Updated: Dec 12, 2020
In 2017, my late partner and I had borrowed a friend’s old Lazy Daze RV for six months. She needed help storing it and we had access to great off-street parking at the time, so it was a convenient thing for us to be able to take frequent camping trips to the local mountains, just southeast of San Diego, or north to Malibu State Park in Los Angeles.
While enjoying the recreational vehicle lifestyle, my partner and I began fantasizing about one day living out of an RV when we would ‘roadschool’ our young son across the continental United States. I dreamed about our adventures up California’s old 101 highway, through San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge and into the Redwoods. Since my partner did not have as extensive experience traveling as I did, I was eager to show him, along with our child, the west coast up and into the glorious Pacific Northwest of Oregon, Washington and even beyond. In 2018, however, my partner was diagnosed with an aggressive, 4th stage head and neck cancer. After receiving remission from conventional treatment, we purchased another friend’s used Dodge RV. Instead of roadschooling then though, we changed plans and decided to downsize our life, get rid of most of our stuff and head south of the border for a worldschool experience. After a month of selling our things online as well as through garage sales, we put what remained of our most precious belongings in our new home on wheels and stored it on our friend’s property for returning to at a later date. After six, amazing months of swimming with whale sharks in Mexico, living in a worldschool community in a small Mayan village, visiting ancient temples and pyramids in Guatemala, and then discovering ourselves once again surrounded by soul tribe in a small, mountain town in southern Ecuador, my partner’s cancer returned with a vengeance. He peacefully passed away at the home we had rented near the Rio Chamba in Vilcabamba, Ecuador at the end of January, 2020.
A month later, my son and I returned to San Diego to memorialize his life with our tight-knit friends and loved ones during a full weekend of events. The following week, our state slid into shelter in place orders. Without a car or a home to call my own, my son and I isolated ourselves within the loving house of dear friends for two and a half months. Eventually, however – and for the sake of my mental health as well as the collective well-being of my son and myself – I had to make a decision. Do I rent a room in San Diego (and spend most of our money on monthly rent), or take off on the grand roadschool adventure that my partner and I dreamt of? We still had the old RV. Did I want to keep it as our home on wheels, or sell it and simplify with a converted van? Would I listen to the news and let fear of Covid, chaos and calamity stop me from moving forward? Or, would I boldly strike out into unknown terrain in pursuit of mine and my son’s continued healing of life after loss? It is obvious which options I thought were best for us. I share my experiences of the #vanlife (which ours is, as we do not pay to maintain a home anywhere else) and #roadschooling my son as a single woman and a lone mother here. If I can do this - as a recent widow in the midst of a global pandemic - then so can you. True, I had some money to work with from the get go. However, don’t let a lack of a stash of cash stop you. You can crowdfund, and ask your community to support your caravan dreams. I also share my story to demonstrate ways of doing this that are more minimal and less expensive. You can pick and choose your own adventure. With more money, you get to beef up your journey. With less, you cut corners that I have had more privilege to. In my writing are tips and tools that I have learned along the way as well that will save you precious time and money from having to learn them on your own. We will not be going back to “normal” [whatever that was] in 2021.
What are you waiting for? Adventure calls. We will see you on the road.