Why We Sold Our Home to Live on a Bus and Travel Full-Time
by Grant & Jana Gamble
At any other point in time, the decision to sell our home and move into an RV to travel the U.S. full-time with two teenagers and three dogs might be quite ridiculous. But in these unfathomably complex and turbulent times, upending the status quo seems almost logical.
Some people asked if we were taking unnecessary risks by traveling during COVID-19 and we’re sure it’s a question on many people’s minds even if they don’t vocalize it. We have given this a lot of consideration and sought expert opinions from qualified people we trust while making this decision. Click here to read “How We Stay Safe & Healthy While Traveling Full-Time during COVID-19.”
We saw a perfect once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make lemonade out of the COVID-19 lemons that were thrown at us over the course of 2020.
As we slowly unveiled our plans to friends and family, we somewhat surprisingly received resounding endorsements of this seemingly nonsensical move.
We had just spent six months working around the clock writing and designing Grant’s best-selling book, “The Affinity Principle,” but COVID put his speaking and coaching engagements on hold. Jack and Stellie are in virtual school, we are consulting virtually and whether we are hunkered down in one spot or roaming the great expanses of the U.S. makes little difference. Jack and Stellie were not exactly thriving under the COVID-19 restrictions and in the virtual school setting, and we saw a perfect once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make lemonade out of the COVID-19 lemons that were thrown at us over the course of 2020.
We listed and sold our home ourselves, sans brokers or conventional means and got the asking price within a couple of weeks. We purchased a well-worn, 40-foot, 15-ton RV with all kinds of character (aka leaks), named her “Thelma,” and became members of the diesel pushers brigade. And if you don’t know what a diesel pusher is, neither did we.
Thelma’s previous owner was a couple in their 80’s who traveled around singing gospel music at baptist churches across the south, so we figured there was some good mojo attached to this well-worn bus.
Over the next couple of months, we stripped Thelma down and began rejuvenating her. Lots of dated decor and neglect was replaced with bright colors and personal touches. Jana and Stellie decided to turn Thelma’s monochromatic (the thing couldn’t be more beige!!) “vintage charm” into more of a colorful hippie vibe. With a bit of Jack’s help, Grant nurtured the well-worn chassis, electrical and plumbing systems back into a highway-ready state with some much needed sweat and grease. You can see a video of Thelma below.
We knew that we were taking a big gamble, no pun intended, by going from a 3,000 square foot home to a 300 square foot bus with two teenagers and three large dogs. Under normal circumstances, we would never propose such a thing to Jack and Stellie. After all, uprooting their stability is the last thing on our parenting to-do list. Jana moved to the U.S. from the Czech Republic when she was 13, so she has first-hand experience of the havoc such a big change can have on a kid at that age. But their stability was already uprooted, the isolation was starting to take a toll and if you are a parent, you know that it is absolutely crushing to watch on helplessly while your kids suffer.
Their stability was already uprooted, the isolation was starting to take a toll and if you are a parent, you know that it is absolutely crushing to watch on helplessly while your kids suffer.
We have always loved to travel and have done so since Jack and Stellie were babies. We also really enjoy spending time together as a family. Jack and Stellie get along so well, they are best friends. So, after the idea popped itself into Jana’s head one afternoon, we sat down as a family and went through it piece by piece. Surprisingly, everyone was open to it and together, we determined that the biggest complexity was going to be our dogs. They had lived on our 5-acre property their whole lives and weren’t even leash trained, nevermind socialized with other dogs.
Regardless of any of the challenges the more we thought about it, the more compelling the idea seemed. We especially loved the thought of downsizing and getting rid of a bunch of stuff.
We also loved the idea of exposing Jack and Stellie to the “tiny house on wheels” mimimalist lifestyle. The overabundance we’re all surrounded by can lead to a lack of appreciation for things and a sense of entitlement. We did not want them to lose perspective on what is important.
We want for Jack and Stellie to experience that just because their space is small and the amount of things they’re surrounded by is limited, their happiness and joy won’t diminish and they won’t feel a sense of lack. In other words, material things don’t equal happiness. It’s all about what we’re used to and our ability to adapt is incredible. The things we truly need to be happy aren’t things at all. They are family, purpose and community.
We loved the idea of exposing Jack and Stellie to the “tiny house on wheels” mimimalist lifestyle.
We also want Jack and Stellie to see different communities in different parts of the country to help them see themselves in a larger context and to divine who they are and who they want to be. We hoped that these experiences would provide them with a strong sense of not just independence, but also Self.
Jack and Stellie are already very socially aware young people, but we want the constant exposure to different communities to reinforce the fact that regardless of people’s differences, be they political or otherwise, we are all fundamentally good people, looking for similar things from life. Just because someone’s idealogical beliefs are different from ours, we should not assume that they are a bad person. Our belief systems are a result of our experiences and as long as there is no malice or hate, we need to respect that and see others through a compassionate lens, even if we don’t completely agree with them on some points.
We also saw an opportunity to get Jack and Stellie outside, see the beautiful places this country has to offer and deepen their love of Nature.
Most parents would agree that one of the biggest challenges of parenting today is the amount of screen time kids are exposed to on a daily basis. This is such a complex issue that we could discuss it for days. In full-time travel on a bus, we saw an opportunity to present our kids with alternatives. Instead of being stuck at home in a monochromatic setting with little else to entertain them but electronic devices, suddenly they have daily opportunities to get out and experience Nature and see new places.
The hope is that over time, the joy and connection they feel from going outside will make them think twice before plugging back in for extended periods of time. We all know that restrictions don’t really work. You whack a mole only for it to pop out of another hole. The only way to create lasting lifestyle changes are by encouraging the kids to buy into the change themselves. If something is going to really change, it has to be their choice. All we can do is present them with opportunities that broaden their perspective and encourage them to make healthy choices for themselves.
Most parents would agree that one of the biggest challenges of parenting today is the amount of screen time kids are exposed to on a daily basis.
In today’s world, it is really easy to get stuck on the treadmill going nowhere. Our society has been programmed to go to college, work 9-5 and achieve as high of a title as possible, get married, buy a house, have kids, save for retirement, and so on. It’s “more, more, more, now, now, now.”
We become so focused on these things that often times we spend more time overwhelmed and stressed out than joyful and at peace. We sometimes lose sight of what’s really important and we forget about ourselves.
We believe that it’s important for Jack and Stellie to understand that cultural and societal constructs are just that: constructs. We want them to make their life choices based on what will make them happy, not based on what society or others may expect of them.
Most important of all, we hope that this adventure paves the way for that.
Travel with us:
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We made trips to get water, fuel and provisions, but apart from that we had to stay on the boat. We passed the time snorkeling (saw a giant moray eel!) and inventing new water sports.
Once we received our exit paperwork, we were finally free to leave for Fiji.