We moved out of our Austin apartment and into our RV on February 21, 2014. Two days later, we started a radically different lifestyle of fulltime travel as we left Austin for our first adventure. At the time, we knew almost nothing about RVing, and we certainly didn’t know what to expect from our choice.
Coming up on three and a half years later, I’ve changed. It was noticeable when we returned to Hot Springs, Arkansas last week. It was like going home after your first semester of college–the scenery is the same, but you’re different.
If you’re wondering what this lifestyle could mean for you, hop into the RV Wanderlust time machine to see how time and travel can transform a life.
Unplugging —> Perspective
When we live in one area, it’s almost inevitable that we form a bubble around ourselves and emphasize whatever is closest at hand. This can mean different things for different people. For my own part, I tend to get anxious about commitments and whatever is coming up next. I’m definitely a people pleaser, so I struggle with caring a bit too much about my performance, choice of words, etc.
By unplugging and getting physical distance between myself and my work-related commitments that are centered in Austin, I gain a lot of perspective. Just because I’m on the road, doesn’t mean I slack off or stop caring about what I need to do. But I stop worrying about the details and how I need to “perform.”
Work Doesn’t Define Me Anymore
This has been perhaps the most profound change in my life since I started RV travel. I’ve stopped buying into the lie that what I do to earn a living defines who I am. Now, I view work as a means to an end, not an end in itself.
I used to have lofty aspirations about where I wanted to go with my career. I don’t anymore, and I feel absolutely no sense of loss. I still have goals, but I’m more concerned with increasing my free time to invest in my family and make memories.
Now when I’m asked, “What do you do?” my mind doesn’t leap to thoughts of work. What do I do? I live and travel fulltime in a 40-foot diesel RV, exploring national parks, historical sites, and the best restaurants in the nation, with my best friend and our son. It just so happens that I do some work on the side to fund our adventures.
I Go Out of My Way to Meet New People
I’m an introvert, meaning I get drained by spending time with (most) people, and I recharge through alone time. It’s not that I’m shy, but it does take time for me to open up to new friends and start to feel like myself. Before Eric and I started traveling, I was often resistant to social opportunities. But our lifestyle has changed me in this area. Now, I’m almost always eager to connect with other RVers who I’ve never met before.
Two reasons for this. First, it does eventually get lonely on the road when we aren’t around friends. But second, RVers are cool people. They share certain personality traits, like a love for adventure and a willingness to take risks. They make solid conversationalists.
We’re constantly using RVillage, the Xscapers group on Facebook, and our own Facebook and Instagram accounts, to find RVers in our area. We love reaching out, and we love when people reach out to us. In over three years, I could count on one hand the number of times we’ve had weird experiences meeting people. Much more often than not, friendships are instantly solidified as we skip over small talk to share funny stories, embarrassing moments, travel recommendations, and hopes for the future.
I Rethink My Assumptions
There are so many stratifying lines in our country. Depending on background, we all make assumptions (latent or otherwise) based on social class, region, race, religion, and politics. Let’s try an experiment to see whether I’m right. What do you think of when I mention Kentucky? What about South Texas? What about Wisconsin? What about New Jersey?
If you’ve been to any of those places, your previous assumptions were almost certainly challenged. Now multiply that over three years and almost every region in the nation. As I travel, I realize that multi-faceted people don’t deserve shallow labels. Everyone has a story that has made them who they are.
I Can’t Imagine Doing Anything Else
Those my age may remember MASH, a game I played when I was little that was supposed to playfully predict my future. The name stands for Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House–the first category in the game. “RV” wasn’t one of the options, and it certainly never occurred to me that I would one day call an RV my home.
Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else. When asked how long we’re going to travel fulltime, we say indefinitely. I literally cannot picture myself settling down…ever. It would take circumstances beyond my control to affect a change.
How Will the Next Three Years of RV Travel Change Me?
I can’t help wondering what the next three years will hold, and how I will be impacted as a person. I’m sure my perspective will be heavily influenced by my son Caspian, as he grows from baby, to toddler, to pre-school age. I can’t wait to see the world through his eyes.
All bets are off, but I have a good feeling about what comes next.