Pros and cons of RVing with mother-in-law


Dear RV Shrink:rvshrink
We have had a large motorhome for many years. I always thought that after I retired, my wife and I would travel several months during the year. Now that I have retired and have all my ducks in a row, my wife refuses to go because her 83-year-old mother would be left alone. My mother-in-law is healthy and active but my wife is afraid she would feel abandoned if we were gone that long.

Can you give me some suggestions on how to convince my wife we need to have a life too? I love my mother-in-law but I don’t want to miss traveling in our golden years because she might need us occasionally. Any help would be greatly appreciated. —Mommy-in-Law’s Boy in Bowling Green

Dear Mommy’s Boy:
If you really love your mother-in-law, take her along. There is a large percentage of boomers who have parents to care for. I think that is an honorable responsibility in most cases. If you have a large motorhome and everyone gets along, why not travel with mom if she is willing. It’s like a mother-in-law apartment on wheels. I have seen this work out wonderfully in many traveling relationships. It sometimes takes a while to work out all the scheduling bugs between a couple and a parent all living in a small space, but it is very feasible.

With cell phones, email and even Skype on today’s portable computers, it is easy to stay in touch with loved ones while traveling, but those devices do not replace spending quality time with an aging parent.

Another plus could be having a live-in referee. I know one couple, both with Type A personalities, that seem to argue all the time. Once her mother joined them on the road it mellowed them both out, added a third voice to the conversation, and they often used her for the tie-breaking vote involving important decisions.

This third-wheel relationship is not going to work for everyone. Don’t make any rash moves until you consider all the negatives that could positively drive you to drink. Good luck. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

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8 Thoughts to “Pros and cons of RVing with mother-in-law”

  1. Paulette

    We had lots of adventures traveling with my mother.She camped all her married life and after my father passed away, she missed it. When we asked her if she wanted to go with us in our 29′ class c, she said yes if we really meant it. When we traveled she was a great help when we went places she had been and could tell us great places to see. She went with us till she was 92. She passed away at
    93. Left us with wonderful memories.

    1. Chuck Woodbury

      How wonderful for you and your mother! All that time together. I feel happy just reading your story.

  2. Dennis Johnson

    After the kids grew up and left the nest, me and my wife left the security of our Northern Minnesota life time home. We moved to Missouri, then Texas, and finally Iowa. We had a motorhome and invited the Mother in- law to Mo. for winter trip, and it continued for all our adventures until she passed away. I realized never really got to know/love her before, my mother in law.

  3. Elaine

    Traveling with a parent or parents is a great option. We took our two mothers to Alaska in a Class C purchased for the trip. We all had a great time. The tow moms were cranky about activity, but they enjoyed staying “home” and just chilling while we were out. Now the only one left is my dad, who would probably be fine with it, but we only have a class B with seating for two. Our chosen option is to take nice trips and swing by for visits every so often, Dad has a nearby relative who provides needed assistance. We’ll make the trip starting from home, 350 ambling miles to his home, then out for a couple weeks and back around. That makes for a 3 or 4 week travel cycle, or longer.

  4. Debra

    You might be interested in reading the recent book Driving Miss Norma. It’s about the adventures of a middle aged couple traveling the U.S. in their RV with their elderly mom.

    Driving Miss Norma: One Family’s Journey Saying “Yes” to Living

  5. Darrel

    Offer “some” trips with mom in law, and some without. If wife rejects that compromise, take trips without them. Life is short, go live your dream.

  6. Tom Gutzke

    My mother-in-law took two- to four-week vacations every year with my wife, our young son, and I. That made us a “four-some” which was great for many things we’ve done. She was a great traveling companion. Our son is now close to forty and my mother-in-law has passed away. I was truly blessed with having two “mothers” in my life. I wish she was still with us as we travel 3-5 months a year. so she could see more of the natural beauty of the U.S. – along with a few ‘quirky’ attractions along the way.

  7. Marv Thomasson

    Another choice, talk to mom-in-law, see how see feels. She may not want to leave friends and activities behind. M-n-l might also get a kick out of hearing about your adventures on the road. I know we reported regularly to my wife’s mom while we traveled around the country as fulltimers until she fell sick and we were able to spend her final 2 months in hospice by her side.

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