Ever since Linda and I first decided that a life on the road was going to be our destiny, it has been fascinating to witness the reaction of family, friends and complete strangers. The concept of choosing to live in a vehicle over a traditional house is a bit of a mind-bender for many.
My last job as the receptionist of an animal hospital afforded me the opportunity to meet and get to know a wide range of people. I would chat with the regular customers about this and that but I never really brought up our big fulltiming idea. When I announced my retirement, inevitably the subject turned to my future plans.
I kinda dreaded the answer as much as I was excited to share it. It felt like such a cumbersome thing to explain. so I worked on having a schpeil at the ready. "My wife and I are going on the road in a motorhome and are going to travel all over the country. We are selling our house this summer and then taking off!" At this point, I would hold my breath to see their expression. There is no typical reaction because, depending on their own lives and experience, people will process this information in their own unique way. The responses have ranged from "That's amazing! I'm so envious. I wish I could do something like that." to the wide-eyed, jaw-dropping "Are you joking??! Good luck with that!"
There are couples who clearly know there limitations together. In my experience, it seems like women are more receptive to traveling in a tiny tin can than men. Many of the men I've spoken to admitted they could not live in such close quarters to their partners. They also said they couldn't live without their man cave or garage or tool shed, etc. Men need their space dammit (according to my totally unscientific survey.)
We didn't really need to explain what we were planning to Linda's parents because they got it right away. Moving from place to place was part of Linda's existence as a kid, being an "oil brat" (her father was a geophysicist for some major oil companies). They also owned a Popup back in the day and did a fair amount of camping.
Conversely, my parents had no experience whatsoever with the RV life. I was raised in Ireland (where they still live) and you'll be hard-pressed to see a motorhome or fifth wheel on any of the highways there. Ireland is a small country, about 350 miles from coast to coast so there are only so many places you can go before you've seen the entire country. Aside from that, living in a "mobile home" has negative connotations historically. There are many people living in squalor known as "travelers" or more unkindly "the Knackers". They are known as thieves and opportunists and are generally undesirable. That belief has lightened up somewhat recently but attitudes are still deep-rooted.
So with that in mind, you can imagine my parents' reaction when I told them I was selling my house and going to live a life on the road. I'm sure they thought "Jayzus, are ya goin' to join the knackers now? Is it a gypsy your becomin'??!" God love them, I'm sure I caused many a heart palpitation but, over time, they have come to accept our decision.
I think it's hard for people who don't have any experience RVing to understand its appeal. I think they are also largely ignorant to the fact that technology is advanced enough to where it is possible to live as comfortably in an RV as it is in a traditional home. Technology also makes it easy to stay in touch with family and friends via Skype, text, phone, email, etc.
I laugh about it sometimes because I spend half my time texting my kids when they are in the next room in my house! It won't be all that different, I tell them, once we are traveling.
Having said all that, the majority of people I've spoken to think it's the greatest idea ever and they are very happy for me. They are envious because this is a dream realized. There are many people who dream but their reality will remain somewhat tethered to what's safe and predictable and, sadly, they may never live life to the fullest. Jumping into this world of fulltiming is a big risk but, in my opinion, if you don't take risks then you are only existing, not really living.
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