In mid-2017, Nick and I had a conversation that eventually led to our current life of living and working in our Airstream as we travel. It started as we thought about what we were looking for out of life in general. We knew we wanted to live purposefully, even if that meant not living like everyone else. We had recently sold our first home when we moved from Raleigh, NC to Fort Mill, SC so we were renting and considering buying our second home to settle down. Since we were in a bit of a transition period, we realized it was prime time to make a change.
We began talking about how so many people plan to travel when they are retired or when their kids move out, but once that time comes they may not able to for various reasons. What if we put a hold on the house and settling down to focus on adventuring together for a year or so? Nick is a software engineer, so he has many remote opportunities available. We realized we hadn’t thought about all the possibilities this gave us.
While considering our options, we decided to establish some goals based on our conversation:
- Put more value in experiences.
- Explore more.
- Maintain savings and investments.
- Document our trip for us to look back on and to share with our friends, family, and future children.
- Bring the dogs along with us.
- Immerse ourselves in local cultures and activities.
We based our strategy on these goals. Neither of us had experience RVing, and at first we considered traveling in Airbnb’s or VRBO’s or doing something like Remote Year (google it if you aren’t sure what it is, very neat idea!). But all of these would make traveling with the dogs difficult or impossible. That didn’t match up with our goal of bringing the dogs along with us so we scrapped those options. Next, we considered traveling in an RV. We could bring the dogs along with us, explore different areas along our route, stay as long or as short as we wanted, and experience so many new places! As long as we could figure out how to stay online in order for Nick to work, we could make this happen.
We’ve always liked learning and trying new things. So our second goal to explore more seemed natural enough. What we liked about traveling in a camper is that we don’t have to plan way ahead of time. Of course we could, but that doesn’t leave room for rerouting based on something cool you hear about from others on the road. The Airstream allows us to take things slow and explore along the way! We may think we want to head south to Jacksonville, Florida and then head out west, but we may end up going all the way down to the Keys and back up instead (which is exactly how our plans changed)! Having the ability and freedom to do this allowed us to explore quirky, unknown cities, crystal clear springs, beaches, and other natural areas in Florida.
Both Nick and I are savers and investors at heart, so buying a depreciating asset instead of a home on land went against our nature. Our goal of maintaining savings and investments was an important one to us. We didn’t want to end our travels being behind where we had gotten ourselves so far, so not working and traveling on savings wasn’t an option for us. This meant Nick would be working a full-time, 9-5 job as we traveled. One consequence of this, is we are not able to explore or move as much during the week. So we end up staying longer in places we enjoy. We are okay with this, since one of our goals was to immerse ourselves in local cultures and activities. We wanted to be able to hang around a cool beach town and learn to surf or SCUBA dive without feeling pressed to leave so we could see more. We wanted to be able to take the time to visit local dive bars and hole in the wall restaurants and meet locals who become friends! Traveling in our Airstream gives us the flexibility to do all these things!
Sometimes we still can’t believe we’re living this way. A year ago, an RV was a very distant concept and traveling was something we planned to do every now and then. It’s pretty cool that a good conversation, a few ideas, and a whole lot of planning led us to traveling and working full-time in one. Sure, it has its challenges, especially with two high-energy bird dogs. And the plan isn’t to continue doing it for the rest of our lives. Our next step is establishing a home base, but we will never lose the travel bug we’ve caught from this trip (I guess it’s called wanderlust?). We want our future kids to experience the things we’ve done and seen and we want to share our experiences with everyone else! Our nation has so much to offer, and we are so thankful we had that conversation back in Fort Mill that led us to exploring it. Thanks for reading, and happy trails!