Escape the Rat Race - Follow Your Dreams

Dream of living on the beach?

Dream of camping on the beach and watching the sunrise over the ocean?
Dream of camping on the beach and watching the sunrise over the ocean? | Source

Following our Dream - Living on the Beach

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Sunset at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Florida.St. George Island State Park on the Gulf of Mexico. Florida PanhandleGolden sunset on the beach near Frisco, North CarolinaRosette Spoonbills at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Florida.Fishing boats at dawn. Cape Hatteras National Seashore at Frisco, North CarolinaHorseback riders on the beach. Cape Hatteras National Seashore. North Carolina.Bodie Island Lighthouse. North Carolina Outer Banks.Fishing at Oregon Inlet. Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Outer Banks, North Carolina.The rugged coast of Olympic National Park.Washington Coast.
Sunset at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Florida.
Sunset at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Florida. | Source
St. George Island State Park on the Gulf of Mexico. Florida Panhandle
St. George Island State Park on the Gulf of Mexico. Florida Panhandle | Source
Golden sunset on the beach near Frisco, North Carolina
Golden sunset on the beach near Frisco, North Carolina | Source
Rosette Spoonbills at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Florida.
Rosette Spoonbills at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Florida. | Source
Fishing boats at dawn. Cape Hatteras National Seashore at Frisco, North Carolina
Fishing boats at dawn. Cape Hatteras National Seashore at Frisco, North Carolina | Source
Horseback riders on the beach. Cape Hatteras National Seashore. North Carolina.
Horseback riders on the beach. Cape Hatteras National Seashore. North Carolina. | Source
Bodie Island Lighthouse. North Carolina Outer Banks.
Bodie Island Lighthouse. North Carolina Outer Banks. | Source
Fishing at Oregon Inlet. Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Outer Banks, North Carolina.
Fishing at Oregon Inlet. Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Outer Banks, North Carolina. | Source
The rugged coast of Olympic National Park.
The rugged coast of Olympic National Park. | Source
Washington Coast.
Washington Coast. | Source

Following Your Dream

Is it your dream to retire early so that you can escape the rat race and live a life of leisure and travel?

Our dream… We were dreaming of living on a beach for an endless summer. Dreaming of seeing sunrise on the Atlantic Ocean and sunset on the Pacific. Dreaming of fishing on the Gulf of Mexico and bird watching on the Florida Coast. Dreaming of the snow-capped Olympic Mountains, the Sonora desert in the springtime and the dogwood in bloom in Tennessee. Dreaming of retirement, dreaming of escaping the rat race, dreaming of “someday”…

You may be thinking, “Yeah, dream on…”

But it can be done and it is done—It’s done by ordinary people like you, like my husband and myself. You may have seen us escapees on the road or parked at a truck stop or roadside rest. You may have seen us driving down the highway in our motor homes or parked in the desert in our RVs. What you may not have realized is that we are not vacationers and we’re not rich. Traveling full time is a lifestyle and our way of life.

Escaping the Rat Race

It’s a little inside joke that we consider ourselves “escapees” from the rat race because one of the best things we did when we became full-time RVers was to join an RVing Club called, The Escapees or SKPs (pronounced Skips).This group provided us with a community of people who understood our life style, offered support and friendship.If you’re interested in this club, go to this website: Escapees.com.

Following Your Dream - Adapting a new lifestyle

No, we don’t have a million dollar retirement fund or a large inheritance, but we do have a secret life philosophy with three important components:

1. Live on Less

Here’s the thing. For couples like us, retiring early meant a major change in lifestyle. We needed to get rid of the things that tied us down. We need to live on less – a lot less! In fact, we needed to live on less than half of what we lived on before retirement. We needed to agree on the priorities of our lives and shed the encumbrances. And we did this by becoming full time RVers. Living on less is a conscious decision that we made that enabled us to retire early and do the things that we dreamed about. Several years before retirement, we lived on a strict budget so that we could pay off all our debts including credit cards and car payments. When we sold our house, the mortgage was paid off . The proceeds were stashed away in CDs to be used when we eventually purchased our next home.

2. Keep what’s important and shed the rest

The next thing we did was get rid of stuff. When you have a spouse or partner, it is really important to talk at length about what you want during your retirement years. Selling all your stuff and moving into an RV won’t work if you don’t both want it. We were of one mind – get rid of it! An accumulation of 40+ years of stuff in attic, cellar, garage and house faced us, but we systematically weeded out, sold, donated or gave away anything that was not really important to us. We shed the encumbrances.

As I write “shed the encumbrances,” I envision a butterfly shedding the confines of its cocoon or a snake shedding its old, dry skin for a sleek new one. For much of our lives we let ourselves be confined by our responsibilities, by our beliefs and by community and family ties. This is not necessarily a bad thing at one stage of our lives. But then one day we start yearning for something different. We’re ready for a new stage of life, but fear and uncertainty can keep us from shedding that old cocoon and spreading our wings.


Spread your wings like a butterfly

Source
Swallowtail in Azalea.
Swallowtail in Azalea. | Source

3. Follow your dreams

When we retire, we enter a new stage of life. We shed the threads of work responsibilities that have bound us tightly. We emerge from the cocoon with our wings still folded. At this point, we can decide to keep our wings folded and stay in that familiar world. Or, we can unfold our wings. Look around at the world with new eyes wondering where we should fly.

Our dream was to travel and see the country at our own pace. Our first summer of RVing was a wonderful time of wandering from beach to beach down the East coast from North Carolina’s Outer Banks all the way to Florida, then to the Gulf of Mexico. We joked that our plans were written in Jello. Jiggle it a little and the plan would change. Each day when we awoke there were unlimited possibilities before us. We drove on when we felt like it, stayed longer when we wanted to, enjoyed each moment and each place. And that’s exactly how we spent the next four years!


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Copyright 2011©Stephanie Henkel



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Comments 60 comments

Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 5 years ago from South Carolina

Absolutely fabulous! It's always so inspiring to see someone living their dreams and I love how you shared with the rest of us exactly how you made your dreams happen. Your secret life philosophy contains so much wisdom, yet far too many people never take the time to do these things, yet the pay-off for doing them can be huge.

I agree that it doesn't take a million dollars to make our dreams come true. It takes a workable plan, commitment to the plan and an alluring passionate dream, plus the willingness to shed all the things that would weigh us down and keep us stuck in place.

Thanks so much for sharing this and your stunning photos with us.


ehasert profile image

ehasert 5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

Another good one that really hit the nail on the head. Many people asked us how we could afford to do it, and I said it was easier than staying in that house forever looking at the same trees & houses. We had a wonderful 6+ years on the road, and finally settled down to a very small mobile home, but you don't need much to live on, do you? Thnx Steph, for writing this!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 5 years ago from Baltimore, MD

Good for you! I don't necessarily want to travel in an RV, but I am ready to give up on the rat race. It is just not worth it. Thanks for sharing your story and giving me some ideas.


point2make profile image

point2make 5 years ago

Another great inspirational hub.....thanks Stephanie. As usual you inspire and inform at the same time. One day, hopefully while enjoying a beautiful vista somewhere out on the road, our paths will cross and I will get to thank-you personally for your encouragement and advice.


Robin Anderson profile image

Robin Anderson 5 years ago from United States

Stephanie,

I believe we can all stand to live on less. The idea of actually being able to retire is a new concept to me, because I have resigned myself to believe that I would have to work until the end of my life.

Also, I love love love the photographs! I especially love the shot of the people riding horses on the beach!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Gail, I don't know how you manage to comment so quickly after I publish, but thank you! You are right, it does take commitment and a willingness to change to make our dreams come true. It helps to have a spouse, like I do, who shares the same dreams. As always, it's so nice to hear from you. Thanks for your comments!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Estelle, I know that you understand exactly where I'm coming from as you've been through much of the same thing in following your dreams. Thanks again for your comments and for your ongoing support!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Jeannieinabottle,

Dreams are as individual as those who dream them! I'm so glad that my hub gave you some ideas on how to make yours come true. Thanks for visiting my hub!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Point2Make,

I do hope that our paths will cross in some beautiful place out on the road - you just never know! Thanks so much for your lovely comments and support!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Robin, I know that not everyone is in the position to retire when they would like to do so, but sometimes approaching things from a different angle will give you some new ideas. As you say, most of us can live very well on less. We just need to figure out what we really want out of life. I'm glad you liked the photographs - most are from our first year of full time RVing. The photograph of the horseback riders on the beach was taken on the Outer Banks.

Thanks so much for visiting my hub and for your comments!


Ardie profile image

Ardie 5 years ago from Neverland

This is a great article with steps I AM going to take so I can retire early and live MY DREAM :) Im so jealous of you and your husband and of my parents. They also retired early by planning and working their whole lives and by living within their means. Thanks for the tips!!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Ardie, How terrific that you are so determined! With that kind of commitment, I know you'll follow your dreams, whatever they are. Best wishes for success! Thanks for reading!


diogenes profile image

diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

I absolutely agree!!!! You have one short life and enjoying it by following your dreams is the only way to live without regrets. I did it, starting at age 23, and haven't stopped yet! At 72, am thinking of going back to OZ for 6 months or retiring in Mexico (where I lived for many years) Can't...won't slow down till I drop!!! Bob


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

You are a man after my own heart, Bob! How wonderful that you have followed your dreams your whole life when so many people start so late or not at all. OZ - is that Australia or the Land of OZ? :) I've enjoyed reading your hubs about Mexico - will you do one on retiring in Mexico? Or have you done one already that I missed? Thanks for stopping in to visit. Keep on dreaming...


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Whether or not people want to live in an RV and travel all of the time, your messages here are universal for so many people. Very inspiring hub!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Randomcreative, It's true that we all have different dreams that take us in different directions. The important thing is to get started on the right road to follow our dreams. Thank you for your comment!


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

A great message here Stephanie, we can make our dreams come true, very inspirational.

The pictures are fabulous, best wishes MM


carcro profile image

carcro 5 years ago from Winnipeg

I dream of following my dreams, we're kind of stuck in that part of life where the bank owns you because of the debt you owe them and your boss owns you because you have to make enough money to pay the bank. If I could just do what I want for a living I'd be happy, thank goodness for Hubpages, at least I have this escape....


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Movie Master - Thanks for your very nice comment! I'm so glad you like the pictures that I chose - they are of some of my favorite places!

Carcro - There are some times when life might seem like a vicious cycle, it's true. However, you are obviously making one dream come true - that of your writing! Thanks for stopping by to comment! Enjoy small victories!


carcro profile image

carcro 5 years ago from Winnipeg

you are so "write", the small victories make my day!


gryphin423 profile image

gryphin423 5 years ago from Florida

I can totally relate to your wonderful hub. Even though we are decades from retirement we are shedding all those things that tie us down. We are of one mind as well. Thanks for sharing ;-)


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Gryphin - How wise you are to simplify your life now, so that you are free to do things you really want to do. Thanks so much for stopping by to comment!


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 5 years ago from USA

This is a great article! I have been following the live for less lifestyle all my life. The other two pieces of advice, I am working on.


ChristinCordle12 profile image

ChristinCordle12 5 years ago

Absolutely, your article is very nice.


viking305 profile image

viking305 4 years ago from Ireland

Stephanie what a great way to live! Congratulations on living your dream way of life together with your partner. I look forward to reading more articles of your time on the road.

Thanks for SHARING! Voted up and awesome!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Viking305 - We have had a wonderful time traveling in our RV, and hope to continue for a few more years! Thank you for coming by to read my hub and for your comments!


freecampingaussie profile image

freecampingaussie 4 years ago from Southern Spain

Hi ! I really enjoyed your hub as we are doing the same thing in Australa except we are working in diferent places as we go . It's a great life aye living your dream !!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Freecampingaussie - It does seem as if we live in parallel universes! :) Many full time RVers in the US also workcamp to support their travel. It's a great way to see the country! Congratulations on finding a way to follow your dream!


TamCor profile image

TamCor 4 years ago from Ohio

I love the enthusiasm that you have for RVing...it makes me want to go right now and buy an RV, lol.

Actually, that's our dream, but we'll have to take a different road towards that goal. You mentioned workcamp, and that made me curious--what is that? I'm guessing you mean people work as they travel, but how do they find the work, and what kind of work is it?

Sorry for all of the questions, but this is something that I'd really love to know more about! :)

Great hub Stephanie--Rated UP and awesome!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

TomCor - Many RVers either volunteer or workcamp to extend their budgets. Workcamping can be working at a campground either full or part time in exchange for money and/or a campsite. Other workcampers do temporary jobs like sell Christmas Trees, pick fruit,work at amusement parks or resorts, work at large retailers during the holiday season and other seasonal or temporary jobs. Some workcampers work at places like Yellowstone National Park during the summer in their food service or lodging facilities and get paid for it. There are numerous opportunities. Mostly people find the jobs through WorkKamper News or on individual websites.

Volunteering at state or National Parks is another thing that people do in exchange for free campsites. There is no money exchanged, but the free campsites, especially if they include full hookups, are worth quite a bit of money.

I guess I should do another hub on this! Good luck on following your dreams!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Stephanie, Great hub. Every time I read your RV hubs, I am taken to a place I could quite happily be :o) I love this idea of following your dreams and visiting lots of different places and just doing it all at your own pace - this life would be boring in the UK cos it's too small but I could get a camper and get the ferry to France, Holland or Belgium; then travel all over Europe - fab!


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

I admire you so much for following your dream. Most of us are not that brave (including me)

Great Hub, give me a lot to think about,

I voted it UP, etc. and will share. Mary


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

I travel very light. Next time you are in my neck of the woods stop by and pick me up. I guarantee you free entertainment. Legal of course. Mostly. Tweeted and shared! :)


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Hi Jools99 - I think it would be wonderful to RV all over Europe! We did have some friends from New Zealand who did it. They RVed in Europe, South America and the U.S. and Canada before heading back to New Zealand - wouldn't that be quite the life! I hope you'll give it a try someday!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Hi Sunshine625 - You never know, you just might get a visitor someday! This year we're sticking close to NC because our granddaughter is living with us during her last year of high school, but we'll be hitting the road again when she graduates! I'm sure there's a little compartment we can squeeze you into. :)


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Mary615 - When we first made the decision to sell our house and become full-time RVers, we were a little nervous. It turned out to be one of the best decisions we ever made! Thanks for the read, and thanks so much for the share!


starbright profile image

starbright 4 years ago from Scandinavia

Dreams are to follow if you have the opportunity. Awesome hub.


moment minder profile image

moment minder 4 years ago from Clarksville, TN

I love the picture you painted about shedding encumberances. Maybe you could write an entire hub on that idea alone - on not just shedding physical things that you don't really need anymore, but mental things, ideas, beliefs too. I love it. I want to be able to learn about that now so that when I retire I will be well practiced and as free as possible:)


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Starbright - I absolutely agree that we should follow our dreams when we can! Thanks for stopping in to read and comment.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Moment minder - Thanks so much for your lovely comment and for your suggestion for another article! I do like the idea of expanding on shedding encumbrances, physical as well as mental! Do follow through and prepare for freedom in retirement!


Midasfx profile image

Midasfx 4 years ago

That was an excellent article. Really helps one think of different possibilities for their future.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Midasfx - Thank you for your comments! It is possible to follow your dreams!


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

As one who is following my dreams as well, I second the motion that we need to learn to live on less. Although I have been RVing and enjoyed it, I travel more scaled back and in a smaller radius. There have been some compromises to live the life I wanted, but now I have the time to spend a good part of each day enjoying the simpler life and the peace of mind that comes with it!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Scribenet - Thank you for your lovely comment! You mentioned an important point, and that is the importance of peace of mind. I agree with you that living a simpler life allows us to enjoy life with more peace of mind. Good for you that you've found a way to live your dreams!


mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 4 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

I heartily agree with your advice to live on less, Stephanie. That's how I retired at 62. I've spend 5 wonderful years traveling whenever possible. My husband and I have to scrimp on things such as new clothes, entertainment, and lots of other things, but we are both so glad to be living our dream of RVing across the country. Voted up!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

mperrottet - My husband and I both retired at 62 after we making up our minds to live more simply. It's really a matter of setting priorities, isn't it? Living frugally doesn't seem like a big sacrifice when you are living your RVing dream... Thanks for stopping in to comment and read!


Diana Lee profile image

Diana Lee 4 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

This sounds like a wonderful life. I wish you many more beautiful sunsets as you take your adventures on the road. Voted up.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Diana Lee - Thank you Diana! We did have some wonderful adventures during our RVing years. Though we are not on the road at the moment, we hope to go back to it in a few months. Thanks so much for your comment and vote!


Kommadant 4 years ago

I always enjoy when people live their dreams. I am not at a point in my life where I can follow my dreams, but I am slowly working towards it. Good luck to you!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Kommadant - You are going in the right direction if you are making plans to follow your dreams. I wish you the best of luck!


afriqnet profile image

afriqnet 4 years ago from Nairobi Kenya

Stephanie,

I have always thought about early retirement and escaping from this vicious loop of rat race. In fact I want to retire when I am 30. I have been working so hard to accomplish this dream. Thank you for your inspiring and helpful insight into early retirement.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Afriqnet - Retiring at 30 seems like quite an ambitious dream, but there are ways to do it if you live simply and change your lifestyle. The one problems with retiring from regular jobs so early in life is that it's hard to build up funds to fall back on when you are older. But who knows what you can accomplish with determination and creativity! Good luck with following your dreams!


FullOfLoveSites profile image

FullOfLoveSites 4 years ago from United States

Following your dreams and following what your heart truly desires -- and it's worth all more than the material gains in the world! Thanks for this inspiring and informative hub. :)


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Fulloflovesites - Absolutely! Material gains mean little if your dreams are crushed. Thank you so much for your very kind comments!


afriqnet profile image

afriqnet 4 years ago from Nairobi Kenya

Stephanie,

Thank you for your reply. I am building massive empire online and I hope one day the business will be my retirement plan. I have so far accomplished 10 sites and I am planning to multiply with a tenfold in the coming year. That will be good enough for me to retire.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Afriqnet - Wow, that's quite a project! Good luck with it!


Ethan Green profile image

Ethan Green 4 years ago from England

What a fantastic article! Totally inspiring. I have a crazy dream in the back of my mind of earning enough passive income through online writing that I can go and live by the sea in Ecuador... which is a long way from home in England. Reading things like this brings that dream just a touch closer to the front of my mind.

Thank you!

Ethan


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Ethan Green - Living near the sea in Ecudor - what a lovely dream! With persistence and hard work, you'll make it reality. Thanks so much for sharing your dream here!


Askme profile image

Askme 4 years ago

We are in the planning stages but not far behind you. We started living on a lot less a few years ago, unfortunately the recession wiped out most of our assets. One good thing about the recession, it taught us how to live on less and we now know we can. We are putting away one paycheck a month. Our savings is growing. Soon we will buy a used RV and take off on one, long road trip.

Thank you for this hub. It was just what I needed for motivation!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Askme - You have a terrific plan, practical and doable. If you are already downsizing and living on less, then you should have a smooth transition to full-time RVing. There are so many wonderful places to RV in your area, that you can start spreading your wings as slow or as fast as you wish. Good luck with following your dream! It does sound exciting.

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