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.
- Build Community
Use slow travel periods to plan community in advance or let people come to you.
- Save Money
Buy a campsite by the season or by the month. Take a camphosting or workcamping job to help lower camping, laundry, wifi, and fuel expenses.
- Make Money
Stop traveling to focus on building a business, find a job, or work on a large client project.
- Unearth Experiences
Staying longer opens up the opportunties to be a humane society intern, Little League umpire, or unofficial junior ranger.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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?
- 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.
More fuel, shorter campground stays, increased repairs and maintenance - moving fast comes at a cost.
The tireless eventually tire out. Constant movement and change gets exhausting.
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.
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.
We’ve traveled all of these speeds at different times. We’ve:
- Spent extended time with friends (slow) and then had to book it across the country (fast).
- Luxuriated in a quiet Texas state park for a week (medium).
- Spent entire summers in one place (slow).
- Spent an unplanned two weeks in a small town in North Carolina (medium).
- Traveled the entire length of the Mississippi River (fast and medium).
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 do you travel? Are your slow, medium, and fast buckets based on different lengths of time than ours are?