With our oldest off on his own and our youngest now 18, MsBoyink and I are “half-empty nesters” and starting to dream about what’s next.
Over six years ago we looked at our comfortable suburban life and found it lacking. We wanted:
- Closer family
- Simpler living
- Richer education
- Uncommon adventures
Our kids were 12 and 13. We wanted to achieve those goals while they were still at home with us.
We put wheels on a dream and reinvented ourselves. We left West Michigan and became a fulltime digital nomadic family, traveling the USA in an RV.
Fast-forward 6 Years
Harrison has been on his own for almost a year now, working a factory job and involved in music production with a local church.
Miranda is now 18 and we’re wrapping up her “at-home” education with some practical life stuff (personal finance, cooking, etc).
We’re not sure how long Miranda is with us yet. She hasn’t quite figured out what her jump looks like.
We’re OK with that.
We think US culture rushes 18 year olds off far too fast, as if at 18 you can reliably decide what you want to do for the rest of your life.
Regardless of duration we know this time will go by quickly. We know this because it was only a couple of weeks ago we made the suburbs-to-road-warriors switch.
So We’re Dreaming
MsBoyink and I are starting to have the same type of conversations that led to us getting on the road. Conversations filled with words like:
- What if…
- Could we…
- Do you think…
- Here’s an idea…
- Check these guys out…
Years ago we called this conversation the “Pipe Dream” and had to keep it on the down-low. We didn’t want the kids to pick up on what we were thinking.
These days we talk options openly around Miranda. We do reassure her that we aren’t kicking her out or trying to force her hand, we just want to be ready when she is.
I see two main options for our “empty-nest” phase:
We have a 34’ fifth wheel. Together with the truck we are around 55’ long going down the road.
I’m tired of being this big.
We’re often hitched up and on the move and then see something we’d like to go experience. It could be a public park, museum or roadside stand.
By the time I:
- Find the entrance and plot my exit
- Get a sense of the size of the parking lot
- Figure out how to get us over there
- Look at the traffic around me to make sure I won’t be cutting someone off
It’s too late, it’s too much hassle, and it’s easier to just keep going.
I want to be off-grid more, in campgrounds and RV parks less, and more flexible in where we can park.
- Buying an existing (small) Class A, Class B RV, or Camper Van
- Building our own RV from a box truck, step van, or plumbing van
My ideal rig is:
- Setup with dedicated and comfortable sitting and sleeping areas
- Tall enough to stand up in
Some of those goals are at odds with each other. The reality will be a compromise in some way.
Living in a smaller rig would offer new camping options. New adventure options. New drive day routines.
If we got claustrophobic we could rent an AirBnB and park in the driveway.
It would be a whole new country.
But then I wonder - did we ditch the suburbs only to find a new rut?
Is staying in RV-mode too comfortable?
Are we thinking big enough?
Are we considering options that are a bit…scary?
Should we ditch the entire RV thing, refresh our passports, pack backpacks and jump on the next flight to….somewhere?
I haven’t researched this option as much. I kinda don’t know where to start.
I’ve heard other travelers talking about airline tickets and rental apartments for around the same money we spend on gas and campgrounds now. It gets my wheels spinning - could we actually live cheaper this way?
Then I think about our tolerance of inconvenience:
- I hate air travel
- I hate living out of suitcases and backpacks
- I hate being on someone else’s schedule
- I’ve had periodic sleep issues and do better with a consistent bed
RVing lets us be home everywhere. We like that.
Then my adventuresome side says those are just excuses to stay comfortable.
I don’t know.
Maybe it’s a “both/and” moment and we need to look at RVing in Europe.
No matter the mode, no matter the route, no matter the locale, I want our next phase to be about something more.
More than travel just for the sake of travel.
With kids along our travels have been rooted in their education. We wanted them to experience as much as they could before leaving our nest. We wanted to educate them in ways a traditional school or even classic homeschooling could not.
When Miranda makes her exit she’ll take that mission with her.
Maybe we’ll find a ministry to partner with. Or a cause to promote.
What if MsBoyink and I became mobile “ditching-enablers”, traveling to where there are families who want to leave the suburbs?
- Help purge belongings
- Help plan and staff garage sales
- Help shop for RVs
- Provide child care
- Help plan homeschooling
- Provide RV training
- Caravan alongside
- Provide emotional support
This idea appeals to us. We’re especially qualified to do it. It’s not something we expect to make money at. If we were in a smaller rig we could possibly just park in the driveway of whomever we’re helping.
What Say You?
Is the world ready for mobile missionaries, traveling to the suburbs and proselytizing the nomadic life?