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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Going Mobile

Lessons (already) learned from the road

We just hit the 5,000-mile mark on our incredible journey from Spokane through the western states, and it’s time for a reality check. While life in a tiny home on wheels is mostly as exciting as it sounds, there have also been some serious bumps in the road.

But hey, we’re resilient!

Here are a few lessons we’ve learned, which should make your ultimate road trip a little smoother.


Get organized

Hard to imagine stuff getting misplaced in such a small space, but it happens. We’ve come up with set places for all our possessions. Looking for the keys? They’re in the slot above the driver’s seat. How about the coffee? It’s in the cupboard beside the rest of the breakfast staples.

We’ve become major fans of The Container Store for its fab selection of colorful bins that help sort additional food items like the exotic goodies we discover in cool shops on the road. Red chili peanut brittle from New Mexico, anyone?


Be prepared

This might sound obvious, yet we’ve found that when you’re driving to points unknown, it’s always best to top off the tank, fill up the fresh water and keep an eye on the vehicle indicator warnings. What the heck is diesel exhaust fluid? We found out the hard way.

Whenever possible, make advance reservations at campgrounds and RV resorts. One essential nugget to know about national park campgrounds, though, is that even when they're "full,” that’s not always the case. Find a campground host and ask. It has worked out for us.


Take a break

Yes, our 23-foot Class C has become home. We’ve embraced the mantra of comfy over cramped, enjoying the amazing adventure and ever-changing landscape out our windows. But occasionally, we indulge in some time surrounded by four walls and creature comforts like a steamy bath and the ability to walk around the room without bumping into each other. We have a new appreciation for fancy hotel rooms, not to mention friends and family who invite us to crash at their pads.


Let’s talk poo

In all the pretty photos posted about RV life on Instagram, you’re probably never going to find a shot of someone dumping their black water. Still, that’s a fact of life when you travel with a commode, right? John has been on the front lines of this unpleasant chore, but recently Leslie stepped up and went through the process and it wasn’t as nasty as she feared, especially because we carry plastic gloves for handling the drainage hose.

One tip we’ve yet to try: A technical advisor for Thor told us to dump a half-cup of Dawn detergent down the drain and toilet every so often to help keep the gray water and black water tanks free of gunk. Anybody have luck with this hack?


Be flexible

We’ve taken detours because the spots where we wanted to stay were full. Instead of freaking out, we looked at the map -- and boom -- ended up loving our week in Sedona. And if we had a do-over, we probably should have stayed put in Joshua Tree instead of setting out in last week’s dramatic rainstorm for a white-knuckle drive to Los Angeles.


This week’s Going Mobile question: If you’re considering full-time RV life, what resources have you explored to help make a decision? We’d especially love to plug into some online community boards that share suggestions and advice.


And speaking of suggestions: A tip from reader Howard Braham sent us to Dead Horse Ranch State Park near Cottonwood, Ariz., a few weeks back. Thanks Howard -- we spent the night and it was fantastic!

Leslie Kelly
Leslie Kelly is a freelance writer.