It gets hard out here, I know it don’t look it;
I used to have heart, but the highway took it.
—“Hard Out There,” Garrett Hedlund
I’m over it.
I fought the road, and the road won.
Sometimes that’s how I feel. One day, the road is a warm embrace; the next day it’s got you tied up in the red room with whips and chains and the whole 50 Shades toolbox, beating you into submission.
While giving up everything to roll down the highway free and easy may sound enticing, sometimes it’s a bitch. Truthfully, this year has been one of those years for me. I’m experiencing burnout. My husband, Spanky, and I left Reno in mid-January and headed back to California to find a new job. We spent three weeks camped out waiting for work until our funds finally dried up and we had to take whatever we could get, which happened to be work in one of my least favorite places: Fresno. After hauling the rig 200-miles south, Spanky worked five days, then he was transferred up to Lodi, 140-miles back in the direction which we had just come. He worked there for a week and was unemployed once again. After that we persisted to run ourselves ragged with plenty of camping trips, a weeklong friendcation to Puerto Rico and then a three-week trip home to visit friends and family and get the new cabin we bought in shape (more on our new tiny home to come).
After spending three joyous months previously parked in Reno and settling into a routine, all the to-and-fro, uncertainty and instability left me with a road hangover. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. But, that’s part of living on the road—there isn’t a lot of room for making plans. You just have to go with the flow and hope for the best.
Now that you know the dark truth of the road, what other potholes should you be watching out for as you head out on your own nomadic adventure?
The road suits me—until it doesn’t. And, that usually has to do a lot with how much we move. Personally, I like to settle into a spot for a few months and try to at least pretend to be normal. Usually our circumstances and work allow for that, but sometimes they don’t, and sometimes it’s just poor planning. I know, I know, I said planning was not an option in the romad lifestyle, but really, exhaustion is brought on by overplanning most of the time. Try not to overdo it. Attempting to post too many miles to the odometer or see too many landmarks or go on too many camping trips will wear you thin and make an otherwise enjoyable lifestyle just as hectic as having a traditional home. Remember why you chose this lifestyle—to simplify, to downsize, to maximize your time. Just don’t fill that time with too much or you’ll zap the joy right out of it. Plus, once you stop going, going, going, you are left asking, “Now what?” This tends to create a lack of fulfillment.
Solution: Do not overextend yourself. It’s OK to be in one spot for a prolonged period of time, and it’s also OK to say no.
Yes, Spanky is along for the ride, too, but a girl needs female friends. As averse to this idea as I’ve been in the past, I’ve come to realize that I need that kind of social interaction and deep connection. This is one thing that is hard to duplicate on the road. As a freelance writer, my job happens behind the four walls of my fifth wheel. Heck, I don’t even have to leave the house on wheels to get a paycheck. While I’m thankful not to have a 9-to-5 behind a desk or office politics to worry about, I miss human interaction. It’s easy to stay inside and plug away, but getting out and about works wonders. Put yourself out there. Being on the road is all about exploring new places and meeting new people. If you lock yourself inside, you’ll miss out on all of that and be left feeling sad and lonely.
Solution: Get involved right away. As soon as you roll into a new town start researching various community groups that you would like to join. Join a gym or drop in on a yoga class. Find a church. Search out weekend events where you can meet people with common interests. Brewfest anyone? Yes, church and beer, please.
Homesickness and loneliness tend to go hand in hand. When you get lonely, you want your mommy. You want to go home. What makes it even harder is checking your Facebook and seeing that everyone got together for a big Easter egg hunt. One of your best friends just had her baby. Another friend just bought a mansion and throws mansion parties every other weekend. And, you are missing out on all of it. It’s hard, I know, but this is the road you chose—the road less traveled. As much as you long to be home, your friends and family long to have your carefree lifestyle. The grass is always greener on Facebook.
Solution: Make visiting friends and family a priority. Like I said earlier, it’s hard to make new friends on the road, and even if you do, they’ll never replace the ones you grew up with, the ones that know you have a third nipple and secretly love Shania Twain’s song “Man, I Feel Like a Woman.” Though you are on the road, it’s possible to deepen those lifelong friendships. There are some friends we see more now that we’re on the road than when we lived in the same zip code. It’s all about setting your priorities, picking up the phone and scheduling consistent trips home—but living your own roadie life at the same time. It’s all about balance my fellow gypsies.
Keep up with Sarah Reijonen’s nomadic lifestyle in her bi-weekly 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!