Generation Z. Cruising in an RV.: Debating the Pros and Cons of the RV Cruising Lifestyle

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Debating the Pros and Cons of the RV Cruising Lifestyle

I must admit there are several stages to RV cruising as a lifestyle: escaping, sightseeing, seeing/relaxing, migrating, nesting. Since Bill and I only met on the road to retirement, we did not experience the first so we jumped right into the second stage and are now on the fourth (we think). Let me discuss these various stages at a future post, however. Instead let me dwell on a debate that has been raging on my mind since we started this journey.

We have found the following benefits of RV cruising as a lifestyle:

new experiences and activities
new places and sights
being close to nature
new people you meet
a larger view of life
relatively lower levels of stress

And so we decided to move from stage 2 to 3. In only eight months we had traveled 21,000 miles, from Alaska and the Arctic Circle to Mexico and the Tropic of Cancer to Florida and Low Country USA! Because of the new experiences, activities, places, sights and people, we have not been a bit bored. Surprisingly we have developed a non-parochial view of life because we have not been rooted anywhere really. Finally, from the driven lifestyles we had (Bill, keeping a small business alive despite a flagging economy after years of corporate jungle and I, juggling classes at three institutions in a supposed reinvention after years of business pioneering) this crazy adventure was exhilaratingly refreshing.

But we have also found the following disadvantages:

inconsistency in bonds with people: family and friends
inconsistency in involvement with causes
inconsistency in healthcare
loss of stability
loss of income
preponderance of unfamiliar situations

The very benefits of having something new all the time also gave the lifestyle the loss of stability and the preponderance of unfamiliar situations. This resulted in inconsistencies in bonds with people (both family and friends), with causes (such as the church) that we used to nurture, and healthcare. Technology has definitely helped (skype, webcam, cell phones, broadband access, laptops, the internet, etc.) but the ‘propinquity’ is also essentially lost. What younger people would find most disturbing, however, is the loss of regular income. For retired people like us, that really is not much of an issue. But the loss certainly has made us more frugal than necessary and budgeting more of a regular to-do.

And what do you do if you enjoy the benefits so much that you want to continue the lifestyle but do not want to suffer the disadvantages? Well, you mitigate them, of course! I have already talked about technology to strengthen communications with loved ones. As far as health, just make sure you stay long enough at a place where you have a doctor you trust, at least once a year. Work camping is an option to earn enough to sustain the lifestyle (see workamper.com). A payback vacation (like building homes for Katrina victims in New Orleans) is another way to work for causes. And not sweating the small stuff is such a valuable attitude to have when you have to adjust to so many varying situations, people, rules, facilities, availabilities, etc. For old folks like us, that may not be an easy thing to do…but we try.

What do you think? Do you think the pros outweigh the cons? Would you join us in the RV cruising lifestyle? Will you embrace the benefits and mitigate the disadvantages? At what stage will you enter?