The Reality

Yesterday someone commented on a blog post I did, telling me, in effect, that I was a whiner. I spammed his comment, not even bothering to engage in any sort of dialogue with such nonsense, ย but it was actually a perfect setup for this post, which I’ve had in mind for sometime. The fact of the matter is, life on the road is just that. LIFE. There are good days and bad days and cranky days and ecstatic days. As we have gone along we have shared so many stories of wonderful times and pictures of magical beaches and exciting adventures. While all we’ve shared is absolutely accurate, there is another side to overlanding…. the other reality.

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From the beginning I will say we love our life. In no way am I attempting to convince anyone that we have it rough. That said, in addition to the normal issues of missing family and friends, etc etc… there is a reality to ANY long term travel, whether it be backpacking around the world as we did in 2007-2008, or overlanding the PanAmerican Highway. It is a very real and often challenging reality that is as much a part of the journey as the amazing sunsets and fascinating sights.

Just as a typical day back in our 9-5 life had pros and cons, ups and downs, as does our life now. Now we just face different challenges. Travel days are exhausting. The reality is that travel days consist of fully packing up camp, spending a minimum of four-five hours on the road, getting lost, arguing over who put the wrong GPS coordinates in, searching out gas, lunch and other services, choosing a place for the night, getting lost again, and finally setting up in a new spot. If that spot is wonderful and you’re staying for a few days this is when you shoot some tequila, pop open a beer, let out a sigh of relief, and let the bliss of it all sink in. If you are merely in transit for several days, as we have just been, you still shoot some tequila and pop open a beer, but set up the bare minimum to make camp for the night, research the next days potential route, and prepare to do it all over again tomorrow.

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The reality is that we are often found crouched over our trusty Home Depot bucket, handwashing our personals to be hung up to dry in the breeze.

The reality is that, while free camping, dishes are done in that same Home Depot bucket with water drawn from the sea.

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The reality is having to, nearly every day, find potable water, figure out a new city, attempt to communicate in a language we are still learning and not get too lost.

One big reality is that visiting the banos requires putting on not just clothes but shoes as well, generally walking some distance from the camper, and often using pit toilets that, shall we say wouldn’t be considered overly sanitary.

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The reality is bugs and weather and sand in your bed no matter how careful you are.

And the reality is we are absolutely in love with this life and we wouldn’t trade it.ย During our short stint in the rented apartment in San Diego, conversation often turned to how much we missed our tiny house. We have itchy feet and this life allows us to see something new out our window on most days. It allows us to immerse in other cultures, experience new things, and see the world. It allows us to see just how remarkable this world is.

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It also allows us to meet amazing, fascinating people. Just last night we spent a couple of hours chatting with Winston and Tiffany who, along with their two dogs and two cats are moving back to Puerto Vallarta. They, too, are living the dream. Not of the road, so much, but of a life less ordinary. They started out with a plan to drive the PanAmerican a couple of years ago and instead settled in Puerto Vallarta. They work online, they live life on their terms, they are inspiring and we are hoping to be able to spend more time with them when we get into PV in a week or so.

Also now at camp are several Swiss couples who did a caravan around Europe, then did Southern Africa, and shipped to Buenos Aires, working their way North. They figure they have another year or so before they’re done with Mexico, the US and Canada. The colorful map on one of the groups rigs says it all; it’s a big world out there to explore.

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We have met SO many families on the road who are, perhaps, the most inspiring of all. We occasionally find it challenging just dealing with a black dog along for the ride but these families are also having and raising kids on the road! What an amazing life these children will lead; learning new languages and other ways of doing things at such a young age.

We are fully aware that we chose this life. We are aware that any complaints we have our 1st world issues and basically our life challenges are more relateable to a large majority of the developing world, but in a much more comfortable manner. We have a multitude of people around us facing far greater challenges. We are also keenly aware that we are living out our dream while so many out there are unable, for a multitude of reasons, to do the same. But we also feel that we need to share the FULL story. This is not an extended vacation. This is simply our life. And yes, sometimes we are whiny. Sometimes we are sick. Sometimes we are simply hot and tired and quite frankly fed up with the unique challenges that life on the road brings. And that is okay.

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Many travelers are hesitant to post the not so great days for just this reason. But for the critics out there, don’t expect me to sugarcoat the day to day and for sure don’t expect me to apologize. This is, in fact, MY blog and MY reflections on our life. Road life, just like home life, is a series of contradictions and we all experience a wide range of feelings, not all of them pleasant.

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For now, I’m going to open a beer and gaze out into the azure blue sea off the coast of Mazatlan, and reflect on how we are the lucky ones. We have the freedom to choose how we wish to live our lives.ย Take that armchair critics.

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34 thoughts on “The Reality

  1. Great story we agree completely with you.We spend our winters in Mexico with our RV and we have to tell people that it is not a holiday it’s just our winter home. We made the mistake this year because the wife had to fly home once a month for DR appointments that we should spend the winter in the US Arizona California new Mexico. Texas and Utah not in that order. And this was a mistake and I was not happy and had to stop blogging because I didn’t want to hurt some of our friend’s feelings.

    • Thanks Gerry. Sorry about how the winter worked out. It is a delicate line between sharing the reality and hurting others feelings. Hopefully soon you’ll be back in the old routine and can start blogging again.

  2. Great post, guys. We can totally relate. You’re right. It’s your life! Anyone who wants to pass judgement should get out there and try road life for themselves. Stay true and enjoy the crazy, beautiful, frustrating, challenging, soul-enriching journey!

    • Thanks Kim! There were 3 particular grumpy old men who apparently can’t stand my posts.. all while continuing to read them so whatever right?! Hope the trip North is bringing you new adventures!

  3. Screw the haters โ€ฆ the beautiful thing about travel is that it’s your own journey, and no one else’s. It’s really annoying how many people on the trail impose their own values on to others, but just ignore them, as travel is a highly personal thing.

    • You are so right Andrew! Soooo tempting to just snap back but what is the point right?

  4. Excellent post. We also spend time in Maz and treasure the differences of culture. Blogs like yours are so interesting because you describe the daily truth and provide a great education for the rest of us.

  5. THANK YOU! Full time travel is not all hugs and puppies and unicorns and shiny happy Facebook faces, people! Days, sometimes entire WEEKS, totally suck. But yes, we do this for a reason and we love it (just like some people love their 9-5 jobs). And potential future long-term travelers need to know the down sides as well as the hugs and puppies and unicorns and shiny happy Facebook faces. Thanks for telling it like it really is.

    • Thanks Jen… gotta say I am sometimes shocked by how vile and judgemental people are.. if you don’t like it don’t read it! But certainly it is just like anyone’s life.. full of ups and downs.

  6. Thanks for sharing this – absolutely our experience as well. Yes there are many great things but there are plain annoying things as well. I think that many people tend to think that we are 24/7 on vacation,which is only partly true. Travelling and vacation our two different things. I think its good to give a honest view on how things are, we try to do the same. Gonna bookmark your blog ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks Klaus and yep…. certainly it’s exciting and has vacation like moments! But all of the same irritations still exist regardless of where your life leads you.

  7. Thanks for your post. This is so true. It doesn’t depend were one lives, life sometimes just socks and we all have to face challenges. Whether on the road or at a 9-5 job. I think a lot of hate just comes from envy. So don’t listen to haters. ????

    • Thanks Andrea! We just take each day as it comes and today it’s all sunshine and roses! Hope so for you guys as well.

  8. Don’t we all whine from time to time? Gosh I am okay with reading about your whining – so much more entertaining than that of my two and five year old not to be outdone by a forty something year old grown man when he is hungry or sick. Wait, am I whining?

    • lol oh you made me laugh Karie!! However, I do enjoy reading about your families adventures as well!! Are you heading north soon? Home?

  9. I am a mere 7 months full timing. Great adventure, yes! Different challenges, yes! Refreshing to read of full reality rather than a fairy tale of living on the road.

  10. I figured since your writings incessantly lean to more of a gripe session than the adventure quest your blog title advertises, perhaps a little rattling of your cage might snap you back to the reality of just how good you have it.

    If you can’t handle a little criticism, don’t post a public blog for all to see. I knew from the get go you would delete then attempt to justify. After all, you’re way too dignified to engage in opposing views. Right?

    I could care less if your nickers are bunched up over a little sand, or how comprised your dainty butt cheeks are from a pit toilet. If you can’t handle the culture you’re in, you can always go back home and trade your camper in on a rocker and big screen TV.

    Apparently, you see these inconveniences as a glass half empty. When in fact they are part of the adventure which your blog fails miserably to convey.

    • lol.. you are really something… well you can see most readers apparently appreciated the sentiment but I find it amusing you keep reading such dribble. Have a FANTASTIC day.

  11. Best post to date!! Well Done & congrats on your continuation of living life on your terms, you are indeed the lucky ones!

  12. Well said! your travels sound brilliant and the nitty gritty of daily life with your bucket is realistic when free camping! We do a lot of it here in Australia, generally have ‘long drop’ loos on sites, but not always. Fabulous way to get the kids out and about. Keep up the banter and fun!

    • Thanks Jane! We loved our camping in Australia!! Our favorite spot out near Cania Gorge:) Keep up the fun.

  13. Well said! I totally admire your honesty and I also try not to sugarcoat my travels when I write about them. Travel can be tough and like you said, there are good days and bad, ups and downs. It sounds like life in the camper is particularly challenging at times but the upsides make up for that. Achieving this kind of freedom doesn’t come easy but it’s worth it ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks Amy! In light of a several truly negative comments on facebook and here it was important for me to connect with others who actually understand the challenges of life on the road.

  14. The very reason I enjoy your blog is because you are honest and share the reality with good and bad experiences of your daily life on the road …warts and all. We are only able to travel on holiday, so traveling for us is a totally different experience. We are planning to became more like full time travelers in the near future and so it is great to learn from your experience.

    • Thanks so much Gilda. After getting reamed by a few people on my blog content (my question was.. why are you still reading it if you hate it?!) I am heartened and re-inspired to see how many people out there want to see both sides of longterm travel… the good and the more challenging. Good luck on your continuing plans!

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