How We Got Started RVing
Being Full Time RV Travelers we live a very unorthodox life. People are curious about this lifestyle and how we fell into it. We’ve been asked countless times how we started our adventure and since it’s such a common question we decided to share our journey in hopes to inspire and entertain.
We met while I owned a marketing firm in my mid-twenties (I’m 33 now) and Danielle worked in my San Diego office. She relocated to be be with me in Orange County.
After a few years we got married in Laguna Beach.
Some time went by and we found ourselves living on the beach in beautiful Newport Beach. Here’s the view from our deck of the Beach at 38th street looking out towards Catalina Island.
Southern California is famous for it’s surfing lifestyle and I was drawn to the beach. I would head to the beach almost everyday to hang out or do some photography. It was paradise.
We always said that family was important to us. It’s one thing to talk, it’s another thing to act. I found myself contradicting my personal values as I had been an executive and found myself working so much that I almost never spent time with family. It didn’t help that my entire family was in Minnesota and Danielle’s was in Maryland. More importantly, I have a daughter from a previous relationship who lives with her mom in the school year and with us in the summer and every other holidays.
We would fly back at every opportunity but being tied so closely to my work it was difficult to get away. When I did get away I was still mentally not present as I’d have the pressures of hitting the numbers and making sure things ran according to the goals. After years of missing important moments with our families, we finally said enough is enough. Danielle was putting a lot of pressure on me for us to settle down and have kids of our own. We had agreed that we wouldn’t raise our kids out in California and then had the big debate between Minnesota or Maryland. I’m biased but I think Minnesota is one of the most amazing places to live.
Danielle agrees, except that it’s way too cold for her in the winter and I couldn’t convince her otherwise. So we decided that now was the time to make a bold move and head to the east coast to settle down near her family.
I wasn’t ready… I was so scared to be pinned down in an area that I wasn’t exactly fond of and to top it off to have to get another corporate executive job where I’d be married to my work. Don’t get me wrong, I love working and get put a lot of passion in any work that I do. But I’ve realized that you can choose to make other areas of your life a higher priority and still be effective and passionate about your work.
I was freaking out that the adventure in my life was about to die off. Forced into the rat race where I’d be working to provide for an over sized house that we didn’t need. Then on my time off rather than climbing a mountain, surfing the waves, or enjoying life I’d be stuck doing yard work.
One day after a great surf session I told Danielle how I felt and asked if we could somehow come up with a compromise. I asked that since we were moving for her, if we could buy an RV and take 6 months to travel across the country to the east coast. When we get to a city on the east coast that felt like home we would buy a house and settle down.
I’ve always been a dreamer. Danielle thinks I live in the clouds. She contrasts me starkly as she’s the down to earth, pragmatic personality. It obviously comes with it’s challenges but it works really well for us. I keep her enjoying life and she keeps me grounded. Immediately she thought I was crazy and as with most of my crazy ideas she said “come up with a plan and if it makes sense we’ll do it.” She later admitted she never thought it was an option and just didn’t want to crush my excitement.
I was so inspired that she was open to the idea! I started reading RV Travel Blogs to see if it is something feasible and I found that there are people who are living this unique lifestyle. If it was possible for them, it would be possible for us. Then I started looking at the options for RVs. After getting a feel for the used market I pitched Danielle on a few options. In my mind I had a vision of having a surfer van style adventure because I knew she wouldn’t be willing for us to budge on our budget for a “nice RV” and I thought a camper van would be fun. She shot me down HARD! She thought I was crazy that she would live in a camper van (I still think it would be cool). Then I got to the topic of the budget and she arbitrarily threw out that she didn’t want to invest more than 2k on an RV. Knowing the type of living situation she wanted I showed her what we could get for that price range. She immediately agreed we should spend a little bit more. We sort of agreed on a range of 7k-15k as a budget. I found some units online but it really made me nervous to buy one in that price range from an individual rather than a dealership as I had no idea if we’d be buying someone else’s problems.
One day we were driving in Costa Mesa and I called a local RV Dealership and asked them what they had in our price range. The salesperson told me that they didn’t have anything under 50k!! I really didn’t know where to go from here but Danielle mentioned that we should go to the dealership and at least see what they have. I told her it was a waste of time and I didn’t want to go and get my hopes up if it clearly wasn’t even in the ball park of our budget. I don’t know what got into her that day because it was so out of character but she pushed it further and we found ourselves walking onto the dealership.
We had done so much online research that we knew what type of RV we wanted and what features were important to us. We headed right to the Class C’s and found ourselves immersed in the fun of checking out all the different RVs. Danielle was having such a good time and we found what we felt was the perfect RV for our situation. It was a beautiful RV but reality hit us when we realized the price tag was 75k! With our agreed upon budget we weren’t in the market for this. After a brief conversation with the salesperson he mentioned that with financing the monthly payment would be around $400. What!?! That’s a fraction of what we were paying for rent to live at the beach, and we could drive it to a bunch of different beaches!?! The concept blew our minds. We figured that with the payment, insurance and fuel costs we would still be SAVING MONEY from our current expenses. Sometimes in life the best things come from being decisive and we felt like this was one of those moments. We ended up buying the RV that day!
Now we owned an RV (neither of us had any RV experience) with nowhere to store it and were still strapped to our jobs and normal lives. We decided that we would give ourselves a month in a half to get all of our things in order to hit the road. The dealership agreed to keep in on their lot until the day we left on June 1 of 2014. A BIG part of Danielle agreeing to this crazy adventure is that I would still be working remotely and bringing in a consistent income so we wouldn’t dip into savings. We agreed to set aside 10k for the trip that we could use as a buffer but the goal was not to touch it.
Luckily I had a plan that I felt was foolproof. I was the Managing Director of a company in Orange County and in charge of all of the marketing, sales, recruiting, training and company culture. I had grown the company significantly over the past few years. We had a dire need to increase our online marketing which was one of my projects for the next quarter. It seemed as though things couldn’t get any better because I was directly managing a team of around 30 people and this would allow me to empower someone to take over my role to build out this much needed department. It also was something that I would be able to do remotely.
The founder of the company whom I greatly respect had left around a year prior to start a beer company on the other side of the country. He made the mistake of hiring someone as CEO who was severely unqualified but it was someone he knew for a long time and that he personally trusted. I initially approached the CEO about my plan and he voiced that it was a great idea. I built an extensive marketing plan, we agreed on terms and we moved forward with it. We were now just a few weeks away from the launch date of the trip. The excitement was building, we had sold a lot of our things and found a storage unit for the things we wanted to keep to ship out once we found a home on the east coast.
The day I completed training my successor the CEO pulled me into his office and said “Eric we’re going to let you go.” What!?! I couldn’t believe it. We had an agreement, we had a plan, I had a consistent steady income lined up for our trip and now this guy just canned me? I was in complete shock. My initial reaction was that he had to be messing with me and after a good laugh I realized by his facial expression he was serious. I politely let him know that I had trusted him and his integrity and that this was bad business. I later found out from my good friend whom the CEO confided in that he had lied to me about the marketing role so that he could have me train someone to take my position that they could pay much less.
The life lessons from this event are important. Always put a premium on your integrity and your word. I was the Leader of the company and publicly the CEO had been promoting this new role and transition. When his actions didn’t line up with his words and he fired the Leader of the company he lost the trust of the rest of the employees. Within a few weeks half of the company had left. With no leadership and no trust the company spiraled out of control and within 6 months they were down to 3 people working for the company.
So here I am, a few weeks away from the start of our trip with no job and no money coming in. That wasn’t a conversation I wanted to have with Danielle so I immediately got on the phone with a few of some business owners I’ve worked with in the past and within 30 minutes I had something lined up. I would be doing phone sales remotely on a strictly commission basis.
To make things more challenging, Danielle had a similar experience. Her work had talked about having her work remotely with them and it failed to come to fruition as well. We were relying on both of our incomes to not dip into savings since I would be taking a significant pay cut and our overhead is fairly high. We took this new situation as a challenge and maintained a great attitude. Danielle assumed it was a good thing because she wouldn’t have to work and could enjoy her time traveling and worst case is that the trip would just be a little bit shorter than expected. I however wanted the trip to last the full 6 months and was confident that I could work hard and provide, although it might cut into my time enjoying the places we were going to visit.
On June 1, 2014 we headed off for the adventure of a lifetime and I started this blog… If you want to find out how we managed to continue traveling for the past year and a half make sure you subscribe to our blog as I’ll be sharing the rest of the story soon…