The Importance of Contribution

importance-of-contribution1Contribution. It’s an important piece in the formula for a full and happy life, and one that often gets overlooked in seminars about how to be successful. Work your butt off to become independently wealthy and spend your days sipping margaritas on a sandy tropical beach, or maybe travel America in your RV hitting all of the most scenic locations and enjoying million dollar views from the comfort of your living room, and I’m betting sooner or later, it’ll still get old. Just ask all of the millionaires who seem to have it all but still aren’t happy.

The missing ingredient is contribution. Deep down, we don’t just want to be financially well off, although it certainly is a worthwhile goal. We also want to make a difference in the world around us.

No one wants to die alone, and at some level we all want to leave our mark behind when we go. When I graduated college and got a ‘real’ job in my field as a veterinary technician, I was expecting to feel like I was making a difference. And yeah, I did to some degree, but working in the private sector of the research industry what I could do to help was limited by available funds.

Some people (my parents probably included) think that I can’t make nearly as much of a contribution to society doing what I do now – traveling around the country taking seasonal jobs and exploring. But I’m here to say there is more than one way to contribute, one size does not fit all.


Some may decide to donate to charities. Others will volunteer for meaningful causes. Still others may donate their time by performing or making artwork, or see a need in their community and decide to start a business to fulfill it. And many will decide to start a family (yes, I’d say that raising children is another way to contribute towards a brighter future).

It doesn’t even need to be elaborate or require a lot of planning. Making a habit of performing random acts of kindness for strangers in need is a form of contribution. And I’ll say that teaching is one of the highest forms of contribution around. Teaching as a profession is probably what comes to your mind first, but it doesn’t need to be anything so formal as that.

Chances are you can do something that someone you know would love to know how to do. Take a little time to share your knowledge and experience with others and see what kind of difference it can make – not only in the world at large but also within yourself. Contributing feels good. Especially when you do it from the kindness of your heart and expect nothing in return.

Next time you’re feeling like there’s something missing from your life, turn the focus from you and try doing something for someone else. You may be surprised by the results.

* * *

It’s been windy, cold, and/or stormy the past week or so, not the best weather for adventuring but it does make for some great photo opportunities of another sort. All the pictures in this post were taken this past Monday the 27th, the first one was the start of the second hail storm to grace the Badlands that day, the second two were taken a couple hours later at sunset as when the sun shone in underneath the rain and set the clouds on fire, it was breathtaking.


All three were taken at Circle 10 Campground, where I am now officially in residence until the end of the season. It’s about 9 miles from the Lodge, just outside of the park boundaries near Interstate 90. I may not get a view of the Badlands here and I do get some noise from the interstate, but on the plus side it has trees as visible in these photos and the wind doesn’t seem to get as bad here as it did down in the Cedar Pass campground. Oh, and I have water and sewer hookups, also an important consideration!

Despite the bad weather, things were also just dry enough to make a moonlight hike possible last weekend, and while it wasn’t bright enough to get any pictures it was plenty bright enough for the naked eye to see things. The landscape looked even more alien and intriguing without the colors, and if you happen to be visiting during a full moon I highly recommend the experience.

The next few days seem to be trending upward in temperature again, with less of a chance for rain. If the weather cooperates, I’m definitely going to be hitting up the Black Hills region during my ‘weekend’ on Monday and Tuesday. Until then, safe travels and happy trails.

* * *

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Ed in Bama on June 5, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    I am about to retire in a year or so, with plans to do a lot more travel, down to the Keys in winter and up to the Blue Ridge in the heat of summer. My brother and I spent 2 weeks in March traveling to the Keys and the Everglades. A nice change from the cold weather.

    I am putting together a solar system to keep my 92 Amp-hour AGM house battery charged in my Class B van. So far I have procured a 128 Watt flexible thin solar panel, 50 ft of cable and a 20A MPPT charge controller. I am still studying solar tech to make sure that I do it right, without zapping myself or the equipment. Good luck on your solar system when you make the move.

    • Becky on June 8, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      That sounds like a fun plan Ed, good luck and hopefully we’ll get to meet on the road someday.

      That’s about the wattage I’m looking for in a solar panel, I’m hoping I can get 6V batteries, Casitas only have 1 12V in them and I just don’t think that’ll be enough – it won’t be a cheap project to switch over.

      But I’m still early in the planning stages, things can and will change I’m sure. 🙂

  2. Monte Stevens on June 4, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Very well said, young lady!

    • Becky on June 8, 2013 at 7:35 pm

      Thanks, glad you liked it!

  3. William on June 3, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Hey Becky,

    Great post. I believe as you do that giving back is very important. Like Wayne, I’m looking into the DOVE group.

    With all the tornado damage, people need help rebuilding. I have been told that people with their own moble place to live are in high demand. In the areas need help, there are not many places to put them up. I have a freind who travels and lives out of his truck in the disaster relief areas. When I get done with my bus and head out, I plan to offer my help as well.
    William recently posted..Still waiting …My Profile

    • Becky on June 4, 2013 at 11:22 am

      Good for you William. I looked into a volunteer national disaster relief program that focused on people’s pets when I started thinking about going RVing. It’s still something I’d love to do, but financial obligations keep it from being a reality for now. Some day, though.

  4. Rob on June 3, 2013 at 1:11 am

    If u want more of something just give that something away:)
    Cheers rob

    • Becky on June 4, 2013 at 11:20 am

      Sounds like very solid advice in this situation Rob, take care.

  5. Bill from Austin on June 2, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    You are wise beyond your years. I’ve read your blog for a while now and went back in time when I first started. You have experienced many situations and a lesser person could have caved and gone traditional quickly. You experience challenges, and adjust and keep looking for ways to improve. Your attitude stays consistently optimistic. And today your thoughts on contribution are right on.

    You will continue to inspire us. Thank you for sharing such insight and making us think and reflect.

    • Becky on June 4, 2013 at 11:19 am

      Thanks for saying that Bob, I’m so happy to have the opportunity to help others leave the rat race behind and try something different. 🙂

  6. David on June 2, 2013 at 11:29 am

    A well writen article Becky
    Very grounded and ohh so true.
    Thanks on so many levels for yor time and insight.

    Your friend in San Diego Dave

    • Becky on June 2, 2013 at 6:18 pm

      Thank you Dave, I really wasn’t sure what kind of reception this post was going to get, it’s been a while since I’ve done a true lifestyle design one without much focus on RVing. 😛

      Now I make my contribution by sharing what I know here on IO, by giving my fellow employees who don’t have vehicles rides to and from work and into town or out to the trails, by telling visitors to the Lodge information about the Badlands and where to find things, and I donate to a charity as well. I feel like I have a positive impact on the people around me, although I’m always growing and seeking to find new and better outlets. 🙂

  7. Barak on June 2, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Great insightful post.
    Input without output is called a swamp. To keep things fresh you need to be like a river.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Barak recently posted..True Success and Lifelong LearningMy Profile

    • Becky on June 2, 2013 at 6:13 pm

      Hello Barak,

      Thank you for commenting. I took a peek at your site, we seem to share a lot of the same opinions on how to live a fuller life. 🙂 Safe travels and happy trails to you.

  8. gayle on June 2, 2013 at 6:28 am

    Thank you for this blog post – the message is a great one – and one that we sometimes need to be reminded about.

    Many blessings to you!


    • Becky on June 2, 2013 at 6:07 pm

      You’re welcome Gayle, glad to hear you liked it. 🙂 I’ve touched on this topic before in other articles I’ve written, but I felt like it deserved it’s own.

  9. Kim on June 1, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    You are spot-on. Without giving, life is empty. Awesome photos!
    Kim recently posted..RMNP Day 3My Profile

    • Becky on June 2, 2013 at 6:06 pm

      Thanks Kim, although I feel like my photos pale in comparison to some of the stuff you’ve photographed recently, wow!

      Oh well, getting this early of a start on traveling at least I have plenty of time to make it out to see the mountains eventually. 🙂 Glad to hear that you’re having fun!

  10. Wayne from PA on June 1, 2013 at 8:29 pm


    You are so right about the importance of contribution. For many years (read 35), I worked in the computer industry. I still do a certain amount of programming in a part-time business I own. I made some good money…I’m not rich (2 divorces helped keep that from ever happening), but I lived well. Finally, I just burned out on the business. The hours kept getting longer and the time to enjoy what I could afford kept getting smaller. And what did I have to show for it…lot’s of things, and 2 ruined marriages. The one “thing” I did have that was worth it was my daughter, who has grown into a beautiful and successful woman.

    So, when some changes were forced on me anyhow, I decided to leave the computer rat race and enter teaching. I taught high school math and computers for 10 years in urban schools. There were times I failed miserably…and times when I felt I was wasting my time…but there was the occasional student who suddenly “understood” math and started getting good grades. Or the young girl who came to me after class one day and told me she thought she was pregnant…she didn’t know what to do but did not feel comfortable talking to her parents. She trusted me, so she came to me.

    Or another young girl who was talked into trying heroin over the weekend by a member of her own family and came to me on Monday morning because she was scared and didn’t know who else to go to for help.

    Or even the 16 year old girl who went into labor in my math class…We all learned a lot more than algebra that day…lol.

    In 4 and 1/2 days I am retiring from teaching. In a year or so, I hope to be on the road fulltime in my own RV. I won’t be rich, at least not in financial terms, but there are former students who keep touch with me on facebook. I love everyone of them.

    So what do I do next? Well, once I get my RV I plan, like you, to visit as much of this great country as time allows. And Escapees, which I’ve already joined, has a “BOF”, or interest group, called “DOVES”. They are associated with the Red Cross and they drive their RV’s into areas after a disaster and provide assistance to the victims of that disaster. It sound pretty good to me.

    And there are always kids who find out I am (was) a math teacher and ask for help with their homework. Some of those “kids” are in their 20’s or 30’s and back in college. Regardless of their age, I can’t help myself. I start teaching again.

    And I didn’t write this just to “blow my own horn”…although it probably sounds like that. I know lots of teachers and ex-teachers. And they always help…they always teach…they just can’t help themselves. It’s what they do.

    I hope to see you along the road someday in the future…

    Wayne from PA

    • gayle on June 2, 2013 at 7:34 am

      Hi Wayne – can you give me information about the Escapees group and about the Doves group – what does “BOF mean?

      Thank you – gayle

      • Becky on June 2, 2013 at 5:52 pm

        Heya Gayle, I’m sure Wayne will be answering soon, but in the meantime – Escapees ( is a RV club. You pay for membership, but can access the forums without a membership (I frequent the Escapees boards myself without being a member, they’re found at

        Benefits include a mail forwarding service, help with setting up Texas state residency (the state the club is based in) and reduced rates at their Escapees RV parks and the possibility to buy into lot purchases. There are yearly gatherings, RV boot camps (those cost an additional fee), and also various interest groups which is what BOF stands for – Birds of a Feather – which are created by members who have a particular interest. Here’s a definition of a BOF group pulled from the site:

        “Escapees has BOF groups with members who share special interests such as computers on the road, biking and hiking, boondockers, boomers, amateur radio, pet lovers, quilters just to name a few! Expand your talents and share your knowledge. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, you are welcome. Join a BOF! If there isn’t a BOF focused on your special interest, it’s easy to start one, and Escapees will help you get the word out.”

        Hope this helps!

      • Wayne from PA on June 3, 2013 at 8:11 am


        Well, Becky gave you most of the info on Escapees. (Also known as “SKP’s”…say the letters real fast…lol). As she said, BOF’s (Birds of a Feather) are special interest groups…sort of a sub-club…within the Escapees club that bring together people of similar interest. The DOVEs (Disaster Operations Volunteer Escapees) are a group of Escapee RV’ers that get training from the Red Cross (ARC), and after a disaster (such as the recent tornadoes in the midwest), they are dispatched (it’s volunteer, so only those who want to go will go…no one makes you) to a specific area to help out. Most of the time they serve meals and water or help man shelters. DOVEs (as far as I know) are not trained for Search and Rescue or any other Red Cross services that require the professionals. DOVE’s live in their RV’s at a site provided by the Red Cross coordinator (no services, usually) and work to help make the life of these victims just a little easier. Sometimes, depending on budgets, the ARC may provide a small meal stipend, but since we are self-contained in our own RV, we make the perfect volunteers.

        Anyhow, there’s more info on the Escapees website given by Becky or on the DOVE’s own website:

        I’m not a member yet…don’t even have my own RV yet (but I’m close)…but I’ll try to provide you with any more info I can if you ask.


        • gayle on June 3, 2013 at 10:40 am

          Hi Wayne – thanks for the info.

          Best of luck in your travels when you get your “rig”!!


    • Becky on June 2, 2013 at 5:59 pm

      Heya Wayne,

      What a write up! I don’t think teachers get nearly the credit they deserve, thank you for caring, giving, and sharing your knowledge.

      You must be very excited, being so close to retiring! Have you already decided on a type of RV or are you still researching? If you’ve been following me for a while you know that I’m not (and never have been) rich either, luckily it doesn’t take a ton of money to enjoy this lifestyle.

      Yes, it would be great to meet you on the road someday, safe travels and happy trails!

      • Wayne from PA on June 3, 2013 at 8:31 am


        Thanks for adding the Escapees info in reply to Gayle’s comment. I hope to be on the road by the end of next summer. Since I’m just now retiring (and yes, after 50 years of working, I am looking forward to it), I still have lots of loose ends to clear up before I can move on (well, you already know what that’s like).

        I really want to get a used (because of pricing), smaller Class A…like a 30-34 footer. If I can’t swing that, then a Class C. I’ve been saving up my pennies. I plan to buy a (used) small car to tow, maybe a Honda Fit. I have a Mustang Convertible right now, but it’s just too big and heavy to tow (and probably not towable 4 down). I’ll hate giving up “Big Red” (named after one of my high school English teachers…lol), but sometimes you need to give up old things to move on to new things.

        My current plans are something like this…winters in the BLM LTVA’s in southwest AZ and summers up north in CO, WY, MT, etc. Of course, lots of stops along the way. At least that’s my plans for now…but you know what they say about the plans of mice and men…

        I play guitar, write songs, do some amateur photography, some computer programming, love to read and cook, and can always find ways to keep myself out of trouble (well, a little trouble sometimes is okay…lol). Oh, I also do a little acting. I was an extra in a movie made in our area last year and am in line for a small part in a sitcom being done here. So, I think I can keep myself occupied without getting up at 5:30 every morning and commuting to work.

        Keep writing your blog entries when you can. You’re a good writer and have a fresh outlook on this RV’ing thing (most of us are old f**ts). It’s always refreshing to hear another side to life.

        See ya,


        • Becky on June 4, 2013 at 11:17 am

          Sounds like a good plan to be Wayne. You’re right, hobbies are a great way to fill in the spare time when you’ve been use to working 40 or more hours a week. They’re also helpful when you’re traveling on those days when it’s too rainy to go out and sight see or you end up having to stop somewhere that isn’t a good place for sightseeing.

          I’d love to spend my winters down on BLM land in Arizona or NM, I’m saving up for solar equipment so that I can boondock properly down there. Still not looking like I’ll have the money this year, but unlike last year I’m lining jobs up ahead of time so that I don’t have a 2 month gap in employment for all my savings from Amazon to dwindle away. I’ll figure it out yet!

  11. cozygirl on June 1, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    SO SO true…I can’t wait to be settled, traveling and thinking of ways to make a change. Glad you have those full hookups…must be dreamy! I’m sure you upcoming 2 day vac will be a nice change…sunshine always helps! We are getting pounded again with mega rain…can’t take too much more!

    • Becky on June 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      Gah Carla, yeah I was really ready for the rain to be done here, we had I think 5 cloudy days in a row, it wears on the spirit after awhile! I bet you know that feeling, as it sounds like your weather there in Illinois has been severe and problematic too. Luckily we haven’t had any tornadoes close by, although wind gusts up to 55 mph is no fun either.

      I’m glad to hear that you managed to get away for those 5 days on a trip, gives you a taste of the adventure and fun to come! I hope your house sells quickly and you two get to hit the open road sooner rather than later. 🙂

  12. Misty on June 1, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Ooh, I love a moonlit walk. 😀 I’m glad you’re enjoying it so much up there!

    Those are some truly wonderful pictures too. I love it!

    • Becky on June 2, 2013 at 5:23 pm

      Heya Misty! Haven’t had a chance to talk to you in a while, how have you been?

      Yep, I’m having a good time up here, and that sunset really was worth getting hailed on twice that day.

      I’m still tentatively planning to go down to Texas after I’m done at Amazon this year, should be right around Christmas. If you’re in the area I’d love to stop by and say hello. 🙂