Caregiver Adventures · Van Life

Why I’m Glad I Didn’t Wait For The Perfect Time To Go Nomad

Waiting for the perfect time to make a change in our lives is something many (if not all) of us do.

Naturally, we need to plan and be sensible about the choices we make but obsessing over or waiting for perfect conditions before making a life change can halt us in our tracks.

In this post I’ll share a bit more of my story and why I’m glad I didn’t wait for the so-called perfect time to go nomad.

Hopefully this will inspired you to keep moving forward towards your dreams – no matter what life throws your way!

Planning The Perfect Time To Go Nomad…

Flashback 7 years ago… to the year 2012… or thereabouts…

As a perfectionist, I took great pains to come up with an amazing plan that would create the perfect conditions for me to hit the road and go nomad.

The way I saw it, I couldn’t hit the road until I completed every item on my list.

There are many details that go along with each item but the very basics of my Go Nomad plan were:

  • Decide on and obtain my home on wheels or use my current van (at the time I had a 2004 Ford Econoline).
  • Get some camping experience in (I had never camped – ever!).
  • Take some extended trips (I had never driven more than a few hours from home – ever!).
  • When I turned 55 (in September 2018) I would quit work, take my pension and hit the road full-time.
  • My pension would only cover the basics but I wanted to do more than the basics. So, I also needed to figure out how to earn additional income while living on the road.

I obsessed relentlessly about finding the perfect home on wheels.

Newsflash: There is NO perfect home on wheels! They all have their pros-and-cons.

I eventually decided to keep my 2004 Ford Econoline and add a small trailer later on or possibly convert a cargo trailer into living quarters.

It felt good to check an item off my list.

Life Has It’s Own Agenda…

Flash-forward to the year 2015…. It’s funny how life has it’s own agenda and your agenda doesn’t always coincide with life’s agenda.

Life seemingly doesn’t care what your plans are – even if you’ve carefully calculated the details and extensively labored to carry them out.

Losing My Job…

In May 2015 I was given 90 days notice that my job was being eliminated. My last day of employment would be August 7, 2015.

I was one of 122 people company-wide who were losing their jobs. Many people had already lost their jobs over the years as the organization I worked for shifted it’s gears.

Losing my job wasn’t a complete surprise. We knew it would happen sooner or later – we just didn’t know when.

Although losing my job wasn’t a surprise, once the final date was given it produced a mixture of emotions….

  • Relief (the job was super stressful)
  • Excitement (about what lies ahead)
  • Loss (I worked there for 2 weeks shy of 30 years).

My future was unknown. I was entering the realm of unemployment for the first time in my life. Job opportunities in my area were sparse and there were many unemployed people applying for the few available jobs.

I was entering into uncharted territory. It was a place in life that I’d never been to before. Yet, of all the emotions I could have experienced, I never felt fear of the unknown.

The world of the unknown felt less stressful than the world I was currently experiencing. I suspect this is why I looked forward to the unknown.

Unexpectedly Finding A New Home On Wheels…

May 2015 was a busy month because I also purchased a Ford Transit cargo van.

Why did I buy a new vehicle if I’d previously decided to keep my 2004 Ford Econoline?

I wasn’t looking for a new home on wheels. I just happened to stumble across the Transit, decided to check it out (thinking it wouldn’t pan out anyway but would be fun to look) and everything just fell into place.

There goes Life again… making it’s own plans… even though I thought I had it all figured out!

It wasn’t a quick deal, though.

The Dealer wouldn’t come down to my rock bottom price so I left the dealership without the van. I still had my Econoline so I was good either way.

Over the next week… the Dealer called me several times with a lower offer but I was adamant about sticking to my rock bottom price.

I said “no deal” several times (as if I were on a game show!).

A week later… the Dealer called and said I could have the van at $500 above my price. He was surprised when I said “no deal” but, to me, $500 isn’t chump-change and I had to stick to my guns!

An hour later… I got a phone call telling me I could have the van at my price and I finally got to say “Deal!.

Isn’t it funny how things just show up and fall into place once you quit obsessing over it?!

Empty-Nesterhood Looms On The Horizon…

Nikki (who was, then, 19 years old) was planning on leaving the nest by the end of 2015.

We had both lived in northwest Illinois our entire lives and Nikki planned on moving to Homestead Florida where her long-time boyfriend and his family live.

I’ve been a single parent since Nikki was 2 years old. We are very close and her leaving the nest was difficult for both of us. But, my goal as her mom was to raise her to make her own decisions and live her own life. She may be thousands of miles away but not a day goes by that we aren’t in contact. Modern technology allows us to go shopping together, spend time together, and more.

In addition to losing my job with no job prospects and entering into uncharted territory I was also a soon-to-be empty-nester.

I’d never been responsible for just myself. I’ve always had someone (humaniod or furball) that I was responsible for.

I Finally Let Go Of My Once Perfect Time To Go Nomad Plans…

2015 was a year of great change and I had a lot to consider.

I still hadn’t done any camping nor had I done any long distance traveling. There was also no plan for making money while on the road.

My original plan was to complete the items on my list and hit the road in late 2018 but that was still 3 years away!

I had to let go of my original plan and come up with a new plan.

My New UnPerfect Plan…

I decided to use my last 90 days of employment to do a bare minimum conversion and transform my Transit into a home on wheels so I could hit the road full-time on August 8, 2015 (the day after my job was done).

I’d be hitting the road in a half-converted van having no camping experience, no experience living in a van, never having traveled more than a few hours from home and not having any source of income in place (other than savings and severance).

I was entering in to a completely new lifestyle on the heels of losing my job and the on forefront of becoming an empty-nester.

I had a boat-load of major life changes to deal with in 2015!

The Best Laid Plans Don’t Always Work Out…

My last 90 days of employment were excruciatingly stressful. It was stressful for everyone but I can only speak for myself.

Mandatory overtime was implemented and my sole job was to help train our overseas replacements.

The stress of life along with numerous major life changes were taking it’s toll. I had no time or energy to do anything with the van.

To preserve any ounce of sanity I had left I chose not to worry about converting the van until my job ended.

Accepting Imperfection…

I wanted the van to be perfect before I hit the road but I was simply too tired to mess with it.

The time had come to accept life as it is.

I just couldn’t be Super Woman anymore.

My last day of employment was August 7, 2015, my van wasn’t ready and I was exhausted.

Stress of any kind can affect my auto-immune conditions. One of my conditions is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis which affects my thyroid. All or part of my exhaustion could have been due to my thyroid going whacko (again).

My whole, well thought out, extensively researched, excruciatingly labored over plan was rendered useless.

There was no more perfect time to go nomad.

Or was there?

Throwing In The Towel…

It was clear that my original perfect plan would never come to fruition. The time had come to make a choice.

My choices were:

  • Stay the winter in the little house I was renting and work on the van in the spring; or
  • Move in to the unfinished van and start my nomad life now

I couldn’t bear the thought of spending the winter – without Nikki – in a crooked, dilapidated little house that seemed to have little or no insulation.

Nikki and I lived in a small, one-room house that we called The Hut. I chose to move here because the rent was cheap and I was working on becoming debt-free. The floor was slanted over an inch and a half; the insulation (if there was any) was bad; in the winter, the furnace ran so much that my lips got so red and chapped that I looked like a clown! Humidifiers didn’t help.

Moving Out Of The Hut…

In mid-August, I gave my landlord notice that I would be out of the house by October 1, 2015.

Nikki and I scurried to get ready for the new and grand adventure that awaited us.

We had 6 weeks to make make the van as live-in-able as possible, get rid of the stuff I no longer needed and put most of Nikki’s things in storage until she was settled in Florida.

Going Full-Time Nomad In One Fell Swoop…

The afternoon of September 30, 2015, Nikki, Cookie and I headed to a local KOA.

We stayed at a local KOA because I had a few things I needed to finish up before we headed into the great unknown.

October 1, 2015 was my first full day as a full-time, 100% unexperiened, nomadic, van-dweller.

The next several months proved to be quite an experience.

What The Hell Was I Thinking!?!?!….

During the first few months I had several “what the hell was I thinking wanting to live in a van!?!?!?” moments. But, as I calmed down and let the chips fall where they may, those thoughts passed quickly.

Around four months in, once the transition phase was over, I realized how much I love my van (Bella) and how much I thoroughly enjoy the nomadic lifestyle.

Why I’m Glad I Didn’t Wait For The Perfect Time To Go Nomad…

Life’s true plan emerges when we least expect it.

In 2015 I became a full-time nomad – 3 years earlier than planned.

I lived and traveled full-time in my van for 2 1/2 years.

In February 2018 my Dad became seriously ill and needed someone to stay with him in his home (vs going to a nursing home).

So, in mid-March 2018, I made the choice to stay with him so that he can live at home rather than a nursing home.

The Bottom Line Is…

Had I fought the Universe to stick to my original, perfect plan of retiring at age 55 my nomadic lifestyle may never have happened.

Why wouldn’t my nomadic lifestyle have happened? Because I turned 55 this past September (2018)… when I was here caring for my Dad.

I would not have hit the road knowing my Dad needed my help.

I’m thankful I took the opportunity to hit the road back in 2015 – even though it was quite a crazy time getting there.

I have 2 1/2 awesome years to look back on as I take time to help my Dad and reflect on my future nomadic plans.

My Future Nomad Plans…

The time I spend as my Dad’s caregiver is simply a hiatus from the road.

I’m still a nomad – I’m simply not living 100% on wheels at the moment.

A Nomad is someone who doesn’t stay long in one place – someone who wanders. There’s no rule that says a nomad has to live on wheels!

I’m here for my Dad until I’m no longer needed as I listen to the road gently calling me, patiently awaiting my return.

As for the future… I’ve considered making a few changes when I get back on the road (redo the van vs adding a trailer vs who knows what!).

Regardless of what transpires, I want my home to be on wheels for as long as humanly possible.

Final Thoughts…

I encourage you to make plans and take steps towards your dreams while being flexible enough to seize opportunities that life might toss your way.

quotes about not waiting for the perfect time


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