The Mobile Life

A couple of days ago we were contacted by someone from California who wanted to interview us for a report she was doing on Mobile Living. Because of some rather unscrupulous reporters we normally don’t do interviews, but because of the topic and … well, I really don’t know why, we decided to oblige. So, stay tuned for what comes of that.

The article is also going to feature another family who is mobile who is living in their R.V. You can check them out at Cage Free Family. Reading through their site got me thinking about the mobile life. After going through their story I started to surf other R.V and camper van sites. Some are families – mostly in R.V.’s and some are singles – both male and female, mostly in vans. After reading a bunch of sites on various mobile lives, I realized that there was a pattern in the writing. The first 10 or 15 posts tend to excitedly describe ‘life on the road!’ All the wild times, beautiful sites and close calls that are the draw to this life style. They post almost everyday, describing every little detail ala Kerouac – not realizing their mindless, mundane, monotony is kind of … boring. Then the posts become more sporadic… and less detailed. The trumped up edge seems to be gone and exquisite meals of canned beans on pasta while looking out on an ocean view becomes Ramen noodles (sometimes drained, sometimes not) in a Publix parking lot. Many of them, especially the younger ones have begun to tire of ‘the life.’ I would say by about 6 months in, they seem to hit the wall; a continental divide. Many, if not most, don’t make it all the way over that final hump. They slide back home to their parents or old jobs or just their old local stomping grounds … local hero’s for breaking out, but wounded and broken for not really breaking free. They revel in the recall of their freedom on the road, regaling friends and strangers with stories of their bravery and exploits, preferring to forget the reasons why they quit. A mobile life is not like a fixed life. It requires a different mindset, it operates with a different set of rules, it is … a different game. Some figure it out, some don’t. It’s hard to describe.

Those that do make it over the hump change too. No longer occupied by what they are doing, seeing or feeling they become travelogues – story tellers – seeing, interpreting and reporting on life and humanity. You no longer read about how good life is on the road; they don’t have to say it, you can just feel it in their stories. Posts are somewhat regular but separated by time and by distance. Descriptions are of life patterns – the everyday, with a twist. The swirling emotions of leaving the stability of a fixed address are gone, replaced by the wonders of a way of living that develops with time and experience. They are more or less immune to the shock that the mobile life causes others to feel. Instead they wonder back, in the same way, at those who seem to want to uproot, but don’t.

As I look back over this blog, I see the same trend. Except I never really let go; still with a terrestrial job, a slip we call home and a local mailing address. Yep, we are living the mobile life in a kind of fixed way – a blend of both worlds, but not really part of either. Are we in limbo, a proverbial no-fly-zone, or are we part of a 3rd category? Not sure. All I know is that we ARE truly free from the fixed life in our minds, that is, we think free, just not in our circumstances.

Those that don’t break free; that don’t follow their dreams and what excites them tend to become the sheeple of the world … and there are a lot of them. Somehow proud of having a good job and a nice house, without realizing that the majority of the people around them have good jobs and nice houses too. They’ve drunk the cool-aide. They succomed to the lie that this is what life is supposed to be like: school, college, work, house, family, kids, kids off to college, retire, get sick, die … maybe throw a couple of holidays to Europe or a Cancun cruise in there, but that is the normal North American life. Reminds me of that song:

And did they get you to trade
Your heros for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?

We’re just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found?
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

(P.F. – Wish You Were Here.)

So, if that’s what you want, (what you really, really want) … then go for it. Follow the herd. But, if/when you realize that happiness is less about your state and more about what you are doing, then … Break free from the fear. Break the pattern. Do something!


  • Greg

    I’m of the Pink Floyd mindset as well; at least with regards to my high level of omphaloskepsis. However, I think there are some folks who live the ‘caged’ life happily and you’ve left them out. I think it’s okay for people to have a life in a suburban town that they are happy with and I think a few of them exist. I also don’t think it’s for me, since I tried it. I kept up the lawn, I made the downtown commute, and I cleaned leaves out of my gutters four times a year. Well, maybe I missed a couple of seasons, but that’s because I don’t fit here. I’d much rather be hanging upside down trying to pull a v-drive.

    Sail on!

  • Stephen

    Hey there cousins!!

    nice looking site. Glad to hear you are still having fun and not freezing to death up there ….


  • Forever Fashion

    Most guys really believe that changing the environment will change themselves. That’s why they are willingly start their own mobile life trying to hide from themselves and their problems. But they do not understand that it’s not a way out but just a new experience…
    Thinking in terms of “mobile life” helps to get rid of illusions…

  • Rainbow

    To Greg,
    Fully right that a caged person can also be free. I think the down side of everyone trying to be caged (Get married, have babies, die.) Is that since its all most people know, they can understand nothing outside that. Because my mom went to college, got married, had babies, that’s what I am suppose to do. Perhaps a 6 month adventure living free of whatever is a nice wake up call for some people.
    Still working on my dream of freedom.

  • Joe

    I’ve had some tough times, and I’ve missed the boat, forgive the pun, when it comes to reaching those typical goals society has brainwashed us all to believe are signs of success. I find now that I’m starting my life over again at nearly 40! Clean slate…but the question is, should I struggle once again to build that typical success story, or chart a new path. I’m considering many options, researching alternatives. One thing that is certain, I believe I want to downsize my “expectations” at least materialistically, and focus more on enjoying living.

  • Jack

    Can I hear from anyone, that lives on a boat say, down around east liverpool or wellsville area in ohio. Do you move up and down the river all year, or do you move only in the warm months. If you move, how far do you move. How about down south to Cincinnati.

  • Cliche`

    I can’t wait…
    I caught the bug, I want to liveaboard, and I plan to being in about 14 months. I am currently in the military and stationed in Minot, North Dakota. I have been here for almost 5 years. I was born in Alaska, my dad ran a charter fishing boat for 20 years, and I spent the first 3 years of my life there. I visited when I was older and had the time of my life ocean fishing. Currently I will be going to Korea for 1 year and then Hawaii for at least 2. I plan to buy and live aboard immediately when I get to Hawaii. I just KNOW in my heart of hearts that it is the life for me. I have been reading for a couple weeks now non-stop (2 – 12 hours a day) about sailboats and liveaboards. I get more excited everyday. I have read your entire blog (up until this post) I started with your first post and worked forward…backward… whichever way you want to look at it. Anyways, great site, great advice, and thank you for the inspiration! I have millions of questions, but I will continue my research and if I end up with any unanswered I will ask at a later date!

  • William

    I love finding another person out there with the desire to live the mobile lifestyle! I found you by searching for ways to live cheaply (if not free) in the Bahamas… My partner and I have been looking into many pursuits of the mobile lifestyle, particularly vandwelling and bus conversions, but also things related to international travel like travel-hacking. We're planning a trip to the Bahamas in the near future, and don't want to spend hardly any money at all while we're there (except for food of course). I'm talking like a few hundred bucks at most. But apparently, it's illegal to camp in the Bahamas- they brand you a vagrant, and could very likely deport you, for christ's sake! Do you have any tips or advice for living minimally in the Bahamas? We plan on just going down with our backpacks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

− 2 = 1