So I’ve been thinking lately about the full-time RVers I know and what contributed to their success on the road where others desired but never tried, or tried but didn’t succeed, or succeeded but didn’t stick with it.
I’ve concluded that although money is a big concern, it was not the deciding factor. Despite the large number of retired full-timers who can draw on their pensions and social security to travel, I also know many who like me had only modest earnings and savings when they embarked on this trip, and also many who had considerably less than me and still manage lead happy and fulfilling lives on the road, and even save up during their travels to improve their quality of life.
So it wasn’t about wealth. It also didn’t seem tied to upbringing or previous knowledge as just as many full-timers come from families that never camped or traveled at all as those who did frequently.
Of course some things make it easier to get on the road: Not having a house that needs selling first, being in great health for ease of getting cheap health insurance, a lack of debt, an established way of earning money remotely, but all of these issues can be worked around.
It seemed to me to have very little to do with the current circumstances a person found themselves in (which if I were a prospective full-timer I’d find very heartening), and much more to do with four key traits that allowed these people to rise above the challenges they faced.
Dreamer It takes a free spirit to see the allure of full-timing. The desire to see and learn more about the world, and realize that one doesn’t need to follow the masses and restrict such activities to vacations. To imagine something better and think it’s possible to achieve – the pioneer spirit.
Resourceful Because it’s not a mainstream way to live and there is no manual for going full-timing, every prospective RVer will need to look at their own unique situation, strengths and assets and come up with a way to make it work. It will be a little different for everyone – the ability to think outside the box.
Adaptable However a person first approaches going full-timing, the end result will likely not be exactly what was initially imagined. Unexpected complications (and perhaps some serendipitous opportunities) will arise and decisions will need to be made and plans revised – being flexible enough to handle the trial and error component.
Dedicated Deciding to live a life of travel takes a lot more work and at times can be more stressful than coasting along on the more traditional life path, even once a person has successfully gotten on the road. The desire to keep going and see their initial dreams realized needs to keep outweighing the reasons that might take a person off the road and back to safer waters.
A couple other notes.
- To even find my blog interesting enough to read, whether you agree with it all or not, you have that first trait. You’re reading this because you’ve already decided the possibility of full-timing intrigues you whether you’ve decided you want to try taking the plunge or not. Congratulations, you’re 25% of the way there.
- Being resourceful doesn’t necessarily mean you need a lot of resources to get started, it’s more about being able to inventory what you do have and having the will to tinker around with them until you come up with a combination that works. For instance, your assets don’t just include all of the money in your bank account and the net worth of the items you own. All of your friends and acquaintances can be an asset – maybe you know someone who is good at selling stuff on ebay and you can enlist their help selling your stuff. Also other traits besides these listed can be assets when used in the right situation – like maybe you’re often seen as stubborn and it occasionally gets you into trouble at work when you butt heads with your boss, but a little stubbornness applied to the challenges of RVing can have positive results.
- If you don’t consider yourself good at being resourceful or adaptable, it’s not the end of the world (and your RVing dreams). In many ways, dedication is the second most important trait to getting on the road after the first one which made you decide this crazy idea was worth pursuing in the first place. If you want to get better at it and you’re willing to put in the effort and keep trying, you will. I did not consider myself an especially resourceful or adaptable person before I started.
- While dedication is important, there is no shame in realizing at any point during the journey that full-timing is no longer worth the effort and work and to make the deliberate decision to stop. People’s dreams and goals change, and there is no point in forcing dedication to a project your heart is no longer in just to be able to say “I won” at the end when you’re on the road.
Phew, this ended up being a more time consuming and thought provoking process than I was expecting when I started toying with the idea for this post. I’m going to go out for a walk and clear my head and put you guys to work for the finale with a question. Which of these four traits would you say come easiest to you and which is the hardest to embody?
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