Traveling across the country a couple of times gives you perspective. America is made up of individual states and each state has it’s own style and idiosyncrasies. Although there are tons of similarities and people are basically the same whether you are in Washington of Florida, there are lots of differences. As we travel around this big country we have noticed these five things are drastically and can be hard for a full time traveler to deal with. If you are thinking of full timing and want to know what you might encounter, then this blog might help you. Just remember there are tons of things that stay the same (we will go over some of those on another blog post).
1. Shopping in Different Stores
When we lived in our home we had a couple of stores that we shopped in. Our main grocery store was amazing and we would usually run into someone we knew while shopping. We knew where every item was at and it was easy to run in real quick to pick up a single item. After just a few trips shopping at completely different stores we realized, we don’t know where anything is. . . ever! You would think these huge chain stores would be laid out the same from state to state, but it seems a joke has been played on gypsies. Every store is different and finding a single item, or good deals can be difficult. We have a system we use to grocery shop that takes us down every isle. Getting a good deal is top priority and we are very aware of how much items cost. Each store has it’s own ‘loss leaders’ aka good deals and other items are ridiculously priced. Two things will help you future full timers deal with this issue. Number one; buy local produce, which will change depending on where you are. If corn in Wisconsin is a great deal, but melons are expensive then you eat corn while there and wait to eat melon till you are further south. Each area has it’s different inexpensive produce and it is a good Idea to eat the local products. The second trick is to slow down! No more quick rush shopping, but hey isn’t that one of the reasons someone sells most of their worldly possession and hits the road.
2. Going to Different Parks
This one is really great if you have kids. We thought that most playgrounds were built the same and didn’t anticipate the huge variety of playgrounds scattered across the country. We came from the desert and any wooden playgrounds would dry out causing splinters, but where it is humid they build giant wooden castle playgrounds! One playground in Washington had a jungle gym marry go round, difficult to push but so fun for the kids. From old school metal slides and climbing structures to modern electronic play equipment we have seen it all. So make sure you take the time to stop at a random playground occasionally and let the kids loose. Or if you have pets look for dog parks that are a gamete of designs as well. We have seen some that were nice enough to train your pup to win a dog show. And for everyone out there without kids and dogs, don’t worry I am sure you can find a great park to enjoy too. Some have hiking trails, others have beaches to relax on and we have even found a few awesome sculpture gardens to appreciate art in. Best part about these places is that almost all are free to visit!
3. Weather and Climate Constantly Changing
This is both a good and a bad that has to be closely watched. On the good side, when it gets cold you can just start heading south to warmer weather. Of course everyone else on the road is doing the same, so sometimes it can be tricky to find an opening at a campsite. When it gets too hot and everyone heads north the same thing happens in reverse. The main thing to remember is pay attention
to the weather. We knew what the general weather pattern was where we started at, but here on the road it is constantly changing and each area has it’s own seasons. Fire season in Nevada isn’t till July or August, but fire season in Florida is in late March early April. Everywhere in the country has it’s own issues with weather and you can never escape the weather entirely. Just make
sure to avoid extreme wind if at all possible and remember to pull in your awning if it gets windy. Otherwise you might end up one of the people who use a tie down strap to hold it in place as you drive into a service center! (We never leave ours out when we leave after seeing a rain storm destroy another campers awning while they were gone)
4. Road Laws and Systems are Different
One of the hardest parts about the United States is that everywhere has it’s own laws. While I think this is the way it should be, so if a state passes a really bad law everyone can leave and vote with their feet it does make it tough for people who travel around. Our youngest kids were unhappy that we chose to use the strictest car seat law in the country so that we didn’t have to constantly be looking into what each new states’ laws were. It always makes us nervous to make a right turn at a red light because it is legal in some states, though locals always seem to take the turn even at a red where it is illegal. When in doubt we play it safe because we have all the time in the world and we definitely do not want to pay a fine!
5. Your Neighbors are Always Different
Every place that we have visited has
some wild critter that can kill or hospitalize people. In Montana it was bears, in Washington it was cougars, in Arizona it was rattlesnakes, and of course in Florida it was alligators. Yes there is something wild that can harm you anywhere you go, but don’t panic because some simple common sense is all you need to survive. We use it as a teachable moment for our kids and at each new place we visit we learn about these wild animals and how to be safe. Don’t swim with the gators in Florida and carry a stick while hiking in a group for the cougars in Washington and you will be fine. Now the humans are a different story all together because they can be nice, normal people or crazy psycho’s in any place and it is hard to tell right away. We have rolled into a camp and thought, ‘this place is peaceful and quite’ only to have loud music, fan-boats and yelling at 2 am. We travel often and for a few days I can put up with almost anything for a week. When the neighbors are bad it isn’t as hard as when they are great people. It’s easy to hit the road and switch camps when the neighbors are bad, but when we meet someone we really like it can be hard to pack up camp and hit the road. Luckily for us there are great people everywhere in this country and we are bound to continue to meet them on the road!
Well there are five things that constantly change while you are traveling. I bet you thought that change would be a bad thing if you are new to the road, but most these things are actually good. That is something everyone on the road for full timing learn, change isn’t good or bad it just is. So embrace change and live life to the fullest because no one is going to live it for you. Remember that if you full time, your surroundings can be changed when ever you want. Just get in your ride and head out to the unknown!