RV life, like anything else, has its ups and downs. The ups include freedom, flexibility, and exploration. But those perks can come at the expense of difficult, stressful drives trying to maneuver a vehicle the size of a semi-truck through unfamiliar neighborhoods when Google Maps steers us wrong.
Although a white-knuckled drive through New York City with fear of low-clearance bridges proved treacherous, it didn’t make our list of top challenges in our third year of RV travel. Neither did rising fuel costs, which we were able to offset with a lot of moochdocking and boondocking stays.
Here’s what did make the list, in no particular order:
1. Flat Tires
After two years on the road, we experienced only one flat tire. In our third year, however, we encountered four — all on our trailer. Two of the flats, about a week apart, were caused by leaks in the stem, related to the tire pressure monitors there. We quickly learned how to gingerly attach the monitors to avoid weakening the stems.
The other two flats resulted from our tires disintegrating from the inside out. Thankfully, in each circumstance, we were able to safely navigate to the side of the road to replace the faulty tire with our spare. And we got really good at changing tires. Since we had purchased our trailer tires, and a warranty, at Discount Tire, we were able to replace them inexpensively.
2. Tornado Warnings
When you live in a home made of lightweight materials such as plywood and aluminum, you know its likelihood of standing up to a powerful tornado is extremely low. Because of that, we take any tornado warning seriously.
In our second year of travel, we endured our first tornado warning, a sobering experience. In 2022, we encountered three such situations.
Our first occurred while we were in New Orleans. The state campground had bathroom buildings we could have sheltered in, but we would have had to separate in the men’s and women’s rooms. Wanting to weather the storm, literally, together, we opted to ride it out in our truck in an empty parking lot, away from potential debris.
The second warning hit while we were at a state campground in Mississippi. Because the campground was on the Gulf Coast, buildings in the area were on stilts. Again, not wanting to separate in the men’s and women’s restrooms, we headed to the second story of a building on stilts and hung out with other campers in the laundry room.
The third warning occurred while we were staying at a Boondockers Welcome host in South Carolina. It spurred us to visit our hosts’ home. They graciously invited us in to ride out the storm.
In each instance, a tornado did not touch down near us, and we stayed safe.
Leveling woes continued to plague us, to the point that Bob called a Lippert (the maker of our leveling system) tech while trying to set up the trailer near San Antonio. That worked to get the trailer level, and we picked up some other tricks along the way.
We learned to get the nose of the trailer higher than level before hitting the autolevel button on our Lippert system. We also learned to stack blocks under each leveling jack/stabilizer before trying to autolevel. This prevents the system from getting an out-of-stroke error, which had been a common occurrence for us.
As a result, instead of it taking two hours to reach equilibrium at a mobile home/RV park like last year, we were able to do so in about 30 minutes, our normal time.
The challenges we encounter help us better appreciate the good aspects of RV living. Despite the struggles, we’re happy with our lifestyle and are enjoying the journey. Thank you for following along.
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This is the travel blog of full-time RVers Bob and Lana Gates and our truck, Gulliver, and fifth wheel, Tagalong.