Trailer? I Barely Know Her!

The first Monday in February I woke up and decided that it was time to quit my job, sell my house, buy a trailer, and travel cross-country. Just like that.

Except it wasn’t really just like that. Major soul-searching helped me realize that I’d been fantasizing about this for years and unconsciously working towards it for months. Two weeks after making the decision to go, the hand-held watch I used to keep meetings on track broke—a significant sign that this was the right path.

Why the United States and not the World?

Because I love the U.S. There’s so much that’s beautiful, quirky, and clever here. That’s true everywhere, sure, but right now my heart belongs to America. Read more about my philosophy of U.S. travel.

Did I Have Doubts?

Of course; I’m human. But I don’t have any doubts now. Nor any fears. Which again tells me on I’m on the right path. Well, I do fear that I won’t get “far enough” before winter hits, and that’s not really a fear or such a bad thing.

That said, a few weeks post-decision, my closest friends got an email with the subject line “Am I out of my fucking mind?” I then urgently prompted them “it’s your turn to say comforting things.” This panic ensued after reading articles about people who took two years to plan their year-long trips. So I wondered if my four-month-conception-to-departure was rushed. We all do what works for us, but I don’t know how they could stand it. Two years? I’ve been on pins and needles for weeks waiting for life milestones to be celebrated before I hit the road!

What Am I Driving?

I sold my cute Japanese crossover and bought a full-size American SUV. Her name is Big Bessie. She’s surprisingly light and nimble, yet has the power to tow 9,000 pounds of trailer. Yeah baby! (my trailer, when loaded with gear, is 5,500 lbs)

A trailer hitches to the back of my car and has everything you think of in an RV: bed, sofa, kitchen, bathroom. Except it doesn’t drive itself. I opted for two vehicles so I wouldn’t have to be a turtle and carry my house with me everywhere I go. And to prevent the need to hook and unhook plumbing and electrical every morning and night.

Nope – not sharing pictures or name brands for my safety. No need to give anyone clues to find me. But if you want to know what a travel trailer is, check out GoRving.com to learn more. They have varying lengths and fanciness. You can choose to imagine mine however you like.

Am I Concerned About Safety?

Nope. The dangers “out there” are equal to those “right here” – we just choose to perceive them differently.

That said I’m armed with an arsenal of gadgets of varying impact—mostly to make my mother feel better, but if they happen to be effective and make me feel good, too, no one’s complaining.

Can I Really Drive that Thing?

Yup, the girl who can’t parallel park is driving a tow vehicle. The girl who not 10 years ago was terrified of the highway because flotsam and jetsam bounced on the road and totaled my car is now living life driving. Who’d a thunk?

9.9 mpg while towing. Scared to go the actual speed limit. I am Lead Foot Londe no more.

I will stay off the interstate as much as possible

  1. Because it’s terrifying
  2. Because it’s ugly
  3. Because it’s boring

Backing up is an adventure, but not a fun one. Let’s just say I’ll forever avoid dead ends.

 What’s the Route?

I’m planning two weeks at a time so I can live less…planned, and relax and enjoy the space I’m in. Perhaps I’ll want to stay longer, or keep moving. Less planning  = more options.

The only certainty is that the cold states will be visited first to experience as much as I can before winter hits. Sure, winter is an experience all its own, blah, blah, blah. I’m avoiding as much of winter as I can, ok, people?

As for sub-trip logistics, I’ll pick a central campground and radiate out for day trips, like the spoke of a wheel.

Am I Visiting all 50 States?

Nope – I won’t visit all 50 on this trip. While my life goal is to visit them all, I don’t need to go to some of them again and would rather save the time and budget to spend in places I loved or haven’t yet been. However, I do hope to achieve seeing the remaining states I haven’t visited. Budget and sponsorships will dictate whether I can afford to go to both Alaska and Hawaii. (Come on sponsorships!)

Can I Really Live in a Trailer?

Perspective: Saran wrap has 750 sq ft to a box. My camper has 184 sq ft – and it’s surprisingly spacious. Every inch is maximized with storage under the couch and bed. A queen sized bed but a smidge shorter. Full kitchen with three-burner stove, oven and microwave. Water heater for a shower that does what you need it to do. TV (yup). Grill.

And then there’s an awning to extend life outside. Plus mosquito netting because I’m like filet mignon to the little buggers.

Spacious, no.
Enough space? Yes.
Luxurious? No.
Well appointed? Well enough.
My home? Yes.
Trailer Sweet Trailer

Um, How Does the Bathroom Work?

The campground has a water spigot at each trailer site. I connect a hose to my camper and voila, water for the sinks and shower, as well as for the toilet.

The waste flows into two tanks: a grey tank for used water and a black tank for (use your imagination). The campground has a dumping station where a special accordion-style plastic pipe connects between the trailer and the holding tank; attach, turn some nozzles, and the black tank empties away to places I don’t have to see or think about.

What about Mail, Bills, Telegrams?

  • All my bills are electronic. (See, it’s 2012.)
  • Dad has Power of Attorney on my bank account in case he needs to write or deposit a check (and yes, it’s weird to give him this access).
  • My address is now my parents’ house and Dad will go through my mail and decide what needs to be scanned/emailed and what to be overnighted to a campground. Chances are very few things will be sent to me in hard copy.

Did I Sell all my Stuff?

Negative. My parents have a climate controlled storage unit (aka: their basement) where movers stacked my belongings like a Tetris game.

How Long will I be on the Road?

A year-ish.

As long as I still want to be and can afford to be.

What Comes After the Trip?

I don’t know. That’s not what I’m thinking about. I’m thinking about what happens on the trip, what I create for myself, what I discover. Those will inform what happens next. All I know is that it won’t be what I’ve been doing!

And there you have it. Tomorrow I hit the road! I’m stunningly calm and ridiculously excited.

What chances have you taken?
What advice do you have for me on this journey?

28 Responses

Fabulous, Paula! I’m so thrilled for you and can’t wait to continue following your fantastic journey. Wishing you ever-enlightening, eye-opening, enjoyable and enthralling travels wherever they take you.

Thanks, friend! what a lovely and inspiring thing to say! I wish the same for you every day!

06.03.12

Very Envious. Wish I had time to do this. Maybe when the little one gets a little older.

so take short trips instead!

06.03.12

Best of luck to you. Can’t wait to hear about your adventures!

thanks, friend! excited for the adventures you’ll be living, too. we all have them every day.

06.03.12

Oh – I thought you were leaving on Tuesday…Bon voyage! Have a wonderful, safe adventure. I hope you discover all that you’ve set out to uncover. I look forward to hearing all of your stories and seeing your pictures. And mostly seeing you!!!

i am leaving tuesday – this published a bit earlier than expected… nuances. see you in a few months!

06.03.12

Bon voyage!!
Hope you get to make a stop in my neck of the woods.
Enjoy!!!

Ellie/Betsey – I have every intention of making my to your part of the world! Look forward to seeing your smile!

06.03.12

so impressed with your gumption and attitute. good for you! wishing you a wonderful journey

Thanks friend! Live that you used the word “gumption”

06.03.12

Woooo hoooo, you’re off tomorrow!!! It’s going to be wonderful and amazing!

Just like Genie in her bottle, Paula in her Trailer will make magic happen! xoxox

SO very excited for you Paula!!!! Good luck and can’t wait to hear about all of your adventures!

06.03.12

Congrats Paula- this sounds like a lot of fun. Enjoy!

06.03.12

Wishing you the most exciting adventures ahead. Can’t wait to hear about your journey!

Mia – you’ve got exciting adventures ahead, yourself missy!

06.03.12

Paula – you always have been an inspiration. This tops it all. Thank you for sharing this experience.

Matt – I’m blown away by your comment. Know that I consider you one of the most compelling people I know. You make time for passions, you’re an incredible father, a devoted friend, savvy, man-smart (tools, oil, cars, grr), and you treat people with respect.

06.03.12

Paula, we are so proud of you for stepping out and pursuing your dream. You are an inspiration, and an out right AWESOME individual! 🙂

Looking forward to reading all about your adventures!

Stephan

Way to go! That’s AWESOME!!!!!!!! I’m so very happy for you, and more than a little jealous. I’m looking at taking my kids for a couple RV trips this summer, because I’ve always wanted to do something like this! You are totally my hero!

have a wonderful time with your kids. what a treat for you all to do this!

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt.

I keep this on my desk and read it every day now to remind me. Wish I had the resources to do what you’re doing, but I hope to experience the USA tour vicariously through your travels.

great quote! i often remind myself that if you’re not at least a bit scared, you don’t grow.

Hooray! You have quite the adventure ahead of you, and you’ll love it. Yup, there are scary moments… but you learn, live and thrive.

After over 5 years on the road myself, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Meet you out here!

Thanks for all of the advice y’all have given me in preparation and I’m amazed at your 5-year tenure!

Kindred spirits! Amazing how many of your thoughts and plans parallel my own. Almost 9 months on the road with no end in sight! It would be great fun to meet up out there somewhere.

You send out the most helpful tips and insights! Yours are tweets to read, not skim. I’ll dm you about where we are. It would be great to connect!

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