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Natural Awakenings Tucson

The Unique Freedom of RV Living

May 30, 2020 12:56AM ● By by Tavi Meketon
For every camper, trailer or recreational vehicle on the road, you will find a completely different reason for the occupants’ journey. Many have been contemplating life on the road for decades and some are “called” to a higher purpose or non-traditional lifestyle. Whatever their motivation, most share the love of hitting the trail and the endless possibilities.
   
As Boomers retire and young people can consider a job that replaces four walls with hot spots, jetpacks and a “gig” economy, RVs and other forms of transient housing have exploded. In addition to the demographic trends for a population that has spent years collecting “stuff”, the opportunity to shed some weight and focus on a downsized existence is also appealing to many.
   
This year, the United States Census Bureau will hire 14,000 employees to find and count the more than 1 million American citizens whose house has wheels or sits on the water. According to The Wandering RV, 2020 is predicted to return to growth with new record high sales of RVs, campers and trailers.
   
Kay Levesque took her family of five on the road in 2012 (Love2Hope.com). She and her husband sold their home and committed to travel the country, hoping to raise awareness of human trafficking and related social injustices in order to connect individuals with tangible ways to make a difference. The Levesques intentionally simplified their lives and set out over the next two years in a 40-foot toy hauler, where they homeschooled three children and pursued their goal to educate America and make a difference.
   
Levesque shared that the adventures, family enrichment and overall experience were something she will never forget and that living with fewer possessions was enlightening. “We can do more as a people when we are not bound to material things, and it is immediately apparent how very little we really need.” The biggest piece of advice she has for those who are considering some time on the road, or anything they have dreamed about, is, “Waiting for the day ‘when’ is not the way to live our lives. Today is the day to do it.”
   
Paul Martin is considered a “full-timer” and is on his third iteration of life on the road—setting out originally as a “hippy” who relished the freedom, independence and constant change it brought to his environment (Paujomar.com). Martin left for the second time to travel up and down both coasts with a girlfriend, and then finally a third time to stay on the road in his 30-foot airstream for the last eight years, as he travels to various destinations playing music and meeting new friends all over the country. He is a member of a Singles RV Club comprised of other single travelers who stay in touch and plan to see each other as often as possible. “Loners on Wheels” is one such website that allows full- and part-time travelers to share resources and friendships, no matter where they live or how often they travel.
   
“In my mind, this full-time RVing lifestyle is one of the best ways to live free and independent. The feeling of traveling down the road as the sun peaks over the horizon, with my house on wheels and everything I need or want, heading to a new location, is so wonderfully exhilarating,” enthuses Martin. “I meet new people and make new friends everywhere I travel. I usually get gigs at restaurants or pubs along the way, and I love to play for RV groups when we gather together. I can choose the desert, the mountains, a lake, the ocean, a city, a small town or out in the middle of nowhere, and be perfectly happy.”
   
Martin also wants to share with the readers that it is very important to be flexible. “Things break down,” he says, but it can be fixed and it’s a great feeling not relying on anyone or anything for survival. Independence naturally breeds confidence and confidence supports growth as individuals.
   
The stereotypical RVer is often seen as a retired individual who has worked for years and is now free to go and do as they please. There are thousands of Over 55 communities in the southwest that are especially for these travelers to experience comfort and adventure on the road with others who have similar interests.
   
Sue and Jack Shuckhart spent 12 years on the road, wintering in Phoenix for five months and out on the trail for the other seven (JSShuckhart.us). They began planning their adventures two years before official retirement and included four of their dear friends on the journey. The “six pack” worked together by assigning research projects in an effort to prepare for this journey of a lifetime. These friends bought three matching motorhomes and used a democratic approach to identifying destinations and activities. “We had enough people to make it interesting, yet it was small enough to plan and have back-up. It can be scary traveling in unchartered territory,” says Sue. “The best part is traveling with friends who have your back.”
   
For Shuckhart, she realized that life on the road gave her more clarity about what was really important to her. When traveling in a small space with another human being, you must decide what is important and what you can let go. The “little stuff” just doesn’t matter. Although their 36-footers and the “dinghy” or car they towed on the back seemed like a lot of space, one cannot underestimate when traveling with another person how important it is to have room—if the budget can withstand it.
   
Another important reflection of their lives during this time was that everyone is of equal status.  There are doctors, rocket scientists, mailmen and every walk of life, “but it doesn’t matter what you did before, because everyone is the same now.” The Shuckharts have made “friends for life” from every state. They have stayed in contact with many since the beginning of their journey in 2006. “We all had personal cards with our pictures that we passed out,” says Shuckhart. “My stack is at least a foot high!”
   
Regardless of the millions of travelers and their individual stories, the desire for adventure and freedom will remain. As the world continues to rethink its future and reshape itself from the recent pandemic, our creativity as a people to find new ways of living will endure. Martin says, “If I wake up in the morning and feel like a change, then I hook up my rig, pack everything away and begin a new adventure.”

Tavi Meketon, MBA, SPHR is a local author and business executive who focuses on supporting individuals and organizations through proactive strategies and comprehensive solutions. Connect at [email protected].
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