As of today, we've officially lived in our 5th wheel trailer for one year. We closed on our old sticks-and-bricks house on Aug 18, 2016. When we first hit the road it was with the intention of RVing fulltime for 'about a year' at which point we'd determine whether we wanted to keep traveling or settle down again somewhere. The thought was that it might take a year to get over the newness, anxiety, etc of a big life change and really find out what this lifestyle is like. After a year of traveling, the verdict is in, and we love this life. We're going to keep traveling. This past year has been amazing and transformative in so many ways. For me (Ken), personally, here are some of the positives and negatives that I've experienced from living on the road.
The Upside of Living Nomadically:
We've seen SO MUCH! Forests, oceans, mountains, deserts, rivers, lakes, cities, farms, music festivals, wildlife, sunsets and sunrises of infinite variety. The world is an amazing and diverse place and even this little corner called North America is pretty unbelievably cool.
My bucket list is shorter.
Pam and I know each other better now that we ever have. Living and working in such close proximity 24/7 will do that for you. We've found that, without question, this has strengthened our relationship. It's not all unicorns and rainbows, we definitely get on each other's nerves now and then, but it's hard to stay mad when you share only 300 sq ft.
We've witnessed Crayton growing and maturing much more closely than is possible in a traditional life. I feel like I know him far better than I did. Despite his many moods, he's a pretty awesome little guy. Every day is a new adventure with him.
We've met some pretty cool people and made some lasting friends. Despite being on the move, nomads are a pretty tight group. When you find some that click with you, there is incentive to stay in touch and make plans to meet again.
I've had more time to do what I love. Spending time with family, reading, exploring new places. This was one big anticipated benefit, and I was glad that it turned out in practice!
The Downside to Living Nomadically (and what we're doing about it):
If you move too fast for too long, burnout can set in. I've found that I can get irritable if we try to do too much. We have to have down days. We were in a hurry to see everything, but are now finding that with an open-ended travel schedule, we can slow down a bit. Expect to find us staying longer in places now and then at least seasonally. We already have two three week and a 5 week long stay planned for this coming winter.
We've traded one set of hassles for another. Maintaining a sticks-and-bricks house is time consuming and very expensive. Turns out that RVs require quite a bit of maintenance and repair as well, even if you buy new. That said, RV repairs tend to be simpler, less time consuming and much less expensive.
Pam and I know each other better now than we ever have. :) Partly kidding here. The downside of living so close together 24/7 is that it's harder to find time to be by yourself. As an introvert, I need time by myself now and then to recharge. Pam and Crayton fit mostly into my little introvert bubble, so it doesn't drain me to be with them like it does other people, but even so, I still need time alone. Finding that time is hard, for both of us. We take turns watching Crayton now and then so we can get that time, but we need to do a better job.
While by spending 24/7 with Crayton has been a real blessing, it can be a curse, too. He's a pretty cool little 5 year old boy, but he's still a 5 year old boy with all the irrationality, tantrums, boundary testing and constant questions that that entails. We don't get 8 hours 5 days a week to send him off to school. No breaks.
We've met some real weirdos. Flat-earthers, anti-vaxxers, climate-changer deniers, evangelists, grumpy retirees who see kids in their RV parks as an abomination, racists, you name it. The world is full of all kinds of people. Not all of them are rational or kind.
While I've had more time to spend on thing I love, I've not had quite as much of that time as I thought I would. For instance, I brought my mandolin thinking I'd finally have time to learn how to play it. I've brought it out exactly once. I think this will change as we slow our travel pace a bit.
So what's in store for us in the future? We know we're going to keep travelling for the forseeable future. There are really only thee things that could possibly get us to settle down (did you like that setup for another list?):
If Crayton begins to stop thriving. He's priority #1. If this life starts to do him more harm than good. We stop. Period.
If it stops being fun. This one is hard to see happening, but anything is possible.
If one of us develops health issues that require it.
That said, we may not keep travelling in this exact way. We might slow down, we might head south of the border, we might decide to Air BnB our way across Europe or Asia. We might buy a sailboat and head for the horizon. Who know? The point is that we're, for now, committed to travelling, not necessarily to RVing in the way that we have. That said, any drastic changes of plans are at least a year or two off as we have lots we still want to see and do using this mode of travel. Next summer we're thinking really hard about heading to Alaska!That and we want Crayton to get a bit older before we travel in any way that might be a bit more challenging.
Our first year on the road, by the numbers!
States Visited: 33
Canadian Provinces Visited: 2
National Parks Visited (US and CA): 25+ (NPS sites only)
State/Provincial Parks Visited (US and CA): 12+
Number of Campsites: 56
Average Length of Stay: 6.6 days
Miles we've towed the RV: 12,539
MiIes we've driven the truck: 24,000 +/- (didn't take exact odometer reading before we hit the road)
Pictures taken: 6931
Video clips taken: 515
Year one sticker collection!
State Sticker Map (still waiting on Canada map to be delivered)