My husband and I hit the road about three weeks ago to live full-time in an RV. Our plan is to travel around the Western U.S. (and a bit of Canada) for the next year. We are pumped!
How we made up our minds
We started toying with this idea probably as far back as when my husband, Nik, first got a job working remotely — he can work from anywhere in the world as long as he has internet. I was finishing my Master’s degree and teaching early childhood special education, which I absolutely love, but I was feeling ready for a break. We already love to camp and travel, and we realized Nik’s job would allow us to be location-independent if we chose.
A year ago, we made the decision that I would leave my job, do grad school full-time for my last semester, and then focus on trying to find a job I could do remotely as well. We bought our RV on Halloween of 2015 and I finished grad school in December.
We bought our RV from Craigslist. It is a 1989 Minnie Winnie, Class C style (meaning it has a bed over the cab), 26′ long. Her name is Daisy.
It is structurally sound (no water damage!) and all the mechanical bits of the “car” part of the motorhome were in fantastic shape, despite it being from 1989. That said… It’s from 1989. And the previous owner was a smoker. We had a lot of work to do to make it feel like home, as well as to add storage and work spaces.
We ended up basically gutting the interior, including tearing out carpet and removing furniture. We rearranged the furniture, built or added more furniture, and secured everything like crazy to be able to withstand what is basically an earthquake in your house every time you drive. We put in new flooring and repainted cabinets. We reupholstered cushions and replaced curtains. We installed solar panels and a huge bank of batteries so we can park without an electrical hookup. We did not get enough sleep.
Meanwhile, since we are renting out our house for the year, we sold, donated, or otherwise parted with about 80% of our belongings. I became a Craigslist ninja! With the exception of Christmas ornaments and art, stored in a kind friend’s basement, we have absolutely everything we own with us in our RV or in the car we are towing behind. It was a challenge, but we feel a lot freer now without so much stuff.
Life on the road
The hardest part about leaving was saying goodbye to friends. It’s really hard going from a rock-solid, in-person support system with people you see every week to just us. We’re trying hard to do FaceTime calls and such, but it’s not quite the same. Nik and I have always had good communication, thankfully, but the tight quarters and stress of a lifestyle change make things hard sometimes, especially without social outlets. We miss our friends.
But, since we are only a few weeks in, we are definitely still learning and getting a hang of things. Some things we have learned the hard way (take it from me: don’t store rice up high before driving).
Nik works a full-time job, so he keeps regular hours, just with especially pretty views out his office window! I work part-time doing freelance blogging. I’m currently writing this from just outside Yellowstone National Park in Montana. The fact that we can work all day, then watch Old Faithful erupt as our after-dinner entertainment is still pretty mind-blowing.
When I’m not working, I do a lot of odds and ends to keep things running smoothly (like figuring out where to buy dog food in a town smaller than my elementary school). In the mornings before work, we explore nearby trails with our dog. In the evenings, we typically adventure around and find local breweries or gorgeous photo opportunities. We are trying to stay in each place for a couple of weeks — long enough to explore.
In a lot of ways, though, it’s like our normal life used to be, just with MUCH prettier scenery… I ran a half marathon last weekend, just outside of Grand Teton National Park. And, while I was running and looking at the mountains, it struck me, “This gets to be my LIFE.” I get to explore and see all the amazing things that are out there. People keep asking us what place we are most excited for, and we never have a very satisfying answer.
It’s too cliché to say, “It’s about the journey, not the destination,” but… it’s true. In that way, it’s so NOT like our lives before. We start every day with the mindset of possibility. I can’t ask for anything better.
Anyone else living in an RV full-time? What have been your experiences and best pieces of advice (like where to store rice)?