Today marks TWO months since we sold nearly all our possessions, sold our house, moved into a 30-ft Airstream trailer and embarked on this journey of full-time travel (read my announcement about traveling full-time here). So far we’ve visited eight states and driven thousands of miles (read about our travels here). . . but that’s just part of the journey we’re on.
I’ll be honest – I was nervous when we started this journey – what if we hated it? What if we put all this energy into a dream and it was a disaster? I had never lived in less than 200 square feet with my family. I’d never really camped with my kids and we certainly never owned any type of RV. This was uncharted territory that we were determined to explore for the sake of our dream to travel with our kids. I was scared at times during the planning process. Overwhelmed at all the things we needed to learn in order to live in an RV. And anxious about all the unknowns of life on the road.
Fast forward to today and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that we didn’t give up or back out. I’m grateful that we took this leap of faith – because I believe it really has changed our lives, for the better.
Here’s how I feel our lives have changed since moving into an Airstream trailer, full-time:
I have a closer relationship with my kids. When we lived in our house I was a work-from-home mom and I felt like I had a fantastic relationship with my kids. I drove them to/from school, spent most of my days with my kids and felt like we had a lot of quality time together. But I was busy. I was always working, cleaning, organizing, running errands and managing the household. I was distracted often with a long list of things to do – the kids had plenty of distractions, too – whether it was Netflix on the TV or a big room of toys. It was easy to be separate silos in the house – all doing our own things. Since moving into the travel trailer – I’m less distracted, less busy and we are spending more time ENGAGED with each other. Now that we’re home schooling, I’m not dropping my son or daughter off at school for hours – we’re learning and exploring together. Physically we have less space – and I’m getting so many more cuddles and conversations thanks simply that we’re closer together physically.
My kids are closer to each other. My kids play together better than they ever have before. They have to. There isn’t enough room in this trailer for anything but kindness. Sure they still bicker and have the occasional sibling argument but overall they are closer than they’ve ever been.
My husband and I are closer. We’ve always had a strong marriage but there is something special about having a family goal and going after it together. The six-months of planning that happened before hitting the road was one of the most stressful times of our lives – big changes and a lot of work to get through it – but this process brought us closer together. Now that we’re on the road, every time we hitch up and move to a new place it’s a 2-person process – he’s emptying the tanks, I’m packing up the inside, he raises the stabilizers, I back up the truck (with his guidance), we each get a side to the hitch – we work together as a team. We are always planning (together) our next campsite or destination. We’ve had more than one “neighbor” mention how well we work together and I’m proud of that. This lifestyle wouldn’t work if only one person is putting forth effort. And the trailer is too small for drama – ain’t no place to pout or argue. 🙂 Overall our marriage is stronger than it’s ever been and I’m grateful for that.
We are more active, as a family – When we lived in the house we were always so busy, we rarely went for family walks or hikes. It’s a shame really, we had some beautiful parks and destinations not far from our house. But weekends seem to be busy with chores and work – and we just didn’t get outside to be active nearly as often as we would have liked. But when you move into less than 200 square feet – you itch to get outside and with new scenery and trails every few days, it’s easy to be motivated to get outside and explore.
I don’t miss my STUFF, not one bit. I can honestly say that I don’t miss anything I sold during the downsizing process. In fact, we’ve continued to downsize – dropping items off at Goodwills along the way as we find out what we use and what we don’t. I don’t miss having a messy garage all the time. I don’t miss a closet that was always disorganized. I don’t miss the piles of toys in my kid’s bedrooms. My kids don’t miss it either – they are so busy exploring on days when we are out that when we have a day in the trailer they are more than happy to play with their shoebox of LEGOs. In the house we had gallons and gallons of LEGOs – and often it was a source of stress as they were always cleaning them up. Less stuff for us has been a BIG WIN in this journey.
I CONSUME a lot less. When you have a front porch where Amazon can deliver in 2-days and you find items online marked 70% off nearly all day, it is so easy to shop and consume! Now that we live in our travel trailer, if I want to buy something online I have to figure out where and when it will be delivered to align with our travels. And frankly, we don’t have room for anything – so do I really need it? I’m finding we need so very little to actually live well, in a tiny space. Not only am I spending a LOT less but it’s liberating to have less stuff and to need less.
I work less. This one is hard – because I know things here on Queen Bee haven’t been up to par this summer. When I was in the house I’d fit blogging in whenever I had a chance and often spent 4-10 hours a day posting deals. These first two months on the road I’ve intentionally been taking time off – to be more fully present as we’ve shifted into this lifestyle. But as we head into the fall and as we get more into a routine, things should shift back a bit and I will start working a bit more (although not as much as I did in our house). I’m intentionally waking up a couple hours before the kids to get work done and while my husband does school with the kids I’ll be working. This is how we support our family, so it’s imperative that it’s part of the equation (besides, I love you guys too much to stop blogging!).
I spend MORE money on groceries. Not all the changes can be good, right!? Yikes – buying groceries on the road is harder than I thought. When we were in our house I had my favorite store(s) and I knew when/where to snag the best deals – and now that I’m on the road the grocery chains are changing weekly and I don’t have time to make multiple trips or shop around for deals. My fridge is smaller than a conventional one – so I can’t shop bulk as easily – and I need more convenience foods since we’re on the go so much more. I’ve been using a lot of Target Cartwheel coupons (no clipping and Target stores are nationwide!) and doing some coupon clipping when I come across coupon inserts. I’m going to get better at this – I know I am – but for now, we are probably paying 2x what we paid in groceries while living in the house.
We are spending LESS on life overall (our bills are less complicated) – While I’m paying MORE for groceries, we are definitely spending less monthly than when we lived in our house. Imagine cutting out your mortgage, electricity, cable, internet, garbage, water, sewer, alarm system, preschool tuition, an extra vehicle (insurance), house taxes, Amazon splurges (ha!). . .and replacing it with campground/RV park fees and a cell phone bill. We’ve had a broken fresh water tank the last month (long story) that has prevented us from doing a lot of dry camping or camping in state parks – so we’ve been staying at a lot of private RV campgrounds. Even at the high rate of $30-$40/night, it’s less than what we paid for our mortgage monthly AND it includes electricity, water, sewer, wifi and even luxuries like a pool and activities for the kids! Read about our June budget here. I hope to publish our July budget soon.
We’re happier. Sure we still have bad days. . . days when one of us wakes up on the wrong side of the bed or one of us is grumpy. But they seem to be much less frequent then when we lived in our house. With less stress, less stuff, less worries – it’s hard not to be happier. I’m grateful that we’re following our dream, I’m grateful that we’re spending quality time together as a family, I’m grateful that we’re exploring together and I’m grateful for everyday we have on the road. And with this overwhelming gratitude comes a happiness like I’ve never felt before.
So that’s it. That’s how our lives have changed in the last two months. This is the transformation we’ve experienced by ditching mainstream and hitching up our Airstream. No one knows what the future holds or what will happen down the road – but for now I can’t imagine being anywhere but with my family in this shiny, tiny house on wheels . . . .