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Cameron Smith / Her Campus

I Spent The Summer In An RV: Here Are 5 Things I Learned

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

Traveling across the country is often portrayed as this idyllic once-in-a-lifetime adventure that people dream of. This past summer, I spent two months in a 38-foot RV with my parents traveling from Connecticut to California. Along the way, I learned way more about myself and this country than I ever could’ve imagined — here’s a list of the five major lessons I learned along the way:

1. There’s beauty everywhere

I know this is cliché, but it needs to be said, the United States is a beautiful country. However, when looking at our itinerary at the start of the trip, it’s fair to say there were a few places I was significantly less excited to visit (i.e. the three days in Indiana, four days in North Dakota, and what could we possibly do in South Dakota for nine days). Yet, at each of these places that I was initially unsure of, there was something that pleasantly surprised me. In Indiana, it was my sunset runs along the beach of Lake Michigan; in Twisp, Washington it was the little local farmers market with some of the best donuts I’ve ever had; the way the sky lit up purple against the badlands in South Dakota at sunset; and, my list could go on.

2. Even introverts get lonely

My whole life I’ve been an introvert, usually there’s nothing that sounds better to me than an afternoon spent alone, but for maybe the first time in my life, on this trip I got lonely. Yes, I was with my parents who I’ve always gotten along with incredibly well, but after spending literally 24/7 together for months on end you quickly run out of things to talk about. Admittedly, I was also in a new relationship and long distance is always less than ideal, but it was even beyond that. By week three of the trip, I was craving being around people my age and realized the importance social interaction plays in my life.

3. you need a hobby

I didn’t realize it until this trip, but most of my hobbies aren’t conducive to life on the road. By this, I mean the fact that growing up, my sport of choice has been horseback riding and when I need time to myself I usually go to the gym — neither of these are exactly options when where you’re living changes every three days. This meant that at the start of the trip in our downtime, I was just endlessly scrolling social media and binging way too much Netflix, and surprise, my mental health suffered. So I had to find new hobbies. First, I took up running and found that even a mile a day did wonders for my mental health. Then, I went to Target and bought an adult coloring book which provided me with a space where I could quietly relax. My mom and I also enjoyed collecting and putting together puzzles from the different national parks we visited.

4. people want to help

Often we assume the worst about people, yet this trip truly proved to me that there’s still a lot of good out there. Time and time again, we’d come across strangers who showed us nothing but absolute, genuine kindness. We experienced it everywhere we went from waiters who’d take time out of their day to tell us about the area and provide recommendations, to fellow RVers who were willing to help with anything at any time — I’ll give a special shoutout to the people at our campground in North Cascades National Park, Washington, who when our toilet broke, continuously offered their help; whether that be advice, manual labor, or tools.

5. It’s okay to admit something isn’t working

Here’s my confession: I didn’t last the whole trip. I left the trip two weeks early. The lack of routine and loneliness caught up to me. Initially, I felt guilty about this; for so many people RVing across the country is a dream and trip of a lifetime, and here I was bailing early. However, I realized that leaving was a choice I had to make for my mental well-being, and doing so didn’t negate my experience or make me ungrateful. The truth is, I will always be grateful for this trip as it not only allowed me to see so much of this beautiful country but also allowed me to spend time with my parents and make memories with them.

With this being said, if you dream of hitting the road in an RV: go. The scenery you find will be breathtaking. The people you meet will be incredible. The memories you make will be everlasting. My piece of advice to you would be to do what feels right and make it your adventure, not what society tells you it needs to look like.

Abby is a junior at the University of Connecticut majoring in American Studies and English with a concentration in anti-racism and social justice. Abby enjoys writing about music, sports, and her personal experiences. On campus, she is the co-captain of the equestrian team and a mentor for undecided students. Abby also works as a campus tour guide for visiting high school students. In her free time, Abby enjoys going for walks at sunset, listening to music - especially Taylor Swift, and watching dating shows with friends.