The Pursuit of Happiness: Nomadic Souls
The Pursuit of Happiness Truth: There Are Many Paths to Happiness
SO many of our therapy or online life coaching clients come to us with one core wish: to be happy. No matter what their current concerns, obstacles, or challenges are, the hope of happiness is always the shining star that pulls them forward into life coaching. But sometimes it can be hard to know what being happy actually means. Believe it or not, people can lose touch with the things that make them happy over time.
Good life coaching is really about reconnecting you to your core values and then helping you make them manifest in your life. This is because finding (and keeping) authentic happiness is largely tied to understanding your personality and your values; the meaning of a happy soul is one that is sure of its joys and passions.
An authentically happy life for someone who finds value in the quiet, day-to-day satisfaction of tending to home and hearth could make another person wither in boredom. Conversely, the happy life of a person who values novelty and adventure would scare a security-minded person to death. Happiness does not mean the same thing to everyone.
What Does Authentic Happiness Mean To YOU?
Learning about other people who have followed their heartfelt values into genuinely happy lives can inspire us to do the same. The stories of others can light a lamp on our own path, and our own possibilities. Even if your values may be different, knowing that other people have taken bold and ambitious action to create meaning and joy can light a spark of inspiration for you to do some deep reflecting on what makes you happy — and how you might take action to make big changes too.
On this edition of The Love, Happiness and Success podcast I’m talking to a couple of nomadic souls who have discovered that for them, happiness is very much a journey rather than a destination. Listen to my interview with full-time travelers Kimberly Travaglino (Founder of fulltimefamilies.com) and Clementine Bakstein about how they and their families found happiness, meaning, and connection by following their values down the never-ending road.
What do you think about their story? Is there something that you’ve been dreaming about doing too? What’s on your “bucket list?” Share with us in the comments!
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The Pursuit of Happiness: Nomadic Souls
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: This is Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby and you’re listening to The Love, Happiness, and Success podcast.
[Intro Song: Road Runner by Modern Lovers]
Dr. Lisa: Of course, that is Road Runner by Modern Lovers circa 1972, possibly the greatest road trip song in the history of the world. I don’t know. I just cast my vote publicly. Great, we’re gonna listen to the whole thing at the end because it’s worth a listen. Hello everyone. We’re listening to road tripping songs today because today, we are talking to some real-life honest-to-goodness nomads. The reason why I thought it was worth talking to some nomads on The Love, Happiness, and Success podcast today is because I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness lately.
I’ll tell you a little bit more about that but there are lots of paths to happiness. There are lots of things that make people happy. Being nomadic souls, blowing with the wind makes some people very happy. We’re going to be talking to a couple of those people. But there are many many paths to happiness. For some people, it’s gardening. For some people, it’s hanging out with their kids. For some people, it’s doing whatever. It’s not the point about what you do. It’s the point that you do something and that you connect with your authentic values to create that happiness.
We are going to be talking to a couple of nomads today about their paths because they weren’t born gypsies. They discovered, through their own growth process, what happiness meant to them. That’s only half of it. Then they took action and they did amazing things to actually change their life and create authentic happiness for themselves. We’re going to be talking to them. But as you may or may not have noticed, I’ve taken a little bit of a break from podcasting lately. There’s a good reason for that. I wouldn’t bail on you unless I had a very good reason. The truth is a couple of things.
First of all, I have been working, with great diligence, on a class for you that is all about happiness. It is so much about happiness that it is called The Happiness Class. It is a comprehensive program that is designed to walk you through the process of creating happiness from the inside out. I am so excited about this. I won’t waste your podcast time talking about this but if you want to learn more about it, go to my website growingself.com and you’ll see a pop-up box. If you sign up for it, it’ll take you right to The Happiness Class. You can take the very first class for free where I teach you a very effective. If you don’t do anything else on The Happiness Class, at least take that one first free class because it teaches you a very effective strategy to shift your mood and to get control back of your happiness no matter what is going on in your life. It can be in your control, believe it or not. Take that free class and I’ll teach you all about how to do that.
That in itself would not be enough to tear me away from you, my friend. Oh no. There’s been other exciting stuff going on too. Do you know what, I have actually been writing a book that is for you if you have ever had your heart broken and are still trying to figure out how to put it back together or if you have friends or family who are going through a bad breakup and still trying to figure out how they’re going to release their attachment to the person that they know they shouldn’t be with anymore. It’s all about that. It is about Exaholism which is a way of saying that we get addicted in our relationships. We get addicted to a person. And believe it or not, that’s not actually a bad thing.
Nature created us to bond deeply to other people so we’re just doing what nature intended when we get “addicted” to someone but the problem is when we’re not supposed to be with that person anymore for a variety of reasons, your feelings don’t just turn off. For a lot of people, it can be quite a process to end their emotional attachment to a person once the relationship has ended. That is what this book is all about: Breaking Your Attachment to an Ex Love, and it’s going to be coming out in November. I’m super excited about it and I’ll tell you more as the time is right but I just wanted to tell you guys where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. And that I haven’t forgotten about you. Oh no. In fact, just the contrary. I have been planning all kinds of super fun stuff for us to be talking about over the next couple of months. Let’s not waste any more time.
Today, we are going to talk about how to take big risks and get in touch with your core values to find your authentic happiness. And my guests today are Kimberly Travaglino, who is the founder of Fulltime Families which is an organization dedicated to helping support families, so mom, dad, and kids who are committed to a nomadic lifestyle. They homeschool, they road school, they network with other families. It’s a wonderful support. If this is ever something that you’ve dreamed about but you thought, “Oh no, I have kids I can’t do that kind of thing anymore.” No, no, no. Go to fulltimefamilies.com and start learning more about what real-life families do, and you can start connecting with families. Learn more about her wonderful work to support this cause. Again, fulltimefamilies.com.
If we can convince her shy friend Clementine Bachstein, another real-life nomad, she might share her perspective with us too but she might need a little bit of coaxing because she’s shy. Kimberly and Clementine, thank you so much for joining me today. This is really a treat to have you here on the show. Let’s just jump right in. Kimberly, why don’t you start by telling my listeners a little bit about yourself and your organization, Fulltime Families?
Kimberly Travaglino: Well, thank you so much for having me. First of all, I’m really excited to be in the recording studio today. Fulltime Families is an organization that was born out of a need for support for families who full-time RV. When I got the idea in 2007 that we would go full time on the road, I knew other families were doing it, and yet when I searched on Google, it was very hard to find information. I found all these disparate pieces but no one common source and so I thought, “I know there’s families out here and I know we have special support needs so let’s start building that support network for these families.”
Dr. Lisa: Well that’s wonderful. Okay, but we need, clearly, to back up because for a lot of my listeners, this whole concept of traveling full time, not having a home, not having the, sort of, normal home base that most people do is very novel and unusual. Would you mind just telling my listeners your story about how you first came to be a nomad?
Kimberly: Oh, thank you. I’d love to. It’s one of my favorite life stories. It’s actually an epiphany I had in my 30s. My husband, who is an impulse purchaser by nature, went out with three of the kids, we had three kids at that time, and came home with popsicles and a pop-up. I’d never seen a pop-up.
Dr. Lisa: But no popcorn.
Kimberly: No popcorn. No. I’ve never seen a pop-up camper before. We’d never camped before. He just got all excited about this pop-up and came home with it, and he cranked it up, and I stood in it. It was in the driveway of my home. I remember vividly looking at all the utilities in the pop-up. If you’ve ever been in a pop-up before, there may or may not be a toilet in the shower that you may or may not have. There’ll be a cabinet. There’ll be a sink, a galley. There’ll be a little spot for maybe a microwave. There’ll be a burner, and beds, and a table. That’s really what a pop-up is comprised of. I looked at all those utilities, and I looked at the house, and I looked again, and I looked at the house, and from the tips of my toes to the ends of my hair, I was electrified with an idea.
Everything you need to live was in this pop-up, right? And all this excess was sitting in that house that I was looking at and I just thought, “We have done this all wrong. If we would just get rid of everything we worked for, do a complete reboot, and live in a camper,” not necessarily a pop-up. I don’t suggest that. That’s very arduous. Although there are families that have done it. “If we would just live in a trailer, we could have the freedom that I so desperately wanted for my life. I was done waiting for that time in my life where I could be free. I wanted to be free right now. If we could minimize our expenses and use money as a tool, then we could have way more intentional time with our family.” That’s what I wanted.
Dr. Lisa: Yeah. Now that makes so much sense. There was an epiphany when it’s just this little sort of self-contained mobile unit as opposed to this big house. It sounds like prior to that, there had been some, maybe not soul searching, but sort of dissatisfaction because I think what’s true for a lot of people, or a lot of people that I talked to, is that they feel encumbered by all of these responsibilities. The mortgage that has to get paid and how hard people have to work just to, kind of, meet their basic obligations for the car payment, and the house payment, and the electric, and all of the stuff that goes into a life. Were you sort of in that place prior? Was it different?
Kimberly: I was exactly there. I was very discontented. I remember vividly walking around my home, this is prior to the pop-up’s arrival, muttering, “I want to go home. I want to go home. I want to go home.” And I had no idea what that meant. We’d lived many places. A lot of families that we talked to who live this lifestyle, there’s some symptoms previous to figuring it out. Some of the symptoms are that they move so often that their friends and family have no idea where to send their Christmas card, or they don’t unpack their boxes anymore. There is this nomadic spirit and when I stood in that pop-up, all the planets aligned. Everything clicked. I realized right then and there, what I wanted to be was a gypsy. That was difficult because my husband did not want to be a gypsy. That got very complicated very fast.
Dr. Lisa: Is it okay if I ask you about that?
Kimberly: Please, yes because there’s a lot of families who go through this also.
Dr. Lisa: Certainly, when it comes to, “Should we be gypsies or not gypsies? But for all couples, sooner or later, arrive at these gridlock issues and for some couples it’s “Do we have another child?” One person does, one person doesn’t. “Do we move to a different state?” And it turns into this yes or no, black or white, kind of, binary issue. I’m so curious, if I may, just ask how you guys worked through that?
Kimberly: Well, it took three years. And the real answer is I sold everything we owned out from under him and gave him no choice. But I know my husband very, very well and I knew he would really love this lifestyle. I knew that he was trapped but couldn’t see a way out, and I could see the way very, very clearly. To this day, he still says it’s his idea, but I knew that was coming. I just knew it for him. I just felt it.
Dr. Lisa: You had to basically take unilateral action in your marriage to kind of burst through the entropy or whatever but it’s still, in some relationships, and I mean this respectfully, but that could have ended badly. How were you able to ultimately get him to see things differently?
Kimberly: Well, I took him to a rally. A rally is a four-day event where people have copious amounts of family-friendly fun. In this particular rally, it was four full-time RVing families. You joined us at a rally recently so you know firsthand what they’re like. This particular rally showed him that although people were living an alternate lifestyle, they weren’t alternate lifestyle people. They were regular people who had lived in homes and just had made different priorities and decisions in their life, and they had made the decisions that I was trying to get us to make.
When the rally wrapped up on Sunday, all the other families said, “We’re having a really great time. Let’s make the rally go until Tuesday, or maybe Wednesday, or possibly Thursday. Who knows? We are location-independent entrepreneurs, and we can be anywhere so let’s be together.” Chris looked at me and said, “I have to go to work on Monday and the kids have to go to school.” But I get it. As we drove home from that rally he said, “I want to do this. I don’t feel we have the right equipment to do this. I want a fifth wheel and a truck that will pull a fifth wheel to do this so we can be safe and comfortable.” And I said, “That’s fine. The second you buy that equipment, the clock starts, and from the moment that you have that equipment, we have three months to get out of the house.” But guess what, I’ve prepared for the last three years so it won’t be very hard for you. That’s how we came to that agreement.
Dr. Lisa: That’s how you had kind of been preparing behind the scenes.
Kimberly: Selling everything we owned, literally. Preparing the children, preparing our families, which was also an obstacle because this is an alternate lifestyle. If you can live anywhere on the planet, why in the world would you not want to live next door to the grandparents, right? They feel that very personally. Preparing them, and preparing the kids, and just getting ourselves aligned. One other big, big thing that we did three years prior was starting getting ourselves out of debt. I knew that what I was pursuing was a life of freedom. Not necessarily pursuing a life that was lived in a camper. The camper was a tool, right? For intentional time together. To me, freedom meant not paying for things that we had sold or donated. Getting out of debt was really important and a very big first step for us, and so that’s what we did.
Dr. Lisa: Let’s talk a little bit more about that because I’m a huge fan of the Dave Ramsey program. When I do couples counseling, a lot of times I guide people towards his tools and his method of getting out of debt, getting on the same page around budgets, and so forth. In my experience too, that can be another point of contention for some couples but it sounds like you and Chris were really in alignment around what needed to be done. Was that fairly easy once you made the decision to do it?
Kimberly: At that point, we’ve been married seven years so we had been in debt and paid it all off, and been in debt and paid it all off, and realized that what we were doing was not working, and we really needed to do something different. We really needed to make a major change. Like I said, Chris is very easygoing and lets me lead on a lot of things and then takes all the credit, which I let him. That’s how we work together. So yes, I said, “I want to do this for my birthday. This is really important to me, this means freedom to me.” And he did. We did. Every Wednesday night, we sat in the bed, we locked the door, and we listened to the files on the computer, and do the exercises and really want… Yeah, Financial Freedom Institute, walk that walk. A few months later, we were really on a good path to getting everything done. And by the time we bought our truck and camper, we went paid for it in cash. We’ve been cash-only ever since.
Dr. Lisa: That is really fantastic. I have so many questions for you. One of the things that comes up, because I frequently talk to people who want to make major changes in their life or oftentimes feel very trapped. That they feel they have so few choices and it’s either this bad choice or this other bad choice. One of the reasons why I really wanted to talk to you is because you and your husband and your family have figured out a way to have more options. Most people just see this, sort of, very basic set of opportunities and you said, “No. I want to have more choices.” But in order to do that, you had to make sacrifices, and that getting out of debt was one of them.
I think that does make a huge difference because in talking to people who dabble with this idea, nomadic lifestyles, I think, are becoming more common, particularly, since so many people can work remotely. They kind of toy with it. But sometimes, I talk to people who seem they are playing with these ideas almost out of fear or out of pain. I talked to somebody not too long ago who was ready to quit his job, did not have any plan for a new job, but had some money in savings that they were hoping could get them through the year and I was like, “Oh, man.” What is your advice to people who are considering making a big change like this one in terms of how to do it in a way that it isn’t going to bankrupt you or wind up being a miserable experience?
Kimberly: Well, I’m glad you mentioned that because we’ve seen a lot of people get stuck. We’ve seen a lot of people get financially stuck, and then they run into repairs on the road that they cannot afford, and then they’re literally stuck.
Dr. Lisa: Stranded.
Kimberly: Stranded completely. That’s the worst-case scenario. Like I said, it took us three years to lay the foundation for a successful launch. What I did was I actually took notes, copious amounts of notes during that time, and I compiled it into a book. And so, I wrote a book called How to Hit the Road. And it goes through the step-by-step emotional, financial, logistical, all the different considerations that we took into successfully launching our family. Even at that, even with all those considerations and putting forth the best feet we could for a successful launch, three years into it, we lost the engine on the truck. We had 12,300 dollars in our savings account, which is quite sizable for our lifestyle. And the engine was 12,000 dollars. But again, we had a lot of ducks in a row to be able to rebuild. We were able to go to a safe spot that didn’t cost a lot of money and rebuild those finances.
Really laying a foundation is really, really vital to this lifestyle. Too many people just wing it. The other thing is we live this lifestyle intentionally and Fulltime Families is the support network for people who intentionally chase this dream, are not running away from something, right? We’ve found a lot of families who are on the road running away from their relationship, running away from their financial debacles. That does not work. You have to face those things head-on before you can move into another phase of your life. You just have to.
Dr. Lisa: That’s so great. I’m glad you brought that up because I think you know we’re all vulnerable to escape fantasies once in a while. You’re saying that in order to really do it and have it be a successful and happy thing, you have to clean up your messes before you hit the road. You can’t do it impulsively. That’s good because I think that some people who aren’t as familiar with that kind of a nomadic lifestyle kind of think of it as being impulsive, or being frivolous, or irresponsible, and really at the core of it, you’re saying that in some ways, you have to be more responsible.
Kimberly: That’s absolutely true. If you live in an alternate lifestyle, no matter what type of lifestyle you choose, you are taking yourself, you’re removing yourself from a lot of the support that you’ve established over the years. Without setting the right foundation, you can really find yourself not where you intended to be at all: stranded on the side of the road, just in bad circumstances.
Dr. Lisa: You have to protect yourself and take care of yourself and not kind of run into this some kind of escape fantasy, you’re thinking that it’s going to solve all your problems. I love the way that you talk about the responsibility that’s required of having to face your fears and not running away from them. Can you say more about that?
Kimberly: Sure. We’ve noticed, Chris and I have noticed on the road, we built Fulltime Families as a support network and a logistical network for families who are choosing a more intentional lifestyle. But on the road, we have found lots of families who are running away for things. Unfortunately, they’re a little easy to spot because they’re not embracing the lifestyle in the same manner that we are.
Dr. Lisa: That’s interesting. Say more about that.
Kimberly: Maribeth and I have done a show on Road School Moms of the things that you don’t need to take with you. A lot of people are looking for, “Do I need to take my VitaMix? Do I need to take my KitchenAid and breadmaker?” But really, you don’t need to take your emotional baggage with you. If you can leave that home, that would be great.
When you choose this lifestyle, you have the opportunity to reinvent every aspect of your relationship, to sit down and say, “Why do we do the same dance over and over again that we’ve been doing in the house? That we’ve been doing our whole lifestyle?” These families that are bringing this emotional baggage with them and that are running from things, they’re not successfully getting away. They’ve brought it with them. It’s in the camper with them instead of being in their larger homes. As I mentioned, they’re easier to spot because they are not embracing all the freedom that is available with this lifestyle. They are still doing that same dance over and over again.
Dr. Lisa: They’re still stuck. They’re still trapped. They just happen to be in a different location but nothing has really changed for them versus families that you say are really being more intentional about this. What do you mean when you talk about that living with intention?
Kimberly: I may have mentioned this before, but my camper is a tool for me to live an intentional lifestyle. It has significantly minimized the amount of stuff I can put in between me and my family. It has minimized all of my priorities because I’m not out there trying to get the next best thing anymore. I’m living this lifestyle, exploring this country with my family in tow, and we are working on our interpersonal relationships every day. Just questioning why we do the things we do. Making those changes like, “Hey, this part of our life is not working, so let’s do something different.”
Dr. Lisa: That’s so important and there are lots of ways to do that. Just for our listeners, you don’t have to live in a camper to go do this. Some people have simplify their lives and also stay in one place. For some families, it’s making the choice for one person to stay at home so that there is a higher quality of life that family experiences. For some people, it is getting involved in other kinds of activities. The point is to have it be meaningful and important to your family. You’re saying this was really just having that time together and having the opportunity for closeness that you felt like you didn’t have as much of when you’re at home. Can you say a little bit more about how it changed your family from when you started traveling? Was there before and after for you?
Kimberly: Absolutely. When we lived in a home, it was 3500 square feet. It was very easy for me to send the children away if they were doing something unpleasant or being unpleasant in any way. “Go to your room” was a staple in our house. As soon as we moved into the camper, it literally fell out of my mouth. “Go to your room” and they looked at me and they go, “We don’t have a room anymore. You left that at the house. Did you forget?” I was frustrated that I did not have that escape anymore and I had no choice but to say, “Okay, why do I need to send them away? What’s going on? Why are we all behaving this way?”
The same thing with my husband. We had lived a traditional lifestyle where he had gone to work 40 hours a week and now, he was home and had no idea what his place was in our home. The kids and I had become this unit for the majority of the week and he would pop in, add a few dad-isms, barbecue, grill a few hotdogs and burgers, and go back to work on Monday. He couldn’t do that anymore and didn’t know what he was supposed to be doing. That took a lot of give and take and a lot of communication. It was not pretty in the beginning. There was a huge transition. In the book, I write about the transition and how I tried to cook him. That didn’t work, thankfully.
Dr. Lisa: Tell people a little bit more about your book and where to find it just in case somebody is listening to this and thinking “You know what, we might want to do that for real.”
Kimberly: Yeah, okay. You can just go to howtohittheroad.com. It’s got its own page or you can find it at fulltimefamilies.com. It’s even on Amazon. There’s lots of places you can go find it. Quick and easy read and really just line you up for success if this is something that you’re looking to pursue.
Dr. Lisa: That’s wonderful. Well, I’m so interested just because I see so many clients, well really, all my clients virtually at this point. It’s been so interesting. Some of the people that I see are just, we’re all in Denver, and they just want the convenience of online. But I have had the honor of working with people all over the world, and a lot of people are nomadic. They’re ex-pats, they live in Germany, they live in Australia, they live wherever, the Bahamas, but they also still want some support.
That’s why they get in touch with me but to hear all their amazing stories. And also connecting with quite a few nomadic families in the process. It’s been fascinating to me. I always love to hear origin stories. I’m so excited because we have another real-life nomad with us today. We have Clementine who is here from Holland. I’m wondering if you could share, with my listeners, your story and how you came to be a nomad in the United States, of all places. All Americans are like, “Why are you not doing this in Europe?” But you’re here so how did you get here?
Clementine Bachstein: Well, thank you for having me on this podcast. I met my husband in 2000 and I was in transition going from LA. I met my husband in Holland, in the Netherlands. It depends on how you say it. I was not interested in a relationship at all because I like to travel. I’ve been to different places. I was in transition to go live in Suriname. That is the northern part of South America. When I talked to him, he said, “Well, I’m going to move to America.” And I was like, “Oh, that’s interesting.” I don’t meet that many people that really want to give up everything and move to another country. So we kept in contact, and four years later, we got married.
Dr. Lisa: After you had been in Thailand and Indonesia.
Clementine: Oh, yeah. Indonesia, and Malaysia, and all those countries, and other countries too, but I forget. Turkey, Morocco. I moved to United States in 2002. We rented a house with seven acres of land, three horses, two dogs, some chickens, and ducks, and we really like the farm life than we had. In 2010, we had a baby, the first one. I have two kids. The oldest is five right now and the youngest is three but when the oldest was just born, we flew back to Holland. I showed my family Rosalie, that’s her name.
We came back, and I was bored. I found out I was really bored and I told my husband, “I’d like to go back to Holland.” Or “Holland doesn’t seem that bad.” And so we questioned like, “Wow, that never happened in those 10 years.” We talked about it, and we found out that I was kind of bored in our lifestyle. My husband was working from home, and we had Rosalie that was three months old, and I couldn’t ride my horses anymore, and I was kind of done with riding horses.
Dr. Lisa: But Clementine, you bring up a really great point which is something that a lot of people don’t talk about. Particularly for people with a certain personality type is that life is kind of boring unless you have novelty. One book, in case any of you guys are interested, that I found to be so fascinating was by Dr. Helen Fisher who I talk about all the time. She’s been on the podcast. She’s like my hero. She wrote a book that was really about personality types and how they come together in relationships. It’s called Why Him? Why Her? about personalities that tend to be compatible and personalities that tend to be incompatible.
One of her main findings is that there are really only four primary personality types. There are nurturers, there are builders, she calls them, people who tend to be very kind of law and order and routines and home, people who tend to be leaders, gosh what did she call them? I can’t remember. It might be as easy as calling them leaders but sort of more forceful, kind of direct personalities, and then explorer personalities. What you’re describing is that you have an explorer personality. You both do. That’s just who you are. That type of personality needs to have some novelty, needs to have some stimulation, needs to have some newness and some adventure in order to really be happy and well.
The things that we’re talking about today, if you have a builder-type personality, really you will be happiest in a home that you live in for 40 years, in your church, in your community, in your daily routines. This kind of lifestyle isn’t necessarily going to be comfortable for you but there are people for whom that is. They start to feel very dissatisfied with kind of the “normal” lifestyle, and it’s so tragic. What I see sometimes, in marriage counseling, particularly when an explorer marries a builder, that can be a problem. I know.
Sadly, it can result in what we call the midlife crisis. It’s basically one person starting to feel like they’re dying in a relationship and like, “I can’t do this anymore.” Or another person saying, “You are so selfish and irresponsible. I can’t believe you want to do these crazy things. And how dare you?” What I really love is that you guys have been able to not just preserve your family, but really enhance your family life. And be doing these wonderful adventures as a family. And sharing these experiences with your children, really having so much meaning that you get to include each other in these experiences as opposed to having to leave and run off to go find yourself or be happy, or whatever it is. The way that so tragically some families, some people, and families really do. I think that that’s really remarkable, what you guys have been able to do.
Kimberly: I don’t think that’s something that Clementine or I have done alone, so to speak. I just think through our discontent, our husbands both are very easygoing, for the most part. I think that that combination of an explorer and maybe an easygoing person who might like to dabble… I think that we’re just very, very blessed. I know that Clementine and I always say…
Clementine: Just pinch every day.
Dr. Lisa: That’s so awesome at the end that you chose wisely. You married people who have values in common with you or respected you enough to take influence from your values. That’s really important.
Clementine: Yeah. It’s interesting that we moved in 2000 to United States and after 10 years living in a house, I was bored. In the first year, it’s all new and then later, you get into that rhythm that feels comfortable. And then one day, you just get hit like there’s a light bulb going off like, “Hey, this is not what I want anymore.”
Dr. Lisa: I can definitely identify with that. I don’t know. I’ve written about it a little bit in my blog. I don’t talk about it super publicly. But my husband and I went through a similar experience when our son was two. Matt was working in a job where he was riding the light rail back and forth to his kind of tech job in Denver every day. He was miserable. He was so sad. He is very much an explorer and an adventurer, and he felt he was dying inside. I tend to be more routine-based. I can be fairly comfortable on routines but at the same time, being with somebody who is miserable is not fun.
Also, feeling kind of like, “Is this it myself?” Every weekend it was the same thing. We would see the same people, we would go to the same places, we would go to the same Target, we would buy stuff for our house and it’s like, “Why are we doing this?” At a certain point and then, when he started talking about, “Hey, you know what, we could travel.” I was like “Okay, baby.” What we ended up doing was traveling for a year with our son from when he was two to when he was three. The year that we did that, the memories that I have of those experiences are so much different than any of the memories that I have before or after because normal life, it just kind of fades away. We forget what we were doing but whereas I know exactly where I was, and what it felt like, and what I had for lunch when we went to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, or when we went to Austin, or when we went to Portland. They were just these magical days.
The memories themselves are alive and they still live inside of me but to be able to do those things as a family and have so much meaning together as a family, to me, it sort of seems like what makes life worth living is to be able to do that. You guys have made that commitment permanently. You guys are each on the road five years and have no plans of going back, and you’re making it work. I think that’s so great. I just want other people to hear about your stories because there are many, many, many ways to live that make people happy. Just to consider more options.
Kimberly: Yes, definitely. Choose one of those ways that makes you happy and go for it.
Dr. Lisa: Right, right. Yeah. What would you guys say have been some of the most meaningful and important parts of this experience for you related to your happiness or the love and connection that you have with your family? What has that brought into your life?
Kimberly: When I was in the house planning these travels I had a big bucket list of places, right? Big list of places. I still have it somewhere, on a blog somewhere. What I learned almost immediately was it’s not the places; it’s the people, right? And living this intentional lifestyle with my family has then rippled into living an intentional lifestyle with everyone I meet, right? I don’t want to have a fake relationship with anybody anymore. If we’re going to be friends, we’re going to be friends, and then, taking that a step further and being able to weave those talents and traits that someone is willing to share with you into your own life. Clementine and I have known each other for five years and a lot of who I have become as this nomad is based on learning from Clementine.
Dr. Lisa: Clementine is making a face right now.
Kimberly: And the other people that come into our journey, and I don’t even call it my life anymore. This is my journey. I’ve been on this journey for five years. I hope to be able to continue this journey for the rest of my life. These souls that have woven themselves into my journey is the most amazing part. Because when I lived in a traditional lifestyle, I had neighbors; I had friends. We were part of a community; we were part of a church. But I never had these deep relationships that I do now.
Clementine: I would say that’s true. The first year we would travel around, and we would see every national park. One place, take a picture, go to another one, take another picture. After a year, you get really lonely because you can’t share it with anybody else. If you’re there by yourself, it’s so much more fun to share it and talk about it later, a year later into traveling like, “You remember this happened and that.” That’s really what helped us to connect to Fulltime Families and meet all those other families that are in it for the long haul or just for a year. It changes you.
Dr. Lisa: That is so amazing, and I so admire what you guys have been able to do with your community. Because in talking to people who live abroad or who are committed to traveling, it can often feel quite lonely and quite isolating. It sort of feels people are adrift in the ocean of the world and being dropped into Spain or whatever and not knowing anybody. But you guys have done such an amazing job of not just creating these kinds of nomadic villages that sort of travel around together, but just the quality of the connection that you have with people.
I think really, you’re living together. It’s a communal lifestyle that I’ve often thought it’s sort of the way, evolutionarily, we’re supposed to live, which is in these kinds of small bands of people. For millions of years, that’s how people lived, within these tribes, so to speak. You guys have created this nomadic tribe of support and friendship and looking after each other’s kids. It’s almost the way that we were built to be, that you found a modern way to do it. That is really unique and special.
Kimberly: That’s absolutely right. This lifestyle feeds our souls, really. The quality of my life on the road is so exponentially different than the quality of my life in the house because of this community-type living. It’s not something you can explain to someone who lives in a house. You have to experience it. I’ve listened to another podcast in which they talked exactly that same evolutionary theory that we were made to live together and to rely on one another. The only other place in the world that you’ll find this is an army platoon where they have to rely on each other for their lives. Brotherhood. That’s where they form that brotherhood.
Dr. Lisa: Unless you’re actually in an indigenous tribe. That would be awesome too.
Kimberly: Shout out to all the indigenous tribes.
Dr. Lisa: To have that kind of connection, that’s so awesome.
Clementine: I remember when my youngest was born three years ago. We decided to go back to the midwife we had before and had the baby in the camper. We gave birth to the baby in the camper. After coming back from Holland, he was a week old and we decided to fly back to Holland to show the new baby to our family. We stayed there for three weeks, and flew back, and went to another rally. It was probably 20 hours away from where we had our temporary storage.
I remember I was so tired because the youngest was just five weeks old. I remember I was so tired, and the breastfeeding didn’t go well, and there were so many women around me that said, “Oh, I can help you. Give me the baby. You can take a nap. We’ll handle this.” You had pinkeye or you had some stuff in this eye they said, “Oh I have something for you. Just give me the baby, just take a nap.” That was really what I needed.
Dr. Lisa: To feel really cared for by your community.
Clementine: The community that helps you out with the new baby.
Dr. Lisa: I talk a lot about happiness and the things that make people happy. All of the research, time and time again, yes, we can talk about ways of thinking and personal habits and all of these things that we have control over. The thing, most importantly, over and over and again that comes up in research is it’s the quality of your relationships and that sense of being cared for, and connected, and being able to care about other people. that is what is the fabric and the foundation of a happy life. That you have been able to find that in such a meaningful way that can be elusive for people who live in houses and have to make appointments with each other in order to see each other and go through weeks without seeing their best friends. I know that some of my listeners are also probably wanting to talk about the nuts and bolts.
Dr. Lisa: Can you talk a little bit about doing this with kids? It’s one thing for a couple of 20-year-olds to grab some backpacks and go to Europe. That’s easy. But to do it with a family, and I think that people can often perceive their opportunities as kind of having a barrier. “Well, we could but we can’t because we have children.” You guys have sort of been like, “No” and found ways of including your children in your lifestyle but also making this a really enriching experience for your kids. Can you just say a little bit more about how you have handled meeting the needs of your children while also being nomads? Educationally, their needs for friends.
Kimberly: A lot of people do use their kids as a crutch or an obstacle to this lifestyle. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I did not want to wait till my kids were grown up to have this experience. I wanted to experience it right alongside them because experiencing these things with them is so much more enriching. They see so much more and they react so differently than the way I react as an adult. Maybe a little jaded, maybe a little confused and busy and distracted, and they’ll spot amazing things that I would have missed otherwise. That was always a huge priority to me to do it as a family, because when we brought the idea to our families they were all like, “Well, you need to wait.”
Dr. Lisa: People only do this when they’re retired. That is the appropriate time to find their way and take off.
Kimberly: Schooling them was, in the beginning, very difficult for me. A lot of my ego was wrapped up in their educational success. If they didn’t understand the concept right away, I had very little patience for it. I was juggling four kids at once and one was a newborn. It was really daunting and it was an awful failure in the beginning. Just really awful. Since then, I had to really reel myself in and say, “What is my main objective here? Is it that they know that they can spout out a whole bunch of facts and be instant calculators? Is that my objective? Because if that’s what it is, then this is the path I need to be on. Or is it that I want them to be lifelong learners, and I want them to understand where to get the resources they need and be really passionate about learning?” I’m a lifelong learner. I attribute a lot of our business success to being able to learn things pretty quickly and knowing where to find information. That was really important to me.
How could I foster a love of lifelong learning? That took observation as opposed to direction, right? I couldn’t direct that. I had to observe what they reacted to positively and then reinforce that. I had to just pull back. Now at this point, my two oldest are 12 and 10, and they’re self-led. They’re part of an online curriculum with a multitude of lessons available to them. I give them the number of lessons they have to do today and they choose the subjects to do it in. That works really well and then, my younger, my eight-year-old is learning to read. It gets that one-on-one time with me to do that. DJ, who is now going to be turning five, is still learning through play.
Dr. Lisa: That’s wonderful. But to have that one-on-one time where you can help them and teach them as opposed to, kind of, putting them in school for eight hours a day and kind of hoping for the best and that these people, and adequate trained professionals, but would be able to care about your kid in the same way that you do to have that opportunity to teach them one-on-one. A lot of kids really benefit from that. That’s wonderful.
Seeing other families that have been able to develop these road school curriculums, being able to design based on where they are and what’s around, they’re at the Grand Canyon or they’re at the Redwood forest, being able to really design a whole curriculum of reading and math and science around where they are, which I think has been an incredibly enriching experience for their kids. You guys are such an inspiration. Are there any other words of wisdom or life lessons that you have gained from your nomadic lifestyle that you would like to share?
Clementine: I think if you have a question, there’s always an answer. You can make a list of things that hold you back from doing it. Write it down and look at it. Is it the kids? Is it the community? There are so many people that live on the road that can help you with doing it: transition to the road schooling and by experience. And you know, there’s always a way back. If it doesn’t work out, you can go back to a house.
Dr. Lisa: Yeah. It’s not a tattoo. Try it. Experiment. Try something. If it doesn’t work out, it’s okay. Go back.
Kimberly: To really hammer the point to people, that life is what you make it because someone so many of us feel ensnared and entrapped in their life. We don’t know how we got here because we just kept putting one foot in front of the other and living up to other people’s expectations and never asking ourselves the questions of “Well, what do we want? How do we want to raise our family? What’s important to us?” If you find yourself there, just stop and start asking yourself some questions.
Dr. Lisa: That’s wonderful advice. My takeaway from talking to you is it’s just how many options people really have. Feeling maybe trapped in your life but to start thinking creatively, maybe consider some new ideas that might have seem unthinkable before but to really entertain them sincerely, it just might open some amazing new horizons. Thank you so much for coming and talking to me today. This has been a lot of fun.
Kimberly: Thanks so much for having us.
Clementine: Yeah. Thank you.
Dr. Lisa: Kimberly Travaglino and Clementine Bachstein. You can learn more about Kimberly and her organization at fulltimefamilies.com. You can probably hunt Clementine down on Facebook and see some pictures of her new dog, and her camper, and all of her super fun adventures. Alright, everybody, that’s it. I’ll see you next time on The Love, Happiness, and Success podcast.
- Pursuing the Nomadic Lifestyle
- It is important to get your partner to see and understand why you want to be a nomad.
- Get out of debt. Mortgages and other loans will hinder you from freedom.
- Laying a foundation is vital to this lifestyle. You can’t do it impulsively.
- Committing to this lifestyle while running away from relationships, financial debacles, and other problems would not work.
- Do not take your emotional baggage with you.
- By choosing this lifestyle, you would have the opportunity to reinvent.
- Living with Intention
- A camper is a tool to live an intentional lifestyle. It minimizes all of your priorities because you won’t be out there trying to get the next best thing anymore.
- Interpersonal relationships would be improved.
- You would have more time to grow and explore together as a family.
- Meaningful and Important Parts in living a Nomadic Lifestyle
- It’s not the places; it’s the people. Living this intentional lifestyle with your family would ripple into living an intentional lifestyle with everyone you would meet.
- You would feel deeper relationships with the people you meet.
- It’s not something you can explain to someone who lives in a house. You have to experience it.
- This lifestyle has a community that would make you feel really cared for.
- Pursuing the Nomadic Lifestyle with Children
- Children are not an obstacle to this lifestyle.
- Experiencing these things with your children is so much more enriching.
- In terms of educating your children, observation is better than direction. Observe what they react to positively and then reinforce that.
- Other Words of Wisdom and Life Lessons from Living a Nomadic Lifestyle
- If you have a question, there’s always an answer.
- Make a list of things that hold you back from doing it. Write it down and look at it.
- There are many people that live on the road that can help you.
- There’s always a way back. If it doesn’t work out, you can go back to a house.
- Life is what you make it. Ask yourselves what you want, how you want to raise your family, and what’s important to you.
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self. She is a licensed psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a board-certified coach, as well as the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.