How we got started
We get a lot of different questions: “How can you travel full time?” or “Why did you start doing this?” and “Are you happy?” We love talking about the benefits this lifestyle brings us as well as the struggles. Ultimately, living houseless and allowing ourselves to go wherever we please has been one of the most rewarding decisions of our lives. Although it was a bit scary to take that leap at first. Our families and friends started out somewhat skeptical, but now they say they’re living vicariously through us.
It’s always fun catching up with loved ones and sharing events or changes. The plans for our future always seem to be evolving. We believe that is what has continued to lead us to where we are the happiest. The main reason we wanted to start this blog was to easily share our experiences in depth with the people closest to us. We do hope that most people who read this will take some form entertainment from it and maybe even share with a friend.
2020 was a crazy year for us just like everyone else. It felt even more turbulent in the beginning of the year since we both decided to leave our jobs at a large demolition firm to start our own business. I initially tried to partner with a friend on some construction projects and convinced Courtney to start a digital marketing business since that was her background. I quickly realized contracting work was not going to make me happy long term and we decided to leverage our construction network and experience as our niche in the marketing company instead.
We were feeling confident in our move to be our own bosses, progressing daily. But just like that, by March it seemed like the whole world might be falling apart. The unknown that everyone was facing made us look at our priorities and make some drastic changes.
Even before Coronavirus, we felt like keeping our rental home in Pasadena, Maryland was a waste of our time and money especially when the next paycheck was not guaranteed. We had already started to investigate creative ways we could live without spending such a large chunk of our income on rent or a mortgage. Living in a tiny house on wheels (like the really cool 40 ft-long examples you’ve seen on tv) at my father’s somewhat secluded piece of property was an option, but not entirely legal for any period of time longer than 30 days.
One day in early March, we were talking to a friend about his experience moving to California years ago with no plan other than to find opportunity in a new place. Soon after arriving, he upgraded his living arrangements from a hotel room to an older D350 Cummins with a 10’ truck camper that he got an awesome deal on. He said that the 9 months or so he spent living full time in that rig were the best of his life! That’s what reminded me about truck campers in the first place.
Travel trailers and fifth wheel campers had been an option in our minds but going that “tiny” didn’t occur to us until then. I had fantasies about doing things like travelling the country living out of a van, sailing across the ocean in a small boat, or backpacking deep into the forest to catch and cook my meals for days at a time. I had watched people doing things like that on YouTube for years and never brought it up to Courtney because it didn’t feel like something we would ever be able to do. I think these things appealed to me because from my point of view, there was no stress outside of what needed to be done in the moment.
By late March when the lockdowns were announced in Maryland, Courtney had an un-easy look in her eyes. Knowing that unemployment, rent moratoriums or other government handouts were never going to be a considerable option for us, she asked me “What would we do if we couldn’t afford our rent and have to leave our house because of this?” I replied almost right away with “Let’s buy a truck camper. We can put it on my truck and go wherever we want.” I was surprised when she said, “Okay. Let’s see what’s for sale.” The next day we drove deep into Virginia to buy our 2002 StarCraft 952.
Courtney and I cooked meals and stayed a few nights in the camper in our driveway to see if it was something we could make work for living in full time. Courtney was not sold at first but eventually fell in love with our “tiny campy.” We started making plans to move out of the house when our lease ended June 1st, 2020. The two biggest hurdles were selling off everything that we didn’t need for the foreseeable future and developing a piece of my dad’s property to serve as a home base before we were ready to set off on our first cross country trip. A separate write up on both of those topics will come in a later blog.
The next several months were spent enjoying the summertime in Maryland and making our new living arrangements as comfortable as possible. We did sneak in a quick 2-week trip to Florida in July and another short camping weekend in Breaks Interstate Park in Virginia. There were a lot of projects to complete in preparation for the journey somewhere warmer for the winter. Resealing the roof, renovating the kitchen area, modifying the truck suspension to handle the load of the camper and the list goes on.
We finally left Maryland for our first cross country trip in November 2020. Initially heading southwest through West Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi before heading straight west on I-10. Our course was planned on the southernmost highway in attempt to stay warm and explore the Gulf of Mexico before heading further west into Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. I’ll share our more information and pictures of our favorite spots along the way in a future blog.
By the end of January, we made our way to Las Vegas. Courtney had a flight scheduled out of Vegas to attend one of her best friend’s wedding in Florida for a long weekend. I spent that weekend 10 hours north in the Sacramento, CA area with 2 friends that have property in the mountains nearby. When Courtney returned to Vegas, she brought her brother Patrick to spend a few days with us near Lake Mead. It was his 3rd time visiting us that year and staying in the camper. The pull-out couch worked well even for him at about 6’ tall.
By the middle of February, it was time for us to slowly make our way “home” to Maryland. We needed to get back to prepare for our upcoming trip to Florida for our wedding April 10th, 2021. We stayed at a few of our favorite spots on our way back. Lake Havasu, Arizona: where we had to rush Penny to an emergency Vet in the middle of the night almost 3 hours away. Las Cruces, New Mexico: where we got stuck in a single digit temperature windstorm, and a cute city park in Junction, Texas during an unusual blizzard. On our way East near the Gulf, we explored New Orleans and the beaches of Florida’s panhandle before catching I-95 Northbound to Maryland.
This first major cross-country trip was over 10,000 miles and lasted about 3 months. The time flew by, and we had never been happier. We were hooked on overland life and looking forward to the next chapter of our journey: getting married in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and taking our boat to the Keys for our honeymoon.
Look for our next blog release on all the details in preparation for our trip to Florida through April to May, 2021 and all the fun we had there and back.