Introduction to Full Time Living in a Travel Trailer
When I’m working at the campground store, I often get asked about what it’s like full time living in a travel trailer. I often hear, “That’s my dream. It’s what I want to do someday,” or “It would be fun, but I can’t part with my things.” Many people dream of this lifestyle, but it’s not for everybody. There are a handful of us at the campground who live in our travel trailers/motor homes year-round. Our conversations center around, “where are you going for the winter?” There are a few more who have jobs that take them to the area for the summer and now they are counting down the days to return home. It’s a mixed bag. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the realities and adventures of full time living in a travel trailer. From space-saving solutions to the joys of life on the road, we’ve got it all covered.
Challenges and Compromises
It does take some compromise and it certainly is not for everyone to go full time living in a travel trailer. I ran into a friend at the grocery store several years ago. She had never been one to actually HEAR what people were saying. I think she’s one of those who listens simply to reply. I told her King and I were living in our travel trailer full-time. At the time we still had our first trailer, a 1978 Shasta – 19 feet from hitch to bumper. Her eyes glazed over and she said something along the lines of “that’s nice,” and then proceeded to tell me how they had purchased a large fifth wheel trailer because they simply could not live in something as small as their former trailer (an Airstream). I’m not sure if I was supposed to be impressed or sympathize with their lack of space.
Since that encounter King and I have expanded our space. Our 40-year-old trailer is 26 feet long. It’s cozy. There are compromises. There are things one learns as one goes.
For instance – I still like to cook. I have room for three pots to hang on the wall above my stove. Two frying pans are housed inside the over (which does not work) and the lids are kept in a rack in yet another cupboard. A Dutch oven is kept in the back of a cabinet. I don’t use it very often, but it’s part of a set and I hate to get rid of it. There is a lot of clanging and swearing every time I have to find a lid to fit the pot I’m using. For an oven I have an air-fryer or an Omnia Stove Top Oven. A Swedish made pan that looks like an aluminum Jello mold, insert, and lid that uses the heat from the burner to bake food. It works fairly well. We have no microwave and I make coffee in a stove-top percolator.
I keep my spices on an open shelf above the kitchen sink. When we are on the road, they are held in place with a tension rod. Things don’t just move a little while on the road – they move A LOT. Imagine being in an earthquake mixed with a tornado. That’s what our home goes through every time we move it. I have melamine plates, and plastic glasses. All my storage containers and thermal mugs are held in place with bungee cords, as are all the items in our medicine cabinet. Every time we move, all my glass jars of polished rocks, marbles (yes, I have a jar of marbles – cat eyes and celeries) beads and polished glass have to be moved into a crate, placed on the bed and surrounded by pillows. We do the same for the dish for our Dish TV. Our Dish TV receiver and DVD player are held in place with industrial strength Velcro. Petra’s food and water dishes get moved to the back seat of the truck so we can feed and water her while on the road. I freeze quart milk jugs and place them in the refrigerator to keep the food reasonably cold. King can eat gas station tuna salad sandwiches. I’m not that brave so when we stop for gas I jump in the back of the trailer and make myself a sandwich. Ever since the pandemic I also prefer using our bathroom in the trailer as opposed to public facilities.
Decor and Practicality
When we purchased our first vintage trailer, I spent hours and hours online looking at decorating ideas. I embraced the penchant others have for painting walls white with splashes of color for cabinet doors, etc. It does look nice and gives it a homey feel. But for people like us who often camp in remote areas or stay at campgrounds with dirt roads – white is not practical. Our new vintage trailer has not been painted. The walls are fake wood (photos of wood pasted onto fiberboard is our reality). Dirt doesn’t show up as much and I occasionally take a dust cloth sprayed with Pledge to them to make them shine a little.
Downsizing and Baggage
Traveling is enjoyable, but it does take work to make it work. There is also the question of what to do with all “things” from your home when you take to the road. It’s called downsizing or de-cluttering. Mostly it should be called “getting rid of baggage.” I had a lot of “mementos” from my mother. They were things that meant a lot to Mom and by extension to me, but the reality is, they mean nothing to my children. To them, Grandma’s dishes were simply a set of outdated dishes – Limoges doesn’t have a lot of meaning. What is Roseville Pottery? Sterling silverware tarnishes. So, in the end, what my sisters didn’t want, I gave to my cousins. What they didn’t want was either sold or taken to the animal shelter re-sale shop. I kept some odd things – a trivet that was given to my mother during a Women’s Guild (church) gift exchange, a vase from my family in Finland when I was an exchange student, a decorative board I purchased in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia. That’s it. I do have nine boxes in storage in our son’s shed. They are not filled with mementoes, but rather toaster ovens, blenders, a food dehydrator, and baking dishes…things I will want in my kitchen when the time comes that we can no longer do this.
Full time living in a travel trailer has certainly been a fun time for King and I, but it’s definitely not for everyone. The romance of being on the road is always there, but the reality of it all can bite sometimes. However, for those willing to embrace compromises and adapt, the rewards of this lifestyle are unique and memorable.
Stop by the gift shop
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