When we were thinking, and planning, and dreaming of ‘one day’ owning our own travel trailer, we did a lot of research, and we got a ton of advice. One piece of advice that I kept hearing was to sleep in our travel trailer for a night or two, while it was still parked at home.

This seemed like a reasonable thing to do, as it would allow us to discover all those ‘little things’ that you don’t learn until you actually live in your new RV. Anything you might need or had forgotten to stock, home is right next door. Definitely a great idea.

I wish we had followed this advice. Sometimes however you just have to make the mistake to learn the lesson.

Instead of following that great advice, we fiddled about and stocked the trailer with everything we thought we would need. Did our research, learned what we thought we needed to know, and then we set off on our first adventure in our new rig. It just seemed like overkill to actually sleep in the new rig. Not when we usually sleep on a nice comfortable memory-foam mattress, right?

We got to the campground and survived the emotional and mental trauma of going through our first-ever, real-life, “in the field” setup of our new rig. We made a delicious meal, and even had s’mores by the campfire. After a wonderful evening it was time for bed. We climbed into the queen sized bed, and turned out the lights. That’s when the trouble started. Immediately we became aware that something was not right. It was not just that this mattress was firmer than we were used to. It wasn’t even that this was the firmest, hardest mattress we had ever laid upon. Oh no, this went farther then that.

I grew up on the coast of Maine. When I was in high-school, several friends and I got ahold of a half-gallon of Boon’s Farm wine and sat by the ocean one night drinking way too much for our age. I grew up on the coast of Maine, so this meant we were sitting on granite ledges that led down to the ocean, not a sandy beach. After finishing the bottle of wine we fell asleep right there on the rocks and spent the night. Those rocks were more comfortable than this mattress.

Later in college I took a semester off and back-backed around Europe with a friend. We were in Ireland and had met up with several other travelers as we entered Cork. The Cork Jazz Festival was going on, and every single hotel room, youth hostel and park bench in the city was already taken. We ended up paying a youth hostel their full nightly rate to sleep on the cold tile of the kitchen floor. That floor was more comfortable than this mattress was.

And so, after a night spent ignoring the pain and pretending to sleep, we knew something had to change. Part of our plan for this first shake-out trip with the new rig was to telework from the RV during the day. This actually worked out surprisingly well, and I plan to write more specifically about teleworking from your RV in a future blog post (so check back here!). As soon as we were done with work that first day, we piled the dogs into the truck and beat hell to Wal-Mart.

My plan was to buy a whole new queen sized mattress, preferably of the memory foam variety as that was what we were used to at home. We had no luck finding such a mattress, but they did have a 4″ thick memory foam “mattress topper”. We took what we could get. And it made all the difference in the world. The RV’s mattress was a hundred times more comfortable with the topper on it, and the sheets we brought even still fit. It was a win!

Crisis averted and lesson learned. When your experienced RV friends tell you to sleep in your new rig for a night or two before you leave home, don’t think for a minute you can ignore them. This is good advice so listen to them!

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