What made you want to do this? We get this question a lot and, the short answer is: People riding bicycles up a mountain pass loaded with huge saddle bags. And then they ask: what does that have to do with living in an RV? Well, those bicyclists sparked a conversation that grew in to an idea that stayed in the back of our minds and started to take over our consciousness. It was like that cute little puppy you picked up at the rescue that grew in to a 120 pound leaping slobbering loveable goofball you just can’t ignore!
So let me explain myself a little further. Here’s how the conversation went on the day we saw the bicyclists. Wow, look at those fools pedaling like crazy to make it 1 MPH up that hill – it looks miserable. And why are they carrying such huge saddle bags? As we went by them we realized they were carrying what looked like all their camping gear, clothes, etc. Now, I do still think riding a bike up a hill is usually a pretty miserable thing to do but, what struck us was the fact that they were just pedaling along with everything they needed, could go wherever they wanted and stop whenever they wanted. There was a freedom that they had while lugging up that hill that we didn’t have cruising at 70 MPH over a mountain pass to get home so we could go back to work the following day. That was the idea that stuck with us. The amount of freedom that we lacked with our careers, stable jobs and what we feel like are good paying jobs. This was in 2009. Over the next year we kept discussing the topic and came to realize a couple things:
First, we really didn’t have the freedom we thought we would have with the careers we had. Both of us had this naive idea when we were younger that some day, eventually, when we made enough money we would be able to travel and experience all the things money just couldn’t buy right now. Well, it turns that money can buy a lot of things but it can’t buy time. Both of our employers offered a pretty generous amount of paid time off each year but that approximately 3 weeks a year was just not enough for us. So, we had money, we took trips when time permitted to places like Costa Rica, San Francisco, New York but after doing that a few times and perhaps needing some sick time as well we quickly found ourselves with plenty of money and no time off to do anything with it outside of weekend trips. So what does one do with extra money? Well, not what we should have done but what a lot of people do. Yes we saved some but we also wasted a lot on eating out, clothes, expensive outdoor technical gear, 500 cable channels with nothing on, a larger house and on and on. Then guess what happened: oops the house and yard are bigger but we want to be gone on the weekends so let’s hire out the cleaning and yard work. I think you get the point. We realized that we worked to get money, to get stuff, to make us happy and then had to work more to pay for the stuff but then we weren’t all that happy stuck in those bland cubicles and really just wanted experiences, not stuff. We were owned by our stuff.
Second, we realized there’s not always going to be a tomorrow, a retirement, when we can finally have some true freedom. It seems that most people in America have the same general idea of a successful life. Get a profession. Get a job. Save money. Work, work, work until you have enough money to retire. Here’s the problem with that idea though: there are no guarantees in life. You may not live until retirement, and if you do, you may not be healthy enough to enjoy it. My parents are a prime example of that. They got married, waited a few years and had kids. They worked hard, raised us and then began saving hard for retirement. Well, within two years of me, the youngest, leaving the nest my mom was diagnosed with a degenerative nervous system disease with a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years. So remember that plan to save, save, save? It all went towards medical expenses. And remember their plan to have fun once they retired? Well, mom passed away about 3 years before retirement age; about a year after our encounter with the bicyclists. This is not to say that my parents never had fun, don’t get me wrong! We had a lot of great road trips and camping trips as a family but they had bigger dreams for their retirement years together.
Now, I didn’t intend for this post to be a bummer but these are the realizations we came to and we started asking ourselves some questions: Why can’t we be like those people on those bikes, or those people who live in their RV’s year round with everything they own? They may not have a lot of money but they also don’t have debt or cable bills and if they don’t like the weather where they are they can just drive away! Wouldn’t it be great to not have to report to a 9-5 job year in and year out? Sure we would need to work but not like this! Wouldn’t it be great to experience the cities and landscapes of the United States and abroad before arthritis sets in or I need a new hip? And, hopefully nobody takes offense to those comments. My grandmothers on both sides had to have hip replacements so I fully expect to have some metal hardware at some point in my life. Megann experienced this realization as well while she supported me through the decline and eventual passing of my mom.
The two points above, coupled with our inherent desire to experience life to it’s fullest, led us to the decision that we didn’t want to chance it and wait for retirement to see the country or the other parts of the world that we longed for. We made the decision that within the next five years or so we would make the life changes necessary to become mobile, to become vagabonds! So here we are, beginning our journey in to a nomadic lifestyle. There will be ups and downs, there will be adventure and difficulties and we will grow with each encounter.