Gram Weenie’s Story
(Read Kayak Chris’ version below.)
What lead you down your new and experimental path?
Growing up in a wealthy area of the United States filled me with certain lifestyle expectations and a culture of abundance. The plan as I knew it was: you get an education, you get a good job, you work hard, and you go into extreme amounts of debt to maintain the expected lifestyle those around you have. Where I grew up, it’s normal to take on a 300-thousand dollar mortgage for a small condo or townhouse. It’s normal to drive a 100% financed car. Your goals revolve around the possessions you have now and the others you are trying to get. You buy things you really don’t need and then need a bigger house or a storage unit to put them in. You have more credit card and student loan debt than you can actually afford. Then, finally, after many years of hard work, and commuting in soul-crushing traffic, you get to retire and do what you really want. Or at least this is they way I thought it was supposed to be.
Living overseas can change your perspective; but living in a less developed country will alter your life forever. When I returned home from overseas I remember being shocked by the vast number of toothpaste choices on the supermarket shelves. I was perplexed when people complained about potholes in the roads, thinking “at least there are paved roads!” I realized that I had dramatically changed at a core level. I now wanted an entirely different kind of life. I wanted to pay off my debts, live with less, and surround myself with quality people. I wanted to throw myself off the “meeting the expectations of others” train and define a new form of personal happiness.
What did you do to prepare for this adventure?
I got as debt free as possible, donated or trashed as many possessions as I could, and mentally prepared myself for a change. Kayak Chris and I talked a lot about what was important to each of us, mainly to understand and set expectations. We each wrote down our goals for a successful journey. I did a TON of research on everything from camper features, to budgeting, to our driving route. We did our very best to make smart and informed decisions.
I bought the camper outright with cash. We both sold our cars and used the money towards the purchase of a new truck to pull the camper. We got a small storage unit for some items we couldn’t part with. (I know: a storage unit isn’t part of a proper ultralight.life mindset but I wasn’t exactly able to take my wooden bedroom set, or Chris’ duck decoys, on the road!)
What advice would you share with your younger self?
There are so many things I wish I had known earlier! In college: Don’t get a credit card because it comes with a free t-shirt. Don’t use that credit card for pizza and beer. Don’t pay one credit card with another. In my 20s: Learn about how money and credit scores work. Track your expenses and live within your actual means. Learn that you don’t need “things” to be happy. Discover that it’s OK to be selfish (who else is going to fight for what you need and want?) Understand that you can’t change others and you can’t make everyone around you happy. Don’t stay in a bad situation out of fear of the unknown. In my 30s (still working on these): Approach minor setbacks with a proactive mind-frame and plan of action. Put things in proper perspective and don’t dwell on them afterwards. Don’t allow others to make you feel bad. Remove the negative entities from your life. Simplify or automate everything possible.
It’s all a work in progress! I’m excited to be living a fulfilling and simplified life on the road. The best part so far has been seeing different areas of the country and the freedom of being able to move to a different destination anytime.
Kayak Chris’ Story
I’ve always been one to buck the status quo. I’ve never had any trouble doing that so the transition to this lifestyle was not a difficult one. After being unable to decide where we’d like to move to, we came up with this full time, mobile lifestyle. It was definitely a progression of thought. I’ll spare you the details.
There have always been some things that never felt right to me. This quote from Ellen Goodman explains it well:
“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you financed, in order to get to the job that you don’t really like, but that you need, to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.”
I think that accurately represents some of the misunderstandings in our daily lives. Why do we do this to ourselves? I’ve always thought that there has to be a better way! I’ve taken my views on this, and my personal and professional core values, and applied them to this lifestyle and my mobile business.
Integrity: Don’t ever give anyone the impression we are being unscrupulous.
Challenge: Constantly seek to challenge myself and others.
Learning: See “Challenge” (above). I always want to learn more on a variety of subjects.
Logical Process: Strive to implement things in my life that fit my logical mind.
System/Method: See “Logical Process” (above). Where possible, systematize things to run more efficiently.
Model: See “System/Method” and “Learning” (above). Learn by forming models.
Social: Must form, cultivate, and cherish the right relationships – personally and professionally. If I don’t, at times, I feel isolated.
Excitement: Seek to find new means of excitement or new ways to be excited about the same topic.
Action: Get things done even if they’re not perfect. It is important to move quickly, and give it your best – but get it done.
Unmaterialistic: Don’t be interested in acquiring “things” for the sake of having more.
Value: Strive to create value where there was none before.
Opportunity: Cultivate ability to spot opportunities.
Clarity: See “Model” and “System/Method” (above). Have the ability to recognize opportunities and the vision to bring them to fruition.
Communication: Strive for clarity in or better communication. Use exacting language.
I want my life to be agile and adaptable. I want to adapt to whatever change in conditions may come my way. I don’t want to get too bogged down in any one thing so as to prevent me from changing directions within a reasonable time frame.
We used to live 3 hours from the beach on the Mid-Atlantic. However, we barely ever went. It was just too much trouble, time, and cost to get there. A beach trip was 3 hours just to get around the beltway after work and then another 3 hours to get to the water. It was more stress than it was worth even though it was actually fairly close by. (It was also very tourist oriented meaning a costly vacation.) It just wasn’t worth it. In contrast, the last two cities we’ve stayed in on our mobile trip in have been near beach towns. They were not tourist oriented and actually more fun because of that. With this new lifestyle, we’ve been right near the beach and paying less for it than we ever would back home. After work, if we want to head to the water, we just go! Chances are it costs us little to nothing. We could do it every day if we wanted to. If I want to go fish the surf after work, I just go do it. It only takes a few minutes to get out there. It’s not a big production, a big expense, nor do we have to take time off work. It’s the best of all worlds.
We always compare our own core values to that quote above and the change in mindset it brings. I like our living arrangements even though it is a smaller space. I haven’t felt cramped since becoming “full time”. I like having less things overall; it’s less burdensome mentally. I like not having something constantly broken to fix. I like not spending hours on the weekend mowing the lawn. I actually like the simpler functions of our RV compared to a traditional house. I like that there’s no additional power, water, sewer, or cable bill.
I certainly don’t have it all figured out yet, but how I’m living today is MUCH closer to how I feel I should be living.