Last week was the dreaded pack up and minimize to leave for our RV road trip across the USA. Actually, we’re in a travel trailer, but it’s just easier to keep calling it an RV.
We arrived at our campsite in Asheville last night, the first stop on our trip, exhausted.
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Home office for the next 10 days. In the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. We are located just a short drive to downtown. Amongst the unpacking and getting set up still for our new life on the road, we are doing a few things here. Yesterday we took in a kids museum and 2 breweries. Today we are going on a 1 hour hike and then maybe another brewery – good beer here in case you don’t know. Have you been to Asheville? #AmericaUnplugged #Asheville . . . #familytravel #roadtripusa #NorthCarolina #rvliving #rvlife #forestriver #rvtravel #fulltimefamilies #usaroadtrip #roadtrip #roadtrips #ford #f250 #lifeontheroad #homeonwheels #rvadventure #rvroadtrip #gorving #rvlifestyle #traveltrailer #fulltimefamily #discoveramerica #visittheusa #explorenc #visitnc #Carolina #Carolinas #nc
I’ve been doing this now for over 20 years as I write a life story filled with my chapters, overseas adventures and relocations.
I’ve gotten good at downsizing and living a minimalist life, and I’ve got a good process on how to do it, but it never gets any easier.
Minimizing is a draining process because it is a complete facing of who you are.
Most of the time we avoid looking within so we cover ourselves with endless things: thoughts, possessions, activities.
When you unplug and minimize you push all that away to face the truth.
As you evaluate each thing you own as to whether you want it to stay or go, you’re forced to look deeply at your choices and your values and how well you’ve been living in alignment with them.
Is this thing important to me? Why? Why on earth did I buy this in the first place? What do I really value? How is my self worth tied up into this thing? What fear is causing me to hold too tight? Can I just let this go and feel safe?
These are tough questions to answer and it’s why you battle for sometime as to what can stay and what can go. You’re terrified of making the wrong choice and losing a memory of the past – even if it bears no significance to your present or future.
If I let go of this, what remains left of me? Who am I really?
The eternal existential question we avoid as no one really knows – it’s an endless journey that goes into the next life.
To be honest, it would be easier if someone just came and removed it all and said,
“Sorry but you’re starting from scratch,”
rather than me having to go through the agonizing process of making the decisions and letting go of the attachments.
Don’t you agree?
You’d be forced to wipe it clean, start again, and define exactly who you want to be in this moment, rather than having the past drag you down into what you think it expects you to be.
It was quite funny watching Kalyra confidently make decisions about what to keep and give away and have me become quite resistant to some of her choices.
“Kalyra, you can’t give away this doll. She’s like another child to me. You love this doll. She’s been everywhere with us! You loved her so much.”
“Mum. I don’t play with her anymore. It’s better to give her to another child who’ll appreciate her”
“I’ll see if Savannah wants her then!!!”
haha. The things we attach to. I think I was finding it hard to accept my little girl is outgrowing dolls!
The hardest move yet
In case you don’t know we’ve lived in 5 countries: Dublin twice, Raleigh three times, Australia multiple places, Bangkok and London.
We’ve also had many long term travel adventures across Europe, Africa, South East Asia, Australia and the USA.
This was by far the hardest move I’ve ever done.
Which will seem strange to my friends in Australia,
“You mean leaving Burleigh, the best place to live in Australia (and possibly the world) with the most beautiful beach, ultimate climate, cool hipster lifestyle, and your best friends close by wasn’t harder?”
I know it’s ridiculous.
This move away though wasn’t about leaving people I love the most, which is always heartbreaking.
What was grueling about it was leaving behind one dream for another.
It took me some time to figure out just why I felt so down about leaving Raleigh.
For the first time in 21 years the sacrifices of this life of travel hit me hard.
Every dream you set out to create will involve sacrifices. It’s important to know what these are as it gives you greater chance of success if you can accept them as part of the journey.
I can usually accept them as the dream has been more powerful. This time I had two dreams intertwining so I wasn’t so sure.
These are the sacrifices of travel hurting me now
Putting all of our money into travel
Sunset in Kona
Travel has been the best investment of my life. I’ve grown so much because of it and have the most amazing memories.
I could die tomorrow and say that I lived a full life. I’m not sure many people get to say that and I do purely because of my travels across the globe and the people I have met. I don’t regret a single penny I’ve spent on travel.
However, it’s starting to weigh on me that I don’t have investments for my future or I don’t own anything. In particular a home of my own, and a place where the girls can create childhood memories.
Kalyra was upset leaving our apartment as she had grown quite attached to her memories there, and it made me think about how important a home may be for children.
I’m still not completely sure if it is or not as the alternative life they have lived has been pretty good.
Perhaps in ten years, my girls will be the best person to answer that curious questions as they will have experienced both – growing up nomadic, and then finally settling down to have a home.
An attachment to things
I was upset putting my couch and bed into storage. Weird I know!
It’s the first time I’ve ever owned nice furniture, and while we don’t have much, I felt a very strong attachment to them and realized how much I liked having my own things that are comfortable and nice. We’ve only ever owned second hand furniture – whatever we could afford to help us travel more.
Having a comfy couch and bed served as a reminder to me of all I have achieved and overcome. At long last, I made something of my life. I was frightened to let that go.
What will this make of me now?
An attachment to possessions can be dangerous so I’m happy to cut that cord for a bit to remind myself about what is really important and who I can be without the stuff defining me.
I was devastated to leave my gym
It became very apparent to me just how much a regular workout routine is a huge sacrifice of travel for me. Before I started traveling (way back in 97), I would go to the gym twice a day. I LOVED fitness classes and being super fit.
I thrive when I have an instructor or personal trainer, which is why I love gyms.
I gave all of that up with my travels for the past 20 years and I wish I didn’t.
This past year I’ve been maintaining a consistent workout schedule at our local gym with boot camp 2-3 times a week, dance classes, yoga and a personal trainer. I’m currently the fittest I’ve ever been and feel fantastic.
My PT pushed me to levels I never knew was possible for me – 2mins 30secs holding a plank, 270 push ups in a 30 minute session, working on a pull up, and other fun things my body showed my I could do.
I’m shattered to leave that support and daily 60 minutes high intensity training.
I’m super motivated to keep it up on the road and have bought some equipment to help me like TRX bands, bosu, stability ball, hand weights, kettlebells and my Grokker subscription.
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Keeping it real. My workout space now when it’s raining outside. Thankfully our travel trailer has space for me to knock out 270 push ups. I’m determined to maintain the fitness routine my PT set up for me to achieve results. Do you workout on the road?
Leaving a support structure and community
Now I’m older and well traveled, I realize how much I’ve missed by not having community. Community is important for humans – that sense of support and belonging.
It wasn’t important for me when I was younger out carving my own path against communities wishes and expectations of me. But, now I crave it.
I even have thoughts pass by my mind of joining committees upon return to Raleigh to help keep my wonderful home wonderful. It’s growing quickly and I’m worried about the City of Oaks losing all its oaks!!
I love having my favorite lake to walk around, cafes and restaurants, my local supermarkets I can get everything I need, and important people like my chakra healer close by.
And of course the friendships we have in the area. I’m looking forward to settling down in a family friendly neighborhood to immerse myself more in community.
Dropping a 14 year dream for another
The biggest issue was me having to confront the reality of what was now important to me.
As many of you reading this know, I fell in love with Raleigh the minute I arrived in 2004. I love it like I would a child – strange but true.
We’ve battled since then to return to this place, as we’ve outlined in this post about our secret, and this post about getting our green card.
It’s been 14 years of failure, success, heartache and trauma.
Finally, last year we found a way to come back with the permission to live here permanently.
For the past eighteen months we’ve been living in an apartment in Raleigh and I’ve loved every minute of it from my morning routine, to my gym, to my favorite local cafes, bars and restaurants, and even my comfortable home and furniture, and ability to travel in and out on short trips.
Always returning to my ideal.
We won the battle and then we pack it all up, jump in the travel trailer and leave.
Am I crazy? Will I ever be satisfied?
Why would you fight so hard for the dream, get it and then walk away?
That’s been my greatest heartache.
It’s why this road trip is not an indefinitely. It’s very definite. I don’t want to leave for much longer than a year, I feel my home already calling me back.
For the first time in my life I feel the fear of missing out. I’m not sure of what, but I feel it.
Raleigh is growing so quickly and I feel like it will outgrow me, that we’ll return to overpriced property and will miss the boat on our dream home. I feel like I haven’t explored enough in Raleigh. There are still so many great bars and restaurants to try and I’m running out of time to do it all.
Perhaps I keep forgetting I actually have a lifetime to enjoy Raleigh now as we’ve got the green card. I’m not going to be forced to leave like I have twice before.
Once I dealt with the pain of leaving I was ready to go and embrace it. It was made all the more painful by so many delays and things going wrong – welcome to the RV world. It was so frustrating as I just wanted to cut the cord, run, get it done and return.
It’s weird saying that like I really don’t want to go on this trip. I do, and I am excited.
I know when I’m called to do something I follow it as it leads to great things. It will take time for me to move back into the uncertain nomadic life but I know it will be filled with many great memories and experiences. I’m just going to miss my life in Raleigh.
When you have conflicting dreams like this
Evaluate it in terms of –
what will bring me the better future?
Don’t evaluate it based upon what’s important to you now or makes you happy now. As that is ever evolving and transient and may not be the best thing for your future.
You can have multiple dreams at once, and one just may be the thing that helps you get the other.
It’s not an easy decision to make and it’s difficult to take a giant leap of faith.
Trust that the wings will grow on the way down.
I knew leaving on this trip would help me fulfil the dream of seeing the US on an RV trip, it would help me unplug from the chaos to reconnect with my children, myself and nature better.
It would help me reduce our expenses, save more money, create more money so that when we return to Raleigh I can buy my dream home, I can invest money, and I can put it towards other dreams like traveling home to see my family and friends and bringing them over here to see me.
At this stage in my life, remaining in Raleigh and doing what we’re doing will just keep giving me the same results. I was starting to get into the hamster wheel and it was time to shake it up.
It’s important to break out of your comfort zone and change things out as that is the place where you discover more about yourself. When you grow and open more doors of possibility in your life then magic happens.
So here I go, opening up more doors, pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone to see what I’m really made of once again.
This could be interesting!
So what is this journey going to be about
I want this journey to be about simplicity and slowing down.
I mentioned the hustle of the past 14 years. Well for the past 8 years as we’ve built this travel blog, (that now gives us the means to travel and the green card), I’ve barely taken a day off.
It has completely consumed my life, it has made me push one boundary of comfort to another. It’s been damn hard and confronting and exhausting.
Through it I have learned so much, especially in regards to what I’m capable of and doors of possibilities, It has helped me to take advantage of tremendous opportunities I couldn’t even foresee in my dreams, and it’s helped me to meet incredible people and form so many friendships all over the globe.
But it has wiped me out.
I’ve not worked at the level and intensity I normally do during the past six months, because I’ve been so tired and drained. I need a break from pushing the boundaries.
I want to stop hustling so much and enjoy what we’ve created.
I truly want to unplug from the chaos. I feel so jammed into the powerpoint. However, I haven’t sat still for over 8 years. I’m not really sure how I’m going to unplug from that.
It feels like it’s just who I am now.
I know this could possibly be the last big adventure to have with the girls. It’s getting time now for them to possibly return to school and pursue their own passions and hobbies and form long term friendships.
Kalyra has dreams of winning and academy award, and wants to take acting classes. Savannah is loving learning her guitar so could possibly want to pursue that.
And I’m running out of steam to keep homeschooling.
I want to enjoy this journey with them. Spend quality time together. Work less and play more.
But, there is a little tug of war I have with this as part of what brings me so much joy is writing on this blog.
One thing that helped me out of my funk and find excitement for this trip was reading the email from our subscribers.
So many came in with tales of how we had helped someone follow their bliss, have epic travel adventures, or feel more positive about the opportunities in their life.
I love having a positive impact on other people’s lives and I feel like it’s what I was born to do.
So I want to keep creating content on this blog. So I need to figure out what that looks like.
We want to create more video, real adventures through our social channels, hang out with our community as we travel, and share personal stories through our email community.
It’s way easier for me to write through that channel than going through the rigorous process of getting it blog ready. We’ll save those posts for the more travel tips and destination highlight posts.
If you want more real and personal connection, where we share the real story of how we unplug, how we manage the ups and downs, the sweet the funny, the strange and chaotic, than jump in my Notes from the Road virtual suitcase. Its like receiving letters from an old friend. Just click the following:
Send them my way now!
I want to avoid the race for social media instant gratification I see too much of it online. who can get the most likes, create the most shareable content.
This desire for more more more, to grow larger and larger, to be liked, is a pressure that takes away from the value and enjoyment of real life.
I want to create a difference, not to feed my ego.
I don’t care about gratification or being popular or loved. Sometimes my ego will take control and tell me this is important, that’s when I need things like nature and simple living to show me why I’m really doing this.
It’s about creating a lifestyle that aligns with your values. For me, that is having full and rich real life experiences that are about connecting with myself, nature and others on an authentic and real level.
My intention is to find a balance between these so one doesn’t consume more than the other – I don’t become too selfish and focused on just serving my own needs, and I don’t lose myself in the journey of giving and creation.
What are the values you want to align with and create a lifestyle around?