Settling Down: Are The Hardships On The Road Too Hard?
These past few months seem to have been the season of full-timers, who we know from the road, settling down. They close the doors to their nomadic lives as they move into their new homes or park their rigs on their newly purchased properties. There are various reasons they’ve said goodbye to the traveling lifestyle, two of them are consistency and friends.
I look at pictures of their new homes and read stories of their new lives and I’m full of mixed emotions. I’m envious of the beautiful land they’ve found to claim as theirs and how cozy their homes look. The word “community” brings a sense of nostalgia. I get a yearning and even urgency to find a piece of land to call ours.
There are a lot of hardships to living on the road. They range from small details that are annoying – like never knowing where the grocery store is – to larger issues that we worry about: how to make (enough) money while traveling full-time. In addition to those, consistency and friends are things Jerud and I talk about a lot.
Settling downs means having consistent shops, friends, community, and activities. We lack that consistency on the road. This isn’t the lifestyle’s fault but our own. And this has more of a negative effect on us than I would like to admit. It’s been hard because Jerud and I are very different in this way. He needs structure and a schedule. Those things make me feel like I’m suffocating and tied down. But we haven’t found something that works for both of us yet. We’ve tried setting up a schedule, but we haven’t been disciplined enough to stick to it. Our desire for freedom has overruled our implementation of a schedule. And since we don’t have jobs that require a set schedule, that’s not forcing us to follow a routine. The funny thing about living on the road is that our lives are so much more intertwined than before. While that’s good, it also makes things so much harder.
Living on the road means Jerud and I are together all the time. I mean ALL the time. People are always curious about how we survive being together constantly. Our answer the first year on the road was that it was fine. We enjoyed hanging out together non-stop, in ways it was making up for lost time. But we’ve moved past the honeymoon period. We need to intentionally make time away from each other but haven’t been good about doing it. I’m not going to lie - this has caused friction and arguments.
This is where friends come into the picture. All aspects of friends and being on the road is hard: finding them, making them, staying in touch with friends from home, coordinating time to meet up with full-timer friends and regular friends, etc. From looking at pictures on social media, it seems like we have a harder time than other travelers do. (That’s the crappy side of social media.) But again, this isn’t entirely the nomadic lifestyle’s fault. We love boondocking in the middle of nowhere. The more remote the better. It helps that we don’t heavily depend on internet and the Toaster can last close to a month without needing a dump station. But that also means there’s usually no one there but us! On top of that, it seems like we have this ability to go to places exactly when other full-timers don’t. Or we miss them by a few days or a week. Sometimes it’s almost harder to coordinate when everyone has so much flexibility. Living on the road also means that when you’re having a shitty day, you can’t just call up your best friend and go grab a beer together.
With that being said, it doesn’t mean Jerud and I have been hermits. We’ve traveled with full-time friends, camped together, gone hiking and biking, had potlucks, shared campfires, and shot the shit over games of cards. There are also the numerous strangers we’ve had delightful conversations with in parking lots, coffee shops, met via social media, etc. We’ve met up with friends from home on their vacations, visited friends and family as we traveled to an area, and gone on trips together. But I’ve realized one of the hard things for me is that I’m not social every day like I used to be. I worked with a great group of friends at my previous job and I was always interacting with various people, but now it’s sporadic. And there are days when it gets lonely.
So it is time to settle down? Is it just time for the next chapter? Do we miss the normal lifestyle enough to store the Toaster and pick a place to call home? Jerud and I can both answer that without even blinking our eyes. No.
But every place we travel to we ask ourselves if this is a place we could settle down one day. The idea of buying a land somewhere is appealing. It would be nice to have a basecamp - a place to go to, stay and unwind from the never-ending travels. A place we can park the Toaster for longer than the two-week limitation that exists on most public lands. What would be on this piece of land? For Jerud it’s a large garage. He’s itching for a place he can spread out and work on projects. For me, a washer and dryer.