Our full-time life on the road began December 20, 2014, so yesterday marked our 3-month nomadiversary. Woohoo! We are both rather astonished at how “normal” it already feels: we were old hands at leisure travel in an RV, and I suppose we had researched, dreamed, and discussed full-timing for so long that we already had a pretty good idea of what it would be like by the time we made the leap. We are just beginning to feel like we’re finally getting into a daily rhythm so before all the feelings of newness pass, I wanted to make sure I got down our thoughts & feelings about the process of getting on the road, some of what was involved, and what we might have done differently if life had a do-over button.
Making the Decision. Most truly major life-changes are set in motion by a single event and ours was no different. Sometimes the event is so obvious that you can pinpoint the day & hour but for us, when Jeanette lost her job with National Audubon it triggered a more gradual cascade of life re-evaluation and questioning that culminated in us deciding that the time was right for us to travel. We already had a motorhome that was near ideal for our little family and were mentally prepared to pare down our belongings and adopt a nomadic lifestyle, but had no idea how we would support ourselves financially (we are a goodly ways from retirement). There are as many ways to support a nomadic lifestyle as there are nomadic travelers, and we were encouraged by our extensive research. We had a good idea of what our expenses would be, and we had quite a bit of leisure travel in RV’s under our belts. Eric’s brother and sister-in-law had been nomadic for years, and have always shared the good and the bad with us. We have also been able to take short trips with them and have been constantly inspired by their blog, “Where-RV-Now?” In addition, Chris and Cherie of Technomadia have a wealth of information on their site, including a series of blog posts that evolved into their ebook “No Excuses: Go Nomadic.” Eric and I were both following several travel blogs and most of them had a common thread: “yes it’s scary, but if you’ve done your homework and are willing to work for it, the pieces will fall into place.” We had some ideas of how Eric’s computer skills could help finance our travels, but the details would need fleshing out and we were pretty sure we’d need to supplement that income. Months passed and we felt increasingly that our lives were a never-ending run on a hamster wheel. Yes, we were living in paradise, but spent too much of our lives at our 9-5 jobs and maintaining a house and yard to truly enjoy ourselves there or to take the RV trips that we wanted to. Life is short and there are no guarantees; we all know people or have heard stories of people who waited for their retirement years to “begin living their dreams,” only to have those dreams shattered in one way or another. And so we decided to jump off the hamster wheel, escape the habitrail, and live our dream!
Making it Happen. Once we made the decision to travel full-time, we began to prepare for departure! Our intention was to be ready to leave the Keys by December so that we could list our house for sale at the start of the busy real estate season. We used the intervening months to begin making preparations, including some work on the house & yard, some improvements to the motorhome, and we began the painful process of sorting, donating and tossing belongings. We had been living in our house for 10 years and had accumulated all the standard “stuff.” 5 years ago the thought of downsizing to live in a motorhome terrified us both, but in the intervening years our thoughts had shifted and travel had become more important to us than the “stuff.” I can’t say that I enjoyed it, but I personally found that getting rid of so many unnecessary belongings was liberating. I think Eric found it somewhat harder, but worthwhile in the end. And sure enough, as we got closer to our departure date things began to fall into place. In a completely unexpected turn of events, Eric was offered the opportunity to continue working for the County as a consultant. It is the perfect solution for us! His part-time schedule gives us the flexibility we need to get out and enjoy our surroundings, and we can afford to keep buying cat food too! We thought things couldn’t get any better, but a few weeks before we made the public announcement that we were leaving some friends mentioned that they had decided to buy a house on Big Pine but were having trouble locating anything good. A few short weeks later we had a contract with them to sell the house. Although the additional work added more to our already full plates, it was certainly easier to have the house sale completed before we left the Keys.
Lessons Learned and Unsolicited Advice. I don’t think we would have changed anything about our decision-making process. Our only concerns were financial, and for now those are taken care of. I really think that the only thing we would change is the amount of time we gave ourselves to deal with packing up the house/dealing with our belongings. We thought 3 weeks would be sufficient to finish up a few projects and sort through our belongings, but should have allocated more time. A word of caution: if you’re thinking about doing this, start sorting stuff now because you’re already behind – haha! There are a couple of reasons for needing more time: 1) it’s mentally exhausting to decide what to do with everything. It’s not like moving to another sticks & bricks house when you can just throw things in a box and deal with them after you move – every single thing must be dealt with. And 2), although we threw one last party to say goodbye, we didn’t think about how much quality time we would need to say goodbye to near & dear friends. We have deep roots in the Keys and it may be a couple of years before we’re back there again, so we needed to say proper goodbyes to so many people! It was humbling to realize how many truly great people love us but it was also mentally exhausting, and also trying to cram in long hours working on the house was just too much. Thank goodness for the help we got from Kyle & Skip or we might still be packing! :o)
Fortunately, the memories of packing and moving are already receding, replaced by fun times and awe-inspiring vistas. We didn’t plan it this way, but last night marked our first stay on BLM Lands just outside Tuscon, AZ and we couldn’t have been happier that it fell on the 3-month anniversary of our departure. It was also the 8th night in a row that we were not hooked into the grid, so we’re very pleased that the solar system is working so well. We had brunch this morning with some fellow travelers, and are on our way to spend nearly 2 full weeks with Sterling and Teresa. We are traveling through stunning country. Arizona is awash in drifts of wildflowers, and they are constantly distracting me from this blog entry, which I’m writing as Eric drives us down I-10. We were a little sad that we didn’t have time in Tuscon to take a closer look at our first Saguaro cacti, but we’ll be traveling for years to come and we know we’ll be back. Oh yeah, life is good and we’ll be back!