always wanted to be. Have fun with it! You don't have to be embarrassed because these people will probably be gone in the morning, anyway.
6. The Internet Situation
This is perhaps the hardest thing that we as a modern day family have had to learn to live with. Campground internet is spotty, at best. The speeds are very slow and the more people trying to access the wifi at the same time, the more aggravatingly slow it gets.
Due to the RV resort's rural setting you will have a hard time finding an internet provider who will provide you with unlimited internet. There are some who throw around words like unlimited, but there always seems to be an asterisk next to the word with some fine print somewhere that states that once you reach your preset data allowance you will still be able to connect but at speeds so slow you will longingly dream about the days when you had dial up. You will fork out tons of cash on special cables that connect your television to your phone, in hopes that Netflix can once again be a thing for you, only to realize that streaming videos of any length sucks your data faster than a vampire in a blood bank just minutes before sunrise.
You will begin to do just about anything for free wifi. You will now become one of those weird people at the coffee shop who sits there all day with the same cup of coffee that the baristas can't remember if you purchased from them or came in with. You will bring your kids to the McDonald's play places, not to watch them play, or so that they CAN play, but so that all of you can abuse their free wifi like Homer Simpson abuses the all you can eat buffets. You WILL be ashamed of this behavior, but you will be too desperate for data to care.
7. Now let's talk about television.
One of the reasons that you thought it would be okay to live here until you reached your goal was because of the words, Cable Included. You didn't realize at the time that cable meant five channels. Five channels that go from various stages of snowy to clear at unpredictable times. Five channels that always seem to play the same episodes of the same shows. Five channels that you used to love but all too soon become some sort of Chinese water torture. The same lines of the same episodes slowly dripping onto the center of your forehead. Over and over and over again. Driving you slowly but systematically insane.
Before long you will suddenly find yourself waist deep in $5 movie bins at chain stores, hoping to find that golden movie that you don't already have. You will start loitering outside of redboxes waiting for the right person to come back with the right dvd. You will drop flash drives off at friends' houses, asking, no, begging them to fill them with television shows you no longer can catch on your dvr, because you no longer can even have a dvr.
Due to your data situation, streaming services are out and even YouTube won't load without constant buffering. Things that you used to take for granted, like commercials, now seem like glorious gifts from some Television God that you start thinking might be real and praying to while alone. The prayers will sound something like this: Oh, ye giver of mindless entertainment, please grant me the gift of finding out who The Walking Dead killed off this Sunday. Do not forsake me the knowledge that my friends will all have as I hateth the awkward pause as they ask, "Did you watch the episode yet?" Please, Oh Lord Of The Television, clear the snowy skies from my screen as 9PM on Sunday neareth and allow me the ability to partake in mindless chatter regarding the easter eggs that are surely hidden within!
You can always invite yourself to the homes of your friends and watch. It's a social way to keep in the loop of your favorite shows at the same time as visiting with those you love. Just try to remember to bring a gift, such as chips and dip or money, with you as hosting is never an easy job. Especially when you invite yourself into someone's home ten minutes before your favorite show is about to start and demand they hand you the remote, turn off the lights and shut their pie holes.
Doing laundry used to be a simple enough task requiring you to just throw in the offending articles of clothing, dump in some soap, turn a dial and whack that start button. Then you wait a while until boredom finally allows you to remember you washed them, and throw them in the dryer. But while living in the RV resort, suddenly laundry becomes a thing.
A great big thing.
Your RV resort probably has a laundry room available. Make sure that you always carry rolls of quarters with you as you will need them before your next payday. (They also make for handy self defense weapons.) Having kids and pets in such a small area really can be quite the messy experience. The laundry room at your resort probably won't have a machine that sucks in your dollars in exchange for quarters, so having them handy is a necessity.
Make sure when you do your wash and then run back to your trailer that you arrive back at the laundry room before your load is done. The washers most likely will have a timer on them so that you will know how much time you have left. If you don't make it back in time, you might just run in to an older shirtless gentlemen busily filling the washers you were using with his own clothes who will explain to you that he moved yours to the dirty table in the corner. Try not to show visible signs of frustration and disgust, as it really was your fault for leaving them alone in the first place. It was just 28 from start to finish, you really should have just stayed, guarding them like a mother bear guarding her cubs. With foam at your mouth and your claws extended. Also, try not to think about the fact that your wet delicates were pressed all up in that guy's sweaty chest hairs.
Once your wash is complete make sure to select a dryer that won't leave your clothes smelling like old bacon. A smell that should be at least a little pleasing, but in actuality is pretty much the worst smell your nice clean sheets can have. There is nothing worse than plugging in your five quarters, waiting your 72 minutes, only to find that your clothes all now smell like bacon that someone decided would better cook in the sun than on the stove, and then forgot about for a week and a half.
9. Make sure to get plenty of fresh air.
Being confined in such a small space can easily start to wear on a person's mind and soul. Your RV resort probably has some great attractions nearby. Some amazing gifts from nature that if you take the time, can be quite beautiful and serene.
Be sure to take walks as frequently as possible. Lay in the grass and watch the sky. Take advantage of the bbq grilles and open fields. Fly some kites. Shoot some basketball. Play frisbee. Fish. Sit in the sand and let your toes get wet. Swim if there's a pool. Carve your initials in a tree when nobody's looking.
Get outside and take advantage of the good parts while you can. Nature is a beautiful thing, and it's easy to forget that these days. It's really the best medicine.
10. Don't forget to realize that this is an incredible opportunity.
I've saved what I feel is the most important for last. Whatever circumstances have brought you to be living in your travel trailer, whether it be saving for a big move out of state, trying to fix your credit to buy a home, or any other reason, just remember that this is also a fantastic opportunity for almost countless reasons.
RV resorts are really very inexpensive places to live. This can give you the financial freedom to reach goals that you never thought were reachable. You can fix mistakes that you thought were unfixable. You can go back to school, or on that trip that you always thought would just be a dream. You can check stuff off of your bucket list and you can take the time to fulfill wants and desires that you never thought you would be able to afford.
But, my most favorite part of living here, the best part and the part that really does make it all worth it, is the ability to reconnect with my family. Sure, the quarters are tight and the bathroom is small, and the pets drive me crazy and whatever, but it's a million times worth it. The smiles that we have shared, the laughs we've had, the memories we've made, they are all worth it. Any time it starts to get overwhelming, living in your travel trailer with your family and pets, just remember, this moment, this second right now, this little fragment of time, it's something that you will never get back. But if you make it special, you will always have it. It will live on in your memory and your children's memories. It will be this incredible time in your life that you cherish forever and it will be something that you look back on longingly as you grow older. Be patient and appreciate it. It's a beautiful and fantastic thing!