The Element of Surprise

Some of my best memories as a nomad have come from experiencing things I had no notion existed ahead of time. My recent post about Tower Arch is a good example. Discovering there was a huge arch within walking distance of my camp was a joy. There’s something to be said for the element of surprise.

Had I known about the arch ahead of time, I may have worried driving in that the camp spot would already be taken, or that I wouldn’t be able to find the best angle to photograph the arch, or that the weather wouldn’t be good for viewing.

But coming upon it as an accident, there was no preconceived notion about what I wanted the experience to be like. I got to live in the moment as it unfolded, without my brain comparing it to what others have talked about or what my ‘ideal’ experience would be like.

Like Monument Valley. I have a confession to make about that blog post.

Monument Valley is amazing and I did enjoy my visit, but it was quite stressful going into it. I staged the whole thing to try and get the best possible photos for the blog. I waited for a day where the skies were suppose to be sunny, when I woke up to a cloudy morning I got nervous (thankfully the clouds cleared up in the afternoon). I got cold waiting for the sun to set over the Mittens, but I didn’t want to go run and grab my hoodie for fear I’d lose my perfect spot for getting photos. Only once I was rewarded with those great sunset views did I breathe a mental sigh of relief. Okay, I got what all the good bloggers come here to get, I can relax now.

I ended up with a great blog post because I did my research ahead of time and knew exactly where to be when, but I actually enjoyed the more organic experience of Tower Arch more, even if the pictures I got weren’t of the same caliber (afternoon lighting would’ve been better).

It’s guaranteed that if you travel you’ll run across this phenomenon sooner or later. You’ll visit a popular tourist spot to experience what so-and-so experienced, and you’ll end up disappointed when it doesn’t live up to your expectations. So what’s the best way to deal with this?

  • For starters, let go of the idea of perfection. There’s no such thing as the perfect trip and having that for a goal when you go RVing is pretty much a guaranteed letdown.
  • Allow yourself enough time. You miss a lot when you’re trying to cram too much into a day. Take your time and ignore the pressure to see and do it all. It’s no fun to try to force a good experience when you’re tired and have had your fill.
  • Don’t research your trip to death. This is a fine line to walk because you want to make sure you’ll be alright logistically (that the roads to and from are safe for your RV, that you have a spot to camp at when you arrive, that you allot enough time there to see what you want to see, etc.) but if you want to be surprised that means arriving at an area not knowing all the answers.

  • Let serendipity take the wheel now and then. Strike up conversations with the locals to learn about the secret spots you won’t find in a listing online, and follow your intuition instead of the crowds. If you want a truly unique experience, you won’t find it going where everyone else goes.

Other Articles You Might Enjoy

The Cost of RV Living

May 18, 2012 |

How much did it cost to go from being an apartment dweller to moving into a RV in the end you ask? If you want the short answer, I’ve spent close to $19,000 during the past seven months on everything from buying the truck back in October up to this point. But hold your horses,…

Read More

Six Benefits of Seasonal Jobs

March 1, 2014 |

It’s no secret, I think my life is pretty awesome. All of the wonderful things about RVing brought up in the last post are great things to point to, but I realized there’s something I left out of that list that bears mentioning. Something I really didn’t consider a perk of constant travel that luckily…

Read More

RVing in Adverse Weather Conditions Part 1: Heat and Cold

August 23, 2016 |

A couple e-mails have come in recently asking how adverse weather affects the camping experience, and how well the Casita handles it. I figure when several people ask the same question, it’s worth making a post out of because there are likely others who haven’t written in wondering the same thing. The article quickly grew…

Read More


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. Pamelab on April 23, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Thanks, Becky – I really enjoy your blog and photos and wise, experienced information.
    Happy Trails! Pamelab in Houston area

    • Becky on April 24, 2017 at 9:34 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this Pamela! Take care.

  2. Rosalie Walker on April 22, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    I’m a 67 year old women and your blog has in part encouraged me to embark on full time rv-ing. Enjoying your blog very much. Thank you.

    • Becky on April 24, 2017 at 9:32 pm

      Hello Rosalie, I’m glad you’ve found IO helpful and inspiring. Thank you for reading and I wish you all the best as you prepare to go full-timing! Safe travels and happy trails.

  3. Elaine from BC on April 22, 2017 at 11:39 am


    • Becky on April 22, 2017 at 11:40 am


  4. Dawn in MI on April 22, 2017 at 10:43 am

    I agree. On roadtrips, when I’m traveling alone, I love stopping and grabbing shots of interesting things whenever I can. I turn around often and go back for a shot I saw out of the corner of my mind. It takes me forever to get anywhere. But it’s the best fun!

    • Becky on April 22, 2017 at 11:39 am

      That’s what’s most important Dawn, having fun. Good for you. 🙂

  5. Bill Davies on April 22, 2017 at 9:54 am

    As always, beautiful pics. Thanks because now, I can add yet another place to my bucket list!

    • Becky on April 22, 2017 at 11:39 am

      Thanks and you’re welcome Bill. Moab is a neat area.

  6. Alan Belisle on April 22, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Good travel advice. Travel is supposed to be fun, not a job, even if you are committed to writing and photo-ing a great blog. The sun is seldom perfectly placed; the road are seldom wide and smooth. You take what you find and often you find beauty.
    And yes, go easy on the research. On a swing down the East Coast, I got caught up in the rich history of many of the lovely cities along the way. A quick synopsis turns out to be a lot like writing a term paper. Kind of a relief to get back to small town mid-American where the history is simpler and the blog is about the current sights, people, places.
    Alan Belisle recently posted..Bardstown, Kentucky 4/7/17 – 4/14/17My Profile

    • Becky on April 22, 2017 at 11:38 am

      Glad you enjoyed this Alan.

  7. Y Knowles on April 22, 2017 at 8:12 am

    I just took a 5 day camping trip with my 18 year old daughter. I told her to make a list of what she wanted to see and do. I did ZERO prep. Yikes! I went totally with serendipity. A big leap for this micromanager!! We drove from TN, through AL, MS, LA and GA. We saw wonderful things and had a great time. I like not having expectations. It really takes the pressure off. It also meant we could change our mind at the last minute. I had my daughter research campgrounds en route each afternoon without making any reservations ahead of time. It all worked out. I can’t wait to do it again !! Love your posts, Becky!

    • Becky on April 22, 2017 at 11:36 am

      Sounds like a blast Y K, good for you! Glad you enjoyed this.

  8. Onestep on April 22, 2017 at 7:29 am

    Becky I would continue to read your blog regardless of picture quality. Live in the moment if that’s what brings the most joy.

    • Becky on April 22, 2017 at 11:35 am

      Thanks Onestep.

  9. Rene Kipp on April 21, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    I agree. Half the fun of traveling is exploring new places.
    Rene Kipp recently posted..Fun In Japan, Part 1My Profile

    • Becky on April 22, 2017 at 11:34 am

      There’s something very special about first-hand discovery.

  10. Gerri & Mike on April 21, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    Great advice!! I have always been the one guilty of over thinking!! It’s hard for us over thinkers but your advice is excellent and I will be working on “letting it happen.”
    Gerri & Mike recently posted..An Easter TraditionMy Profile

    • Becky on April 22, 2017 at 11:33 am

      Glad you found this helpful Gerri and Mike.

  11. Yvette on April 21, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    Great post!

    • Becky on April 22, 2017 at 11:32 am


  12. Ron on April 21, 2017 at 7:40 pm

    Very nice, love the waterfalls.

    • Becky on April 22, 2017 at 11:32 am

      Glad you enjoyed this Ron.

    • Martha Johnson on April 25, 2017 at 6:58 pm

      We are going to yellowstone arches mobah in june thanks for the information. Where is the waterfall love it.

      • Becky on April 29, 2017 at 7:29 pm

        An unnamed trail near Potato Salad Hill east of Moab, if you do a search on Google for the hill you’ll see the trail near the creek.

  13. Reed Martin on April 21, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    Excellent! One of your best posts yet!

    • Becky on April 22, 2017 at 11:32 am

      Thanks Reed!

Enjoy what you just read? Have new blog posts delivered right to your inbox!

Your email is safe with me and you can unsubscribe anytime. :)

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.