A Smaller Rig, A Bigger Backyard, or a New Mission?

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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).

Time Left?

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

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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.

Options?

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.

I’m researching:

  • 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:

  • 4x4
  • Nimble
  • Stealthy
  • Setup with dedicated and comfortable sitting and sleeping areas
  • Tall enough to stand up in
  • Affordable

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.

Go International

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.

Mission

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.

What then?

Maybe we’ll find a ministry to partner with. Or a cause to promote.

Or.

Ditching-Enablers?

What if MsBoyink and I became mobile “ditching-enablers”, traveling to where there are families who want to leave the suburbs?

We could:

  • 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?

NOTE: The Ditching Suburbia fifth wheel bunkhouse RV is for sale and we are searching for a Class B RV / Camper Van - can you help?

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13 Comments A Smaller Rig, A Bigger Backyard, or a New Mission?

  1. Picture of Tevis OMahonyTevis OMahony August 20, 2016

    Think you’re on to something here. I like that you’re keeping Miranda in the discussions and open to different possibilities. There is so much more out there! From many of the posts here and on other RV sites there are a lot of nervous nellies who want to make the transition but need some hand holding! Great idea!

  2. Picture of BoyinkBoyink August 20, 2016

    Thanks Tevis!

  3. Picture of Nico Veenkamp Nico Veenkamp August 21, 2016

    You ask Some great questions. You may want to check out Rolf Potts book Vagabonding and the website that goes with it for all kinds of tips of travelers

    Als there is Chris Guillebeau with his travel hacking programs. He set himself the goal to visit every country within five years. He turned his experience in to a series of small businesses.

    Take care
    Nico

  4. Picture of BoyinkBoyink August 21, 2016

    Thanks Nico!

  5. Picture of Lou SchaberLou Schaber August 25, 2016

    Ditching-Enablers . . . that is such an awesome idea! Last night we sat down with another family that is dreaming/planning the whole, full-time RV adventure. It was so great to have that validation, that we’re not so crazy after all. I think you guys are in a perfect position to come alongside others that are in that dreaded I-know-what-I-want-to-do-but-I-don’t-know-how-to-get-there phase.

  6. Picture of Shamika SmithShamika Smith August 25, 2016

    I like the idea of ditching enablers. I think that with newbies such as myself, who would need the extra motivation to ditch/purge this would be a fantastic idea.  That way you get direct interaction, q&a, and assistance from people who actually have done it and loved it for the most part.

  7. Picture of Megan king-PoppMegan king-Popp August 28, 2016

    My husband and I have been dreaming of packing up our family and setting off on an adventure. We just listened to all of your podcasts on our drive from Michigan to our home in St. Louis. I think ditching-enablers is the best idea!!! Maybe writing a practical book that helps people take those initial steps?? We would hire you all in a second!

  8. Picture of BoyinkBoyink August 28, 2016

    Hey Megan -

    We are actually working on a book. I’ve been saying that for 2 years, but in the past few weeks have gotten active on it again.  We’re shooting for 2017, and seeking a winter situation that will allow me time to work on it.

  9. Picture of BoyinkBoyink August 28, 2016

    And thanks for listening to the podcast!  We visited St. Louis last year and met up with a family in town who is in planning mode as well.  If you shoot me a note offline I’ll connect you to them.

  10. Picture of Juan MartinezJuan Martinez September 01, 2016

    All sound like good ideas. I would go overseas awhile since your kids are in the fun and young phase of life where they are starting their lives and not full of crazy responsibilities.  Later they might get married and have kids and you will want to be there. All your other options you could do later but I imagine, for family people, you would like to be there to see your grandkids often and that would be tough so far away.  Personally, I really like your ditching enablers option, sounds fun, at least for a short while.

  11. Picture of SarahSarah September 01, 2016

    I love the ditching enabler idea!  Living nomadically is a scary proposition for most dreamers, so having someone there to encourage you and offer advice would be awesome!

    The biggest thing for us right now is the logistics of what to do now that we’ve sold our stuff and purchased a truck and RV.  Now what am I supposed to do?  How am I supposed to find good parks?  Affordable parks?  Places worth going and places that just aren’t worth it?  And what about secret spots that aren’t as well known and the tips for avoiding common mistakes?  It’s just a lot to consider it all at once, which I know you guys know.  I am so thankful for the information available online and through blogs like this!  Can’t wait to see what you decide to do in the next season of your lives!

  12. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael Boyink September 01, 2016

    Thanks for the comment Sarah!

    I’m kinda grinning because you’re just getting a little peek at what the ditched life will be like.

    6 years later and still a goodly portion of our day to day conversations are about “what we’re going to do next”.  There’s the longer term question like this blog post, and the shorter-term question like where are we going after Labor Day.

    We wrote this post which can give you some ideas.

    We’re also happy to jump on a Skype call and talk about things if that’s something you’d be interested in.

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