We are alive actually

Rewind back to our last post. What happened? We were travelling and the dog and the kid got sick. Waking up every morning to a literal storm of poo combined with the child being hideously deformed enough that we felt that we shouldn’t take him out in public (he had something called hand foot and mouth disease) made us decide to call the trip. My mother thought someone beat him up after looking at a picture. Things were really taking their toll on us. When I originally set out to do this, I was planning to travel for 6 months to a year. I had a general route planned. We saved up mostly enough funds to keep the trip going and we had a basically working plan. We made it all the way from PA to yellowstone and while we were having fun and unique moments, the entire thing as a whole had become well.. not fun. We had not preplanned where we were staying in terms of what to see, where we wanted to go, what to do, where to stay, crime rates in areas. The midwest was wholly unfamiliar to us so we felt like we needed to be exceedingly careful about how we went about our trip which in hindsight probably was a bit overblown. The biggest stressor was that we considered this a once in a lifetime opportunity so we didn’t want to “miss anything”. This lead to us literally stressing out over recreational things. Insanity.

Another unexpected thing happened. I figured out that driving our motorhome is something that can be described as sitting somewhere between excruciating and hell on earth. When we were out and about it was hot. Super hot. Our air conditioning could not keep up, even running both roof airs as well as the chassis A/C. I was hot and miserable. The highways in the midwest are not great and our motorhome has a horrendous ride. I would be super tired from driving after only 300 miles while in a proper car I can do 1000 before I really can’t drive anymore. Driving through the mountains and hitting steep climbs accidentally and getting slowed up to 20mph or worse was incredibly stressful. All of these stressors caused us to fight on top of things. This was all combined with the hidden fact that my significant other really didn’t want to do the trip to begin with.

But wait there’s more. Preceeding this trip was the requirement that I quit my excellent job. I figured I’d kill several lifelong dreams at once by attempting to start my own business doing remote IT work. Listen… Trying to see the country and start a business are 100% incompatible. Starting a business (versus keeping an established one going) requires 12 hour days, 7 days a week minimum. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar. Anyone who thinks otherwise is lying to themselves. If you are developing a product, you need to work FAST so you are first to market which requires long long hours. If you are trying to be a contractor, you need to be available. You have to be able to fly out at a moment’s notice. You have to cold call for hours, network, maintain connections and in general communicate in ways you may not be used to. Most importantly, you have to be focused because the mind can only stretch so far. Seeing new things constantly clouds the mind and really prevents focusing on something like starting a business. On top of this there is a literal buttload of administrative work. Corporate taxes, various filings that need to occur, tracking mileage and expenses, logging hours worked (it’s important even for stuff you aren’t getting paid for), research of potential issues and more. The idea that I could move once a week and effectively start a company was laughable. It was a mistake. I bit off more than I could chew.

So we made a beeline straight for Florida. Florida is where her family lives and I figured we could regroup, figure out our future, and revisit travelling at a later date. One of the reasons we were so hard up to do everyhting now is because we have one child who is not school aged yet. Unless we home school, we will not be able to go anywhere for 6 months at a time again. Another reason is that entrenching yourself in a company really makes you have to be stationary and that is incompatible with picking up and travelling so the fact that I was starting a company and quitting my job made it seem right. As for our motorhome, we made extensive trips with it and it seemed fine before. Short 1-2 hour trips to the race track were no big deal. Towing an SUV up a mountain in the middle of nowhere where you have no idea what service you’d get or even if you have cell phone signal to call someone is an entirely different league.

So what did we learn?

  1. If you are going to take such a trip, do so in a well sorted out diesel pusher with air suspension OR a fifth wheel with a properly equipped powerful tow vehicle. Don’t skimp. Don’t use the 20 year old ford chassis motorhome, drop a toad behind it and overload it with stuff and think you’ll be happy. Even though we didn’t overload enough to cause damage we certainly weren’t comfortable. And it matters. As of right now we are shopping for and have found a Foretravel motorhome. We have a deposit on it and are completing inspections and hopefully it will be ours soon.

  2. Both people need to be honest with themselves about who they are and what they want out of life. If one person wants to take the trip and the other just wants to be around the person, that’s a problem. Both people need to want to live the lifestyle and take the trip. In my case my significant other had no trouble living in the RV, but being away from civilization for extended periods was a different story.

  3. Have your finances straight. Even if you have enough money for the trip, if you are going to be worried about money or your future the whole time you won’t have as much fun as you could. If you plan to start a business, move into the RV after selling your house and focus on that FIRST. If you need to be sure your clients will accept that you are remote, just move to an rv park a couple hours away. You’ll have time to focus and you can still drive back if there is anything you didn’t think about. Some clients just can’t deal with or don’t get the remote thing.

  4. You will run into problems as a phrase our friends at Technomadia say “serendipity”. You’re going to need to know that word. Things will happen and you’ll have to look at the bright side of thing. A positive outlook is required to do a trip like this. If your partner is a negative person, don’t bother, it can’t work.

  5. Preplan the entire trip - as much as possible. Plan what you’ll see, where you’ll stay, crime rates, which walmarts to stay at and more. Do the best you can to be realistic so you don’t have to change the plan. If you can’t manage to plan the trip before it becomes time to take the trip while you’re not travelling, what makes you think you’ll be able to do it when you are FAR BUSIER because you are seeing sights? It’s actually much harder to sit down and spend hours on this stuff AFTER you think you’ll have more time available.

What did we do right?

  1. Many many people end the dream because they run out of money. We saved enough that although money was a worry of mine, we were never in danger of actually running out. More my concern was striking the market I’m in while the iron is hot. If my business ideas are going to fail, I’d rather know sooner than later so I can begin attempting to get remote contracting jobs and keep my skills fresh. Once I have regular work and income, that is an easier thing to maintain on the road. But we had enough money.

  2. Our RV was well prepared. We broke down, but I wasn’t going to replace the known issue fuel pump in our motorhome before we left just for fun. Perhaps I could have bought a spare and kept it on hand. That might have been smart. But before we left we replaced the cooling system, tires and other consumables. We resealed the roof and in general tried to help improve our chances of not breaking down. It paid off we think,

  3. We had a tow vehicle. As much as I love 5th wheels I can’t imagine the situation if my tow vehicle broke down 100 miles from the nearest cell phone signal in the mountains of Indian country. A motorhome and toad are the way to go. The only way I would do 5th wheel is if I had a motorcycle hanging off the back.

  4. We had a dish network dish on a tripod with a DVR. We used to download our TV over hte internet. This can’t work. Dish DvR worked flawlessly. Trying to use an antenna mounted to the roof wouldn’t work well. The tripod and a long cable allowed us to get signal in all cases even when there were obstacles to aim around. It eventually got easy. Our $150 tripod setup afforded us the same channels a $1300 automatic unit did. We’re still proud of our TV choice.

  5. Internet. Your BEST internet bet is served by a TP-Link TL-WA5210G to connect to a long distance signal as well as a millenicom hotspot plan with 20GB. We are heavy users and though we had to tone it down a bit, we got by. We were never longing for internet. When we did get wifi we were able to make big downloads. When we didn’t the verizon 4G of the hotspot plan was brutally fast. Faster than most wifi hotsposts.

  6. We brought the right things. Very little of the various tools and accessories we brought were not used. Very few times did we find that we needed something we packed into storage. There were instances but it wasn’t bad.

  7. We left at the right time. We hit yellowstone during the summer which is important unless you want to play in the snow.

Each of the above items warrants it’s own post which I will work towards in the future. But it should suffice to say that attempting an endeavor like this is full of trials, tribulations and amazing memories. Looking back we can identify our favorite moments and places and after months of being settled we’re eager to take off again after making the fixes we need.