We weren’t supposed to be in Fredericksburg, TX February 24-26. We had different plans.
Somehow though, through the magic of social media, I became friends with Heather Diamond Ryan, another full-time RVer, who told me about the RV Entrepreneur (RVE) Summit. Once I researched the Summit, all of our plans changed, because there was something special about attending the first one. Ah, the gift of flexibility!
We had six days to get from California to Texas. That sounds like ample time, but when you drive a 23,000 lb. vehicle and tow another 4,000 lbs, wiggle room is critical for unexpected circumstances. We pushed across the American Southwest, making it with one hour to spare and thankfully so, because the summit experience went way beyond our expectations (even though we weren’t quite sure what they were). What would you expect from something called an RV Entrepreneur Summit? Is it about RVing? Being an entrepreneur? Both? Or something else entirely?
It was all of that and so much more. The event was the vision of Heath and Alyssa Padgett, an accomplished, married couple, who planned this Summit based on input from their RV community of followers. Their story of why and how they started living and working full-time in an RV is not only inspiring, it’s a series of lessons that anyone can learn if they are considering following a similar path. You can check out their story at http://heathandalyssa.com
I’m not sure even the Padgett’s knew how popular and successful this would be, and were blown away by the excitement of the attendees. And I mean EXCITEMENT! We will probably never be in a more uplifting, dynamic and supportive group of people than at this summit, unless maybe it’s a group of recent lottery winners. We all felt like we won the lottery, because for a very reasonable price we heard the personal stories of people transitioning to and living the full-time RV lifestyle, their journey to entrepreneurialism, and their ongoing trials and tribulations, because no, full-time RVing is not a permanent vacation. If you choose to leave behind a conventional life for living and working on the road, it’s not only a journey about practical matters, but one of heart and soul, invoking fear and self-doubt for many. Meeting others who had gone through this same experience, or getting ready to, was quite validating for us.
While the Summit was about RVing and entrepreneurialism, it also provided the gift of connecting with like-minded people, creating friendships, building a community, and being inspired by each other. This experience will bring people back to future Summits and attract many new attendees. I used to manage training events, and know what makes a successful attendee experience. My hunch is that Heath and Alyssa are going to need a larger space for next year’s Summit.
So who are these nomadic, entrepreneurial wanderers anyway?
The Summit attendees are people in different phases of their nomadic journey. Some have been on the road as many as seven years, and others yet to purchase their RV, but all have in common the desire to create a life on their own terms—a life consciously designed as opposed to the programmed one most were living previously. Below are some of the attendees and speakers at the Summit, representing families, couples and solo travelers.
Paul and Heather Ryan
I mentioned earlier that Heather is the reason we went to the Summit. Her husband, Paul, is a technology consultant and Heath’s business partner for a web-based business they are developing (hint: see t-shirt). Heather is a tax accountant and photographer, who sells her photography at art shows around the country. I also learned that she loves to bake and offers treats to fellow RVers when she makes extra. Now we plan to follow them so we can “coincidentally” benefit from the left-overs. They travel in this 5th wheel with their two dogs. You can follow their travels on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/roaminryans/
Thought you couldn’t full-time RV because you have a family? Think again.
Bryanna and Craig Royal, their four kids, and two fur babies
Bryanna, a speaker at the Summit, talked about her family’s leap into full-time RVing, and her quest to get a business up and running within six months. She now runs a thriving virtual business while her husband was able to convince his employer to take his corporate gig on the road. As if traveling with a family of six and two dogs wasn’t enough of a shock, they downsized from a larger class A rig, to this smaller class C, because it’s not about having the space, it’s about having the experiences. Check out their story at http://www.crazyfamilyadventure.com
Thought you couldn’t full-time RV solo? Think again.
Jill, a speaker at the Summit, is a long-time nomad and RVer. She started off traveling the country on her Vespa before moving into her “spacious” vintage RV named Olive.
Jill talked about her WordPress (WP) website help business, but what impressed us most, was the heart behind her business, and the opportunities she’s provided to those she employs through her outsourcing model.
Check out Jill’s story on http://jillsessa.com
Abigail and I became fast friends. I put a call out for help with product photography for my found object art pieces, and she responded immediately offering guidance. Abigail is working on more projects than I even know. Whenever I approached her campsite, she was on a client call either from inside her trailer or truck. She co-manages an Etsy store (Lo and Behold), provides project management services, and does a myriad of other things. She’s one of those people who is humble when talking about her accomplishments, but we caught on. Additionally, she’s hilarious and we think she should add stand-up comic to her resume. You can follow her travels on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/pheribee/ (the name of her trailer).
Thought you couldn’t full-time RV because you don’t have the right skill set?
David and Lisa Blackmon
David, co-founder of a WordPress development company and all around social guy, presented at the conference and shed light on the mysteries of developing a website using WP. When he first started out, he taught himself WP and his first client found him about two weeks later. David taught me how to ensure security of our WP site and how to build a better website overall. We will definitely follow his guidance when we build our next site. Here’s a photo of David (Lisa had already left) working from his rig. See what website he’s totally engrossed in? Hint: it has the word Wheelin’ in it. Check him out at http://aspengrovestudios.com
Thought you couldn’t full-time RV in a small space with your loved ones? Think again.
Maury and Julie Robertson, and their cat Mae Mobley
We met Maury and Julie at the Xscapers Quartzsite, AZ Convergence in January. They probably think we’re following them, but running into your RV friends by happenstance is not that surprising. They are in the midst of developing a consulting business that will help small business owners market and promote themselves to compete with larger companies. I think they have a soft spot not only for small business owners but for small spaces, I mean look at that adorable travel trailer, and Maury’s amazing Clam outdoor office! Also, their daughter will be joining them for summer travel. You can follow their travels at http://wanderingperegrino.com
Mike and Crissa Boyink
Mike and Crissa from Ditching Suburbia have been on the road with their teenage daughter and son for seven years! They have seen and done it all, so much so that a 5th wheel has become a little too “suburbia like” and they decided to downsize to a class B (which is basically the size of a van) to push their comfort zone. Their website is filled with resources and useful tips gleaned from their time on the road, not only related to the RV lifestyle, but for several other non-suburbia lifestyle options. Check them out at https://ditchingsuburbia.com
Thought you couldn’t full-time RV because you needed space to be creative? Think again.
Kyle Kesterson and his trusty companion, Bean
Kyle, is a storyteller, inventor and full-time nomad with his spunky 11 year-old dog, Bean. He’s also a wicked good speaker who mesmerized us with his engaging story about…well you just have to follow him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/kylekesterson/ to understand. Here he is in his usual work space.
Thought you couldn’t full-time RV because you have clients? Think again.
Jaime and Larissa Miralles
Jaime and Larissa and their dog Chloe, were new to RVing, I mean like a week new when they came to the Summit. They run a successful Amazon wholesale business and teach online courses on how to replicate their success, not only on Amazon but other marketplaces. Larissa and I connected on her coaching background, since I too, provided coaching in my past corporate life. You can learn about their offerings at out at https://sellersuccessacademy.com
Marc and Alowetta Terrien
Marc and Alowetta run a software development company that they have successfully transitioned to the road, helping their clients adapt to a remote working model, a growing trend in a lot of industries. In addition to working together, they have been married for 33 years and “still love each-other even in 300 square feet of space.” Here they are inside their coach, with their dog Mac, who nailed the pose for this photo. You can follow their journey at http://explorateurs.us
Not pictured here but others we have met on our travels are people who:
-Have newborns or are planning a family
-Have physical and mental disabilities
-Have written books
-Work part-time in local businesses in each location
All with different backgrounds, all searching for and mostly finding an alternative path.
So what does all this mean for us?
If you know us personally, you know that we are not entrepreneurs, although I have dabbled in side-jobs, and even worked for entrepreneurs, neither of us has ever built a business. Other than the one acting gig we picked up in Eugene, OR, we have not focused on income generation. Why? Because when your only work experience has been in a corporate setting, it’s hard to imagine different opportunities—in fact, fear and doubt can stop you in your tracks. But perhaps, deep down, there’s the smallest flame of entrepreneurialism flickering inside of us, desperately seeking oxygen. The Summit was the match, and our fellow nomads breathed life into a vision we didn’t even know we had.
As of this writing, we are six months into our journey, not so creatively called Phase 1. This phase was about transitioning to live an RV lifestyle, which might sound glamorous, but has its unique set of challenges. We also focused on slowing down our burn rate (money spent) by boondocking (free camping), eating in, and finding low cost adventures. Whew, what a ride! For Phase 2, we’re going to study entrepreneurialism, research opportunities, and explore different ways to generate income. This should be an interesting phase of our journey—and we hope you follow along with us. We can already hear you rooting for our success!
Jumping photos: courtesy of Joe Hendricks https://www.instagram.com/joehendricks/