Posted February 25, 2019 – Narrated by Jim
In nearly 1000 days on the road, we’ve encountered two kinds of RV travelers.
The first visit as many destinations – parks, monuments and attractions – as possible during their allotted travel time. They achieve great distances. Logging miles is a point of pride.
The other kind of RV traveler has a different approach, a longer leash on time.
For a variety of reasons they can travel more leisurely and cover shorter distances between overnight locations – catch the places most travelers miss, take in the history, immerse in the culture.
I guess it’s a guy thing, but recently a camper (guy, about my age) asked how far we’d traveled in 1,000 days. When I told him 29,000 miles he shook his head and said, “What happened? Road trouble?”
Okay, I get it. When we started out we, too, had bought into the idea that faster was better.
Newly unleashed we took a run for it and covered 14,225 miles between 85 different locations in our first year.
It was a phenomenal experience … amazing … stimulating … exciting … fantastic … and, ultimately, physically exhausting.
We had doubts that we’d be able to keep it up much longer. Even Pico was pooped.
But we took advice from other full-timers and learned that we had to slow down, find our pace … But what was our pace?
Many full-timers (perhaps most) stay put for a month or more at a time. Most private RV parks incorporate discounts to make it much more affordable to stay by the month, while fourteen-day maximums are the norm for National, State and County parks.
Maybe our pace was somewhere in between …
Through experimentation, we’ve learned that the excitement of being mobile is sustainable when we stay less than a month and longer than a week.
Month stays are doable once or twice a year, but within a week, we’re planning the next move.
In September of 2016, I crunched our travel data and matched it up to our “happiness” factor and came up with the 4-3-2 Rule. But even at the time I didn’t know how to wrap my head around it. I was still caught up in that vacationer mode – the guy burning rubber to help his family see and do everything.
The paradigm shift into slow-travel, thinking like a full-time/long-term traveler, and relaxing into the rhythms of life on the road was uncharted territory – so I did the CFO thing and wrote a production manual about my 4-3-2 philosophy.
In Year Two, we finally started to embrace the 4-3-2 Rule in practice and from July 2017 to July 2018 we only traveled 9,849 miles between 71 locations. Our physical health benefited and our happiness factor went up, but the data proved that we still needed to slow down.
So far, in our third year, since July 2018 we’ve only traveled 4,957 miles between 36 locations. We’re getting there!
Click the map to see our travels animated…
We’re beginning to find our pace, trusting our instincts and feeling more certain that we can continue to sustain our lifestyle and enlarge our experience in this mobile condition.
Last week we viewed a great documentary film, Expedition Happiness, (available on Netflix) about a young couple, Felix and Selima, and their dog, Rudi.
In search of happiness they felt the need to disengage from conformity. So they renovated an old school bus and took off on an epic road-trip from Alaska to Mexico. In a single year they accomplished travel locations we certainly hope are in our future as well.
During our first year, we felt like kids too – like the German kids in the documentary – whose enthusiasm for adventure mirrored ours. We relived the joy of discovery with them as they learned to boon-dock in serene wilderness places, revel in sunsets and make their own way along highways and byways not knowing where they’ll be tomorrow.
But watching them made us tired and worry for them as they drove themselves too hard. Maybe we’re just old, we thought. But no …
In the end, Felix and Selima found the happiness they were seeking, but due to their fast pace they nearly collapsed from exhaustion and their dog became seriously ill. But still grateful for their adventure, they returned home to Germany with a treasure trove of happiness.
There are as many ways to travel as there are people. Every year our list of house-free, mobile friends continues to grow.
How do you travel? What’s your speed? What’s your philosophy? Please share in the comments below!