Life Adventures: Path to becoming digital nomads.
Updated: Oct 26, 2021
The last year has been a chaotic maelstrom of events, decisions, changes, and changes to changes. As a result, my writing schedule has turned into sporadic sessions of writing chances, especially in the last few months. That’s okay. I love this new direction our life is taking and can’t wait to get fully immersed in it. But first, we have to complete the transition—and a bumpy one it has been.
In the words of a famous news person…”And now for the rest of the story…”
Ever since we bought our first motorhome, Big Joe, in 2006, we wanted to take a trip across the US. At first, the idea was to take an extended vacation to do this, but as life goes, ‘No Plan Survives First Contact.’ In this case it wasn’t an enemy out for our blood, but school and work, and general life, claiming our time.
Fast forward a few years and the idea morphed into becoming full-time RVers once CBiT retires from his office job. As the time approached, we made a plan—a five year plan, at the time—but life is a hilarious mistress, and ‘No Plan Survives First Contact.’
A year ago (one year into our five-year-plan), CBiT got a job offer; one that allowed us to move our full-timing dreams to the left by four years. We considered, discussed, and started to pull the trigger with a new multi-step plan in place. Becoming full-time RVers from stationary homesteaders is not an overnight venture, after all.
Step 1: Upgrade
Big Joe was a 2005 Gulfstream Conquest Class C. A starter motorhome without slideouts, leveling jacks, or other conveniences. In other words, great for families going on short-term trips. Not so great for full-time living.
As part of our five-year-plan, we decided in 2019 to upgrade to something that would support us for longer trips and had more conveniences that made trips more enjoyable. Since we weren't ready to go full-time, yet, we chose a model that was roomier than Big Joe, but not as expensive as a full-timing rig would be. Chief Joe, our 2015 Winnebago Brave was perfect for that step in between. Fast forward to 2021 and our decision to move our plans to the left by four years: we needed the final upgrade sooner rather than later, and we were happy to do so.
Well, not so fast young grasshopper. As the COVID pandemic has affected all parts of life, it has also affected RVing. People who had never before considered camping, were out and about filling campgrounds and buying RVs, which, like everything else, were becoming short on supply. But we lucked out and found Bevi—Miss Bevi Josephine.
The adventure how she came into our life could be an extended blog post in itself, but the short version is this:
After two months of scouring the internet, we went to central Florida to look at a few RVs that matched our list of criteria. Our plan was to stay for one week and hit four or five dealers to look at their inventory, including the RVs we had found listed online.
No plan survives first contact, right?
Of the ten or so RVs we found online, only three were still available and out of those three, only one spoke to us—sort of. It wasn’t quite what we were looking for, but could be doable.
After three days of otherwise fruitless search, we were starting to discuss changing our criteria. Luckily, this discussion took place at an RV dealer while taking a closer look at an RV model that we had eliminated from our list a long time ago.
I guess, life had pity on us and threw us a bone.
A salesman approached to see if we needed help. After a short exchange, he informed us that he had just started the trade-in process of an RV that might meet what we were looking for. Oh boy, did it ever. It wasn’t just close to what we were looking for, but the actual model on our top two list. However, we wouldn’t be able to look at it for another two to three days, which would push past our one-week-stay. Adaptability to the rescue. We made it work and ended up driving home Miss Bevi Josephine, a 2019 Newmar Baystar, a week later. Yay!
On to the next step.
Step 2: Test Run (Survivability)
May - July
To make sure the full-timing lifestyle was for us, we decided to make a test run. A few months on the road should give us a good feel for the lifestyle and help with the decision if we wanted to sell our stick-built house right away or keep it as a homebase.
It took almost a month to plan our route. COVID-caused crowding of campgrounds and the need for a good internet connection for CBiT’s work made it clear that our route planning and overnight stays would need more forethought than before—as in six to twelve months of forethought. But we made it work and ended up with a three month trip exploring TN, KY, VA, NC, and north GA.
The trip was great and, of course, had interesting moments, like finding out that just because our new dog food container is airtight, it doesn’t mean that a bear won’t know what treats hide within it. And yes, a bear is able to pull a forty pound container from the bungee cords securing it to our patio fencing and walk off with it without further trace. Lesson learned: Airtight does not equal beartight.
All in all, the trip was great and we did not at all look forward to returning to life as usual as our return date approached. But we still had quite a few steps and obstacles to clear on our journey to becoming Digital Nomads, and those we could not complete from the road. However, the big one—verifying that this life was for us—was out of the way:
Three months on the road and CBiT was still alive, and neither of us had contacted a divorce lawyer. Life is good. On to the next step.
Step 3: Downsizing
August - November
This step was a bit harder. Going from a 2700 sq ft house with a 800 sq ft workshop to a 250 sq ft RV and a 200 sq ft storage unit takes a bit of work. And the process was a much curvier emotional rollercoaster ride than I would have ever expected.
Since the downsizing would be interspersed between raising a litter of puppies—the last one Nova will have with us—four days at DragonCon, four days in KY for the wedding of our oldest, and a week in Vegas for a writers conference, we decided to plan four months for the process.
Since selling the house would be a venture on its own, we contacted a realtor right away but made it clear that we wouldn’t be able to vacate the house until after we returned from Vegas in November, since we would need a place for our dogs to stay while we were gone. With the realtor’s input, we decided to put the house on the market during the first week of October. That gave us two months to get it ready for showing and six weeks to clear the last of our items out befor closing.
Well...no plan survives first contact...remember?
Step 4: Selling the House
Are you sensing a theme, yet?
When we put the house on the market, it sold within 36 hours. Actually, less than that.
The house listing went live on Friday afternoon, we had our first showing on Saturday at 11:30h, and the second family to look at it (at 2pm) made a verbal offer within two hours of seeing it.
Of course, that part didn’t go off without a hitch either.
We had said that we wouldn’t be able to close until November 22nd because we needed the house for our dogs while we traveled to Vegas for my writer’s conference. The buyers, however, were currently staying in an AirBnB that they needed to vacate on October 21st. So, they asked if it was possible to come up with a space sharing arrangement for the overlapping weeks—and our six-week plan to vacate the house turned into a two-week sprint, which we are currently in the middle of.
Actually, we’re on a break from it, and I’m sitting at a hotel in Louisville, KY writing this blog.
Remember the wedding I mentioned? Yup, it fell smack in the middle of our two-week sprint. But not that we would have expected anything less complicated with this part of the process. We are on a precisely themed roll here, after all.
You might say that we could have insisted on our original vacate date. And I would agree with you, we could have. But that is not us. We are able to make it work and doing so helps the buyers, a family of five with two dogs and at least one cat, who are in a bind and bouncing from rental to rental.
Pay it forward. Treat others as you want to be treated. Be helpful, friendly, and fair. And don’t ever take advantage just because you can. Those are not just lip service, but a way of life, and we live it to the fullest.
Lo and behold; what goes around, comes around. We were open to adjusting our plans and in turn we have a home for our dogs to stay for our Vegas trip and five happy people who will take care of them and shower them with love. On top of that, we’re fast on the way to making new friends, who already invited us to stop over in ‘their’ driveway whenever we’re in the area.
Life is good...and always works itself out if you give it a chance. Kinks in the road don’t make the journey longer and more tedious but give it texture and memorable scenery to look back on.
Stay tuned for the rest of the adventure that is our Journey to becoming digital nomads. We have two weeks left to go...no, six weeks. After all, we have to still figure out exactly where we're going to park Bevi for the four weeks we will have left in our original plan.