Nine years of full-time travel lessons-learned have shown me there’s an incredible and interesting diversity of people in this great nation. From Florida to Washington State and everywhere in-between, Americans just can’t be pigeonholed into a single definition and that’s one reason why life as a full-time RVer is always exciting to me.
As much as I want to explore other countries and cultures some day, it won’t happen anytime soon because I’m still learning so much from my fellow citizens. Here are some important travel lessons I’ve learned from neighborly Americans we’ve encountered since 2007.
An Open Mind and Heart Brings Great Adventures
As kids we are taught to avoid strangers, which is usually a good thing, of course. Sadly, that attitude can backfire in our adult lives. Mass media reinforces our avoidance and fear by spotlighting horrible stories, which lead us to believe that everyone we don’t know is a potential psychopath killer. What a tragedy, because I think it puts limits on our grown-up adventures.
For example, one time Jim and I almost missed out on a great adventure when we stayed at a crawfish farmer’s property in southwest Louisiana.
The Cajun RV park owner/farmer had just four full-hookup RV sites on his property. He advertised his lots as a RV park, but in reality it was just four parking spaces in a grassy field next to his home. We didn’t mind the sparse accommodations at all, but when the Cajun invited us to take a tour of his crawfish farming operation, we hesitated.
“Get into a car with a stranger – in the country?” we thought to ourselves. Saying yes was the total antithesis of our old life, where every stranger was insane until proven otherwise. Thankfully something compelled us to accept his kind offer and the crawfish farming tour he gave us turned out to be one of the most memorable outings in the last nine years.
Outward Appearances Don’t Mean a Thing
Human beings are creatures of habit drawn to others with similar characteristics. When you live in one spot and your neighbors and scenery stays the same, it’s easy to make snap judgements about places and people who look and act different from you. I believe our assumptions can keep us from growing and learning.
When Jim and I became full-timers we traveled America’s back roads on purpose in order to get exposed to people from many different backgrounds. Today, we try hard not to base our opinion of places and people on first impressions.
For instance, every year we remind ourselves of the importance of being non-judgmental by visiting Slab City in Southern California. Unlike most RVers who visit the Slabs for 15 minutes then quickly leave after their first impression, we immerse ourselves in the heart of the community for at least a week, usually a month.
Why? Because a visit to the Slabs is a great reminder that when you look beyond first impressions at the Slabs, you’ll usually find kind-hearted acts of humanity that restore your faith in the human race. We’ve seen it happen repeatedly there and at some of the most impoverished places in America.
Travel Lessons Learned Help Us Grow
Nothing is for sure in this world except change. Just like the wheels that keep our full-time RVing adventures turning, the circle of travel lessons learned from locals keeps Jim and I on our toes. Every new encounter reminds us that strangers and unpredictable adventures play an important role in our growth as human beings. I can only speak for myself, but learning and growing is high on my list of priorities because I never want to become a crotchety, stale, irrelevant old person – how about you?Research Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
Try the RV LIFE Pro Bundle FREE for 7 days
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.