The recent news story of van lifer Gabby Petito definitely has a lot of us in the Nomad & RV Life Community both grieved and stunned. And I want to share some thoughts on why this scenario could play out again. Plus ways it can be prevented.
About 5 months ago we put out a video we called “4 Things Nobody is Saying About RV Living.” This vlog continues to be one of our most viewed videos. The situation with Brian and Gabby is EXACTLY why we made this video. And in light of the current circumstances, we really felt we wanted to make sure this message is put out there….again.
Quick disclaimer – I am NOT a counselor and our videos and blogs are INFORMATIONAL only. We ALWAYS encourage you to do your own research before making any decisions and get professional help and advice when making a major life decision.
What You See On Social Is Fake
RV Life, Van Life, Boat Life, whatever kind of nomadic life you see looks amazing on Instagram. But the “real” part of a nomadic lifestyle is behind the screen, behind the “closed doors” and edited out.
Now I will get to why this is a little later, but let me start off by saying one of my favorite sayings and that is “wherever you go, there YOU are.” Now let me break down what I mean here. You carry you with you. With all of your baggage, all of your hurts, wounds, emotions, etc. Moving into a van or RV does not fix or take away any of the brokenness.
In fact, a nomadic lifestyle can actually make those things worse……
Why RV Life Isn’t Easier
Living a life on the road brings many more complications that you do not have in a “sticks and bricks” living situation. Daily activities like hot showers, having a campground or campsite for the night (a place to stay), dumping sewage, and the list goes on. These are all very regular and “normal” circumstances in a nomadic lifestyle. These are not normally a concern in a stationary lifestyle. In other words, Nomadic Life can be more stress-FULL vs. stress-free. Yes, you might not have to worry about utility bills or rent while on the road. But realize you trade one set of life stressors for a different set of life stressors. And then add vehicle or RV repairs to the mix which are a pretty regular occurrence if live this lifestyle.
Being in tight quarters and having more daily stressors can exacerbate any existing relationship dysfunctions. Getting away from it all doesn’t work. Because you take you with you.
Nowhere To Go
The other dynamic is it’s much harder to find separation if you are living in a van or RV. Going to sleep on the couch instead of in the bedroom doesn’t put much distance between you (if any). And worse yet, when you have only 1 form of transportation it’s a little hard for the other person to have a way of “escape” if they feel unsafe. Especially in a boon-docking or dispersed camping situation.
If you do not have a healthy relationship in a stationary lifestyle, hitting the road together isn’t going to fix the relationship. You do not magically adopt a different way of thinking or problem-solving just because you bought a van or RV and embarked on a road trip.
Don’t Compare Your Everyday To A Highlight Reel
All social media is mostly filtered and edited. You rarely see what goes on behind the screen….
Scrolling through the highlight reel of other’s adventures can start to make you feel like you are missing out. It’s easy to start feeling something is wrong with you! Since your life isn’t always as happy and charming as what you see in your feed. You have to remember it’s a very small snippet and doesn’t at ALL depict true day-to-day life.
Now don’t get me wrong there are those amazing moments when you wake up to breathtaking views and experience that sense of awe when at the ocean. But that’s exactly what they are. Moments of time. And then you come back to the reality of real life on the road. It’s still life – just a different way of living. A life with its own set of problems.
Evaluate Before You Decide on RV Living
Before you decide to jump on the road with your partner, maybe invest in a trip to a therapist or counselor. It’s always a great idea to evaluate if your relationship is in a place where nomadic life is a good idea. And it might just save a life.
We Were Emotionally Unintelligent
I can tell you right now if we had started RV Life in the early years of our marriage, we would probably have ended up divorced. We were two, young, emotionally unintelligent people and travel was not good for us. I explain more about this in the video we did 5 months ago if you’re interested in more of the story.
Read good personal development books, and get some mentors around you who can help you navigate the hard things. Good mentors can help you see those blind spots and throw up red flags when they see something amiss. That is the whole point of a “blind spot” when driving – you can not see what is there. Having a good mentor in your life can help to remove these blind spots in your life and in your relationships.
RV Life And Van Life Can Be Isolating
Living a nomadic lifestyle can be isolating. It’s a good idea to keep open communication with close friends, mentors, and family who can step in and help if and when needed. Finding a few other people to caravan travel with can be a great way to keep in the community and have others around you.
Most importantly get help if you feel unsafe. You can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or text the word “Start” to 88788 to get help.