Trail had the notion that as we have just passed 6 months as full timers we should each create a post about how things were going and other general thoughts on the full-time lifestyle. Ruminating and self-reflecting are almost specialties of mine so here goes!
For starters, I have no regrets. I’m very happy with the decision we made, more so in fact than I was when we made it. Mind you, psychologically, this is normal. When you make an investment in a decision you tend to grow ever more committed to it, the more you sacrifice the greater the dedication tends to be. It takes a lot to knock someone out of that kind of thinking. Still, I feel very happy and when I think about not doing this, that is when I feel like I would really be missing out on so many great experiences the thought gives me some chills.
Traveling is a lot of fun and seeing the many natural wonders we have seen and encountering the different people and places is enriching. I love to learn and this journey is ripe with learning opportunities every step of the way. One of the things I most aspire to be is wise and I do feel travel breeds wisdom in many ways. I’ve just scratched the surface but its so much more than I’d scratched before! Life on the road suits me well.
Trailer living has its challenges day to day, but for the most part, I feel just as home in my 30′ trailer as I did in my 2K square foot house. I miss my office chair a bit, and I miss my crazy cool computer station a bit, and I miss unlimited high-speed internet a lot, but that’s about it. All the games on shelves, toys, tools, and what not I don’t miss a bit. There are simply a lot of other things to be enjoyed in this lifestyle so they aren’t needed.
I do miss seeing folks face to face. Facebook and social media have filled up some of that gap, at least intellectually it’s easy to stay in touch. And we have managed to keep up our Call of Cthulu role playing group by running sessions on-line via video conference which is fun. Traveling has afforded us opportunities to visit folks face to face we’d not seen in ages and that too has helped. Still, I’m looking forward to our next visit to the old stomping grounds so I can see and hear folks first hand again.
Finances and work are areas where I can’t paint a rosy picture. I think in my imagination by this point I’d have a small stream of on-line income going when in fact it is practically nothing. Also, the rather robust savings we started with was mangled by my 2016 taxes. We are still afloat, free of debt, and if I need to I can muster many years worth of living expenses without incurring debt. So while our income is near zero, our wealth is still pretty substantial. Unfortunately, that likely gives me far more comfort than is good for me.
I’m discovering that while I like the idea of being an entrepreneur, I don’t really have the right temperament for it. I’m generally calm, confident, relaxed, and easily distracted. I was warned by more than one person I had to set aside time away from my business work or I’d burn out. That was never any real danger for me. I just don’t obsess and worry and I think those are key traits for starting a business. Still, my self-confidence tells me I’ll find a way to make it work anyhow because I always have in the past, and if others, less clever than I could, then I can as well. It’s a curious contradiction to both have complete confidence, and yet rationally see that as a dangerous weakness.
As to specifics, there are two areas of work I’ve put a fair bit of investment into. The first is this blog, the second is a gaming project. The blog has been my primary interest and area of work so far. I’ve learned quite a bit and spent many hours writing and “illustrating” articles. With a few exceptions we have been cranking out an article every day and I think the overall quality is pretty high. It has made money, but the amount is minuscule compared to the work involved.
Not making money is pretty normal for blogs, especially in their early stages. I know well there are a number of things we need to do. We need to spend more time and effort on promotion. Frankly it just isn’t as much fun as working on the blog and promotion often means spamming with grace and charm on other people’s sites who are more or less in the same business. We should also have more of a focus. You may have noticed our articles are all over the map, so to speak. Profitable blogs tend to have a pretty focused mission and audience.
I don’t want to talk too much about the gaming project until it’s ready to debut. Suffice to say that for a time I focused quite a bit and it’s close to complete but I’m having some of those rare doubts about if it’s going to get a good reception and perhaps needs more work. On the one hand, failure is an option with little cost, on the other, I’m not a fan of failure and want my writing reputation to be one of quality work so I’m in a bit of limbo. Also, it’s mostly not designed to make money but to garner attention so I can make money later.
At any rate, it’s very much a learning experience, mostly learning about myself. Having the financial freedom to more or less do whatever I like is a new situation for me. That freedom has a real financial cost and the clock is ticking on it so eventually I’ll need answers rather than questions. I am essentially experimenting, trying to figure out what I can do for a living that is also a passion and is compatible with life on the road. In the meantime, I am cranking out “work” in the form of articles I hope I can sort out how to get a return on down the road.
So, six months in I am loving life, perhaps more than ever before. But are challenges I’ve not yet met and will need to come to terms with soon. I’ve discovered both some strengths I wasn’t aware of but also some weaknesses. That’s what happens when you test yourself with something entirely new.
Thinking some more about making money alternatives that might appeal to your creative side. You do like acting and while a lot of acting opportunities are not compatible with being on the road there is one aspect that could work for you. That would be doing voice work which you have a real aptitude for. Lots of variations around for that that type of work from doing book narration to doing advertising work or even audio narration for park, monument and museum exhibits. Film work too potentially if you are willing to travel to where their studio is which of course is possible if it is a place you are inclined to go. Make some demo tapes, look for an agent, see what happens. You have a sound crew member traveling with you who is good with the technical aspects. First steps though, demo tape and finding an agent(s).
It’s on my list of things to try at some point. There is at least one other full-time RV travel blogger who’s wife makes her living as a voice actor. She has a lot of good articles and resources for those looking to get into it. It is actually one of the better hourly work options for travelers who have the talent for it. I’m still focused on writing at the moment but this is definitely something I’m interested in and plan on pursuing at some point.
Try this and see how it goes. What you have is an ability to write, an ability to create characters, an ability to create interactive scenes in gaming and a love of seeing interesting places. So when you go to one of these places go back to the trailer and write a short story using that as a setting. Then polish it up and put it into your own book store front on Amazon. The stories are seeds that can grow. While they might not earn a lot of immediate income they will earn some. But the seed planted could become other things, a game, a paid subscription serialized pod cast adventure, a collected work of the short stories, a novel, a TV show or even a movie. You don’t have to be the person who produces all of those things, you can sell rights to the stories. Plus it can simply be fun to do as a joint or individual project. Of course it will always be a joint venture since you will end up giving critiques for each other. There are other couples who co-write books together as well as on their own as individuals. So basically suggestion is not anything new that you have not already done in various ways, it is simply a way to tie it all together and sell it in a manner that takes it to a wider audience. How to make money from your passions? It is often about how do you create a packaged product and create a market for a product produced by skills you already have. You have more going for you than the average travel blogger, you can infuse those settings you visit into the stories and games you already are involved in. Writers often go out and do field research when they think of a potential setting for a story but it often works from the other direction too, the setting inspires the story. When something clicks for a story go and find some BLM type of land and do a week or so of free boondocking away from all other distractions such as travel and internet and get the story written.
Good advice. I’ve considered creating some role playing products using the photographs I’ve taken, using them as the basis for creating wilderness encounters. Some of the bookshops at the park visitors centers have fiction books inspired by the area. Mysteries at the Grand Canyon and that sort of thing. It’s a good idea.
At the moment, I have three active writing projects going. A first novel (because I always wanted to write one some day), a game project based on one I did in the past, and this blog. At the moment, the blog is the only one leveraging my travels, but using the experience I’ve had is certainly something I think of often.
I don’t think your ‘leave a reply’ section here works very well. This is my third third attempt to make a comment. Attempt #1, I got a note saying I was a spamming suspect. #2. I got a message saying that I already sent the same message. If this doesn’t go through I will just send you a note via Facebook.
You made it through! Sorry about that. Spam on blogs can get pretty crazy without tight security. Anne has it pretty well locked down. At any rate, once you get a post in, they should go easier after that.
Thanks for the update! I was wondering what your thoughts were, now that you have a few miles behind you on this adventure. I get a lot of pleasure out of following Your and Trail’s adventures!