The Scenic Route
It’s 2022 and the world is changing fast. Every day inflation weighs a little heavier, squashing the materialistic dreams of Americans everywhere. Over the past year my boyfriend and I watched as our ritzy downtown Dallas neighborhood began to crumble. During the late stages of the pandemic, chaos, anger, and violence skyrocketed. Blame it on increased stress, if you’d like, or decreased police presence or lack of discipline in our school systems. Regardless, I began to witness domestic violence on the regular, along with vandalism and shootings.
I realized I needed to leave the city. It turned out everyone else was having the same awakening and I was a but a speck in a great wave of people attempting to move to the country. I futilely struggled to catch the attention of a realtor – any realtor – who wouldn’t turn their cheek as soon as they heard “first time buyer”. Multiple bids went nowhere; endless time and effort were wasted on apps, research and paperwork, all ending in disappointment.
It was time to take a hint from the universe. I accepted that I just wasn’t meant to buy a house this year. It was a relief, actually, to put the mortgage forms aside and allow myself to focus on my job and relationships.
With the time to breathe also came the realization that I’m not even certain where I want to live. Ethan felt the same, along with a burning desire to explore new places. Thanks to remote jobs, we had nothing tying us down. Before us lay a golden opportunity to go discover new horizons and find our place in the world. We terminated our lease, put our things in storage, and hit the open road.
1. Find a creative, friendly, regenerative community where we can grow roots
2. Save money and wait out the housing crisis
3. Learn and collect ideas about the way different people are living, both artistically and sustainably
Off Without a Hitch?
Gone are the days of the carefree spontaneous road trip. In 2022 you can’t even get your hands on a National Park pass less than 4 months in advance. It’s been tricky to map out a graceful route hitting all the places we wanted to visit, not to mention finding affordable lodging with trustworthy WiFi. I’ve thrown together a mixed strategy of house sitting, hostels, campsites, co-working spots and Airbnbs. Keeping an open mind to new and different ideas can really take you far in the world of travel.
The first snag arose before we even left Dallas: a heat wave hit Texas and the surrounding states. The forecast showed a low of 95 degrees for our first two nights of camping, which sounded like a heat stroke waiting to happen. We were easily able to postpone leaving – but it was a good reminder that travel demands a certain degree of flexibility when it comes to weather.
My dogs are another complicating factor, especially in the heat of summer. I invested in all kinds of doggy road trip devices, from a no-spill Velcro water bowl to window jail bars. I’ll leave the little furballs at my parents’ farm for a few weeks, which will give me the chance to visit some National Parks and housesit for some free nights.
A Sweet Ride
This is not van life. I have a two-door Honda civic and a rooftop carrier, into which we fit two people, two dogs, food, clothing, work supplies and camping equipment. It’s a tight squeeze, but I like it better than van life for a number of reasons.
For starters, vans/RVs are not the most cost-efficient method of road tripping. The upfront cost is astronomical, and gas for large vehicles is becoming prohibitively expensive. Even if we bought a used van, we are not “car people.” We have no skill or experience with fixing automobiles, which is a very necessary characteristic of a Van-lifer.
Then there’s the vibes. I am a tent camper. Always have been, always will be. I like to sleep beneath dark skies with no light but the moon and stars. It’s a joy to fall asleep and wake up to the sounds of birds, bugs, wind and running water – and nothing else. Tent camping is peaceful, fresh and natural. RV camps are full of noisy families playing music and running their generators. It’s just not my thing.
Putting Pedal to the Metal
After all that planning, we have finally hit the road and officially begun nomad life. Only a week in and I already have tons of stories to tell. For the foreseeable future I’ll be recording all my finest and most memorable nomadic moments – so fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the ride!