Reflections on Our First 6 months and The Relentless Pursuit of Happiness
This week we are celebrating our 6 month Roamaversary. Although we are in Hawaii and away from our beloved tin can, The Scenic Route was always about a lifestyle of travel and running on our own agenda. It's not about an Airstream or living in a trailer this is all part of our journey.
Milestones (albeit a minor one like 6 months) are a time to reflect and so is being on vacation. I guess this will be a reflective blog post. Our next one will be the best and worst of 2014, the places we loved and which state had the worst drivers!! Being in a reflective mood, we asked ourselves lots of questions. Is this what we expected? What have we learned? What would we do differently? Are we happier? Could we do more to be more fulfilled? What does the next 6 months, 12 months, 2 years hold? What about longer than that?
I don't have all the answers but I'll try!
Is this what we expected? This is tough because I don't think we knew what to expect. We just knew that we wanted something different from our previous way of life. Although we are indebted to the many bloggers whose experiences we poured over, nothing beats getting out there and doing it yourself. Generally I think we have not had too many surprises and we have zero regrets about selling our home and belongings and hitting the road. We expected to feel more relaxed, more stimulated and have more freedom. By those measures we have met our expectations.
What have we learned? As I said no big surprises but we have learned that living in a small space suits us really well. If we thought that would be the toughest part of being on the road we were wrong. We don't miss shopping for stuff that it turns out we didn't need. We don't miss having lots of gadgets for cooking or household chores. We really don't miss having the space to spread out. We feel like we have everything we want and nothing that we don't. We have also learned that we can fill our days easily without a fulltime job. Another lesson: the sense of community among full time nomads is terrific, and has come to be something we really value.
What would we do differently? Not much. We made a lot of campground reservations through the summer months because I was nervous about being left with nowhere to stay in the busier months in California and Oregon. While I think reservations are important for certain spots at peak times (like beach spots!) I prefer the loose structure we have adopted since September where we have had a couple of long term reservations surrounded by free form travel in between. This gives us the freedom to stay as long as we like wherever we stay.
Are we happier? This is where I personally have learned the most. Over the last 6 months the biggest take away for me is that your own personal happiness is more important than anything else. It may sound selfish, but it really isn't because happiness is not a zero sum game. If you are not happy and fulfilled in your life then how are you going to be a good person who has loving relationships and can contribute to society for the better. I would go as far as to say that I have realized that the relentless pursuit of happiness is my most important life goal. Everything else doesn't really matter if you are happy. Happiness comes in lots of forms and I have no doubt that we are significantly happier than we were when other influences dictated our time. I use the word 'relentless' because situations are dynamic and what makes you happy can change too. Ensuring you are always fulfilled is not a one and done thing, it is a lifelong endeavor.
Could we do more to be fulfilled? Everything isn't exactly as I would like it yet. I think we are hitting our stride in many ways but we have a tendency to slip into complacency. There's a balance to be struck between exhausting ourselves by behaving as if we are on vacation and getting wrapped up in busy work or research and staying in front of our laptops all day. We have had a few stops where we have spent a little too long in the trailer and not enough time getting out and enjoying our surroundings. I am carrying a little more weight than I should be which tells me my balance is a little off. New Year means working on our fitness and making sure the balance between enjoying where we are and living our life every day is right.
What about the future? This is the $64,000 question everyone asks us. We have tentative plans for the next 6 months, even some reservations for those hard to snag winter spots in Arizona State parks and beach spots in California I mentioned earlier. We plan to head to new territory in the summer, visiting some of the wonderful National Parks and scenic areas we are longing to experience, such as Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons and Glacier. As for next winter we don't know. We might mix it up a little with some overseas travel as we have a long bucket list of cities we want to play house in for a few months. Longer than that... who knows? We are just enjoying running our own schedule and one thing is for certain the relentless pursuit of happiness will remain our goal.