Thursday, February 28, 2013

10 Things We'd Do Differently

"Is there anything that you would change if you were to start out on the road again?"

This is a paraphrased question that I've been asked several times over the past week from our readers. One that has really made me think about the past year of preparing to launch and our first 8 months of full-time travel.


Yes, there are many things that we would have done differently, and some that we have/are changing as the right time comes.

These are the top 10 things (in no particular order) that we would do differently, if we had it to do all over again:

1) I wish we'd known what sitting in one place for 2 years does to tires and had replaced all 4 tires on our fifth wheel immediately after purchasing it. 
Our 5th wheel was 2 years old, barely used and in nearly-new condition, and had been towed a total of 20 miles in those 2 years prior to our purchase. Tires that didn't roll for 2 years were likely the greatest factor in our first-day-out blow-out.

2) Had we known all of the strikes against our first truck and its ability to tow, we would have opted for a different tow vehicle.
We planned to replace it after 1 year, but that timeline was moved up to replacing after 5 months when we had to decide if we were going to continue traveling and replace our truck or stay put in Moab, UT indefinitely and just suck it up with our lemon.
Let me be clear: If you plan to tow a fifth wheel or travel trailer, avoid 6.0 Liter Fords like the plague. If you want to just throw your money somewhere for the heck of it, I'll email you our PayPal account address and you can just send your hard-earned dollars our way instead. Seriously--just don't do it!

3) We would not have brought so much stuff.
In our first 3 months we took several truckloads of donations to the local thrift store in Glenwood Springs, CO. While we were grateful to help a local outreach, we really didn't need to haul so much extra crap along with us. We also dropped off a significant amount of unnecessary "essentials" in storage when we passed through the Midwest again last Fall.

4) We would have changed our state of residency sooner.
While maintaining Indiana residency made sense for us while we owned a house there and makes mail forwarding pretty simple on our end (HUGE thanks to our "housemates" Chris and Holly who do our mail forwarding for us!!), the income taxes and vehicle registration fees are enough to stop us in our tracks. We are in the process of deciding where we will change our domicile to within the next 6 months to minimize the financial impact on our budget. Hey, if you can choose to take residence anywhere, why not choose the best place to set up residence?

5) I would have learned earlier how awesome the laundromat is.
While I still use my Wonder Wash for all of our hand washables like our bathing suits and handmade or boutique dresses and for small, quick loads, I've found that taking 90 minutes once a week and setting up shop in the laundromat to wash 5-6 loads of laundry is soooo much more efficient use of my time and energy. I have to use the laundromat for Jason's work clothes anyway. So if I'm washing one load, why not wash a handful all at once?

6) I wouldn't have tried to make homeschooling look like school at home.
This was a steep learning curve for me as a former classroom teacher. It took us almost 6 months to find our rhythm with homeschooling and while it looks nothing like I thought homeschooling would look like, it's exactly right for our kids. It's also always changing and evolving as interests and needs change. I feel much more confident as we move into our second homeschool year to know what works for our kids and when to scrap an idea and move onto something else.

7) We would have kept travel days shorter and travelled slower.
Granted, since we (more or less) travel following Jason's work, we don't have complete control over the pace that we travel. However, we have discovered that travel days longer than 6 hours become very difficult and stressful for our family. Arriving to a campsite at dusk or later is no fun. And back-to-back travel days become torture for little people that require time and space to run and play.

8) We would have removed all expectations.
We've stopped planning more than 24 hours in advance, because we don't really know what we are doing or where we are going unless we are actively en route--and even then plans can change. This is a great thing, because it requires us to remain present where we are, but a challenge to family and friends who always want to know "where to next?". We've stopped speculating because it really doesn't benefit anyone. I hope that we can carry this mindset over if we ever choose to settle somewhere permanently or semi-permanently again.

9) We would have taken the opportunity to get lost more often.
Admittedly, I'm less directionally oriented than Jason. I've been known to get us lost a time or two. As long as it doesn't involve being lost while towing a 36-foot rig behind us, getting lost has always led us to someplace off the beaten path and a treasure that we'd never have found otherwise.

10) We would have done this years ago.
While the time was exactly right for us to take off down the highway when we did, there are many times that I wish we'd had the courage to leave sooner. Our biggest reason for putting our dream on hold for years was due to pregnancies and newborns and uncertainties as to how to maneuver through those years while on the road. Now that we've met other families out here like us, we've learned of several families who have navigated pregnancies and life with newborns on the road with such grace and ease that I'm certain that we could have made it happen.

One thing that is for certain, if we had to do it all over again, we absolutely would. In a heartbeat and without hesitation. While life on the road is not always easy, it's always been grand.


  1. Thanks for sharing your hard-earned lessons. We've been in our RV for almost 17 months and are still learning. We were lucky to find a good used diesel to replace the inadequate one we originally bought to tow. One challenge I haven't quite figured out is getting routine medical care while on the road. Right now we just wait till we're near "home," but next year we plan to travel further, for longer. Do you have any experience with the medical issue?

    1. At this point that is our plan as well. We're fortunate to all be in excellent health with no medical concerns requiring anything more than an annual check-up, nor are any of us on any maintenance prescription medications. As we come up on our year on the road we will have to decide if we'll return "home" to our physician there, or find another Dr. on the road to take care of our annual physicals. I suppose that will be determined largely by where we are in a few months and what will be most convenient.

  2. Simpson Six, we have lurked on your blog for a while, because at just the time we decided to prepare to do the same thing (a year ago) we saw that you were just beginning your journeys. We hope to run into you out there on the road sometime. Thanks so much for your blog post. We are really taking it to heart. (We're moving into our RV in six weeks!) I have some really sincere questions for you related to #10: we have four kids also. What if we had another baby? We would size out of our six-passenger truck. And with a fifth wheel, then what's the alternative? And, as you know, it was hard enough to find a truck that could hold six people. Have you thought about that and do you have any solutions for that? Thanks so much for posting your thoughts and advice. -The Kipers

  3. Thanks, Kipers!
    Great question! We've actually (briefly) looked into how to add a third row to our truck and found another family that is a family of 7 pulling a 5th wheel toy-hauler with their truck. The Golden Gang has modified their truck to fit their family with a great, economical solution, if that's something that you ever need to consider. They blog about it here:
    Hope to see you down the road!! :)

  4. Hi Simpson Family!!

    We've followed you all on and off since right after you sold your house and we've been dreaming of doing the same! We also have 4 littles (ages 6.5, almost 5, 3.5 and 18 months) and we have wanted to start full timing for years but as with you- we were in the pregnancy/newborn phase almost non-stop for 6 years. Plus with my husband's job we aren't really sure where to start as far as making in income is concerned. My husband has many handy talents and I am an aspiring midwife but that doesn't do much for us at the moment. Haha! We love what you guys are doing and will continue to check in to see what adventures you are finding next! Much love, The Dusing's