Author and photographer: Zach Rubin (Check out his blog, This Persuit of Happiness)
Deciding to become a full-time traveler is something that many dream about but few actually do. We often imagine it as something we “wish” we could do, or a “wouldn’t that be nice” scenario. There is little attention given to the “why” we want to do it. But for those of us who make the leap, the “why” is the whole thing.
We have been fortunate to meet some wonderful people on the road. From younger couples to retired couples, loners to entire families, the nomadic life seems to work for just about everyone.
For some, it is a journey of self-exploration. With the younger crowd and the loners, the nomadic life usually takes on a sort of cathartic ambition. For these folks, it’s a combination of wanderlust and finding yourself. I think I partially fall into this category.
For others, full-time travel is about spending time with each other and living out one last great adventure. A lot of retirees and some families fall into this camp. To them, the road represents excitement and a recapturing of their youth. Almost as if their RV or trailer is a time machine, taking them back to a point in their life when everything was new.
For families, especially those with younger kids, there is a desire to create a close-knit household. One where the family can grow together, share adventures, and offer a unique learning experience for their children.
While for others, life on the road is not a choice. One man I met struggled with health issues that forced him to leave his job as a handyman. After the bank foreclosed on his home, he used the little savings he had left to buy the only home he could afford, a mid-90s, Class A motor home. He lives in this rig with his daughter and her son, as they work together to rebuild a future for themselves.
For this man and his family, the road represents refuge. A place where overhead is low, responsibility is minimal, and a new job is just a drive away. There was no desperation or resentment here, just happiness and a sense of freedom that seemed to make his hardship easily bearable.
What I have come away with so far is that this life on the road is a lot of things for a lot of people. There maybe as many reasons to dive into it as there are people who take the leap. But one thing is consistent – the nomadic life presents opportunity for everyone. Not only the opportunity to see amazing sites and experience different places; but the opportunity to find a new way forward.
Full-time traveling is like living in transition. It’s the miles between addresses, the year between ages, and the work between employment and self-employment. Everyone who seems to enter this lifestyle is changed by the experience. They come away with a sense of wisdom, a clearer understanding of what is important in life and a fulfillment of themselves and the world around them. Former nomads will rarely return to their pre-travel life. They’ve changed too much, gone too far, and grown too free. Simply put, the old life can no longer contain the new desire to live.
Life on the other side of the road is always different. And I think that’s why people start the full-time RV journey. Maybe not consciously, but inherently, full-timers understand that the “why” is to change.
Life on the road will change you. Sometimes in a practical way and sometimes in a spiritual way. The nomadic life is the life of a wanderer, a seeker, a journeyman; a life that takes you from here to there. It is your opportunity to change whatever it was you needed to change, and sometimes that’s the only reason you need.