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How to tell your parents you’re living in an RV

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Sometimes, telling your loved ones you’re quitting your job and living in an RV full time doesn’t go over all that well.

Some people don’t understand the desire to live tiny, to quit a well-paying job, to take a big risk.

That’s exactly what 25-year-old Erica Shepardson of Thriving in Tie Die discovered when she told her parents her plans to travel with her boyfriend in an old RV.

Erica grew up in Connecticut and studied athletic training/sports medicine at Keene State College, then got a job in pharmaceutical sales after graduation.

“The decision to drop everything and travel was defined by a few things,” she said.  “The biggest factor was the death of our close friend, Marc. One night in November 2016, we were at his house getting ready for a concert when he suddenly passed away. It was really traumatic for both Tim and me, but after it happened… we started to see life a lot differently. We are huge deadheads, so the idea of living on the road and chasing live music is something that has always been very attractive to us.”


So, the couple bought a 1985 Toyota Mini Motorhome, spruced it up, and are ready now for life on the road. They’ll live on savings at first, and will look for work opportunities along the way.

Here is a guest post from Erica about one of the biggest roadblocks along her journey: Telling her parents she was about to live and travel in an RV.

Keep on reading to see how she did it, and the advice she has to others who want to live the RV lifestyle.

How not to tell your parents you plan to live in an RV

Erica: Last fall, my boyfriend Tim and I started throwing around the idea of traveling around the country for 6 months to find a new city to fall in love with and eventually call home. By the time we decided to seriously start searching for the perfect RV, we’d done some pretty extensive research and planning.

At this point in the process, I should have been considering how to break the news to my parents so they wouldn’t freak out. But, true to my roots, I needed to rock the boat… so I called my dad and asked him to keep an eye out for any cool old RVs he may come across because we were planning to quit our jobs and travel.

I’ll give you one guess on how that conversation panned out.

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If you guessed that it went horribly… you were right. His response to my request was basically “hell no I will not help you ruin your life”… and then we didn’t really speak for about a month.

When my mom caught wind of our little plan, she was not thrilled either. I honestly expected her to take it better than my dad… but she didn’t, and I met her concern with more bitchiness than was called for. The situation was so tense that I didn’t even tell my parents that we bought an RV until it was home in our driveway.

We’d just taken a big first step towards building our dream life… but for the first few months, I couldn’t even enjoy it.

Not having the support of my parents was really hard and added so much stress to a situation what was already nerve-wracking.

Until this happened, I hadn’t realized how much I still seek their approval, even as an adult. While I knew that traveling was definitely the right move for us, to have the support of my parents would have been a huge source of comfort.

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Things my family will never understand about living nomadically

Telling your loved ones you're living in an RV full time isn't always easy

Seven months have passed since I first brought up our travel plans. My parents have come around and have even offered help and guidance throughout the planning and remodeling process. Coolness aside, there will always be things that they just don’t understand about our plans, such as:

  • Why we can’t just wait until retirement
  • Why 10 days of vacation would never be enough to satisfy our wanderlust
  • Why we’d throw away our careers and risk not being able to find good jobs after long gaps in employment
  • Why we’d buy a dirty old RV in cash instead of financing something new and reliable
  • Why we’d build our life around a mobile home that could very well break down, leaving us stranded

You get the point.

In the beginning, I was really mad at them for being so negative about this thing that I felt so great about. I just couldn’t understand why they weren’t as stoked as I was about our decision to seek happiness and fulfillment.

I now understand my parents concern about the RV life

Now that many months that have passed since I let the cat out of the bag… I’ve started to understand where their worry was coming from. I’d been living conventionally, pushing forward academically and consistently achieving my goals for the last 25 years of my life.

Then I suddenly tell them I’m going to quit my cushy corporate job to live in a van down by the river?

[You may also like: Want to go RVing? How to pick the best RV motorhome]

When I look at it from their perspective, I can see how that raised some red flags. They were worried that I had just given up on my goals to be a hippie and follow what’s left of the Grateful Dead. (Which is a completely valid concern because they’re not wrong!)

I’d given up on my goal of making a ton of money in the corporate world…  but in its place, I’d made new goals.

A huge one is to build a life that I love and to break free of the confines of the 9-5. This lifestyle shift was meant to challenge us physically and emotionally while satisfying our desire to see the beauty of the world.

[clickToTweet tweet=”This lifestyle shift was meant to challenge us physically and emotionally while satisfying our desire to see the beauty of the world.” quote=”This lifestyle shift was meant to challenge us physically and emotionally while satisfying our desire to see the beauty of the world.”]

Our main goal was to start seeking out the right path in life, instead of just mindlessly continuing on the path we were on because it was easy.

If I could go back in time and be a little more tactful about how I told my parents about our major life change, I’d definitely do it. I would have come up with a more impressive explanation of what we were planning on doing, as well as all the reasons behind it. I really wanted them to be happy for me, but deep down I knew they’d freak out. I should have listened to my gut and planned for that. Hindsight is 20/20 I guess!

A few words of wisdom when breaking the news

RVing couple ran into roadblocks when telling their family about full time RVing

Since my poor handling of the situation caused me so much stress and many sleepless nights, I wanted to share some words of wisdom with anyone who may be thinking about coming out about full-time travel.

  • There will be people who don’t get it.
  • Others won’t be happy for you.
  • And some people may even be downright mean to you regarding your decision to drop out of the rat race (almost as if what you’re doing diminishes their own lifestyle… which obviously, it doesn’t).

The overwhelming majority of people you tell, however, will be so supportive and happy for you! Until I started writing about our journey, I never realized the number of people that longed to throw all of their stuff in an RV and hit the road. I’ve had more strangers and random people from my past contact me than I ever could have imagined.

[You may also like: How to find stunning and cheap RV campsites]

Regardless of the reactions you get, if you feel like traveling full time is the right thing for you… then go for it. If you think it’s that one thing that will make your heart swell, then by all means – pursue that as fully as you can. As long as you’re embarking on a life of travel for the right reasons… don’t let the haters get you down! Start building a life that you love!

If you’re on the fence with the idea of embarking on a life of travel, I recommend picking up a copy of the book Vagabonding by Rolf Potts.

It serendipitously was recommended to us by an amazing AirBnB host we stayed with, and 9 months later… we’re packing our bags! If we can do it, so can you!

For more about our story, check out my blog! https://thrivingintiedye.com

How to work remotely FREE email course!

Ditch your desk job and work from anywhere with my free 5-day course. You'll learn about the top remote work jobs, online skills you need, and what employers are looking for.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. (*You'll also be subscribed to The Wayward Home's email list, all about van life, RVing, sailing and living smaller. Welcome aboard!) Powered by ConvertKit

5 thoughts on “How to tell your parents you’re living in an RV”

  1. You have a fellow KSC alum in the Teton Valley, when your trip delivers you West (as all legit RV trips do) give me a shout

    Reply
  2. Although I didn’t quit my job to travel full-time in an RV (yet!) I definitely relate to family not understanding my unconventional choices. I graduated with a good degree from a good university and a year later I left that path to start an organic catering business – never having gone to culinary college or business school. I didn’t get the best support initially but over time they grew to understand my choices and be big cheerleaders of what I did. It’s not easy especially without support of those closest to you, so good for you for listening to your heart.

    Reply
  3. Always follow your heart,no matter what people think of you,or think how crazy it is.No one else should live YOUR dreams for you but YOU!

    Reply
  4. i am looking at retirement in January 2020 and taking a 24 month Partial lump some payment of about 32,600.00 and getting a used U-Haul truck to redo and live in while traveling to see all the state parks and other places and or family that i have not seen in 15 years.
    i figured 10,000.00 for the u-haul and another 9,000.00 for lumber and stove/refrigerator and toilet, and a solar system so i don’t have to relies on someone else’s power.

    Reply

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