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June

2015

Inside a Traveler’s Walls: Kate Gilbert + a Giveaway

INSIDE A TRAVELER'S WALLS, TRAVEL

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Hola friends. It’s Wednesday. My favorite blogging day! If you want to be featured on Inside a Traveler’s Walls please PM me. I am scheduling July posts this week. Any sailors? How about someone living in a yurt? Biking and living in tents? Beachfront condo? Where are my senior citizens? I know many of you are living unique, less traditional lives. Come on, I know you are out there.

The winner of the Charlotte Mason Companion giveaway from yesterday is Heather Dawson.

Before we get started lets talk about the giveaway first. Kate and I will be giving away two copies of her brand new ebook The Happy Camper. Take a couple of minutes to check out Kate’s blog and comment here on GGG (left hand column). You MUST comment on my blog, not on FB to be considered. Again, we will take it old school by drawing the names out of a hat. Contest ends at 9pm EST tonight (Wednesday, June 24th). The results will be revealed on our Thursday, June 25th post. Good Luck.

I am so excited to bring you our first Airstream travelers. Again, we have more corporate dropouts. Maybe we should get a club started for these big risk takers? I am so impressed. Our family today comes to you from an RV in the US!

Don’t confuse comfort with security ~ Kate

We get a variety of lifestyles on Inside a Traveler’s Walls. I love hearing how everyone makes it work. I find it particularly interesting how some people decide they are going to do it with absolutely no experience, others plan for years and then there are those who have done this before and know exactly what they want. Kate and Iain had experience RV’ing and they knew some specifics that only a veteran RV’er would know. For example, they knew that a bed against the wall did not work for them, they needed to be able to walk on both sides, hence the Airstream. I am sure it is comforting taking off on a grand adventure knowing that you have previously worked out most of the kinks.

I can totally relate to Kate’s biggest misconception about thinking she might be cramped in her small space. We felt the same way, but we were wrong as well. We have two bedrooms and two bathrooms and we only use one of each. I now feel that if we were to downsize to an RV it would be no problem at all.

Once you step outside your comfort zone, the world, literally and figuratively, opens up to you ~ Kate

Kate and Iain do not have children, but I find it interesting what she says about the traveling children they meet. For some reason there is this misconception that traveling kids are uneducated and menaces. I thank you for confirming that this is not the case. Ok, enough of my chatter, please read the WHOLE post, you don’t want to miss what Kate considers risky. I absolutely agree Kate.

I would like to introduce you all to Kate and Iain. Grab your coffee, a comfy seat and get ready to be inspired.

Introduce us to the people you live with? 
I am Kate, my husband is Iain. We are both originally from the UK, and moved to California nearly 16 years ago, I guess we are now what you would call British Americans. We both had successful, traditional corporate careers for over 20 years, Iain in high-tech manufacturing, me in medical device and pharmaceuticals. At the beginning of last year, faced with the prospect of working for another 10 or 15 years before retirement, we realized we were just not happy enough with our lives. We wanted to travel but our jobs were too demanding, and we both had become very disillusioned with the corporate world and how it had changed in the last few years. We decided to drastically cut our living expenses by selling our home and everything in it to travel full-time.

How do you make a living?
We live primarily from our savings which we accumulated over our 20 plus years of working. Our living expenses are now a fraction compared to our old life. Reducing our outgoings allowed us to walk away from work earlier than if we had stayed in our old life. I work a little as a freelance strategic marketing consultant, but no more than about 10 hours a week and it’s totally on my schedule. I would love to do more writing too, I am about to self-publish my first book. Iain is blissfully done with working!

Where are you in the world and what are you living in? 
We decided to start our full-time travel seeing more of our adopted home country; the US. Last June we moved into a 27 foot Airstream trailer, and so far we have spent a lot of time in the west of the country. Currently we are parked for free on public lands (Boondocking) near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. We plan to spend the summer in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

Why did you choose to live in your current arrangement?
We have always enjoyed camping, starting in a tent, and then a small motor home. We camped at weekends for many years. At the campgrounds we visited we always coveted other people’s Airstreams. We love the iconic styling and the modern interiors. Unfortunately, the décor in many other RVs is stuck in a time warp, and we were not up for a renovation. When we made the decision to travel around the country, the Airstream was an obvious choice for us. Our dream was not just to travel around the US, it was to travel around the US in an Airstream.

We chose the 27 foot model because we really liked the floor plan. We knew from owning a motor home before that having a bed that you can walk around (rather than one of you being against the wall) was a big plus. We also wanted a gas oven, which not all the Airstreams have. We have about 180 square foot of living space and it feels like just enough.

What do you do to personalize your unique (less traditional) living situation? 
We added some personal touches to the Airstream. We have color coordinated bedding and throw pillows in our living space. We also have a few little trinkets here and there. We bought a mini moose head as an homage to our former condo in San Diego, where we had giant (fake) moose and deer heads on the wall. We also added some stick on tiles in the bathroom. They add a little personality, without adding weight to the trailer.

Tell us your favorite and least favorite room in your space and why?
The idea of rooms in a trailer seems funny, but we do have some distinct spaces. We have a dinette area where we spend most of our time. We plug-in our computers there, we eat there when it is too cold to be outside, and we watch TV from there most of the time. The kitchen works just fine, but if I had to pick I would say it’s my least favorite space in that it is the most frustrating to deal with. I like to cook and it really has been adjustment to work in such a small space. You have to be very planned and tidy. Tidy cooking is not my forte.

We have a bathroom and separate shower. Our final space in the trailer is our bedroom, we have a RV-sized bed which is the same width as a traditional queen but a little shorter. Given, Iain and I are both short it doesn’t bother us. A 6 foot person may feel a bit cramped. It is very comfortable for us. It’s not my favorite space though, I would have to say that our favorite “room” is our yard. The great thing about a house on wheels is that your yard keeps changing, it’s often stunningly beautiful and you don’t have to maintain it.

What is the biggest misconception you had about your current living situation before you started living in it?
I would say we thought we would feel cramped and short of living space in the trailer. But actually we have not used all the storage space up, and apart from the kitchen issues I mentioned, we never feel like we need more room. When we pared down our life and got rid of 95% of our possessions we realized we never gave them a second thought. It’s sounds clichéd but things mean very little, when you devote your life to experiences.

What is the one household item you carry with you every time you move or the one item you cannot live without?
I like cooking and one thing it is really hard to cook without is good knives. We brought our high quality knives from our old home with us. When we travel elsewhere we usually stay in rental properties. Often we go to the store and buy at least one new knife for the home so at least it is sharp. It sounds like an odd thing, but trying to cut up vegetables with a blunt knife is not fun!

What do you miss most about having a permanent, stationary, traditional living?
We used to live in a condo building in downtown San Diego where we had a very strong sense of community. We socialized regularly and bumped into friends and neighbors every day. Being far away from people you used to see often is definitely hard, but social media keeps the connections strong and last December we went back to SD to see everyone. We are part of a whole new community of RV travelers which has been a fantastic surprise but it’s not quite the same as having neighbors! Oh I have to add that missing long showers may be up there too!

What is the one item your children (if you have children) carry with them to make their unique (less traditional) home more comfortable?
We don’t have children. I will say we meet families who travel with children and they are the smartest, most polite and confident children we have ever met. It’s very inspiring.

Do you have a pet joining you in this journey? If so, has this been complicated? Any advice?
We hit the road with our elderly Labrador, Venus. She reached the grand old age of 15 before she passed away, We were so happy she got to spend her final few weeks out in the open air sniffing barbecue smells; camping was always her favorite thing to do. We would love to have another dog, but it would make things complicated for us. Keeping the trailer cool in hot weather is a challenge as we try to live off-grid as much as possible. That makes air-conditioning a rarity. Also we want to mix in some overseas travel in the future so that also makes having a pet difficult. So we have decided to not have a dog at this time in our travels.

What is your best resource to find items you need for your place? 
The Container Store is an RVers friend for sure. We play real-life Tetris all the time with our belongings, so finding ideal storage solutions is one of our missions. We also bought a lot things from Ikea and Target to make our trailer feel more like home.

If you could only have one of the following in your home which one would it be and why?
space, natural light, dishwasher or above average internet.
It’s probably a tie with natural light and internet.

Natural light for sure, not only do we have lots of windows in the Airstream, we rely on the energy generated from our solar panels on the roof for all our electricity.

We also rely on the internet for a lot of things. I work a little on the road as a freelance consultant and I also like to write. We both do a lot of research about where to go and what to do wherever we are. We also blog and upload lots of photos, plus social media is our main method for keeping in touch with our family and friends and to connect with other travelers on the road. We also watch movies and TV on Netflix and Hulu, so I probably have to say Internet would be top. We get our internet using our cell service and if we don’t have a good signal we tend to move on within a day or two.

We don’t need more space, and we definitely don’t need a dishwasher.

If you were to compare your unique (less traditional) home decorating style to a kitchen appliance or gadget what would it be and why?
Well the Airstream sure looks like a toaster, one of those industrial Dualit ones. Shiny, iconic and modern but totally practical.

How do you keep traditions alive for your family in your unique living situation?
We don’t have a ton of family traditions. We have lived 5,000 miles from our families for over 15 years, so most occasions are just the two of us. We recognize birthdays and anniversaries with special meals out, or we’ll have champagne and gourmet cheese in the trailer. For Iain’s birthday last year we played mini-golf. I don’t know why it just seemed like a silly thing to do. Believe it or not, we also carry a karaoke system with us. It doesn’t take up much room and in our old “sticks and bricks” life we were the people who always brought karaoke to a party. So we decided to keep up that tradition on the road. We have had several karaoke campfires with friends.

How do you decorate for the holidays in your unique (less traditional) home or do you skip it all together?
We did celebrate Christmas in our traditional way. We carry a small shoe box of non-breakable decorations with us. And we bought a mini rosemary tree, I cooked the entire meal in our tiny kitchen, and in British style we had Christmas crackers and paper crowns!

What is your favorite part about this lifestyle choice?
We get to see beautiful scenery, visit funky little towns and meet wonderful people. A pleasant surprise is the countless friends we have made on the road. We discovered a good-sized community of pre-retirement age RV travelers whose paths we cross with regularly. Barely a week or two goes by when we don’t have a spontaneous meet up with friends or soon to be friends that we have met via our blog or on social media.

Many traveling families subscribe to the “house is not a home” theory. What is home to you?
Despite our location changing constantly, when we close the door at night, our trailer does feel like home. But we got rid of 95% of our belongings when we hit the road so I think we are very pragmatic about what home is. Belongings just aren’t that important to us anymore. If at some point in the future this mode of travel doesn’t suit us, we would easily mix it up with apartment or home rental in other places we want to visit. For us home is where we are at the moment, wherever that may be.

What makes you love the place you live?
Having a home on wheels is fantastic. We get to choose our backyard each week. If we don’t like our neighbors we can move on. Our life is totally spontaneous. We rarely make reservations which means if we like somewhere we stay longer, and if we don’t we move on to the next location. If someone we want to meet is a hundred miles down the road we can change our direction and head off to spend time with them. We have so much freedom I can’t imagine staying in one place all the time anymore.

Words of wisdom to anyone considering venturing out into the world of unique, less traditional homes?
You will miss your things much less than you think. You will be so immersed in new adventures and experiences you will wonder why you cared about having so many shoes, or a sleep-number bed.

Don’t confuse comfort with security. Going to new places, especially those that many Americans think are “unsafe” and experiencing new things may make you feel uncomfortable. You may feel like a sore thumb being the only gringo in town, or you could feel vulnerable camping out on public lands miles away from electricity and civilization. But you are probably not in any danger, you are just not in familiar territory. Once you step outside your comfort zone, the world, literally and figuratively, opens up to you.

Don’t feel pressured into living like a tourist. We constantly remind ourselves and others, we are not on vacation, and this is our life. It’s ok to spend a day sitting in the trailer, reading or watching TV. If you try to do stuff every day you’ll burn out.

Anything else you would like offer?
People say to us that we are brave. But time is precious; deferring your happiness to sometime in the distant future when you are “retired” – now that is risky. When we decided to travel full-time we asked ourselves “What is the worst that can happen”. Our answer was “we don’t like it, and we could come back, get new jobs and buy another house”. Actually the reality is that the worst that could happen is that we didn’t make a change in our life and settled for an unfulfilled life that we regretted later.

Quote to ponder: You will miss your things much less than you think. You will be so immersed in new adventures and experiences you will wonder why you cared about having so many shoes, or a sleep-number bed.

If you want to follow Kate and Iain’s journey you can find them at www.talesfromthescenicroute.com

Thank you Kate and Iain. Thank you a million times. We have a lot of readers that fit your demographic who cannot even envision how this could be possible. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing how this really is possible. Gracias.

Besos,
Jessica

COMMENTS (22)

22 thoughts on “Inside a Traveler’s Walls: Kate Gilbert + a Giveaway

  1. I love the pics and inspiring ideas. What are the round canisters on the “zip code” board? They look magnetic, if so, very cool and where can I get some? I once quit my job, uprooted and traveled working aboard yachts 18 years ago. That lasted about 5 years and was an awesome experience. I am currently happily settled into my 220 sq ft studio, one block from Sunset Cliffs in San Diego. I plan to chuck it all for an RV in about 10 years (I’m 48) but first I must meet my copilot! Just putting that out there 😉

    Also, the children I met in various ports who were traveling, homeschooling, and living aboard sailboats with the family were better mannered, and more interested in the world than their counterparts who flew in to meet grandpa on the yacht.

    I’d be happy to win Happy Camper, but if I don’t I’ll go ahead and buy it on Kindle. Happy trails! Joanie

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. They are a really cool couple. Thanks for following the blog as well.

      The metal canisters are for spices. I love them as well!

      We recently started traveling with two children and it is so nice to hear the positive impact you see in these little travelers.

      Thanks for commenting and sharing your story. We will see you on the road in 10 years!

      1. JessIca, don’t know where else to post this and your email got deleted. Thank You! I received my friend’s arm candy bracelet today. You were so sweet to include the one I wanted, too! Mine fits perfect and she gets hers next week. Winner!

    2. Thanks Joanie. Glad you had the experience we have had meeting children who travel. I would have loved to have had a childhood like that. Sunset Cliffs is a great place to be, we truly love San Diego, but sounds like you have a plan to travel again. 10 years is plenty of time to meet a fellow traveler, although we have met plenty of solo travelers too.

      BTW. The Spice jars are from The Container Store, and they work on any magnetic surface. They don’t even fall off when we travel.

  2. Oh! I loved hearing about Kate and her husband – because they did what we did! Quite and living on our savings for the most part. How awesome. Their RV also looks super cool!! Would love to read her book. Thanks!

  3. I love that Airstream! I love that she said waiting until retirement is the risky choice. I’ve felt like that for a while.

  4. Thanks Jessica for sharing our story.

    We are passionate about not just how we live, but also the idea that you should be living life now, not waiting for some time in the future. Happiness is not something to postpone.

    Thanks for the great blog and all the insight into other people lives, who have chosen the less than traditional path. It gives us great ideas for the future.

    Kate

  5. Thanks for sharing your story Kate! I will definitely be digging through your blog and possibly buying your ebook.

    I am itching to leave corporate America and live more the life I choose. My youngest has one more year of high school and then off to college. One of the greatest gifts my husband and I could give our children is a debt-free college education…. Meaning we will likely be working another 5 years or so. Right now we are working on planning for our “great escape”.

    Last summer we did buy a 32-foot boat that we can live on. We are experimenting with living smaller by heading to the boat Thursday’s after work, working from the boat on Friday, and then enjoying the weekend at the marina. Living in the Midwest, our boating season for this is from mid-April until about the end of October. We are learning to live with a lot less material items, which we don’t use anyways, and enjoying the slower life. There is such a sense of community with everyone in the marina. We have dreams of maybe selling our house next spring once the youngest graduates and living on the boat full time next summer. We will see what next summer brings.

    I love reading through these stories to see how others are making their dreams a reality!

    1. Thank you Shelly for commenting on GGG and following the travel stories on my blog. I love that you are working towards living your dream and you have a plan that is in motion. Although my kids are young we also plan to give our children a “debt free college” experience as long as they are dedicated and the university is not $50,000 a year. Ha. I would love to hear how it works out for you.

      Thanks for following, don’t forget to like GGG on FB.

      1. Thanks Jessica! We have one kid in college so far, starting his Junior year, and he thanks us every time tuition is paid, or we send him rent money. He hears about his friends adding more and more debt and is very thankful not to be in their situation.

        I did go out to FB and liked GGG.

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