We are witnessing a fundamental shift in the American dream one that used to be focused on the big fancy house with lots of cars, possessions, and a high-paying job downtown. As we enter the 20s of the new century, I see the new American dream as something focused more on experience and connections with the people we love and the natural world over the trappings of consumerism of the late 1900s. As the pandemic appears to come to a close, the workforce has been displaced and is now embracing remote work.
During the 2-year pandemic, the most popular form of working remotely was to set up shop in a spare room, home office, or shared space with other roommates, friends, or family. What a difference a couple of years makes.
Before COVID, working from home was viewed as a somewhat desirable option, especially for those who preferred to live in a rural environment with limited access to their company's site or workers with young pre-school-aged children who preferred not to use daycare or could not afford it.
5 Homegrown Challenges
The real-world experience of working from home turned out to be less than ideal, with a host of unwelcome realities. Many homebound workers are seeking solutions to several homegrown challenges. Although a home is where the heart is, it's not always the best mix of business and pleasure.
Trapped inside a stationary home, there are few built-in opportunities for expressing one of life's most necessary features: freedom. For many, doing everything from work, meals, exercise, entertainment, and relaxation in the confines of a 900-square-foot living space felt more like a prison.
The emotional and physical stresses that came with a traditional home/ office-based work environment included: sky-high home/office ownership and rental costs, spatial limitations, social disconnection, mental fatigue, and limited recreational opportunities.
Before we get to the 10 benefits of a full-time RV lifestyle let's review why it's not only a good option for some but necessary. Here are my top five:
1- Sky-high Home Costs
Let's start with the most important issue that's facing every person in America today, money. The rising cost of home/ office ownership or rental is high and headed higher.
Several years ago, a 30s-something friend named Sara was working in the Bay Area's tech industry, and she told me something interesting. "I was working in San Francisco, renting a studio condo," she explained, "and I sat down one night and realized over the past four years I blown through more than $200,000 in rental and utility expenses."
This past year, she joined other full-time RVers in what she called, "her smart home on wheels," and pursued a simpler, more rewarding mobile life living in an RV.
She researched her RV purchase and discovered plenty of free camping on public lands and in private RV parks and national parks that charged less than $30 a night. Overall, her new lifestyle choice was a lot cheaper than her San Francisco flat and she was able to save money.
2-Uninspiring Living Spaces
The 24/7 stresses of uninspired living space, combined with the embarrassing interruptions of a partner or youngster walking in on your team Zoom meetings with a customer or coworker have pushed many to their limits. While the image of a toddler showing you their latest artwork during a conference call can be endearing, it's not a great professional image.
I believe humans of any age do their best work when we're inspired, relaxed, and able to maintain focus in all areas of life. I've learned from first-hand experience how children develop their greatest potential when they experience a world full of grandeur. Full-time trailer living will add emotional awe to your life.
A 2021 Harvard study revealed that 36 percent of respondents in a national study revealed that feelings of social isolation are on the rise and that those hardest hit are older teens and young adults. Nearly one-third of Americans reported feeling lonely “frequently” or “almost all the time or all the time.” Most surprising was that 61 percent aged 18 to 25 reported high levels of loneliness.
One of the study's leaders, Richard Weissbourd, who is a psychologist and senior lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) believes that older teens and young adults may be particularly susceptible. “I was surprised at the degree of loneliness among young people,” he said.
Full-time RV living is an organic way to meet new people, experience new cultures, and expand your horizons.
Our brains, like our bodies, need to be exercised in a variety of ways on a regular basis to maintain health and stamina. Mental fatigue, also known as brain fog syndrome, causes confusion, forgetfulness, and a lack of focus and mental clarity. Psychologists blame overworking, lack of sleep, stress, and spending too much time on the computer.
Some of the most inspired and stimulating times of my life were when I was living full time in an RV, traveling throughout the West. Sure, it took more effort to visit Glacier National Park in a trailer, but the rewards far outweighed the challenges.
Breaking away from the congestion of city streets, staying in a multitude of private campgrounds, and teaching myself how to deal with things like getting mobile lifestyle mail and mail forwarding turned out to be one of the most healthy and productive times of my life. I discovered that I needed to stretch my body and my brain with a daily dose of the Great Outdoors.
5-Limited Recreational Opportunities
This brings us to the fifth challenge of traditional home life, which is one of my soul's most vital necessities -- getting out and about. There's truly no comparison between the experience of waking up to a brisk sunrise in the mountains, sipping a cup of your favorite morning beverage, and mulling over the recreational options your day presents.
More often than not, mountain biking is my personal preference, because it's physically invigorating and takes me to a wealth of places, quickly. Besides, I'm much more creative and focused on working in front of a computer after an early morning mountain bike workout.
Continue reading to learn about all the benefits that a full-time travel trailer lifestyle has to offer.
10 Benefits to Full-Time Travel Trailer Living
1-Small Home, Big Life
These four words contain so much meaning their simplicity is deceiving. Over the past decade, I have found the concept of living an intentional lifestyle by design as the primary driver of my quality of life. This means the life that you intentionally designed is the best life you will live.
Many years ago, my wife, Joanna, and I decided we wanted to live a small-home-big-life. We have lived in every type of mobile space including trailers, vans, and even boats. While packing all our clothes and living supplies into a small living space required a lot of downsizing and preparation, soon, we discovered that this lifestyle brings so many benefits and freedoms from the type of lifestyle that society has taught us to lust after.
The Move From Big to Small
When we lived in a 4000 sf house with more than enough storage, we didn't have to face many choices of what we wanted to buy or keep. We'd buy 24 rolls of TP and boxes of personal care products at Costco and store them in the closets. The problem was when our home was large, our world was small.
Many people forget that when they choose to live in a large home, they tend to spend more time in it. It’s only natural that you want to enjoy all that comes along with spending lots of money on a big residence. You need to justify the mortgage or rent. But the downsides are substantial. I found a direct correlation between the size of my home and how often we got out, traveled, and experience the world.
There was also the deferred maintenance requirement. It's a fact, the more stuff you have, the more time you spend fixing or replacing it. Are you handcuffed to your home? It might be time to discover the key to your freedom. Once we made this decision the world opened up to us.
Our world is becoming ever more dynamic, changing, and evolving faster than ever before. Greater outdoor adventure options are offered to us, today, than any other generation. Thanks to all these adventure inventions we have the ability to find an adaptable lifestyle that is healthier and more liberating than at any time in world history.
This isn't your grampa's world. What used to be an exercise in survival can now be a nature tour. Just a century ago, loading up the family in the covered wagon while being attached by people who wanted to kill you and large animals who wanted to eat you is now an adventure you'll post photos on Instagram.
Letting go of the chains that bound us to our homes, to do something we've always dreamed of is now within reach. Full-time RV living encourages travel, adaptability, and exploration.
I have witnessed wildfires take out entire communities, absurd home prices making communities unaffordable, and an economical shift of urban flight that no longer necessitates long daily commutes -- yuck! The full-time RV lifestyle knocks down all of these qualities of life barriers that handcuff us with a traditional bricks-and-sticks home.
Don't like where you're living this week? Too cold? Too hot? Pack up and move. Easy.
The entire definition of travel is changing. For many of us, we have had to completely alter travel plans, stay home for extended periods of time and embrace over the road more regional travel, full-time trailer living is extremely valuable. Our wonderful country has some of the greatest resources and most beautiful places to visit in the world.
What better way to visit the land, culture, and communities of our great nations than by exploring from place to place while full-time living in a travel trailer. One major downside to travel is the lack of consistency.
The places we call home are full of our possessions and the things we value most. Suitcase-based travel has extreme limitations where you can only take so many possessions with you. Finding the right travel trailer designed specifically for full-time living is another issue.
Now we have the freedom to travel to exciting new places that are in alignment with our values with plenty of storage in our eye nomadic homes.
When our businesses, cities, and the everyday movement of people came to a grinding halt early in 2020 most Americans were required to stay home. The economy shut down. After two long years, we are trying to come back.
There are a few silver linings from the pandemic, with new opportunities. We adapted our lives, got new technology involved, and got back to businesses outside of the office. Working from home became normal, almost expected in the modern-day workforce.
People began traveling domestically, taking occasional weekend trips, and working from their laptops or wherever and in whatever office setting they chose. The birth of the work-from-anywhere movement became a fundamental shift in our careers.
Over the past decade, my wife Joanna and I have lived in several small mobile spaces and our relationship has grown stronger while living a better life and saving money.
Learn By Doing
Sometimes we learned the hard way new terms like "shore power" and the difference between dry camping and full hookups. We learned about using temporary storage space, fifth wheels, camper vans, and what the best value was for something called, "full-timing."
It was during this time that we began the idea of creating a company specifically built for full-time living because nothing else existed that met the demands of living while putting in your best work.
If you could work from anywhere, where would that be? If you could take your home with you where would you go? Would you visit national parks, or always move to find the sun? When you are no longer confined to any one location, opportunities abound.
One major consequence of a pandemic has been human isolation. Being required to stay home through work and life, humans became disconnected. Social groups started to disappear while online relationships became the norm.
A social connection is natural when you make the choice to live in an luxury RV full time because many other people have too. Whether your travels take you to state and national parks, RV parks, or vacant government land miles from the nearest town, there is a community of full-time trailer-living comrades, unified in their pursuit of freedom and adventure.
Choosing life in a small, mobile dwelling is one of the fastest ways I found to meet the most interesting people. There is a culture of friendly community in every RV park I have come across. While I’m not one to frequent RV parks, they are some of the most welcoming people I have found. Whether you’re looking for a connection with just a couple of friends or a whole community, full-time RV living offers a myriad of connections.
Over the past several years we are starting to realize our reliance on major corporations, even countries. Natural resources converted to utilities, the very infrastructure that allows us to lead our modern-day are in question. The supply of oil, gas, and electricity that powers the homes we live in is becoming increasingly less reliable or affordable. Just last year we saw areas in Texas without power during one of the coldest periods on record.
When power is lost, homes freeze, and people suffer.
If you are dependent on a free phone utility, and a company for providing that, when the system breaks, you are out of luck. Full-time trailer living does not have this problem. If you’re looking for self-reliance, and in turn freedom, move into a travel trailer that is fully self-contained with as many resource-generating properties as possible. If you can create your own energy from the sun and have multiple systems back up for power, you can ride out the short term, otherwise major disasters because you already have everything you need.
7-Connection to the Outdoors
Our world is a beautiful place. The great adventurers of our past, such as John Muir, Ansel Adams, and others embraced the natural beauty of our country through their life‘s work and moments of respite. They not only blurred the line between indoor and outdoor spaces, but they erased it.
At the turn of the 19th century, Muir was America's most prominent naturalist, and he had the ears of the nation's most powerful leaders in industry and politics. His timeless photography and iconic quotes launched a movement that would introduce average Americans to the magnificence of our National Parks.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home;" wrote Muir, "...that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers but as fountains of life. Awakening from the stupefying effects of the vice of over-industry and the deadly apathy of luxury, they are trying as best they can to mix and enrich their own little ongoings with those of Nature, and to get rid of rust and disease.”
How much more relevant are his words today?
Today, when the pace of life gets too fast and pressures me into a box, I take a long walk on the beach or head to the mountains. The outdoors is like reconnecting my soul to a power source as nothing else can. How could I not return to national parks, state parks, and other protected wild places for peace of mind?
Full-Time RV Living
To be totally candid, I do not recommend a full-time trailer living in RV parks. While staying in an RV park for a night or two to resupply, or meet new people can be beneficial, an RV park does not provide access to the natural wonders that are all around us.
A recreational vehicle is designed to get you out into the world, and I would much rather spend time in the great outdoors and visit our protected parks. There is a tremendous resource offered to us as Americans to access government lands, such as BLM lands where free camping for up to 14 days is your privilege as a US citizen.
This great resource gives us the freedom to travel and experience the great outdoors for very little expense. Travel trailer living is the vehicle that makes it possible.
8-Adventure & Discovery
Ever feel like you’re living the same day, over and over again?
I have certainly felt like that more often than not over the past couple of years. The walls sometimes seemed to close in on me. The familiar became commonplace. Schedules became obligations. Projects became drudgery.
Not everyone, including myself, have the luxury of being able to travel full-time. Nevertheless, when I do the world opens up, spontaneously. One simple choice to embrace full-time RV living will lead to many fantastic adventures.
Time with Loved Ones
Traveling with those you love can lead to some of the most connected experiences and all sorts of new environments, such as exploring a new city. If you prefer, you can leave the travel trailer on some pristine national lands near an urban core, and take your tow vehicle into a town you've never seen. The history, culture, and pockets of nature in these places offer personal growth for all ages.
Images such as these, are what the RV industry uses as a backdrop to sell their products, and why not? We all have this itch to get away from it all and discover the feeling that Muir felt, that the wilderness is a necessity, and returning to the mountains is coming home.
It's been said, "Whoever dies with the most toys wins." Unless you're competing to win the rat race, in my opinion, this quote is utter nonsense.
Materialism comes with a price, eventually. Maybe Virgin Atlantic's Sir Richard Branson described simplicity best: "Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to make something simple."
With the right expertise and effort, very complex inventions, like the iPhone, were made to operate simply for the end-users life. At some point, an intentional choice to make something very complicated simple to use is often worth the effort in the long run.
The Simple Life
For me, living a simple life began there, but it included so much more. So where do you start? There are hundreds of self-help books extolling the virtues of purging your life of possessions in exchange for a life filled with meaning. That's one way to go, and it may work for you. For me, it all started when I parred down material wealth in my life and made the daily choice to live life on my own terms, not the expectations of others.
Simplicity will look different to each of us, yet the results are consistent. I believe you'll discover a life of greater meaning. What you do will matter more to yourself and others, rather than what you own.
The older I get the more I realize how true it is -- the simple life is simply better. Less is more. Simplicity allows me the space and time to imagine and develop my own passions. I know what my true interests are, and I pursue them assertively every single day.
Much has been written about the questionable quality of RVs, so anything I add here may well be disputed, and for good reason. The truth is RVs have earned a reputation. Many of the materials and systems have been designed with two goals in mind: lightweight and a cheap price.
However, as with most mass-produced vehicles, the most value loss in any RV purchase is greatest with the lowest price product and in the first year. New owners may be surprised to learn that depreciation can be as much as 30 percent in the first year because most of mechanical issues occur in the first year of ownership. This is why many RV experts advise buying one that's been well-used for a few years and well-maintained.
RV value is achieved by spending time enjoying it rather than spending time in the service center. A good RV buy means it's been thoroughly real-world tested and maintained by a wise owner.
The best way to ensure the greatest value in your next RV purchase price is to start with buying a well-made product and keeping it in tip-top condition. Spotting quality design and construction can be elusive for the untrained eye. Don't be fooled by discounted prices, clearance sales, model closeouts, big-screen TVs, plush easy chairs, or other fads. Do look for an RV constructed from materials that are durable (not plastic) and a product that has a proven, well-reviewed, track record.
For the past 15 years or so I have been living in small, mobile spaces. The benefits of full-time trailer living are seemingly never-ending. If you’re looking to make a change and follow the path of excitement, adventure, and an ever-changing landscape of new horizons, a travel trailer may very well be in your future.