TMS — Too Much Shopping

Or all the things I’ve bought since I got my RV that I no longer use

I wish I could give some advice to new motor home owners or those getting excited about their first foray in the RV world. There were so many, many items that I thought for sure I really needed and ended up not using. These items were given away, sold or indefinitely stored. To be honest, at this point (my MH is almost five years old), I’m not even sure I can remember everything. So, just to give you an idea and maybe help you in making your own decisions, I’ve listed the ones I can remember.

There was an inexpensive plastic container from Camping World, $20,  that is used to keep your fresh water hose all coiled up nice and neatly and conveniently ready to use at a moment’s notice. The only problem was that my hose didn’t go in to it nicely like the picture. All the fighting with the hose just made my back more sore. I ended up gifting it to a young couple at Percy Quinn State Park in Mississippi who were camping with their brand new travel trailer. I now use a Home Depot bucket for my hose.

Then there was the more expensive folding bicycle and cart attachment for the dogs ($300 total). I guess I thought I would get exercise while camping and take the dogs with me at the same time. The trouble was, the bicycle was hard to handle and didn’t really fit in the outside cargo storage of the motorhome. The cart was a little easier to manage but also took up most of the storage and was difficult for me to get in and out. 

We only camped at a few places where there was smooth sidewalk or road to use these. I’m not very good at riding a bicycle (I had forgotten over the years) and so I ended up using the cart for my senior dog who had trouble walking far while we rambled along behind. In the end, I realized this set up was impractical and cumbersome. It was much easier to just walk and to take the oldest dog in a little stroller. I was able to sell the setup to a young father with two children who was happy to inherit my buying failure.

Probably the most expensive not used purchase was the electric three-wheeler. Before I left California for the full time life, I was concerned that I would be traveling in a motor home with no car and how would I get around for laundry, shopping, and the like? My brilliant idea after researching mopeds, tow cars, etc. was an electric bike. Remember, I can’t ride a bike. So I had to get a three-wheeler. Also, it wouldn’t have done me any good if I couldn’t take the dogs with me so it needed a large basket.

I did my research on brands, reviews, and my price range and found a good deal on a bike with the specs I needed. I don’t remember the name of the company now but the bikes featured at Ewheels is the model I got. You could not imagine how heavy and unwieldy these are until you are trying to load it onto a cargo carrier on the back of your motor home. It was physically impossible for me. I ended up spending money on a ramp that was long enough to give me a fighting chance. Even then, I often needed assistance to get it loaded. And for some reason, it would take me about an hour each time to ratchet all the straps. Total spent approximately $2000, with the bike, ramp, and carrier plus the straps, the tarp, the locks, and stuff.

I used the Ebike for about six months and then advertised it and all it’s paraphernalia for sale. A woman responded, liked what she saw, and offered me $500 for everything. What could I do? I let it all go.

Also right before I went full time, I decided to get some work done at Camping World. In addition to routine maintenance, I had them install a tire minder system for me ($400) and a back up camera ($170) to go with the Garmin GPS I’d previously purchased. Total bill with all the installations and stuff was over $1000.00.

Wanna know what’s funny? I quit using the tire minders because they kept giving me false readings and heart attacks. When you’re driving down the highway on a Sunday  afternoon in Georgia when nothing is open, you don’t want a red light beeping at you saying “losing pressure! Losing pressure!”  

 I bought a heavy duty air compressor at Lowe’s and it’s one of the first things I pack into the outside storage when taking a trip now. And I check my tires manually before leaving and on the road.

 I never used the back up camera either and it actually hasn’t even worked for a while now. I spent some money at Camping World a few years later to see if they could diagnose the problem while I was there for annual maintenance and they were unable to fix it. What do I use instead? The best way to see what’s behind you when backing up is a Fresnell Lens from Amazon, less than $20.

Off the top of my head, here are some things that are no longer used:

  • Level Mate Pro — $140; a bubble level does the trick just fine
  • Three different bird cages ( trying to find the right one for parrot comfort and to fit in the motor home — $250; the bird traveled with us for 6 months and then went to live with a friend.
  • Cat playpen — $60; cat never used it.
  • Outdoor 8 panel play yard for dogs — $62; gave away to a senior couple with little dogs in Myrtle Beach. It was too difficult for me to open and close and too heavy.
  • Expandable rainproof cargo bag — $46; didn’t need after I sold the Ebike.
  • NOAA weather alert radio — $35; never worked properly and I discovered a phone app that I can use. I’m rarely parked somewhere with no cell service.
  • Suction cup window mount cat perch — $25; cat was too big
  • Rand McNally deluxe motor carriers road atlas — $40; practically every single road is highlighted in yellow and it’s very difficult to use easily.
  • External dvd drive for my laptop — $35; I just never watch my old DVDs anymore
  • Collapsible laundry baskets (2) — $40; they were too big and too heavy
  • Four step pet steps — $40; too steep for my poodle mix. I got the same brand in 3 step and he’s still using them to this day. NOTE: sometimes it’s more expensive to return things through Amazon than to just keep them!

Some of the things I’m still using that were bought for the RV:

  • Instant Pot
  • Command caddies and shelves
  • Camco heavy duty leveling blocks
  • Garmin RV
  • Kobalt air compressor
  • Bissel cleanview mini vacuum

You get the idea. Too bad new RVers can’t try stuff out for a while and then return what doesn’t work for them. Or maybe I should not buy everything that everyone else has until I’m really sure it’s going to work for me?

How Much Do You Really Need?

This is an editorial. Some strong opinions will be stated and you may agree or disagree and those who disagree may feel they are being personally attacked. For that, I’m sorry but if this also gives you a chance to reflect on the way you live your life and to maybe make some positive changes, yay, I say.

We’ve been brainwashed to believe that we must have “stuff,” and I’ll admit I was one of the guilty party. I spent thousands and thousands of dollars decorating my 970 square foot home. I bought new gadgets for the kitchen constantly because I loved cooking. I put in gardens in the back yard and then re-did it several times as I changed layouts and designs. I did the whole house in area rugs over wall-to-wall carpet with matching furniture, shelves, and knick-knacks and then re-did the whole house in laminate with different furniture when I discovered that one of my rescue dogs had a habit of peeing indoors.

I was a collector too. I had hundreds of books. I also started collecting mid-century American-made figural pottery in the early 2000s and had about thirty-six pieces by 2018. Those pieces also needed display furniture. I love shoes and had about forty pairs at the time I downsized. I had a garage full of tools and who-knows- what because I was a do-it-your-selfer. I refinished furniture, I made shelves and toys for my chinchillas and birds, I did a lot of the house remodeling projects myself. But my goal all along was to travel when I retired and to sell the house. What compelled me to buy so much stuff when I knew I would be leaving it all? I can’t explain other than the fact that we live in a “consumerism” society and it’s drilled in to us to buy more and better.

Here’s what I learned after two years of not having stuff. How big your house is and how much fancy stuff is packed in there does not define who you are. I don’t miss it. Sometimes I wonder how different things would be now if I’d saved all that money instead of spending it. I sure didn’t get much back when I tried to sell everything. Most of the things in the end were given away or donated. I’ve learned that I don’t need a lot of room. I’ve learned that I don’t need to be entertained with a big TV or hobbies. I don’t need to keep busy taking care of a house or yard.

Some people are natural savers and think small types. Can you imagine if most people were more comfortable living small? We would have resources galore. I can’t tell you how to live your life but I can tell you that it is possible to be happy without having a lot of stuff surrounding you. You might think that people who live in tiny houses or motorhomes full time are people of lesser means but that isn’t true. I was surprised to find out recently that one retiree who lives full time in a motorhome has a retirement income that is more than I made yearly for most of my working life. Imagine how much young couples could save if they lived in a nice trailer instead of buying a house and furnishing it?

Here’s the floor plan of my living quarters for the last two years. Of course, I do go out quite a bit for dog walks or just enjoying nature. And when I’m sitting inside, I still try to bring some of the outdoors in by keeping windows and the door open. I get the scent of pine trees, birds tweeting, and the occasional campfire. And at certain times of the year, I have the Gulf of Mexico in my backyard. What could be more perfect?

My words of wisdom to everyone is “don’t try to keep up with the Joneses.”