Modern Nomad

The Anxieties of Vacation Life (and How to Survive Them)

The key to not getting overwhelmed is to remember that every day is a privilege

The Anxieties of Vacation Life (and How to Survive Them)
Life on the road can be challenging, yet it makes each day feel like a never-ending vacation. (JJAG Media)

Sometimes, when life in the trailer seems chaotic, demanding, and upside down, it's tempting to think about selling Artemis the Airstream and moving back home. 

I had a spell like that earlier this year. First, we woke to a flat tire on the truck, with a hole about the size of a nickel. After that came a windstorm with 80 mile-per-hour gusts that had me up at 2 a.m. Googleing, "Can winds knock over travel trailers?" Then, a freak storm blanketed snow on New Mexico's Sacramento Mountains and trapped us down an impassable mud road for almost a week, praying we wouldn't run out of propane for the furnace. Finally came the realization just a week after putting four new tires on the truck that we'd blown a belt in one of the tires on Artemis and probably needed a set on her, too.

With all the current romance about simplifying and tiny houses and the freedom of the road, it's easy to fall into the spell that living in a 23-foot travel travel trailer is all glamour. It is not. But then, no life is all glamour.

Circumstance has also seen us through Santa Fe, New Mexico, a couple of times in the past month, and the hurdles there were as many as on the road. The phone calls to the insurance company, a broken washer in our rented house, chamisa that need trimming and trees thirsty for water…the list goes on, like life, no matter where you live.

One of the interesting challenges I've found on the road is balancing the feeling that every day is a vacation—because you're somewhere new, because the settings are often glorious, because there's only the schedule you impose on yourself—with the reality that there's constantly work to do and responsibilities to keep up with. On the other hand, I've also discovered that for me it's easier to get bogged down and spin out over little things in Santa Fe, and easier to let them go when I'm in Artemis. Is it the lack of clutter on the road that makes the difference? The additional time in the outdoors? Who knows. But the juxtaposition of the string of mishaps in the trailer this winter followed by the string of challenges at home made me realize that there's no difference between the two. It's all about how we take it.

Case in point: that flat truck tire. I was madder than hell about it because I'd wanted to get out at dawn the next morning and look for barbary sheep. But when I let that plan go, I ended up getting a great night's sleep rather than waking at 4a.m., then enjoying a relaxed morning of coffee in the sun. The slow pace made me remember the plug kit Jen had bought, and a few hours of work, including the best workout I've ever gotten with a bike pump, produced one fixed flat. We still needed a new tire, but this at least got us to town. And anyway, I now had the satisfaction of knowing it could be done. I even got out to look for sheep in the afternoon.

To quote Jack Kerouac: Why think about that when all the golden land's ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you're alive to see?

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