“It’s not just a dream if you decide to make it your life.” —Anonymous
Life on the road took a shot of steroids straight to the rear in 2015. My husband, Spanky, and I stayed at 10 different RV parks (either in our RV or in a tent), tent camped at eight more non-park locations, stayed in 17 hotels, seven B&Bs, one Airbnb, and crashed on the couches/beds/air mattresses of a dozen friends and family members. We drove 35,000 miles through five states and took the truck to the truck doctor three times. We also visited Puerto Rico.
January 2016 marks two years in our 39-foot home on wheels and a total of six years on the road, and even though I sometimes look around and do a WTF-double take, I stand by my decision to live life differently.
This, my friends, is a year in the life of a romad:
- Southwest road trip visiting two friends in Southern California and family snowbirding in Quartzsite, Ariz., with a quick stopover in Sedona for a hike.
- Back up to Washington to work on the cabin we purchased and celebrate my 31st birthday.
- Work (because it must be done sometimes): Five days in Fresno, Calif. which is five days too long, and a week in Lodi, Calif. Then we moved to Sacramento, where we worked for the summer, my husband building power lines and me freelance writing and subbing in as a spin instructor at a local gym.
- August: We took a month off, beginning in Walla Walla, Wash. to watch Mumford & Sons on their Gentleman of the Road Tour. Then we flew to Ireland with my parents for a week for their first trip ever and got home in time to watch our best friends tie the knot in western Washington.
- Back to work (wah, wah) in Sacramento.
- October: Went to Disneyland with the in-laws and our nephews. We drove all the way to San Diego and back then took a job in Eureka, Calif., which is the northwestern-most tip of California.
- November: Went home for Thanksgiving, then found out that Spanky’s work lost its contract, so we picked up our home on wheels, put it in storage near Sacramento and went back up to our cabin in Washington for Christmas.
In just the last three months, we drove 9,000 miles. Needless to say, my ass is sore and our truck had to get new tires this year. Life on the road is not always comfortable or convenient, but it sure as heck is full of adventure.
So why do it? Why live this whirlwind lifestyle? If all of this movement gives you motion sickness, this might not be your calling, but if it gets your blood pumping and excites the senses, it’s worth a shot.
Most likely, you won’t be building up a huge cash flow on the road, but that’s not what this lifestyle is about. It’s about stacking up memories and experiences. When we must work, we work, but when we can play, we bust out every board game we own (not really, I hate board games). When you are constantly roaming, even work can be play, as you are always rolling into new towns and seeing new sights, making new friends and reinvesting in old ones. During our working summer in Sacramento, my husband and I spent most weekends hiking, gold prospecting and discovering new wineries and breweries (if you’re on your way to Tahoe from Sacramento, stop at Boeger Winery and Jack Russell Brewery just outside of Placerville). During our months of work in Eureka we visited all four breweries within a 25-mile radius, hiked in the redwoods and strolled along the ocean beaches as much as humanly possible.
That’s what this lifestyle affords—living on the road gives you the freedom to not just dream, but do. It unleashes you from monotony. It allows you to throw shit against the wall and see if it sticks. It lets you dabble and expand your boundaries. It makes you want to be generous and share your blessings with those around you. It turns money into a tool that helps you add to your memory bank instead of accumulating stuff. It keeps your creative steam engine plugging up that mountain, and it picks up stragglers—dreamers—along the way.
As we ring in another year, ask yourself, what is your dream for 2016? What will the next 365 pages of your story say? Will you let your aspirations amble over thousands of miles or will you lock up those urges for adventure?
Keep up with Sarah Reijonen’s nomadic lifestyle in her column called “Home on the Road.” If there’s a topic you’d like her to cover, please comment below or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @spankyandsarah. Instagram: @countrygrlswrld. Happy Trails!