Lately there’s been a lot of comments and e-mails from new readers who are just starting to look into the RVing lifestyle (welcome!). Back in March I wrote a guest post for another blog (CheapRVLiving), and it occurs to me I’ve never shared that content with all of you here at IO. I thought it might be a good pick-me-up for those of you jumping the early hurdles on your own road to full-time RVing – its a story about my early days on the road. I hope you enjoy!
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I use to wince when the alarm went off on weekdays. Dragging myself out of bed to get ready in the dark felt like torture. When I’d drive to work I wouldn’t even notice the beautiful sunrise because I’d still be half asleep. Then I’d work for 8.5 hours or more, just counting down the time until I could leave. I’d always rush home to try to get chores done before supper, and then stay up a little too late trying to squeeze in some down time and regain my sanity. Then it was off to bed, and dreading the next morning.
I should have been happy. This job was in the field I’d gone to college for. It paid well, and was steady work. The kind of job that would allow a young go-getter to put a good down payment on a first house. But I was miserable.
It didn’t feel like living. It felt like some vast sort of cosmic trick played on humanity, to make us feel like we had lives when really we were little more than slaves to the routine. But at 26 years old, it was all I knew. Everyone my whole life had been telling me that this was the correct thing to do. You graduate from college, get a high paying job, get married, buy a house, have kids, raise them, retire, and then you could have fun.
When I first landed on a blog not so very different from this one that said you really didn’t have to go along with the status quo, It felt like I’d received a second lease on life. I didn’t dare tell any of my friends or family yet about my plans to escape ‘the real world’, because I knew what their response would be, it’s the response I myself would have had a few months before, back when I thought the only options were to either be a cog in the machine, or be destitute: “You must be crazy.”
Once I started looking for other ways to live, I found full-time RVing, and knew that was what I wanted to do. I quickly discovered that the big motorhomes and fifth-wheels that most people went full-timing in would be way out of my price range. I’d have to go small, but that was fine. Living with less would leave me more time and money to do what really mattered to me. I found the popular RVing forums, and started asking questions about living in a small travel trailer. All the replies from the retired couples with their 40+ foot monster coaches were the same: “You must be crazy.”
The day eventually came when I traded in my cute little car for a mid-size truck that could pull my future home. It wouldn’t be too much longer now. By this time, I was sick of my job and there was nothing to keep me from quitting. They needed me more than I needed them. I knew about budgeting and had calculated that I didn’t really need the extra money and certainly not the high stress that came with it. When I informed my manager that I was quitting and going to be taking a lower paying retail job instead, she cocked her head and gave me a funny look. She didn’t need to say the words aloud, I could read them in her face: You must be crazy.
When it was getting close to launch day, I finally started telling my relatives of my plans to be what amounted to a modern day gypsy. I was able to stave off most of their objections by explaining in detail how I planned to make a living on a road by taking seasonal jobs, and other logistics like health care, insurance, mail forwarding, and staying in touch. Their biggest concern though was that I would be traveling solo. “You’re young and female, it’s not safe to travel alone.” You must be crazy.
Six short months after that, I quit the retail job and hit the road in earnest to see more of this wonderful country. On my maiden voyage from South Carolina to South Dakota to set up residency there, I camped in beautiful state parks, went hiking in the middle of the work week, parked overnight in Walmart lots with nary an issue, and generally went where I wanted when I wanted. Freedom at last.
At one point I happened to drive through St. Louis during rush hour, and got bogged down in traffic for a time. No worry, my 17′ trailer was no wider than my truck and changing lanes wasn’t nearly as hard for me as RVers with big rigs. I had no deadlines to meet, nowhere to be at any particular time. So I enjoyed the view of sunlight glinting off the Arch against a crystal blue autumn sky outside the passenger side window, and shook my head sadly at all the poor sops leaning on their horns looking frustrated, no doubt in a rush to get home and squeeze in some chores before supper. “You poor people, living like that. You must be crazy.”
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