I woke up eight years ago this morning, bright eyed and ready to hit the road.
I had spent the prior six weeks going through everything I owned, got rid of most of it and packed everything I thought I’d need for an extended road trip into a small box.
It never started out as an un-ending adventure for me.
I just wanted to shake life up a little and see if a romance with this dude I picked up on a Prius forum had any legs.
On an RVing group I frequent, someone asked what you’d go back and tell yourself before setting off. Seemed like an appropriate topic for today’s post commemorating my nomadiversary.
So here goes, if I could back in time this is the letter I’d write:
Dear Cherie of 2007:
You’re about to set off on an amazing adventure. You may have some preconceived notions of what it’ll be like. To make it a little easier for you, here’s some tips from the future.
1) Community on the road is different than community in one place. Not better/worse.. just a different approach.
The toughest and longest adjustment for you will be adapting your sense of community.
You have friends you can TXT and have an instant pizza & movie night planned, or people to take off for a road trip to sci-fi conventions. You can continue conversations from last week, without always starting the story from scratch.
You have continuity of friendships. You will miss that.
Now on the road, you will be constantly in new cities – somewhere you may not know anyone. Any new connections made will become quick distant memories as your paths diverge. Your introverted self will become reluctant to invest the energy sometimes.
Your blog won’t generate a lot of new connections right off the bat, you know – because only mom is reading it anyway. Facebook and Twitter are infants, but will play a stronger role in time. NuRVers will soon be born and introduce you to a network of like minds. And this thing called RVillage will become a twinkle in your eyes. You’ll find resource like the Escapees.
It gets better. It becomes super easy to make new friends and keep in touch with them. You will adapt. And you will become overwhelmed with the sense of community that is possible.
Friendships will go in waves – deep and nourishing while you’re physically together, and more distant as the miles grow. But when next you meet, those connections are just as strong and powerful. Cherish every connection you make, you just never know which ones will become invaluable to you.
You now have a constant ebb and flow of community. People you visit along the way who become nomadic ports and fellow nomads to travel with for extended periods of time. You’re constantly meeting new people to add to the mix.
2) Following the weather is easier said than done.
When your house has wheels, you have choice in where you’re living at any given point. Following the weather seems like a logical goal to have. Flip flop and shorts weather year round.
In the summer, you’ll be tempted to go north or up a mountain to cooler climates. In the winter, you head south to where it stays warmer.
But you’ll quickly find there are so many factors that make this easier said than done.
- Your friends and family still live in fixed locations, and if you want to be there for major parts of their life, you may have to move ‘good weather’ down the priority list.
- You’ll spend a winter in a deep freeze and a summer back in Florida, and you’ll be thankful for it.
- Life will take you in directions you don’t expect or that don’t pay attention to where the best weather is. You’ll spend a summer in the 120+ degree heat of southern Arizona. You may go a bit delirious as your brain gets cooked, but it’ll make a great story to tell.
- Weather patterns will change and pop-up, despite your best intentions. Keep an eye on the weather, make the best decisions you can and adapt as needed. You’ll get through it.
It’ll take you 8 years on the road to finally navigate through spring-like weather conditions for a year. It’ll be wonderful having the windows open so much and constant flowers blooming.
3) You can’t possibly see & do it all – it’s not an extended vacation.
In your first year on the road, you’ll have intentions to set off to Alaska and Baja, and everywhere in between.
You’ll ricochet around the country covering over 13,000 miles in seven months, and nearly exhaust yourself. And you don’t even come close to seeing the whole country, never mind crossing any international borders.
And you don’t regret it one moment.
Life will be full of unending new adventures that keep you plenty busy. By year eight, you still won’t get to all 50 states. You haven’t even made a list of all the National Parks, never mind seen them all. There are major regions of the country you haven’t even crossed wheels into.
And nope, you’ve still not RVed to Alaska or Mexico.
There will be no shortage of things to do and people to spend time with. After a while, historical landmarks all start to look the same. Another walking city tour is just another walking city tour. Another garden is just another collection of pretty flowers.
Keep it mixed up, don’t get into ruts and don’t even try to experience everything a location has to offer. You have to balance life in there too. Work hours, laundry, chill time and worshipping the cat (yes, you don’t have to give up having a cat.. the right one will come to you!)
4) Travel days take more effort than you think.
For your first years on the road, you’ll rarely stop anywhere more than a few nights at a time. It’ll allow you to see a lot of places and visit a lot of people.
But that pace will not be sustainable long term. You’ll quickly find that you can’t make miles, plan routing and stops, find the next great parking location AND have a life.
Don’t try to mix in productive work days with driving days, you’ll stress yourself out.
Adopt the 2-2-2 rule as quickly as possible. Drive no more than 2 hours, stay no less than 2 nights and be in to your next spot by 2pm.
And know when to exempt yourself from the rule. Especially integrating in more stays measured in weeks and months.
5) Embrace your new time zone – NST (Nomadic Standard Time).
When you first hit the road, you’ll want to stick to your micromanaging scheduling ways. You’ll want to keep pace, call ahead and make reservations days in advance. You’ll set up appointments for when you expect to land at your next destination.
It won’t take you long to realize, this is just bringing your old ways into a new lifestyle that just doesn’t fit anymore.
There’s too many variables on the road.
Bad weather, traffic, mechanical problems and amazing distractions that you might not be ready to move on from yet.
Leave room for that. Sure, set intentions.. but be open to reality not always lining up.
The less you plan, the less stress you’ll have in your life. The less reservations you’ll have to cancel. You’ll have far more joy by allowing serendipity to do the planning.
You’ll learn things always work themselves out.
You’ll never go a night without a safe place to park and you’ll never go hungry.
No one will ever be upset with you as long as you set their expectations that you’re now living on NST (Nomadic Standard Time).
Instead of saying – ‘We’ll be there by 5pm on Monday in time for dinner’ set the expectations to ‘We’re aiming for early weekish. We’ll update you as we get closer, let us know if you have anything on your schedule.’
A nomad, like a wizard – always arrives precisely when they are meant to.
Predicting the arrival of a nomad is kinda like predicting a hurricane. Further out, the future is kinda broad. As they get closer, the details start to materialize where you can narrow down the date and location better. Maybe.
Younger Cherie – enjoy every moment of the adventure – amazing things are about to manifest in your life. Chill out more, relax and don’t fret. Enjoy the journey, not just the destinations along the way.
And that dude you picked up on the Prius forum? Yeah, he’s your soul mate and partner in life.
– Cherie of 2015
Eight Years Later – And No End in Sight
It’s hard to believe it’s been eight years since I pulled out of my driveway in Florida with this dude in a tiny travel trailer. We’ve experienced, we’ve endured, we’ve had many adventure and challenges along the way.
We’ve grown as individuals, and as a partnership. We’ve accomplished great things together.
We’ve been blessed to be invited onto your screen and hopefully provided a couple useful tips and inspiration. Thank you for joining us and being a part of this all.
We don’t know where we’re going long term, or what the future holds. But whatever it is, it’ll be amazing.
And to our mom’s who have both supported us in this crazy lifestyle while raising a few eyebrows, thank you.
We love you both.. and Happy Mother’s Day!