Have you ever done something so crazy, you're not sure how you pulled it off? Well, a measly two months after returning from our 4-month honeymoon, we completely uprooted our lives and set off for a road trip unlike anything we've ever experienced.
Giving ourselves less than two months to make it happen we got rid of almost everything we had, rented out our house, and left our California lives behind to explore the US in our 29ft fifth wheel with our two dogs (sadly now one dog).
Here are a few things we've learned during that first six months.
1. America is incredibly diverse
In theory this is in no way surprising, but in reality I found myself quite amazed. Traveling through places like southern Utah, or Chicago, Chattanooga, or Austin, I realized that no single group can call themselves more "American" than any other. We are all just different and choose to live different lives.
Across America we have such diverse cultures, backgrounds, religions, foods, climates, and hobbies. To ever lump America as a country into a singular category or ideal is to blatantly misunderstand and grossly misrepresent us. Nothing becomes more clear when you spend time in cities and towns, along roadsides and neighborhoods all over the country. I have always said that travel breeds tolerance.
2. We don't need much to be happy
One of the catalysts to embark on this RV adventure was that I was drowning in my stuff. A 2200 sq/ft home is much too large for two people. We rarely used the living room or spare bedrooms, and unconsciously allowed things to accumulate.
The purging of our belongings was therapeutic and scary at the same time. What if I needed that garlic press or that empty basket that's been sitting in the corner for 4 years? Who can relate?
But unlike a normal spring cleaning, I had no choice but to purge the "what-if" items. There simply isn't room in a 29 foot trailer for superfluous items.
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Living in a small space with minimal belongings has been freeing. And I now know I don't need much to be happy. I own 1/5 of the clothing I used to, and am rarely tempted to buy more because there simply isn't room.
The less I have, the less I have to maintain. Spending less time in the maintenance of my personal space makes me incredibly happy. As it turns out, this was the missing piece of my happiness puzzle all these years: I hate chores, so I needed to intentionally create a life that requires less of them.
3. Everything works out just fine
I'm not a planner, and that certainly didn't change when we hit the road. Most of our destinations were decided upon once we were already in the truck driving. And yet, everything always worked out just fine. I never spent much time planning our routes or where we would park. I try not to stress about things.
For the past 6 months we just figured it out along the way knowing that some of the most epic adventures happen when you keep an open mind and open schedule.
We never found ourselves in any dangerous situations, although we may have spent a few afternoons scrambling to sort out that evenings parking spot. We have gone with the flow and our day-to-day feelings. Losing the rigidity of normal life is one of the biggest plus-sides of being mobile.
4. Non-stop travel can become lonely
This has been my least favorite part of full-time RV travel. I found that it's incredibly easy to meet people on the road, which I love, but an overwhelming majority of those interactions tend to be surface level, get-to-know-you conversations. I can't count how many times I told the story of how we ended up in <insert random American town here> all the way from California.
What's worse is my personal tendency to hold back when meeting new people on the road because I know I will never see them again. Hence, why it can feel lonely. It's hard to make friends when you're moving around so much.
That's the main reason we are trying to find a handful of amazing places in the US that we can bounce back and forth between, staying several months at a time. A few months, or even weeks, is definitely long enough to battle the loneliness of full-time travel.
5. Anybody can live the RV life with ingenuity and bravery
The first thing anyone says to us when they find out what we're doing is, "I wish I could do that." Well, I'm pretty sure most people could, even with children, because we've met (and read about) so many who are.
Most people I've met along the way who have expressed the desire to hit the road merely lack the creativity to create income on the road and/or the courage to get out of their comfort zone.
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Minimizing expenses helped tremendously when getting into the RV, and so did changing our mindsets about what was necessary to live. We also transitioned into creating income in ways that don't lock us down to a physical location. It was all scary. Every step. But it was so worth it.
6. Drive less and stop often
For some, the point of a road trip is going from point A to point B. But if you're in an RV full-time, it's more about savoring the experiences along the way, like checking out the Martin Luther King Jr Center in Atlanta or stopping into Makers Mark for a tour of their distillery.
We did our best to only drive 3-5 hours any given day when we were commuting. And sometimes those 3-5 hours could have easily been done in 2. We often stopped to see interesting landmarks, or stopped for the night if there was adventure to be had.
On the rare occasions that we spent 6-8 hours on the road, we would spend the time listening to podcasts and I would edit videos, knowing that we just had to make it through. But that was rare. We pride ourselves on seeing as much as we can, but also being gentle on ourselves because it's impossible to see everything.
It's about the Journey
The cheesy cliche is true that life is a journey not a destination. And for us, the stagnant feeling of living in the same town for so many years, coupled with surviving Nick's crippling injury, drove us to change our lives and get out there to see what the world and our beautiful country is all about. That's something we will never regret. And it's also something that has given us the courage to do more and more of.
Have you ever lived in an RV on the road for a significant amount of time? What did you learn? Let us know in the comments below.
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