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Are you a wanderlust?

Are You Really a Full Timer, Are You a Wanderlust?

by Marsha Lassen

Do you know what a Wanderlust is? Webster’s definition of wanderlust is: strong longing for or impulse toward wandering.

I’m a wanderlust and I had this burning desire. You see I wanted to “see it all…do it all” from one side of this country to the other…north to south…east to west. I spent many dreamy hours visualizing the trips I would take; even pouring over maps. In my daydream scenario, my husband and I would sell our “stick” house, as they say in the world of RVing, and shun all the responsibilities of lawn mowing, tree trimming and painting the exterior of the house. I wanted to be free from it all. Jump into the coach, shut the door and “be off” to freedom and feeding my wanderlust appetite.

Like the rest of the world of working RV owners, we would take every opportunity to travel, squeezing in whirlwind trips in our 2 week vacation slot. We loved every minute of camping/sightseeing and just being in the motorhome. We hiked, we fished, we visited places of interest; National Parks, monuments and historic places…we did it all. But every time a trip ended, my lower lip would droop the closer we would get to home. You know, that never ending chore location: lawn mowing, tree trimming and house painting. Every time we returned home, my wanderlust would grow. I was sure I wanted to be a full timer. I hungered for the freedom to just get in and go….no worries…no headaches….no lawn to mow or house to paint. I wanted to wander.

I had my chance to get a taste of “being on the road”. My husband had taken an early retirement several years ago and we had been able to take longer and longer trips in the coach, often going for 3 to 4 months at a time. We saw grizzlies in Yellowstone and traveled across Canada from Ontario to British Columbia. We visited family in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama and Louisiana. Visited the Badlands and Mount Rushmore; we were seeing it all.

After one of those long trips we returned home, where the grass kept growing, the trees still needing trimming and the house getting more and more in need of that exterior paint job. It was then we made a decision; We decided to scale down, get something smaller with less maintenance. I tried desperately to convince my husband to “chuck it all” and go full time. No, he said, that’s not my personality; I need a house…a home base…a place to come home to. OK, I rationalized, I’m not willing to give up a husband for my wanderlust desire. We did agree though to scale down, not have such a big lawn, a lot of trees and buy a house that didn’t need painting. So, we put our big house on the market and decided to move closer to our son and his family….oh, and the granddaughter, did I mention the granddaughter?

We elected to put our house on the market first and then begin our search for the perfect “no chores” new house. Well, to our surprise, our house sold very quickly and to another surprise, we couldn’t find anything we liked in our chosen new location. After several months of looking, we decided to build our perfect little place. So guess what, I got my dream and we became “Fulltimers”. We moved out of the big house, put everything we own in storage and voila! I was now a “wanderlust fulltimer”, albeit only for a short time; but I was thrilled. We planned trips…poured over maps and had ourselves a ball. Except for one little problem…. Me.

I crashed and burned to put it metaphorically. What I thought I would feel was not what I felt at all. I was lost, I felt scattered and confused. I had no home base and no place to go home to. Even though we were traveling and seeing more new places and locations, I still felt lost and lonely. I missed friends that we had at the old location, I missed friends we have made at the new location… I just plain missed everything. This was a new reality for me. Remember, I’m the one who wanted to cover the country from one side to the other. I’m the wanderlust. I was completely caught off guard with what I found out about myself. I missed having a home.

We’ve been fulltiming in the coach for close to a year. The new house is nearly finished, but not quite. I can’t wait to move in. I can’t wait to put my familiar furniture in its place. I can’t wait to put Grandma’s dishes in the glass hutch so I can glance at them. I can’t wait to come home.

My real reason for writing this article is to share my view and experience with those who think they want to “chuck it all” and go full time. I’m an active member of an RV internet board where lots of people visit and chat. Often I see people posting messages that say things like: they can’t wait to retire, sell the house and go full time. These are people who were like we were in the beginning; they squeeze lots of RVing into 2 weeks vacation or only go for long weekends.

There is a distinct mental occurrence that happens when you give up your home. Yes, some, maybe most, will do fine. But what if you sell the house, go full time and then find out that one or both partners aren’t happy? You can’t get the house back or the beloved belongings, like my grandmother’s dishes you gave away because your kids didn’t want them. My suggestion would be rent the house out; or if you can, just close it up. Put things in storage. Take off for a year or two and see how you feel. You can always sell the house when you get back from your wanderlust adventure.

Making a big lifestyle change is traumatic. You may find out, like I did, that you're not really a wanderlust at all, but much more like my husband who needs a home base; a place to go home to and Grandma’s dishes to glance at.

BTW, did I tell you I have a granddaughter?

Happy Travels.
Marsha Lassen/CA
BS Behavioral Science