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Tackling the Overwhelm of Preparing for Full Time Travel

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Read Chapter 12:  Healthcare and Staying Healthly  —>
So you have the goal, the dream, the vision. You want to hit the road.  But you look at everything ahead of you to get there and it completely overwhelms you.

Our first days on the road together – ahhh – the rewards of finally getting it all done!

You have dozens of blogs bookmarked that you’re following – each tempting you with scenic beautiful pictures and stories from the road. Your wanderlust is in overdrive but you’re feeling frustrated that you have so far to go to get there.  You’ve downloaded a few books about getting your life in order, and you have several tabs open in your browser with research ranging from how you’ll keep connected to the internet, maintaining RV water tanks to storage systems for small spaces.

You start to tackle purging ‘stuff’ from your home, and find yourself hitting walls of analysis paralysis, because you have no clue what you’ll continue to need before you hit the road, and what you’ll actually need later.

All of the details are daunting and seem to create an endless to-do list – with no clear place to start. There are so many questions to answer, and plans to execute. Where do you start?

  • Do you start transitioning your career now and try to build up enough income working remotely?
  • Do you try to sell your house or rent it out?
  • Do you get rid of all your possessions or store them in case you want something later?
  • When do you start telling friends and family?
  • When do you start shopping for your mobile home base?
  • When do you switch your state of domicile?
  • How do you get your kids and/or pets acclimated to life on the road?
  • What bank do you choose, and how will you get paid from afar?

Your dreams of hitting the road are intersecting with all the logistics that have to come together – so you keep putting it off. The overwhelm is frightening and it’s just easier to go watch some TV.

Any of this sound familiar? Yup, we’ve been there too.

Sorry to disappoint, but.. there are no straight up answers anyone can give you to these questions, there’s no set formula.  Every scenario is so unique that only you can find the right answer.

But you’ll never find those answers without taking the first big step…

Where to Start?  Set the date!

So many folks we’ve talked to approaching these sorts of transitions tell us that they’re waiting for all of the pieces to come together before they actually set a date to close the door behind them.  They may have a general goal of ‘in about 2 years’, but it’s a nebulous vision of the future in which little action is taken to actually get there.

They’re waiting for their debts to be paid off, or their career to reach a clear transition point, or the housing market to get better, or the right RV to magically appear in their driveway, or their bank account to reach a certain balance, or their loved ones to approve of their decision, or their new online business to take off, or their perfect soulmate to manifest, or mobile internet options to get better, or their health to improve.. or.. or.. or.

And you know what that leads to?  Never making the leap and keeping nomadic travels as a someday dream.

The single biggest step you can take to hitting the road is setting the date you’ll walk out the door.

If you’re like most folks – at no point will all of the pieces just magically line up. There is never an absolutely perfect time and perfect conditions.  There will always be obstacles, it’s just a matter of which ones are excuses you can navigate through, and which ones present actual authentic reasons you can’t hit the road yet (and yes, there are legitimate reasons!)

Sure, there will be times that are better than others. And life will present some convenient transition points.  But by and large, you have to throw a dart at the calendar and create the perfect time.

Today is yesterday’s someday, and tomorrow is quickly approaching.

Setting up all of the details, getting rid of all of your stuff, earning a mobile income – they’re not going to get done without motivation. And motivation is not going to happen unless you make it real to yourself.  Really real.

 

If you don’t have a deadline set, you will find ways to keep putting off the endless to-do list and difficult work of making your dreams happen.

There’s a lot of tough stuff that has to come together to get fully prepared. The seasonal purges you’re used to are not the kind of purging of stuff you’ll need to do..  it’s grueling, emotional and has to be done consistently day after day after day. Generating enough mobile income is likely not going to be accomplished by starting a blog and putting Google Adsense on the sidebar (sorry to dash your business plan). Looking at endless Craigslist ads, blogs (even this one) and RV sites may have you dreaming about the possibilities of what you might like in your mobile substrate – but unless you’ve given notice on your current life path, you’ll keep dreaming instead of acting.

House fully purged and ready to sell!

If going mobile is what you really and truly want in the foreseeable future –  the most efficient way to make it a priority is to give your stationary life an eviction notice.

Pick a reasonable but ambitious date for your situation, take a deep breathe and circle it on the calendar. Announce it to your friends & family, let your landlord know or contact a realtor. Let your boss or clients know.  Start a blog to document the journey. Schedule a House Cooling Party. The more you make it real, the less opportunities you have to back out later.

From this point forward, every decision and action you make is about being ready for that day to arrive.  Your priorities have shifted. It’s amazing how the swirl of overwhelming tasks start to materialize into actionable items that you start ticking off.

Everything changes now.

Take Steps If You Need To

Nothing says you have to do everything in one big leap.  When setting your date, it doesn’t have to be a single date for having everything handled.  Sometimes it just makes more sense to come up with sensible steps that represent major milestones.  Such as buying the RV and moving into it, but yet staying in your hometown for a bit to keep your routines and jobs.

By taking things in manageable bite size stages, you can reduce the overwhelm of trying to tackle everything at once. Your steps will likely look different than anyone else, because your situation is going to be unique.  Find what works for you, and don’t hold up anyone else as a model you have to strive to match.

The critical part remains though – with each stage, set a deadline to keep you on track and motivated.

We do suggest some caution to not give yourself too many milestones and opportunities to back out. We’ve certainly encountered enough folks who created so many safety nets, that they got too comfortable at points in their progression and never fully reached the road.

Sometimes, you just need to fully leap to learn you have wings to fly.

Kicking it into gear

It’s amazing what happens when you switch from this being a someday dream to being what you’re actively doing.  It’s a mental shift that just can’t be achieved otherwise, and it’s the shift that is necessary to actually get stuff done.

Now the fun begins!

That to-do list that once seemed endless?  It now has an end date and can’t be endless – there are things on that list that absolutely must get done, and others that really actually aren’t important at all. It may remind you a bit of being back in school and putting that big assignment off to the last minute, but yet totally rocking it. Deadlines can really push you sometimes.

The Whiteboard Version (thanks Julie & Jim of http://www.imperfectdestiny.com)

From here, it’s probably best to institute some sort of project management system. If you’re already using a Getting Things Done system such as OmniFocus or Things, set up projects within those to track all of the details that you’re going to be tackling.  If you’re not already using a system, now is probably not the time to research and set one up (unless your deadline is far out enough) – as that can become a massive project all of its own.

Otherwise, a simple to-do list system will work – digital or tangible.  Keeping a series of documents and notes also works, or even a public blog that you share your process with the world.

And do keep notes of your steps along the way – you will be tackling a lot of projects and encounter information overload. Later on down the literal road,  you’ll probably need to refer back to logistics you set up during this time period – such as banking or insurance details.

Be sure to break your tasks up into manageable and actionable items that you can complete in one session. The less overwhelming each is individually, the more likely they are to get done. Routinely make time in your schedule to focus on the tasks at hand, and reward yourself as you complete them. Keep the big picture in focus, and try to remember how much you’ve accomplished as well as how much more you have left to go.

Our Approach

In Chris’ case, he was fortuitously laid off from his Silicon Valley job (which had been too good to leave), removing his biggest excuse keeping him from pursuing his long deferred technomadic dreams.

After a few months of making only slow progress on his plans to hit the road, he took drastic action and gave his landlord irrevocable notice that he would be out his apartment on April 1st, forcing him to need to get ALL the details together within the remaining two months.

He went from no decisions made (not even having picked a tow vehicle or trailer!) to being purged and out the door in that time frame.

Chris thrives on tackling big overwhelming projects all at once, but not all of us do.

Chris preparing the T@b’s electrical system to support two technomads.

In my case, I went in stages. We at first decided to hit the road together for a trial run in Chris’ existing tiny travel trailer, but I found myself mentally running in circles and making little progress towards the goal. That’s when we decided it might be wise to set a target date – and wow, what a difference that made.

I was able to make those tough decisions about what to keep and what to purge so much easier. Inside of about 6 weeks, I purged a good deal of my stuff and got my business affairs in order to be fully mobile, but I didn’t focus on getting my house sold. When we returned from our 7 month trial run together, we then set another date to take care of finally purging my house and the rest of my belongings – and together we sought out our next ideal home on wheels for two.

From our 2007 Exodus To-Do List

For those joint exodus projects, we set up a series of Google Docs where we kept shared notes on all of the projects ahead of us. We had notes for the purging process, maintenance to be done on the trailer, purchase lists, trip planning, social engagements and logistics to handle (such as insurance, banking, mail forwarding, etc).  Thinking through each project allowed us to write down individual tasks that had to happen to complete the overall project.  And then each individual task became a manageable and achievable item that was much easier to approach in an afternoon. Instead of having a goal of ‘get rid of everything you’re not taking with you’, I could approach different areas of my house as mini-projects each evening- such as my closet, bathroom, kitchen, etc. Being able to check off completed items was empowering, and kept the momentum going.

We put aside time every few days to go over each of the projects together and make sure we were both caught up on what the other was doing, and what other tasks would come up.  We divided up the tasks and made sure we each knew who was responsible for what, and which had a higher priority for getting done sooner versus later.

We’d put even the small stuff in our system to keep the motivation up by feeling we were making progress, and we made sure to schedule date time with each other so we would also have some time that was intentionally not related to the projects at hand.

On the road. Right on schedule.

We’d also celebrate each time we completed a major project, helping keep the enthusiasm going.

If I had it to do over again with today’s technology, we’d probably use other systems that we use today – like OmniFocus, Evernotes and Apple Reminders.

The system worked. When each of our circles dates approached, we were ready and rolled off into the sunset right on time.

Read Chapter 12:  Healthcare and Staying Healthly  —>


What happened to the eBook version of this series?

 

Great for those gearing up to RV – RV Love’s new book that goes over EVERYTHING!

We used to offer an eBook version of this content on a ‘Pay as you Wish’ basis. That book got so out of date and we have no time to keep it updated – so we took it down.

We do our best to upkeep the segments in this blog series, but realistically can’t see republishing the book edition.

In November 2018, RV Love released their brand new (professionally published) book – Living the RV Life. It goes over a lot of similar content to this series (and more) on RVing. We highly recommend picking up a copy!

You’re of course welcome to browse the No Excuses: Go Nomadic series online for more of our tips & tricks on the logistics of nomadic travel.

If you do appreciate this series or the content on our blog, we always LOVE hearing your appreciation – leave a comment, leave a tip (link at bottom of every page) and/or share this post.  Thank you!


 

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17 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

This blog is fueled by YOUR enthusiasm. Your comments help inspire the next post.. don't be shy!

  1. I’m going full time in a couple months. I’ve been watching your videos and reading your website for almost a year to prepare myself. Without your knowledge and guidace, I would have gone bat shit crazy. Thanks guys for all you do. Sincerly, Cheryl Steele

  2. Thanks for the info, i have been working the lists, purging and selling stuff. House is on the market. Retirement on the horizon, just getting pieces in place. I love the article and i think you are correct, you must take the first steps. As soon as you make up your mind, you cant wait to get started. I debated for a year or two if i could do this solo. But i cant think of a better lifestyle. Sure theres the unexpected, but it happens in fixed home as well.

  3. This is great! I had a dream of someday being to travel… and after telling a couple people about my “dream” in conversation within a week and a half, I had an amazing opportunity in front of me to buy some land, a small house, and an RV with my dad that would lessen all of our living expenses, give us space, and me a way to travel!!! Amazing, now I have 30 days to get all ready, find an RV and move out of my rental! WOW! =D I’m loving your blog by the way, such an awesome resource!

  4. We actually sort of accidentally sold our house, some people came to the door and said they wanted to buy it so we quoted a good price and they were like, ok…fortunately they agreed to rent it back to us for four months! I’ve already digitized the photo albums and started purging the books…

  5. I found myself saying “yes, yes, and yes!” as I was reading this post. My husband and I are preparing for a Jan 1 (if not sooner) eviction from our current life and start of adventures in the world of RV’ing for the next year. We are telling family, looking for the right fifth wheel, selling house, purging our things… and it’s wonderful but also overwhelming at times. I know we will accomplish each task one at a time and launch out into new adventures come January. Thanks for the wealth of information on your blog and encouragement to stick with it!

  6. Perfect timing for us to read this post. The house sold last week, now working on the purging. We have a lot more to do but I think we actually will be ahead of our exit date and so excited!

  7. I guess setting the date for us is trading my Car for a motor home tomorrow :)How do y’all feel about a ’82 Toyota micro mini??

  8. I found myself nodding in agreement through this whole post. It even prompted me to post a Life Event on FaceBook to finally tell our friends what we’ve been working on.

    We just completed round 2 of purging, and put only vintage furniture and a handful of boxes in a 10×5 storage unit. We pick up our tow vehicle tomorrow, and the trailer the day after Christmas. From then, who knows… that’s what’s so great about the whole idea! To be in our 30s and starting an adventure like this – overwhelming sometimes but exhilirating, too! Thanks for all you do (and post)!

  9. We did a lot of talking with little progress for a long time (years). We did manage to get out of the house and out of town but in an apartment in a new place. Then the day came when it was like it’s now or never. 30 days later we had our TT and were working our first workamping job. Couldn’t be happier. It was just a matter of saying we are going to do it now and the rest worked itself out. We have really enjoyed reading your stuff and hope to use more of your info in the near future to update our connectivity and get some solar going. K&M

  10. I throughly enjoyed this post! It is exactly where we are at in our preparations right now… right down to the multiple tabs open in my browser! Last week I blooged all about that shift in how we see things, and how overwhelming it can all be! So glad to see that it happens to us all!

    We are a family of 7 preparing to leave (sell everything) on an around the world, overland trip for a year (or more) with our target date being July 2013 for moving into our RV and having our properties sold here at home.

    I see that you travel with your cat? I would love to talk with you about this as we plan to bring our furry family member along with us as well.

    Have a fabulous day,

    Moonfyre

  11. Great article…brings back lots of memories and no regrets….we have been on the road for about 10 years and still love it…still get excited….

  12. Fabulous post! And it’s all true, you really DO have to take real, concrete steps if you’re ever going to make the (or any) dream happen.

    We are less than two months out now from our launch date. We started the whole process over two years ago. First we downsized our living space including purging to make that possible, then we repeated that step AGAIN, then we purchased the RV, then we sold our second car. Currently we’re selling the remainder of our furniture. We’ve mapped out our first trek from AZ to FL and have made campground arrangements for our time there. We’re tackling a multitude of other smaller but very important details.

    It’s super stressful at times but it’s also very gratifying to see it all come together. We feel kind of powerful, which is something we rarely felt when we were just letting life happen to us.

    • It is so powerful, isn’t it? Approaching a major conscious lifestyle change is scary to so many, I think in part, because as a society we’re so not used to really and truly taking responsibility for our own happiness.

      And you’re totally doing it!! Congrats.

  13. You are right on target, you have to set a date the to focus on. For us the date was a little fuzzy because we had to sell the house first. We already had retirement income, our RV, state domicile and mailing address in advance, so it was just waiting for the buyer (six months).

    So many people we’ve met in our travels have said they’d love to do what we are doing, “But…”. Too many roadblocks, can’t give up my house, my stuff, leave my friends, grandkids, etc. You can tell they are not really serious.

    The other funny reaction we get from people when we tell them we are fulltimers is “How long are you going to do this?” or “Now that you’ve been across the country where are you going to settle down?” They don’t get it.

    Thanks for your excellent articles in “No Excuses”. As we were planning to go FT, we read many blogs which helped us get there. Now with our blog, we’ve been fortunate to help others arrive at their FT dream as we did. Your blog is a great resource we point them to for additional insight and help. Sort of “Payback” to those that helped us. :c)

    • Aww.. thanks Paul. We always love hearing that our content has been helpful, and we appreciate your helping spread the inspiration.

      And you’re totally right, we’ve encountered so many folks who say they’d like this sort of lifestyle – but have put up so many blocks. For those that really want to travel, they’ll find ways to climb the obstacles.

      Cheers to your continued adventures!

  14. Having minor, but violent panic attacks is perfectly healthy for a good constitution, right? It’s like cardio exercise without all that pesky working out.

    We’re getting in great shape, I’m betting 😀

    • If I recall my prep days correctly, panic attacks seemed to be a natural part of the process 🙂

      You’ll be in great shape for carrying those 50lbs of bricks on your back if you keep this up. 🙂

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