Posted August 11, 2021 by Bailey Mareu
If you follow us on Instagram or we're friends in real life, you have a good idea of our life over the past 3 years. But our website is sorely lacking details!
Here's a quick TL:DR since the beginning of our full time travel life!
- May 2015: purchase Toyota 4Runner (V8)
- June/July 2015: purchase and fix up 1995 pop up camper
- August 2015 - December 2017: traveled the US full time in our pop up camper
- January 2018 - October 2018: purchase, live in, and gut/renovate 1971 Aristocrat Landliner (20 foot travel trailer)
- November 2018: our daughter Marena is born!
- December 2018 - September 2019: we all (Bailey, Phil, Marena, and Emmy the cat) travel the country in our 20 foot travel trailer
- October 2019: move into house in Lawrence, Kansas for about 5 weeks November 2019: move to Wilmington, North Carolina for Phil's new job
- February 2021: move back to Lawrence, Kansas (Phil's job had been remote since beginning of pandemic)
- July 2021: Emmy passed somewhat quickly and unexpectedly
It is WILD to me that it's been six years since we moved out of a "real" home and into a tiny pop up camper to travel the country. It's been the most revealing and life-altering time in my life. I believe my life will very much have a distinct "before travel" and "after travel" break. It's allowed me to question everything our culture expects from us and how we "should" be doing things. So, you may ask, why are we not currently traveling? We decided to take a break from traveling at the end of summer 2019. Marena was starting to crawl and our travels in 2019 had been fast. Too fast. We needed a break, we needed to rethink our travel approach, and we needed to look at our finances. Our debt is fairly significant and requires quite a bit of our income. We decided I could work more (with Marena in child care) in order to pay off more debt. What was going to be taking off a few months from travel turned into taking off a year more to get a better handle on our debt to eventually allow our travels to be less dictated by how much money we needed to make in order to pay off debt.
By the time the pandemic started in March 2020 (4 months after moving to North Carolina), we were incredibly thankful to be in a home and not worrying about where we would stay (in an RV/camper) in a time of so much unknown. Being away from everyone we knew was incredibly isolating (even, I think, in a time of physical distancing). We took a month in November 2020 with our camper to visit our families in the midwest. And by families I mean our immediate family. We didn't see anyone outside of our immediate family without masking or being outdoors. It was a trip we needed but it was also very hard to continue working and not have child care for Marena AND worry about COVID-19 exposure.
We knew we were ready to move back to the midwest (Wilmington never got a fair chance as we didn't get to experience what life was really like there during a pandemic) and started thinking about it in December after our trip to the midwest. We decided to tell our landlord we were planning on moving (our lease went through April) and we were thinking about doing so in March (we were ready to pay even if we left early). Within a week someone had looked at our house, was interested *AND* wanted to move in within weeks. For a week or two we had decided we could leave before the end of February but with some family things happening, by about January 20th, we decided we would move out by the end of the month. So in about 10 days, we finalized dates with the moving box company moving our stuff AND we packed all our things. We took about 6 days to get back to Kansas. We stayed and extra night with friends in Arkansas and then stayed two nights at a hotel in Missouri as snow and cold descended on the middle of the country. This was right as the massive cold hit Texas and the rest of the middle of the country. The deep freeze that took hold as we settled in our RV park in Kansas. We were staying warm in our RV park but our services were freezing: no heated floor and no running water. We ended up staying 6 nights in a hotel before we could move into a beautiful home that I'm still so thankful was available to rent during this college town's "off-season" (majority of leases begin August 1).
Last month, Emmy had stopped eating (which had happened before because she didn't like her food) but she had also been fairly lethargic. I took her to the vet one morning and after some tests and a recommendation for a transfustion, Phil and I took Emmy home that afternoon to consider the options. She ended up passing on Phil's lap on the way home. Over a month later, the house still feels a little empty and we keep thinking we hear her or see her out of the corner of our eyes. We miss her so very much.
We definitely want to travel again. We miss the mountains and the new places and avoiding extreme weather as much as possible! We'll need a bigger camper: we need some space for whomever is working and Marena will need her own space. There's not a timeline or much of a plan yet but it's something we are working towards!
Photos above starting from left to right:
Me about 6 months pregnant Marena
Our first photos with our darling girl
The absolute best and most beautiful baby girl who did a phenomenal job with our travel life (we left Lawrence, Kansas -where she was born - when she was just a month old)
Emmy did *SO* great with Marena
Me and my tiny girl with the big trees at Sequoia National Park
Officially beach people in Wrightsville Beach, NC
Marena and Papa on Topsail Beach, NC
Our wild nature girl