The Holidays, aka preparing for awkward conversations with friends and family.
This lifestyle is not for the faint of heart—and it definitely isn’t for anyone that is afraid of what others may think of her.
It’s like one of those memes. This is what your parents think you do: Bum around like a washed-up hippie. This is what your friends think you do: Travel to new, exotic destinations every week, scoring a great tan, awesome photos and new passport stamps without any struggles. This is what you actually do: Wander from job to job trying to get by, while also trying to maintain a good life balance of work, fun and family without having any roots.
As a nomad, there’s no time quite like the holidays to remind you of how rootless you really are.
It’s questions like, “Where should I send your Christmas card?” that remind you that you are not meeting the status quo as an American citizen doing her best to aim for that white picket fence and 2.5 children (can someone please tell me when it went from 1.5 to 2.5?) But, yes, it is a valid question. Thankfully, I have a UPS box where I receive mail and can have it forwarded to wherever our RV is parked come Christmas. My standard answer is: Save yourself a stamp and hand it to me when I see you.My second favorite question is: “Boss? What boss?” I’ve been freelancing for the same publication for three years, and still, no one knows that I work. I’m not really sure what it is they think I do all day in my 40-foot trailer, but it isn’t work. My grandma is constantly prodding me to tell her how my husband and I have all this money to travel all the time. “Work, Grandma. We work;” not to mention, we don’t have to pay for cable, Wifi, water, sewer, power, property taxes. While we do pay monthly or weekly to stay at RV parks, all amenities are included at most parks. Living a nomadic lifestyle slashes a lot of everyday costs and frees you up to do more with less—still, I’m sure my grandma is convinced we don’t have an address because we’re running from the cops.
Thankfully, I’m one of those people that doesn’t give two shits about what other people think. In fact, I kind of get off on the fact that everyone is whispering and making up outlaw legends about Spanky and me. Basically, I get to be Bonnie without ever shooting anyone or robbing any banks.
Another common question during the first couple years of gypsydom is: “When are you going to settle down/have kids?” In other words, when are you going to grow up, and why haven’t you just given in to “reality” like the rest of us yet? Even people who are not nomadic get these questions. Eventually, your friends and family will realize that they can’t put you in a corner. They’ll realize that this is your life and you aren’t living it for anyone else’s satisfaction. And maybe somewhere deep down they start to realize that there isn’t just one way to live life.Sometimes you can dodge the questions, but they are also teachable moments—just be cautious not to offend. Here’s the thing; I like kids and I don’t thing it’s wrong for you to have a mortgage payment. It’s just not the lifestyle I’ve chosen at this point in time. What I do value is genuine conversation about living more simply. Most of my friends have homes filled with kitchen gadgets and gardening shears, and I don’t fault them for that, but I appreciate when they will at least analyze their lifestyles and see where living with less might be a good option, something to think about. Being open to talk about it and open to change your mind is a step in the right direction. Hey, I’m open to popping out a few mini-me’s. I expect the same respect in return.Ultimately, if you’re thinking of living a nomadic lifestyle in a RV, or in a van down by the river, or whatever, just remember that your friends and family are going to think you’re crazy. Even if you are a clean-cut gypsy without the smelly dreadlocks and pit-stained T-shirts, they’ll make you feel like Cousin Eddy from “Christmas Vacation.” They’ll make comments like, “Lock your doors, or they’ll move in with you,” even if you’ve never stayed at their house a day in your life. They’ll inquire about your health benefits and retirement and cash flow, even if you’ve never borrowed a dime from them. At first these comments are laughable and you know you can write them off as harmless comedic jest or plain old jealousy, but sometimes they cut deep. But, having thick skin is just part of the gypsy lifestyle. You either roll with the punches, or you stay off the highway.
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!