An Open Letter to Critics of Our Lifestyle

Fuel prices are at record levels and people are having to adapt. It can be a hardship and the additional money spent for fuel has to come from somewhere else... food? vacations? entertainment? health care? Often, there's not much one can do but pay the price and get mad... and maybe look for someone to blame.

Recently, I've been criticized for driving around in a motorhome -- "a pig of a vehicle that gets less than 10 m.p.g." Specifically, the criticism was the result of a piece I wrote in my political blog that was hard on the President for not using the patriotic fervor after the 9/11 attacks as a catalyst to make the USA independent of foreign oil, or at least, independent of Middle Eastern oil. The writer thought I was a hypocrite.

Simply put, I think the implication was that I have no right to criticize the President if I choose to drive a vehicle that has poor fuel efficiency.

Let me try to respond.

The motorhome is our home, our house -- our ONLY house. It's NOT our daily transportation. We only drive it when we're moving to a new "home-base". It will be driven less than 10,000 miles this year, and as fuel prices rise the miles we drive will go down. We don't drive the motorhome when we run to the store, go sightseeing, run out to a restaurant or a movie, or when we go anywhere else while we're parked at a "home-base". We have a car for those trips... just like almost everyone else... except that we have only one car and most every other couple has two or more.

When it comes to the facts of our energy consumption, I've analyzed our usage both prior to embarking on this lifestyle, when we had a "real" house, and after, with the motorhome. [link to article]. I can assert, and I have the data to back it up, that the motorhome uses less energy than the average "real" house... including the diesel fuel we burn to move our house from one place to another.

Yes, we do consume about 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year that we wouldn't be using if we didn't have the motorhome. But we're only heating and cooling about 300 sq. ft., and use only a small fraction of the energy the average homeowner uses for the same purpose.

We have a solar array on our roof that produces power from the sun. We can live "off the grid" indefinitely while the average homeowner is buying energy to power their much larger houses. Thus, our consumption of grid-electricity is very low.

We're careful with our use of hot water; we don't have snowmobiles, boats, quads, or other adult energy-consuming toys; we don't use energy to mow our lawn or clear the snow; we're buying much less "stuff" during this phase of our lives because we're more into exploration than into accumulation -- remember that there's an energy component to each and every "thing" you buy. In general, our fulltiming lifestyle is a low energy lifestyle.

Apparently, in the minds of these critics, the issue isn't the amount of energy we're using... the issue is that I'm not using energy the way they'd like me to use it... the way they're using it. I guess they'd be happy if we actually used more energy than we are fulltiming in our motorhome... as long as we used it in a "normal" way... the way they're using it.

Or maybe they just need to understand what this lifestyle is all about.

Thomas Hoch


Joe Pitman said…
Thom....I put it real simple for these simple minded people....

Kiss My Turbo Charger.

Now you nor I or any of the Full time folks on the road owe these nimwitts any explanation. Don't waste your time or finger strokes trying to convince the Al Gores of the world what we do and why.

Nuff Said

Joe and Sherri
Ted said…
Joe and Sherri,

I agree with your position completely, but please understand that when push comes to shove, the majority will legislate the minority out of existence if the minority cannot make a compelling argument for their position.
Doreen Orion said…
With my book, QUEEN OF THE ROAD coming out June 3rd, I'm getting a lot of questions from the media I didn't expect. (It's a humorous travel memoir about the year my husband and I - both psychiatrists - took off to travel the country in our motorhome.) Instead of asking us about all we learned about ourselves and each other on the trip (which I expected, since we're shrinks), instead, I'm getting questions about our "gas guzzling" vehicle, along the lines of "don't you feel guilty?"

I've written an essay for the Huffington Post next week about this issue and I make several of the points you do. I also point out how interesting it is that when we took the trip 4 years ago, no one said anything. But now that the PRICE of gas means that we're suffering, along with our planet, everyone is up in arms. I'm not trying to change minds in the piece, just hopefully get some people to see that RVs are not necessarily the enviro-anti-christs that people seem to think they are.

(And, if you want to see our rig - a converted bus - and learn more about our trip, my website is .)
jimme said…
Let's just say... When they had the oil wells on fire in the middle east there has been more oil and enviromental damges than all of the RV's would make in 200 hundred years...Go figure... If you notice it's the big players that ARE playing you!! So go back to your boxes and do what your TOLD!! ;)
Byron S. Landry said…
To all who shake their fists at us for burning so much diesel while we travel in our home at 55 to 60 mph. We're not sorry we had the intelligence and the sticktoitness to save and invest our monies so we could retire and enjoy this type of lifestyle. We didn't buy a big house or a big new car, no, we bought a smaller house and bought used cars so we could invest our savings.
Yes, we don't like the high price of fuel, but if you're dying of cancer, wouldn't you want to travel and see what you could see before you pass on.
We don't feel guilty at all.
Byron & Linda
It is hard to believe, but RVing can be a "green" way of living. You've brought out many good points. Like with people living in sticks and bricks houses, RVers are on a continuum for energy usage. I know boondockers who rely almost completely on solar power for even their showers and cooking when parked. And there are some unconscious energy guzzlers.

As with everything else, it is a choice as to how you spend you time and money. People like to poke at an RV, which is a big target, perhaps with a little envy. We RVers have a lot more control of our expenses and how much fuel or energy we use than other people.

Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
author of Support Your RV Lifestyle! An Insider's Guide to Working on the Road and other RV books
Chuck and Dot BOhrer said…
We are not full timers; we live in our RV 3 months in winter in Florida and 3 months in summer in North Carolina mountains. We own a "real " home that we enjoy spring and fall. In addition, we take long trips whenever we decide to. We are retired and do pretty much as we please. As long as we can afford the high gas prices (we give up other "pleasures" in order to enjoy the RV lifestyle part time and our "real" home and garden the rest of the time. Life is short; we worked hard, had a great life and intend to continue to do so as long as we can. When people make comments about our diesel truck using so much fuel, we just agree with them and say how much we enjoy our life. I don't feel guilty at all - look at all those VERY rich people flying around the world in their private jets. They are enjoying their lives, too. Isn't happiness what it's all about?

Slightly Better than Most