“You were going along just fine. Climbing up and up and then BAM! You just fell off the cliff!” We received this comment in person, with a loud bang (BAM) on the restaurant table, from a family member a couple months into our full-time RV life. It didn’t upset us and was not meant with ill intent. It was a legitimate statement from someone that just can’t see themselves living our lifestyle and that’s OK – not everyone will get it! It doesn’t scare us to be unconventional, in fact we kinda like it that way.
We have always loved traveling to new places. We would excitedly be up early, map in hand (before google maps) and a cooler full of the essentials to go out and embrace the day. Most times not knowing where it would lead. And we were never disappointed whether it was hiking, boating, trying a new restaurant or brewery, sitting on the beach or meeting new people in new places. We are blessed that we share the same adventurous spirit.
It is that adventurous spirit that would spark regular conversations about what we wanted our retirement to look like. And it always involved an RV and traveling full-time. We always had a camper – going from pop-up to expandable to travel trailer and now fifth wheel – so it seemed like the perfect way for us to satisfy our zest for travel and new experiences. But this of course had to wait. We were only in our early 40s when we started talking about it so it had to remain a dream for at least 20 years. Right?
As our family member stated, we were going along climbing and accumulating. Accumulating stuff. Close to 4000 square feet worth of stuff. We thought this was just what you did. It is the American way right? Accumulate more and more to realize the American Dream.
A few things happened 2 years ago that accelerated our retirement dream. First, I was working in leadership development at a large financial services company. I was passionate about what I did and saw myself retiring from this company. I loved the culture and the people I worked with. I knew layoffs were coming but never in a million years did I think it would happen to me. I had survived many mergers and acquisitions in my 30 plus year career in financial services and had been someone who usually made the cut. But that was not the case this time. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I felt all the emotions a loss conjures up – shock, disbelief, anger, sadness and betrayal.
While I was working though these emotions we kept bringing up (jokingly at first), “we should just sell everything, buy a new RV and hit the road!” It was becoming FUN to envision what that would look like and where we would go. During this time we also had some family members receiving cancer diagnoseses and fighting to live. It really shook us and made us realize that if we did wait till retirement to live our dream we may not be in good health. It happens to so many. They work so hard and finally stop and then BAM they get hit with illness and were never given the opportunity to really LIVE! It was during this time of reflection that I started watching Minimalism – a documentary. Craig came home from a business trip to find me sitting on the couch taking notes and crying. I told him he HAD to sit down and watch the rest of this with me. It was speaking to me so loudly and I needed him to hear it also. Was it just me or was he feeling the same way when he watched? Why were we working so hard for a dream that may never happen? How could we continue to live in a house much larger than we really needed with so much stuff? We found these answers in this powerful documentary about over consumption in America. We needed to let go of our fears, be brave and take a leap of faith. We asked ourselves, “what’s the worst that could happen?” And when the answer was “if it doesn’t work for us we just undo everything we did AND we will never know till we try” we knew we were ready! Ready to embark on our adventure of a lifetime.
We are blessed that Craig works remotely and this gives us the financial freedom to live this life. The financial obstacle is what really holds people back from living this life and we don’t take that for granted. While our primary desire for this lifestyle is to EXPLORE to satisfy our wanderlust, we equally value our relationships with family and friends so we have to build in time to CONNECT with those we love (especially the grandkids) which means coming back to the east coast often.
The top regrets most people have before they die are that they didn’t do all the things they dreamed of and that they didn’t spend enough time with family and friends. Our goal for this lifestyle is to have us feeling NO REGRET when we enter this stage of our lives…together!
Read more about “our why” and watch a cool video about us and Banff National Park at Thor Industries presents, Stories From the Road