August 24, 2012

6 Months On The Road: Some Thoughts

On Wednesday we hit the six month mark for our travels. Thinking about what a monumental event this was for us, I started thinking about all that we have seen and what we have learned from our experiences so far. Sky and I got to reflecting on what our expectations for this trip had been, and we came up with several examples of where this trip has turned out to be not what we had expected of it. Not necessarily good or bad, just different.  I figured it might be interesting to share some of these thoughts with you in case you were considering going on an adventure like ours, or were just curious to hear about it.

Vacation vs. Lifestyle

Early into the trip we found ourselves frustrated at the lack of hours in the day. We’d dreamed about the endless days of vacation, where you wake up, enjoy a long breakfast, followed by a bike around town, then go on a long scenic hike, and capped off with a swim, just in time for lunch. What we found was that even though we were unemployed, we still only had the same amount of day hours to work with, not to mention amounts of energy. On top of that, we quickly realized that we still had all the same day to day responsibilities that we’d had back home. We still had to do the dishes, walk the dogs twice a day, balance our finances, pay bills, buy groceries, run errands, etc. We found ourselves in foul moods because supposedly we were on vacation, damn it, so why did we have all these responsibilities? After some thoughtful conversations we came to the realization that we had approached our days wrong. Instead of seeing this as a vacation, we needed to realize that it was just another type of lifestyle, just one where instead of jobs we had exploring to do. After that we started planning our days around our responsibilities, and took a more laid back approach to how we spent our time, and our moods improved immensely.

Another aspect of this new lifestyle that we hadn’t accounted for was the amount of planning we would have to do daily in order to maintain some sense of order in our lives. In this new life we are constantly having to plan where we are driving next, where we are parking for the night, and what we are doing in this place we have never been to before. I even love planning, so before going on this trip I figured that that would be the best part of this trip. Well, what we’ve found is that it gets old, and it gets old quickly. We’ve tried the approach of “let’s see what happens when we get there” and not planning anything with hopes of everything falling into place once we arrived at our next destination. After several late night stressful drives up and down city blocks looking for a safe place to park our house, we’ve determined it’s better to go ahead and spend the time planning up front.

Living in a trailer/on the road

We didn’t know what to expect out of living in a trailer since we’d never lived in such a small space before, or traveled with our house with us. The very first night we spent in the trailer it was extremely weird. I felt like everyone was watching us, that someone was going to come knocking on our door and tell us to move, or that someone was going to break in and rob/kill us. I had all kinds of wild fantasies that night, and begged Sky to keep our BB gun close (like that thing could really scare someone?). I think I hardly slept that night. Over the next week my anxiety slowly faded, and in time I have gotten to the point where I no longer even realize that our living quarters are different from a stationary house. When we come home at the end of the night, that’s exactly what it feels like, like coming home. The outside world, wherever we might be that night, fades away. Every once in a while I catch myself standing there in my pjs, brushing my teeth, getting ready for bed and I remember that we are in the middle of a Wal-Mart parking lot, and it makes me laugh.

Living on the road also means that we are constantly surrounded by people we don’t know. The downside is that we never have friends around that we can count on to be there when we need some company. That can get lonely. The upside is that we are meeting people outside of our normal interaction circle, people who have done things we have never even thought possible, and they make us realize just how big the world is and how many possibilities there are out there. Another awesome aspect of being surrounded by new folks each day is that chances are that we are never going to see them again. What this means is that if I don’t feel like taking a shower, fixing my hair, or dressing up, its ok, I’m never going to see them again! As long as I don’t get my grossness documented in a picture, it’s like it never happened. I can’t say enough how hugely liberating this is.

Being in the moment

The year before we went on this trip I spent a lot of time on Google Maps exploring the US map, imagining what places I’d never been to before would look like. One of my favorite things to do when I had some downtime at work was to pull up the National Geographic Photo of the Day site and imagine myself in those exotic locations. I’ve always had a hard time “being in the moment”, and I kept telling myself that if only I was THERE, in this EPIC picture, I would have no problem getting in the moment. Time would slow down, I would be able to sit down and fully take in what was around me.  I guess I figured that the problem was with the fact that I hadn’t been to an EPIC place lately, that my day to day activities just weren’t exciting enough to capture my attention.

Well, since we have gone on this trip, we have been to many of the places I had seen in the pictures, and yet I still find it hard to be one with the landscape.  I have come to realize that it wasn’t the fact that I was previously somewhere that wasn’t exciting enough; it was the fact that I am the “grass might be greener on the other side” kind of person, as in “what else is out there?”. I find that we get somewhere that is totally worthy of being a fold-out in a travel magazine, and I look at it, remark that it’s marvelous, and then crave moving on to what’s next on our itinerary. In my mind I’m wondering if this is so wonderful, what if the next place is even cooler? What if we miss it?

That being said, amazingly, I am more relaxed than I used to be. Going into this trip I was worried that there would be so many factors outside of my control that it would drive me nuts. While this is still true to some extent, I have found a new part of me that’s ok with not being in control of everything. Skyler has had a lot to do with me being able to get to this new Zen place, and I think the slower pace of life has certainly played a large factor. This, in a way, is also very liberating.

Spending so much time together

Skyler and I are very lucky to have one of those best friends relationships. Even before going on this trip we spent pretty much every moment together outside of work. One of the main concerns we had going on this trip was that spending EVERY moment together was going to drive us nuts, potentially ruining the bond that we had established. Thankfully, that has not been the case. If anything, I would say it feels like we’re even closer now. This takes a lot of patience on Skyler’s part, and some on mine. I don’t know how he puts up with me taking five million and one pictures everywhere we go, but he does.

Sure, there are days when we have a drag-down knock-out fight and don’t speak to each other. Those are the days that I wish we had an easy to drive car with us, one that I could jump in and go somewhere to spend some alone time in. (Yes, I am still a weeny about driving the huge truck by myself, especially driving it places I am not familiar with, where Skyler doesn’t have another car to come rescue me if I accidently run over the other little cars in the road.) Thankfully, those fights do not usually last longer than a day, and we find ourselves right back to holding hands before I know it.

Traveling with dogs

I wish I could say that traveling with our dogs is better than what we expected. Traveling with the pups has had its ups and downs, but if I had to say one way or the other, I would say that given the choice again, we probably would not have brought them with us. Having pets back home was easy, we had a back yard. Being cooped up in a small space with two hairy dogs (that shed like nobody’s business) requires that we walk them regularly. This greatly limits what we can do during the day, the time that we can spend away from the trailer. This also greatly limits our nightly options, as we can’t leave the trailer, travel into the city and spend the night there; we have to come home every night. Any changes in weather, especially hotter days, leave us worried about the temperatures inside the trailer, and how the dogs are faring, and have ruined many outings when we’ve had to rush home to check on them.

The upside to having the dogs with us though is that I can’t even begin to explain the feeling of happiness I get when we take them on a hike and they are obviously so happy running around, exploring and swimming. The big smiles they get on their faces are priceless. Sometimes we see them as being our “children”, and we feel proud for being able to take them to so many places, as in “look how many things you guys have gotten to see!” kind of way. I like to imagine that Chloe is taking it all in when she endlessly stares out the window as we cover new ground. Puppy hugs and kisses sure are nice at the end of a long day, and on a cold night when Sammy is cold, its super cute to cuddle with him under the covers.  

Writing this blog

I thought writing a blog while traveling would be so exciting and fun. I really enjoy taking photographs, and that portion of the blog has turned out to be exactly as I had hoped. But, I have never particularly enjoyed writing, and just because I finally have something interesting to write about does not mean that I have magically learned how to write interesting tales. All day long while we’re out and about I am creating and editing what I am going to write in my head. It sounds so witty, so enticing, so epic. But then I sit down at the computer and it all comes out sounding like “Today we spent a day at the park. There we ate ice cream” and this is SO FRUSTRATING! I also don’t have the patience for editing or second drafts, so generally I publish what I’ve just sat down and written. I have a sneaking suspicion that if I just spent a little more time on the entry it would sound much better, but when it comes time to choose between doing something exciting or writing about it, I prefer to choose the doing.

Writing the blog can sometimes feel like a chore, like something I have to do, another one of my responsibilities. The main reason I keep it going is that I have a spotty long term memory and will immediately forget what we did and where. Recording our adventures has helped me to retain the memories better. And even though I don’t enjoy the writing part, it still feels like an accomplishment each time I hit that magic Publish button.  Maybe one day we’ll hire an amazing writer to re-write everything we have written and turn it into an interesting book!

When I look back at the last six months it seems like it went by so quickly. We have a wall calendar where in each day space we record where we spent the night that night. It’s amazing to flip back through the months and see all the amazing places we have been. It feels like we are the same people we were when we left, yet I can sense that we have changed. I hope it has been for the better, I hope we have become more interesting people. I hope we continue to grow in the months we have ahead of us.

Thank you for following along!

Happy times on the road,


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  1. I'm glad you are documenting your thoughts and I'm sure when you look back on this experience in a few years you'll be grateful you did. I have some of my old "journal" entries in my email from when I was 18yo and in Bahrain for a year. It's funny to see what I thought was important back then and how (im)maturely I sounded. Anyway, I'm certainly glad you all are having the time of your lives! I agree that dogs can be a pain but at the end of the day they are a joy. Is there an end date on this adventure? Look forward to more pictures and stories as you travel East! Take care, Brian Tromburg

    1. Brian, no final end date as of yet! We'll see how New England goes if we get there! Thanks for following along!!

  2. I loved this entry! I'm always fascinated by self reflection, especially during travel. I wish I could give a detailed response that would then spur some discussion, but I'm not sure I have it in me :) But it made me happy to see that you are being positive as you realize some of the draw backs. I'm proud of you guys for doing this, I never could have. I hope to see you soon. (p.s. what did you do to my sister that night in the club! haha...some interesting drunk texts...

    1. Kelley, who are you kidding? You lived in France by yourself for a year!! :o) As for the last question, well...What happens in Seattle (even if it includes a very hot Australian guy, and dancing until the wee hours of the nights) stays in Seattle. :o) Ask Lindsay.

  3. Hi there,

    I've been following your blog for a while, and thought this would be a great time to let you know how I enjoy reading about your travels. The posts have never came across to me as "Wow, they went to a park. Then they ate ice cream...?"

    I did, however, spend the entire time reading this post waiting for you to tell about the 6 moths you found on a road. That part of the story never did come. Instead you shared with us your lack of patience for editing :)

    I look forward to reading much more about your adventure and seeing many more pictures!

    1. Em,

      I was thoroughly confused for a bit there...I had to re-read your comment and then I caught on. You made me laugh until I had tears running down my face! What a great catch on your part! And here's the sad part...I actually edited this entry like 3 or 4 times..dern. Thanks for reading the blog! I really appreciated your funny comment!


      P.S. No MOTHS were hurt in the editing of this blog.

      P.P.S. If you're catching this after I edited the title, Em caught that I'd made a spelling error, and accidentally put 6 moths instead of 6 months. :o)

  4. I really loved this post--your candidness and sense of humor make this such an enjoyable read. You're totally right when you say that traveling is a lifestyle...and not always a Ferris Bueller kinda day. Well played my friend :) Keep living the big life and keep writing about it!! xoxo to the pups and Sky! --Caro (& Jeremy)

    1. Thanks guys! Its great to hear a compliment from such seasoned travelers as yourselves! :o) Hopefully we can swing by soon to see you guys in Salt Lake City!