Choosing to change our entire lifestyle is terrifying. Turning “maybe one day…” into “let’s do this!” requires overcoming all the fears and reasons we create to keep us in one place. For years, we had talked about living tiny, minimally, or nomadically, but we weren’t sure we could actually do it. Whenever one of us came up with a crazy idea to change our lives, reasons not do it always got in the way. Here are the fears we had about traveling full time, and how we overcame them.
Will we feel lonely?
Do you ever have that feeling of unbearable loneliness even though you’re surrounded by people? Even living in the city with friends nearby, we felt lonely. So what was it going to be like living on the road, full-time, without our wonderful community around? What would it be like to travel in places where we don’t feel comfortable holding hands in public….would we feel lonely and isolated?
Now, for whatever reason, we rarely feel lonely. Not sure why….it just isn’t a feeling we get anymore. We think it has to do with the quality of the interactions we have now…when we call friends, it’s very intentional and personal. When we are together, we have enough emotional energy to actually be present with each other rather than just going through the motions.
Another hypothesis is that sharing such a small space helps us feel closer and more in-tune with each other’s emotions and energy. We recently watched this documentary, I AM, which demonstrates how human energy can effect the atoms around us. So maybe, just maybe, our energy together is different now. Regardless of why we feel less lonely, we do know that our fear of being lonely was just a fear, not our reality.
Will it be hard on our relationship?
Truth be told, the stress of our previous life was already hard on our relationship. We were sick all the time, arguing more than ever, and when we had bad days, sometimes we took it out on the other person. So our fear that we wouldn’t get along was a very real possibility. Marriage isn’t easy, but so far it’s worth the hard work to build a strong relationship.
Knowing that this adventure may be tough on our relationship, we planned ahead. We even got a virtual marriage counselor that could do video sessions. Oddly, as the months went on, we realized we were communicating so much better, and falling more and more in love, that we have little need for a counselor anymore.
We are surprised by how well we do get along these days. Our relationship feels new again, happy, joyful, excited, and free…and so far, there is no better feeling than being in love with your spouse. There are still ups and downs, but we have the time and the energy to communicate through them, instead of letting them build up and boil over. Relationships ebb and flow and that’s ok. Regardless, we’re going to ride this love wave for as long as we can!
What are we going to do with all our stuff?
When we met, Jessi owned only what fit into a suitcase and Valerie lived in a 200 sq ft studio…so it was surprising to see how much stuff we had accumulated five years later. We’ve never been into “stuff.” Neither of us have a collection of things nor do we have many nicknacks or memorabilia. We go shopping for new clothes MAYBE once a year but even still, the stuff piled up over the years. And what in the world were we going to do with all of it? Didn’t we work hard to buy all these things? Won’t we just have to buy it all over again once we get “settled down?”
As we started to downsize, we realized how good it felt to get rid of it all. We no longer had to move that heavy mattress to a new location (we moved it 6 times); we no longer had to clean on top of that messy dresser that always seemed to be filled with crap. More info on downsizing in “7 tips to live simply with less stuff,” but the gist is, for us, the less we own the better we feel. And we’re not really sure why, but we can’t deny there was a feeling of relief letting it all go.
And what do we do if we one day live in a “normal” house? We will only buy the bare essentials, and even then, be willing to donate it all back if need be. We want to own few things, so few things own us.
What will people say?
It’s amazing how powerful the pressure is to “Keep up with the Jones’s.” One of our biggest fears, was the fear of missing out, and being judged.
A year ago, we both had successful careers, made good money, had two new cars, and owned a house in the suburbs. On the outside, it looked like we had made it. We were finally achieving everything our culture said was important. Why we were thinking about “throwing it away” to live in a 15ft camper?
Everybody around us was working toward the same goals we had been, so it seemed counter-cultural to question if those goals really mattered to us. So what were people going to say? Were they going to think we were selfish to give up? Were they going to think we were just more entitled millennials not happy with modern life?
It’s our life, not theirs
Friends and family have been surprisingly supportive and encouraging of the lifestyle change. They said things like “Well! You can always come back if you don’t like it!” or “You’re young! Now’s the time to do it.” At at the end of the day, no one else is us, living our lives. If we are not happy, it’s up to us to make the change, not anyone else.
We’ve seen a lot of people get stuck….they’re miserable but yet feel like they have no options to change their circumstances. It takes courage to take a leap of faith, and it’s ridiculously stressful and scary and awful at times, but if the other option is to stay miserable, we are happy to choose an alternative route.
Taking action is a huge part of happiness. When you feel trapped, what can you do to change it? You don’t have to live in a camper in order to take control of your life’s circumstances- if you’re unhappy doing XY or Z what CAN you do to make things better. There’s always options. It’s ok to take some responsible risk and it’s ok to live differently. Check out, Don’t Wait, Start Living Now for a little inspiration!
it Might hurt our careers
Again, our careers were and are important to us- without money we were afraid we wouldn’t be able to do the things we enjoy. So when thinking about living tiny we were terrified that our resume would have huge gaps, that we wouldn’t be able to afford to eat, or that we would never be able to find good jobs again.
But then we reminded ourselves (repeatedly) no matter what you’re doing, your resume tells a story. And if you can pitch that story to meet the needs of a company, they will hire you. It doesn’t matter if you took time off, changed careers 15 times, or stayed in the same company for 25 years- you need to be a story teller when applying for jobs. Once we realized that, the world is our oyster. We took the blind leap of faith, and opportunity followed us. Traveling teaches incredible skills that can be applied to the workforce. Things like: project management, people skills, soft skills in dealing with a variety of people and the list goes on and on. And don’t get us started on the skills you learn while blogging! We are multi-talented these days.
What if we hate it?
This was probably the scariest of them all. What if we do this, leave everything behind, only to wake up to the fact that we’ll end up hating our new life more than our old one. Well shit. Where do you go from there? What if this was our best idea and it fails? What do we do if it doesn’t work out?
We are big planners; we plan everything, so we planned for the worst and hoped for the best. We talked extensively about the getaway plan. What do we do if we hate it? What do we do if the camper breaks down? Could we sell our tiny home? How much could we sell it for? How much are we willing to invest or lose in this adventure?
Pretty much all the questions you can ask yourself, we asked and talked about. Always, always, always have a worst case scenario plan…it gave us comfort to know we could change our minds and also had the details (for the most part) planned out just in case. Luckily for us, so far, we love the lifestyle so don’t need to implement this plan. But it’s still there in case we need to change our minds.
Facing fears we had of traveling full time
We’ve listed 6 fears the nearly kept us from trying to live alternatively. Perhaps your fears that may be holding you back are different. The only way to get over fears is not ignoring them, but facing them. Sometimes naming those fears help us look them straight in the eyes, come to terms with them, and walk through them to pursue our dreams on the other side. At the end of the day, every choice in life has reasons to and not do them. There are pros and cons of everything. Understanding the risks can help us live empowered, daring lives, despite our fears of the unknown.
Would we do it all over again?
Absolutely, 100%, without a doubt, we would take this leap all over again. And again. And one more time if we had the chance. This has been one of the best, life changing experiences for both of us. We feel like the universe has challenged us, (check out the storm before the calm…the universe has REALLY challenged us) and also has given us a gift that we never knew we wanted…freedom from convention.
We talk about feeling free a lot. Feeling freer helps us feel happier. Again, it’s hard to say what exactly has increased happiness in our lives, but we speculate it’s from owning less, being more financially free, having more control over our lives, meeting awesome people and friends everywhere we go, and also being in nature on a regular basis. We also have accepted the fact that happiness is simply an emotion and not a constant state of mind, so we’ve been putting a little less pressure on ourselves to be happy all the time.