A year and a half ago, I had no idea that regular people, regular families who weren’t independently wealthy actually sold it all, quit their jobs and started traveling. I thought this was a crazy idea my husband had. A passing phase. Soon that United States map pinned to the dining room wall with bright red yarn routes would come down, be rolled up and added to the pile of “stuff” in our bonus room.
Five months ago we sold two homes, 95% of our belongings, bought a travel trailer (worth noting is that we had never towed anything or even camped as a family), put in notice at our jobs and set out on a year-long adventure. Our way of life was dragging us down and we ultimately decided that we needed something major to hit the reset button and reconnect as a family. And we worked hard to make it happen. Since that time we’ve been blown away, not only by the amazing RV/travel community we’re now a part of but also every time I scroll through my Instagram feed it seems like a dozen new families are taking off on the same type of unconventional journey. It’s such a growing movement and one that we are so proud to be a part of.
Most of the full-time travelers we’ve connected with have the same general backstory. The life we’re conditioned to think we need has become really fast and complicated. Fifty to sixty hour work weeks, never being able to truly unplug, a house and a yard to take care of, not enough quality family time. Not enough quality “life” time. We work for things we aren’t able to enjoy enough and spend thousands on daycare. All of this work, time and energy spent for what? A bigger house? A certain address or school district? The beautiful thing about talking to others living similar lifestyles is that we all come from different walks of life and backgrounds. But we have all woken up to the fact that we can do with less and actually be happier people and closer families.
The amazing destinations we’ve traveled to and experiences we’ve shared in such a relatively short amount of time have been priceless. However, what has undoubtedly been the biggest game-changer is the complete change of our mindsets. We headed into this journey ready to embrace minimalism and tiny living. Because let’s face it–we’re a family of four living in 200 square feet. Living minimally isn’t an option. What I personally didn’t anticipate was how completely free-ing and refreshing it was to get rid of all the “stuff”. It’s more than just decluttering and removing these things; it’s that day you realize you don’t need it. Coming to grips with our needs versus our wants has been a major milestone.
The months leading up to the big day were intense and at times painful. We opted not to store anything unless we honestly couldn’t live without it. In the end, we had so little that some of our best friends let us take up space in their home rather than pay to rent a unit. Everything that didn’t make up our shortlist was trashed, donated or sold. Our big fear was that we would come back to all of our old things and start back with old habits. We needed a clean slate and knew that this, while extreme to some, would be the best way to accomplish it for us. Everything we own now either has extreme sentimental value or serves a purpose (and usually multiple functions). Aside from serving a purpose, anything new we do purchase needs to meet a new requirement. Which is that we love it. Our motto is that since we don’t have much, we should really love what we do have.
Gone are the weekends chock full of running errands, yard work and cleaning/fixing things around the house. Struggling to get it all accomplished and still have any time left for family, friends, hobbies, let alone ourselves, all before the Monday grind started up again. These days it takes maybe 30 minutes tops to deep clean our home on wheels. We grocery shop more often, but we buy fewer and fresher foods because we’re focused on what we can consume that week. This lifestyle has freed up so much time to do things we never did before; hiking as a family, evening bike rides after dinner, enjoying a picnic lunch next to a waterfall….
We are big advocates that if you have the circumstances to make traveling for any length of time a reality–do it. But at the end of of the day, we realize that even though this is a growing movement for our generations, it’s very much still considered outside the realm of normal. Quitting your job, selling your things and traveling isn’t for everyone. Living tiny or minimally isn’t something everyone has a desire to do. But what everyone does have the ability to do is to step back, look at your lifestyle and see where you can simplify or cut back.
The right amount of downsizing and simplifying looks different for everyone. For us, we plan to continue our pursuit of being minimalists and also living tiny (400 square feet or less) while our kids are small. For friends we recently met who just finished their year of RV travel, they moved to an area they absolutely loved and instead of going back to a 3,700 square foot house are looking for something around 1,500 square feet. There is no “one size fits all” for minimalism or simplifying your lifestyle. But if you make the effort to do it, we guarantee you will find more freedom to do the things you’re passionate about.