I took a risk with the title of this post. It’s almost clickbait. Let me set your expectations now—it’s impossible to see it all. Do it all. Experience it all. But we found a change of mindset helpful to prevent angst over “missing out”.
Our First Year
We were probably like most families fresh to the road.
We had big expectations.
Along with us in the RV was a wall map we had kept pinned up in dining room of our house for 9 months before we launched. It was marked up with destinations that we all wanted to see:
- Yosemite National Park
- The Painted Desert
- New Orleans
- The Baseball Hall of Fame
- The Outer Banks
- Seattle Troll
- Mt. Rushmore
- Grand Canyon
- Yellowstone National Park
In our hearts we knew that we wouldn’t be able to see everything. But that didn’t stop us from hoping somehow we’d be able to fit it all in.
Reality Sets In
Our first taste of reality struck in upstate New York in October.
We had made it to the Baseball Hall of Fame, but struggled to route-plan any further north or east.
Campgrounds were closing.
It seemed early to us. The weather was still tolerable. It wasn’t an early freeze that year.
No matter. Many RV parks have a schedule and stick to it regardless of the weather.
Boston was off the list.
That means no Puritan or Colonial history. No Tea Party. No Boston Massacre.
No baked beans.
This was supposed to be a homeschooling adventure and we had just lopped off a significant part of American History. We felt like failures. We pointed the truck south to find warmer weather and campgrounds that stayed open later in the year.
It happened again in New Orleans.
New Orleans was my pin on the paper map. I’ve been a fan of Dixie-style Jazz music for years. I’d listen to the New Orleans public radio station online and pretend I was there. I wanted to hear it live.
Mardi Gras was ramping up.
For all of my love of New Orleans music I knew little about Mardi Gras. What I did know came from conservative West Michiganders. They painted a bleak picture of an entire town turned out for one large boisterous parade filled with public nudity and drinking.
Not something we wanted to take our kids to.
Then there was the weather. Rainy and highs in the 30’s.
We tried to wait out the weather. We found other places to visit.
We couldn’t wait forever. We were on the way to Texas to visit my parents. My mom was in chemo. Our visit had to coincide with a break between treatments.
We ran out of time.
Again, feeling like traveling failures we got back on the road. We passed all of the New Orleans exits while heading for Texas.
A New Realization
It was during this drive that we realized something.
New Orleans wasn’t going anywhere.
We could come back.
We were still “A family of four on the road for a year” - so I didn’t know exactly when or how. But I knew that we would. Maybe with the kids. Maybe when it was just MsBoyink and I.
We hadn’t “missed it”.
We had “left it for a future visit.”
Say It Again!
The way you don’t “miss” anything while traveling fulltime is by changing your mindset. And your expectations.
You don’t miss anything. You leave it for a future visit.
Consider this: you’ll pass this way again.
How sad would it be to see the signs for a really cool place and think “Oh, no reason to stop there. We’ve seen everything there is to see.”
Leave something for a future visit. You’ll be able to have a fresh experience in a location you are already familiar with.
Things We Have Left
We’ve been on the road over 7 years now. We’ve been to 42 states. Countless miles. Hundreds of locations.
There are many places we’ve been close to but had to leave for a future visit:
- Big Bend National Park
- Bryce National Park
- Zion National Park
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Fords Theater in Washington, DC
- Theodore Roosevelt Island in Washington, DC
- The Sandhills of Nebraska
Sometimes when we mention these places in a conversation people react with disbelief. 7 years on the road and you haven’t been there? What have you been doing?
Recipe for Stress
We’ve simply learned that having a long list of “must-see” places is a recipe for stress. We choose to opt out of that stress, and instead look at our travels through a long-range lens.
We haven’t missed any of those places.
We’ve just left them for a future visit.
What Have You Left?
Confession time - and we’re all friends here. No shame. No judgment.
What places have you left for a future visit on your travels?
Oh - and New Orleans?
But we still haven’t seen all of it.