I’ve been getting so many lovely, thoughtful, inquisitive emails from people and I’m sorry to say it’s become impossible for me to answer all of them. Most of you want to hit the road – for a long weekend, for a few weeks or months and some of you want to go full nomad. I’d love to help each and every one of you set yourselves free, but if I spent that much time at the keyboard answering emails, I wouldn’t be living the kind of life I want to be living. Selfish, yes, but therein lies part of the secret to my success.
My solution to this ridiculously flattering conundrum is to start answering some of these queries on the Blonde Coyote:
I’ve been following you on WordPress for quite some time and have always been inspired by the tales of your travels. Many of the things your write about resonate with me and give me the confidence to keep pushing and not smother my dreams of living on the road. You’ve stayed true to yourself and that hits home for me. I just turned 22 this week and am listening to my heart and got the courage to ask you suggestions about living on the road and how you sustain it. How did you get out there and how do you keep it going?
How did I get out here? I hit the road at 23, right after I finished college. I gave away everything that wouldn’t fit in my little VW and started driving West. My initial plan was to cross the Mississippi for the first time, see the Rockies, the Grand Canyon and the Pacific, spend the summer working on my uncle’s farm in Oregon and then live in a different place every year for the next five years. Nine years later, I’ve been hiking in all 50 states and have yet to land in one place for more than a few months at a time.
Now at 32, everything I own, including my two dogs, fits in a Land Rover and a five by ten foot Teardrop trailer. My annual income from freelance writing is less than $20K, but my monthly overhead is extremely low – my main expenditures are gas and food – and here’s the real key: I have zero debt. I’ve worked hard to make this lifestyle sustainable and I’ve got it all pretty well dialed; most days, I feel totally at home on the road.
How do I keep going? It’s not always easy. Inertia is a powerful force; when I’m moving, I never want to stop, and when I stop, I sometimes start to feel like I could stay that way, especially when I feel pulled by the gravity of friends and family. I am blessed to have many wonderful people in my life and it’s not easy to leave them behind. But I’ve learned that I feel best – happiest, most fulfilled – when I’m moving forward — physically, geographically, philosophically. And so I journey onward in spirals, circling back again and again to where I love and am loved.
Here’s the thing about always moving forward: everything around you changes all the time and you have to be ready, willing and able to adapt and evolve. I didn’t set out to be a nomad, but I’ve become one, because at every turn, with every choice, every decision, I’ve elected to keep moving forward. The housesitting, the freelancing, the trailer were all adaptations I’ve adopted along the way. Getting out there doesn’t just require one huge leap; I take leaps all the time. When I left home, I had no idea I would be traveling for this long – I had no idea a person could travel for this long – but I really, truly, deeply love the road and I enjoy the hell out of my life, from one moment to the next, all day long, every single day. That’s how I know I’m on the right track.
A little advice to this aspiring nomad:
• Take a long walk everyday. This habit, started ten years ago when I adopted my once young hyperactive dog Bowie, is what really kickstarted my travels. If you want to build the ambition, courage and wanderlust to travel, start on your own two feet. You don’t need to light out for distant coasts and exotic lands, all you need is a good pair of shoes.
• Say yes to all opportunities. My mission in life is to see, understand and experience as much of the natural world as possible. How you define an opportunity is up to you.
• Make choices and be decisive. Always keep in mind: not deciding is deciding.
• Don’t waste time or energy trying to convince skeptics of your plans. Do what you want to do and do it well and let your actions prove your point.
• Being debt-free is priceless. I have no credit, no debt, no loans and very few monthly bills. I do have health insurance, as medical bills are one of the leading sources of debt in this country. Since everything I own has to fit in less than 100 square feet of storage space, I don’t buy a lot of stuff but I’m constantly investing in new experiences. I wore the same pair of sandals for six years but I didn’t hesitate to plunk down $100 for alligator wrangling lessons.
• The most effective and efficient way to learn any new skill is by doing. You won’t have everything dialed before you hit the road and that’s ok. If you wait to have all it all figured before you go, you may never leave. Leap, again and again and again and you will learn, adapt and evolve as you go.
Got a question about life on the road? You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.