It’s been almost nine months since my husband and I moved out of our downtown apartment to embark on an adventure of endless roaming. Our dreams came true with seventeen feet of sweet Casita Travel Trailer living and we have no plans of looking back.
In these past nine months I’ve heard people exclaim over and over what a glamorous life we have, or how much they wish they could live like we do. Well, let me tell you, it’s not all glamorous; but it is rewarding.
There seem to be a lot of people who are dazzled by the idea of full time RVing, but too scared to actually go out and try it for themselves. The longer we’re on the road, the more we realize it really is all about our attitudes and mentality. These are some of the things I’ve found to be essential for a full time life on the road.
1. Let go of stuff
First thing’s first: If you want to live on the road, you’re going to have to downsize your stuff. No more attic and basement filled with clutter and dust, only the essentials get to travel with you. There’s something immensely freeing about driving across the country knowing that everything you own is riding in the RV behind you.
Downsizing is much more achievable than most of us imagine. Start observing the things you use this week. How many of these items are the same thing you used the day before? Which of these items could be abandoned and replaced with something else you’re using more frequently? Leaving behind your serving dishes or a desktop computer might seem like a sacrifice now, but would it really change your daily life?
Probably not. From clothes to entertainment devices to cookware, most people use the same items every day. You’ll be surprised how little you actually need.
2. Embrace a slow pace
Generally our American lives are whirlwinds of activity, a constant rushing from one event or activity to the next. Many people go on vacation and keep this same mentality running strong.
After twelve long months of hectic working, there may only be a week or two for fun, so we pack it in as close as we can. Because it’s so ingrained into our culture, it’s easy to take up the full time road life and retain that fast-paced mentality. However, this is not a two week vacation, this is a brand new lifestyle! When there is no end in sight for your travels, there’s absolutely no reason to rush from place to place.
The true beauties in life and the greatest joys of being on the road can only be found through slowing down your pace and letting yourself drink in the experiences. This is essential to truly finding life on the road to be a rewarding experience, and, in my mind, it is the best reason for full timing.
3. Get creative about your income
Most people seem to think that full-time travel is only a luxury for the retired. While it’s certainly easier to embark on a travelling lifestyle if you don’t need to worry about making a living, there’s no need to spend the prime years of your life stuck in one place.
Many full-timers do a variety of freelance work, such as graphic design, photography, or writing. Others retain the hobo’s tradition of following seasonal harvesting jobs as they travel around the country, working whenever they need money. However, not everyone is a freelancer and not everyone wants to spend their time working in agriculture.
It can seem difficult to find a job flexible enough to go on the road, but if you are working in an office already you might be surprised with how easily it can be done. If your main tasks involve a computer and a telephone, it should not matter where that computer or telephone are located. Start thinking of creative ways to test out working remotely – maybe ask your boss if you can work from home just one day a week.
As the office starts realizing you don’t need to be on location, they might not mind you taking your work on the road with you for whole months at a time. Making an income on the road is possible; it just takes some creative thinking.
4. Seek unusual parking spots
As someone who lives on the road full time, I can tell you: the last place I want to spend my time is in a crowded campground. I left living in society behind so that I could live right out in Nature.
To spend my precious dollars just to park in the middle of dozens of tourists every day feels confused. How is it so different from paying rent and living next to neighbors in a city? There are endless, beautiful, and free camping options stretching out across the country. My advice to any camper is to try boondocking (also known as dry or primitive camping) at least once.
There are so many gorgeous places on this North American continent to enjoy, and many of them are free for the public. State and National Forests and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land are usually full of camping opportunities, and generally free for up to fourteen days at a time. (When planning a trip, check out their website for dispersed or primitive camping guidelines, just to be sure. Occasionally you will need to apply for a permit which will be emailed to you.)
5. Learn to go with the flow
The key to enjoying life on the road, from my experience and observations, is probably flexibility. Until you learn to go with the flow, road life will probably cause you a lot of stress.
The silly thing about that is – there’s nowhere you actually have to be! You may have charted out a route and given yourself an anticipated time frame, and sometimes (let’s be honest, this is rare) things will happen exactly as you imagine them. However, more often than not something unexpected will plop itself right in your path. From vehicle breakdowns to unexpected opportunities, life on the road is about embracing the freedoms of adventure and possibility – and maintaining a positive attitude when your tow vehicle is stuck at a mechanic’s shop for a week. Every day on the road might be different.
And that is a wonderful thing, if you come to embrace it.
6. Cherish people you meet on your path
While my husband and I love going off into remote areas for whole weeks at a time, road life does not mean hermit life. In fact, many people are surprised by the amount of friends to be made on the road!
Whether it’s a local who gives you great hiking information or let’s you borrow their washer, a friend you meet via a website like CouchSurfing who allows you to park in their driveway on a whim, or other folks who live on the road and are full of great tales and advice and philosophies – meeting people and connecting in little ways is always rewarding.
Besides, there’s no way to get a better understanding of a place than to observe and interact with the locals. I love simply watching the people in towns across America, feeling the culture of every state and city seeping from them as they buy their groceries or relax in the library.