The Hardest Thing About Fulltime Travel and What To Do About It

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Another question from our inbox - what’s the hardest thing about living the way you do? What’s your biggest struggle?

Decision Fatigue

The hardest thing about fulltime travel is decision fatigue. Did you know this was a thing?

Decision fatigue is the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual, after a long session of decision making.Wikipedia.com

Upside of Suburban Life

Having that suburban house helps you make decisions by providing a constraint. Your house doesn’t move.

Daytrip to the State Park? That’d be really nice but it’s 3 hours each way and there’s church on Sunday.

Family reunion 3 states away? Sorry, can’t drive there in a day, the lawn needs to be mowed and the cable guy is coming.

Now, take away that constraint.

Travelers Decision Fatigue

You can school anywhere. Work anywhere. Live anywhere. For any length of time.

Where do you go?

With the world at your feet the process of deciding where to go can be the hardest thing about fulltime travel.  We can spend hours planning a move of only a couple hours.

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Decisions can be influenced by weather, traffic, news, work, friends, family, unfinished vehicle or RV maintenance or any other of a dozen factors.

Making all those decisions is exhausting.

What To Do About It

How do you deal with decision fatigue?

Recognize It

You’ve already done the first step. You are now aware of decision fatigue. Name and claim your villian to defeat him!

Decide Early

Imagine that you have a set number of decision that you are able to make daily - your decision-making gas tank.  The more you can make your important decisions in the morning - when your tank is full - the better.

Don’t make important decisions while running on fumes.

Make Decisions That Lead to Fewer Decisions

Free up day-to-day decision-making power by doing some up-front investing:

  • Create a Personal Uniform
    Cut down on daily decisions about what to wear by creating a Personal Uniform.
  • Create a Capsule Kitchen
    Never heard of a capsule kitchen? MsBoyink has a 30 day series to take you through this process of simplifying your meal planning, shopping, and cooking.
  • Choose Smaller Stores
    Shop at places like Trader Joes (with 4K products) rather than a Super Wal-Mart (with 50K products).
  • Setup a Watchlist
    Spend some time choosing a collection of movies when you are fresh so you don’t have to do it when you are tired and just want to veg.
  • Ask To Be Surprised
    Overwhelmed by a six page restaurant menu? Tell a waiter to “surprise you”. Give him a budget and let him go.
  • Get Rid of TV
    Between deciding what to watch and being inundated with advertising TV is like drilling a hole in your decision-making gas tank. Plug that hole - ditch the TV.
  • Choose a Theme
    Setting out to see all the state capitols, visit all the National Parks, dip your toes in each Great Lake - a theme for your trip helps narrow your choices and eases the decision making process.

Good Enough for Now

Realize that there is no “perfect”. No “best”. And just as soon as you make a decision, one of the factors or assumptions you used to make the decision will change. Get over it.

Get good at “good enough for now”.  In two weeks the decision you are making right now probably won’t matter. Good enough is good enough.

Sleep On It

The advice your grandmother gave you still rings true - often times the best way to make a decision is to put it off. Sleep on it and come back to it with your gas tank full.

Value Your Time

In college I worked in a small TV store. Those big floor-model wooden cabinet “console televisions” were still a thing. They were expensive - not the throwaway product that today’s TV’s are. People spent hours comparing brands, features, styles and prices before choosing one.

One day a guy strides into the store, scans the dozen or so TV’s on display, points to one and says: “I’ll take that one. When can you deliver it?”  It took me longer to ring up the sale than it did for him to choose.

It impressed me. He knew the value of his time and didn’t waste it.

This is easier for those of us who are used to billing clients for our time. Most by-the-hour people charge at least $60/hr - use that as a guideline if you need to.

Take the Lead

Groups will wait around waiting for someone to make a move. Where should we camp? Where should we eat? Should we leave now?

Stand up and set the direction. Make the decision. People won’t be offended - they’ll appreciate it.

And accept that leadership from others when they offer it.

Are You Decided Out?

Tell us about it in the comments. But - you’ll have to decide what to write.

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3 Comments The Hardest Thing About Fulltime Travel and What To Do About It

  1. Picture of TristinTristinJune 02, 2015

    One of my favorite quotes—“Indecision may or may not be my problem”. - Jimmy Buffett

    I can’t quite recall reading it, so how did you guys determine your plans/goals for year 1?  We keep a notebook with goals and objectives (mostly pertaining to family/personal growth/perspective) for our trip, but overall, haven’t come up with any sort of real plan for the actual travel and destinations.  I know you guys initially set out for a one year adventure—how did those decisions unfold?  (Sorry, I realize that’s a loaded question.)

  2. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkJune 02, 2015

    We put a big map of the US up on the dining room wall, and each labeled places of interest to us. That gave us a general set of goals for the year.

    Then after we launched we modified that plan on the fly - leaving some places for future visits due to weather, or schedule. Finding others that we hadn’t heard of before.

    Our first year we had a truck accident & ice storm in Atlanta delay us. We ended up having to get the trailer roof replaced. We had some business events with set time and schedule. And it was a cold/wet winter.

    All of these were big influences on our route & schedule.

  3. Picture of Steve @ Think Save RetireSteve @ Think Save RetireDecember 09, 2015

    Awesome article, and I agree that decision fatigue can be a huge drain on the ol’ cranium.  But like you’ve pointed out, making a decision and forgetting about it is often the best way to approach this part of life.  When I am forced with a decision, I make the best one that I possibly can at the time with the information that I have.  If it turns out right, then wonderful.  If not, oh well, I’ll try to make a better one next time.  No big deal.

    My wife and I will be starting out as full time RVers next year and will probably face some of the same problems and issues that you are.  Where to go next? 

    That’s a problem that we’re looking forward to solving.  :)

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