Want to Live in a Van Down by the River?
Growing up in the USA, one of my dreams was to travel. Unlike many smaller countries, the U.S. affords a place to get lost in and find mountains, oceans, lakes, forests, quaint villages, and wide-open spaces.
Sure, I wanted to see the world, but first I wanted to have an RV and travel all 50 states to see what there was to see. Sure, I’ve been all over the country in my life, but I’ve only ever seen enough to make me want to see more.
But I never got to do it. Closest I ever came was a 2-day trip through the white mountains in Arizona, where I spent the whole time driving unplowed roads fighting medication withdrawal because I had stupidly tried to quit my psych meds a few weeks before.
I drove until exhaustion took over and I holed up in an overpriced hotel room in Show Low. I found a Walmart and filled my prescriptions, and within a day was able to drive back home with my tail between my legs.
I was always planning expeditions, but between my severe mental illness and being broke all the time, I never took many trips.
But I always dreamed of living on the road, or parked by a beautiful lake or river, in a van or RV, setting my own pace, and living life to the fullest.
When I was 43, after too much suffering in an environment that was bad for my health, I moved to the Philippines, and my dreams of van life dwindled because the whole country is just made up of over 7000 small islands and there is not much land to travel.
You’d be better off with a boat.
And now, ten years later, with a wife and two more children, I am thinking more and more of immigrating back to the U.S. and spending our time traveling from place to place.
Even if my wife and kids don’t want to live on the road, I could still take monthly trips around the country by myself and live and work out of a van or truck.
I’m not getting any younger.
Lately, the number of articles on Medium and pictures on Instagram about living the #vanlife are inspiring me to not think about all the reasons I couldn’t possibly do it and start figuring how I could make it happen.
I can write from anywhere I want if I have wi-fi and the same goes for freelancing. With a laptop, you can work anywhere, so that is not an issue.
If it turns out my wife wants a more settled lifestyle, I could easily go on one trip a month and not upset the delicate balance of our family life.
The biggest expense would be the vehicle, but after that, I would have to think of gas and food and that kind of thing. I think if it was me and the family on the road, we could easily keep our expenses under what we spend now.
When you start thinking about what CAN be done instead of what CAN’T, things start falling into place.
I guess the biggest can’t right now is COVID-19, but it will take some time for this plan to roll out, so with all the people getting vaccinated right now, it may be possible in a year or so.
It makes me think. Because we are leaving the Philippines for the U.S. anyway, and plan to keep the kids in online school even after the pandemic, so why would we be tied to one place when we can explore the entire U.S. and maybe even Canada?
My wife and kids have only ever lived in the Philippines, but I spent my whole life in the States, and I know a bit about the wonders that await in all parts of the country. I‘ve always said I would like to show them all the places I grew up in, and since I have lived in more than 20 of the 50 states, why wouldn’t we want to be as mobile as possible?
There are places in the U.S. I have only seen from a car window, and even as a kid, I would take a mental snapshot and vow to return one day. I have hundreds of those images in my mind: New England in fall, Estes Park in Colorado, The Grand Canyon, and every state park that I have driven by and wished I could stop and run naked through the forests.
I’ve seen beaches and Redwood forests, deserts, and swamps. I’ve walked Bourbon Street in New Orleans and Times Square in the winter. I’ve smoked the finest cannabis in the Emerald Triangle in Northern California and sipped a green apple Martini at the Tini Bar in Boston.
I want to experience all of that again and do all the things there just wasn’t time for.
I want to go cigar bar hopping and sit in the pungent smoke enjoying a $100 work of art and a glass of the finest whiskey I can afford. I want to have a drink at Throne in Portland, Oregon, and be treated like a king while I get my head shaved and my bread trimmed by a proper barber.
I want to take my wife to Bar Harbor, Maine, and eat lobster until we are sick, and get deep-dish at Bartoli’s in Chicago so she can see what pizza is supposed to taste like.
I want my kids to play in the snow and go sledding while the flakes fall softly, and I want to take them camping so they can love the outdoors as much as I did as a kid.
There is so much you can do if you are mobile, but it’s not a life for everyone, and I won’t force my wife and kids into it if they don’t want to.
There is a big world out there to see, and I plan to see it before I get too old to enjoy travel. There are things I want my kids to experience as kids, so they can grow up with a healthy attitude towards the environment and our wildlands.
When I say I want to live in a van down by the river, I mean it and if everything goes to plan, it will happen.