RVs should truly get some thought, if you want to take steps to minimizing your attachments to superficial and material things—and to some degree, people—especially if you want, but aren’t quite ready, to sell the homestead and go camp on a beach with a knapsack on a stick.
While writing this I am attempting to stay focused on the things I anticipate will be helpful in assisting me and my son in learning and practicing Buddhism. There is much more to living in an RV than just simply getting one and driving off to the nearest mountain to forever live a peaceful, lackadaisical, carefree life, however. Think of it more as a large step in that direction. Disclaimer: I do not currently nor have I ever lived in an RV, but I have spent a couple of months now researching the idea. I see many aspects that could coincide with what I know about Buddhism.
RV living as Buddhist practice
RV living is every bit as personalized and varied as any one person’s Buddhism practice. There are million dollar rigs (with luxuries equal to those in a Manhattan apartment) to pop-up tents mounted on a trailer (simply for sleeping and keeping the bugs off you, sort of).
There is a bit of upkeep with any of them, but the cost will depend on how much you are willing to do yourself. Part of living in an RV is the freedom to pack up and move whenever you feel like it, with little effort, but if the RV isn’t maintained then that could become an issue. I haven’t gotten to the point in my research to know how cost effective RV life is compared to our current life, but I know enough to say that it can be as expensive or cheap as a person is willing to make it.
To start with, I will talk about minimizing. There isn’t a lot of room and there are weight restrictions as well—and you don’t want to break an axle or flatten a tire from too much weight. Therefore, this way of living would provide substantial nudge to let go of unnecessary things. You must put consideration in everything you want to carry on-board. Of course, there is always the option to rent storage if you really don’t want to let go of some thing(s) but it won’t work out on-board.
Slowly over time, I suspect I will learn more of what we absolutely need and we will become willing to let go of more things, thus unburdening our lives even more than when we initially start. Also we will be less apt to buy frivolous shiny trinkets when shopping or visiting somewhere.
The people that choose full-time living in an RV aren’t your typical people. They tend to seem lighter, more spirited, less attached to the superficial/material things and surroundings. All those I have come in contact with have had a very positive, friendly, and willing-to-help attitude, while still maintaining a healthy level of respect for each others’ privacy. Also there appears to be a higher awareness, respect for, and love of nature among them, thus most are compelled to take care of it—they seem to realize it will in turn provide and take care of them.
Since city streets are too small for nearly all RVs, full time RVers live outside or completely stay away from metropolitan areas and dense populations. They don’t often experience the hustle and bustle, harried, stress-filled lifestyle that the average city dwellers does; to that end, they seem relaxed, easy going, and less burdened by those types of weights.
Not only are humans healthier living as one with nature, so are some of the sub-systems on-board an RV; such as water and waste tank maintenance. It is best to use biodegradable eco-friendly products, like enzymes in the waste disposal tanks. Being in such a confined space you will naturally want to minimize the amount of trash and waste you make, because you will need to hold on to it until you get to an appropriate place to dispose of it.
During my research, I have found my thought process has already started to change. One example is: my original intent was to minimize and remove some of the stress and burdens in both my son’s and my own life and bring more joy; so my approach was in looking at the minimal amount of space I thought we could make do with. Not too long ago, my idea of the space we would be living in was realized. The RV is simply going to be the place we can safely keep some personal items, supplies such as food, clothing, and laptops, shelter us from adverse weather, and provide us with a connection to the world while we escape to less populated areas. Also, we will each still have a separate space to sleep, and not worry that we will wake up to a bear licking our toes or faces. Our actual living space will be all that area around us, as far as we can walk and see—or maybe it will be a couple of chairs and a table outside under a tree doing work and/or school work. Our actual living space will be much larger than the 1000 sq. ft. apartment, that we are currently living too much of our lives in.
Another way my thinking has changed is that when I think about buying something new, I consider its versatility. Multiple uses for a single item seems to be a key to feeling like you are not denying yourself.
Following are few resources I started my research with, for anyone that would like consider whether this lifestyle may be right for them.
The RVer’s Bible: Everything You Need to Know About Choosing, Using, & Enjoying Your RV by Kim and Sunny Baker.
I read this book front to back, making many notes, it has awesome amount of knowledge on the ins & outs, tops & bottoms of RVs. It is one of the most recommended books for anyone that owns, or is thinking of purchasing, an RV.
I like to browse through RVS.com for the pictures, and to get a glimpse of the different styles and models (to dream and keep me motivated), but there are much better deals to be found out there. It’s important before deciding what would be right for you to go to an RV show or dealer lot and check some out in person. I originally thought my son and I would need around a 28-30 ft motorhome, but after going to a show, I think we will be fine in a 25-27 ft, possibly even less—but I don’t want to push ourselves into too much of a leap in downsizing at once.
I have talked about correlations I recognize between RV living in relation of Buddhism and minimal living, but it isn’t without its responsibilities and expenses. After researching all these things about RV living, I believe it is an attainable way for my son and I to find a mentally/physically healthier and more peaceful life, also it will provide more varied opportunities for practicing Buddhism.