Joe and Kait Russo of We’re the Russo’s were burnt out on the 9-5 grind. They had well-paying jobs with health insurance and retirement funds, but still, something didn’t feel right.
The couple decided to take a scary leap. Instead of pursuing their traveling passion on weekends and vacation days, the two decided to quit their jobs and start living in an RV.
While they started their journey seeing the sights in a Class A Motorhome, they’ve now settled into and are loving being part of the van life.
Before taking the leap into “life on the road”, they spent a great amount of time planning, purging and gaining their own financial freedom.
It wasn’t always easy, but now, the two are living their dream lifestyle. One of their major goals is to inspire others to do the same.
Ditching the 9-5 to Take Charge of Their Lives
Don’t expect the van life of Joe and Kait to be all relaxation and rest. While they do spend a great deal of their time sightseeing and enjoying their surroundings, they’ve also done an amazing amount of work creating quite the name for themselves and their business.
I was able to ask Joe a few questions about their current nomadic lifestyle and think their journey is very inspiring.
What prompted you to get rid of stuff and start RVing? Was there a certain event or tipping point?
The desire to travel and experience the world is strong in both of us. Ever since we took our first trip together in 2005, we had been trying to figure out a way to travel more.
On Mother’s Day, 2014, Kait came up with the idea to quit our jobs, sell most of our possessions and hit the road in a recreational vehicle.
Neither of us had ever RVed before, but we liked the idea of being able to take our home with us everywhere we went and be able to bring our dogs along for the journey.
Plus, our lack of work-life balance was one of the triggers that prompted us to make a change in our lives.
What was the hardest part about making this decision?
Walking away from our careers was the hardest part. We both had well-paying jobs, retirement plans, health insurance and other benefits that go along with a career. I was in Advertising and Product Development while Kait was in Marketing.
Our 9 to 5 jobs required us to be available 24/7 even when we took a vacation!
It was scary and, while Kait was sure we’d be okay, I had my doubts about whether this was the right decision or not.
We left our careers in 2015 and I’m happy to say we have fully embraced the nomadic lifestyle.
Walking away from our careers with good pay, retirement plans and health insurance was the hardest part.
Although our jobs were quite demanding, the skills we developed came in handy in building We’re the Russos to what it is today.
How did you guys become financially free?
About five years before we hit the road, we made the decision to make a change in our lives. We first focused on paying off all of our debts (with the exception of our house) and then put that money towards savings.
While we continued to use our credit cards so we could earn the points, we paid the balances off in full every month (we continue to do that today).
We also cut back on our expenses and put everything we had toward the goal of being financially free. We created a four-part video series to help others become financially free and be able to live the life that they want.
How does your life now compare to how it was before?
Now that we work for ourselves, it is much easier to achieve a work-life balance. With all of the videos, articles and book writing, there are times we find ourselves working more now than we did before. But there’s a difference.
Working for ourselves means we have control over how many hours we want to work and where we want to work from.
If it’s absolutely gorgeous outside, we can take the morning off to go for a hike rather than sit behind the computer. Or if we’re driving through a National Park, we can pull into a scenic overlook and make that our office for the day.
Now that we work for ourselves, it is much easier to achieve a work-life balance.
How did it feel to get rid of stuff, and what was the hardest part about that?
It was a religious experience for Kait. Even today, nothing delights her more than getting rid of things “we don’t need.”
On the other hand, it was difficult for me (and still is) to get rid of stuff. I hold more attachment to things and really had to do some soul searching when I began downsizing from the house into our first motorhome.
I do find now that it’s very freeing to not be inundated with things but I still get the chills anytime Kait mentions getting rid of stuff!
How do you guys make money now and what do you love about it?
Our primary business is content creation in the form of videos, articles and a series of self-published books. We earn money through various revenue streams such as advertising and affiliate programs. We share a detailed breakdown of the different revenue streams on our website for people interested in ways to earn money while traveling.
You may also like: 30+ ways to make money on the road
Why do you think we’re seeing more and more people creating a new American dream?
As connectivity has permeated our lives, it’s allowed many people to do things like work remotely from a beach halfway around the world or run an entire business from a smartphone in their pocket.
I believe this has given people options that didn’t exist before and shown them that they can break away from convention and move towards creating the life they want.
Anything else you want to add?
We have met a lot of people who want to make a change and start living the life that they want.
That’s one of the driving forces behind my first book Take Risks: One Couple’s Journey to Quit Their Jobs and Hit the Open Road. By sharing the decisions, challenges, and triumphs of our journey we hope to inspire others to make a positive change in their lives.
With the success of the first book, I decided to write a sequel (finishing that up now) and have some other books I plan to write.
Kait is working on a cookbook along with a few other projects she has up her sleeve.
Follow the Russos!
Kristin Hanes is a journalist and writer who lives on a sailboat and in a Chevy Astro van in San Francisco. She worked in radio news for 15 years before a massive layoff in 2016. Kristin has written articles about alternative living published in Good Housekeeping, Business Insider, Marie Claire, SF Gate and The Bold Italic, among others.