How I live in an RV without killing my spouse.

How I live in an RV without killing my spouse.

Yep, this is my title and can you guess who is writing this?

This is Tiffany and I’m Eric’s wife. I wanted to write a post to speak to all the S.O.’s out there who may be wondering, “How are we going to live in such a small space without hating each other?”.

It IS possible.

I had this same question and I am sure he did too. When we first moved in, it was an adventure! We were excited to renovate and start our journey, but after about a month, with some hiccups, I think we were both beginning to wonder if this would work.

Not for just the RV living aspect, but for our relationship.

Some of you may think that it’s going to be no problem. You have a great relationship now, so there’s no way anything could possibly knock your partnership off course, right?

Well, I thought this way too.

So here are my tips and scenarios. I’m mainly talking to the ladies here, but I really want the guys to hear this too and any spouses or partners of the reader. Maybe sit down together, enjoy some tea, read this together, you know, snuggle and be all lovey now…start out in a happy place because none of this will make you happy to hear if you are already fighting.

(Names and event details may have been changed to protect the innocent.) 😉


  1. You are walking towards to the bathroom and your S.O. is in the kitchen. He or She is cooking dinner and there is no way for you nicely squeeze around them. You try to get around them, accidentally knock their elbow and they spill the spaghetti sauce on the carpet. Then an argument ensues.
  2. You are on your 6th day with no heat and you are about to strangle someone. You find yourself complaining, just a little, about how tough this is. Your S.O. laughs or rolls the eyes and you feel the heat rising into your ears. You feel stupid and they just had that reaction because they thought it was cute, but you are now feeling angry. An argument ensues.
  3. It’s the 3rd day of a rainstorm and you haven’t been out of your RV in that time. Both of you are feeling a bit of cabin fever and all you want to do is watch your favorite comedy that you’ve seen a thousand times because you know you will feel better (mine is Hot Tub Time Machine). You walk to your bedroom, start a movie and your S.O. follows and lays down quietly. You are forcing yourself not to scream because they should have known you wanted to be alone.

Yes, okay, maybe these aren’t scenarios that you think you will have to deal with, but trust me, things will happen that you never had to deal with in your relationship before or that you never were bothered by before until you lived in an RV.

Tips for surviving and keeping your sanity:

  1. Be prepared.-And I mean for anything. For any weather and any situation, even if it seems irrational at the time, even if you are planning on chasing the sunshine, you never know where you might be stranded. Bring your favorite jacket or sweater, a blanket, a small heater, umbrellas, first aid kits, your comfortable PJ’s, a poncho, fire starters, lighters, a solar shower bag and anything else you think you won’t ever need to use because it seems silly to need those things. You’re not camping, right? Trust me, you will need them and when you don’t have them, you WILL be irritable.
  2. Communication-Talk about your space. Talk about your current habits and needs. If you are like me, then you need some personal space, some “me” time and it’s important that you talk about it. You may have a routine down right now where you both have a mutual understanding of when you both need your own time, but being in a much smaller home without the same amenities you are used to, will become challenging. If you want to be alone, tell your partner. Tell them it’s nothing personal, but you need to decompress. It’s a lot easier laying down the communication groundwork before you run into glitches that turn into arguments. Eric and I used to just know when the other wanted to be alone. He would go to his “man cave” (computer room) and I would sit on the couch and catch up on Law & Order. We wouldn’t be upset or even really need to state we were doing separate things, but in an RV it’s much different. You sometimes feel you are living in the same room as the love of your life and every little annoying habit becomes amplified. An argument over missing your crime show is not worth it. Yes, I am speaking from experience.
  3. Discuss space restrictions-What I mean by this is make sure you talk about the space you need and learn to compromise on what space you WILL not get. If you are used to a closet full of clothes or personal items, then stand back and look at your closet now and cut that in half, then cut that in half again. Imagine your closet is sectioned into quarters and that quarter of space is pretty much what you will most likely have to work with. Pick our your favorite jeans, shirt, ONE pair of shoes and figure that is the basis of your wardrobe. Start figuring out what you cannot live without and realize that this is your ONLY closet space for your journey. Then make room for your spouses things. I know, it’s daunting, but bear with me. After you are in the RV and before you unpack and organize, scan your storage space and talk about what is absolutely necessary for inside the RV and what you can store in storage spaces within the RV. Our RV has a “basement” which are big spaces underneath the RV, kind of reminds me of where you store baggage in an airplane overhead, but these are located below you and you cannot get to them while driving. You may need large,weather-proof containers or bags and figure out NOW what needs to go there because your spouse will be peeved if you ask him to outside in 20 degree weather to get your favorite flannel pants. If you don’t make these plans now, everything will end up inside your RV and it will be very difficult to get it organized later when you are traveling. Then take a look at your bathroom now and your bathroom in the RV. Be prepared to donate or throw away MOST of what you currently have. You will really only be able to store one set of toiletries (shampoo and conditioner, shave cream, razors…etc) and if your RV has a medicine cabinet, you will have to fit everything into that cabinet that you currently may have in drawers and under the sink. Take all these tips and use them for the kitchen space too. It’s a daunting thought, but it will save your sanity!
  4. Ask questions and do your research before your trip-I know nothing about RV’s or cars in general. I can check my oil and change a tire, but that was on my small, Honda Civic. A RV is a totally different ballgame. If you have roadside assistance, get comfortable with your benefits. If you don’t know where tools are located, ask your spouse to show you. There may be a time when you will have to drive the RV, you will have to handle repairing stuff, you will have to call transmission repair shops or fix a leak. If you don’t think you will ever need to know these things, that’s fine, but if something happens and your partner cannot do this, it’s on you and it will be much less stressful if you have an idea of what to do or at least who to call for help. Also, when you get to a location, peruse your local repair shops. Find out their hours and if they even work on a RV. When you are in an RV, you can’t call a 24 hour repair service to fix your leaking toilet or your broken transmission because they may not be available or they may not travel to your location, these are things that have to be done by the both of you and if you are prepared, you will know who to call and what to do when the tension is high. A great way to learn is to join Facebook groups or other social media outlets for RV-ing. So many people are just starting out and love helping others and most don’t mind a lot of questions. Make YouTube your friend and watch videos over and over so you get an idea of how things work. Google search, ask friends who may have RV or even who just go camping on occasion, make sure you know where your closest urgent care, veterinary office, and hospital is and find out the rules of a campground before you make a reservation. Some places don’t allow certain RV’s due to age of the vehicle or size restrictions. Some locations won’t allow certain dog breeds and some places may not have showers or laundry services.
  5. Make mutual decisions-The reason I say this is that my husband and I made our home and financial decisions together when living in our apartment and we also had our individual expenses that didn’t need discussion. We talked about spending and repairs and anything else that came our way and certain things we didn’t need to discuss like grocery shopping or my essential oil expenses (shameless plug for my love of EO’s) and never had a problem, but living in an RV changes these things and you don’t want any surprises. Discuss your budget, set it and stick to it. This includes every expense! If one of you is trying to make a challenging decision such as replacing a RV part or buying an appliance, discuss it together. This may seem kind of common sense, but when it comes to an RV budget, it’s a big deal. You may not be able to say, “Whatever you want is fine”, anymore because living on the road is not cheap and what you buy has to last. It may seem expensive at first, but not replacing it six months later is much better on your budget. Making lists helps. My husband and I make a list every single time we go to the grocery store. We stick to it. If we have enough in our budget left over while at the store, then yes will absolutely buy those BOGO Oreos, but if we don’t, we do without. We have our must’s which are our basic must have items to survive on (soda (yes, caffeine is necessary, don’t judge), canned food, bread, lunch meat, coffee, bottled water, granola bars, cat food and similar), our maybe’s which are the items allowed if our budget can handle it (flavored coffee creamer, energy drinks, ice cream and similar) and our “only if on sale” items (those are the splurges, the things we don’t usually buy but really want every so often) such as those Oreo cookies, Little Debbie snacks, chips, popcorn and other really unhealthy stuff). Also, plan out your meals in the sense of knowing what you need for the week or even month. No need to really get into recipes, but know what you both already eat on a regular basis and take into account whether you have the appliances needed to make them like a microwave, crock pot or stove. If you get stranded somewhere and run out of propane or don’t have a car to get to a store, it’s not fun asking neighbors every week to take you. (Even though no one has ever said no or been unwilling to help).
  6. Buy non perishable foods whenever possible-Another thing that will save you and your temper in a pinch. Canned soups or pastas may not be the best for your diet, but most of the time you aren’t only eating those as a daily food routine. Make sure to buy veggies, soups, pastas, and anything else you can eat that isn’t terrible for you for a week or so, but is affordable and won’t spoil. We had some time where our fridge quit on us and we lost a lot of food. We didn’t have a whole lot of canned food and let me tell you, it wasn’t fun. As someone who needs to snack throughout the to avoid that midday brain fog, it was important that I had snacks like fruit, cheese and yogurt, but those were lost. We learned from this and now stock up on items like low sugar fruit cups, low sugar granola bars, no sodium canned veggies, dry pastas,trail mix, peanut butter and bread and even easy mac and cheese so we can have a warm “meal” if something goes awry and not kill each other out of hunger.
  7. Baby wipes, rubber gloves, and much smaller kitchen items-No we don’t have a baby, but we also had no heat or hot water (still don’t) and when we are boon-docking, we have no way to shower. Fortunately, most campgrounds with RV type lots have had showers, but sometimes you may not have access. In the summer, it’s no fun being with each other when you both stink to high heaven and honestly, I feel terrible emotionally when I don’t feel clean. Get baby wipes, so you can wipe down when you need to, just in case a hot shower is not available. Another thing you may not think you’ll need, but if it happens, you both will be SO glad you got them. Rubber gloves are a must. Eric learned the hard way when he showed me how to drain the black tank. Okay, let’s move on from that nasty thought. The kitchen items I am speaking of are things like dish drainers, the amount of utensils you have, your pots and pans. You may only have space for one set of these things and the dish drainer you use now, I can almost guarantee, will not fit on your RV counter. There are tons of options for items that collapse and fold up, do some research and make your must have lists now.
  8. Trust your gut- I am talking to the ladies, but the guys NEED to read this. So, this may be a depressing subject, but I promise it’s important. When a decision is made that you really feel in disagreement with or if you feel that a certain decision will cause you both to be unsafe. Speak up. For instance, if you get that feeling in your stomach that the campsite you parked in is in an unsafe area, talk about it and explain why. If you stop at a truck stop to sleep and something inside you shifts and you suddenly feel scared, then say something. It may seem irrational to your partner, but explaining that your gut is telling you something is wrong may just save both of your lives. Seriously, your gut is there for a reason. It’s the absolutely most important piece of advice I have learned in life and it has saved me MANY times from harm or violence. There’s a lot of negative things going on in the world and while none of this may ever affect you directly, and I sincerely hope it never does, it’s better to safe than sorry. It’s absolutely okay to put your foot down and say,”I feel really unsafe and I’m scared. I’d like to park somewhere else in the campground.” These feelings you get are NOT you overreacting. It’s not your paranoia! It’s your built-in, internal, safety device and you both need to learn to listen to it. These are the time where compromise may not happen and your spouse may have to listen, even if he or she doesn’t agree.
  9. Last, but not least, learn when to apologize and pick your battles.- There will be times when you will want to argue your point until the cows come home, but in a small space, it’s not always possible to walk away and cool down, as mentioned above. If you have argued and want to walk away, but it’s raining or snowing or just too dang hot to leave your RV, then you may have to take a moment to reflect on what just happened and swallow your pride. This doesn’t mean you are accepting defeat or that you are wrong, but after you just disagreed on where to store the coffee pot, you might want to think about the big picture and apologize. You can’t get your personal space like you could in your home and being in the close vicinity with the person who just pissed you off is only going to make you angrier. Before you get angry over the toilet seat being left up or finding a dirty dish sitting in the sink, ask yourself this, “How important is it?”. Now, don’t take me wrong here, you can still TALK about it. Maybe try, “Hey honey, can you do me a big favor and try to rinse the dish when you put it in the sink?”.  Most of the time, your partner will HOPEFULLY understand and say they will make the effort. If they don’t, then think about the things you do that may irk them and how your partner never brings them up. This is the time to just rinse the dish and move on. After the argument, apologize and then let them know why you were irked, without accusations. Don’t start the makeup conversation with, “It really bothers me when you…”. Yeah…trust me, especially speaking to the husbands, you will end up arguing again and regretting your existence for the next 3 days.

I know all this seems really silly. “We are fine now, we don’t argue and reading this seems really obvious and these problems seem trivial”, you are thinking.

I know, I thought the same thing. Eric and I never fought. Really, we didn’t. We are best friends, partners and in love and really didn’t argue much over anything at all and if we did, we made up very quickly. We aren’t perfect, but it was much easier dealing with a lot of these problems when space and basic needs weren’t coming into play. In an RV, you may start one day irritable because the pipes froze overnight or because you just realized you ran out of coffee or you get up and step on a hairball your cat left as a present for being such a great human. These are things you deal with now, but now you have a car, you have emergency repairmen for the pipes and you have learned that the particular spot that the cat always throws up on and you learn to step over it, even in your morning, no-coffee, zombie mindset. When these trivial things arise in your RV, it will be much more difficult not to get angry and start both of your mornings with an argument that ruins the whole day.

Most of all, enjoy the journey! As Eric says, home is where the road is. This is your dream and you can go anywhere you want. You can see what you want, when you want and with your most favorite person. What could be better than that?

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