- Find a career.
- Get married.
- Buy a house.
- Start a family.
That was the timeline we had for ourselves. Or rather, what society had made us believe was the path to happiness. We all know it, the “American Dream,”–a white picket fence, a nine-to-five job, living for the weekends.
Selling everything and traveling the country in an RV certainly doesn’t fit into this definition of the American Dream, though…Or does it?
But first, this is my story of finding part-time RV life – my “American Dream.”
Dream Turned Nightmare
Shortly after getting married in 2010, my husband Dan and I decided to travel the world together before having kids. We spent the first five years of our marriage living in Costa Rica for four months, taking trips to Europe, and making fun getaways around the United States. I was teaching Kindergarten at the time, and whenever I was on a break and my husband could take paid time off, we would book a vacation.
But others repeatedly told us that “eventually we would need to settle down,” and that pressure got to us. We began searching for what “settling down” meant. We stopped “wasting” our hard-earned money on traveling and instead bought a fancy new car and, of course, a house in the suburbs because that’s what all young couples do when it’s time to start a family. However, that’s when things came to a screeching halt for us.
Months after moving into our new house and choosing a room for the nursery, with dreams of children playing in the big backyard, our life took a detour. We found out we could not have biological children together due to a rare diagnosis that my husband received after months of testing. At that point, everything we had built our lives around felt worthless.
In the months following that news, we found ourselves feeling very stuck. We had done what everyone said we should do to live a full and purposeful life, but that dream felt more like a nightmare. On top of our student loans, we had racked up so much debt with our car and house that we felt we were forever bound to the careers we were already unhappy in. And the one thing that made us most happy – travel and adventuring – we could hardly afford to do anymore.
We needed out. We needed a change.
Following a Detour
After months of standing at (what we referred to as) a dead-end, we finally picked ourselves up and realized that we had the opportunity to take a detour. We weren’t stuck at all, and it was up to us to find our way again. The path was different than we had initially planned, but we held on to the hope that it would still lead us to a beautiful destination.
The perspective of a life detour was extremely powerful for us. It gave us a sense of control in a situation that was very much out of our control. We made a series of big life decisions and changes as we followed that detour. We moved across the country, and while many people thought we were running from our problems, it gave us the space we needed to reconsider what we wanted out of our life together.
That move then led us to make one of the best decisions of our entire lives…the decision to hit the road and become full-time RVers. Back in 2017, full-time RVing mainly was a retirement plan. We got a lot of crazy looks from people at campgrounds when we said we lived in our fifth wheel. But the following three years that we spent RVing the country were absolutely life-changing.
We drove more miles than we can count – coast to coast, into Mexico and all the way up to Canada, through over 40 states and 30 national parks. All while working remotely, running our own businesses, and being genuinely happy and, best of all, free to live our dream. RVing also helped us become crystal clear on the life we want to build.
Our New Version of the American Dream
Fast forward to today: Our detour has brought us full circle. Yes, we are back in the suburbs…But let me explain.
When we hit the open road and took the leap into full-time RVing, we didn’t expect to be transformed in so many ways. We knew we’d love the adventure lifestyle and creating once-in-a-lifetime memories, but we were surprised by all the other things we gained. We learned so much about ourselves while also strengthening our marriage, and we opened ourselves up to new ideas, beliefs, and possibilities.
As full-time RVing became more popular, especially with our generation, we started meeting and forming friendships with other like-minded people on the road. People who, like us, didn’t want to feel stuck and wanted to enjoy life now rather than wait for “someday.” People who were willing to think outside the box to live life on their own terms. We even built relationships with families raising and schooling their kids right from their RV as they traveled the country. It was so inspiring to see. It opened our eyes to the different ways we could build a lifestyle that would work for us, too.
It was through this transformational journey that we took an even bigger and better detour. We decided to pursue adoption to grow our family and achieve our dream of being parents. So while we’re back in the suburbs, we’re in a whole different place.
We now have a baby boy who made that unexpected diagnosis make perfect sense and who was worth all the heartache and waiting. Our son has that nursery we dreamt about in a cozy home with a backyard to run around in someday. But our favorite thing of all is getting to share our love of adventures with him.
RVing with A Baby
When he was just five weeks old, we took him on his first RV trip. We went through four states and visited five national parks, and stayed on the road for about six weeks. Then, when he was six months old, we spent three whole months in the RV, and he got to check even more states and national parks off his baby bucket list. Read my RVers Guide to RVing With a Baby to learn more about our journey.
You see, we’ve learned how to make travel and adventure a part of our lives, rather than something we can only do a few times a year or in retirement. We have our motorhome parked right on our property, and we can hop in and go anytime we please. Our work comes with us, and our lives and routines don’t skip a beat. We can be home wherever we are because our idea of home is wherever we’re together.
We like to say we have the best of both worlds. We can be stationary in our house and enjoy all the benefits of our hometown – being close to family, attending church and various activities, being where we feel most comfortable. Then when we want to step out of that comfort zone and see new places, have new experiences, and meet new people, we can do just that in our RV.
A flexible lifestyle where we never feel stuck or told we have to “settle down” is our version of the American Dream. We are so proud to have built this part-time RV life. We’ll continue to adjust and make changes as needed, which is the most freeing feeling in the world.
Part-Time RV Life
Maybe you’re facing a detour in your own life or struggling with feeling stuck. I hope this article and sharing my own experience encourages you. If you’d like to read more about my story and get inspired to follow your own detour, you can check out my blog at FollowYourDetour.com and even read my book Follow Your Detour, available on Amazon.