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“What do you do?” We get that question A LOT. Our standard response is “We travel full time with our rescue dog.” Most of the time, the response is “I wish I could do that.” If that’s your answer, take a moment to ask yourself “Why?”
Is it because the words “full time travel” bring to mind images of white sandy beaches, colorful sunsets, or a never ending trail through the redwoods? What if I told you to imagine being woken up at 4am to the roaring sound of a freight train to realize you’re in the middle of a thunderstorm with a tornado warning in effect for the next 3 hours? Your heart is pounding, your home is shaking and the nearest shelter is a good jog away.
Don’t get me wrong, we wouldn’t trade our current lifestyle for anything, but it’s easy to focus on the beautiful sandy beaches and forget about the realities of living full time on the road. Life keeps going inside a 250 square foot home on wheels and we have still have bills to pay, disagreements, severe weather, laundry, unexpected events and everything else life can throw at us. These are the realities of living full time on the road, but after the thunderstorm rolls through and the skies clear, we get to enjoy the soft sandy beaches, colorful sunsets and those special moments that we’ll never forget. The turtle crossing the road as we were leaving Everglades National Park and hearing the Elks bugling at Rocky Mountain National Park are two of my favorite memories.
March 13, 2016 marked day 183, the six month mark, of our full time adventure around the United States. When we started this trip we wanted to take a year long vacation to see the country, enjoy each other’s company and be able to bring the dogs along. In the process, we wanted to look for a possible place to settle down and find new jobs. One month in and we realized we wanted to continue this lifestyle indefinitely and have no desire to go back to the life we had before. As we look back on the last six months, there have been some great moments and not so great moments, but we’ve grown and learned a great deal from all the experiences.
A look back
It’s can be easy to forget everything we went through that got us to where we are today. Rereading our first post from the road reminded us of all the planning that went into making the transition from a house to full time RVing. In the post, we talk about buying a tow vehicle, finding the right RV, getting rid of most of our possession and moving into our home on wheels. It was one of the most stressful times in both our lives, but it was all worth it in the end. If you haven’t watched our YouTube trailer, here’s a look at the first few months of our journey.
Joe, my partner in crime, has this perspective: I remember when we first came up with our plan to sell the house and travel in a motorhome – we figured we would do this for a year and, in the process, find a new state to settle down. Now, I just want to find ways for us to continue this lifestyle. In many ways, the life we lead now reminds me of when I was a kid and got to enjoy summer vacations without any worries. I’ve never made a change of this magnitude before in my life. People tell me I was “brave” for making the decision to do this, and in many ways they’re right – it’s one scary thing to completely change your life. I can’t explain what a nervous wreak I was when we were closing on the sale of our house, putting our notices in at work and moving those last items into the motorhome. Six months later, my world has changed. Now, I wouldn’t at all be nervous or scared if we decided to sell the motorhome and ride motorcycles across Europe. I know now that I am capable of changing my life and following any dream I can come up with – it will take some time and planning, but it can be done.
I’ve learned a lot over the last six months. In the beginning, there were times when Kait and I drove each other nuts. We were so used to spending more time each day with co-workers than we were with each other. There were definitely times I questioned whether we would survive this trip together and there was a point where we snapped about a month into the trip. Kait was driving us to our next destination, pulled over at a rest area, we sat down at a picnic table and laid it all out there. We both had our issues and when we talked, we realized we had the same goal – turn this trip into a permanent lifestyle. I was still in “vacation” mode and trying to decompress from the 12 years I spent in corporate life but realized I needed to get my butt back in gear if we want to make this permanent.
Today, I find myself working more than I ever did in the corporate world, but I love what I am doing. I know that everything I do helps fuel this dream of ours. I still have days where I wake up and forget where we are or have trouble remembering the day of the week. I guess that comes with the territory when you are traveling across the country and Monday is no different than Saturday (Sunday’s are a different story; when you look around and everything is closed, you definitely know it’s Sunday).
The Highs of Full Time RVing
Freedom. If you ask us what we love most about RVing, our answer would be freedom. Having the freedom to move or stay for however long we want is incredibly liberating. An overnight night stay in Pagosa Springs turned into four nights because we had the freedom to do so. Our travel plans are wide open and we try not to make any campground reservations unless we absolutely need to. A good friend of ours has been trying to meet up with us and recently said “trying to meet up with you two is more difficult than landing on an aircraft carrier.”
America is beautiful. Every National Park we’ve been to has taken our breath away. It seems like each one quickly becomes our favorite. Every town has its own charm and we’ve fallen in love with quite a few of them. Flagstaff, Arizona and Fort Lauderdale, Florida are two places we may consider staying for a month or two in the future.
People. We’ve met some incredible people who’ve encouraged us, inspired us and helped us along the journey. Being part of a giant club of people who roam freely around this beautiful country is pretty cool. Everyone has a unique story and wisdom to share. We’ve learned a lot and made some friends along the way that we look forward to seeing again when our paths cross.
Unique experiences. If someone told me I would be waking up in a Walmart parking lot in Hurricane, Utah with a giant smile on my face I would have told them they were crazy. You haven’t lived until you’ve spent the night in a 24 hour Walmart parking lot. It’s amazing how quickly your body can adjust to falling asleep to the sound of shopping carts, car horns, screeching tires and stereo music. Oh, and by the way, the sound of a lawn mower is my new alarm clock. We’ve also enjoyed unique experiences through the different Harvest Hosts we’ve stayed with along the way.
Discovering real off-roading. I used to think driving on fire truck access roads was off-roading until we took the Jeep on Broken Arrow Trail in Sedona, Arizona. After we scaled the first rock face and scraped our baseplate, I finally understood why Joe wanted to get a small lift on the Jeep.
Family bond. We’ve learned to communicate better and figured out how to be around each other 24 hours a day in a smaller space. It wasn’t always easy, but now we are closer as a couple.
The Lows of Full Time RVing
Adjustment period. The honeymoon period lasted for about two weeks before we started to get on each other’s nerves along with multiple communication breakdowns. We went from spending about 60 hours apart each week to being with each other 24/7 in a tiny space which put a strain on our relationship. We both needed to acclimate to living in a small space and with each other in that space.
Duke. Ten days into our journey and we had to put down the first dog Joe and I adopted. His name was Duke and he was the most loyal, loving and protective dog. Dealing with loss is difficult, but dealing with loss on the road was even more difficult. We didn’t have family close by who could drive over and give us a comforting hug or grab a drink with friends who knew Duke and talk about all the great times we had with him.
On the go. In the beginning, we drove long distances and moved frequently. That was taxing on both of us, because we would pack and unpack every day or two and drive all day to our next destination. As much as we enjoy the freedom to roam, we also realized that we need to slow down or we would burn out.
Missing half the Packers game last season. We don’t watch much television with the exception of Packers games and Last Man Standing. Since we only have the standard TV antenna on the motorhome, we’re not always camped at a place that can pick up over the air television. Luckily, this can be solved with better planning for the upcoming season. I’m sure Joe won’t mind if I plan our fall destinations around Packers bars and bigger cities.
Internet. AT&T cell coverage has been decent, but not good. When we were at Mather Campground in the Grand Canyon we had no coverage, but when we camped at Flamingo Campground inside the Everglades National Park we had decent coverage, while Verizon users had none. Since we enjoy dry camping on public lands in remote areas, we need to increase our coverage and may end up purchasing a Verizon mifi unit.
Weather. Earthquakes, thunderstorms, tornado warnings and flash flood warnings. Being in a motorhome during an earthquake wasn’t bad, in fact, it was more enjoyable than in a sticks and bricks home. We can’t say the same for thunderstorms and tornado warnings though. We made a video about the storm we encountered in Immokalee, Florida.
It’s exciting to see how the future will unfold. When we set out on this journey, we planned for one year without income. How can we make this work? We’re working on growing traffic to this website and YouTube viewership. So thank you for reading this post and for watching our videos!
Snapshot of the First 6 months on the Road
Miles driven (RV & Jeep): 13,851 miles
States: 11 – California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Some of the places we’ve visited.
Nights spent at campgrounds: 59 – Greeley Missile Site CO, Boulder Fairgrounds CO, Mather Campground Grand Canyon, Sedona Pines AZ, Canyon Trails TX, Bayou Segnette LA, Fort Wilderness Walt Disney World, Winter Quarters FL, Flamingo Everglades FL, John Pennekamp Key Largo and Space Coast FL.
Days we used our portable solar panel: 55 – we encountered quite a bit of rain that prevented us from putting the solar panel out.
Days Joe drank coffee: 183
More About RV Life
If you’re interested in full time RV life, here are a few posts we wrote to get you started.