This fall on the USA Network, we take one dating couple, put them in an RV and send them on a 6 week cross country journey. Will they experience blissful harmony while on the trip of a lifetime, or will they go crazy and vow to never speak again? Tune in to find out.
Okay…so this isn’t a real show, but it sure would be fun to watch. There’s nothing that tests a relationship more than spending 24 hours a day together in a small space. Add in the inevitable stressful moments that come from breakdowns, wrong turns, and constantly adjusting to new places, and even the most compatible couples are bound to encounter some challenges when traveling together in an RV for an extended amount of time.
But that doesn’t mean it can’t work, and work well. My husband and I have been traveling together full-time for over three years in a 25’ trailer and I can honestly say that our relationship now is stronger than ever.
It’s not always easy. We have had some bumpy times along the way. Times when our desires and needs didn’t line up, times when we couldn’t stand the sight of each other, and yes…even times when one of us has threatened to drive off and leave the other person behind.
But we have also shared the most amazing experiences that have brought us closer and made us happier than I could have ever imagined.
Along the way we have learned some things. Things about maintaining harmony while RVing as a couple and enjoying each other. If you and your partner are thinking of hitting the road, here are a few bits of advice to take into consideration.
1. Don’t stay angry
Even the most well suited couples fight on occasion. Sometimes it’s about little things like those damn dirty socks that are on the floor again, and sometimes it’s about big things like getting us hopelessly lost in the middle of a rainstorm and refusing to pull over.
There’s no rule that you can’t get angry and argue in an RV. But unlike having a fight in a full size house, there’s nowhere to go when the other person is driving you crazy.
I used to hate this. I would get angry and go in the bedroom to pout on my own. But when you can still see the other person while you’re pouting it’s not very satisfying. So now I stay and we work it out. With no place to run and hide, we are forced to talk it out, resolve the issue and move on.
2. Get yourself some headphones
No matter the size of your RV, you’re going to hear everything your partner is up to. Which is why headphones are a must.
In our household we each have our own set of headphones. When Tim wants to watch his favorite car show on YouTube he puts on his headphones. When I want to listen to my favorite cooking podcast, I put on my headphones. We also use them at night and in the morning if the other person is still in bed. I never thought a cheap piece of plastic could mean so much, but now I can honestly say that headphones make for a harmonious household.
3. Divide & conquer
I am a firm believer that splitting up the chores is the secret to a well-run household. RVing comes with a unique set of chores and mundane day-to-day tasks. Instead of arguing over who does what (or worse, forgetting a crucial task) decide up front who is responsible for each chore.
For example, in our household I am responsible for cleaning the toilet, while Tim is responsible for dealing with what goes down the toilet. I make the bed, he messes it up…oh wait, that’s not right. What I meant to say is that I make the bed and lock the cabinets while he hitches up the truck and checks the tires.
That’s not to say that we don’t share tasks, but when each person has a clear idea of their responsibilities things always go smoother.
4. Do your own thing
Just because you travel together doesn’t mean you have to spend 24/7 doing the same thing. It’s only natural for two people to have separate interests. Instead of forcing your other half to spend the afternoon at the art museum, or sitting on the bank of river with a fishing pole, why not do your own thing?
Getting out on your own allows each person to explore their own interests, while also giving you some time apart. Everyone needs personal time. It’s important to maintain your independence by running errands, taking a walk, or going exploring on your own.
5. Communication is key
I know it sounds like a well worn cliche to say that communication is the key to a successful relationship, but it’s true. And it’s even more true when you live together in a small space.
You’re going to encounter challenges and stressful situations — be it a wrong turn or a break down, and if you can’t communicate at these times then you’re not going to last long on the road.
Develop a plan for how you will deal with challenges, discuss your travel route and potential stops in detail, be honest about your needs and desires, and most importantly, if something is bothering you talk about it before it become an issue.
6. Make new friends
I consider my husband to be my best friend. I would rather spend time with him than anyone else, but does that mean I don’t need other people in my life? Of course not!
Since I can no longer call my girlfriends for a quick get together, or spend the afternoon cooking with my mom, I go out and meet new people and make new friends. Developing relationships with others can be great for you and your partner. And there is no easier way to bring new people into your life then traveling around the country in an RV!
7. Be grateful
I remind myself everyday how fortunate I am to travel with my life partner. At one time we both commuted an hour each way to work and only saw each other for a short time in the evenings. Now we have lunch together in the middle of the day, go for walks in the afternoon, and everyday are making memories that we will forever cherish.
For that I am so grateful.
It’s easy to get caught up in the small stresses of everyday life which are often compounded by living in a small space. When this happens take a deep breath, step back, and remember why you set out on this adventure together. The opportunity to travel and share experiences with your partner is always something to be grateful for.