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Reflections from Nine Months on the Road

It’s been just over nine months since we began our full-time nomadic journey–long enough to grow and deliver a new human! (No, we didn’t.) We’ve made many discoveries that have little to do with the discoveries one would usually expect on such a journey. Oh, we had those kinds of discoveries, too. The Grand Canyon, flocks of bluebirds and sandhill cranes, strange plants like screwbean mesquite, and the aliens of Roswell.

We banked a lot of memories in that time, and we learned some lessons about ourselves and our fellow travelers on the way. But, the nine-month mark seems like a natural point for a pregnant pause to reflect on the journey so far, and to plot out our next moves.

When we set out, we promised ourselves a year. A year to travel, explore, learn, and make some decisions about the rest of our lives. We also said that if we were miserable in this lifestyle, we were free to make a change. And, conversely, if we loved it, we would find a way to continue.

I don’t think we have reached a definitive decision about continuing or not continuing. What we have done is reach a greater understanding of what works for us. Knowing what works for us in practice, is different from the theories we had when we started out.

Some reflections from the road:

  1. It’s odd to be a stranger everywhere you go.

I’ve spent my life as a trusted person, both in my personal life and in my business life. People have felt comfortable leaving their children, their pets, and their houseplants in my care. My accounting clients have entrusted me with the care and safety of millions of dollars. Yet, when we traveled, we were always just a little bit suspect. We applied for one workamping job where the owner wanted an inordinate amount of “proof” that we were qualified and “on the up and up.” It’s understandable since we’ve run into some sketchy individuals as we’ve moved around. I confess I found myself wanting to use the phrase, “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?”

The other side of being a stranger every where you go is that no one has any expectations of you. Not one person asked me to be on a committee or board! When you are used to a certain level of “notoriety,” that leads to people hoping you’ll help them with various things, that is really quite restful.

  1. Living in campgrounds is not that great.

As a nearly lifelong camper, I thought I knew what campground living was like. First of all, I thought it would be quieter. I was used to state park campgrounds that were quiet during the week, and busier on the weekends. Many places we stayed were busy all the time. Other than our time in New Mexico, which was relatively quiet most of the winter, we were often “side by each” with other campers, crammed in together with our slide-outs nearly touching.

In Tennessee, we learned that camping on Thanksgiving weekend is “a thing.” This is not something we ever would have thought of being from the northeast. We found that campgrounds are not geared for working. Many had little to no cell service, and few state campgrounds had internet. They’re great for a vacation but not great for regular existence. It’s just not what they’re set up for.

  1. Every grocery store and laundromat and gas station is different.

Upon arriving in a new area, one of the first jobs after setting up “camp” was to locate the resources we needed. Food, fuel, clean clothes. That’s really what our life revolved around. Grocery shopping always takes longer because you don’t know the store. I got in a lot of steps going back two or three or eight aisles because something we expected to be in one aisle was not.

Every laundromat had its own peculiarities. With a familiar laundromat, you know the drill and you know which machines to avoid and when the busy times are. Not so when you’re a stranger in town. We had a wonderful experience in Roswell at Uncle Suds’ laundromat, sparkly clean and friendly, helpful staff. But in another town, our experience was much different, very uncomfortable.

And the gas stations! As often as we could, we gassed up when the trailer was unhitched. Some gas stations are nightmares to get in an out of while towing a trailer. It’s not the height of the canopy that was the problem. It was the ingress and egress. We found that gas stations with pumps parallel to the road were the easiest. Truck stops were good, too, but usually crowded making them a less desirable option. In short, everything takes longer and often involves some stress. It’s far different from the ease of familiarity.

  1. Not having access to familiar service suppliers is hard, and even frightening.

When you are in one place, you get to know who to go to for various services. Where do you take your vehicle for routine maintenance or a mechanical issue? What do you do if your pet gets sick or injured? What happens if you get sick or injured? When we were in New Mexico, my husband went outside to work on our trailer hitch. The next time I saw him, he was coming up the stairs of the RV with his face a bloody mess and leaving a trail of blood behind him. In our sticks and bricks life, we would have headed for the emergency room. In a little town in New Mexico where we knew no one and didn’t know where the closest medical help was, this became an even more stressful situation. (He’s okay.) But, those relationships you have in a “normal” existence are no longer available.

  1. Pulling your house behind you everywhere you go is both freeing and limiting.

In our imagining of life on the road, we thought of how great it would be to pull into a campsite after a long day of travel, and that night sleep in our own bed. Yes, there is much to be said for that. We have enjoyed not having to “go home” at the end of a trip, because wherever we were, we were home. We love that.

But, the flip side of that comfort and convenience is this. Every where we went, we were pulling our house behind us. So, we had to constantly be thinking three stops ahead. Where are we parking the house tonight and tomorrow and the day after that? If we want to go to a popular location like the Grand Canyon, where in the world will we park our house? We missed much on our travels because stopping was too difficult when pulling a house.

  1. Our pets didn’t always enjoy life on the road.

For us, the happiness of all our team members is important. Our cats didn’t come up with the idea to leave their comfortable home and travel the country. We did everything we could to ease that burden for them. They were perfectly happy in the trailer when we stopped for the day. They suffered no harm. But, travel days? That was tough. We modified our travel style to minimize their time in the truck.

The dog fared better. For her, just being with us was all she wanted. We had to be constantly vigilant with her in new areas. Although every campground we stayed in has a leash policy, we often encountered loose dogs and negligent owners. And it was up to us in every new place to learn the dangers of that area: snakes, spiders, plants.

  1. Community is amazing.

If you want to expand your circle of friends, get an RV. If you want to meet your neighbors, get an RV. Seriously, the community is incredible.

We have met people from all over the world. Just yesterday, in Maine, I met a couple who lived for years in the town I’m from in New Jersey. It’s a joy to find connections with people you’ve just met.

But, there’s another community, too. That community in the place where we’re from. We’re still attached to our town, still connected. When we return for a visit, it’s like we’ve never left. People pick up a conversation we were having six months ago like there was no pause in the action. Truly, I think that would be true if we’d been gone six months or six years.

Recently while reading a history book, I was struck by the author’s use of the phrase “belonging to.” For example, “Captain John Johnson belonging to Salem, Mass.” As a nomad, you lose that sense of place. You “belong” nowhere. So, you meet a whole new community of travelers, and then, you “belong” everywhere.

In New Mexico, we met a number of people who, like us, were wintering in New Mexico. We all had New Mexico camping passes, the rules of which require relocating every two weeks. We’d travel to a new campground, and find familiar faces every time.

Communities spring up naturally, and they gel by choice. That’s true of our Nomads and Adventurers Facebook group, and the other groups we belong to. We keep an eye out for each other, and because we are so far flung from one another, the meetups and reunions are wonderful.

What’s next?

Now, nine months in, knowing what we do, our own approach to traveling is becoming clearer. What we thought would work for us may or may not have been the reality. But, it is only in the traveling of the journey that we know what is best for us. We don’t have all the answers yet, but we are getting closer.

We know we want to continue to travel. That’s an absolute truth for us. But, we also think having a home base would be most beneficial for us. A little cabin somewhere in nature, from which we can work and where we can plan our next junket. We’re considering something smaller for a travel pod, perhaps a Class B or camper van, something more nimble to get us into those interesting corners of the world. And we want to travel more purposefully, to explore areas we haven’t seen yet. To travel more slowly to savor those spots we find most intriguing.

For all those reasons, and to re-connect with our roots and our routes, we will be in our favorite town in Maine, stationary for this winter. The trailer will sit in storage for the winter months, while we try to keep cozy and warm in a place we’re renting from a friend. And there, we will dream and plan our next journey, a trip into the Maritime Provinces. We’ll be starting from a much closer location than the southern winter location we originally planned, in hopes that we’ll be able to wander more, enjoy more. It’s a chance for us to catch up on work, spend time with loved ones, get all those loose ducks in a row, and sort out that storage unit.

There is one thing about this life, this journey, that always holds true. We never know what’s around the next corner. And even though it’s us in the driver’s seat, we are often surprised by the places we end up. See you somewhere.

Curious to learn more about our journey? Check out Caroline’s book, Echoes of Walden, available in paperback, Kindle, and Kindle Unlimited.



  1. Janet Underwood says:

    Look forward to seeing you in “Our Town”.

  2. Kathy says:

    Thank you for this well considered, thoughtful explanation of your time on the road. You have covered many the questions I have. I’ve yet to hit the road because I haven’t been sure how I want to travel, RV or TT. With your insights I think I have come to a conclusion what will work best for me. So glad you shared, I hope to see you on the road!

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