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What I have learned in my first 90 days living and working on the road

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I missed a week of blogging and I think that it’s mostly because I wanted to let things bake for a while. One of the things I’m learning here is that all the rules I make up for myself are typically self-imposed and every day I confront a rule or belief that I get to reexamine. So my blogging goal has changed from weekly, to most weeks I will blog. I want to give myself room to discover the essence of what I want to share, and give myself more freedom. Which leads me to the top 5 things I have learned in the last 90 days on the road.

  1. I am not like other FULL TIME RVers, and that’s OK!
    My Radical Living Challenge is very different from other reasons people choose to RV full-time, and I need to embrace that rather than condemn myself for finding it challenging in so many ways. In speaking with other full-timers my experience is that most of them choose to live in an RV full time because they want to simplify their lives or want more freedom. They got sick of mowing 5 acres of grass, or fulfilling all of the expense and maintenance that is required when you have what they call a ‘sticks and bricks’ home. In addition, most of them are retired or one partner is retired. We even met a couple who have been living in their RVs full time for as long as ten years! Often they spend six months in one place and travel just a few months of the year.

    What I discovered is that for me, this challenge made my life LESS simple. I had a housekeeper who was also a personal assistant. A gardener. I wasn’t doing the mowing or the cooking or the shopping. I had engineered my life so that I spent most of my time working and playing and connecting. My life was super simple. I had a ton of freedom. The challenge for me now is that I am working so much harder doing things I never used to do. And, since the dryer has been broken the ENTIRE 90 days, doing laundry at the campsite laundry is somewhat of a pain in the ass. Don’t even talk to me about finding quarters. Or waiting for the dryer and worrying that my clothes will get fried. For a while I had been embarrassed to admit this, to even myself. I felt a lot of shame sharing that I had set my life up this way so that I could devote time to work, family and adventure in a way that was very simple. I worked hard to set up a business that afforded me this lifestyle but still I felt that shame, and that in missing it there was something wrong with me. I know most people who RV never had the luxuries I have had and I was beating myself up for feeling a little frustrated by some of the tasks that have to be done, and that Jeremy and I sometimes argue about.

    That said, I have had some of my most joyous and peaceful moments walking to and from the laundry. I have seen gorgeous sunsets. Deer. Observed the moon in a certain way between the clouds. I have found my greatest joys in shopping for food at local farmer markets and met the most innovative entrepreneurs as a result. I am eating high quality, fresh foods that I love to prepare in my mobile kitchen. And, because we often cook outside, Jeremy helps with the cooking now most nights instead of sitting on his computer waiting for the food to be served. Cooking was something we never did together when we had a home in LA. So all that said, the challenge is helping me to find really special moments in tasks that are not typically fun. Moments that I would never have experienced without taking on the Challenge. I know I want to shop at a farmers market wherever I land. I want to continue that cooking partnership. I know that when we fix the washer/dryer and one day when I’m back in a house where I may or may not do my own laundry, I want to be able to create moments in my days where I have the time to just be in wonder and joy about the things in life that I no longer will take for granted like sunsets, the moon, and the nature that shows itself when I take the time to look.
  2. I don’t need to learn how to operate, drive, set up or understand many of the things it takes to park ourselves somewhere!
    For as long as we have been researching living in an RV full time, we constantly heard how operating an RV is something you do in partnership with your spouse. And, during our 6 week experiment, Jeremy and I discussed how we could better partner on many of the things required for setup and teardown. We bickered a lot, and laughed at how frustrating it was to ‘work’ together. And we vowed that when we did this full time we would do it as partners. And so it went for the first few weeks. But the bickering continued. Other full-timers would chide us both about how I needed to learn how to drive. Or plug in the electric. Or run the sewage lines. Hookup the jeep. But in truth, a lot of that stuff that is difficult for me to do, is heavy and cumbersome, and also generally not in my zone of genius because it requires an inordinate amount of attention to detail.

    Let me be clear. I know that if I had to learn how to do all of these things, I am fully capable. What I learned is that because I choose not to do it, it doesn’t mean anything about my worthiness, laziness or any other aspect of who I am. Here’s the 90 day truth about me and Jeremy – Jeremy is a crappy “Captain,” and he also does those things better, faster and more reliably.

    Let me explain.

    Jeremy is a do it himself kind of guy. And he’s REALLY good at getting it done on his own. That’s his zone of genius. For example, when we sailed for 14 days it was excruciating for him to delegate, communicate and trust the other people on the boat with many of the details of sailing. For the kids, who wanted to learn, it was frustrating to watch him run around the deck frantically fixing things solo. That said, in the end, he did do it all, and he did it well. And those things he taught the kids because it was physically impossible to do those tasks and drive the boat himself, he felt good about it.

    After the first few weeks in the RV it was clear that when I tried to help Jeremy park the RV or put in the slides or a variety of other tasks, we continued to argue. Nothing improved. He would ask for my help and then do it his own way before I even had a chance to speak. Or he would ignore my suggestions and do it his way. It made me feel like he didn’t think I was capable. So, instead of trying to change him or change me to make it somehow work, we just accepted that we each have certain roles and responsibilities that are in our unique zones of genius. If you watch “Below Deck,” or know anything about luxury yachting, there are teammates responsible for the ‘deck’ – the outside of the boat, and those responsible for the ‘interior,’ that includes the chef, service, décor, organizing and cleaning. Jeremy and I have divided tasks this way. He does everything to keep our ship sailing and operating. I am responsible for shopping, meal prep and planning, organizing the interior to make sure we have supplies and that everything can be found, doing laundry, and keeping the boat’s insides in tip top shape. Once we just agreed that this is what works for us, we stopped arguing about most things considerably. It made travel days less stressful. And to those who say, “But what will you do if Jeremy gets hurt or can’t do something?” my response is pretty simple – The experiment would end. Jeremy and I are doing this to challenge ourselves and explore what blows our hair back. I am working full time, and Jeremy is planning the routes, booking campsites, and keeping Andi operational. If Jeremy could not perform any of his roles, the experiment would go on hiatus or end. I am not doing this to prove I can do certain tasks. I am not doing this to try to change my husband. I am doing this to learn what I can about myself and what brings me joy. I am doing this to explore the country and challenge myself to be uncomfortable and grow as a result. I want more nature. More connection with my husband and time for deep conversation. And we both want to learn things about others that we would not have known had we not explored. All marriages and partnerships are different. In living life on OUR terms, we discovered we don’t have to do “RVing” like anyone else but ourselves.
  3. Anything is possible, and everything can be an excuse.
    During the first 90 days we have had nearly flawless internet and I have been able to work in the most remote spaces possible due to Jeremy’s amazing preparation for the trip. I have worked and continue to pursue my interests while driving, including participating in two 3-hour zoom classes on a Sunday we drove almost 9 hours. I have maintained my fitness routine including workouts at a Planet Fitness, an LA Fitness, and at campsites across the country. I do not miss the extra recliner inside the RV that we removed to make room for the exercise bike. And, we use the Peloton 4-5 times a week so having it in the living room is perfect. It has been 100 percent do-able to bring a folding weight bench, punching bag, hand weights and a yoga mat and improve my fitness while traveling. Cooking inside and outside the vehicle is easy. I can easily have two tiny little closets and have all the clothes I need without feeling like I am sacrificing comfort and/or style. Quality toilet paper is a MUST, not a nice to have. (if you have ever used boat/rv toilet paper, you will know what I mean). Driving long days so that we can stay somewhere longer is totally worth it. There are always campsites that become available if you know how to use the system. If you have a 45-foot rig you are, in fact, limited to where you can stay. RVing is NOT parking next to another RV in what looks like a parking lot. Won’t do it. Don’t need to do it. State parks are amazing as are Class A Motor Coach resorts. Most everywhere is less expensive than LA. Homelessness is NOT everywhere. I have more in common with most people if I look for those commonalities. People who are different are not any better or worse human beings than me.

    All this to say that one can find any excuse not to do something, and that anything is possible if you are curious, open and optimistic. Living with less stuff does not feel icky in any way. Choosing what to bring that is essential has paid off. (I love unpacking my china serving pieces and using them when I put a charcuterie board together!) Living a life where we are constantly asking what is a better or different way to do this, is getting easier and easier. And, we are truly having fun doing it. The last two nights we went for a walk after work around the campsite and saw water that was the bluest of blue, deer, a cheeky bird with a big fat egg in its beak, a blue bird that was breathtaking, chipmunks that I keep expecting to talk, and had a cuddle in the new double hammock I got as a birthday present which felt like heaven on earth. In the last week I have seen waterfalls that made me gasp, hiked 7 miles at almost 10,000 feet, and sat around a campfire with a couple from Texas talking for nearly four hours that felt like five minutes. I feel so grateful and so very much alive.
  4. 40 Feet of Space Will Show You The Cracks In Your Relationship
    Oh Lord did we bicker in the first 45 days of our challenge. And last week we celebrated 8 years of marriage and our 13th year as a couple. Living in a sticks and bricks house made getting around the differences we have easy. We could avoid things easily. There were days when we lived in LA and even the desert where we barely saw each other. I worked in one room, Jeremy in another. Sometimes I wouldn’t even see the Katz brothers except during feeding times. The good news is that the Challenge has showed us that we are 100 million percent committed to growing our relationship, learning how to accept each other for who we are, sharing our needs and struggles, and being flexible (even with the Katz brothers who spent one week living in a house with a dog and two other cats in Atlanta!). For example, I got rid of my favorite water bottle that annoyed the heck out of my husband and adapted to something new, and last night we watched TV with all the lights on so I could knit. I cherish my part of the arrival/departure routine where I get to drive the Jeep solo. Those 15 minutes of alone time are heavenly. LOL My cats meow A LOT. Fergus wants to go outside and Simon wants to sleep on our bed. They wake up at 7am. I can easily cover my ears with a pillow and Jeremy reluctantly gets up and feeds them because he can’t stand their meowing. And, they really LOVE to be parked near a tree so they can watch birds all day long. We are all working on living and working together in close quarters, and are more committed to each other than ever before because our deepest core values are the same.
  5. There are more adventures to have.
    Finally, I don’t think we will be doing this past one year. We are already scheming and planning new adventures and challenges for 2023. I’m getting braver and more comfortable with change every single day.

PS. Since leaving New Mexico we spent two days in the gorgeous little town of Pagosa Springs, Colorado and are now based in Ouray, Colorado which is about one hour away from Telluride. Exploring this area has been so incredibly beautiful, peaceful and in short, filled with jaw-dropping AH-MAZING moments. They call this little pocket “Switzerland of the USA,” and I’m looking forward to my last five days or so here with my middle daughter, Rayna, who arrives Friday.

About the Author

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MARNI BATTISTA

I am Marni Battista, entrepreneur, mom of three, wife, and lover of travel. My husband and I have spent the last three years being intentional about creating a life that feels like an authentic expression of us as individuals and together. We have a mutual love of adventure, nature, peace, and freedom which has resulted in a series of experiments in honor of our desire to experience a radical living challenge! This blog represents the beginning of this journey.
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