Photo by Bridget Baker of the 24-foot travel trailer that she, her husband, and her little dog Little live in.
by Bridget Baker
The shiny promise of a new year brings with it the commitments to take action, hopes for a more prosperous year, and fantasies of breaking all of your habits and changing “all of the things.” We get a burst of energy, motivated by how-to and resolution articles, showing us that we can wipe the slate clean of the previous year and start fresh.
Two days in, however, we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed already. We take on too much change at once — we take these dramatic actions to exercise more, eat better, or drink less. Rather than making subtle shifts, we over-do our resolutions, which can cause friction in our environments, with our families, and in the workplace. Slow and steady wins the race here, and habits are formed over time, not instantly. If your environment is not supportive of these new commitments you make to yourself, the resistance may be too strong to change your habits.
Sometimes, it may take a bigger leap to create the space for change. Staying in our home, our town, or our job may make it more difficult to try on new habits, new looks, or imagine a new life for ourselves. It could be that a change as simple as a new haircut or trying out a new coffee shop is needed, but it may take something as bold as uprooting your entire life and moving to a new city…or even to choose to travel full-time.
A few years ago, I was craving this kind of big change, and my husband and I began to reimagine our lives together. We had been living in Los Angeles for years, loving our life there, but longing for something new. I had been building an online business as a website designer and writer, intending on creating a life of location freedom so that I could travel and work from anywhere. The wanderlust was real, and I found myself looking at Pinterest boards of locations in National Parks, under stars, with more trees and less traffic. With a stepdaughter out of college, having flown from the nest, we had the freedom to build a life wherever we wanted. Nothing was holding us back but our imaginations. But, where to go next?
Since we didn’t have that next destination that felt like home to us, we chose an option that had us living all over the country, wherever the road could take us. Now, if you asked me if I’d be living in a travel trailer at 43, I’d have said something like “That’s for retirees,” or “I’m a city girl and couldn’t possibly live in the country.” Well, three years later, I am proving that former version of myself wrong.
My husband wanted to take an adventure around the country, and we began to prepare to purchase a travel trailer to embark upon this journey. Even though he’s a skilled carpenter who could remodel a vintage trailer from the ground up, we chose to purchase a brand-new trailer for economic reasons and for safety. Our deadline was fast approaching, too. We were ready to hit the trail!
Though we had already pared down our lives and embraced minimal living long before we chose to live in a trailer, it took us about six months to shed our possessions. We knew we didn’t want to add to America’s growing storage unit rentals and preferred to sell things to friends, or even to give them away. It felt great to know that our physical items were specific to that place that we lived in Los Angeles, and had filled our apartment with joy, but that they had no place in our new life. The one thing we kept was our mattress, and we bought a trailer that allowed us to take that with us!
Having lived in the trailer for almost three years now, we have been able to let go of even more that we brought with us on the road. There is no longer a need to keep something “just in case,” as it quite literally weighs us down, and traveling light is important when you are hauling a travel trailer.
We have chosen to stay for about a month in each new place we travel to. This gives us time to root into a new place, to get a true feel of the culture, and to live like a local to see if it’s someplace we may want to move to in the future. The best thing about living this way is that if we don’t like it, we can always pick up and move! In the past three years we’ve lived in ten different states — in the desert, by rivers, and on the ocean. (the picture in this article is from one of our favorite spots along the Oregon Coast).
Sometimes, I am surprised by places that I like to live in, especially when they involve living near a farm stand (uh, hello former city girl!). By shaking up our life, we have been able to reconnect with friends across the country we’ve lost touch with and reinvent our relationships with other friends. I’ve grown my business in new ways, and am working on projects that not only bring in income but that I am passionate about.
Choosing to live small has left me feeling more expansive, more fulfilled, and more abundant than ever. My quality of life has improved, and so has my health and well-being.
What’s one way, big or small, you can shake your life up this year? (If it’s to live as a digital nomad in a travel trailer, let me know. I’ve got your back on that one!)
Find out more about our travels on the road and minimalism at our blog, https://travellightlife.com.