The Emotional Side of RV Life


This life of picking up and going wherever and whenever we choose is amazing.  Seeing new places, visiting family, or simply exploring–all of it feeds my personal need for nomadic roaming and calms my inner restlessness.  It’s exciting to wake up in the mornings to look out the front window and have to remind myself exactly where I am on any given day.

There are challenges, however.  When we visit family and settle into a routine of frequent interactions, it’s sad to leave.  We recently stayed in a Ohio campground close to a large portion of my family.  I loved it when my nephew would stop by on a whim to say, “Hi,” after he got off work.  I accompanied my niece to a doctor’s appointment to offer comfort and comic relief.  My sister and I took a morning drive through Amish country and talked nonstop.   I surprised my mom with dinner a couple of evenings.  We celebrated a graduation and had family potlucks. We participated in last-minute, spur-of-the-moment plans simply because we could.

My ghost-hunter niece, Veronica (she previously shared her story on this blog–click here)
My nephew, Nicholas, the celebrated graduate
My sweet and fierce niece, Meredith, aka frontal lobe man-bun (inside joke)
My daughter, Dani, who traveled from Missouri
My brother, Sean, who traveled from North Carolina
My beautiful Mom
My handsome Dad

Then, we left for the next adventure.  We headed up to Michigan to see my Dad in Alpena.  I was excited about that trip, too.  I couldn’t wait to visit him, but it was sad saying goodbye to my Ohio peeps.  It takes a slow minute to adjust from one place to another, but I settled in quickly and started to enjoy the moments with Dad–until it was time to leave.

My sister drove up to our Michigan campground to visit with Dad

It’s not just family visits which cause a myriad of emotions.  We often meet friends on the road and share fireside chats.  We bond quickly and develop friendships, and then drive off in different directions.  Thank goodness for social media and being able to keep up with the journeys of our new and old friends.  It’s a joy to accidentally run into them again in unexpected locations.

The scenery and places we visit cause lots of feels, too.  A few months ago, we were enjoying the beauty of Sedona, Arizona.  It’s a place which can bring me to tears by the sheer wonder of the scenery.  I felt such a peace and quietude in my entire being among the unique landscape.  As we departed and traveled toward the next destination, we got stuck in unavoidable traffic grid-lock while driving through larger cities.  That’s where I lost my sense of peace and felt the stress and lack of personal space.  It felt as if all of the oxygen was getting hogged by the masses and made me gasp for fresh air.

Sedona is my favorite location we’ve visited so far.

I shed tears at the goodbyes and wipe the wetness from my cheeks as a brimming excitement bubbles up while looking out the front window toward our new destination.  I often cry and laugh at the same time.  Yes, I’m a crazy woman.

Nomadic life is an up and down emotional roller coaster.  The excitement builds, the hills are thrilling, and the low points are quick and easy to overcome.   It’s a gripping ride, but it does have its unsettling moments.  Traveling is a life of give and take.  It’s full of unimaginable beauty as well as entrapment by temporary grid-lock (or repairs–our current situation).  There are joyful moments of reuniting with family and then having to say goodbye.  It also offers my personal favorite–a lonely road surrounded by the sights and sounds of untouched nature around me.

I’m a wanderer.  I do love routine and can fall into a comfort zone very easily, but then I start to feel the restless calling to move on.  I deal with the emotions of saying goodbye to one place and have the capacity to look towards a new adventure with the excitement of a child.  This life suits me.  It’s my nutty emotional roller coaster and I’m enjoying the ride.

Would you ride that roller coaster?  Do you struggle with warring emotions when traveling from one destination to the next?  Do you ever feel the restless nagging to start a new adventure?

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  1. So very true! I was just standing outside here in rural Nebraska watching the lightening in the distance, reflecting. I often pause in the morning when I wake to remember where we are. It is not always easy, this nomadic life. Yet I think back to life before and remember how bored I was! Your thoughts are exactly what I was thinking! It is challenging at times, but never boring and you feel satisfied!

    1. I can’t wait until we get to Nebraska. We’ve never been there, and I’m excited to check it off the list. The more we see and experience, the more we discover we haven’t even put a dent in the places we want to go. Safe travels to you.

  2. I don’t full time & follow you a lot… really nice piece😊 As I sit in my RV reading, knowing I’m going back o reality in a couple of days I have a lot of the same emotions. Thanks for sharing😁

  3. Great post Dawn, . Although we often find it sad to move on down the road because of having to say goodbye to new found friends, but the hitch-itch is stronger and as you say .. thanks to social media we can keep in touch until next we meet. Excitement ahead as we look forward to new places and new friends alike.

    1. I love the term, “hitch itch.” I’m hoping we will be able to get to NomadFest in time to see y’all. Our slide mechanism is supposed to be in on Monday. It’s not ideal to try to put all those miles in on one weekend, but it looks as if that’s what’s going to happen. I hope you are enjoying the balloon festival, even though I know you guys are probably working your tails off. I’m excited to see your photos! Dawn

      1. Just now reading your comment because of long work hours. We are looking forward to heading out of here next Tuesday the 16th and move to Nomadfest. Stopping to get our vehicle inspections done in Amarillo. Sorry to hear about your slide problems, hope you get them fixed quickly and easily and we look forward to seeing you two in Wellington. Put are on FB and I’ll post to blog soon.

  4. I can totally relate. We are in our 6th year of full-timing and left Massachusetts with our family and friends a month ago after spending 3 months of visits, hiking, baseball, track meets, etc Hard to go but love being on the road. Love the open roads and majestic landscapes of the west. Your writing did a great job of talking about the feelings … how lucky are we?

  5. I totally understand what you mean, Dawn. You have such a great way of expressing the feelings that accompany this lifestyle.

    1. Thanks, Julie. I’m excited about seeing y’all again at NomadFest. We’re trying our best to get out there in time (repairs). We saw Kenny when he was in Elkhart and love the Beyond the Wheel podcasts. Safe travels ’til we meet again.

  6. I appreciated reading these insights into the life of a gypsy, my chosen word for you and with the best meaning. I’ve always liked that word, ever since my grandma spun stories of gypsies and I dressed as a gypsy one Halloween as a child. This life does seem to suit you.

    It wouldn’t be for me, though. I like “my place.” My husband and I decided we are not good even at vacations because neither of us has ever traveled much due to finances and situations. We just don’t know how to do vacations. My dad was a dairy farmer as was his so we couldn’t get away. I took two vacations with my parents during my childhood. One to the Black Hills of S.D. and the other to Duluth, Minnesota.

    Keep wandering and sharing your adventures with us.

    1. I love the term, “gypsy,” too–and it’s a part of who I am. My parents are like your husband and you–my dad, especially. He likes to be planted and grow from those strong roots. He doesn’t wander too far beyond them. There’s so much value in both ways of life. It’s where we find our strength and resources to make us bloom.

  7. I feel as if life on the road helped me reclaim lost parts of self – parts tucked away in favour of responsibility. At the same time, I felt the pull of missing family and friends. You express it well.

    1. Thank you. I like how you stated it helped you reclaim the parts of self–I agree wholeheartedly. It’s sort of like having our cake and eating it, too–family, adventure, and self reflection and growth.

  8. I hate coming back home after I’ve been near the ocean. LOVED this post, Dawn! You’re a true gypsy at heard. Btw, where wee you in Ohio? I’m from there, too. GREAT family pix btw.

    1. Thank you! I grew up on a farm outside of Wapakoneta (home of Neil Armstrong), which is between Dayton and Toledo on I-75. I think there is a little gypsy in all of us–or at least the need to unplug and rest. I hope you are feeling better.

    1. Thank you, Joy! I’ve been out of the loop for a few weeks, but slowly catching up. Looks as if you’e had a taxing few months. I’m so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  9. What a delightful post! I enjoyed reading of the emotional side of a nomad’s life. We do it a little differently. We stay put, and the nomads come to us. The emotional side is the same — loving to see people come and hating to see them leave.

  10. Great sentiments. You look so happy visiting with your family. It’s great to be able to do those things and I definitely understand the sadness when you leave. There are times when we are heading somewhere that I still pinch myself to make sure it is all real. Looking back, we always talked about spending the summer in Alaska, but who the hell thought we’d ever really do it. I love how Herb & Kathy called it “hitch-itch” I’d never heard that phrase before but love it! Hope all is well! It’s looking like we might be spending our winter in Big Cypress National Preserve. Fingers crossed! Safe travels & hugs!

    1. Have you gotten confirmation from Big Cypress? We are kicking the idea around of hopping around Florida and Georgia for this winter (Dec-Mar), so that will just open another opportunity to see y’all. We just upgraded our Thousand Trails, so we’re excited to try it out. 🙂 Your adventure to Alaska was breathtaking–and I can’t wait to see some of the things you have shared in your posts!

      1. Actually, they decided to hire a local for this winter 🙁 but they want us for next year. I think the fact we were in the northwest when they called shied them away. We are in Utah right now and heading southerly on Tuesday. Hope you will be too! Hugs.

        1. Hopefully we’ll be able to plan a meet up somewhere along the road over the next months–seems like we’ll be on a similar track. Safe travels on your journey southward. Meanwhile, keep stopping and taking those beautiful photographs! I’m loving them.

  11. A great post Dawn.
    We are parked in Iilac, NY in the city owned RV Park & Marina. 4 large cruisers pulled in this afternoon, tieing up just across the road from where the RV’s are parked. I am constantly amazed at what we discover around every corner in our travels. I just want to see it all and can’t get enough of it. That being said we are ready for time with our kids and grandkids, my sisters, my husband’s family, etc. We are working our way back that way now. We need the balance of having both; however we will not soon be ready for another sticks and bricks home. When we are near our home base and we get the travel bug, we can pick up and go, knowing we can head back this way anytime we want.

    1. I agree with the need for both travel and time with family. This lifestyle makes it so much easier since everyone is scattered everywhere. We also have so much on our bucket list to see and do–the more we see and do, the more we realize we haven’t even scratched the surface. Thank you for your thoughts. Safe travels! Dawn

  12. This is a beautiful post — I love the photos with your family, especially the one with you and your mom. I hear you, about the emotion of the style of living. Sending you blessings & so glad you wrote about it here.

    Good to connect. Enjoy the rest of your weekend (and your next adventures).

  13. I love Sedona too! Nice article.

    But after our automatic transfer switch melted yesterday (in our RV)! We didn’t know we had one or where it was. It was hidden under the floor and had plywood around it (making it a tinderbox situation), 2 feet from our bed!
    Nothing in the RV owner’s manual about it!
The electrician and my husband literally had to sniff to find it after our power went off—and to think we could have been killed has us rethinking our living situation.

    1. OMG–that is scary! My biggest fear in the RV is fire. I’m so sorry you are in this situation. Our water tank sits on a particle board base–we were driving in highway traffic in Austin when we felt something shift (had full tanks because we were traveling cross country and boondocking to sleep). The particle board was starting to disintegrate underneath the tank–if we’d completely lost it in 60 MPH traffic, that could have been a disaster. These mechanical things that can cause bad situations are scary–but I just saw on the news last night a sticks and bricks house completely blow up from an unknown gas leak underneath the neighborhood. I think there are dangers everywhere and all we can do is try our best to prevent them. I can understand you rethinking your living situation after a scare like that. I’m not sure what we would do in that situation, but I do know we are loving the lifestyle. I hope you get fixed and they can do something alleviate it happening in the future. Safe travels! Dawn

      1. I feel mad and more! Like we were sold a lemon. Not just because of this, but several other issues that I just didn’t complain about. None were as life threatening as this. All were negligence on the part of the manufacturer though—and reasons why we felt they went out of business.

        That sounds horrible about your water tank! I agree, I’d be looking into shoring that up soon—if you haven’t already. It’s amazing how heavy water is!

        Hear ya about the house thing. In Florida, sink holes have swallowed whole houses!

        Nothing is permanent in this world.

        I appreciate you helping me feel a little better today! ❤️🦋🌀

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