The Happiness of Pursuing an Unconventional Life: RVs, Hourly Jobs, and Seeing the World

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In the past when I’ve had friends come to me for council about a job or girl I always had some go-to advice tucked away. Most of the time they were trying to figure out whether or not they liked her, or the new job was going to be good enough. I’ve had this conversation many times, and usually I would leave them with the same answer.

“If you have to ask, she’s not the one and neither is the job. If the job was right for you and the girl really made you happy, you wouldn’t be here right now.”

That was the way I felt with taking this 7 month trip I’m on. I couldn’t really explain it in detail to friends or family or even my coworkers, but I knew it was something I had to do. I knew deep down in the bottom of my heart I had to go. I knew that after leaving on this quest I would never be the same. I had no questions about whether it was right, it was, and I knew it.

At a half way point in our journey, I’ve already seen so many changes taking place in myself. I’ve learned to live a much more simple life. I’m also not as vain as I used to be nor am I as fixated on constantly spending money. I’m not the best in the world at these things, but they are two small examples of how I’ve been radically changed since leaving on this journey.

According to one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller, character transformation only happens when a person goes through hard times, not when everything is good. I believe this to be true as well, we don’t become a better person when things are peachy. We grow and stretch when our roof leaks, and fridge breaks, and all hell breaks loose. When we lose someone we love and must remember that one day we all will face the same end. It’s these moments in our life that make us feel alive and child like, they help us grow and become better than we once were.

I’ve found great joy in pursuing an unconventional life. But more than joy, I’ve found adversity which allows me to grow. The hard times and the process of becoming better leads to a happy life. It’s not always an easy life, but it’s a happy one.

My chosen lifestyle involves being constantly on the move, and working new hourly jobs multiple times per week. It’s exhilarating, exhausting, and sometimes I wonder what the heck I am doing. It’s easy to question whether or not the work you are doing really matters to anyone other than yourself, doubt creeps in and tries to take over.

But then I pick up a book like The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau– and I find comfort in knowing I am not alone. I meet someone on a job who tells me they believe in my mission, and I find rest in knowing I am on the path I’m supposed to be. I didn’t need their affirmation to begin with (obviously, I started with people telling me I’m crazy), but it’s a nice boost of morale while being on the road. It affirms my purpose.

The last four months of living this unconventional life I’ve discovered many conventional “truths” to be very untrue. I want to share with you just three of these lessons I’ve learned during my journey, one lesson from each aspect of my newfound life- RVing, hourly jobs, and seeing the world.

1. RV’s are for retirees traveling around on permanent vacation, not for twenty-three year old newlyweds.

Wrong. They’re for us. It makes perfect sense. What I used to pay in rent back in Austin for one year alone amounts to near the amount we paid for our used 1994 motorhome. When it’s parked in one place, I can get by with only $300 of expenses. It’s homey, awesome, and when I get tired of looking at certain scenery I can pack up and leave. If I had listened to the world view of RVs or been worried about what people thought of me, I would have never bought one. However, for Alyssa and I it turned out to be best decision we could have made when it came to our trip.

(If you want to learn more about how we travel on a budget, you should check out my free online course “How to See America on $2k/month”.)

2. Hourly jobs are for people who “can’t get anything better”

Wrong. A reoccurring theme for our journey has been people who have left higher paying jobs for more hours and “more difficult” work. Why? Because, like me, they weren’t fit to sit in an office all day. They found meaning in getting dirty with their hands or brewing beer. Even with a college degree they found out quickly “the route to salaried positions” wasn’t filled with all the glam and glory that was promised. They quit, took a cut in pay, and now find abundantly more happiness in their jobs.

Yesterday alone I met two young guys who had both graduated with degrees, spent a short amount of time working jobs related to their field- only to quit and go to work at a brewery because they enjoyed it more. In Sioux Falls I met a woman who had been working a higher paid position at a hospital, only to quit in order to go and make cupcakes for a living. Why? Because she wanted to do something creative. Does she make less? Absolutely. But does she find more meaning in her work? Heck yes she does.

3. You should wait until you’re older to go and see the world.

It’s the American dream, right? Wait until you can retire so you can spend a few years traveling? I’m not knocking the retired life, I’ve met so many amazing people on the road who are basically my adopted parents. However, there is a misconception that we must work forty years at a well paying job before we spend our time traveling. That is so wrong. There have literally never  been more opportunities for earning money while traveling. Never in the history of our universe could you work remotely and use the internet to make money. In old times if you wanted to work and travel, you would have to be a shepherd like in the Alchemist. In today’s world you can graduate college, find a job working remote and go see the world.

Unless you want to make excuses about why it’s too hard or you should wait.

I’ve found happiness in the pursuit of an unconventional life not because it’s easy, but because it propels me to become a better person. Through adversity, life tests, and constant struggles I find myself being pushed to my limits in all the best ways. I no longer accept blanket statements at face value, and never before have I ever learned so much.

So as your making decisions about your future, don’t pursue a life of comfort or ease. Pursue a life that challenges you. Pursue a life that beckons adventure and runs away from boredom. Pursue a life of independent thinking and not simply doing what you’ve been told. Pursue a life that’s unconventional.

After all, it’s a lot of fun.

me "containing" my excitement after purchasing our 1994 class c coachmen
me “containing” my excitement after purchasing our 1994 class c coachmen

9 Responses

  • I wish I’d known #1 20 years ago.
    But then, I’d have been 26, your ’94 RV would have been brand new and I couldn’t have afforded it (and RVs from 1974 ***SUUUUUCK***, we’ve looked at a couple), and there were basically zero options for someone rolling into a small town looking for a temp job.

    There’s so very much that the internet has made possible by connecting people to information, and to other people, like you and Alyssa, Heath.

    We truly live in a new Golden Age, and I’m firmly in the camp of “anyone who thinks Things Were Better Back In My Day should be regarded with deep suspicion”.

    #3 is also a profound truth. The longer you wait to do it, the more obligations and ‘roots’ you’ll have grown. Those are hard to sever. Because I work in IT, I have worked hard all my life to NOT put down roots – a result of several 20k/year raises between ’96 and ’01 to take a job across the country – Unlike most of my age cohort, I have only a car payment and about $5000 in other debt to consider before making the leap – but then the doubts creep in…”hey, only 8 years until you can retire with a pension – are you going to turn down $2k/mo Permanent Income?”, “Maybe you should sign another year’s lease, so you can prepare more thoroughly…”, etc.
    Even small amounts of roots make it hard to leave. (See what I did there?)
    Better to go *before* you have them. There’s a lot you might miss out on.

    • Jonathon,

      Thanks so much for putting your thoughts down here and taking the time to read my post. I would absolutely agree with you that we live in a great period of time where we are able to connect with so many awesome people via the internet.

      One great aspect of being young is we haven’t had to make the choice between roots and hitting the road. We wanted to travel, so we made the choice at a young age to just go for it. We’re extremely happy we did so. However, I believe every one has a different timeline for doing things.

      thanks for your wisdom,


  • So glad you have chosen to be a un-retired RV’er working, living, traveling and just being awesome! You may not always be in the right company but you are never alone. There are more of us out here than one would think! #SedentaryLifeaphobics

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