Hi, my name is Kate Mullen, and I am a single, female, full-time RV’er. While I am 45, people often think I look younger (in my thirties) and are curious about how I started my RV journey since I am not retired.
A few years ago I had a midlife crisis. It did not result in the stereotypical buy a sports car, have an affair, get some plastic surgery to hold on to my youth kind of thing, but the deep gnawing at you – there has to be more to life, how do I really want to spend the time I have left? I was taught to “succeed” which meant go to college, get a good job, and save for retirement. I climbed the corporate ladder only to find disillusionment with the system. Is it just me or are we so filled with future worry, putting our adventures and dreams on hold; waiting for retirement or the next ‘thing’ to set us free?
I had wonderful family & friends, the Chiweenies (my companions/dogs), a beautiful home, the opportunity to travel a few weeks a year, and was fortunate to have a good paying job. But still, I felt like something was missing. I was so tired of feeling stressed and burnt out, and my health reflected my situation as well. As a business consultant; I was always on alert, waiting for an emergency call or e-mail to triage the next crisis no matter time of day or night. I realized what I needed was to trade the lifestyle of having more stuff for a lifestyle of freedom, experiences, creativity and adventure. I asked myself what would I do if I wasn’t afraid, or worried about all the what ifs, especially money?
The answer? Why not get and RV and take a road trip? Explore America and have the freedom to pursue my creative passions and at the same time get a clearer view of what I want on the path ahead.
Lake McDonald, Glacier NP
Travel broadens your life’s perspectives and challenges common thought patterns that may have become rigid or based on outdated assumptions. Travel offers a reframing of views on life; totally changes and challenges typical day to day routines. At the time, I was in a long-term relationship with my partner, and we planned to buy an RV, take the dogs and travel for a year. When my relationship ended, I thought my dream of RV’ing ended as well, uncertain I could do it alone. I had a laundry list of limiting beliefs:
- Would I be able to afford RV’ing and keep my house?
- Would it be safe for me to travel alone?
- Would I like being on the road and moving around all the time?
- Would I end up stranded on the side of the road? Would I be able to be by myself the majority of the time?
- How would I learn all the systems and maintenance needed to operate the RV?
- And how would I meet people or maintain friendships on the road by myself?
A year passed, and one day my aunt came to town wanting to look at pop-up campers during her visit. I took her to the local RV dealer, and while there I saw a small Class A motorhome, and it immediately reignited my wanderlust and the dream of RV’ing around the country. I went back a few days later for a test drive and thought I could do this – I bought the RV and a toad vehicle to boot! My maiden trip took me from North Carolina to Florida with a few friends on board. It was in Florida that I was notified my consulting contract would not be extended. I typically do not have a break between client engagements, so I took this as a sign that I should hit the road for a few months to explore RV’ing. I put in a request for a sabbatical and listed my house on a vacation rental site (Home Away) to help cover the expenses but also just-in-case I liked it and wanted to stay on the road. That was the best decision I have made. I’ve been fortunate the rental income has covered my home operating expenses and even provided a little gas money. A few months in, a new consulting engagement came through where I could continue to work remotely, so I was able to turn a “few months” on the road into what has become almost two years now. I didn’t have to quit my job and sell everything, I wasn’t ready to do that being new to the lifestyle. It was a great lesson for me to learn that there are lots of options for jump starting my dreams.
Great Sand Dunes NP
I’ve been very fortunate in my travels; my road angels look out for me whenever I’ve needed assistance. There is a learning curve with RV’ing and working full-time while traveling; the positives far outweighed the challenges. I’ve been blown away by the kindness of strangers and the amazing RV community. I do travel alone but seldom do I feel lonely. I can choose solitude, spending time in nature, or often I’m invited to dinners, events, and social activities with others. Having a positive attitude, open to meeting others, and believing in the serendipity inherent in life are key to having a positive travel experience.
Room with a view. My Travato at the Outer Banks.
About a year into my travels, I downsized to a Winnebago 59K Travato Class B RV. I love the size, nimbleness, the modern design, and other great features. Having the Travato has removed a layer of stress for me traveling solo. I don’t have to worry about hooking and unhooking the toad, or find 5-6 open parking spaces that I can pull across to make a stop, I can go down any road without concern about getting into a situation where I am unable to do a u-turn, I can pull over almost anywhere to double check the navigation route. These are huge benefits! Driving the Travato is fun. A surprise bonus is an instant community with the Winnie Bs, our Travato Facebook group, WIT club and Winnebago Outdoors that has emerged for me. I attended my first Grand National Rally this year and subsequently went on the Lake Superior trip, with a subset of the group, tailored for the Class Bs. I’ve formed several friendships, some almost like family, through these groups – I’m so thankful for the experiences and community.
For me, I haven’t looked back, this experience has been very empowering, full of self-discovery, and one that I know, I will continue for the near future. I look forward to meeting more folks in the Winnebago community! I am also starting a multi-year quest to see all 413 units in the National Park System you can follow my journey on my blog www.theroadtoadventure.com where I hope you will find inspiration for your own future RV trips.