How Long Do You Stay in One Place?

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So, how long do you stay in one place?

People expect us to have some sort of rhythm, formula or plan.

Some families do.

We do not.

Our speed of travel changes depending on:

  • Our financial situation and opportunities for work
  • The needs and interests of our kids
  • Opportunities for community
  • Our desire for a certain landscape

For us there are three speeds of fulltime travel - slow, medium and fast.

Each speed has its purpose and cost. Each speed has benefits and drawbacks.

Let’s talk through them:

Slow (more than 2 weeks in one spot)

Ah - slow travel.

Slow travel is a catchphrase you hear a lot from the fulltime traveling crowd. It’s usually spoken of with the same reverence as aged whisky, vintage cars, and weathered barnwood.

Slow travel is also a way for a traveler to differentiate themselves from a tourist. Travelers have the luxury of going slow whereas tourists have to fit it all in on their week of vacation.

So, yea, there can be a bit of snobbery behind talk of slow travel.

And yet, there is truth there. Slowing down can uncover opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise find. Relationships can develop that wouldn’t on a faster schedule.

Advantages

Challenges

  • Complacency
    When you have 5 months in one area, you lose the sense of urgency to get out and explore. As I write this we’ve been in Durango, Colorado for 6 weeks and have yet to leave the campground and turn right.
  • Boredom
    Our recent 2-month stay on an Animal Rescue Ranch was great for Miranda, but MsBoyink and I were often bored. There just wasn’t much for us to do - we weren’t in a campground with kayaking or hiking close by, we were living in mud, and there weren’t well-organized tasks around the ranch we could do.
  • Envy
    It’s hard to be stationary and yet watch fellow travelers on Instagram or Facebook post updates from another gorgeous National Park. Slow travel just doesn’t look as exciting on a day to day basis.

Medium (one - two weeks in one spot)

Medium-speed travel is admittedly a gray area. For us it’s that place where we spend roughly one to two weeks in one place.

When done right it’s my favorite speed.

Medium is slow enough that we aren’t exhausted from just moving, yet still fast enough to satisfy my wanderlust.

Advantages

  • Save Money
    You can still save some money by slowing down to medium speed. Campgrounds offer weekly rates, you aren’t buying gas twice a day and you can figure out the sale schedules at the local grocery store.
  • Meet Friends
    Being in one place for 1-2 weeks allows enough time to meet friends for a hike, dinner, or even just a quick campsite visit.
  • Work Remotely
    We know of several families where one or both parents works a remote job that has regular hours. Booking sites for 1-2 weeks lets them keep those jobs and just move to the next place on a weekend.
  • Be Spontaneous
    Medium speed allows you some flexibility in your travels. Book a campground for a couple of nights and leave if you’re done with it, or extend your stay if it turns out more interesting than expected.

Challenges

  • Boredom
    On our recent move from Texas to Colorado we had a week in the small town of Silverton, TX. We chose to stay because the camping was cheap and the wifi was good - but other than visiting nearby Caprock Canyon there was little to do.
  • Camping Season
    Moving at medium speed is easier during the “shoulder seasons” when most families have kids in school yet. It gets tougher (and often more expensive) during the busy summer camping months (especially in the northern states). This is one reason we’ve taken camphosting jobs or bought a seasonal campsite during those times.

Fast (less than a week in one spot)

You’ve sold the house. Purged all your stuff. Said goodbye to friends and family. Created a homeschool curriculum you can do on the move. Bought a boat or RV to live in.

What do you do now?

For most suburbia ditchers it’s “put the pedal to the metal”.

After all that effort to get mobile the most natural thing is to be mobile.

Our first year we were in 32 states. In the 4.5 years since we’ve only added eight more. We’ve known other families who made it to 49 states in one year.

To go fast you have to move at least every 3-4 days. And spend long hours on the days you do move.

Yes, it can be exciting.

But at what cost?

Advantages

  • Feel Adventurous
    Moving fast your life feels like a road-trip movie. Every day is a new adventure. Every week brings a new story to tell.
  • Be Impressive
    If you have an audience following your adventures moving fast will impress and entertain them the most.
  • See Variety
    Beach in the morning, desert that night, and mountains the next day - in some areas of the USA two days of driving will radically change your surroundings.

Challenges

  • Cost
    More fuel, shorter campground stays, increased repairs and maintenance - moving fast comes at a cost.
  • Exhaustion
    The tireless eventually tire out. Constant movement and change gets exhausting.
  • Blur
    Was that Arches or Canyonlands? When did we meet that guy? Where did we have that great burger? The faster you move the more it will all be a blur and you’ll have trouble recounting your adventures in the future.
  • Meaning
    With no time to reflect, no chance to compare one place to another, or no time to have a conversation with a local, eventually you’ll start to question why you are even traveling.

All Speeds

We’ve traveled all of these speeds at different times. We’ve:

Flexibility

The biggest benefit of ditching the suburbs is you have your hand on the throttle at all times. Speed up, slow down, level out - you can adjust the speed of your travels to suit your specific combination of needs and desires at any one time.

Some friends of ours - The Currens - recently moved a bit faster than usual (1,114 miles across six states in five days). You can read about why and how they did this on their blog.

How Fast?

How fast do you travel? Are your slow, medium, and fast buckets based on different lengths of time than ours are?

11 Comments How Long Do You Stay in One Place?

  1. Picture of Maggie Maggie June 05, 2016

    Hello Michael:

    I enjoyed reading your blog and can certainly relate.  We have done all the speeds above in 5 short months and came home exhausted.  You are so right on all the above.  Some of our trip was a blur because we moved to fast.  My husband and I just retired in January and are ready to hit the road full-time ,  but we still have our suburbia home.  Getting rid of it and all the “stuff” is harder then I thought.  We have been camping for 19 years, have a 5th wheel and love going out on the road.  Any recommendations on sites that help you emotionally prepare for selling and moving on would help if you know of any.  Thank you and enjoy your travels.

  2. Picture of Michael Boyink Michael Boyink June 05, 2016

    Hey Maggie -

    Thanks for the comment. We were actually just talking today that we need to find someone to interview who can speak to the emotional side of purging/moving on. We can talk about the practicalities but that’s only half of the puzzle.

  3. Picture of kevin kevin June 09, 2016

    Funny to read this, you capture it so well. We’ve been going pretty fast. Generally we’re 1-3 days in most places, even if in the same state for a while. We notice many families are 2-4 week stayers in parks.  But we’re also doing it different. We’re doing the states and seeing some amazing stuff.  But we (me) are ready to slow down.

    We’re late risers so on travel days, that’s our biggest loss of time. We travel only 4 hours on average, sometimes only 2, a few up to 6 hours. And our setup and tear-down are 15 minutes. So we can arrive and explore immediately, get home for dinner and work or play games, or movie, or go explore more.

    But while we miss a lot of stuff, we do a lot of stuff. Yes, it’s a blur, but we talk often to remind ourselves and turn some of those blurs into clearer memories.

    But we know our time is coming to an end in 6 months or so, so our reality is a bit different. We’re not focused yet on making this permanent.  If we were, I’d do it much slower…. maybe 1-3 months per location - sometimes beach, sometimes mountains, sometimes who knows.

    But I’d focus on work-life balance and finding a new setting to call home while making new friends everywhere.  It’d be nice to have a lot more friends, even if they didn’t travel.

    thanks again for taking the time to write, when you could be doing something else to make more money.

    kevin

  4. Picture of Bob Bob June 10, 2016

    Mike,

    Thanks for the break down and your perspective on each speed. My concern, as we begin to transition from suburbia, if one can refer to Casper, WY as suburbia haha, is that we will try to travel at too fast a speed. Even at 60 years of age it is not uncommon for me to put a 1000 miles behind me in a single day.
    We just did that in April on a trip to Phoenix and back. Straight through both ways. If we had be traveling in the truck camper I was hoping to stay a night in Durango and say hi to you guys. Another time.
    I enjoy the weekly updates and posts. Keep it up. You guys rock!

  5. Picture of Michael Boyink Michael Boyink June 10, 2016

    @kevin - Thanks! Writing here is also working towards a goal of making money. This content will surely get pulled into one or more projects we are considering.

    @bob - You remind me of my dad.  He’s in his late 70’s and still pulls long days on the road like that.  We’ve done longer days for different reasons but over time you realize as a fulltimer there’s no need to and you’re probably driving past some pretty cool stuff.

  6. Picture of vee walker vee walker June 12, 2016

    Hi Michael
    Hi again, we finally got our 32’ 5th wheel (Cougar rear entertainment) we will start our first ever retirement journey June 20th. we will be leaving California heading to Maine. wow I know “uh”. What I would like to know(maybe from MsBoyink)is where did you put"what"ie clothes.towels.pot/pans where? I open the cabinet under& over the kitchen sink and it a big open-hole. maybe you can take some pictures of how you guys have maximized these spaces. thank you for any and all your help. Vee

  7. Picture of Michael Boyink Michael Boyink June 12, 2016

    Hi Vee.

    You have a different manufacturer and floorplan, so your cabinet and storage options will be differnent than what we have to work with.

    Still - maybe you can get some ideas from our RV Modifications page or the kitchen tour video MsBoyink did.

  8. Picture of Andrea Elkins Andrea Elkins June 24, 2016

    Love the blog, Michael.  We have made the decision to live in the RV for 1 month close to home in August to be sure it’s the right move for us.  Hubby will work FT remote while I commute to work. If all goes well, we’ll upgrade the 5th wheel, sell stuff & house & hit the road. :)  I’m making hubby read several of your blogs, including this one, because his focus is on the gear, not the lifestyle. Keep ‘em coming, please!

  9. Picture of Michael Boyink Michael Boyink June 24, 2016

    That’s understandable. In the early phases I was all about the gear as well - just wanting to make sure I was setting us up for success as a family.

    Once you guys are launched the gear decisions will fade away and the lifestyle will beome the focus. I say this with confidence because it’s been the case with the other fulltimers that we’ve met. Yes - there will be conversations about different truck or trailer configurations but I’ve never felt they were the same as comparing houses in suburban mode. Less one-upmanship, more hey - we all do it differently but we’re still headed down the same roads.

    Anyway - thanks for the comment. It’s always good to know we have readers!

  10. Picture of Mike Mike July 25, 2016

    We are working on the “medium” variety right now. One thing with the 5th wheel - it takes quite a bit of time to hitch, unhitch and setup. I also work 8-5 (remote) so I can’t do much during the week, except after 5.  2 weeks almost seems a little fast, we are talking about doing 3-4 weeks at each spot. that gives us one weekend to move, and several weeks for (me) to spend taking in the area fully. Weeknights (at least in summer) I can certainly do “some” things after work, but not a 10 mile hike or anything.


    As we do this more, we’ll see…great article, thanks!

  11. Picture of Michael Boyink Michael Boyink July 25, 2016

    Hey Mike - you’ll get better. 

    We timed ourselves and could setup camp - from backing in the 5th wheel to plopping down with a cold one - in 18 minutes (if we all worked at it).

    Getting back on the road takes a bit longer - but if we’re in travel mode still less than an hour.

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