#RoadLessons

We recently celebrated 700 days on the road.

By “celebrated”, I mean I wrote “Happy Day 700” on the white board the night before, but we left the house early the next morning and returned late, so no one else saw it until the day after.  “Oh, it’s day 700?” Coral asks.  “Um, yeah…it was yesterday,” I reply.

And by “recently”, I mean a couple of months ago, because I have this thing where I like to throw too many balls in the air and then keep juggling them anyway.  I’m SOOOOOO good at it.  Not good at juggling them….I’m so good at throwing too many in the air.

So anyway…for Day 700 I thought about sharing some #RoadLessons.  And then I thought…wait a minute, maybe my 3 readers are sick & tired of just hearing my inner thoughts all the time.  Maybe it would be refreshing for ALL OF US to hear some other voices this time.  And so I reached out to some cool people….these women are all fantastic females that we’ve met along our traveling path.  They are all traveling full-time, some with their kids, some with a significant other, and one with an inflatable guardian.  But they are all experiencing life in vivid new ways, just like I have been for the past 700…..ish days.

So I reached out to these amazing women & asked, “What’s one of the main lessons you’ve learned on the road that you hope will continue to shape your life from here on out?”  Their answers ranged from introspective to silly, which is exactly why I love these people.  And here’s some the brilliance that they came back with…

1. Aysha Perez de Berthiaume: Patience, Communication, & Minimalism

“Patience and communication are key. We’ve always known that we make a good team but this just solidified it all. Where I’m weak he’s strong, where he’s weak I’m strong.

Minimalism is another lesson. We don’t need much… we’ve known that, but living it is another thing.”

Ayesha left Minneapolis, Minnesota in September 2017 with husband Ryan and 7 year old son Enzo.  We had the pleasure of meeting them in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  You can follow along with their adventure on Instagram at #berthiaumetraveldiaries


2. Hannah Sutor: You can figure anything out.

“You don’t have all the answers, but you have the ability to figure anything out.

RV life has given me so much more confidence. RV life is full of so many unknowns – it feels like every day a new problem or challenge presents itself. Also, how many people can say they truly don’t know where they will be tomorrow?! We don’t do a lot of planning, we fly by the seat of our pants. A year ago I would have never had this kind of confidence! I have faith that we can figure anything out, and that as long as my family is safe and we have a roof over our heads, it’s really not that bad, and tomorrow is a new day.”

Hannah, Tim, and 2 year old Calla have been traveling full time since they left Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in August 2017.  We were lucky enough to meet them in Moab, Utah.  You can read much more about their travels and other musings at www.rollingonawhim.com


3. Andrea Hawk:  I’m learning how to be still.

“I’ve never been still. Since I was a child, I’ve been on the move. Even when my body isn’t in motion, my mind is always racing. For the past 25 years, I’ve raised three active children and managed a hectic career. If there isn’t something already on the schedule, I’m finding things to insert.

RV life is different.

While there are a ton of activities – constantly juggling work schedules and exploring new places – there is also a lot of downtime. I’m learning how to be still, and it is certainly a work in progress.

I’ve found that when I am still, I can hear things that I never took the time to listen for. Nature. My Partner. Family. God. Peace.

My hope is to make this a habit and have it continue throughout my life.”

Andrea has been living in a motorhome with her boyfriend, Tom, and 2 pups Sammy and Baxter since leaving St. Petersburg, Florida in 2017.  Our lives originally intersected in Grand Tetons National Park, but we’ve explored several other places together since then. You can find photos of their travels on Instagram: rvandjeeplife


4. Nadine Albrech: Family is what really matters.

“Living on the road for five months has been a big challenge for us.  It is unquestionably the best way to experience family life. It is all about sharing, making concessions, and trying to get the best out of every moment. Getting on as husband and wife is another challenging experience.
The disquieting fact is that we NEED each other, we need to work hand in hand; something you don’t have to do when you are safe at home surrounded by all your family and friends.
Compromise is what is needed, something which definitely lacks after 25 years of living together.
By living like this, you just realize that family life is the only thing that really matters and that there is more about life than just getting up in the morning to go work or to go to school. Returning to simplicity and naturalness is according to me the only way to work out a satisfactory relationship between man and his environment. What an amazing experience it was!!!”

Nadine’s family of 4 is from Wingen Sur Moder, France and spent 5 months traveling through the US and Canada in their WV van, “Kiwi Apple”.  We were lucky enough to meet them in the bathroom in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


5. Lindsay Blair: Life is made of memories.

“I think one of the most valuable lessons is that life is made of memories, not things.  Spend money on things that will create beautiful memories for the whole family rather than “stuff” that can easily be forgotten. Family unity is created by interacting together with shared experiences rather than living compartmentalized lives.  You really don’t need as much “stuff” as you think to live an enjoyable life.

A close second lesson is how much I will treasure a bathtub and second bathroom someday.”

Lindsey lives in a 5th wheel with her husband, 2 daughters, 1 son, 1 dog, and a cat.  (Yes, she CHOOSES this!)  Originally from Houston, the Blair family has been on the road since summer 2016 and they’re still going strong.  We originally connected in Wyoming, and they chronicle all their goings-on at www.moreadventureawaits.com


6. Michal: Believe in yourself.

“One of the main lessons I have learned is that fullfiling dreams is possible, if you put your mind into it, dedicate time and get people to help you. Believe in yourself and dare to go for it.
Another important one is the ability to live without so much “stuff” around me and my life. I was able to free myself from all that load, and hope to keep it this way.”

Michal (pronounced Mee-shell) left Miami, Florida in 2016.  Her companion and body guard is Sexy Alex, a seat cover that was a gift from her mother.  We met Sexy Alex in Crested Butte, Colorado, and he introduced us to Michal a few days later. You can check out her travel videos at Michal RVing on YouTube.

7. Triann Benson: Live out your priorities.

“For years I ‘collected’ books on organizing. Simplifying. Streamlining. Clearing clutter. You get the idea. I yearned for less chaos, more fun. Less stuff, more margin.

I spent countless hours over many years striving for all of those things, but you know what?

It’s not about a system. Or a formula. Or an HGTV makeover. It’s deciding enough with the crazy schedule. It’s walking away from the expectations of today’s America.

It’s choosing relationships over busyness. Experiences over things. It’s living out your priorities.”

Triann lives in a motorhome with her husband, young son, and teenage daughter.  On top of the regular challenges that come with full-time RV living, her family also gracefully manages the challenge of the fact that her daughter’s spina bifuda requires her to be carried in and out of the RV, since she has 1 wheelchair for use within the motorhome and 1 for any activities outside the RV.  Add to that the fact that Triann has beat cancer after being given only a few months to live, not once…but twice!  and you can see that they are basically a family of superheroes.  We spent one wonderful day with them in Florence, Oregon.  You can learn more about them (and from them) at www.roamingwell.com.


8. Jessica Joy Staudinger: Balance

“When touring around you want to go, go, go. See it all! We used to drag our kids to 50 things a day trying to see all an area has to offer. But with or without kids on your road trip, everyone needs some down time. Days to do nothing. Catch up on laundry, read books, pop some popcorn and binge on some movies. Just stay out of the truck! That being said, we have stayed in places where we got lazy. When it came time to pack up, holy crap, we missed so many things the area had to offer! Major bummer.

So, we have learned our limits and can prioritize accordingly. We can happily manage one big outing in the morning, return to the camper to regroup and nap the babies, then we like to do one small thing nearby for the afternoon. Perhaps go for a walk at the campsite, pool time, visit a produce stand.

I hope to take this balance back to our stationary life. Often times you move to a cool place with tons to do. But before you know it, you are in a routine and you live in NYC and have never seen the Statue of Liberty. Or you live in Alaska but have only seen Denali mountain from the road a 100 miles away. I hope to maintain a great balance of exploration beyond routine. Plenty of go, go, go and rest, rest, rest.”

Jessica Joy and her husband Mark are from Anchorage, Alaska, but their RV adventure began in Arizona in April 2017.  They explore the continent in their travel trailer with a toddler and twin babies.  (I love that the advice to find “balance” comes from an ex-circus aerialist.  And although this lifestyle forces a certain degree of minimalism, she travels with a portable 21 ft tall tripod for suspending aerial silks.) We met them during a very rainy week in the California Redwoods.  You can follow them on Instagram: jessicajoy138.  


9. Grainne Foley: Slow Down

“I think probably our biggest lesson has been to enjoy each day and let the world come to us. We have slowed down massively and are enjoying our time as a family.”

Grainne is originally from Ireland, so she has a fantastic accent; you probably need to read her comment again with that in mind.  She launched into full-time RV life from Palm Beach, Florida in 2015 with husband, Frank, and kiddos Conor and Aine.  We spent an amount of time with them outside of Moab, UT that was by no means enough.  You can catch up with them at www.therovingfoleys.com. 


10. Sarah Fitzgerald (that’s me!): My life will be enriched by cultivating new friendships.

I realized recently that when I was living in sticks & bricks, with a WONDERFUL, close circle of friends nearby, I was almost never motivated to seek out new friendships.  In fact, I would say I was often hesitant to engage in new relationships, even if they dropped into my lap!  There are several reasons this was true.

  1. I was stinkin’ busy.  Between work, church, volunteer commitments, social engagements, kids’ school, kids’ activities…our schedules just got so, so busy.  Sadly, one thing that suffers in that environment is our relationships.  (ALL of them, including those with our immediate family…see all the wisdom above.) I often felt like I could barely maintain the relationships that I already had, not to mention try to make time to develop new ones.
  2. My friendship circle was a closed loop.  Most of my friends knew each other.  Most of us were connected by an extended faith community.  So even when I did meet someone new, whether through work or other connection, it often felt awkward to include this “outsider” in events where everyone else was part of an already close community.
  3. I was rarely lonely.  This is not a bad thing; just a true thing.  I had most of my social needs met all the time when I was living in a community.

I’d always been jealous of people who could just attend some random event or go boating for the weekend and return having made new friends.  Even though I was a “friendly” person, I almost never had such experiences.  Now I realize it’s just because I wasn’t trying.

When life on the road began, I spent a lot of time feeling cut off from my community and that definitely has its downsides.  But the UPSIDE is that it has forced me to be more friendly.  Not just polite…but to actually be open to new friendships; friendships with people from all over the world, who don’t have the same background as me, or the same beliefs as me, or the same circle of other friends as me…and my life is SO MUCH RICHER for it.

As you can tell from reading the thoughts above, I’ve connected with some amazing, strong women as we’ve traveled.  (And there are many more whose words don’t appear here.)  I am so glad to have developed a more “friendly” approach to new relationships, even if it was borne out of self-imposed loneliness.

I will forever be grateful for all the amazing, new people I’ve met as we traveled (including the 9 awesome women in this post) and will be enriched by their influences in my life.

4 Comment

  1. Heidi says: Reply

    Fun to read Sarah! I love that all women had different life changing takeaways. Love you guys and miss you!

  2. Macala says: Reply

    As a new-to-the-road family your 700 days is a big inspiration!! We are in the Sawtooth area currently with our 7 and 4 year old— if you guys will be around a while you should give me a shout!

  3. Glen Carlson says: Reply

    Sarah, I was culling my bookmarks (can you tell I’m retired now!) and came across your blog and remembered saying goodbye and wishing happy trails in my office at the Subaru building. Not so suddenly, 700 days have passed and you and the whole family are still rubbing the sticks and making sparks that will never fade away. You and yours have a great site and a memorable life!

    700 days… it’s time to say it again, Happy Trails from your 4th reader,

    g

  4. Shannon Dickerson says: Reply

    Great words placed together, so thoughtfully.
    Shannon D.

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