It’s been a while.
After traveling full time for twenty months in our RV across the United States, many have wondered what has become of us. Have we “moved” somewhere? Have we stopped traveling? What is life like after full time travel? What in the name of Trip Advisor is going on here?
I have some answers. After a six-month hiatus from writing about travel and moving around a lot in order to do so, here is what we know.
Full time travel wore us down
Yes indeed, we were done.
Travel fatigue is real, people. So much so that I needed six months to rest after full time RVing. What began as wonderful, exhilarating, enlightening and ambitious fun moving from place to place became … well, a chore. Not fun. Taxing. Draining. Work. The hitching and unhitching. The long drives in between stops. Navigating the goofy non-camping routines and rules and heat of RV resorts in the Southwest. I’m sure that you get the idea.
Visiting many places in the East eventually dwindled to staying put in fewer places for longer periods of time in the West, because campgrounds take the form of wait-listed, age-restricted, parking-restricted, tent-restricted, campfire-restricted, gleaming and expensive RV resorts by the time you hit the Pacific. Essentially, we were “living” in RV resorts (leveraged by monthly “deals” to reel you in and reduce costs), which is not really what we had in mind as we planned our travels. A camping lifestyle was what we had intended. It did not end up that way.
We outgrew our RV
Without a doubt, in a physical sense, we simply needed more room. Luna was growing in mind and body. The wear-and-tear of daily use of the same few things in a small space began to demonstrate their fragility as they were made mostly of cheap goods. Kitchen management evolved into something I dreaded, from doing dishes to arranging and rearranging the refrigerator to trying to bake or freeze items — it all became really stressful.
Never was that more clear than near the end of our travels, when we spent Christmas in the mountains of Arizona. My hopes for a more peaceful, restful holiday were tarnished a bit by my inability to plan food accordingly. Without room to prepare or store meals ahead of time in the camper, I ended up having to bring lots of food for the trip. As a result, I cooked more than I desired and brought too much food, leading to food waste … and a tired and cranky me. At that point I knew that my days in a camper kitchen were numbered, being the foodie that I am.
Furthermore, Scot was still sleeping on the dinette-come-bed. And in an effort to create a more camping-like environment, we accumulated a few more things living in RV resorts, which increased our weight and reduced our space even more. And Scot and I grew weary of maintaining the loo and poo tanks.
There is something to be said about indoor plumbing and staying in a cabin. *sigh*
Anyway, our ability to entertain guests was limited as well. For some tiny livers, not having a guest room is a bonus. For us, it forced family and friends to stay elsewhere, although we cooked and ate together. We missed out on more thorough visits because of our dwelling.
Finally, we want to continue to see more than the U.S. Beautiful terrain awaits you roadtripping the country in an RV, and we hope to travel through a few more states to round out our trip. But the world is large. We know the U.S. pretty well now. We get it.
Our work needed to flow
Our mental and creative spaces were expanding, too. In some cases, they encroached on the physical space. For example, Luna’s intellectual needs were outpacing our ability to grow with them. Gaming, socializing, playtime, reading, puzzles — all the stuff that comes with the evolving natural interests of a child required more room in which to do so. Add to that the exhausting and boring long travel days and Luna was over it. We can testify that there is an age limit/range for kids and full time travel.
The same went for Scot and the business: He needed more space. Working remotely and nomadically was okay for awhile — quite possible actually; our business thrived on the road. Eventually, however, his creative and business requirements morphed. Traveling in 200 square feet became oppressive, and finding coworking spaces proved inconvenient. A need for renewed, dedicated office space resurfaced, because, quite literally, tiny RV living was cramping his style.
The timing was right
Our dwindling interest in full time travel and camper life, as well as the need for more room, all coalesced with a business opportunity in Southern California. Already camping in Anaheim and set to stay for two months in Long Beach, the timing was right to make a break. As luck would have it, we were able to sell our camper to a local business owner in Anaheim; Scot had to drive only a few miles to deliver it. Although we were all quite sad to offload our camper, as Scot said, we were “really fucking glad that we weren’t headed to another campground.”
Amen to that.
We miss camping. We miss campfires. I have missed the smell of our camper, which reminded me of an old cabin. It was cozy. We really bonded in it. We saw so many amazing things, enjoyed so many amazing experiences and friends and family, and we met so many wonderful people. But in the end, we weren’t really camping. We were living in RV parks in the Southwest.
Suck it, we said.
And now, in Southern California, we really enjoy a normal sofa, a large bed, dining areas that do not wobble, bathrooms with room for four or more (not that that happens … but it could), large showers, more than a few minutes of hot water, space. Yes, we enjoy a little more space. We have been able to expand … and curl up on the sofa and read lots of books over a few months’ time, or watch soccer or a movie uninterrupted because we have killer Wifi and we are immobile. Indeed, no writing, no details, no maps for a while. Just the sweet nectar of not thinking about traveling full time in an RV.
And if I need something fixed, I call maintenance.
And, no, we haven’t moved here. We are staying here for a while in total immersion. Another long travel experience, but just in one place.
One thing our family does really well is embrace change; we are agents of it and change had come. If all things and people are vehicles taking us from one experience and/or relationship to another, then our little camper served its purpose, the same way in which this California-expensive flat with an ocean view (which, by the way, was on the travel list!) is serving its purpose. We have entered and embraced the next level of experience for us, and so it goes.
There is one more thing of note: I don’t want to be a travel blogger, although travel “blogging” is not what I set out to do. I have been travel “writing.” So I should rephrase that: I don’t want to write about or take pictures of our travels as work. Traveling essentially is a really intimate experience, and I really don’t want to write about it, at least not in the way that I had and plaster it all over the Internet.
In our über-saturated world of social media and ego, and, particularly, travel writing/ blogging, I have started to lean toward the side of introversion. Travel — to me at least — and the nuances that come with it are as delicate, powerful and momentary, timeless, wordlessly understood and subjective as the relationships I have with my husband and daughter, or the other family, friends or people I meet along the way. Essentially, truth is in the moment, and the moments are so difficult to capture. In fact, they can’t be really. I don’t want to serve my ego in this way. Plus, the details of writing take a lot of time and are exhausting. It’s time and energy I’d rather spend hanging out with my family, or reading or cooking or writing for writing’s sake — or just enjoying the travel moment, rather than capturing it.
This is not to say that we will not be traveling, nor will my writing (about it) cease. We may even obtain a camper again, so that we can actually camp. Wanderlust is my constant companion, but she has learned to be patient, because even through travel, I don’t want to work that hard to enjoy my life. I want to enjoy the moment, because there is another one right after that, which will require my attention, and another one after that, and another one after that …
So as we now are traveling really slowly after traveling much more aggressively, we have come to understand that we do like place, and we do like to have some things and we miss people. But we still don’t need any of it really. None of us do. It all just helps and enhances the experience.
We also have come to understand that our adventure has emphasized our philosophy of living untethered, but more than just in the form of downsizing and cutting cords. Being untethered for us directly addresses living a life without fear and worry, emphasizing guidelines over rules, and that what you need now is right before you — within you and all around you — at all times. You just have to tap into it.
It is not overrated
Camper life was wonderful. Tiny living, too. Overall, it was loads of fun. There are plans for a more permanent homebase in our future. If you have a way to fund it without making work out of it, your full time travel experience will be sweeter. If you have to fund travel while traveling, documenting it might just take the joy right out of it. But if you are ever wondering whether or not you should do it, just do it, or do it for extended periods of time. It will be worth it.
But it’s all just a journey, a journey that has cycles and seasons and flow. Right now we are in a SoCal cycle, a season of bike rides along the coast and playing at the beach, tending to business and to each other, planting some seeds, watering these, harvesting those. There always will be a lot that we can see and do, any of us, but there is only ever one thing to do at any given time, and that is to enjoy the moment, what you have now.
So if your season or cycle presents full time travel to you, do it. If a camper comes your way, go for it. If the seeds you plant happen to be in your back yard, feed them and watch them grow. And if napping calls, answer it … in a hammock perhaps. Do so without fear or worry, with just maybe a few guidelines and a strong list of values, and you shall be on your way. It is what we have done and what we continue to do. It’s just a little bit slower and longer, and all worthwhile.
Follow the sparks of life.