We've been hard at work, people. Gearing up for 2017 and another fantastic year of travel. If it feels like Maude has been continuously undergoing months of Class C RV remodel work, well that's because she has. Between cushion reupholstering and solar setup, there have been projects in pending-mode for quite some time.
However, the good news is, by the end of this month, all of our huge, looming projects will be complete. (Sigh of relief) I can't really believe we're saying that, because it has felt like things have been up-in-the-air since we started. We're absolutely looking forward to the day when everything is running smoothly, and our small RV looks like a new woman.
In the meantime, however....here are a few photo updates of everything that's been happening in the past few weeks.
Stay tuned for some more updates as we wrap up these projects and get back on the road!
Oftentimes we're asked on the road, "so, how do you guys make money to perpetuate your travels?" I'll be honest, sometimes people ask that question and it's really condescending. It's almost as if they assume we were given trust funds as teenagers and just live life in pure bliss all the time. Reality = we work. Just like everybody else. Okay, maybe not exactly like everybody else. We don't spend all day in an office, or behind a desk. We did, at one point. Which is what prompted us to get the heck outta dodge in our RV. We weren't being fulfilled with 9-5 desk jobs. Vanessa and I crave experience, adventure, and change. That's why we pick up odd jobs while we travel full-time in our RV.
But also as a writer by trade, I'm able to pick up freelance work on the road. Writing for different companies along the way has allowed me to feel fulfilled, but also continue to travel as much as we do. One of the freelance gigs that I absolutely love, is with the stationery and invitation company, Polka Dot Design. I've officially worked with them for over a year, coming up with clever content, SEO-friendly landing pages, and working on their blog articles. Truthfully, the company is amazing, and Phillip Vanarsdel is the type of guy most people wish to have as a idea generator and email companion.
Check out the guest post I recently did for Polka Dot Design, and see for yourselves why this company is so great.
Meet One of the Writers from Polka Dot Design: Marisa Roman
"You don't need a degree in economics to see that wages are too low and rents too high"
—Barbara Ehrenreich Nickel and Dimed
I recently finished the book Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, and boy, was it a doozy. Vanessa had picked up a copy sometime last year and did her own perusing through, yet it took me a while to come around and read it. However, I really can't tell you how glad I am that I did, because everything about this read was enlightening from start to finish.
Think of it as class undercover reportage at it's finest. Ehrenreich decided to join the millions of Americans who work full-time for poverty-level wages, and see how they prosper, or better yet, simply get by, on $6-7 per hour. Ehrenreich made her way through four different spots: Minnesota, Portland, Maine, and the Florida Keys. She immersed herself into this life of trying to make it work on minimum wage. This means she needed to find lodging—usually an efficiency, a motel, or a low-income housing development. She survived on fast-food mostly, as that was all she could afford. Plus, she found jobs (despite having a PhD, mind you) for the working wage norm (only at most receiving around $7-8 an hour). What Ehrenreich proved through this investigative journalism is that trying to make it work in society on poverty-levels wages, were barely possible. God forbid any emergencies pop up, you're in the hole. As Ehrenreich astutely observes, "you don't need a degree in economics to see that wages are too low and rents too high".
The book was written many, many years ago, so things have since changed, ie: minimum wage has increased since. However, I will recommend this book to anyone willing to glimpse into the life of a minimum-wage worker, the struggles they face, and the little help they receive.
Cheap living has been a choice that Vanessa and I have made in order to reduce the amount of hours we worked in order to pay for things we really didn't need. But this book aided in a quick reminder that not everyone has that choice to make. That when we consider it cheap living, some might consider it poor living, or just barely getting by. We're lucky to be in a position that we're able to whittle down our belongings and necessities, however, for some, that's all they can afford.
We haven't had the most glamorous of jobs either throughout the last year of our RV living. I remember an instance in Austin, Texas when we were working the Formula One event. Vanessa and I were assigned to the Owner's Box, where a lot of high profile folks found solace from the rest of society by watching the race front and center in a separate box, fixed with an open bar and free food flowing. You needed an invitation to the Owner's Box, but also needed to pay quite a bit of money for tickets. Besides the fact Vanessa and I were treated like help from the very beginning, it was amazing to me how worthless we felt afterwards, because these people simply had a bit more governmental manufacturer paper in their bank accounts. Worthless enough that some guests (male included!!), during the rainstorm, would want us to walk them to their awaiting golf carts with an umbrella so that they didn't get wet. But us? Well, that was our job, right? To get wet. To sacrifice for the betterment of the wealthy. Ehrenreich said it best when she wrote, "if you're made to feel unworthy enough, you may come to think that what you're paid is what you are actually worth".
However, probably the most disappointing event from that entire weekend was when the storm was raging, winds gusting, blowing over tents, umbrellas, fixtures from the race, and a father and his son (around 8-years-old) come running up to our tent from the grandstands. They had gotten caught in the storm, soaking wet head-to-toe, with only a sheer, $0.99 poncho covering their bodies and backpacks. At the entrance, the father explained this was his son's first Formula One, and could we believe this weather? He then proceeded to ask if they could be let inside the tent, the only shelter from rain and lightning that could be found, without having to walk a mile around the track to the main grand stand, in order to dry off and let his son rest. Simply put, they turned them away. Despite the fact not half the number of people had shown up for the Owner's Box and we had more than enough towels, Moet, and canapes to go around. But this waterlogged pair just didn't quite have enough money to stand under the tent and dry off. After all, "it was an exclusive event". The pair was sent back in the rain and I watched as the father pulled his son close, protecting him from the inclement weather, but possibly feeling like a failure as a father because he didn't have "enough" to keep his son dry.
Something just didn't sit well with me after that. And it wasn't until I read Ehrenreich's excerpt where she is detailing how all of her upper-middle-class friends had hired themselves help, and the reason why she herself, never had. Ehrenreich said that hiring help was "just not the kind of relationship I want to have with another human being". My sentiments exactly.
I recommend Nickel and Dimed to everyone. It's not a tedious or long read, and I think it will be enlightening to all in some way or another. You can snag a copy by clicking on the image below.
Or simply send me your address via email and I'll send you my copy. Don't forget to let me know your thoughts after reading!
Our second article is officially published in Suncoast Pet Magazine, and boy, does it feel good. One of the highlights for us on the road is being able to give back to the community in some shape or form. By writing for Suncoast Pet, Vanessa and I have the opportunity to travel to different pet rescues and shelters throughout the country and feature ones that we think deserve more recognition. This is important for a few reasons:
1. Maybe these pet groups aren't getting enough attention or resources to help animals properly.
2. Sharing each rescue or shelters' unique ways in raising funds might inspire other shelters throughout the country to do the same.
3. Bringing awareness to a certain group and recognizing their efforts might be the motivating force they need to keep making a difference in the pet community.
I could go on. Alas, it's a rewarding way for us to be involved in the pet community on the road as much as we were at home.
In this issue, Vanessa and I traveled down to Everglades Outpost, a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center. We stumbled upon the Outpost last year after rescuing a turtle from the middle of the street and needing to find it a safe place to come out of its shell. We loved the facility and how they cared for the animals so much, that we decided to feature them in the January/February issue.
You can read the article in entirety here at Suncoast Pet Online. Or simply subscribe to the magazine and receive a hard copy in the mail six times a year. That way you'll have a little piece of The Roamans right in your own home :)
Happy tails and happy trails!
I came across an article recently on Buzzfeed that got me a bit upset. Normally Buzzfeed doesn't irk me the way say, Gawker might. But I wanted to open up a discussion with fellow travel bloggers to see how they felt about the article and what their take on it was.
To start, the article is: This Couple Quit Their Jobs To Travel And Now Scrub Toilets To Get By
It has over 2 million views, which is wonderful for the couple, but not so wonderful for the message it's conveying.
The article, which features travel writers Chanel Cartell and Stevo Dirnberger, explains that social media hides the reality of their travels. They began by quitting their 9-5 advertising jobs in search of adventure and happiness. Their mission was to see how far they could get from home, thus their aptly titled blog: How Far from Home.
But they don't spin a tale of inspiration and hope for people that haven't yet made the brave jump from conventional to non-conventional living. They realized very quickly that their social media posts and their realities weren't aligned. While they snapped photographs doing yoga on the beach, or cliff-diving into a bright blue ocean, they realized that the "behind-the-scenes" aspect of their adventure wasn't quite telling the actual tale of their adventure.
Cartell wrote when they aren’t taking pretty pictures, they are doing “painstakingly hard and dirty work.” This "painstakingly hard and dirty work" includes scrubbing toilets, polishing wine glasses, and shoveling rocks. What some may call their actual day jobs, mind you.
Another passage from the article entails the sadness that is not being able to buy beer or sweets (necessities?) while enjoying time in Norway. It reads, "Whilst visits to town with our new friends in Norway meant buying beer and bags of candy for them, we’ve been forced to purchase floss (because you only get one set of pearlers, right?) and nothing else".
And finally, the bit that upset me the most was in regards to their physical health. Cartell wrote, "I am not at my fittest, slimmest or physically healthiest. We eat jam on crackers most days, get roughly 5hrs of sleep per night."
First, I just have to start with saying that your physical health is completely within your control. You make a choice every day if you want to exercise or not. Doing squats, lunges, going hiking, jogging, swimming -- all within your control wherever you are in the world. I don't think it's fair to blame this lifestyle on why you aren't in shape. The one thing you probably have way more of than when you worked in advertising is TIME. Time to get in shape. Time to work on your fitness. Time to focus on your health.
I do appreciate what they are trying to do in showing the not-so-glamorous side of being a travel blogger, or a nomad. But it seems there is a less self-indulgent way of doing so. You gave up a certain lifestyle in order to TRAVEL THE WORLD. Not something many people can actually do. So don't say that you have to now polish glassware and scrub toilets and it's hard. Your reward is TRAVELLING THE WORLD. You know what the reward is for people who polish wine glasses and scrub toilets on a daily basis is? Minimum wage.
Alas, Vanessa and I aren't by any means "well off". We have to pick up jobs here and there to make some extra money for you know, gas and food (necessities). But it's also rewarding to find these jobs. Not only have we learned humility (Formula 1 being soaking wet and working for 12-13 hours straight), but we also have learned -- period. We take every experience as a learning experience and are forever grateful to be able to be happy living in an RV and traveling as much as we do.
Do Cartell and Dirnberger say that it's all worth it? Of course. They wouldn't trade their experiences in for anything. But they also stressed to Buzzfeed that part of the intention behind their journey was "to stay ‘uncomfortable’ and aim for challenges that would push us outside of our comfort zone, thereby inspiring us creatively."
To me, it sounds like not making your health a priority, eating jam and crackers instead of oh, I don't know, apples, bananas, or vegetables, and sleeping less than 5 hours a night will indeed make someone VERY uncomfortable. So congratulations, you did indeed succeed there.
I don't want to come across hating on their experience, because as I've said before everyone has their own journey and path. I am just not a fan of how this couple depicted travel or the lifestyle some of us are extremely proud of, in their article. I don't think it adequately represents those of us who are "nomadically responsible". Vanessa and I make sure that we incorporate as many fruits and vegetables into our diet as we can. We cut back on unhealthy foods and stick to very inexpensive ones like lentils, beans, brown rice, quinoa, and couscous. We exercise as much as we can -- hiking, jumping rope, running, walking, yoga, or just doing a lap in a Walmart parking lot. We also sleep enough to fulfill our bodies and our spirits so that we can continue to function at peak performance.
Everyone's different, I know. And there certainly is a lackluster behind-the-scenes sometimes when we travel. But such is life. We don't want pity, or attention, or to indulge ourselves. Our social media posts and photos are beautiful because WE SEE BEAUTY EVERY DAY IN OUR TRAVELS. It's not a farce. It's not a lie. It's not showcasing only the good. Because we also show you when our cabinet full of dishes shatters to the floor.
We want our truth to be told from the very beginning. Because this is the couple that quit their jobs to travel and now are the happiest they've ever been, despite the difficulties--The Roamans.
What do you guys think of the article? Am I being too harsh? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
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