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Escape the Rat Race - Follow Your Dreams

Updated on December 3, 2012

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 Panhandle Golden sunset on the beach near Frisco, North Carolina Rosette Spoonbills at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Florida. Fishing boats at dawn. Cape Hatteras National Seashore at Frisco, North Carolina Horseback 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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