We live in our camper year round. We don't own a house or much of anything aside from a few sentimental pieces of furniture (in a small storage unit) and what we've stuffed into our 36' bumper pull. We follow work around the country with our three dogs, and about every 3-4 months we hit a new place and make it our "home" while Luke (my husband) works as a structural welder. Ten days from now we'll have been doing this for three full years, so I feel like now is a pretty good time to share some of the most important lessons I've learned while living on the road.
1. The Post Office truly IS the center of town.
Did you know that when you put a town name into your handy-dandy GPS it'll take you straight to the Post Office nearly every time? I have theories as to why this is, and I'm sure Google has plenty of answers, but the point is that the internet thinks the Post Office is the center of town. When I first noticed this I thought it was pretty dang silly, but as my business has grown and I've come to spend a considerable amount of time in post offices across America, I've realized it actually IS the center of town. I can't tell you how many recipes, pieces of sage wisdom, and little arm squeezes I've received from the more "established" members of the community while waiting in line there. You should go and experience it yourself sometime.
2. A vet that kisses your dog on the nose is a vet worth driving very far to see.
One of our sweet pups, Jesse, was diagnosed with canine epilepsy just over a year ago and it has been absolute hell to find a vet willing to work with our travel + his epilepsy who is also respectful of the fact that Jesse is an extremely strange dog. The day I found a vet that knelt to the floor, cupped his nervous face, and kissed him square on the nose, is the day I found the vet worth driving to. Hundreds of miles to. I feel like it's really difficult to find someone willing to treat your dog with the level of care you would want to see even though they're JUST a dog (a big fat whatever to that). If you find a vet that loves your pup as much as you - KEEP THEM.
3. God will send you the people you need in your life at exactly the moment you need them.
It's true. It's an over-spoken cliche for a reason, my friends. He's got your back more than you realize, I promise. If you ever wanna hear details about my personal experiences, feel free to reach out.
4. Golf carts are the most annoying vehicles in the world.
You'd think I'd pick something more outright obnoxious like a dirt bike or a car with really squeaky brakes, right? No. Golf carts. If you have one, you should apologize to the rest of us. Y'all think it's cool to cruise around on the (RV Park/State Park) gravel roads throwing dust and playing tasteless 80's music while SOME OF US are trying to relax. No.
5. You've gotta really be in love to share 400 square feet or less.
SO many people tell me about how they and their significant other would love to live on the road full time in a camper and I really don't think most of them have thought about how many farts, burps, and "move over"s this really entails becoming victim to. Our first camper was just over 200 square feet and our current one is 355.
Add three dogs and a jewelry bench into the mix and what sounds like a Pinterest dream turns into people asking you "are you NUTS?" all the time. Yes, we are. It's not all bad, though. Luckily for us, we usually can't get enough of each other or our pups, so close quarters work well. If you're the type of couple that fights, I definitely wouldn't recommend this lifestyle. We have what would be considered a mid-size to large camper now and as you can see in this photo, there still isn't much extra room.
6. Propane is gold.
Any of my welder wives can back me up on this - running out of propane in the middle of a January night in the high plains of Texas is the absolute worst. Keeping stocked on full propane tanks becomes HIGH priority.
7. People will constantly make assumptions about you if you live differently.
My favorite is when people decide we're rich because we live this way. MY GOODNESS, y'all. When I say it's my favorite I actually mean it drives me up the wall. There are two primary groups of people living on the road full time - sweet retirees and road workers. We're workers. As a general rule, neither camp is particularly rich, but especially not the working camp. You see nice trucks and nice campers because these things are tools - they're the key to our livelihoods as well as our homes. Most individuals and families living and working on the road are doing so to try to make enough money to provide for those they love or to build a future for themselves. Well-paid blue collar jobs are hard to find, especially if you're not willing to travel.
8. Don't be afraid to make friends.
When we first set out on the road I made a pointed effort not to befriend the locals since we'd be leaving in a few months anyway. After about a year of this, I started miserably failing at NOT making friends (see lesson #3) and quickly learned that it is indeed much better to live with an open heart. I've got dear friends, near family, and people I miss terribly all over the country and I wouldn't have it any other way. There's no way I could begin to quantify what all of my friends have meant to me or the ways they've challenged me, changed me, and fostered my personal & spiritual growth.
9. Living on the road will absolutely force you to get to know yourself.
Famed travel writer Pico Iyer once said, “We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves.” Pico's got it right.
We hit the road shortly after my 22nd birthday and only a few months after my college graduation. In the course of those three years I have been forced to really get to know myself in ways I don't think I'd have had the opportunity to do (yet) if I were living a more traditional lifestyle.
10. Leaps of faith aren't optional.
Leaps of faith are everything. Faith is everything. You will only get as far as you're willing to jump - I promise.
Every aspect of this life has been a massive risk for us. From buying an $8000 camper with money we didn't have, selling nearly everything we owned, and moving to another state with three dogs and $200 to our names, to trusting ourselves & eachother to handle whatever life throws at us no matter our means or distance from home. Faith has been everything for us. This way of life is hard and has taught me, above all, that FAITH MOVES MOUNTAINS. Faith in yourself, in each other, in God, in the goodness of others, and in what tomorrow will bring. You have to know deep down in your soul that this is what you're supposed to be doing and this is where you belong. Life on the road requires you to trust the journey completely. It also requires you to be willing to "jump and find your wings on the way down".
I'm beyond thankful to be doing this with my best friend.