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The Best Times
Years ago, my husband James said something I never forgot: “I just want to get in the car and drive”. Without any plan, the urge to explore was calling to him. When I reflect on our lives, the best anticipated and most fondly remembered times were the trips we took on our precious vacation days. As young adults, those were largely camping trips, both out of a love for the outdoors and financial necessity.
Over time, we were lucky enough to fly to destinations across Canada: Victoria and Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg and St John’s, Newfoundland. Road trips took us to Montreal, Quebec City, PEI and New Brunswick. Eventually as the Canadian dollar strenghtened, we were able to visit Florida, the Appalachians and major New England cities like New York, Boston and Chicago. As a motorcyclist, James’ especially loved his multi-day trips riding as far as he could go in the few days he can squeeze out from work.
Still the time away was limited, our jobs ever calling us back to spend the majority of our lives earning money but for what? To live the good life, or at least the life everyone was supposed to want? To prove that we were a success? The deal didn’t seem worth it: work your whole life, buy a house, fill it with stuff, buy a bigger house, fill it with more stuff and you will be happy! We didn’t completely buy in: we were driven to save. Where some of our peers kept updating the two newer cars in their driveways, we shared just 2 cars over the first 17 years of marriage (one at a time). While others bought detached houses for their growing families, we bought a smaller townhouse and eventually realized even it was bigger than we needed.
Ill-Advised yet Genius
When we were first married we had nothing except each other, our cat Ally and our student loans: we keenly felt the absolute necessity to work to pay off our debts and build a life, and work we did. Now we are on the other side: years of working, saving, investing and successful entrepreneurship combined with a frugal lifestyle and the decision to remain child-free have put early retirement within reach. Freedom from employment means freedom to pursue the travel we both yearn for. But we can only travel extensively if we are willing to walk away from the both the convenience and responsibility, the comfort and expense of our townhouse. The idea is at once crazy and exciting, paradoxically ill-advised yet genius.
Years of reading other people’s blogs on RV travel have revealed a whole community of nomads who live and wander full-time in their RV traveling around North America year round. While some live in their RV because it is all they can afford, a majority of “full-timers” have chosen this lifestyle for the benefits and opportunities it provides: to visit national, provincial and state parks, discover free camping on public lands, explore new places, lessen their footprint on the earth and slow down to escape the stress of “normal life”. RV living makes it possible to pursue travel in comfort year-round for less than it costs to live in a “sticks and bricks” home. Many full-time RVers are retired, while others pursue income-generating businesses from the road.
Canadian version of Full-Time RV Life
Full-time RVing is a popular American past-time, especially since US citizens have few barriers to travel around their country. As Canadians, we don’t enjoy the same level of freedom: as visitors to the USA, we are only welcome inside their borders for 6 months per year. This makes for a fairly tight window to escape the cold weather up north, a key part of our vision for RV life. Furthermore, as Canadians we cannot work in the states: not only must we fund our travels south completely from our Canadian savings and income, we must also be able to prove this when we cross the border.
Even so, there is tremendous opportunity. Six months is long enough to go anywhere we like in the US from Key West to California and everywhere in between. Though we cannot work while in the US, we can always supplement our income through additional work or business opportunities while in Ontario for half the year.
Snowbirding, spending a portion of the colder months in warmer climates, has long been a Canadian pursuit. It is not one without sacrifice: leaving behind parents, siblings, children and friends for extended periods is difficult. Yet after many years of working and saving, the realization that life is finite looms ever larger. We must take responsibility for our own happiness: it is up to us to create the life we want. We hope that our family and friends will share our excitement and encourage us to pursue our dreams. We welcome those who choose to follow along as we share our adventures online. We will look forward to reconnecting over the summer, trusting that our times together will be even sweeter.
Sense of Urgency
Our desire for this lifestyle has swelled as we have planned and prepared. We feel a sense of urgency to explore, to experience new places and to live a fuller, more varied life while we still can. We are filled with the happy anticipation of being on the cusp of realizing our dreams: to explore this beautiful continent, live simply in harmony with the seasons, seek new experiences, expand our knowledge, gain different perspectives, meet interesting people and live fuller, healthier and happier lives.