Updated: Feb 17, 2021
Hi all! Hope everyone is having a wonderful week, the beginning of fall-how crazy?! It surely does not seem like a change in season is happening here in New Mexico. We're still seeing upper 80s-90s daily, with no end in sight! While I'm grateful travel nursing will most likely cause us to miss a majority of the brutal snow in Ohio's winter, I would love at least a 10-15 degree temperature drop over here in good ole Alamogordo.
Anyway, I'm already through the first 2 weeks of my first travel nursing contract and I cannot believe it. It's been an adjustment to say the least- new state, new hospital, new coworkers, new doctors, new charting system....but I think I'm settling in better than I initially thought!
If you've been following along with our journey, you already know Colton and I (and our 2 pups) are also attempting to make the adjustment to living out of our RV full-time. And what an adventure that has been! From getting a flat tire in the last 3 hours of our 24 hour drive here to broken AC units and toilet malfunctions, this change has been interesting- to say the least!
And that's exactly what I'm going to center this post about. I'm going to be giving a special glimpse into our "home away from home," some tips/tricks if you're thinking about transitioning to this way of living, and why I'm loving RV life so much!
Choosing The Mobile Home Route
If you've read my "How I Came To Choose Travel Nursing" blog post, you know the decision of travel nursing was not an easy one, but one that had been weighing on my heart for quite some time. I battled feelings of guilt when it came to leaving my previous job, moving away from family, and the stress it would place on Colton and his job when thinking of sharing what was on my heart.
But Colton has been supportive from the start and thankfully, he was approved to keep his job while working remotely out of the RV. He works in finance, so when I first brought up the idea of trying travel nursing it came as no surprise when his mind went directly to the financial aspect of things and whether or not it was doable for us.
In the beginning, we had no plans to do anything but what I would consider the normal housing route for a travel nurse: Airbnbs, extended stay hotels, and/or apartments. I have always loved the idea of 'van life' (where people buy and convert vans like Ford Sprinters to live out of) and have followed along with multiple couples on social media who live this lifestyle. But I knew something like a Sprinter was simply too small with a 6 foot 5 inch husband and two dogs- one being over 100 pounds with more than a tendency to shed. Plus I didn't find it was fair to Colton since he was signing up to spend practically 24 hours a day there.
Up until a few months before we hoped to start my first contract, we remained on the path toward an apartment or Airbnb. That was until one evening after work Colton sat me down and said, "I want to bring something up to you, but I don't want you to get stressed out."
Honestly, my mind spiraled into thinking he was about to ask me to drop the dream of travel nursing altogether. But when he started rambling about going over the numbers in his head and suggested looking into a used RV, I couldn't have been more excited. The only thing that did stress me out was the limited time we had left before leaving and the idea of finding an RV we liked enough we wouldn't have to make many improvements to.
Thus began our deep dive into Craigslist. It got to a point where every RV looked the same to me- I simply couldn't fathom buying one without walking through it first. We kept our search restricted to Ohio and neighboring states for awhile but then ventured into Florida since Colton's parents live there. That is when we spotted the RV that would become our beloved, 'Switchback Sally.'
It honestly was such a 'God-thing' because everything fell into place so quickly after that. Colton's parents live in Naples and were a short 1 hour drive from the RV. They gave us a tour of the RV via FaceTime and kept it parked in their yard until we were able to fly down and drive it to Ohio ourselves.
The previous owner had kept it parked in Florida and used it as his snowbird home during the Ohio winters. You heard that right, he was in Ohio too. Colton was able to meet up with him before we flew down to get the RV and everything. Also with it being mostly stationary in Florida, there weren't nearly as many miles on it for it's model age.
A Peak Into Our Home
There were some minor adjustments we made to the RV once we had it back in Ohio. I spent the week following its arrival painting the walls in the bedroom and two in the kitchen while Colton reupholstered some of the blind covers above each of the windows. It was a very easy update in comparison to what I anticipated. We brought some little things to make it feel homier for us and it quickly became a place I could imagine myself living.
Switchback Sally: How She Got Her Name
Also, before I get rolling with sharing pictures and explaining why I love it so much, I want to talk about the name. If you know me, you know that I have a tendency to name anything and everything. Because this RV would be the one unchanging part of a constantly changing job and way of life, I wanted it to be special. It's funny and very millennial of me, but I asked for suggestions online. When my good friend Meagan made the suggestion of Switchback, I fell in love with the idea. Switchback, if you don't know, is a common hiking term. A switchback is essentially a steep incline with frequent 180 degree turns in a trail that commonly scales a mountain. Switchbacks are usually the hardest part of trails and take a lot of grit and mental strength to endure.
Another thing you may know about me is that I'm an anxious/shy person, especially when it comes to new situations. Signing up to start travel nursing was also signing up for being thrown into continuous new situations- which caused a lot of anxiety for me. But I have felt from the beginning that this was something I was supposed to do, so I knew I would need the endurance, courage, and grit to take on the challenge it would bring for me. I think you probably see what I did there.
I tacked on Sally to the end to give the RV a little life of her own. I have a bit of an affinity for older female names when it comes to choosing names for things....Exhibit A: Our two rescue dogs are named Bonnie and Stella.
Let the tour begin, shall we?!
Switchback Sally is a 35 foot, Used Class A 2004 Fleetwood Bounder.
The entrance is to the lower left of this picture. The previous owner had made a lot of changes to the RV himself. One obvious change was the removal of the booth table common to the interior of campers. This would've been to the far right of this picture and instead is now extra counter top space which also provides a little more floor space- which really opens up the main living area.
Just before entering the bedroom in the back, there is a full size fridge to the right and a small half bath to the left. Oh and also one of my favorite amenities- a hidden pull out spice rack just before the fridge!
This picture is the front of the RV, directly to the right upon entering.
Initially, I didn't think I appreciated the previous owner removing the permanent table because the table he replaced it with is smaller and removable (the table Colton is currently pictured working at). But since we're going to be parked for months at a time as I work and with it being just the two of us, I have come to like the extra space that comes from no permanent booth table.
(The aggressive patterned window blockers in the back of this image are the upholstery the previous owner had above every window. We ran out of black fabric to change these so they'd be cohesive with the rest of the RV and I regret it every day....lol, a small change we will definitely be making in the near future).
Just before entering the bedroom area, this is the half bath I mentioned to the left. It was hard to show the true size of the RV in general, so these pictures don't totally do it justice. But I like how the toilet is separate from the shower area. I haven't been in many RVs that offer that.
Here is our bedroom area. To the left of the image is some storage closets we use for Colton's clothes, towels, and extra bedding. There is another closet to the right of the picture with mirrors on the doors. This closet is bigger, so naturally it's where I keep my clothes, haha.
Lastly, this picture was taken while I was sitting on the bed. I love the size of the shower; it is much bigger than the showers I am used to seeing in RVs. Colton is actually able to stand up straight in it, which was something I worried about when we were on the hunt.
At the foot of the bed to the left there is a small desk area as well. It would be a little too cramped for Colton to function there so I use the space to keep my work bag and camera.
Making It Homey
Because this is going to our home for the foreseeable future, I knew I wanted to fill it with colors and items that made it feel as such. But I also knew Colton wouldn't have been happy with me if I broke the bank. So I filled it as much as I could with things I loved from home before I went to Amazon for the finishing touches. Below is a short list of the items that, in my opinion, really made me feel comfort and cozy in the space we now call home.
Macrame and Macrame Plant Hangers
With downsizing to RV living, I knew some of my indoor plants would not come along for the ride (those ones are being taken care of by close friends). For the ones that could fit, I didn't want them to take up precious counter space- in a home this small, every inch really does count. Macrame plant hangers were the perfect solution to provide my plants space to live without taking up valuable space. The woven pattern adds to the aesthetic of the space, too!
Don't have plants, but love the macrame woven look? Get macrame wall hangings here!
Another cute addition to a wall is a letterboard; these guys are extremely popular right now, too. From sarcastic sayings to inspirational quotes, letterboards add to interior desire by literally promoting the vibe you want from your space. Ours says, "Say Yes to Adventure" because I want to continually say yes to each day of this crazy journey we're on. For ideas on what to have your letterboard say, check out Pinterest!
Twinkle Lights and More
My final recommendation was met with a roll of the eyes from Colton, but I think it really brought the bedroom area to life! I got a small, battery operated line of gold twinkle lights and hung them above our bed. I also got some tiny black clothespins to display some Polaroid pictures I have of friends/family back home. Turning the lights on in the evenings when I'm reading is really comforting, and in my opinion, makes the room inviting and cute!
Tips/Tricks to RV Living
Since we're only closing in on a month of full-time RV living, I'm not about to claim that we're experts here. We've had a few issues I mentioned in the start of this post to prove that much. But I do want to share some general tips that may help someone, if RV living is something on their minds.
I think this one is a bit obvious but needs to be noted. This RV is much smaller living quarters than most homes we're used to. Be as minimalistic as you can if you're thinking of being in the same boat. The biggest categories that come to mind when I think about us moving in were my cooking supplies and (obviously) clothes.
Try It Out
Because we knew this was going to be our new normal, we made a point to start moving in and living out of the RV a couple weeks before we left. Incorporating your daily life with the tinier space can be really eye-opening to what items need to go where- the addition of a hook in a specific spot can really make a huge difference! Spending time in the RV beforehand can also (obviously) show if this way of living is even manageable for you in the first place.
YouTube Is Your Friend
Colton is a known YouTube connoisseur when it comes to solving problems. If a problem comes up, chances are someone else out there has made a video about it. And for visual learners, having a video walk you through the process can be a huge help!
(I've been trying to convince Colton into potentially starting a YouTube channel about our adventures, subscribe to the blog (if you haven't already) and let me know if you think that's something you'd watch!)
Well I guess that pretty much sums it up! So far we're loving living out of the RV and are adjusting to the change well. The dogs are loving it too (even though Stella's face in this picture doesn't really show it)
I really think they may love hiking and adventuring more than we do, if that's possible!
I hope you liked the tour! If you have any questions or want to share any topics you'd be interested in hearing about, feel free to let us know!