There’s a lot to be done to get yourself in a position that is conducive to nomading, or long-term camping. The first one, in my opinion, has to do with your mind.
It’s All about the Benjamins…Maybe.
Or is it? Given an 8 hour workday and 8 hours of sleep a night, you’re spending 40 hours/week at work, and only the remaining 72 with your family/friends/self. Our work lives eat up a significant portion of our existence.
Since Liz and I met, a lot has changed in both our lives. I’ve been a camper-dreaming Mustachian hippie at heart for years, so the idea of going rogue and bucking the corporate wheel isn’t a new concept for me. But I recognize it’s not standard issue, and changing the way someone else sees the world is scary. In this nation we’re taught from day one to just buckle down and wait to pop our heads up from the corporate wheel way down the line, when we are grey in the beard and stiff in the knee. So toiling under those fluorescent office lights for a good 40-60 years is normal by all American standards. I suppose I just popped my head up too early and got a good look around. And then I met Liz, and she popped her head up too in order to check out what the hell I was spending so much time looking at. And now we’re both in a whole lot of existential trouble.
Once I ‘d seen it myself, I just couldn’t un-see it. I was watching myself sell off the precious minutes of my life to pursue accomplishments that didn’t make me happy, and to buy things that I didn’t need, and to prove things that didn’t matter to people who didn’t care. I stuffed a lot of shiny items into my hard-fought nest to validate my day-to-day and make selling my life away seem meaningful enough to continue doing it. All because that’s just what you do. And once I had distilled my life down to that, for some strange reason I just didn’t want to do it anymore.
That’s a rough view to have when you’re trying to share a life with someone. But Liz heard me out and then she looked around, and couldn’t un-see it in her life either. And now there is no going back. Fortunately neither of us want children, so honestly we’re free to do whatever the hell we want as long as we can sustain our own existence and plan appropriately for future Shan and future Liz.
Alas, as we should, we both have worries. We’ve collected them here to share with you, so that maybe someone else out there in the situation we’re in now won’t feel so alone.
It’s a bit agonizing leading up to launch, if we are being honest. Every day before we leave our current office jobs is a long trod through hours and hours of a life we’re trying to leave behind. But just because we have a heading doesn’t mean we’re also not fraught with a competing onslaught of worry butterflies assaulting us in the face most days. So here’s a breakdown of what we’re most concerned about. Big-ass flapping Monarchs aiming straight for the eyes.
Worries and More Worries
Liz’s Top 5 Worries
- Space – Confining my life to the walls of a 15-17 foot camper is a daunting undertaking, especially when this space is shared with another person and a pet. Where will we fit the bare essentials we’ve discovered we actually do “need”? How can we avoid stepping on each other’s toes and paws?
- Money – For me to commit to this lifestyle, I will need to quit my job which is the only reliable stream of income I have. Finding a workamping or boondocking opportunity to minimize costs and scouring the internet for alternate streams of income will be a must if I don’t want to put a major dent in my savings.
- Laundry – A minimal amount of space equates to a minimal amount of clothing. Fortunately for me and Shan, we can share clothes however we’ll still go through them at the same rate with a mostly outdoor lifestyle. Inconsistent access to a W/D will be challenging as this is a creature comfort I have grown accustomed to.
- Internet – In order to browse the internet for work opportunities, or to even plan my next move, reliable internet is a must. As much as I crave disconnecting from the world, I would appreciate the chance to stay connected on some level to what is happening around me.
- Healthcare – Without a job and without a salary, ensuring I find a reasonably priced healthcare plan is paramount. We’re talking about picking up and moving sometimes to the middle of nowhere. The middle of nowhere doesn’t really afford itself to convenient pharmacies, doctor’s offices, or even hospitals.
Shan’s Top 5 Worries
- Weirdness – Honestly, I’m worried I’ll get weird and my threshold for human interaction will take an epic nosedive. Or maybe the lack of forced interaction and general sparseness of it will convert me into one of those people that just doesn’t know when to stop talking once the niceties have wound down.
- Money – I have done a good job saving over the last ten years. But I’m about to embark into a lifestyle that may or may not include enough workamping opportunities and freelance blogging to keep me comfortably in the black and saving for the future. After all, I’m not bucking the wheel to go destitute from simplifying my life down to its basic needs, but quite the opposite.
- Discomfort – I haven’t lived in a 17 foot trailer with my partner before. In fact, in modern life there’s not much discomfort I experience on a day-to-day basis. We have a big, pillow-top bed. We have multiple rooms in our home to roam within. We have an expansive couch. I go from my climate-controlled house to my climate-controlled office and back again. I take scalding hot showers. I am a delicate, soft-skinned cherub born from a tender womb of modern amenities.
- Health and Healthcare – When you’re in the middle of nowhere, self-sufficiency is key. What if one of us gets sick? God forbid both of us get sick. What if healthcare is prohibitively expensive?
- Love, Tolerance, and Irritants – In the food industry, chickens have the tips of their beaks lopped off. Why? Because we put them in small, small cages with each other. And no matter how much you love one another, tight spaces make all creatures a cacophony of intense crabbiness. 17 feet is barely enough for both of us to spread our wings. What if I lose my shit the next time Liz bumps into me? What if my allergies act up and I drive her nuts sneezing all the time? Like sands through the hourglass, and chickens in battery cages, these are the (future) days of our lives.
The Whys behind the Willingness to Wander
There are a lot of reasons why we’re still going for it. Most of all, because there’s no going back. But that’s not to say there aren’t specific reasons for each of us as to why going forward is still, despite said concerns, undeniably compelling.
Liz’s Top 5 Whys
- Freedom – I will be able to move around as I please and be untethered to the constraints of the life I’m currently leading.
- Travel – I will be able to experience and see all that America has to offer, on my own terms, at the optimal time of year, on my own schedule.
- Regain control of life – Without a 9-5 job, I will be able to focus on what really matters to me and I won’t have to wake up with a feeling of dread that I’m wasting my life in an 8×10 cubicle with recycled air and oppressive lighting for the rest of my days.
- Minimal footprint – I will be able to minimize my impact on the environment by leading a much less consumerist life.
- Self-discovery – I am most excited to get out and experience the parts of life that appeal to me and really look at what makes me tick and why.
Shan’s Top 5 Whys
- Change – I look at the same things every day. I grow older, and the world around me evolves, but most of my days bleed into each other, unremarkable. Time throughout these days runs like the water through a kitchen sink. Water comes and goes, but the faucet carrying it remains the same. I want to follow it. See where it goes. Get as many things into my eyes as I can during my short time on this little blue marble.
- Creativity – My job is boring. Most jobs are boring. But the world is not boring. There are a million things to learn, see, do, and create. I’d like to think that with enough opportunity, I could explore so many interesting things. Learn a new language, research the migration patterns of the colossal squid, cross stitch a bird on a beanie, learn to play Metallica on the ukelele, and such. All the naturally obvious things.
- Connection – I am not religious, but I believe everything is connected. And I feel sterilized and myopic within my concrete confines. I can’t see my place in the rest of nature. I live without greater context, without deeper color. I want to gain perspective. Regain that feeling of being a small, fortunate blip. Remember my place. I want to step out of the camper in the morning with my cup of coffee, breathe deeply, and listen. I want to sit around a fire at night and look up at the stars, and listen.
- The Freedom of Simplicity – My life feels overly complicated here. I have to allocate enough time in the morning to make myself presentable just to drive through traffic, then pay my many bills, and keep up a house, fold lots of clothes, wash many dishes, and all the rest. Less stuff equals less maintenance and more free time, and hence more freedom.
- Space – The camper is yes, small. But the nation is big. And there are big spaces out there. Huge spaces. Spaces that will make us feel small. I can’t wait to move away from the congestion of the city. Out there, I think–I believe, there’s room to breathe.