How We Uprooted Conformity

December sunset on a sandy Texas beach Uprooting Conformity & becoming full time nomads
Our December sunset on the sandy Texas beach

What happens once you grasp the concept of conformity, spot it in your daily routine, and yearn for a more genuine existence? Well, for our family the answer was to sell our house & become full-time nomads. Subtle, right? 

What is a nomad & Why would we want to do that?

   Historically, nomads were groups or individuals who lived by moving from place to place, seeking resources and following seasonal patterns. They relied on hunting, herding, or trading for sustenance and played a key role in shaping trade networks and cultural exchange throughout history.

   These days, a nomad is someone who thrives on frequent travel rather than staying rooted in one place. It attracts individuals who prefer exploring different regions or wandering the world rather than settling down for prolonged periods. 

   It was for these reasons and more that our family felt led to embark on this adventure of roaming.

The Journey to the Decision

Why did our family choose the nomadic path? Keep reading!

  Let me back up a couple of years to the summer of 2019 – a time when life took an unexpected turn. Major relationships shifted, routines changed, and while we were still working through that, Covid hit. While the pandemic didn’t disrupt our lives as much as it did for others, we still felt its significance. As a stay-at-home mama already homeschooling, our daily life stayed mostly the same, albeit without the fun field trips & thrift stores. We’d never gone out as much as many folks & we really enjoyed each others’ company- no infighting or increased alcohol consumption for us 🙂 

   However, week after week of constricted activities left each of us feeling stifled, restless, & in need of a change.

   We found ourselves embracing the outdoors much more, discovering hidden gems like a nearby wildlife management area just a stone’s throw from our house. It became our special place, where my husband and sons would often spend days hammocking, while I rediscovered the joy of cycling, racking up 500 miles that year. 

As we filled our lungs with the fresh air, we realized our souls were also being filled. It was healing our spirits during a time we all desperately needed it.

   Our outdoor adventures didn’t stop there. Eventually, my husband suggested upgrading from tent camping to converting an enclosed cargo trailer into a camper – a decision that would considerably improve our travel enjoyment. With the help of a neighbor who happened to have the perfect trailer, we dove into the project in the spring of 2022. After a month of hard work, it was ready to hit the road, but there was one catch: I had to learn how to tow it. Initiate the panic attacks! Thanks to our generous neighbor-friend, who included driving lessons with the sale, Memorial Day weekend saw us embarking on our maiden voyage to a nearby county park campground. Despite my initial fears, we had a blast. 

   From there, our camping horizons grew broader – from weekends at the county park to a week-long adventure in northern Minnesota. And just when I thought we were winding down for the year, my husband surprised me with a crazy idea: Christmas on a Texas beach. Now, we lived in Central Iowa and the longest I’d ever towed the trailer had been 5 or 6 hours at a time. Texas was a 16 hour drive– two full days of non-stop driving plus an overnight somewhere! I was overwhelmed at the thought of it and secretly hoped he’d change his mind. He didn’t. He grew more excited, in fact. While I thought it sounded fun, it would mean driving those two days, spending 4 days on the beach, then hauling that trailer back two days again. But as daunting as it sounded, as the closer the time came to Christmas in the bitter Iowa winter, the greater the allure of sandy shores became!

   The day after Christmas dawned black and bitterly cold, with snow falling as we embarked on our ambitious journey to the Texas coast. Despite the wintry weather and my escalating anxiety, we pushed through, leaving behind our home state for the ocean coastline that awaited us. The following afternoon, after enduring a grueling 1000-mile drive, we finally arrived at the beach – a sight that rendered me speechless. Palm trees swayed in the breeze, the Gulf of Mexico stretched out before us, and the warmth enveloped. As we savored a simple supper on the shore, surrounded by serenity and beauty, something within us shifted.

   That moment on the beach was the turning point. It sparked conversations about a seemingly distant dream: full-time travel. Initially envisioned for the future, perhaps after our children had grown, the allure of exploration and adventure grew stronger with each trip we took. Then, in May, an unexpected twist of fate altered our course. My husband learned that his employer’s contract wouldn’t be renewed, leaving him without employment come October. In that moment, a shared realization dawned upon us- This is the time. 

Preparing for the Change

The practical steps we took to prepare for our nomadic lifestyle

For the next three months, I was on a mission, working tirelessly to declutter our house and prepare for our upcoming adventure. We sorted through our belongings, parting ways with many items by either placing them on the curb for others to find or donating them to charity. The remaining essentials were carefully stored in a 10×10 storage unit, stacked high to make the most of the space. By mid-August, our house was primed for listing, and to our delight, it sold almost immediately, allowing us to proceed with our plans.

Initially, we intended to use the proceeds from the house sale to purchase a conversion van and begin our journey. However, as fate would have it, our plans took a detour. While we searched for the perfect van to replace our Nissan Xterra as the tow vehicle, we temporarily moved to a nearby campground until my husband’s contract ended. Our quest for the ideal van led us to unexpected places, including a stint living with my husband’s parents. Then, one fateful day, a Craigslist find for a 2000 GMC Savana conversion van in Indiana caught our attention. Without hesitation, we hit the road, embarking on a nine-hour drive to secure our new home on wheels. After a whirlwind test drive in the dark, we made the purchase, and once everything was loaded up, we were FINALLY ready to begin our long-awaited adventure!

Our First Adventures

Our early experiences as full-time nomads: the moments that confirmed that we were on the right path.

  We left Iowa at the end of November and arrived in Texas December 1st! We headed back to that beautiful free beach on the Gulf of Mexico that had started it all. We enjoyed the sun & waves for the next week. Then, a gale warning sent us off the beach and north to a State Forest where we spent almost 2 weeks surrounded by tall red pine trees and various palm plants. 

    When it was time to head back to Iowa for Christmas, no one wanted to leave! It felt as if we had just begun our adventure & we wanted to keep going!

  After 2 weeks in Iowa’s cold, snowy embrace, we were ready to hit the road again. With an impending blizzard ready to strike, we high-tailed it out of there! After dodging nasty weather & plummeting temperatures throughout Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and even northern Texas, we decided to alter our course and headed to a campground only a mile from the Mexican border! FINALLY, it wasn’t freezing! As we sat back in our camp chairs in the warm sun, we knew we had made the right decision.

Our 1st Adventure Rig
Our 1st Adventure Rig

  We’ve been on the road since then, gaining valuable lessons and countless first-hand insights into what a full-time traveling lifestyle is like. I will expand on each of them in an upcoming post, so be sure to look for that!

  Here are just a few of the lessons we’ve picked up along the way:

1. The importance of adaptability.

2. How to live with way  less and prioritize necessities.

3. Developing strong problem-solving and decision-making skills.

4. Cultivating an even deeper appreciation for nature and the environment.

5. Learning to embrace uncertainty and unpredictability.

6. Building resilience and coping mechanisms in various situations.

7. Enhancing communication and interpersonal skills through interactions with different people-  as well as each other!

8. Gaining a deeper understanding of ourselves and our personal values.

9.  The value of diverse cultural experiences and perspectives.

10. Finding joy in simplicity and the beauty of the present moment.

   Whether you’re contemplating diving into full-time nomad life or just curious about what in the world we’re thinking, one thing’s for sure: it’s a multifaceted journey which requires careful consideration & evaluation of all aspects of your life & personality.

   From figuring out your finances and picking the perfect wheels to making friends on the road and discovering what the nomadic journey looks like for you, every little piece adds up to shape this unconventional lifestyle. Being flexible, continually learning, and looking after yourself are key to navigating the ups and downs of life on the go.

   At the end of the day, your journey boils down to one thing: you. Your unique personality, individual needs, and personal passions should shape every aspect of your nomadic lifestyle. Take the time to understand yourself and ensure that your journey aligns perfectly with who you are. Armed with this self-awareness, you’ll step onto the road with confidence, a wide grin, and a abundance of exciting adventures awaiting you!

 By embracing the life of full-time nomads, we’ve discovered the liberating power of breaking free from conformity and forging our own path.

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