The word “routine” gets a really bad rap these days. We just don’t like routines. They’re boring, confining, and so very inside-the-box. If you consider yourself a free spirt, like I do, then just the mere thought of having a routine makes you shudder. But we all have them (even though some of us now affectionately call them “rhythms”) and I have to say, I really miss some of mine.
It’s been almost 5 weeks since we moved into our 22-foot travel trailer in pursuit of a simpler way of life and I’m finding it very hard to maintain some of the good routines that we had established back at home. Recycling is a big one. At our apartment, we recycled everything. In fact, we had a 55 gallon wicker basket for paper products and a 13 gallon container for plastics and metals in our dining room. For a while, we even composted. All of our aluminum cans went to support the local wildlife center and dumpster diving for donations for Goodwill was almost like a second hobby.
While not impossible, recycling is more of a challenge on the road. We’ve stayed at 3 campgrounds thus far and our current one is the only one with a recycling bin. None of the rest have had even so much as an aluminum can collection box next to their vending machines. Once we even tried taking our recyclables to a facility but were turned away because we’re from out of state. And unlike some areas where grocery stores have recycling dumpsters in their parking lots, there are no such things here. It would be real easy to toss everything out in one garbage bag but we’re trying very hard not to do that.
Mealtimes are another routine that I’m struggling with. No matter what kind of crazy day we had before, I knew I could count on sitting down at night to a home-cooked dinner with my sweetheart. We always prided ourselves on eating at home and eating a lot of fresh produce. Being on the road has tossed a monkey-wrench into mealtime. It’s more of a challenge to find fresh local produce (without driving all over creation) and in our cantankerous fridge, harder to keep it fresh.
It has also been more difficult to eat at home (in the camper) because our days don’t flow like they did before. Some days are full of work, some are full of fun. Full being the operative word here. It’s harder to plan, prepare, and sit down to meals when you’re always doing something. I think we’ve eaten more restaurant food in the past month than we ate all of last year, and that’s something I really want to fix.
But it’s not just the meal itself. In our apartment, we ate from real dinnerware – a set my grandmother saved for me when I was a child. We washed dishes by hand (most of the time) and even picnicked with real cutlery. It was a feel-good thing knowing that we weren’t adding any disposable dinnerware to the landfill. Granny’s plates were too heavy and fragile for travel so we bought a cheap set of reusable plates. All around us though, we see folks using foam or paper plates and I admit, it has been tempting to join them. Washing dishes in a tiny sink is no small feat by itself. Washing dishes when your hot water heater doesn’t work and you have to heat water in a tea kettle, makes for an even bigger challenge…especially when you’re exhausted and facing a whole day’s worth of dishes.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’m setting my frustrations free so that I can hold myself accountable for fixing them. Every new adventure brings with it positive and negative changes and sometimes those negatives scream the loudest for attention. But I love a good challenge and the challenge here is figure out what works best in our tiny traveling home to allow us to carry forward the good routines that are essential to our minimalist lifestyle (and our happiness) – even if that means riding around with a car full of recyclables until we get to a greener location.