Life On Wheels
There is someone knocking on my door. Over and over again. I don’t want to answer it because it means stumbling out of a warm bed to open it. Frustrated and tired, I make my way to open the door and who should it be? Mid-life crisis is staring in my face. Now what am I going to do with that. I’m going to let you know what I did to face it down and how I steered my life into a brand new adventure.
I bought a 30-foot Airstream travel trailer, quit my full-time job, and decided to add a new title to my professional name. I am now a Travel Tech. I’m an MRI technologist by trade. I have had the privilege of working in several large-scale level 1 trauma hospitals and small out-patient clinics. Large or small, these facilities all have their pros and cons. I have moved from Ohio to North Carolina, over to South Carolina, and back to Ohio to work. I needed something more in my life. I discovered I needed to experience the realities of life around me.
The most popular travel position is one as a Travel Nurse. However, as traveling gains recognition as a legit job, there are now traveling techs, phlebotomists, surgery techs, and more. I discovered I could combine my love of travel, make good money, have my own home, and be somewhere new to work every 13 weeks.
I have never camped a day in 49 years. The airstream isn’t exactly roughing it so how hard could it be. I thought of it more as glamping rather than camping. I would have my own bed, my dishes, my towels, and so on. I placed most of my 2-bedroom apartment into storage and only packed the essentials. The only thing I didn’t count on was the true lack of space at times or that a campground may be difficult to reserve for three months at a time.
I have so much to learn on a daily basis. Luckily, there is always advice from other campers, You Tube, and Facebook groups. Of the many things I have learned in just one week:
Check all the valves on your trailer when hooking up the water. One valve was winterized and not closed, causing water to spew from a small line under the airstream. This went on all night and caused quite the flood around the trailer.
Get a small folding step stool. I use it to climb directly into bed as I can’t always walk around the bed.
The floors have to be swept often because it’s a campground and nature doesn’t always stay outside.
Be nice to the gatekeeper. He or she is a great resource to have in your corner.
Make sure to find a campsite within a half hour of your job. I’m only 26 miles away from my job, but it can take me up to two hours to get to work and back home due to city traffic. My first assignment is in Arlington, VA. I used to live in Arlington and left in 2003 to pursue a career change into MRI. I never had to use a car since public transportation got me everywhere. I upgraded from a small Hyundai Tucson to a Ford F150 truck, which is perfect for pulling the airstream, but I was too nervous driving it in heavy traffic. I changed over to using a metro bus and metro train, which takes 90 minutes to and from work, but there is no traffic and no chance of road rage.
Find a great hotspot to use. OTR mobile is fantastic. Using a cell phone, as suggested, would have continuously drained the battery and I would have run out of data in a day or two.
Most important lesson of all…feel yourself relax after a long day, talk to your neighbors, and enjoy the peace that comes with small-living.
A big change can be exhausting. Setting up the trailer was tiring and at times aggravating as I tried to find new ways to store the necessities like shoes or wine. Wine is very important to the evening relaxation process. I used to work third-shift weekends so my first weekend off in over a year felt wonderful. I went to the National Mall in Washington D.C. to see the Washington Monument standing tall and proud, walk by the White House, and stopped to witness several military vets find an important name on the Vietnam Memorial. I will never forget how touching it was to see one vet pull out a piece of paper to trace that found name with a pencil.
Join me on this new journey as I explore travel trailer living, sharing a tiny space, working while on the road, and exploring the United States along the way.