Happy Travelers Tuesday! If you’ve stumbled upon our Tuesday tradition for the first time, “welcome”! Travelers Tuesday is a special series where, each week, we introduce our readers to another family who travels full-time. This week we have Michele and Matthew Rogers, originally of Philadelphia, PA!
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About the family: Michele has been a fitness professional for 13 years, having worked for large gyms, small gyms, and independently. The pinnacle of her career was making over 20 On Demand Videos for Xfinity in 2011-2012, all of which are still being aired. Currently, she still trains a few clients via Skype. Matthew is a UMSC Veteran, having been honorably discharged in 2007, the year he met Michele. He was trained in air traffic control during his service and subsequently became a professional air traffic controller at the Philadelphia Airport for 8 years before deciding it wasn’t bringing him fulfillment. In 2014, Marcella Mae was born, bringing unknown joy AND unseen challenges to their lives. As a couple who had moved 5 times in a 7-year period and with a desire to possibly live on the West Coast, they sold it all before moving into a Travel Trailer full-time in February 2016.
What got you and your family interested in living this lifestyle? Neither of us had ever even stepped on to an RV until August of 2015. The thought of travelling in an RV was borne from the unwillingness to plane travel with a baby. At first, we thought we’d get a small travel for weekend trips but Matt had been exploring possible business opportunities in the Pacific Northwest. He was so intrigued that I suggested he fly out there to check some of them out if he felt strongly enough they were the right decision. When we got to talking about our dissatisfaction with where we were and what we were doing, we thought….”Why not just take a cross-country trip to that West Coast? If we like it, we can stay.” The more we talked about it, the more the idea of shedding all of our belongings and living a simpler yet more fulfilling life appealed to us. We decided we’d do it, but we didn’t share with anyone until we actually purchased the TT. Even then we didn’t tell close family for another month.
Was getting on the road easy or challenging? Any advice to those just starting out? Oh my goodness, was it challenging? Yes, it was challenging. Nothing about this life is necessarily easy. And truthfully, I’m someone who sees life as a constant set of challenges to overcome. I am a problem solver. Matthew, on the other hand, tends to idealize the future, thinking the next step will be easier than the last. It never has been. He knew there would be challenges to living on the road, but I don’t think he foresaw that they would detract from his overall enjoyment of the experience.
For us, we have a challenging relationship to begin with. Matt suffers from PTSD which was never truly diagnosed (which has dissipated, but not disappeared since we’ve met) and high anxiety. I don’t suffer from anything clinical, but I do come from a family that did not complain, worked hard, and dealt with life’s blows without getting flustered. With that, however, was a lot of yelling and little healthy emoting. My mother has an OCD personality and was an authoritarian parent, whose attempts at controlling me were constantly thwarted by my independent spirit. I see a lot of the patterns I was engaged in with her repeated in my marriage.
We have come a long way, and have gone to counseling many times over the years, but this lifestyle has REALLY tested the fabric of our bond. We knew it would, but it came very close to snapping several times. My advice is, if you have a troublesome marriage to start, expect that it will see its worst days in a full-time travel scenario. I believe even the strongest of marriages would be tested, especially with children. BUT, if you can make it through in tact, there is very little that you could not then tackle together.
What is your favorite and/or least favorite thing about traveling as a family? I love that our little girl gets to spend 100% of her time with her parents and to be taught what it is to be flexible and adaptable. We are overcome with joy watching her grow and change! At the same token, it would be nice to have a babysitter or child care every so often so that we could get a break and some adult time. Not to mention, Matt and I need more time away from each other. I think we would benefit from a little “distance to make the heart grow fonder!”
What are your travel goals? Our goals at first were to head West and stay West. Matt was accepted into an MBA program in San Francisco that would be paid for courtesy the GI Bill. We would also be paid a living stipend. However, about a month ago, in Bend, OR, we both came to the realization that this part of the country was not for us and it wasn’t what we expected it to be. We have since decided to double back towards the East, with the intentions of settling down in the Asheville, NC area. We are well on the way to making that dream a reality!
How many states and/or countries have you visited? We have so far driven through 23 states, but only spent meaningful time in 12 of those. We’ve driven through the last 5 states just over-nighting. We haven’t been out of the country as a family yet, but as a couple we have been to Mexico and Costa Rica.
What has been your favorite and/or least favorite trip, site, experience so far? Eek. That’s a tough one. When we first departed from Philadelphia in February, it was obviously winter. Our first stop was in North Carolina, but we only stayed overnight. We stayed in a truck stop motel because it was too cold and too late at night to trailer anywhere. We had only taken the RV on one trip prior to our major departure! We were true newbies and had a LOT to learn about the rhythm of travelling and living in a trailer towed by a light duty truck! Our next stop was in South Carolina where we stayed for about 4 days. I was convinced that the southern route would prove to be warmer, but we were going through a wicked cold spell. We were freezing. Our trailer isn’t 4 seasons, but it has decent insulation. Thank God for propane! (When you don’t run out of it, that is!) We had several debacles, including the water line freezing and the battery dying, which we shared over on our website.
It was a rough start, to say the least. It seems harder to nail down a favorite experience. After the rough start, everything felt so much better. Florida was warm and familiar. We loved Topsail Hill Park on the panhandle. We were grateful to visit with friends and family along the way. It was so important to have touchstones. I realized after two months of not seeing a familiar face how much I missed my loved ones! So seeing three of my great friends who live in Arizona and California really stands out.
What got you started in blogging? I was blogging for my fitness business a long time ago, and always enjoyed writing. When we decided to sell it all and hit the road, starting a blog seemed the obvious thing to do!
What are your goals for your website? Initially, my goal for Life As We Tow It was to share our experience with our friends and loved ones and possibly provide inspiration for others out there thinking about making a change in their lives. It wasn’t until we bought Info You Should Know that we considered monetizing our travel blog. I did so, but we don’t see enough traffic to make more than a few pennies a day! I haven’t dedicated much time to funneling traffic, but it’s not a high priority.
What is your favorite thing to write about? I suppose if you read my blog, you’d find I’m writing about the activities we do as a family, the places we see, and what I think of them. I also tend to disclose when things are going wrong on our journey, since my mishaps might help others prevent them! Plus, they’re usually pretty humorous. I don’t mind people peaking into my heart, but Matt is far more private, so I have to balance how much I reveal.
Do you have a favorite post, page, or category you have written on your website/blog? My favorite post is probably Less is More. It is my first one so it explains our inspiration and motivation for choosing the full-time RV lifestyle.
Getting a bit more personal: What is your favorite book? Ever? Shoot. Tough one. I could probably pick a different book from several different genres but I find Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now to have been the most life-changing read I’ve come across. It ushered my husband and I onto the path to Enlightenment. We constantly lose our way, but we can always come back to this book (on audio) to inspire us again, and remind us of our true nature. What is your favorite season? It used to be summer! I love being warm and shedding layers! I thought that’s why I would love the mild climate of the West. As it turns out, I have lost my tolerance of extreme heat (I used to lay out in 90 degrees and 75% humidity no problem in my teens). But, there is simply nothing like the smells and colors of autumn leaves, pumpkin pie, and Halloween. I NEED the fall, and that’s part of the reason why we’re headed to the part of the country with the longest display of fall leaves in the country!
What is your favorite food? Is there something you love that you’ve found somewhere but you can’t easily find elsewhere? We used to be foodies. Going out to eat and trying different restaurants or cuisines was where we derived a lot of our enjoyment as a couple. Since my daughter was born, food has become simply fuel. It is rare that I even crave anything anymore, let alone truly enjoy what I’m eating. It’s very strange! (As I’m typing this I asked my husband the same question…he couldn’t answer either!) So, I’ll say this: I have eggs every day. I love my eggs and never tire of them! My favorite though is an omelette, a proper French omelette, with onions, spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Are there any unique favorites/passions you would like to share? I love roses! I love all beautiful flowers and plants so I cannot wait to surround myself with them. We want to start a small homestead when we settle down, and I am terribly excited about growing things while learning to be as self-sufficient as I can!
A special tidbit from Life As We Tow It
I want to pass along to anyone reading this that they should strive to be careful about how strongly they hold on to a belief. Beliefs, decisions, and interests are mutable. We made this decision a year ago not knowing where it would lead us, and now we know it’s time to throw in the towel. We sold EVERYTHING. We have no furniture, no decor, very few tools and kitchen items. The only things we have are in our trailer and then two bins of mementos at my mom’s house. That is how much we committed to this endeavor. We’ll have to start all over again, but it’s ok. We went all in and I believe it’s leading us down the right path in the end, even if it’s not the one we thought we’d take. I still want to be minimalist and have a smaller house than we did before but with more land. Because I’ve learned that’s what’s most important to me. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or missteps (I actually don’t believe there is such a thing). Just listen to that voice deep within you, not the one chattering in your head. Your higher self always knows what to do if you listen to it!