9 Months of Nomadic Life & the Meaning of Time

As a society we attempt to regulate our lives by imposing the notion of time. We have a general idea how long we will live if we’re lucky. We chop our time up into years, months , weeks, days, hours and minutes. We get 15 minutes for coffee, an hour for lunch, we work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 2 days off, we get 2 weeks for holidays, every 3 months is a new season, every year we set new goals.

We have tried our hardest to regulate how long everything should take. Yet time remains intangible and highly flexible. It swirls and takes new shapes like an ever evolving mass of mystery.

I wonder why we try so hard to harness it?

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9 months ago my husband and I changed our lives by closing our businesses, selling our home, and hitting the road in an RV to experience a nomadic life. It seems like such a short time ago that we started off on our adventure. People following along on our blogs say they cannot believe it’s been 9 months already. It seems so short.

But when I think of all the things we have done in the past 9 months, how many new things we have experienced, all the new people we have met, the beautiful places we have seen, there are enough memories to fill a decade.

This is the map of all the places we have been in the past 9 months:

People say time flies when you’re having fun, but I’m not so sure. It seems like such a short time ago we left Vancouver Island in our RV. But it seems like such a long time ago since we lived in the house and worked every day. But in reality, there were only 2 weeks in between those two things.

Now that my life is so full there is no turning back. It would be like time folding in on itself if I found myself once again wondering where the weeks and months went. With this life, I know where they went. They went into memories.

One thing that initiated this change was when I came to the end of a year and, reflecting as we do on New Year’s day, I could only think of a handful of memorable moments. A vacation, Christmas with the family, camping on a lake, going out boating, the time I saw the dolphins. That’s it. Everything else was just a blur of day in day out same stuff every day.

Look at these images. I made every one of these and many more all within one month and I remember every one of these special moments.

Of course there is a monetary cost to having this adventure and it cannot go on forever this way. Eventually we would run out of money. We are lucky to have been able to take one year to carelessly travel about. But we have met so many people that have made travelling into a lifestyle that we are certain we can too. This summer we will be back in BC to spend time with our families and work on starting up new businesses that we can run on a location independent basis.

For those of you who may be considering doing something like we have done, I have gathered up some hard numbers for you. If you haven’t already read the background, you might want to check out my 3 month and 6 month budget reports to see how I made the budget and the style in which we are travelling. The budget could be more or less depending on how you want to travel.

Here’s how it breaks down:


The “planned” column is the total budget allowance for ongoing expenses (not pre-trip expenses including buying the RV) for the full year and the “9 month” column represents 75% of the full amount since we are 75% of the way through the trip. The next column is what we have actually spent so far. A positive number in the difference column means we are under budget and a negative number means we are over budget.

Earlier in the trip we were over budget on the fuel since we travelled across the continent pretty quickly to get to the eastern provinces for the summer and we burned through a fair bit of the budget. Since mid-fall we have been moving much more slowly – shorter drives and longer visits in each place, so we are burning less fuel.

We’re a little over budget in camping. It cost more than expected for camping in the maritime provinces in Canada (everything was more expensive there – $7 for a gallon of milk!!). And we spend a week in the Florida keys at Christmas time which was $400 for one week. But it will all work itself out because camping is going to be super cheap in the Arizona and Utah desert on the way home.

We’re way under budget on food – food costs so much less in the USA.

We’re a little over in internet and cell mostly because we bought an awesome wifi antenna. I tell you the hardest part about all this travelling is internet access. I’m seriously considering buying a total satellite system if we are going to keep doing this.

We are way under budget in activities even though I put my lens rentals and new bicycles in this category. But we spend all of our time in parks and the national park passes cost us a whopping $80.

“Miscellaneous” – that’s a great category isn’t it? What happened there? My dog. He’s old. He ate carpet. Then he got geriatric vestibular disease (fortunately he fully recovered from that in a few weeks). Then he started coughing – I thought it was related to his heart disease and we saw a couple of vets and got some really expensive medication that made him vomit. Actually I’m kind of glad it made him vomit now because in the past few days he seems to be getting better and I would have thought it was the medication otherwise. I don’t know what to think now. Looking back it was the whole time we were in Texas. Is it possible he could have been allergic to Texas?

The other factor in the miscellaneous column is that I totally forgot to put anything in the budget for laundry. It costs us about $10 a week for laundry since we have our clothes, sheets, towels and dog blankets.

Then we get to ferry trips. Uh oh, not quite enough money left to get the RV back to Vancouver Island! :)

We’re over budget in truck and RV maintenance as I mentioned in the last budget report because we had to get the transmission rebuilt on Big Baby Blue – but that one I chalk up to bad planning. I should have put more money in the budget for that since we bought an older truck.

Finally, in the grand scheme of things, we are under budget by $3200!!! Yaayy!! That should almost pay for camping fees while we are in BC for the summer.

I find it interesting that when you look at a per person per day figure it works out to about $70 per day each. That is about the same amount backpackers spend travelling and staying in youth hostels. The difference, I think, is that they have to eat out and we are eating in most of the time. Not that one is better than the other, I loved my backpacking days too. But travelling in an RV can be just as cheap. We could probably do it for a lot less if we tried.

All I know is that it has been worth every penny and I would never regret spending the money for all the experiences we have had – not to mention the new perspective on life.

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    • says

      Hi Adam, Sorry for the late reply, I have had very limited internet access lately. We are totally having the time of our lives, so much that we don’t want it to end. We are going back to Vancouver Island for a few months this summer and then we are going to try to be snowbirds and lead the location independent life! Thanks for stopping by!

  1. says

    Great follow-up to your last update. Glad to see that you are under budget and that translates into more days on the road. The experiences and images that you have had are probably worth hundreds times more that you spent (I am sure priceless would apply).
    Len Saltiel recently posted..SandstoneMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Len, that is exactly what we thought and the reason we decided to spend our money now rather than wait until retirement. You just never know what is going to happen (like the end of the world maybe) and we wanted to take the opportunity now. We can always make more money later.

  2. says

    Being new here I was wondering where you’d been and where you hadn’t. A bit disappointed you skipped over southern New England (the cape and the island) as this is my backyard and I find it very beautiful

    Maybe someday you’ll make it back up to New England though! :)
    John recently posted..Sunset Silhouette with SunburstMy Profile

    • says

      Hi John, When we were in that area, the weather started getting bad, it was so windy and cold and we got out of there just before that first snow storm. Otherwise we would have spent more time in New England. The next time we are out that way we will definitely spend more time around there as it was beautiful. Thanks for your comments.

  3. Kathy says

    I am still so envious!! I’m living vicariously through you, but am still planning my cross-country trip, too! I may have a slight advantage, in that I have family who live in at least 13 different states in the US, so I may have cheap /free places to park the RV from time to time….maybe they’ll even take pity on a poor, lonely traveler and feed me for free!!

    I’m working on it!

    Continue having fun,

    • says

      Hi Kathy, that’s great that you have relatives to stay with and I bet they will feed you too! Do let me know if you have any questions about RVing, we’ve learned a lot along the way.

  4. says

    What an awesome post. This entire journey has been so inspiring for us, personally. We’ve watched you travel, seen the sites you see, read the eBooks you’ve published, and just generally really looked forward to each and every post you’ve made. We can read it in your words, your love and enthusiasm for the adventure is palpable. How inspiring!! We really do hope to get a chance to meet you guys this summer when you’re back on the island.. that is if you have any ferry money left!!
    Toad Hollow Photography recently posted..Antique Needles and SyringesMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Toad, thank you so much for following along and joining us in our journey. It is a wonderful experience made even better by being able to share it with like minded folks. We might have to dip into the food budget to get the RV back on the island, but we will be there this summer. We should go on some photo shoots together! I’m really looking forward to meeting you and Mrs. Toad.

    • says

      Hi Richard, thanks for letting me know about the image, I think I fixed it. My internet access has been pretty bad lately, but I think it should be working now. Thank you so much for following along on the journey.

    • says

      Hi Dan, thank you! I think writing the end of trip wrap up is going to be hard, but maybe made easier since we have decided not to let itend at all but change it into a whole lifestyle. I hope you and your wife are able to travel like this too, I know you won’t regret it.

  5. says

    Wow Anne! What a wonderful journey. I love the description of how you feel now compared to life before! I remember all your tweets leading up to this. What an exciting 9 months it’s been. I’m really happy for you, and I so enjoy the images and posts! You take good care! :)
    Rachel Cohen recently posted.."Overflowing Reflections"My Profile

  6. Joe Hudspeth says

    Kudo’s to you two. Following along has been great too! Sure hope you stop by Prineville, OR on your way home so I can meet you and maybe even take you out to see some of this country. Looking forward to the next installment, as always.

    Joe H

    • says

      Hi Joe, I’m not sure if we will be going through Oregon. We have been there many times before camping since it is a straight shot down from BC (although I don’t think we’ve been to Prineville). We are going up through Arizona and Utah this time and after Utah we’ll probably drive directly back. But we will probably be going through Oregon in November, maybe we can get together then. I’m glad you have enjoyed the blog during the trip.

  7. Joe Cosentno says


    Glad to hear the trip continues and under budget, Thanks for your blog. We spoke about those singh ray reverse ND filters the other day, There were some clouds at sunset the other day and I really liked the way the let the upper part of the sky was exposed more then the middle where the sun was setting, the colors were pretty good.

    Still playing with them.

    Have fun and a good Easter weekend


  8. says

    This is an amazing story and one that I am so envious of. And I look forward to your travels over the last 3 months of this odyssey. Glad you got out of Texas intact – there seem to have been some monster tornadoes in that area recently. By the way the last e-book is fab-u-lous!
    LensScaper recently posted..Easter FlowersMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Andy, thank you so much for the wonderful compliment on the ebook, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! We did manage to get out of Texas intact but we did have to stop for a day on high ground and wait for the rains to pass.

    • says

      Hi Russ, thank you so much. I’m so glad you have been following along through out our journey. I really enjoy sharing with all my fellow photographers and I hope that being candid about all the details will encourage other people to travel or make life changes too.

  9. Heidi19 says

    Hi Anne! I really enjoy reading your blog and what a wonderful journey and experience you have. Thanks for sharing and i’m looking forward read more of your adventures!

  10. Jennifer says

    Your candidness about your experiences is so refreshing and your images are beautiful. Thanks for the great thoughts.

  11. says

    There is no better experience than living an RV lifestyle and combining it with digital photography. We are on our third year of full timing in our Tiffin motorhome and just love exploring all that North America has to offer.

    We enjoy following your adventures. Please drop by our blog if you have a minute while seated at Starbucks somewhere. 😉

    Safe travels

    Mark & Chris

    • says

      Hi Mark, I enjoyed browsing through your website. I like to see how you are combining your photography with your travels by photographing the campgrounds. Great idea! Thanks for your visit and comments.

  12. jennifer says

    Time is really important and this post is really one of a kind.. I just love the photos you have shared here and the post all in all..

    • says

      Hi there Shanna! Thank you so much for commenting and letting me know you are here. I really enjoy your travel site and encourage anyone who is interested in travelling to go check out tales from the travel addict :)

  13. Bob Perry says

    Hi Anne,
    As a fellow BCer (Cranbrook) I have been following your adventure and I’m very interested in your budget blog. I can not open up your 9 month budget. Have you removed it?

    • says

      Hi Bob, Thank you so much for following along on my adventure! Funny I have had a problem with that image before. Anyway, I took a new screenshot and replaced it so you should be able to see the budget numbers now. Thanks for letting me know. I should have the full year’s budget report coming out very soon.

  14. says

    Fascinating post and expense ledger… thanks so much for sharing it. Maybe you won’t want to share the other side of the ledger, but I’d be curious how much of those expenses you’ve managed to offset by income related to this trip? In other words, is this lifestyle sustainable?


    • says

      Hi John, During this first year of travel, I decided to do everything for free in order to build my audience. I did make around $750 in stock image sales but that is all the money I made!! Now that the first year is over and I built quite a substantial audience with my two free ebooks, my next product will be the first I charge money for so I’ll soon find out. However, I’m sure the lifestyle is sustainable. It’s just a question of what kind of business is going to work. If writing photography ebooks and other products doesn’t work, then I’ll do something else. I have a background in software development so I can always write books about software or provide services via the internet (like software testing or design) so I can work from anywhere in the world. At least, that is the plan :)

  15. says

    Hi Anne,

    I really don’t have luck to travel like that. You are doing great stuff with traveling. Traveling so many places and within budget is awesome. I wish I could go to places in India here.

    • says

      Hi Mahender, thank you very much for your visit and comments. I hope one day it will be possible for anyone in the world to choose to live the life they want to lead.

  16. says

    Thanks for sharing your great (and enviable) story and the images of this great country. I am originally from the Caribbean which is blessed with beauty. However, 20 years ago, I took a car trip from Seattle to Miami, Fl via the Pacific coastline with side trips to the Grand Canyon. I was amazed at the beauty and thought how sad that most people who live here never see it. (by the way I do love Vancouver and Victoria, BC as well). I now live in Central Florida and over the last few years have been amazed at the number of public parks, and publicly accessible spaces and every week I visit a couple of parks. Again, it is a little surprising how few people make use of these facilities.

    Please keep sharing your great experiences.

    • says

      Hi Peter! I have to agree, it does seem like so many people haven’t seen the beauty that is available to us right in North America. Granted, it is huge and it took us a year to drive around the edges of the USA without seeing anything in the center and not seeing nearly as much as I would like. The geography here is stunning. A person could spend years travelling around on this continent seeing new things all the time. Thanks for your visit and comments!

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