Tuesday, November 28, 2023


I want to live on vacation

By Charlie Ketchum

I saw this image on my Facebook feed, and it immediately triggered a slew of thoughts. Hopefully, they are worthy of being written down here.

As a full-time traveler, it’s been a challenge to define what our purpose is. Are we just wandering? Do we want to see all 50 states? All the beaches? All the national parks? Museums? Are we living to write a blog or writing the blog about what we’re living? Is a few days too short of a stay? Is a few months too long? If we stop for six months does that mean we aren’t travelers anymore? If we only stay a night, does that mean we’re missing seeing something important?

In the two years we’ve been traveling, we have tried it all. And we’ve enjoyed it all. Until we didn’t. The problem with living on vacation is that it’s EXHAUSTING. If you vacation like we did, the point was to see as much as you can in as short of a time as you can. Because in 2 weeks, you are back at your desk for the next six months or more. What happens when you don’t have to go home?

If you still try to see it all wherever you go, and stay everywhere you go for only a couple of weeks, it’s like the vacation that never ends. I can’t be the only one who has been glad to go home to take a break from vacation. (Many years ago, I read a book where people were tortured by a machine that gave them continual orgasms. While orgasms are great, without a break between them, they become torture….vacations are much the same).

In our two years of traveling we’ve done: museums, national landmarks, national parks, beaches, disc golf courses, tours, zoos, athletic events, casinos, wineries, breweries, distilleries, meaderies, restaurants, local bars, local festivals, roadside attractions, hiking and walking trails, and wildlife sanctuaries.

Here is my confession:

I have no regrets having skipped Yosemite in favor of touring the local wineries.

I would have been happy to skip seeing “nature” in Yellowstone with 50,000 other people if I could have spent the day reading a book and watching the river go by.

Museums can be really repetitive once you’ve seen a few. I have seen what an old box of saltines looked like. I have seen a wagon wheel, old cars, old signs and old clothes. Unless there’s something specific to the area, it’s not worth the time or money.

Why is nearly every historic site dedicated to where somebody killed somebody else? I have seen enough to know I no longer feel the need to see monuments of man’s inhumanity to man.

I don’t know Paleolithic from Jurassic. I’m okay with that.

I can spend all day watching animals and not get bored. Some of my most memorable moments were whale watching, dolphin watching, seeing whooping cranes, finding prairie dog colonies, riding in the car in the middle of a herd of bison, seeing deer walking through the park, and having wild horses in my campsite. Also, I was delighted by the roadrunners, hawks, hummingbirds, and finches who accompanied me on my walks in Tucson. (I have to admit, the spider museum in Santa Fe may have been a little more than I needed to see.)

I’m also fascinated by plant life. I enjoyed learning the types of cacti in the desert and the types of flowers and trees around us.

If it’s weird, off-the-wall or funky — count me in! It’s worth the effort to have experiences that challenge your perceptions.

For me, the point of traveling is to experience what there is to experience in the daily life of the community. While I won’t skip a truly funky roadside attraction, I learn more about the life in the area by walking down the sidewalk, checking out the local restaurants (the ones the locals go to), dropping in for a beer at a local bar or taproom, or attending a local festival or gathering.

Here is my resolution:

Plain and simple: Skip the “shoulds” and do what matters to me.

I can’t live on vacation, nor does that thought appeal to me. I want to live an itinerant life where I get to know places by immersing myself for a time in their culture. I am grateful to have such an opportunity.

(Also, I need to spend more time watching the river flow by and reading good books).

You can read more of Charlie’s articles on his blog, Wandering Toes.

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Tipledan (@guest_56750)
4 years ago

Interesting point of view.

marty chambers (@guest_56684)
4 years ago

What is wrong with what you have done so far? I would be thrilled to have experienced all you have experienced. It was no waste of time.

As far as going to where everyone else is going I cannot disagree. If it is too crowded then don’t go. At least go when fewer people are there.

As far as the wine, book, and river thing, again I cannot disagree. As long as you are enjoying whatever surrounding area you are at. What would be somewhat pathetic if you read the book and drank the wine sitting in your RV wherever you go. I think you need to re-think your interests. You like books, go to book events. You like wine, go to wineries around the country.
I wish you in success. I also envy your life.

steve (@guest_56574)
4 years ago

When it comes right down to it RV’ers want a better something or other for our lives I think. It doesn’t always have to be a better mousetrap but finding where it is we are really happier in the midst of what is told or given to us as our lot everyday. It’s different I think for people as we are all different – some more than others since society tends to average out our personalities with all of it’s – well you know what I am saying. We get tired of the armchair football weekends and the mall. We like to be spiritual but many of us hate the organized religion racket though we are mostly Christian I think. Don’t get me wrong if you are anything else that’s fine too when it comes to celebrating your life and your interaction with the Spirit as you see it. I think in a nutshell RV’ing is our attempt to not settle for something we perceive as a dumb down or a compromise and so we go out on the road as it were to find more that we can be happier about daily and in the end. Some of us stay there until our end of life and rebirth somewhere else but some of us stay only for awhile. But those who stay only for awhile mostly take back those experiences to the other world and are better for it. I love the entire concept of RVing because mainly you have more input or control or whatever you want to call it into your own life and isn’t that all about the American Dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I think that sometimes gets lost in the megaplex freeway and/or organized oblivion many of us know first hand from our experiences. And who says you can’t still be part of the larger society if you want. Many of us operate businesses on the road that interact and make the world a better place too. I can’t wait until there’s a National RV Day to celebrate us like other days celebrate national heroes!

Tim H Lecluse (@guest_56560)
4 years ago

Every day wherever you are the lord gives you a different experience if you only look

wanderer (@guest_56538)
4 years ago

You’ve hit on a great truth, that when all the standard trappings of workaday life are stripped away, you get out there and discover who you really are and what you want to spend time on. So much of our lives is tied up in work and responsibilities. When you hit the road full-time, what’s inside and what’s important comes to the fore. Listen to your gut and it may lead you to new interests or long buried ones, as well as fascinating new people.

I agree on the idea that there is no need to stand in line to see famous stuff. I regret that recently booming crowds have made it impossible for me to see a few of our greatest wonders, but, there are millions of other wonders out there.

I don’t rule out all museums, you can occasionally find one that is stupendous and inexpensive to boot, so I’d suggest keeping your eyes open for the great ones and the quirky ones (for example, the mineral museum in Houghton Michigan is fabulous). But yes, I’ve had it with dusty collections of farm tools, and I’ll leave it to the upper crust to pay for $27 tours of a cave or a walk around a garden.

Terri Foxx-Wishert (@guest_56495)
4 years ago

We started 6 years ago, full timing, with the house leased out. The goal was to see the National Parks, the Presidential libraries, and whatever else grabbed our attention. We discovered that winter on the road, even in the South, can be unpleasant. We found Tuscon, and now stay there every winter. We are in a large RV park – mega park – where there are lots of activities and opportunities to be social.
We are starting to miss the house, at times. In the future, I see six months in Arizona, and six months in the house. But not right now – we’ve not seen everything we wanted to see, yet. The people we meet along the way are great.

SPustell (@guest_56492)
4 years ago

Even on a Short vacation .. if you come home exhausted then it is quite likely you weren’t ‘Renewed’. I vote for doing less, seeing less, and enjoying it (and the people I am with) more. Nice article.

Carson Axtell (@guest_56461)
4 years ago

Right on! Rushing around trying to see everything and worrying about what is the “correct” way to live a nomadic life is a first world problem rooted in a consumerist mentality. I doubt gypsies, Mongolian herders, plains Indians, Kalahari bushmen, Bedouins, our itinerant ancestors or other nomads ever worried about whether they were living “properly”. They just lived life and tried to enjoy it every day much as possible.

bull (@guest_56455)
4 years ago

When looking for an interesting break go tour a old vintage junkyard.

Pretty amazing, interesting and the stories these old vehicles could tell if they could talk!

GUY GEORGE (@guest_56451)
4 years ago

Wow, I couldn’t differentiate between your continuous vacation and Congress, where their vacation times are nearly the same.

BILL BATEMAN (@guest_56501)
4 years ago
Reply to  GUY GEORGE

What does your post have to do with enjoying an RV lifestyle?

bwodom (@guest_56447)
4 years ago

Amen! We have many friends who do the rush-through, check-off style of travel. That’s the lifestyle I had when working — set goal, plan objectives, produce timeline, then rush-rush-rush to accomplish. It is not the kind of lifestyle I want as a retiree!

We only travel 6 months or so out of the year. We usually take a month of two to get to our destination (which is often based on a work camper position and type of facility that we think we would like as much as — or more than — the area itself.) We settle in and work as volunteers for a few months. This gives us time to immerse ourselves in the local culture, meet new friends, and feel productive. Then we mosey back toward home — that maybe takes a month or a week — again, depending on how we feel, what doctors’ appointments await (usually we schedule them for November since we are always home for the holidays), etc. It’s an easy, breezy lifestyle that suit US, but not everyone.

While on the road, we are fortunate to have access to military campgrounds and many (not all) are less expensive than private campgrounds, plus we have access to commissary and occasionally access to the dining hall. We may stay a week or two, or a month or two, depending on how we feel. During that time we just explore places close by. We may take a long weekend to go further and stay at an Airbnb for a night or two. We love the small towns, the local craftspeople. Love the local folklore and history (you won’t often read that in travel books). Love finding the restaurants where the locals go. Love to find hole-in-the wall shops. Love doing nothing sometimes.

Love just doing our thing. And that’s the way we roll.

Ben Visser (@guest_56432)
4 years ago

I agree. I always say, I am a lousy tourist. I dont care about seeing what everyone wants to see. I love to camp where there is grass and trees, not go to rv parks. Love sitting by lakes and rivers. Oh yeah, I really dont like museums. We’re old enough, we lived with most of this stuff, or our parents told us about it.

TravelingMan (@guest_56430)
4 years ago

There are multiple ways to look at this depending on where you are in life.

The younger persons with an RV do it because they have to or because they just enjoy being adventurous.

Middle aged might be getting by or as some might suggest, having a mid-life crisis.

The older we got, the more we just wanted away from corporate life. The further the better sometimes.

We’ve been full time for about 4+ years so far. We wish we had done this earlier (the lifestyle at least). We retired early by some standards. Many think we’re losing it. How come we don’t have a sticks and brick and try to keep up with the Jone’s they might ask? Being retired, everyday is like Saturday except when its Sunday. We’re not looking back. Everyone has their “style”. You like animals and plants. That’s OK. I like them too. Especially at dinner time. Joking aside, variety is the spice of life. What fits one’s style might not fit anothers. We are all different. We still like the museums, a night on the town, bowling, movies, campfires, and the wilderness. I’m not particularly fond of snakes, bears or badgers in the wild. But if you need something to speed up the heart rate, that might be ok. We still like to hike. They don’t have to be hard trails. We brave the winter cold. We sleep in sometimes till 10 am. When was the last time a working person did that?

When we camp, sometimes we boondock. We like it so much that we are adding solar panels next week just to extend the stay time. It’s so peaceful (most of the time). Sometimes we stay in camps. Most of the time, it’s a great experience as we get to know new people. We don’t set schedules. We go where we want. When we want. There is no rush. We just spent 3 months in Wyoming (a great place by the way). We got to be regulars at the restuarants. We get to know the locals. They can lead you to some great backroads and sights that many never get to know about. We rustle thru cemeteries. Rummage thru second hand and antique stores where we often find great bargains.

At this point in our life, we can speed up when we want to or slow it way down to smell the roses.

There are a lot of new things people need to know about living in an RV. That’s a mistake we see repeated over and over. Go out and talk to people who full time first. Keep in mind that there are 4 different personality types so you will see a variety of answers from everyone. But our personality suits this lifestyle just fine. Examine yourself before you jump straight into it. Be sure you can afford it. Be sure you are mechanically inclined. Buy your 3rd RV right the first time. Understand the risks. Know your options while traveling. Make sure you can be away from family for long periods of time. Some people just can’t and that’s OK. We call home at least 4-5 times a week. It works for us. We’re getting together for a cheap cruise coming up. We stay flexible and watch for bargains like this routinely.

If you want to live in an RV while you still “work”, know that you can save a ton of money if you do it right. Then, you can retire earlier than you could living in sticks and bricks.

Only “you” can decide if this is right for you! Don’t just read one article and think it’s right or not so right.

Happy Trails!

Gene Bjerke (@guest_56425)
4 years ago

I found this article very interesting. At one time I contemplated full-timing in my Class B; not so much to be on an endless vacation, but because I couldn’t afford two mortgages, house and motorhome. I am one of those who has a ??-year mortgage on the motorhome (long story, that). I chose the motorhome. I did not think of full-timing as an endless vacation. I imagined my self more as a combination nomad and snowbird. As it turned out, I fell in love with a woman who happened to have a house, and moved into a new area for me. We take two long road road trips each year (north in the summer, south in the winter), as well as weekend get-aways. But there always comes a time when we have had enough and we head for home.

I don’t know how my would-be full-timing would have worked out. I suspect it might have turned into a similar situation to what I have now. However, we have both reached the age where we need to have a home base near doctors and hospitals, so I will never find out. I don’t know how useful this comment is, but those are the thoughts and memories that reading the article brought up.

Johanne (@guest_56424)
4 years ago

Loved, loved this blog. Found it so very inspiring as we close on our first year full timing. In that first year we’ve also stayed from overnight to 2 months (our longest stay so far). We have a loose itinerary so that we can turn on a dime if we want to (and we have!). It’s a bit tricky in the summer months as we compete with true ‘vacationers’ but we made it work.
We’ve developed two ‘sayings’ that act as reminders for us. The first is “It’s all part of the adventure” (whether good or bad), and “We’re NOT on vacation”. Tourism costs is, well… costly! We can’t do-em-all on our budget. But we love to observe and chat with locals, wherever we are, so we’ve learned that places like local coffee shops, farmers markets, even local laundromats (often cleaner with more modern equipment than some stuck-in-1970s’ RV parks we’ve stayed in).
After one year, we’re also realizing that staying put for weeks on end on some BLM spots in the middle of the desert isn’t for us. We don’t have any ‘toys’ by choice, just a cute little KIA, and that’s working fine for us. We do the BLM’s, Boondockers Welcome (great to meet locals) and Harvest Hosts, to save on ridiculous RV park costs (especially when staying less than a week). We prefer to park Mr Bond (our MH) somewhere safe with power (cuz as full timers, ya want comfort a lot) and go exploring towns and hike in nearby mountains, often Ntl Parks and the like.
We’re still learning. Every day. We’re still surprised by the kindness of locals and fellow RVers. We wanted to retire & explore, and that’s exactly what we’re getting. Problems don’t disappear because “we’re living the dream” (I truly dislike that phrase!), but like ‘normal’ life, we make it work.
Charlie, thanks for writing your thoughts on this topic. I might quote some of it on my own blog but will make sure I give you credit.

GARY VONTUNGELN (@guest_56417)
4 years ago

I really enjoyed this! Probably the best blog I’ve read on RV travel. More articles like this would be greatly appreciated. For those of us who really enjoy the RV lifestyle, but don’t want to go full time, this provides at least a great mental escape into the adventure of others of our ilk. Thanks again for publishing it!

Brooke and Gary (@guest_56416)
4 years ago

Great article Charlie. We are imminent full-timers. Sold our home 2 yrs ago with the intent to full-time then chickened out. Got an apartment and took trips in our TT. I had a health scare last month that made me realize if we really want to try full-timing, we better just do it. Our lease ends Dec. 31 and we have a reservation in south Texas for 3 months. Also going to Wyoming Escapade next summer and plan to stay a month (cheaper most times) wherever we go to explore and get to know the area. We will definitely enjoy some Lance rallies in between and throughout the next year. The longest trip we took in the past was 3 months and had no issues of being together in a small space. I think positive thoughts and we’ll do okay and enjoy our new lifestyle. We’re pretty flexible which is key to successful traveling.

Tennessee Traveler (@guest_56404)
4 years ago

We purchased a used motorhome with the intent to go full time. Unfortunately medical circumstances changed our plans and we must remain “close” to my hospital. Thankfully we had not sold our house. We still travel as much and as often as possible, just shorter, closer trips. I guess you could say we have the best of both worlds.

Steve Rosenlund (@guest_56392)
4 years ago

My biggest surprise about full timing was the great group of like minded folks we meet along the way. We’re not on vacation, this is a lifestyle we have embraced. We are away from family and friends in Oregon 10-11 months per yr. We stay in touch online. We are currently in Key West, December 1 we start meandering to the Quartzite gathering with our Escapee friends. Not all couples can be together 24/7 in 200 square ft but it works for us. Loved the article.

Bee O'Neil (@guest_56381)
4 years ago

FREEDOM defines our 18 years of full-time RVing!

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