When I was young, I did not realize coursing through my veins was pure lust for a nomadic life. My actions, however, demonstrated the desire for being someplace other than the place I was.
A girlfriend and I pulled together enough money to hop on a Greyhound bus in St. Louis and travel to Daytona Beach, Florida. I was only 13, but I don’t remember ever being afraid. I do remember the adventure. My parents had a much different experience.
By the time I was married at 15, a quest on its own, life had begun to offer opportunities to satisfy the adventurous soul I did not yet understand. My spouse was in the Army. Our first post was in Georgia, and the next was in Monterey, California. It was the 70’s, and California was still fun.
I was divorced just after I got my first driver’s license.
I began to see a pattern forming as I moved from state to state every 3 – 5 years. After my divorce, I returned to the St. Louis area. In the next few years, I moved to Salt Lake City, Tampa, northern Utah, Southern Utah, Colorado, and Alaska in 2000.
A second storyline running behind the scenes was that of an entrepreneur. I could not keep a job. I would rapidly advance and then get frustrated and leave.
If you are an entrepreneur, I bet you have similar stories.
It wasn’t until my 40th year that I realized I had an entrepreneurial spirit. The last time I worked for someone in any full-time capacity was 1997.
All the stuff that society decided was good for us was happening. We bought a house in the suburbs, and my spouse worked full time while I worked as an independent contractor. But that did not thrill me. I wanted to “go.” Weekend trips were no longer enough. I was getting cranky.
That’s when we jumped into our new trailer, sold everything, and headed to Alaska. By 2004 my spouse quit the 9-5 and joined me in my work, which enabled us to take many long trips. In Alaska, every trip is a long trip.
We sold everything again in 2012 and returned to the lower 48 in the same trailer we left in.
We figured we put over 300,000 miles on that trailer and more on the truck that pulled it. Miles equal happiness for me.
Before leaving Alaska, we had built up a clientele of small businesses building websites and offering virtual tour photography. We knew we could do this on the road, and it did sustain us for many years. We would spend a week or more at each location, teaching a class on inbound marketing and taking virtual tours.
Every so often, I wanted to stop and get an apartment, which we did for 12 – 18 months at a time. That meant buying furniture and turning around to sell it again. I could not be happy in one spot for any amount of time.
So, we hit the road again.
We had location freedom and income – until Covid-19.
Our business relied on tourism and hospitality. We taught our classes at community colleges and small business development centers.
Our plans A, B, and C, were gone in an instant.
Plan a was to continue as we were. Plan B was to be workcampers, set up for April – shut down. I forgot what plan C was. Whatever it was, it was no longer possible.
We just bought a brand-new Class C motor home the previous summer and left our winter spot in Arizona to a conference in Las Vegas. The meeting got canceled, which was the first sign of what was to come. We shifted course over to southern Utah.
We thought it would be a temporary thing. Who knew?
We were on the Navajo Nation in southern Utah camped at a BLM campground when the sheriff came along and told us we had to leave because we did not have license plates from that county.
We had nowhere to go. All plans were off.
Fellow campers would not get near each other. The thrill of being a nomad was rapidly evaporating. RV parks were shut down and only available for monthly stays. We did not want to stay that long without a plan.
Panic set in.
Since our vehicles have Oregon tags, we thought we had better get there when discussions began about shutting down state borders.
Financial freedom – gone. Location freedom – gone. Inner freedom – severely damaged.
All within a couple of weeks.
This experience has caused me to spend countless hours updating my skills and building a new business that will avoid much of the vulnerability and help others who wish to live the freedoms of a traveling entrepreneur without the stress of worrying about the next paycheck.
Every gig worker and self-employed person out there who is reading this might share this same fear.
I admit – I got too complacent. I know to build residual income in diversified areas, but I got wrapped up in the joy of traveling.
The entrepreneur in me is screaming while also holding my hand on this new journey.
In a couple of weeks, we will be heading to our winter camp. I can’t wait! We have been here for several months, and it is time to see something different.
My only advice is to prepare for the unexpected, be safe, and enjoy life!