Last night I wrote this very honest post about my experience with the lonely feelings that somtimes pop up while you are on the road. Even though this wasn't somthing I heavily considered prior to starting our adventure I still feel it may be somthing that other people consider when deciding whether to start their own touring lifestyle. Maybe I can help ease those feelings by offering a few strategies for dealing with them.
Skype is your new best friend
I was hesitant to begin using skype, I thought it might be awkward and I'd maybe forget I was on camera and pick my nose or do somthing equally unappealing. But honestly - it's one of the BEST tools you have avaliable to you to connect with the loved ones you are missing. Nothing quiet compares to seeing their faces and it really helps to make the distance between you feel a little smaller. Skype is also comforting for the people youve left. This journey you are on can be unnerving for them, worrying about your safety and at times not being able to contact you for a few days at a time. So with Skype you can "check in" and REALLY check in, seeing your face and knowing you are safe and well can be really comforting for your friends and family.
Talk to people
Even the shyest of shy people will come out of their shell eventually. When we first began travelling Brent (my husband) would talk to anyone and everyone and sometimes I would hide in the caravan because I felt sort of awkward when it came to making small talk. Eventually it just flowed naturally, but it did take me a couple of months to become really comfortable and submit to my situation. Sparking up a conversation with another mother at the park or a fellow sunset watcher on the beach or another bushwalker along the track, even just for a few minutes, can do wonders to ease that subcincious feeling of "longing" for the company of your friends and family. Somtimes this even leads to creating your own little "on the road" family. Chances are you will run into the same people quiet often (we certainly have) so dont be afraid to ask where people are off to next.
Put it on paper
Kick it old school - snail mail style! Write them a letter or a post card and post it (or dont). Or even write an email? Its a great way to stay in touch and were all so "Attached" to tehcnology these days that chances are your recieve a reply quickly - while you still need it.
Remeber that although you are missing out on so much time with your family and friends you do have the people/person you brought along with you. Nothing can match that sort of quality of time with your partner and/or children. Your relationships become stronger and you learn how to be everything for eachother. You become eachothers best friends, drinking buddies, fittness trainer and all of the other things we rely on our mates for. This kind of new and deeper relationship with your partner or children (hopefully your children arent becoming your drinking buddies! lol) makes the void of friends and family alot easier to deal with.
Try to focus
Focus your thoughts onto the positive reasons as to WHY you are on this journey. I do this all the time. Remind yourself that you want this lifestyle and it brings so many positives to your life. Remember that even though we are so programmed to believe that we have to take every precious second of time with our family because life goes so fast, they WILL be there when you get back and you will have quality time with them. Even though I get very lonely and miss my family, I can identify the fact that when I am with them and domestic and everyday life get in the way I dont have the same kind of "quality time" for them. But when I'm passing through town and know I only have a week or two to be with them, we make the most of the time. We dont bicker because every moment is precious.
Connect online with other travellers
Do what I did - make a facebook page or blog so that you can connect with other likeminded people. Following their journey, hearing their thoughts and feelings about similar situations can give you a new perspective on what you are experiencing. Or it could simply give you somone who genuinely understands, to moan and groan to! Either way connecting with likeminded people can make you feel less alone and less unsure of yourself and your lifestyle. Sometimes its nice to feel like part of a group when you have these kinds of dreams which seem to be so different from the path everyone you know in real life is following. The internet is a wonderful resource and theres a myriad of different people out there, you're sure to find someone feeling the same.
Pick up the phone
Make a quick "five minute" phone call to someone you have been missing or send them a text. Even if its only for a few moments its sure to make you feel a bit better and alot less disconnected.
If all else fails.. GO and see your friends and family
Remeber, also that your home DOES have wheels and if it does all get too be too much, find a way to factor in a "stop by" of home. At the moment we are about as far away from our entire friends and family as we could possibly be without leaving the country but when we have those lonely days and we miss them, we have a laugh and say to eachother "we *could* just hitch the van on and go see them, if it really got to be too much". This is true, you have the freedom to make that choice and you also have the choice to get back on the road after you go home whether it be for 6 days or for 6 months. Also I can guarantee you that the "inconvenience" of travelling all the way back home will be outweighed by both the adventure itself and the way you feel when you see the people you love again.
What does "living the simple dream" mean to me?
I always hear people from our generation saying "Ahh, living the dream" when they are doing somthing our of the ordinary - for example: sipping cocktails in a spa of a fancy resort or perhaps they post "living the dream" as the caption beneath a photo of them moving into their new $500,000+ mansion-esque home they have just mortgaged their life away for. At first I was confused by how simple my ambitions were. All I wanted was to live in a caravan and be able to spend as much time enjoying the outdoors with my husband and son, without my husband having to be at work all the time. So for me, this became my simple dream. I find myself having those "Ahh living the dream" moments when I am sitting in a natural hot spring with my husband and son, drinking a beer, ten feet away from a crocodile infested river. Now mine, my husbands and my sons life is all about chasing our simple dream.