5 Biggest Surprises of Prepping for a Mobile Life

5 Biggest Surprises Of Prepping For A Mobile Life

She-Explores caught up with Kate Sands of Birch & Pine to learn her biggest surprises while renovating a vintage Airstream trailer.

She and her wife, Ellen, and daughter plan to hit the road June 1, 2015.

Photos and text (C) 2015 Kate Sands


Kate Contemplates Her 5 Biggest Surprises

1. The length of time it has taken to extricate ourselves from a ‘normal’ life: house, jobs, possessions.

I suppose you could say we were extremely optimistic…and downright naïve when we first decided to travel (in February of 2014). We began hunting for the perfect mobile house (converted bus or vintage trailer) on Craigslist, began purging our possessions like mad, and finished up house projects so we could put our home up for sale. Yet as the months wore on and each task on our list took much more time to accomplish than we’d hoped, we realized that we’d likely be waiting quite some time before we would be able to take off. We didn’t purchase a tow vehicle until three and a half months later, and a week after that, we found our beloved Airstream, Louise. Our house went on the market a few weeks after.

Even our Airstream renovation has been as slow as molasses: we ended up having to strip out the entire interior and go down to the shell and the chassis to do extensive repair. Only now, nearly eight months after purchasing our sweet hunk of aluminum, are we beginning to build back up with all new materials. It’s been expensive and time-consuming, yet I know when we’re finished we’ll love Louise even more, because of all the literal blood, sweat, and tears (and lots of cursing) that went into making her our home on wheels.

2. The emotional roller coaster that we’ve been on, from excitement and hope to paralyzing fear to acceptance and desire.

To be quite honest, I wasn’t expecting the wide array of emotions that would accompany our decision. Not that I was completely clueless, I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy road, giving up a comfortable, normal life to pack into a tiny trailer and hit the road with our daughter, dog, and cat, but I wasn’t ready for the constant shift in emotion that inevitably follows the varying triumphs and letdowns of preparing for this new way of life. A house showing could spark hope, but hearing crickets following the showings could send me into a feeling of despair and thoughts such as…is this ever going to happen for us? 

There was a period of time where I felt myself grasping for comfort again, and settling back into the house instead of seeing it as only temporary. I feared the life we were working towards, the exposure to this great, wild world and all the things that could go wrong (I’m a terribly anxious person), and found myself gravitating towards normalcy. I snapped out of it only when the same misery that drove us to travel in the first place crept back in, and found myself refueled, reignited, and more passionate about our decision to travel than ever before. I believe that I needed to go through all of this to find myself in a place of not just acceptance, but to have an ache and desire for life on the road that I’d not yet experienced.

3. How much it has united us as a couple, and has already taught us about how our strengths and shortcomings are complimentary. 

When the idea to travel full-time came to me and I texted the notion to my wife, her immediate response was a resounding YES. We were both immediately on board and have made every decision together. We turned date nights into marathon research and Airstream-hunting sessions, and we have both been involved in every aspect of the Airstream renovation. When she can’t come up with a solution to an issue, I’m there with one. I designed the interior, and she helped me draw it to scale.

We were talking the other night about how there’s no one else we’d be able to do this with – we compliment one another completely. We work and travel well together, and we strongly believe in the benefits of truly loving one another, being best friends, and absolute compatibility. We talk through everything and keep lines of communication open, and that is invaluable to this process.

4. How impractical the majority of our possessions really are. 

Simply put, we don’t need much to live. The large scale of our house was just an invitation for clutter, and when we began to shed it, we found ourselves so much happier, able to function with ease, and make way and time for the things we truly love…our little family and creating. With less to distract us indoors, like a television, we can get out and bust ass on the Airstream renovation and get going. 

5. Reactions of family and friends. 

We waited a little while before telling family and friends about our plans to travel. We got a ton of research under our belts and slept on the idea for many nights before we began talking about it. The reactions have been mostly supportive, but we’ve seen the negative too, which was at times, hard to digest. However, some of that negativity has encouraged us to refine the process and find better solutions, and for that we are thankful. It’s helpful to get those perspectives to ensure that we make the transition to a mobile life as seamless as possible, especially as a family with a young child.

Kate Sands is a photographer living in Kentucky.  She and her wife, Ellen Prasse, make up Birch & Pine – an addictively beautiful travel and lifestyle website.  Follow along with their prep on instagram.

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