Tag Archives: traveling

Lessons Learned From Van Living

The long awaited “Vanlife” post is here! This Personal Post weekend highlights what I learned from living in a van for three weeks, and what my plans are for future travels.

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My husband first introduced me to van life through youtube videos. We watched a few but both settled on really enjoying Kombi Life. Episode after episode, blog post after blog post, and when we filled up on all we could there, we spent hours looking through the van life subreddit.

We decided this was the life for us. It screamed ADVENTURE and, damn, did we get one. Here’s what we learned about life by traveling from Tacoma, Washington, to Austin, Texas.

Sometimes, the GPS isn’t the best to follow.

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On the last leg of our trip, we accidentally took a wrong turn and wound up in New Mexico. We had a great time, and found beautiful campsites, all because we forgot to follow the GPS. It actually saved us time, and we had a blast.

Everyone was given a roadmap to adulthood when they were kids, either by parents or society. Mine read “Graduate high school, go to college, get married, have kids, work until you can’t anymore”. Most adults in my life followed that formula, or tried to, and they taught me that was the way to grow up. But sometimes that map doesn’t work out, and you wind up in a better place, one that you wouldn’t have found if you didn’t go off the path the GPS laid out for you.

Your belongings aren’t everything.

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With my husband being military, we don’t have a lot of stuff to begin with. Moving every one to four years makes it hard to want to pack everything up over and over again, so we’re not a very materialistic couple. Even with as little as we take with us each move, we still learned objects are just that, objects. While sentimental value is nice, it’s empty if that’s the only thing in your life. All we needed were each other, our dogs, a camper stove and a mini fridge and we got by just fine.

When you get a feeling you shouldn’t be somewhere, trust your gut.

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In a cavern in the middle of Colorado my husband got a bad feeling. When he said, hey, I think we should go, I agreed. We already decided it was important to always trust each others’ gut, so we packed up the van and got out a dodge (ha, the make of our van).  Shortly after we got out of the cavern, the sky opened up and parts of the campground flooded. I’m not sure if where we were at was safe or not, but I’m glad we got out of there.

It should go without saying, but this is how life should be in general. If you have a gut feeling, trust yourself. Chances are there’s a reason you feel that way.

Decide what’s more important the journey or the destination.

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Being in a small, enclosed box with someone, there’s sure to be some tiffs. The only one we got in was that we both didn’t know what we wanted out of the trip. Did we want to stop and sight see? Did we want to rush and spend more time with friends and family? Neither of us asked these questions and we wound up spending one night having to discuss this at length.

It’s important to know where you’re at in your life, and you have to ask yourself, what’s more important? Is it spending time in the now, or should you hurry to reach the goals in your life. You can always take your time when trying to reach those goals, but figuring out which one is more important before you jump into a big life changing event is always good.

If things get really hard, have someone with you who can make you laugh.

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Just like life, road trips get hard. Problems always are going to come up, and when things get extremely rough, it’s important to have someone you can laugh with. Even if you do butt heads from time to time, because arguing will always come up no matter how close you are with someone, the good times should outweigh the bad. Every time something went wrong on our trip, my husband and I were there to make the other one laugh. We listened to comedy tapes, my husband did funny voices, and I’d read him stuff online that cracked me up (which isn’t hard to do). It taught us that laughing’s important, and every trip needed to have some humor to get us by.

So what’s next?

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We sold our big van to someone else who wanted to give the van life a try, and they’re traveling around Washington state now. Next for us, though, is going to be a bus. We want to go on longer trips, which requires a little bit more room, so a small tour bus is right up our alley. Here’s hoping we find one soon!

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Why Authors Love the Pacific Northwest

I’ve traveled across the United States, from Texas to Washington, D.C., back to Texas, and then childhood summers spent up in Michigan. I remember family trips across the hot deserts of the American West, and sticky falls spent along the Gulf of Mexico through swamps. It wasn’t until the summer of 2016 did I finally make it to the Pacific Northwest.

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Beach at Solo Point. See my instagram for more pictures of my setting adventures.

Besides living with a family that loved to travel, I’m a military spouse who moves every two to four years. It’s left me with a wide array of places to chose from for a setting. From the city outskirts of Washington D.C., to back roads in the Texas Hill Country, to long twisted highways that carve through the Colorado Rockies; my mental setting bank is full.

Last year I moved to Washington state. It’s a part of the country I’ve only seen in television shows, books, and movies, and I’ve always wondered, what makes this area so special? What is it about the Pacific Northwest that pulls writers in?

I haven’t been here a year yet, and let me tell you. It’s been an experience. It rains more than I’ve ever seen, the people are eccentric, and the cities are small. But none of those are bad things. If anything, the area reminds me of growing up in Austin in the 90’s. People are active in their community, the land isn’t built up with subdivisions, and there are plenty of outdoor events for people to get back to nature.

When you get out of the cities, you find small communities centered around churches, rocky beaches with whole tree trunks tossed on the shore and if you go out east, over the Snoqualmie Pass, you find orange deserts and oasis towns.

With my next project in the works, a dark comedy and drama both of them supernatural pieces having to do with ghosts and death, I’ve set parts of it in the Pacific Northwest for a setting. Trips to Solo Point, a beach for military personnel to unload their boats, have been the most inspiring. The scenery is stunning and I hope to take a kayak out to the small island off shore to do some more exploring.

The longer I’m in this part of the country, the more I realize why writers and artists are drawn to this area. It’s lush, vibrant, and in spite of the rain, it’s beautiful.

Is there a part of the country you find yourself drawn to? Where do you enjoy setting your placing your novels?