We lived on the road for a year. Here’s how we did it.

lived on the road

Most Americans are lucky to get a week of vacation, but what if you lived on the road for an entire year?

I know a thing or two about that. My three kids and I have taken a long, long vacation — and survived.

Last week, we celebrated a full year of uninterrupted travel. In the past 365 days, we’ve driven from Florida to Arizona and have explored the Western states from Arizona to Alaska, one month at a time. We sold our house and car and relied on rentals and hotels during the adventure.

And we’re still going.

How did we do it? And what can you learn from this unlikely adventure? You’ll want to ease into something like this, take your time with the travel, and establish a routine. Otherwise, you probably won’t make it past the seven-day mark.

lived on the road
Iden Elliott photographs a painting at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyo. A two-week trip to the American West helped us get acclimated to a life lived on the road.
Want to be on the road for a year? Don’t jump in headfirst

I have friends who tried — and failed — to successfully transition to a mobile lifestyle. When I review their circumstances, I find they all had one thing in common: They abruptly decided to quit their stationary lifestyle and hit the road.

That’s a mistake. Before you go on a long trip, even if it’s just for a month, you might want to do a test run. Take a long weekend, then a week, then two weeks and see how it goes.

We started traveling as a family back in 2007, not long after my daughter was toilet trained. We called Orlando home, so our first few trips were to nearby destinations like Miami, Sarasota, and Savannah, Ga. On those adventures, before we lived on the road, we learned how much we could tolerate travel (some of us did, others, not so much).

We made some adjustments. We tried longer trips out West, some as far as Hawaii. Then we returned to Florida to reassess. Also, the kids needed to be in school.

lived on the road
Iden Elliott takes a hike in Maui in 2011. We spent a total of five weeks in Hawaii, hopping from one island to the next. Next time we return, we’ll find a monthly rental.
Take your time

If you have a job where you don’t have to be in the office and are free of some of the typical time constraints, here’s another piece of advice: Take your time. Over the years, I’ve worked with destinations and a travel agent or two who wanted us to go, go, go — one night in one hotel, the next night in another, the next night still another.

It’s madness.

I remember our first trip to Hawaii in 2011, long before we lived on the road. We tried to see everything, which meant a lot of island-hopping, packing and unpacking, and overall chaos and confusion. I mean, every time we switched islands, we had to pack, check out of our HomeAway rental, return our Hertz rental, get screened by the TSA, board a Hawaiian Airlines flight, and then do everything in reverse.

After week two, we were exhausted and ready for a vacation from our vacation. As if that’s possible.

Instead, I wish we’d found a little apartment in Hilo and gotten to know the neighbors. It felt as if we were moving so fast, we couldn’t even remember where we were. Yes, it’s possible to try to squeeze too much into one trip.

lived on the road
The author makes breakfast for his kids in a VRBO rental in Temecula, Calif., in 2017. Routines are important.
Remember the routine

Oh, and one more thing: Routines are necessary. Travel is disruptive, and to the extent that you can un-disrupt it, you should try. Having your own kitchen is important because you can prepare meals for the family.

I’m no master chef, but I have a few reliable dishes I can cook for the children. Preparing them reminds them that no matter where they are, they’re home. That’s especially true of the food they say they hate.

“You’re not making that again,” my middle son, Iden, complains when he smells sautéed onions and garlic in the pan.

“Oh yes, I am,” I invariably say.

He hates it, but he also loves it. Because he knows I make it with love, and that’s not something you can say about restaurant food.

Pay attention to other routines, too. The afternoon walk, watching Netflix in the evening, the bedtime ritual. Even when you’re far away, they can give your family a sense of security. I try to build this sameness into every trip no matter where we go. It’s also why we now spend a month at a time in one place. It’s nice to wake up in the morning and know where you are.

These insider tips will help you survive a one-week vacation with your friends and family — or a one-year odyssey. Life on the road can teach you so much, but it can also drive you crazy. A little practice, timing, and sameness can take you a long way.

Underwritten by

Underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Underwritten by Enterprise

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Underwritten by InsureMyTrip

It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

Underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Underwritten by SCOTTeVEST

An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

Underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Underwritten by Sungard Availability Services

Leveraging more than 35 years of experience, Sungard AS designs, builds and runs critical IT services that help businesses manage complex IT, adapt quickly and build resiliency and availability. A leading provider of critical production and recovery services, Sungard AS partners with customers across the globe, delivering resilient IT systems, infrastructure and recovery services tailored to achieving desired business outcomes.

Underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

%d bloggers like this:
This free newsletter will save you from scams.