I get to hear a lot about people’s travel plans while working at the Lodge. Travelers visiting from all over the country, and even several from overseas. Some have RVs like me and are on vacation or retired. Some are road tripping in a vehicle and get nightly accommodations. While I’m waiting for their credit card receipt to print out or while I’m stowing souvenirs carefully into bags I often ask how their trip is going.
The vast majority say they’re having a great time, and really enjoying themselves. Usually they’ll also comment about when their trip started or is ending, or places they’ve been or are heading next. Those who are near the beginning of their trip are excited about the places they’re going to visit. Those near the end often comment a bit sadly about how it’s “back to the real world soon” or something of a sort.
Occasionally when I hear about people’s plans to visit Yellowstone or Glacier or other places commonly visited on the typical Great-American-Trip-Out-West I get a little sad that I won’t be seeing those things this summer, they’re far enough away from the Badlands to make a weekend excursion there impractical.
But when I hear the ‘back to reality’ thing, it puts it all into perspective. For those of us full-timing, this is reality, how amazing is that. Through funding my travels by working I stay in one place long enough to fully experience it and learn about all the little secret nooks and crannies, but I don’t stay so long that it becomes ordinary and expected. I’ve been to to the top of peaks in the Badlands that folks just visiting would never have time to discover a way up. I’ve had the time to see all of the diverse wildlife here, and not just had to cross my fingers that the bison, bighorn sheep, pronghorns, prairie dogs, and mule deer would be all be out when I made my one pass through the loop (it never happens) like most folks get to do.
It’s so easy for new full-timers to get stuck in vacation mode and try and rush and see it all their first year. I’ve had people in the gift shop who were almost done with their vacation, and they were so worn out and exhausted from it that they clearly weren’t enjoying themselves and were ready for it to be over.
Part of reinventing what the ‘real world’ means to you as a full-time RVer is getting off that hamster wheel that society teaches us is what life as an adult is all about. Slow down, stop worrying so much about what comes next and enjoy where you are right now. There is no deadline now for seeing it all. Go at a pace that works for you instead of one dictated by a time-off request and experience it as a local would instead of as a tourist.
Full-timing’s a pretty sweet deal, even if you have to keep working to make it possible.
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Today’s photo was taken right from my counter at the Lodge of another amazing Badlands sunset a week or so ago. Life is good.