For months, my former boyfriend had been telling me how he'd love to do an RV trip with me. He knew some guys who lived in their RV somewhere in the Austrian mountains during snow season and it seemed amazing to him. So when I added an RV trip to my bucket list, it was just as much for him as it was for me.
But no way I was doing one in winter.
Luckily, I didn't have to.
A bit of luck
As if the universe had read my list, I received an email from the Belgian Caravan-Camping and Motorhome Association (BCCMA) just a few weeks after publishing it. Would I be interested in taking an RV for a trip to see if I'd like it? Oh yeah!
I think I'm pretty open here on the blog about the brands I work with, and this is a perfect example of when I'll agree to a partnership: because it just makes sense. I had an RV trip on my bucket list and the BCCMA offered me the opportunity to have that experience. They did so because each year, they organize an international motorhome and caravan fair in Belgium called Mobicar and they wanted to raise awareness about it.
I'll tell you about this fair at the end of the post, but what was essential to me was that as with all collaborations I do, I was free to write what I wanted.
You see, I kind of had expected that I wouldn't like RVing. I'm not a luxury blogger, but I do like my comfort. I like having space and I hate doing anything that resembles housekeeping, so the idea of traveling in a confined space for a week and having to do the dishes straight after a meal didn't sound so appealing.
The reason I put an RV trip on my list was that 1. more and more people seem to rave about RVIng and 2. it felt like something I should have tried at least once. I figured a week was long enough to get a taste of it and short enough to survive if I'd hate it.
So how did it go? Unexpectedly well, and I learned a bunch of things along the way.
1. It's okay to not book accommodation beforehand
I know this isn't news to many people, but I've always – always – made sure I had accommodation booked for my trips before I went on them. I've never been one of those people who just winged it and went in search of a hotel if I decided I wanted to spend another night in the city. I'm a planner: I look up what I want to do, where, when and for how long… and then I book a hotel or an apartment.
This trip was the first one where I decided to not do that. I'd made a rough plan of where we'd be going – the French Provence, because I wanted to see lavender fields – but we just looked for campsites near us when we were done driving for the day and wanted to relax.
And it was never a problem.
I realize we weren't traveling in full high season yet (it was the end of June) and that it might be different if you try to do this with hotels in popular cities, but at the end of each day, I'd just open up Google Maps and search for “campsite”. I'd then check which ones got good ratings and we'd just drive there.
We always had a spot and we always ended up at a nice place. I think we spent around €24/night on average for a spot for the RV including water and electricity.
As this was our first time RVing, we didn't just want to stay somewhere in the open so we always stayed at campsites. After our trip, though, Alison from Cheeseweb told me about France Passion. It's a system through which farmers let you camp on their lands in exchange for you buying some of their produce, for example.
Anyway, the point is that I went with the flow and didn't drown :-)
And you know what? Even if we hadn't found a good camping ground one night, we would have been absolutely fine because we had all we needed with us! An RV can easily last a night or even longer with the “in-house” battery it has and thanks to the water thank you can shower and brush your teeth anywhere.
2. I love having my own space
I already kind of knew this as I book apartments just as much as I book hotels when I travel somewhere, but this trip emphasized it. You see, a while ago I'd won a two-night stay at a boutique hotel in the Provence (yes, I really got lucky this year) and so I decided to plan that stay in the middle of our RV trip so that if I didn't like RVing, I'd at least have a little break.
Guess what? We'd barely checked into the hotel and I already wanted to get back to our RV. It was so weird and Boyfriend was actually making fun of me because I was the one who'd worried about going on a trip with a motorhome and now I was the one who preferred it over our hotel.
I'd expected our hotel stay to be a relief, a break during which we'd be pampered and didn't have to clean up after ourselves. Instead, I felt less relaxed because I suddenly couldn't just do what I wanted anymore. I had to look a bit presentable for the other guests, go have breakfast when breakfast was served and take into account that at one point during the day, the room would be cleaned and we wouldn't be able to use it.
I know it sounds strange, but maybe those of you who stay in apartments or go on motorhome vacations get it. When you're staying at a hotel or a guesthouse – no matter how lovely it is – you're never entirely by yourself. This doesn't bother some and they'll act exactly the same as when they were alone, but I always feel like I need to “perform” a bit when other people are around. I always feel like I'm being watched or judged even if only a little.
So aside from the freedom of movement I knew our RV would give us, it also gave me more freedom to just be me.
3. Less stuff, less stress
When we're at home, I often get overwhelmed by all the things I could be doing around the apartment – the dishes, cleaning up stuff, doing the laundry, vacuum cleaning the place…. – and so I'd thought that I'd be bothered by having to keep the RV tidy as we went along.
Turns out there's not that much to keep tidy in a small space :D
Boyfriend and I quickly divided the tasks and cleaning the inside of the RV before we returned it didn't take long at all (the outside was another story).
When we got back home, I also realized even more than before how much stuff we have that we don't really need. I'm not going to get all minimalistic here, but there is so much we keep “just in case” we'd ever need it again. So since we got back, I slowly started getting rid of the things I haven't used in over a year and I have to say that having less around gives me less to stress about.
4. I'm not made for long drives
As much as I love the ability a car or, in this case, an RV gives you to drive to wherever you want, I don't like the being in the vehicle part.
Sure, it's cool when the scenery is beautiful, but that only lasts for so long. Even with Boyfriend doing all of the driving (he's a professional driver, I dislike being behind the wheel) and sitting in the RV being way more comfortable than sitting in a car, it wore me out. I don't know what it is but whenever I'm literally on the road for more than three hours I get tired and uncomfortable.
So yes, I'd definitely go RVing again, but I'll pass up on full driving days.
5. Going on an RV trip is a great way to spend quality time with your partner
Boyfriend and I have been together for more than 11 years now, of which we've been living together for almost 7. So we know how “it” works. We still goof around like a bunch of teens on a more than daily basis and there's no way we'll go to bed without a bit of couch snuggling, but we also each have our own chores, routines and obligations that don't always leave time to truly do something together.
Vacations in general are great to get some of that much-needed quality time and I found that RVing takes that even a step further. Because you're moving around in a limited space where stuff does need to be taken care of (unlike at a hotel, for example), you suddenly switch roles and find new ways to deal with things together.
We also found we talked all the time simply because we were always in the same space and we had that freedom to go wherever we wanted – meaning we had to decide where that was. So we would discuss what we'd just done, what we'd get for lunch or where we would head next.
These are all very simple things, but it's exactly those simple things that at home often get put aside when a work problem arises or life just takes over.
The Big Question
I talked about comfort above, but you all want to know the same thing, don't you?
It's alright, it's something I was worried about as well.
Yes, I did use the RV toilet. Properly.
But Boyfriend cleaned it afterward. Ain't that true love?
Would I do it again?
Hell yes! I couldn't believe how sad I was when we had to return our rental RV and how excited I got again when I started telling people about our trip.
I'd been worried about the comfort but slept some of the best sleeps that week.
I'd been worried about not booking or researching accommodation ahead and we stayed at some of the coziest camping grounds.
All of my concerns in regards to traveling with a motorhome vanished as we drove further south and were replaced with dreams of future trips. Boyfriend and I are already plotting where we could RV to next.
Mobicar, the international RV and caravan fair
If you're interested in RVing and around Belgium in October, consider visiting Mobicar, the big international caravan and motorhome fair held annually in Brussels. Not only will you get to check out the latest models and get help deciding what kind of recreational vehicle is for you; there's also information about destinations that are great for RVing, what camping gear you need and how to get started.
Facebook: Mobicar Salon
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Mobicar offered me an RV for a week so I could try it out. As always, all opinions expressed here are my own.
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