The nomad life felt like a natural fit for Maya and Ryan. Back when they started, full-time RVing with relatives just wasn’t on their radar. With a few years of travel under their wheels, things were rolling right along in a small Class C RV as they explored the U.S. and discovered ways to support their lifestyle. But when Maya’s mother’s health declined in 2017, everything changed for these minimalist lifestyle advocates. Today, the trio is traveling together and giving Maya’s mom a lifestyle that’s the envy of many home-bound seniors.
The Unexpected Joy of Full-time RVing with Relatives
Two years ago, Maya and her mother lived on opposite ends of the country. Maya and Ryan roamed the west in their car-free RV lifestyle, and Joan enjoyed a quiet life in her remote cabin perched in New York’s Catskill Mountains. The property was Joan’s retirement dream. “It was quiet and filled only with the noises of the animals like bears, deer, doves, squirrels, chipmunks,” Joan explains. “It was the home that I retired to and I loved it very much. But I was told that I couldn’t live alone any more due to my health.”
Joan’s diligent daughter Maya visited and helped with her mother’s health challenges. But she needed a permanent solution. Joan would have to move closer to the family. Convincing her mother to switch lifestyles didn’t happen overnight, says Maya. The simple living evangelist and creator of The Gradual Minimalist lifestyle movement was forced to initiate long, challenging conversations with her mother about the benefits of downsizing and living closer to West Coast relatives.
Off to California (and Beyond)
At one point Maya asked her mother “If you could travel anywhere on this continent, where would you want to go?” The answer: to finally meet her young grandchildren in California. Maya agreed the trip would be a good idea, but Joan would have to let go of her retirement property, become a Californian and live with her son. The idea wasn’t exactly met with enthusiasm.
“We also had conversations about how much stuff do you actually need? We talked about valuing people over things. Eventually she got to the point where she was willing to move out,” said Maya. Gradually, Joan downsized her life over the next few months. Soon she was ready to travel and move in permanently with her son in Northern California. The trio, along with three cats and a dog, began an unforgettable cross-country journey in Maya and Ryan’s small Class C Leprechaun RV. Joan describes that first RV home as “terrifyingly small.”
“I was unsure of how I would be able to adjust to it but after a little while on the road, it became easier,” explained Joan. Traveling from coast-to-coast introduced her to an unconventional lifestyle that she hadn’t ever considered. From Lake Erie in New York to the Oregon coast, the traveling family enjoyed an unforgettable adventure.
“My most favorite stop of all was the Wildlife Animal Safari Park, where Maya and I petted a baby leopard and other wonderful animals. The drive along the Oregon and California coastline, on our way to South San Francisco, was also magnificent. All in all, I am very happy that I saw such wonderful towns, cities and waters along the route,” says Joan.
They arrived in Northern California and as planned, Joan moved in with her son. But the genie was out of the bottle. Joan was so much happier when she was traveling. A few months later, Maya and Ryan agreed that Joan should live with them – but definitely not in their Leprechaun. “It’s a 150 square-foot studio apartment on wheels,” wrote Maya in her blog. “It worked for a month while we took her on a trip. But it was starting to wear thin towards the end; therefore it’s a shortcut to driving us all insane if we tried to live in it.”
Reversing Minimalism for the Greater Good
The path to sanity appeared in the form of a two bedroom, 1.5 bath fifth wheel RV. A better description would be the RV with a mother-in-law apartment unit. It was bigger and a totally different way of RV living from Maya and Ryan’s smaller RV. But the rig was a no-brainer with mom along for the ride. It’s a much larger rig than they ever imagined for themselves. But the size gives everyone on board enough space and privacy, whether they’re traveling to a destination or staying parked in a monthly spot. “I am never alone but I still have lots of privacy,” says Joan.
For most people, the thought of full-time RVing with a parent is inconceivable. But these two minimalists are definitely not most people. Free of the anxiety Maya felt when leaving her mother in a place where she had little contact with the outside world, the couple now enjoys the dramatic change in her lifestyle and theirs. Maya wouldn’t have it any other way. “This is my mom. She did all of the raising,” she writes in her blog. “I owe her one, and she needs me now.”
Joan, meanwhile, relishes every new experience that the lifestyle has given her. Adapting to it took time, but overall she says she’s loving it now. “I realized how much freedom there is in an RV life,” she says. “You can set your own schedule to suit yourself, you don’t have to rush anywhere (except for medical appointments) and you can see what you’d like to. Most importantly, though, what made it easier was having the loving company and care of both Maya and Ryan. They are deeply concerned with my well-being, for which I am very grateful.”
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.
Joan Lalosh says
Thanks for the great story, Renee.
Thanks, Rene! See you next time on the road.
TONI KNUDSON says
Great story, Rene! Great writing. It would make a wonderful TV reality show. Hmmmmm
Wes Hargreaves says
Great story….Thankyou for your commitment to others…very un selfish….just imagine how the world would be if more had your attitude !…We are just about to retire and start our full time RV life in a large fifth wheel really….really looking forward to the adventure…Take care….Blessings…Wes
Peter & Judy Sauer says
Great Story and I hope mine turns out just like that. We now live in a apartment, 1 parking spot, with one car and one class A for sale and one Class B+ which is new to us. My new in house doctor is my wife and we have to get along or I’m in big trouble. The worst part about being old is ones health, mine is in the pits right now, Diabetes, “GP is not happy with my A1C though I keep trying every month to get it down for him, then I picked up ulcer in a bad place and was told be wound doctor that I cannot sit on regular seating and to buy or rent a Roho Pillow, wow this pillow removes the Pain instantly. The other problem is I cannot lay on my side long due to have a Subcontaineous Bruise in each of my two legs from the hip to the toes which causes a lot of pain when I try to sleep. I have found the best way to sleep is to sit up or raise my head slightly, then raise my feet up to lay out on the stool. I can do it this way for about 4 hours then I pop awake and that is it for the night, grab my Roho Pillow and go watch something I have taped, or read one of the many books I have to read before passing along. All I can tell you is don’t fall as it hurts like heck for a very long time. GP said in a off chance way they take up to two years to heal and I said I may be gone by then. Looks like were getting a new recliner that will do all the things I need to sleep.
I would suggest reading “Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution” and “Atkins Diabetes Revolution: The Groundbreaking Approach to Preventing and Controlling Type 2 Diabetes by Robert C. Atkins M.D. | Mar 17, 2009” and look at Factor 75 and other low carbohydrate home meals. I brought my A1c under control by following their advice rather then the American Diabetes Association advice. It is hard so do it slow. However, the true answer to a sugar metabolism disease is to avoid eating sugars and carbohydrates (that the stomach is amazingly efficient at converting into diabetes). It is very similar to how an alcolholic can only be happy by avoiding all alcohol. Again, this was very hard and took me about 5 years. But it worked for me.
An acquaintance said that to make a similar strategy work for him, his GP gave him home administerd shots that contained a substance that killed his appetite so that he could adapt to the very low carbohydrate diet.
Walk in His Peace,
Wow, David you are 100% correct. Following Dr’s & dietician’s orders will not be enough to control diabetes. Their diets are so heavy on carbs and always you need extra insulin which makes you hungrier and it’s a vicious cycle. I don’t know how you can get off meds and do a drastic diet change by yourself, however. I am a nurse for 42 years, diabetes can be controlled, and it’s a painful slow death to not control it.
Sadly, some of us did not grow up with loving parents.
True unconditional Love conquers all. That is the Love God has for us and we just have to pass it on to those around us. It happens, if we follow and recognize the love Jesus has for us, that we are able to love others. This Love is contrary to the worldly kind of love and is really no love at all.