Keeping Course – In Love and on the Road
Life on the road has its ups and downs, literally and figuratively. Sharing less than 300 square feet of living space in a 31 foot motorhome between 2 adults and 1 sixty pound dog has been interesting. It has required adjustments, compromises, creativity, and quite a bit of problem solving. Though it has, without a doubt, been the greatest adventure we’ve taken together.
We have been on the road since August 2020, living, working, and adventuring from our RV. Our motorhome in the summer of 2020 after deciding to take our virtual work on the road during the COVID-19 pandemic. We realize how fortunate we both are: employed full-time, financially stable, traveling safely, and happily in love. This is one of our biggest topics of discussion: how incredibly thankful we are for the life we’ve built together.
February always brings romance to mind. Be it the cozy winter nights, the romantic dinner-for-two advertisements, or the red roses perched in every store window, this month is all about love. Here are our top five non-negotiables for not only keeping love alive on the road, but growing and nurturing it too.
1. Date Nights
“Every night is date night” is a nice sentiment, but it’s also not true. Some nights, I just want to watch The Office reruns while he wants to tinker with the RV. Other nights, we have two different movies in mind so we watch them on separate devices using headphones. That is why planning for date nights is so important. We’ve had to be creative, since the pandemic limits our ability to just dress up and go out to dinner.
Instead, here are some of our favorite ways to spend time together on the road:
- Monthly Happily date night boxes. We get them delivered to a campground when possible, or we send them to our apartment for one of us to collect when we need to fly home for work-related obligations. These boxes come with all the necessary items for a date night at home!
- Purchasing “Exit: The Game” escape room boxes is a fun, slightly competitive way to spend a night together. You should be working together to solve the mystery, but of course being the one to crack the code first always leads to friendly teasing! All in good fun.
- Card games, such as The Mind and The Game, make for silly evenings that we usually pair with drinks. (Did we bring the fixings for a mini cocktail bar into the RV? Yes. Do we need it? No. Do we love it? Yes, and it spices up date night!)
- Cooking a fancy dinner in the RV and setting up twinkle lights to dine under. He’s managed to surprise me with flowers, while I’ve surprised him with his favorite desserts.
- Dressing up for holidays and celebrating together. For Christmas, we took a family picture outside the RV in fancy clothes, carefully decorated a small tree with lights, and wrote down our favorite trip memories. We sealed those notes into Christmas ornaments to reopen next year! Taking time to make new traditions is a joyful way to add a little spark.
This RV trip was an escape from the boring routine COVID-19 forced upon us, so we needed to strike a balance that would bring joy to each of us We needed to make sure we were not spending beyond our means. Many considerations went into determining a monthly budget. We didn’t get rid of anything at home, as we do plan to return to “normal life” once we go back to work in person. Our usual monthly budget was increased for this trip. We make two very different salaries and in order to budget for this trip, we made sure to find a monthly spending limit that was comfortable for me, as I do get paid less than him. (Teachers’ salaries, who’s with me?) Be sure to keep in mind the person bringing in a lower salary. Someone’s affordable might be someone else’s limit.
Something we did a while ago which has been extremely helpful on this trip, was to open a joint account that we use for all shared items. We buy groceries, pay for permits, purchase gas, cover RV repairs, etc.. all on this shared account. Each month, we look at our spending trends and costs together. Admittedly, it is not the most fun way to spend time together, but it is responsible and helps us to set goals for the month ahead. The nice bonus is how quickly we rack up rewards to use on future trips!
If you do not live with your partner prior to taking an extended road trip with them, I recommend having this conversation to understand both of your expectations and limits prior to journeying together. Conversations about money are an important part of any long term relationship. Being realistic, open and honest only helps you grow together!
3. Balancing plans with spontaneity
Exploring new-to-us destinations, sometimes on purpose and sometimes thanks to a great wrong turn, is the very purpose of this RV trip. We started out wanting to visit National Parks in the USA, but we soon expanded that to anywhere that looked or sounded worthwhile. We’ve visited forests, parks, cities, towns, and everything in between. We originally planned out the first four weeks of our trip. After one week, we threw out those plans to just do whatever we wanted.
There are times when we need to sit down to plan out the weeks ahead in order to accomplish goals. For example, permit-only hiking requires preplanning. When one of us needs to fly home for work, I’d rather book a campground than boondock (camp without access to amenities) by myself. If the RV needs maintenance, we need to research dog-friendly hotels and reputable/affordable service shops. We balance planning in advance with the times we decide to backtrack to revisit a park that we really loved or a spot that we geographically passed and regretted not visiting. Being open to spontaneity, while also being open to responsibly planning when it’s needed, has been a valuable asset in maintaining our sanity. Working together in this way is constant practice in partnership and flexibility.
4. Prioritizing Alone Time
There are days when, instead of adventuring together, we split up to do our own things. For me, sometimes this means a “spa” day in the RV. Think: deep conditioning hair treatment, face masks, painting my nails, enjoying my favorite snacks while streaming something. For him, it could mean flying the drone around or upgrading the RV. One of us might take the dog out on a long walk while the other hangs back to just relax with no obligations in sight. It’s important to build in and respect one another’s alone time.
Being your best self needs to come before being someone’s best partner. Baking your favorite desserts, online therapy, online shopping, and stay-in-bed-all-day-days are all acts of self care. It’s not only okay, but necessary, to put yourself first! In the end, it makes you a happier, more stable human.
Now, practice makes perfect. Of course there are days when I want more attention or time together, but he wants to do something alone, or vice versa. Respect someone’s wish for alone time. While not always convenient for you, it isn’t about you! It’s about giving your partner what they need and letting them “just be” sometimes. This is one of the most important practices for a healthy partnership.
5. Divide Responsibilities
Road tripping, even in a self-contained RV, is a lot of work. Monitoring gas, water, battery, tanks, and propane levels and where/how to refill or empty them is an everyday thing. Choosing destinations, finding hikes or things to do, researching places to visit, finding camping spots, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning are all responsibilities we divide to conquer. Even the unexpected things, such as fixing the generator or resealing the roof, are tasks that must get done.
Everyone has strengths, and responsibilities on your road trip should be divided accordingly. By definition, a partnership means working together towards a common goal. Admitting you’re wrong, you can’t do something, or that you just don’t want to partake aren’t weaknesses. They are you being true to yourself, and thus honest with your partner. Taking the lead on a project, making a decision, or fixing the broken thing does not make you superior. They make you a good teammate.
He likes logistics and problem solving. I like planning and organization. I usually take care of travel itineraries, gathering permits if needed, and picking out hikes or viewpoints. He manages how to get there, where to camp, and how to stay fueled up. We divide responsibilities and let everyone shine in their own areas. At the end of the day, week, or month, everything gets done! The result is a functioning mobile place to live and lots of memories from time well spent!
Cheers to love and travel!
Travel gives us the opportunity to slow down in order to focus on the special relationship we share with someone. It’s an extra excuse to celebrate and reflect with your loved one. Romance, adventure, and partnership are important aspects of the celebration while we’re on the road. How do you and your partner enjoy time on the road together? Tell us in the comments below.