Disclaimer: I should only speak for myself, though I know Melody feels the same way as I do about a lot of these things.
Why are we doing this?
I can sum it up in one sentence.
I want to be an amazing husband and father and have closer relationships with my family.
That’s what I want to define me.
Rediscovering My Life’s Mission
When I was working, I had a really good job. I worked with talented and amazing people who I really like, my supervisor was the best boss I’ve ever worked for, and the job was fun enough. The problem was that I was spending the best hours of my day at work five days a week.
On weekdays I spent some time in the morning with the kids, went to work for 10 hours, then spent another couple hours with them at night while trying to find some alone time for myself before bed. I would get an hour or two to hang out with Melody before I would have to get up and do it all over again.
The weekends are when I spent the majority of my quality time with the boys. I would take them every Saturday morning from breakfast through the afternoon, going to karate class and some combination of kids activities, lunch and a trip to the local ice cream parlor before heading home. Sundays we typically did a family activity with the four of us.
Those days left me yearning for a different life, one that is now a reality but for so long felt so far away.
When I was telling people about my decision to leave my job and travel full-time with my family, people would make a comment like, “I’d love to do that, but I can’t.” Then they would go on to list a myriad of reasons why it would just be impossible to make such a drastic life change, effectively ruling out the possibility before they even considered it.
It’s important to understand we didn’t just decide on a whim to make a major life decision like this, it was a gradual process borne of years of discontent and frustration living a traditional suburban lifestyle with a 40-hour a week job.
When my wife and I started discussing this a few years back, we were of the shared mindset that we wanted to spend more time as a family even if it meant sacrificing some perceived security or normalcy, whatever that means.
The first major step we took was selling our home in California, which was the perfect opportunity for us to take a three-month road trip in a rented RV. It was a trial run to see how we would do, and there were some huge successes as well as some significant drawbacks.
Satisfying Our Wanderlust
We absolutely loved the adventure, seeing new sights and being somewhere fresh on a regular basis. Going to the store, finding a playground or a kids activity, and figuring out what to do for the day became missions in exploration and innovation and good for our souls.
The chance to spend so much more time together as a family was amazing and the best part of the trip. It was an experience that allowed me to see another way of living, and though we settled back down into a house afterwards, we continued to talk about returning to that lifestyle at some point.
It’s Not Always Easy
While the trip was amazing in many ways, it wasn’t perfect. The RV we rented started feeling small after a few months, and the limitations of a 31’ gas-powered Class A RV, a bus-style coach but without the weight and power of a traditional diesel Class A coach, kept us from heading east where the winds were too strong to comfortably drive.
After being pushed off the road a few times by crosswinds and passing semi trucks, we headed back to the California desert to finish our trip. It wasn’t a bad RV, but it wasn’t quite enough to succeed at the ambitious multi-year trip we were envisioning in the future.
A major motivating factor in our decision to sell our house and quit my job was the opportunity to slowly travel our way through the country over the next few years. The idea of moving somewhere else and settling down again just didn’t seem very appealing.
We just moved out of a nice house in a nice neighborhood with nice neighbors. No complaints in that department, and a nice lifestyle for you if it’s what your into.
We just weren’t that into it.
Settling Down Just Isn’t For Us
My wife and I recognize this. We often talked about the problem not being the house and area, but the fact we just didn’t want to be tied down to one place anymore. That and we wanted to spend more time together as a family and break free from the traditional work situation we were in.
Even though we talked about traveling and non-traditional work for years, it took us a long time to get comfortable with the idea that we could actually do this.
How We Finally Took the Plunge
A series of life events over the past five years, along with my increasing awareness of my own mortality, got us to the point where we became comfortable embracing the unknown of defying the norm.
Talking about it, reading blogs and watching YouTube videos normalized things for us to the point where we knew the full-time lifestyle was attainable. Taking that RV trip at the end of 2017 confirmed we liked enough aspects of the mobile lifestyle to go for it.
Are you missing too much of your kids childhood?
One of the major issues I had with my current situation is that I spent the majority of my waking hours working. It just wasn’t the way I wanted things to go. In fact, my relationships with my sons was more distant than ever.
Checking in with the kids for 15 minutes in the morning and an hour or two at night just wasn’t enough.
Having to say “no” to so many requests to play or hang out because I needed to go to work had to stop.
My kids motivated me to change my life
I’ve been a pretty involved dad over the last nine years, including spending almost five years as a stay-at-home dad. That period of time when I was caring full-time for the kids was wonderful, even considering it was also the most demanding job I’ve ever had.
I mistakenly thought that going back to work and being in the office all day would be a new experience that I would enjoy, and while there were certainly people and aspects of the job I enjoyed, it wasn’t what I thought it would be. I needed to get back to being a full-time dad.
And I have!