How long do you think you’ll stay on the road? Now that we’re rounding the far turn on summer, some of you are already starting to wonder.
Your travel time frame might be somewhat different than what you thought at the beginning of summer. The first month out…wow…you could see yourself doing this forever. Your old life and its attending problems are suddenly gone. Everything is new and different. Taking care of your living space takes ten minutes. The rest of the day is free time to do whatever. You pay your space rent and there are no utility bills, no lawn work, no painting or cleaning. It’s as close to a carefree existence as you’ll ever experience.
You Can Leave
One of the liberating aspects to a life on the road is being able to leave if you don’t like the neighbors. What actually happens is your tolerance becomes very refined. Someone you don’t like parks next door, pfft, we’re outta here. Even if you can’t leave right away, you know one of you will be leaving soon. Instead of investing in places and communities, instead of dealing with issues, at the first sign of trouble you’re down the road. Escape becomes your hammer and every annoyance is a nail.
The flip side to that coin is you might be the one who gets asked to leave. While rare, getting asked to move on, for one reason or another, has happened to every full timer at some point. That doesn’t make you a bad person, it just means you didn’t fit. Being able to leave is handy, when it’s your idea. Getting asked to leave can contribute to location insecurity. You always have to have backup location, even if you don’t need it. I let that kind of thing bother me more than it should.
Living on the road has its own blend of minor annoyances. Tire problems, mechanical breakdowns, traffic jams, and the never ending chore of going to the laundromat. All those minor niggles add up. Maybe you stay at a hotel or friends house and remember what it’s like to be able to stretch out. When you’ve been on the road long enough, some day you may want to trade it in for something less mobile and a little more elbow room.
The government doesn’t like you living in an RV. It’s not that mobility is a threat, they just aren’t equipped, in most states, to deal with people who don’t live in a house or apartment. In many states people living in a vehicle, which is how campers and RVs are classified, are typically homeless by circumstance. Full timers can sometimes get lumped in with the homeless and people who get drunk and start fights in Walmart parking lots That explains why when we went to get our Florida drivers licences, and the DMV found out we lived in a camper, they wanted to know if we needed any other kind of assistance. At first we had no idea what they were talking about. “We’re not homeless,” I finally had to explain to the clerk.
It’s Just Buildings
My wife lost her road passion before I did. One day we were talking about trying out another city. “It’s just buildings,” she pointed out. “And they’re all the same.” I was gobsmacked by that revelation. She had a point. A different city was different buildings, different restaurants, a new campground but otherwise pretty much the same. Some have a nice downtown, nice parks, maybe an interesting attraction but the differences are not that big. You can even burn out on wilderness areas. Once you’ve seen the mountains and flowered valleys, even those start to look alike after a while. Breath the air, take in the sights, pick off the wood ticks…okay, now what? Onto another mountain, another lake, another town. One is dry, the next one is humid. The sameness of it all becomes inescapable.
That simple insight struck me like a lightning bolt. The familiarity of campgrounds, the same routine everywhere we went. Always passing through, never really apart of anything. That simple observation, combined with a family crisis, finally led us to take a break from the road. Truthfully, it probably wasn’t that one thing but a series of minor realities that culminated with that thing.
It may happen to you. In fact, I’m certain it will. Have a backup plan for going back to a less mobile lifestyle before you ever leave. When that day dawns for you that everything starts looking the same, that’ll be your sign to take a break.