When thinking about making the move to fulltiming, the usual considerations such as address, doctors, and other such practicalities spring to mind. But there are other factors to consider that are far less obvious. What about the social and mental implications? Are you tough enough to handle it?
Setting up the Airstream on a rural CL on a picture-postcard day, a familiar and much-repeated scenario occurred. Up rolled a lovely couple in their ancient yet trusty Hymer motorhome. 'What a lovely caravan!' the lady said as she admired my rig with a beaming smile. We engaged in conversation, and very quickly I admitted that my Airstream was my home. Immediately she 'got' it and could see the attraction. Many caravanners and motor caravanners do. However, we are but a wee minority of the general populace.
Most people out there in the ‘real world’ go about their business with little thought to alternative ways of doing things. Their opinions are formed by one-sided propaganda in all forms of media from newspapers to television, not to mention the constant bombardment of information and advertising that relentlessly attacks all of us from all angles. Yet people allow advertising and media to insult them in the most shocking ways. They actually lie down and swallow it! Why? Because fear of the unknown prevents many people from breaking out of the everyday routine, and from doing what is expected by society in general.
That's absolutely fine. The world would be a frightfully dull place if we were all the same, shared the same opinions, and did the same thing.
However, there are very few people doing what we full-timers are doing. Young singles are generally building careers, going to the gym, and doing what they think they need to do to attract themselves a partner and secure themselves a future. Couples and families settle down and build 'solid' roots for their future, allowing themselves two weeks of holiday pleasure after 50 weeks on the treadmill. As the kids fly the nest, older couples and singles start to think about slowing down and maybe expanding their social lives, taking up golf and the like.
By no means is this observation meant as derogatory. However, don't expect any of the above people to understand why you prefer to be free. Fulltiming young singles will be popular with their mates on a sunny August day in Brighton, but the chances of meeting a partner who shares their vision are highly remote. Couples and families can expect their social circle shrink dramatically and their existing social lives dry up. As for dealing with the stigma of home-schooling your child in a caravan, that's a whole new subject for another day. Few people will see how full and rich a child's education can be when approached outwith the stifling and tunnel-visioned mainstream education system.
It's not all doom and gloom. There are of course people who totally understand the reasons and motivations for full-timing even if they choose not to make that step themselves. Real friends, the friends you can count on one hand, will stand by and support you. By the nature of where we camp, we will meet like-minded people. Fortunately for us, caravanners are the nicest people on the planet. There are other fulltimers around (thank goodness for the internet) with whom you can strike a real or a virtual friendship.
Fulltiming retirees often head to warmer climes for the winter, and whole communities of like-minded folk spring up in campsites across the Med. The irony here is that older folk receive more support, social interraction and everyday contact with like-minded people (i.e. have bucketloads more FUN) than those do who are trapped in a house on a lonely housing estate where everyone else is out at work all day.
Outside the confines of the caravanning community, there are few people who 'get it'. Many of them won't think twice about telling you what they think about your life choice either, despite the fact you have not invited their opinion or been so arrogant as to judge how they live their lives.
Every week I seem to end up defending the lifestyle from people who think it's funny to mock. Today's insult was that I was living in an 'Unplumbed Hellhole'. I kid you not. His comment was made from a building in a built-up area in a town this person didn't enjoy living. Here's a picture of where my rig is right now:
It's bloody tiring to have to constantly explain and justify why you live the way you do. When you put yourself out into the everyday world, be it at a party or even just on Facebook, you can end up feeling very lonely indeed as nobody else seems to 'get it'. As such, many fulltimers simply withdraw from wider society, keep to themselves, and only choose to associate with the very few people who support and encourage the way they live their lives.
By no means let the extradition from narrow-minded Daily Mail reading X-Factor watching automatrons prevent you from following your dreams. Just don't expect your decision to be popular or understood by everyone. Defending the lifestyle can be a grind, especially when you know that, deep down, those highly vocal critics with their tired digs and unfunny quips are secretly incredibly jealous that you have the courage, the pragmatism, the dynamism, the self-assurance, the open-mindedness, and the balls that they so obviously lack themselves.