Dec 17 2011

Must Be Good to be Home?

Written by Boyink · Short URL:

Merry (modest) Christmas!

Merry (modest) Christmas!

As we’ve moved into the holiday season and are re-connecting with family and friends this is the phrase/question we hear a lot: “So, it must be good to be home?”  It’s often not even posed as a question, just sort of an assumption with the speaker saying it while nodding their head in anticipation of our agreeing with it.

Except, we don’t.

Yes, it’s been nice to catch up and see people in person that we didn’t see for a year.  But overall it’s been - and continues to be - tough to be back in a stationary house especially with winter setting in here in Michigan.  There hasn’t been much snow yet so outdoors has been a depressing brown and cold environment with nothing to point a camera at.  Affordable entertainment options (especially for a family without many wintertime outdoor enthusiasts… middle-aged female ones anyway) are few during a Michigan winter.  Many evenings I am physically restless, tired of being online, not wanting to look at screens any longer, eyes too tired to read a book, no projects to go noodle around with in the garage, and reluctant to bundle up to go outside and walk around the neighborhood I’ve lived in for 15 years. Before and during our travels we read the blogs of other traveling families with great interest - both in hopes of meeting up with them and as research for interesting places to visit.  Now it’s hard to keep reading those blogs as reading about their explorations and adventure only reminds us of how stationary we are.

Make no mistake; if you are planning a similar adventure for your family one outcome may be the inability to return to life as you knew it.  While we’ve seen some families be done and ready to be off the road after a period of travel, for us the trip was life changing.  We are no longer as happy if not traveling and want to get back into that mode as soon as we can.

So - what have we been doing since becoming stationary suburbanites?

  • We cleaned out the trailer and managed to still find inside storage for it at a nearby farm.  The barn had paved floors and the owners kept mice traps set and attended to so we felt good about getting it tucked away out of the snow (and out of the driveway) while we’re off the road.
  • We’ve done some precursory research into the housing market to see if selling the house was feasible or if we would need to consider renting it out instead.  At this point we intend to try and sell - mainly to be done with the mental load of home ownership.
  • We’ve paid down a bit of the debt we incurred while on the road and continue to do so with a goal of being debt-free the next time we hitch up.
  • My work laptop needed replacement after 4 years, and since I’ll be getting rid of my desktop as part of our ultimate move to full-time travel I wanted the best and most mobile laptop I could get.  I ended up jumping from the PC world to the Mac world with the purchase of a MacBook Air. It’s been several weeks and I’m finally feeling like I know how to get around it.  I’m loving the lack of weight and heat and how small my “office” can be now.
  • I spent a week in New York City for a work-related conference.
  • I just returned from 5 days in Chicago on a business trip.  I missed having the family along but it was refreshing to be back in exploratory mode for a little while.
  • I have a client project almost set to launch, after that’s done I need to revise my book as that will be much easier to do on the bigger desktop screens.
  • We moved my main office desk and desktop PC up from my basement (cave) office and found room for it in the corner of the living room.
  • Continuing in the vein of “let’s use this floor space differently” we put both the kids beds in the smallest of our three bedrooms.  It’s like our bunkhouse fifth wheel trailer, just bigger.
  • By having the kids sleep in the same room it freed up the middle bedroom to become a “teen room”.  We repainted it and moved another desk, their schoolwork, instruments and games in there.  Now when they have friends over they have a place to hang out that isn’t someone’s bedroom.  While quick to describe this project took several weeks (and help from family) to accomplish.
  • We’ve done an initial pass through our “stuff” and hauled a large load of clothes, household items and bit of furniture to Goodwill.
  • The kids are getting a lot of “friend time” reconnecting with their local friends.
  • The kids are getting caught up on their orthodontia.  Data is close to getting his braces off.  Storybird isn’t and we’re not sure yet how she’ll work out of hers once we’re traveling again.
  • We’ve all gotten caught up with Doctors appointments.
  • We’ve met with another local family thinking about a similar trip and talked about our experiences.
  • We’ve attended several family holiday events - taking along the laptop with a slideshow of about 200 images from our year.
  • We’ve found local high-school plays and free college concerts to attend. We’ll be watching for more of these.
  • MsBoyink is prepping for a couple days away helping her Mom after some surgery - knowing in the future being able to do so might be difficult.
  • MsBoyink has gone on a “learn how to cook better” mission in hopes of keeping us healthier and breaking the boredom of eating the same meals all of the time. She’s checked out cookbooks, watched YouTube videos on knife usage, and has instructed me to find my whetstone.
  • We’ve tried to keep our Christmas very modest, using just our tree-topper and buy small gifts of either consumables or experiences so there isn’t more stuff to get rid of in the spring.

I write this list as much for us as anyone - it’s good to read through it and remind ourselves that we have made valuable use of our downtime.  It’s too easy to feel like we’ve simply returned to life as we knew it and feel like we’ve done nothing significant to prep ourselves for getting back on the road.

I won’t say it’s been good to be home.  I’d rather just have pretended all of this…baggage….didn’t exist and just hitched the trailer up and headed south & west again.  We’re still hoping that will be the case come late April / early May.


A Google Map of where this post was written.

18 comments on Must Be Good to be Home?

  1. Picture of Suzi

    Suzi writes:

    This is really interesting reading. We’ve only been ‘homeless’ for 6 months and out trip has been punctuated by stays at my parents house so far, and even now I feel some of what you are describing each time we return there. specially about there being nothing to photograph! Hope you find lots of things to enjoy before you head back out to do what you really love.

    Posted on December 17, 2011
  2. Picture of Boyink

    Boyink writes:

    Hi Suzi - thanks for the comment.  Just took a spin through your blog as well - we have the vague idea of heading across the pond after another stint here in the states. We figure at some point the trailer will fall apart and see no sense to replace it with something here - not sure if we’d do RV based travel in Europe or just between rented apartments.

    My mom was also diagnosed with cancer this year so definitely can relate to the impact that can have on things, and were glad we got to visit them in Texas on our trip.

    Posted on December 17, 2011
  3. Picture of Adam

    Adam writes:

    I get a similar question from folks back home.

    “When are you coming back?” and it’s not for a visit, it’s moving back to the States.  When you don’t have a good answer for that the reaction is usually mild confusion.

    Posted on December 17, 2011
  4. Picture of Boyink

    Boyink writes:

    It’s living outside the formula…;)

    Watching what our congress is doing these days I could start to consider a similar move…permanently!

    Posted on December 18, 2011
  5. Picture of Chad

    Chad writes:

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve been enjoying the blog a great deal. Sounds like a great adventure. But may I raise one concern a midst all of your positive comments? I mean, what’s one critique among all of the, “I wish I could…” comments? I’ll seem like a bit of an ass, I’m sure, but here goes.

    Where is the service in all this? It appears that you’ve beat the system that binds most folks to the sod in one state, and more power to you. That’s great. But to what end? I know that you’re saved. I’ve met you. You’re not afraid to talk about it. So I’m wondering why I’m not reading more about it here. Why not detail the ways in which you are serving others and living your lives for Jesus out there on the road?

    The impression I get, and this is only my impression, is that you’re portraying a life of leisure and travel as some sort of ideal that all should aspire to. I think you and your family have an amazing opportunity. You’re mobile, you’re flexible, and you’re adventurous. You’re not afraid of new experiences. Now tell us how you’re using those gifts to serve. You’re probably doing plenty of kingdom work, but it’s just not prevalent in your writings.

    Believe me, the struggle to serve others and make disciples, which is the calling of all who are saved, is difficult for me as well. Whether mobile or stationary, we all belong, “body and soul, in life and in death” to our faithful savior Jesus Christ. We are to be tools in his hands.

    I would love to hear about how your meanderings have impacted you spiritually. Has it made discipleship of your kids easier, or harder? What are the challenges of having daily bible time on the road, etc. I think that would be an interesting angle on your adventure. Perhaps there’s a book in there somewhere about the life of ‘mobile missionaries’ or some such thing.

    That’s my two cents. Again, I don’t mean to be disrespectful. You’re a good dad. You have great kids. This is your blog. I’m just passing through. Delete this if you find it in poor taste, but I was just hoping to nudge the conversation in a different direction.

    Posted on December 19, 2011
  6. Picture of Suzi

    Suzi writes:

    Thanks for stoppong by my blog too. i think Europe would be great in a motorhome - if we hadn’t already bought a car for the 6 months we were over here we would definitely have considered it. You’ll have to stop by and let me know how you get on when you make it over here - and if I can help with any research before you go give me a holler - we travelled pretty extensively over here tagged onto the end of work trips etc in the past.

    Sorry to hear about your mum’s cancer - I hope she is doing well now.

    Posted on December 21, 2011
  7. Picture of Boyink

    Boyink writes:

    Thanks - will do!

    Mom is through all the treatments and doing well.

    Posted on December 21, 2011
  8. Picture of Boyink

    Boyink writes:

    Hey Chad -

    Sorry, your comment got caught in a spam filter and I just noticed it.

    “The impression I get, and this is only my impression, is that you’re portraying a life of leisure and travel as some sort of ideal that all should aspire to.”

    What we’ve blogged about is the fun/interesting/photogenic portions of our trip which isn’t the whole story.  I still worked.  The kids still schooled.  MsBoyink still had to cook and do laundry.  Sometimes we spent days in a location simply because there wasn’t anything much to do there.  It wasn’t a year of leisure, it was a year of putting life as we knew it on wheels.  But how many pictures of me on my laptop do people need to see? ;)

    I’m sorry if your takeaway is that we’re telling everyone to aspire to this lifestyle. I actually consciously try to only tell our story, how the trip went for us, what it meant for us, how it changed us, and what we intend to do now.  I don’t want to get into the business of telling others what they should do with their lives like so many other “lifestyle design” blogs I read.  We know this lifestyle isn’t for everyone.  Not everyone has a portable job skill.  We’ve also met families who’ve tried it, found it didn’t work for them, and were happy back in a stick-home 9 months later.

    However, we met so many people who voiced the desire to do something like this - especially from my peers in the tech industry.  Because that group especially has the work skills that are easiest to make portable I am going to speak to a couple of user groups about the experience with the goal of at least demonstrating that a different lifestyle (that what society may expect) is possible.

    “I think you and your family have an amazing opportunity. You’re mobile, you’re flexible, and you’re adventurous. You’re not afraid of new experiences. Now tell us how you’re using those gifts to serve. You’re probably doing plenty of kingdom work, but it’s just not prevalent in your writings.”

    No, and decidedly so. We didn’t feel called to do a family mission trip or become full-time missionaries. We felt called to have a year-long family adventure. But we wanted to at least be “missional”, and even though that proved hard to do while moving so often (see this post) we did find opportunities to do so.  But when those opportunities came about I didn’t feel comfortable taking photos and making a blog post out of them as it felt too self-promotional.

    The trip as planned was for a year.  We coined a phrase: “A year is a year but it’s only a year.” It sounds like a long time but goes by in a hurry and with a expiration date on the trip our motivation was to keep moving - which we did every 3.5 days on average (other than our summer camp-hosting job in WA).  I suspect that looking at it from the outside it appears that we would have had more opportunities & time for service work than we actually did.

    “What are the challenges of having daily bible time on the road, etc. I think that would be an interesting angle on your adventure. Perhaps there’s a book in there somewhere about the life of ‘mobile missionaries’ or some such thing.”

    No book needed (or appropriate, as we didn’t consider ourselves missionaries).  Basically - take all the challenges you have in a stationary stick-house and add a bunch due to moving more often, sights to see, people to visit and total lack of any schedule.  In spite of those challenges we had some “missional moments”, visited a number of different churches, the kids and MsBoyink read through their entire Bibles in the year we were gone.  Also - not all service work is physical/in person.  We continued to run our home church website, the Stories About God website, and help other church techhies build ExpressionEngine based websites through Train-ee.

    But overall?  I wasn’t happy with the missional aspect of our year and it’s one of the motivators for selling the house and going full-time on the road. We want stay in one place for a couple weeks on average. This will have several benefits but mainly we want to have more time to identify local opportunities for volunteering and be able to develop closer relationships with people in need. By removing the trip expiration date we’ll feel freer to follow God’s leading to where we can be of use.

    Posted on December 27, 2011
  9. Picture of Rosemarie Fritz

    Rosemarie Fritz writes:

    My husband found your blog and we are very grateful for all the tech tips (going to look into the Millenicom router) as I am a Setup Configuration Specialist (step below Systems Analyst at my employer in Orlando) and just recently got approved to work virtual starting 1/16th!  We found our Class A motorhome and have had it at our home since Thursday…can hardly stay out of it…so excited.  We will be heading up to S. IL where he works with my brothers in construction until that work slows down and we can venture out!  We have sold our house in IL to one of my brothers and are seeing our Heavenly Father work His will on quite possibly having a friend and her husband house-sit our FL house and ensure all is well on this property and my very much beloved cat doesn’t have to be relocated (not an RV friendly cat as he doesn’t use a litter box..but is a primarily outside cat).  We see Him working everything out and in speedy time, too!  We do seek to be used by Him in any and everyway He desires in this new life we have desired for several years to pursue!  Just wanted to let you know we appreciate your blog and many others here on FOTR!  Blessings,

    Posted on January 01, 2012
  10. Picture of Chad

    Chad writes:


    Thanks for your response. I feel dumb. Somehow I had missed your earlier post, “Lessons Learned: School and Church”. That post addressed everything I had questions about. I’m amazed that your wife and kids both got through the Bible in the course of your time away. That is awesome. That is something that will stick with them long term, I am sure.

    I look forward to reading about your adventures in the future. My only regret is that it appears Holland will be losing some pretty solid citizens.

    Posted on January 02, 2012
  11. Picture of Boyink

    Boyink writes:

    Ah - no worries.  Holland will always be home!

    Posted on January 02, 2012
  12. Picture of Boyink

    Boyink writes:

    Thanks for stopping by Rosemarie - glad to hear you’re finding the site useful.

    IL in January?  That will be rough!  We spent a few nights in the teens while on our trip and I wouldn’t want to make a habit of that.

    Posted on January 03, 2012
  13. Picture of Adam Khan

    Adam Khan writes:

    As one of those you mention who are in the same line of work and (still so far idly) thinking of doing something like this, thank you for the serious, frank and helpful reportage of your exciting year. Excellent and helpful, as usual.

    Posted on January 12, 2012
  14. Picture of Boyink

    Boyink writes:

    Thanks Adam!

    Posted on January 14, 2012
  15. Picture of Shelley

    Shelley writes:

    Thanks Adam.  Your site is very helpful.  My family of 7 plan on taking on the traveling lifestyle this June.

    Posted on January 24, 2012
  16. Picture of Marci

    Marci writes:

    Great blog!  I just read through all of your Lessons Learned posts, and found them to be very informative.  Our family of 4 (two teen boys) is hoping to get on the road very soon.  Our home in Ann Arbor has been for sale fow a couple of years, with no luck, but we’re still hoping & praying that it happens this spring!  We may need to think of a way to go even if we areen’t able to sell . . . our oldest is a sophomore, and our time with him at home is ticking away!  Good Luck to your family in phase 2 of your adventure!

    Posted on March 06, 2012
  17. Picture of Boyink

    Boyink writes:

    Thanks for the comment Marci - we’re hoping to be back out this spring as well.  Maybe a MI meetup is in order..;)

    Good luck with the sale - we’re considering pricing our house at pretty rock-bottom pricing in hopes of getting out of it quickly.

    Posted on March 06, 2012
  18. Picture of Tom

    Tom writes:

    Yes,  we would really like to meet more sane people with the same asperations as us.  We to are relatively young (50 and 46yo) this May.  We love the west side of the state and frequently head to Silver Lake for relaxation.  Let us know when a good time is so we can plan a week off.  I know our boys would like to meet new kids in same homeschool situation.  Keep in touch…Happy trails

    Posted on March 08, 2012

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