Like many decisions in life, our plan to chuck most of our possessions and spend a year travelling the world did not come in one blinding ‘a ha’ moment, rather, it morphed from one idea to the next, eventually getting us to where we are now: saying good-bye to a house and to friends and family and setting off on an adventure together. Here is the story of what happened.
John and I have known for a while that we love travel and want it to be a big part of our life together. In the short time since we married, we’ve enjoyed trips to Portugal and Spain, the Texas Hill Country, the Utah National Parks, Colorado, and the Grand Canyon, Door County Wisconsin and the Michigan Upper Peninsula, a trip out to California, and one to New England. In every trip, our love of travel deepens and we always feel that we want to stay in each place longer than our timing will allow, and to explore new places As our thirst for becoming road warriors evolved, we thought that a camper or trailer would be the ticket to getting to many places with the opportunity to stay awhile in each. Visions of national and state parks danced in our heads, and we busied ourselves researching recreational vehicles. We looked at Sprinter vans, visited the Casita factory outside of Dallas (Casitas are a very cute and functional small trailer), and even rented a Cruise America camper one Thanksgiving of 2017 and took it to Unicoi State Parkin North Georgia. Our days in the trailer were fun – we definitely enjoyed the state park and all it had to offer. But we disliked having a single unit RV, mostly because everything had to be secured before we could move the RV, and we were stuck driving this huge vehicle anywhere we would like to go. We also, hilariously, made every single mistake someone new to camper life could make, including flooding the camper’s tiny bathroom. We also quickly learned why most RV people rely on campground shower houses and also why they make an effort not to cook using the stove in the RV.
After considering the dizzying array of choices, we eventually decided that a smallish trailer would be our best bet. Not too small, as we had already realized that, in order to make the economics of this scheme work, we would need to sell our house and live in the trailer full time. This is a point worth spending a little time on because many people have questioned our decision to sell our house and most of our possessions. If you’ve never sat down and added up the total costs of owning and maintaining your home and your automobiles, I encourage you to do so. Include mortgage or rent, car note, maintenance costs, taxes, insurance, gasoline, utilities – all of this – and then think about how far that amount of money would last you on the road. The decision to trade in what we had for a more mobile lifestyle made sense to us. But I digress.
John retired at the end of March 2018 and six weeks later we had purchased a 2014 Toyota Sequoia from CarMax. The tow vehicle purchase would come first, followed by the trailer. The Sequoia was beautiful – white and shiny – and it had all kind of modern safety features, including a cruise control that alerted us when another driver came too close.
The day after we bought the Sequoia, John was driving to the Toyota Dealer to have the car thoroughly checked out when the fancy cruise control failed (uh oh!). Since it was a CarMax vehicle, we had 30 days to have anything broken fixed, however, we were both concerned that the cruise control issue portended more failures to come and we returned the car the next day.
And, the plan shifted….
A few days after returning the Sequoia, John commented, “we could buy a lot of Airbnb nights for what it will cost us to buy a tow vehicle and trailer.” I was so relieved to hear him say this. I felt that we had committed to the trailer plan, but had been having a similar form of near-buyer’s remorse, only my thinking was more along the lines of wondering why we would rid ourselves of all that held us down, only to invest in more things that would become burdens if we travelled abroad. I shared my concern with John, and, at that moment, there was a shift in thinking which eventually blossomed into the plan to devote a full year to international travel.