It is strange to be writing this less than a year after getting our RV, but sometimes life changes and we change right along with it. Often, that may mean the path you so carefully laid out is no longer the one you find yourself on. But, that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you failed. It is just life. We take risks, we learn, we recalculate, and we keep moving forward. Deciding to stop full-time RVing took months of long talks, lots of praying and some harsh realizations. But in the end, we had to choose what was right for our next chapter. And that meant giving up the rolling home we lived in for one crazy, amazing, difficult year.
So, what happened?
Why did we decided to give up a lifestyle we raved about mere months ago and made huge sacrifices to pursue? We have many different reasons for making the decision to sell our RV (for a loss, none-the-less). Saying we want to focus on international travel is our much shorter and easier answer (especially when talking to fellow RVers).
For us, RVing was a way to quickly and drastically break free from a life we had grown very unhappy with – of consumerism, desk jobs and limited time to do what we love. It is a unique way to travel and live. Yet, the immense learning curve we created for ourselves when we became full-time RVers felt like a huge weight – not the freedom we were seeking. Trying to learn how to RV, find work, plan travel and deal with life all at the same time, was just really overwhelming. As much as we tried, and as much as we loved parts of the lifestyle, we never really got in a good rhythm.
RV life realities
However, for the first eight months of our life on the road, we honestly felt like it was our best option. And it was. We chose to RV as a way to save money, pursue time freedom, and get to travel to new places without having to leave our beloved cat behind.
RVing really is an amazing way to travel. And it was leaps and bounds better than working 9-5 for the man. But, the day-to-day planning and allllll that driving and the don’t-break-the-RV checklist always in your mind as a full-timer, is very challenging – especially in your first couple of months. Yet, when you weigh your other options, it often still comes out as the winner. Because you just can’t fathom going back to your “old life.”
The big change
My mom asked me often over the last year, “what do you think you will do after RVing?” I always answered, “if it weren’t for the cat, we’d probably live out of backpacks.” Like many people, we got the RV because of our furbaby. We could have saved money and traveled many other ways. But RVing was the only realistic option that allowed us to bring Sugar with us. We were looking for a way for all three of us to escape, and an RV made sense. So, when she passed away unexpectedly, it changed everything.
Initially, we said we would give ourselves another year to really figure out this RVing thing, but neither of us really wanted that. The cat was the only reason we desired a semblance of stability, the only reason we didn’t take more risks. We used her as an excuse to put off the big adventures, the really scary and exciting ideas we dreamed about in some far-off future. All-of-a-sudden, despite our grief, it became apparent that anything was possible. This question hung over us daily, “are you really going to go for it now, or was that all talk?”
So, we sold the RV to pursue travel that suits our personalities and dreams better – with no plans of going back to that dreaded “old life” we left behind. And we have some awesome things in the works to make that happen. (But, that’s for another post … read more about our new life as full-time housesitters here). Let’s get to what everyone really wants to know …
Why didn’t full-time RVing work for us?
I think it is important to start by saying, we LOVE many things about RVing and think it is a great way to travel. And the RVing community is THE BEST. However, taking a trip in an RV and living full-time in one are very different experiences. While most people would be up for a weekend or even summer-long getaway in an RV, not everyone wants to live their entire life in one.
It is a unique and challenging lifestyle that is very hard to prepare for, and you won’t know if you like it until you try. And yes, that is a completely justified reason to go for it! No regrets here. We know now that, if we needed to, we could live in an RV. But, we just want to pursue other adventures now that we can.
Yes, RVing was much more expensive than we expected. RV parks annoy us, moving too often was exhausting, and there is always a chance that something major will go wrong with your home at any time. But, the big problem was us. We had unrealistic expectations, didn’t plan ahead as much as we should have, and had less-than-positive attitudes most of the time.
RVing was a lifestyle, not a quick fix
Thinking living in an RV, quitting jobs we didn’t like, and having complete time freedom would make us happy, motivated people was an idiotic idea. It was a band-aid for much bigger issues. This year was spent overcoming fears, frustrations, bad habits, relationship problems, and a lot of painful, unexpected events. If we could have been the people we are today, who know our faults and the personal issues that prevent our own happiness (as well as each other’s), we would have been much more successful RVers. Maybe it would have been a lifestyle we never wanted to give up. We’ll never know, and that’s okay.
We needed this year – the hardest of our entire marriage. We needed to realize that we are the determining factor of whether we have a happy life, not our situation. Yes, there were a lot of things about RVing full-time that we didn’t like or disappointed us. But we could have had a better attitude about it – we should have. In the end though, even with the best attitude, it isn’t for us right now.
Lessons learned from RVing
But, full-time RVing has taught us so much. For the first time in my entire life, I believe that there are far more good, well-meaning people than bad – especially fellow travelers. We have met more interesting, inspiring people in the last year than in our entire lives combined. And we’ve gained an amazing group of friends from the RVing community who we hope we will always remain close to. We are even planning future travel around spending time with locals, as well as new and old friends.
Buddy and I have both overcome many fears and realized that we can indeed make enough money to pay our bills while working hours we set. We have confidence in our skills, our intelligence, and more determination than we know what to do with. (I’m even the Editor of WinnebagoLife.com now, after starting as a contributor last year – crazy! And 100% not possible had we never RVed.)
Who we are now
Most importantly, we have realized that God has far better plans for us than we could ever imagine and that we have to hold onto our faith that He’s got us – especially when it feels like everything is crumbling. We have been blessed beyond measure and have so many amazing things in store for us. And we are committed to each other in the rawest, open way we ever have been.
There were moments over the last year that I thought we wouldn’t recover from. But looking back now, shoving ourselves so closely together into this overwhelming, crazy, unpredictable situation was the only way to finally admit to our insecurities, faults and pain that we got so good at covering up. And realize what it will take to overcome that, together.
We will always be thankful for RV life for enabling us to get here – for breaking us at times, so we could be built back up stronger. And we know eventually, the struggles of full-timing and this crazy year will fade in our memory, and it will be a time we reminisce on for long into the future. “That one year we lived in an RV…”
So, what’s next?
Short answer: Everything! Long answer here. But it looks a little like this, when we’re in the U.S., at least!