Picking up and leaving behind your family, friends, and your community is a huge fear that people face when deciding to full time travel, and is one of the single most reasons that people cannot commit to full time travel. After a year and a half on the road, I wanted to share my perspective and my experiences.
There is no doubt, leaving family and friends is not easy. At first the excitement of the journey is fresh, and there is a mixture of sadness and pure euphoria at the thought of doing something so exciting and so new. It’s like a vacation, a grand new adventure, and days are filled with sightseeing and adjustments to your new lifestyle. At about month two, the reality sets in. You are no longer in vacation mode. This is a little harder than you imagined, and you can begin to feel isolated.
This is an area of our full-timing that we struggled with, and we spent the first year driving back and forth to Chicago. What we failed to do year one was reach out to the incredible community of families on the road. We were a little unsure about how much we wanted to socialize with others on a regular basis, after all, we were relishing our family time and privacy.
Most places we stayed were filled with retirees, who, don’t get me wrong, were friendly, but didn’t satisfy the kids needs for playmates. And quite honestly, my husband and I missed having peers that we could relate to. On the weekends, there would often be children on camping trips that the kids could play with, and they learned how to make friends with lightening speed, a skill they have mastered.
Things have changed drastically this year. We finally sucked up our own reservations, and attended a rally with other full-time RV families. We almost backed out, three times, because we THOUGHT it was really outside of our comfort zone, and we are introverts.
This event literally changed our perspective of life on the road, and there is no doubt, we should have done this from the very beginning. If you are retirement age, you can also find online communities on Facebook, because there are rallies and meet-ups everywhere. There are groups for Airstreams, or whatever KIND of RV you drive. There are area specific groups. Many, many RV parks are geared for retirees, and there are activities from bingo, to crocheting, to hiking and much, much more. With a family, it’s a little different.
If you are searching for community on the road, attending a rally may give you what you are looking for. We left the rally with full hearts and more playdates than I could count on both hands. This made for some happy, happy children. After the bonds that developed at the rally, several families set off on travels together, and it was interesting to see how these families began meeting up and reaching out to one another, making plans to meet up later along the road.
The other factor for traveling families is that where you stay also has a big impact on who you will connect with. I’d say more than half of the families we met had a membership with Thousand Trails, and although we do not, it seems that there are always other families at those campgrounds. KOA is also a family based chain, and we have met some awesome families through our stays at KOA, more so than at any other private campgrounds.
So if you are afraid of full-timing because you will miss your community, then rest assured that you can create community on the road. There are people with similar stories, values, and lifestyle as you, and you will for sure meet some with which you bond! You can join these groups before you even leave your home, and you will be amazed at the things you will learn. What fun would it be to connect with others as you travel the country? Believe me, it will only enhance your experience!