Tips Advice On How To Make A Living On The Road
“We had always wanted to take an extended road trip, but just never knew how to get started.” René Agredano and Jim Nelson began their traveling lifestyle—as they call it, Live. Work. Dream.—in their late 30’s. Long gone were the days when perhaps they could have thrown on a couple of backpacks and hiked around the West Coast before beginning their careers; the two had already established a successful printing business in Humboldt County, California. They had plenty of friends, family, community. Like so many of us though, they were constantly holding onto a little fire inside of their bellies, one that wanted to come rushing out of those homely human hearths and spread wildfire across the country.
“What ifs?” made themselves more heard than “why nots?”, and as René puts it, “Taking time off just seemed impossible. Before we knew it, ten years had gone by and were in our late 30s, wondering ‘What happened?'”
Of course, being in your late 30s is far from being old, but it’s not exactly in the spectrum of “plenty of time to start over”, either. Anyone who’s ever blown out 30 candles in one go knows that there is a sense of aging that comes with the date, even while our venerable elders make us clear and aware of just how very young we are. Jim and René could have continued bringing in a weekly paycheck from their own profitable printing shop. They could’ve waited another 25 years and probably would have had enough money by that time to retire into an RV and begin traveling around the country, seeing the places they’d always wanted to see, doing some of the things they’d always wanted to do, but at 65, well, the saying “If only I were young again,” begins to start ringing a little more true.
For them, a catastrophic event amplified the magnitude of that too oft ignored axiom, “Life is short.” Their German Shepherd, Jerry, was diagnosed with canine osteosarcoma, terminal bone cancer.
“When doctors told us he had just months to live,” René doesn’t seem morose when she tells of the situation, rather the opposite, grateful for the quality of time it did provide them, “and the only way to give him a good quality of life during that time, was to amputate his leg, we were stunned. Suddenly, working so hard just for more money didn’t seem like it was worth the stress if it meant that we wouldn’t get to spend the last few precious months with Jerry.” It took them seven to get on the road, and though Jerry had only been given four months to live initially, they spent the next year and a half with him as copilot. The two began a website, a kind of online support group, for other humans who’s dogs have lost a leg.
“I never realized how the death of an animal companion could bring a person to their knees with pure grief,” René wrote on her blog one year after Jerry passed. To think the very same dog was also the driving force behind this couple’s migratory lifestyle—five years later, they’re still exploring the country, living in their 24′ Fifth Wheel and making a living from the road, with no plans to stop anytime soon—is a nudge in the right direction to anyone looking at the difficulties their own particular situation might pose on pursuing the rolling hills and winding highways lifestyle. The only thing certain about the future is that you have the ability to manipulate your own.
“But I have kids.”
Congratulations! For families traveling with children, there is no doubt about it that the experience is very different from those folks who travel solo or with adults only. Of course, the exact same thing is true of your life at 555 Fixed Address, Yourtown, America. The moment you first decided—or for many of us, made the “miraculous mistake” of—having babies, your life changed forever. The path you follow with those little ones, however, did not. It’s still as open as ever, and all you’ve got to do is walk it. The more little feet pattering behind you, the better.
Meet Dana Ticknor, who along with her husband Vaughn, travel full-time in their 40′ toy hauler, with their 10 kids! “10 of our 12 children,” she would correct me. “Our oldest two children are grown, and have their own places.”
The Ticknor Tribe, as they refer to themselves, range from seven months to eighteen years old. They’ll have been on the road for three years in July.
“To be honest,” Dana tells me from an RV Park in Montana, where they’re currently serving as campground hosts, “we never even gave fulltiming a thought. If someone would have told us 3 years ago that we would be living in our RV with our (at the time) 11 kids, and traveling the country, we would have thought they were crazy.”
The impressively large family had sold their home to buy another, first searching for the right land where Vaughn, a builder by trade, could create their masterpiece home in Montana’s backcountry.
“We didn’t find the land that we wanted right away,” she says, “and winter was quickly approaching. We had learned 10 years earlier that landlords don’t rent to families with many kids, so this time we didn’t even try—we decided to pack our kids into our 15 passenger van, toss a few clothes into our 30′ bunkhouse travel trailer, and take an all-winter vacation. Two weeks after we left town, we had a family pow-wow and the decision to postpone a house, indefinitely, was unanimous. We’ve been gypsies ever since.”