Never take for granted the convenience of traveling with your own kitchen! The two of us had pretty well acclimated to long distance trips where our kitchen traveled with us. Being so accustomed to this luxury when you segue to travel without an RV one’s brain has to learn how to travel all over again! I won’t say we regret our decision to sell the coach — it’s not that at all. But we definitely need to re-learn how to travel.
All change requires…. duh…. change. That is to say, external changes precipitate internal changes. The one acts upon you; the other is you reacting to the outside stimulus to adjust your life to new circumstances. It’s rare that external changes don’t result in subsequent internal changes.
Take the question of traveling with your own kitchen for example. While RV’ing we regularly hit the road early in the morning, put on a couple hours of driving and stopped alongside the road for breakfast. If it was a longer day we might also stop for lunch; either eating out of the fridge or taking time to cook something. We rarely ate at restaurants while driving the coach — why do so when we could cook anything we wanted — and know what we were getting. I like my own cooking. But in a car that doesn’t work. You don’t have a real refrigerator. Your battery won’t support cooking on an induction hob. It’s not convenient or realistic to try cooking most of the time. It’s a major jar to one’s consciousness when you have become accustomed to it and you no longer have the choice. The re-action is to learn how to travel differently. Now we think about breakfast and lunch. We eat out at restos when we need to. We eat from freshly bought groceries when we choose — salads, precooked proteins, fruits, raw veg, breads or cheeses — whatever we want. But we have to think about doing it.
None of this comes as news to us. We’ve done it all before, but being reminded of what we gave up by the decision to stop RV’ing is a real “thing” — in the same way that making the decision to go RV’ing was in the first place. There are many aspects of life that don’t transfer to your new life when you make major lifestyle changes.
Fortunately, we like to eat. So, finding places along the road to ‘test out’ can be fun. Last night we found a terrific place. We are usually pretty lucky, but occasionally we make a mistake and end up at a bummer of a joint. Finding places to sleep at the end of a long day’s drive might be harder — in the RV we could always pull into a friendly Walmart (which we only did about 3 or 4 nights a year) for an emergency 8 hours of sleep if we hadn’t found an RV park. Without the RV we are reduced to motel-ing it. That means sleeping in strange beds, in unfamiliar rooms, that may or may not be clean or quiet or safe. (A friend recently stayed at a motel in which, when they went to their room, they discovered the bathtub had been melted by the previous guest while cooking meth — how that room had been cleaned by a maid without a report of a malfunctioning bathtub we won’t go into!)
We are careful about sleeping and eating. We limit our overnights to one particular chain of hotels/motels. They have provided a consistent standard that we have adjusted to living with. For us, the pluses and minuses balance out with that chain and I’ve been a customer for 30 years. We rarely have anything other than a satisfactory stay.
We avoid chain restaurants — the ‘cost’ of cheap road food at chain restaurants is more chemicals and preservatives. I don’t lie either; we do try to eat reasonably healthy. Cheap food can be the most expensive food you ever eat — if you get sick. Of course that’s simple if you don’t eat sandwiches. Which we mostly don’t. I like my hot meals and sammiches just don’t cut it for me.
Returning to the life of traveling by car also means a readjustment of our way of thinking about travel. Two years ago it took us 60 days to make the trip between Milwaukee and Los Fresnos. This past autumn we only took 1 month to do the same 1500 miles. But in February we made the same trip in three days up, and four days back down to Texas. Quite the difference. And it points out the fact that we really haven’t done leisure travel in a car in almost 6 years; we need to rethink old habits.
Like most people who hold down a job, before retirement we had to fit our pleasure travel into vacation time. So we tended to hurry from place to place to get to a destination. Now, however, our concept of destination has changed and I find it hard to think about auto travel not as destination travel. I know it sounds bizarre, but the years of full-timing have changed our sense of what travel is: what it consists of, how one goes about it, duration, expense, objective.
I’m sure this topic will come up again as we get used to a new way of life. Suffice it to say for now that we are adjusting…