May 2018 – We have been traveling full-time for eleven years now. I don’t know where those years have gone, but every single day has been a blessing, and every year has brought us many incredible moments of discovery. And we don’t see an end in sight!
The May/June 2018 issue of Escapees Magazine features an article I wrote about some of the lessons we’ve learned in all our years on the road and at sea. Following our hearts into a life of travel has expanded our horizons and deepened our souls in ways that never would have been possible if we’d stayed home.
Launching a full-time traveling lifestyle brings a lot of self-discovery right from the get go. Downsizing a lifetime of stuff to fit into an RV is an overwhelming yet liberating purge. You take a few important possessions with you and head on down the road.
Then you drive off into the great beyond and marvel that you did it, that you’re free, that you’re on the road to a fabulous new life of adventure.
After the thrill of the Big Escape, you might pause for a moment and look around a little and double check that you did the right thing.
But absolutely every aspect of life is suddenly a total thrill. Just making a meal, whether you barbecue it on the cool little grill or bake it in the nifty Easy Bake RV Oven or fry it up on the tiny three burner stove, cooking and eating at home are suddenly very exotic. Playing House takes on a wonderful new meaning. And you play and play and play.
Suddenly, the distractions of the old conventional life are gone and you fill your time with simple pursuits that work well in a mobile lifestyle. You can’t go to the same gym everyday, and sometimes you get lost trying to find the grocery store in a new town, but the quiet pleasures of life at home take on a special new meaning.
Hobbies you never had time for in the past become treasured parts of the day-to-day routine.
While zipping from place to place, you take in all you can manage to absorb. You discover how little history you actually learned in school and you find small towns you’ve never heard of in states you know only by name that suddenly take on a fabulous familiarity and vitality.
You meet the locals, learn a little of their past and the history of their area, and you ponder what it would have been like to grow up in that community or to live there now.
After a while you realize that you’ve got to stop and smell the flowers every so often. You’ve been rushing through your travels with such an excited zeal that you realize you’re missing stuff.
You slow down and begin to soak it all in. You realize you’re living a life, not just a lifestyle, and you begin to savor the in between moments.
We found just such a moment while driving on the Interstate near Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville is known for many marvelous things, a world class mansion on a billionaire family’s estate to name just one, but we will forever remember the field of thigh high flowers we saw on the side of the highway. It was a photographer’s paradise.
How exciting to have one of our many photos from that afternoon appear on the cover of the March/April 2018 issue of Escapees Magazine.
One of the great things we’ve learned in our travels that I didn’t mention in my Reflections & Lessons Learned article in the May issue of Escapees Magazine is what this lifestyle has taught us about nature and the heavens.
We have stood in awe and photographed hundreds of stunning sunrises and sunsets and dozens of single and double rainbows during our traveling years. And we’ve gotten up in the wee hours to photograph the Milky Way or get a timelapse video of it marching across the sky. We now know a lot about these celestial events, when and how they occur and how best to observe and capture them with a camera.
We’ve also learned that Nature doesn’t rush things and you have to be patient and let its wonders reveal themselves at their own pace. And sometimes the transformation in the sky is really worth the wait.
As Robert Frost described it 102 years ago, we’ve “taken the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” We’ve found that, for us, the back roads and byways always offer a fresh perspective, and sometimes the road itself is unusual.
Perhaps the most valuable thing about embarking on an unusual lifestyle like RVing full-time is the opportunity it offers for reflection. After the excitement of making dinner in a mini-kitchen on a three burner stove has worn off, it is natural to ponder just why you are living this way and whether you are really “living the dream” you anticipated.
It is common, after a few years, for full-time RVers to find themselves at a turning point. After seeing the major National Parks and visiting a bunch of states and meeting lots of other cool RVers along the way, it is only natural to grind to a halt and ask, “What now?”
Some people find this troubling — it’s scary that their dream lifestyle might need tweaking — but I think it should be celebrated as a graduation. The first round of dreams has been fulfilled. What could be more satisfying than that? Now the next round of dreams can be conjured up and chased down!
Several very popular RV bloggers who have been at this full-time RV lifestyle business for a long time have transitioned recently to new modes of travel or to living in distant and far flung locations.
For excited future full-time RVers, reading and watching these transitions taking place may be unsettling because their mentors are leaving the lifestyle they are about to begin. Years ago, when we had been on our boat in Mexico for about 8 months, I received a plaintive one-line email from a reader: “When are you going back to your RV?”
But part of the joy of transforming your life by giving up a solid foundation to live in a home on wheels is that it opens your heart to opportunities for even bigger transformations down the road.
For full-time RVers who feel like they are living under stormy skies or are feeling a little boxed in by repetitious patterns or feel a little lost between the woods and the trees, there’s no harm and no shame in admitting their dreams have changed and possibly gotten bigger and more ambitious.
Using the full-time RVing lifestyle as a stepping stone to other wonderful and exotic lifestyles is almost to be expected and is one of the great reasons to give it a try.
However, it can be hard when you’ve committed yourself with all your heart to RVing full-time to step back and say, “Wait! This isn’t exactly what I want.” And it’s especially difficult with the intense personal comparisons and voyeurism provoked by social media and blogging. A weird kind of peer pressure creeps in.
When it comes to pursuing your dreams, it really doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks or how your life compares to theirs because it’s not about them. It’s about you.
A photographer who lives an extraordinary traveling life, David Morrow, has posted two videos that are quite profound. The first is the impact on his life of quitting social media (he had followers in the tens of thousands on many platforms). The second is his daily morning ritual for exploring and reaffirming his life’s dreams.
These videos spoke to me because they parallel my own experiences. Perhaps they will speak to you too (links for them are in the reference section at the end of the page).
I’ve been reading Open Your Mind to Prosperity by Catherine Ponder, and she talks about how to set yourself up for success, whether for prosperity in terms of money or prosperity in terms of having exhilarating life experiences. One point she drives home with vigor is the importance of making room in your life for your future riches by letting go of and releasing anything from your past that isn’t fundamental to the future you desire.
It’s easy to see how this advice can help future full-time RVers, since part of the transition into full-time RVing is the Enormous Downsizing Project that has to be completed (yikes!). However, full-timing is not a static activity, and as full-timers flow through the lifestyle, tweaking and perfecting it and making it their own, the same idea applies: Achieving your dreams depends on releasing aspects of the past that aren’t propelling you forward to the future you want.
While online communications tend to compress deep emotional experiences to a few words here and there, getting together in person with kindred spriits, and talking at length around the campfire or over a morning coffee can really help get the creative juices flowing, whether you are pondering where to travel next or are curious about workamping opportunities or wonder if others have been through similar experiences in the full-time RV lifestyle as you have.
Ever since its founding by Joe and Kay Peterson, Escapees RV Club has specialized in bringing people together who have like interests. All Escapees are RVers, either current, past or future, and the Club encourages get togethers. From going to an RV gathering at a National Rally (Escapade #58 is this week in Sedalia, Missouri) to attending one of the many lively Xscapers Convergences for RVers (South Dakota, Colorado, Oregon, Michigan and Georgia are all on the schedule) to seeing the Best of Ireland (June 13-19, no RVs involved) Escapees offers well organized traveling adventures of all kinds to bring members together.
There are also regional chapters of Escapees across the country, and these groups hold their own local gatherings.
Escapees also has Birds of a Feather groups (BOFs) that bring together people that share all kinds of unusual hobbies and interests. These groups are where you can find fellow RVers interested in Geology, Computers, Line or Square Dancing, providing assistance at natural disasters like hurricanes and floods, Photography, Prospecting, Quilting, Woodcarving or Worldwide Travel.
There is even a Birds of a Feather group for RVers who love to camp in the nude and another for Friends of Bill. And, of course, if the BOF for your particular interest doesn’t exist, you can always start one.
It is no surprise that Escapees RV Club has an affinity for rainbows. Occasionally clouds of not-total-happiness end up forming for some folks who jump into the RV lifestyle, and the Escapees RV Club offers a gazillion ways for RVers to connect with each other and share their common experiences.
If you are interested in RVing and haven’t yet joined Escapees, it is a very intriguing club with a million sticks in the campfire. Everything described here is just a fraction of what Escapees RV Club is all about. They do incredible advocacy work for RVers, are the biggest mail forwarding company out there, have discounts on RV parks and even have a sub-group that maintains the biggest boondocking database around.
You can join (or ask questions) by calling 888-757-2582. Or you can click here: Join Escapees RV Club
If you mention our blog, Roads Less Traveled, when you join, Escapees puts a little something in our tip jar. This is not why we do it — we recommended the club long before they started doing this — but we sure appreciate it!
Spending what is now a significant chunk of our lives not knowing where we’ll be sleeping next has been a fabulous and life altering experience for us. Not only did we love the early days when simply living in an RV was an exotic thrill, but we have loved the exploration of the world around us and the journey we’ve taken within.
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Links to some of the offerings at Escapees RV Club:
- Xscapers Convergences – Plan now for gatherings in South Dakota, Colorado, Oregon, Michigan and Georgia
- 58th Escapade – Happening this week in Sedalia, Missouri
- Head Out Program (HOPs) – Trips to Ireland, New York and other cool places
- Birds of a Feather (BOFs) – A slew of groups focused on everything under the sun
- RVers Online University – A wide range of topics for newbies and seasoned RVers alike
- RVers Bootcamp – Want to get in on the fun but need to learn some basics first? Go to Bootcamp!
- Escapees Calendar of Events – It’s packed!
- Become a member – Join Escapees RV Club
David Morrow Videos – Great food for thought:
- Camping World Video Shoot — RVing is for Everyone! 04/06/18
- Full-time RV Pioneer & Escapees RV Club Co-Founder: Kay Peterson 06/13/17
- 10 Years of Life on the Road by RV and Sailboat – The 2nd Half! 05/28/17
- 10 Years of Full-time RVing and Sailing!! – The Early Years… 05/24/17
- 9th Anniversary of Full-time Travel by RV and Sailboat – Reflections! 05/22/16
- What Does It Take to Live The Dream? 01/02/16
- What Is Your Dream? 12/31/14
- On the Road to your Dreams, Stay the Course! 10/14/13
- Living, Loving and Perfecting “The Dream” 06/29/13
- What’s It Like to RV Full-time? – A Snapshot of Pure Joy (as the banking world collapsed) 01/03/09
- Why Do It? – Why We Left Home to Live in an RV! 07/21/08
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