“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at least to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land”– G.K. Chesterton
A great many people are asking, “So, what are you actually doing? And what’s the point of all this?” These are fair and logical questions. Essentially, we are putting our things in storage, moving into a 25 foot Airsteam and traveling around the United States for the next year to two years. We are dropping a bomb into our conventional city life to challenge ourselves to live a different experience. We are trading in our modern condo amenities, the fancy kitchen, the walk-in closet, the two-sink master bathroom, and the roof deck with city views, for a sleek, stylish and small travel -trailer. The four of us will be living in a portable tin can, while still committed to the same sustainable habits that we currently practice.
As to the why, there are so many reasons why we’ve decided to do this and decided to do this now. A huge part of the motivation behind this is just the simple bite of the travel bug. We love to travel and Justin and I have spent a large amount of time traveling around Europe, but we haven’t traveled and explored our own country. We live forty miles from where we grew up, and we’ve seen only a small portion of the U.S. When I look at the long list of places we wanted to visit, a list that gets longer and longer each year, I knew we would never get to see even half of these places given our current vacation calendar. We would have to do something bold and different if we wanted to put a dent in the list, and the best way to do this would be full-time travel. I long for the romanticism and excitement of the road described by Jack Karouac and Paul Theroux. A large part of this choice is pure restlessness and the desire for a life on the road.
When you travel, the most exciting part is all the new experiences you get to have, and we desperately want to create these experiences with our young kids. The kids are young enough that they are highly adaptable, aren’t involved in a million extra-curricular activities, and still enjoy spending time with us. We want to create amazing memories with them, but also push their boundaries as to what they are exposed to. If we have one mantra as parents it’s, EXPOSE! EXPOSE! EXPOSE!! Other than just saying this each day, we want to live it. When you experience new things, you learn more about yourself. As Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”
If this past election taught me anything, it’s that we live in a bubble. We live in a liberal, urban, blue state. We live in Obama’s town. I was shocked after Donald Trump’s election, for so many reasons that I won’t get into here, because I didn’t believe that Trump supporters were as plentiful as the media had me believe. I could count literally on one hand the number of Trump supporters I knew, and none of them lived close by. I didn’t understand the problems facing Americans who lived outside my bubble. Not only did I not understand, I didn’t even listen. Now more than ever, we are grappling with the question of what it means to be an American. Are our only connections that we shop at the same retailers and eat at the same chain restaurants? Are we connected by something more, a true set of shared values that we guarantee for everyone? And if so, what are they? What is the modern American Dream? I want to meet my fellow Americans and ask them these questions. I don’t believe we are as divided as the media would have us believe. So what truly binds us as a people? The best way to learn this is to go out there and ask, and then really listen to the answers. If we have one mantra as travelers it’s, LISTEN! LISTEN! LISTEN!
It would make no sense to go on this journey and leave our passion for the environment behind. We understand that the essence of travel is highly unsustainable. We are going to challenge ourselves to be as sustainable as we possibly can. To take the practices we’ve perfected at home and bring them on the road with us. Our hope is that we’ll learn even more ways to be kind to our environment as we live a nomadic life. Things that just weren’t possible in condo living, such as using a compostable toilet, are now possible in this new lifestyle. We will continue to recycle, compost, and spend our hard earned dollars on experiences over material goods. I’m confident that we’ll be living in an Unbelievably Sustainable Airstream!
When this journey is over, we expect to have a closer relationship with our kids. We expect to have a more physical connection to nature. We expect to see the beauty of America in its amazing places and people. We expect to have a better understanding of ourselves and our countrymen. Best of all, we’ll walk away with the experience of a lifetime; the big and little moments that shape who we are.
Years ago, while in college, I started to keep a journal filled with inspirational quotes from famous people. I hadn’t looked at the journal for a while and stumbled upon it when I started to pack and purge for this trip. I found it ironic that all those years ago, I copied by hand the entire four stanza Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken. Even back then I was itching to be a traveler of the world. I was drawn to the unconventional and wanted to explore life in a different way. And now, as never before, I am drawn to the last few sentences of that poem…..
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.