WheRVe we been? Our travels, 1st quarter 2022

We were in only two places, but one of them was way more than one place, we did not get there by RV, and we lived for two months out of two carry-on roller bags and two backpacks — which makes us two crazies!

It was Mexico.
Mexico is way more than one place.

January ~ Texas

We began 2022 the same way we ended 2021, as guests on a friend’s property in Boerne, TX, helping out around the place to earn our keep. And because we unexpectedly bought a truck camper and had to pack and prepare for two months in Mexico, we spent most of January dealing — rather giddily, I must say — with both of those things.

Our fleet
Tex, the 2018 DRV Mobile Suites 38KSSB
Road Island, the 2013 Lance 1050S

February & March ~ Mexico

First, let me disabuse you of the notion that we packed suitcases and flew to Mexico to make our way around on our own. We are brave enough to do that, mind you, but that wasn’t our method for this trip.

Instead, we had places to land, and knowledgeable and experienced guides — specifically, Tim’s parents, who have been spending winters in Mexico since long before I joined the family 30 years ago. We traveled together with them, and also used their expertise to seek out adventures of our own, and it was the perfect blend of reliance and independence for our first lengthy international sojourn.

(Plus, this wasn’t our first trip to Mexico. We’ve flown down for brief visits over the years, walked across the border for dentistry, and even driven to the northern Baja in an RV caravan.)

We spent our first month on the mainland, in Ajijic, an hour’s drive south of Guadalajara, on the northern shore of Lake Chapala. From there, we also took a 10-day road trip with Tim’s parents to the towns of San Miguel de Allende, Angangueo, Valle de Bravo, and Pátzcuaro. Here’s the month in brief: food, people, landscape, architecture.

We spent our second month on the Baja, in San Jose del Cabo, where several members of Tim’s family gathered for a mini-reunion. All the cousins, siblings, in-laws, out-laws, etc. had flown back to their homes by the 10th, so Tim & I had the rest of the month (and the condo!) to ourselves. Here’s another little taste for you.

We liked this interlude so much that we intend to make it a winter habit. Maybe not next year, and probably not every year, but the more we explored Mexico, the more we wanted to explore, and the more comfortable we became with the idea of doing so on our own. The weather is fantastic, the tacos are cheap, the people are welcoming, and quite honestly, spending two months hopping around between inns, apartments and condos that someone else has to maintain? Pure gold. Respite we didn’t even know we needed.

Wait. Only 2 carry-ons each? EACH?

Pack less, do more.

We stayed in 12 different places, and went on two road trips (one of which crammed 4 adults in a small sedan) so being able to pack quickly and lightly was a necessity.

I won’t bore you with my detailed list, but I will tell you it was a challenge packing for two different climates. We needed winter clothes for part of our February visit to the mainland, during which we spent a week at elevations of 7,000-10,000 feet. Didn’t wear any of those the second month, on the Baja, but then my bathing suit, shorts and tank tops didn’t exactly make it out of the suitcase during that chilly first month.

Yes, there’s a third suitcase in that first picture. The blue one on the left contained items Tim’s parents had requested, as they’d already been in Ajijic since November, and shipping from the states is expensive and unpredictable. It was easier for us to fill a bag and check it — and then donate it to a charity resale shop before leaving Mexico.

Where to next?

We’re currently back at the ranch, preparing to take Road Island (the truck camper), into the upper right corner for the summer. First stop is in northern VA for a wedding at the end of this month, then we’ll travel through the northeastern states, including stops in the four we need to complete our RVing map of the Lower 48 (DE, NJ, RI, CT). Might even throw in a roll through the Canadian Maritimes if time and border policies allow.

As per our typical practice, we’ve made almost no reservations, and have only a vague mental outline of where we want to be and when. We are aware of the risks. But in nearly 7 years of full-time travel, we’ve never found ourselves homeless, even in Tex (our 41′ fifth wheel), even in northern states in the summertime.

Sorry if I’ve made you Capital-P Planners cringe. I just can’t do it your way, any more than you could switch to mine, so it’s a good thing we can all still enjoy sitting around the campfire together, swapping stories, sipping our beverages of choice, and by the way can I pet your dog?


We started full-timing in August of 2015, but I didn’t think to do an annual review until the end of 2016, and it was just a listing on Facebook of places we’d visited. After that, I started using a quarterly format.

Welcome to the fleet, little buddy!

Do get ahold of yourself. This is not a birth announcement.

Nor is it a puppy announcement.

We’ve added something else to the family, and although it means we do in fact now own more, we can travel for part of the year with less, and there’s kind of a sweet little coincidence thrown in too.

It’s a lot less.
Like less-than-half less.

But first… my existential crisis

Own more, do more? Oy vey. Let me type through it.

We wanted this, it feels right, and we’re confident with the decision — which was a good two years in the making.

But I don’t know how to sit with “owning more” yet, and I feel like the more I try to justify it, the more it sounds like I’m making excuses.

So indulge me while I examine things with my head tilted and one eye squinched.

Even with the contents of our storage unit considered, we still own significantly less than we did before we downsized to our first RV in 2015 — from a 2900sf 4br 2.5ba house with a 2-car garage, a shed, 3 vehicles, all those sets of sheets and towels, 4 people’s worth of shoes and clothing, formal living and dining areas, multiple desks and dressers, and walk-in closets containing all the we-might-need-these-somedays.

At present, we own one vehicle. As for our “houses,” the 5th wheel offers up about 350 square feet of living space, and the truck camper… maybe 150? All the furniture came with (and stays with) them, and we can travel with only one of these boogers at a time.

Well, then.

No name change is forthcoming. Own Less Do More stays.

So why did we do it?

We’d started talking about it maybe a year after we traded in our old 5th wheel and moved into this Mobile Suites in 2018.

It’s really big, y’all. There are places we can’t take it because of its size. And at great risk of making the poor thing feel fat-shamed, we really thought we’d be happier if we had a more svelte companion.

A lot of places we’d like to go are remote, petite, or require travel along roads that are unsuitable for 60 feet and 10 tires worth of moving mayhem. Plus, we’ve got our eyes on RVing to Alaska in 2023, and although we know folks who’ve done it in large rigs, we’d prefer something more stealthy and streamlined, so that we have a wider selection of places to stay, minimal need to book sites in advance (we hope), and far less worry about banging the thing up a bit in the name of adventure (we hope again).

In a truck camper, we can squeeze in just about anywhere, and scratches and dents on an 8-year-old previously owned unit become the start of a good campfire story.

However, we aren’t ready to give up the comfort of using the 5th wheel as our home, nor are we ready to return to sticks-and-bricks living, so we think of the truck camper as our mobile summer cabin. Our plan is to take off for about 5 months of travel in it this April, so that we can get the feel for a season of use in the Lower 48 before we try schlepping up to Alaska next year.

Plus, we helped Tim’s folks do this same thing just a few months ago, and that definitely stoked the fire. We did first ask if we could borrow their truck camper for Alaska 2023, but those two actively traveling seniors weren’t yet ready or willing to relinquish the rights. They might still be using it themselves, and we quite honestly hope that’s the case, so we bought our own.

This is the one Tim’s folks bought (the in-law suite?).
Joke: Just how old does Tim have to be before his father will let him borrow his toys?
Apparently 55 is still too young.

Got some specs?

Of course we do.

It’s a 2013 Lance 1050S, and I’ve taken the liberty of adding a column for our 5th wheel’s stats, so you can appreciate the differences.

Truck Camper5th wheel
Length19′ 8″40′ 6″
Height during travel11′ 8″ 13′ 6″
Dry weight3,030 lbs17,000 lbs
Mattress size60″ x 74″ (RV queen)72″ x 80″ (RV king)
No. slides14
Fresh tank30 gal100 gal
Grey tank27 gal75 gal
Black tank22 gal50 gal

There are more specs here, an actual brochure here, and I’m not going to give you a video walk-through because this dude has already done that in one like ours, and as a salesperson, he got paid to do it. Ours lacks the slide topper and the drop-down bunk over the dinette. Other than that? Samesies.

This is confusing af. How’s this gonna work, Em?

We are in the right place at the right time with the right friends.

J & K are fellow RVers, they’ve got acreage near our home base of San Antonio, and we’ve been staying on the property since early November. They’re letting us leave one unit here while we travel in the other.

Plus, J is every bit as much of a handy fixit guy as Tim, if not more so, and he’s got a tractor.

Why is that important? Okay, well, when we’re using the 5th wheel, we’ve got a big-ass hitch in the bed of the truck, plus bed-wide boxes full of tools, and a 65-gallon auxiliary fuel tank. All of that heavy stuff has to come out in order to slide the truck camper in, and then be put in again when we’re ready to switch back. So twice a year, we’ll take advantage of tractor-assisted switcheroos and an assortment of outbuildings in which to leave whatever ain’t ridin’ with us.

We pay for the privilege by helping out with projects on the property, and we’re also trying to convince J to accept something more valuable than an occasional family-size bag of peanut M&Ms for this stupid convenient option he’s given us. This would be tremendously more difficult for us without his generosity, and although we could do it without him, we probably wouldn’t.

Number of pairs of jeans I own: 2
Number of RVs we own: also 2
I am now afraid to buy more jeans.

Do they have names?

Not really, but we’re trying.

In homage to the largest and smallest states in the continental US, we’d like to go with Tex for the 5th wheel, and Road Island (misspelling intentional) for the truck camper, but neither of us is doing very well with the mental gymnastics.

The big one is usually “the house” or “the RV,” the truck camper is usually “the camper,” and if we’re inside one, then the other is simply, “the other one.”

What about that coincidence you were talking about?

When we were in San Antonio back in May of 2021, Tim and I spent a couple of days helping with clean-up efforts at an Escapees RV park near here, after it was walloped by severe storms with record-breaking hail and tornado-force winds. Almost all the RVs and vehicles on the lot were totaled, forcing this senior population to start over. I wrote about those emotional, sad, yet hopeful days here.

On December 30 of 2021, while in the San Antonio area once again, and shopping-but-not-shopping like we tend to do, Tim texted me a link to the craigslist ad for this camper. 

I looked at the first photo and could tell immediately where it was: that very RV park.

The owners — who we determined we had not met while we were helping with the clean-up in May, but wow, would that have made an even better story — had bought it in Dallas, after the storms, to live in for a few months until they could obtain a new 5th wheel to replace their totaled one. 

We spent about an hour checking it out the next day (no odors, no stains, spotless fridge and oven!), went out to lunch to talk it over, and texted the owner an offer from the table. He came up a little, but said he’d throw in a bunch of accessories that we might want/need, so we settled on his counter-offer and got approved for a loan that afternoon.

New adventures, coming soon

And that’s about as much as I can tell you without actually having lived or traveled in Road Island, which means I can’t yet say how awesome — or awful? — it is to cut our living space, storage space, and amenities by more than half. That’s coming up when we get back from our 2-month trip to Mexico. (If you missed that news, I included it in our previous blog post. We’re flying!)

Over the past two weeks, Tim’s been tackling caulking, wiring, and other fixits to get the camper ready to go, and I’ve been taking care of transferring and procuring interior items. We’ll have time to spend a night or two onboard to test all the systems before we leave for Mexico on Feb. 1, and we’ll move into it fully when we return at the end of March. We’ll then give ourselves an additional 2-3 weeks to take care of any issues before we roll out of Texas for the season.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got packing to do, but at least the bathing suit decision is easy. I’ve only got one of those.