It’s a very effective strategy, really. Splitting the duties between travel partners certainly has a lot of perks.
It means faster setup and teardowns. It means each is doing what they’re most comfortable with. And it usually means less arguing!
But there is one big pitfall of splitting RV duties that we don’t talk about enough. It can leave us stranded, helpless, and alone, both literally and figuratively.
What is the biggest pitfall of splitting RV duties?
The biggest pitfall of splitting RV duties is not being self-sufficient if something happens to your traveling partner. Whether it’s an emergency situation on the road or you lose your traveling partner, you need to know how to do certain things on your own.
Many people have the organizational mindset that she does the inside stuff and he does outside stuff. This usually works but both need to know how to do everything to set up, pack up, drive, and park your rig. If your partner gets really sick, hurt, or dies while traveling, you’re suddenly left with trying to cope with moving the RV on top of everything else that is happening. Take the time to learn your rig and practice. Hopefully, you will never need the knowledge.
Too many RVers have learned the hard way that they didn’t know enough about their rig (inside and out) to handle it on their own if need be.
Splitting RV duties is still a great idea
Don’t get me wrong, splitting RV duties is still a great idea. But just because you split duties doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know how to do the other’s job. It means the opposite, actually. You do need to know how to do the other person’s job or at the very least, know what their jobs are.
After all, you can’t even ask for help if you don’t know what you need help with!
How to learn the other person’s RV duties
Learning what and how your travel partner does things is a process. I certainly don’t recommend you flat-out swap duties for a trip. That would be overwhelming and likely ruin the trip for everyone.
Instead, learn bit by bit and take the following steps one step at a time.
Make a list of each other’s set up/tear down duties
You can’t do what you don’t know needs to be done. And the best way to learn this is to shadow your travel partner.
Yes, each of you could make a list of your own duties but you may take something for granted. It’s more helpful and actually more efficient for one person to take notes while the other person does their duties.
Just start by making an overview checklist. I suggest silently observing unless you don’t know how to notate it. That way, your partner can go through their motions without distraction.
The list could look something like this:
- Start in kitchen
- Clean and put all dishes securely in their place
- Throw away expiring food and take out trash
- Put cloths between pots and pans so they don’t rattle
- Wipe down counters and cabinets
- Put aside drinks and snacks for the drive
- Move to the bathroom next…
By shadowing them, you not only learn what they do but what order they do it in. Through experience, we learn how to be more efficient so you can save yourself from learning this by watching instead.
When it comes to technical stuff like disconnecting hoses and cords, pull out your phone and record it. If anything is particularly difficult, ask your partner to make a how-to video. Just have them explain what they’re doing as you record them.
Try it firsthand
The next step is to try things firsthand. But, don’t try to do it all firsthand at once. On your next travel day, swap one or two duties. Then the next travel day, swap one or two more. We all learn best by doing, so you gotta try doing it.
There are two ways to do this. One is to attempt it on your own and then have your partner review it after. The other is your partner can quietly observe as you do it.
I recommend the first method if possible since it can be nerve-wracking or frustrating to have someone watching over your shoulder. But sometimes it really is best to have them by your side.
If you’re an observing partner, note that I wrote: quietly observe. Try to silently observe and only speak up if asked or if they’re about to make a critical mistake.
And again, note that I said critical. If the mistake can easily be corrected, let them make it. That’s probably how you learned to do it, too.
Accept that you can’t do it all
There are some duties that the other person simply can’t do. For instance, one partner may not be able to lift the bike in the rack or hitch up the toad.
But identifying these can’t-do duties is very important. It’s better to know what you can’t do so you can come up with solutions.
Or, it can save you time in an emergency situation from trying to do something that you just can’t. You’ll know right away to say “forget it and leave it behind!” or to immediately seek help.
Sometimes, the solutions to can’t-do duties are drastic but necessary.
The point is, no matter how big or small the can’t-do duty is, you can give yourself time to figure out a solution by identifying it now, not during a crisis.
How do you split RV duties? Has splitting RV duties bit you in the behind? How did you learn what and how things needed to be done?
Until next time, safe RV travels, and I’ll see you on the highway!