What No One Told Me About Full-Time Travel

Jessica Swanda
12 min readMay 13, 2019

In the past sixteen months, I have lived in twelve different cities and nine different states. I’ve walked the old streets of Montreal, climbed below deck of the famous warship Old Ironsides, lived in Blake Shelton’s hometown, worked out of dozens of local coffee shops, seen alligators up close (and NOT in a zoo), eaten in the original Cheers, visited the scene of the Salem Witch trials, and taken road trips in the New England fall.

Moving Day!

Because of my husband Kaleb’s job, we travel the USA full-time. We don’t own a home. Or a car. Or anything of much value for that matter. We move to a new place every month or so, take in all the touristy things we can, and learn the area as much as possible before leaving.

But before you say, “Oh wow, isn’t that exciting? I would LOVE to do that,” there’s some things you should know.

Our Instagram only tells half the story — actually, more like a fourth. There’s a lot more to it. And it isn’t all exciting.

When we first started doing this, I was a bundle of emotions: hesitancy, excitement, confusion, thrill, fear — I felt it all. The first three or four months really were exciting. It was new and thrilling and felt like an adventure. But there was also a distinct learning curve, a new way of life we had to get used to.

There are no guidebooks for full-time traveling. There’s no one typical routine everyone follows, like in “normal” life. There were all kinds of hurdles to overcome and surprises to adapt to. But those hurdles and surprises kept things interesting and new.

Eventually though, the new became the usual. We began to expect the hurdles. The excitement wore off. And we were left with a permanent lifestyle, one that was simultaneously normal and bizarre, both constant and constantly changing. It was a lifestyle we never could have fully anticipated (because, seriously, how many people do you know whose brains you could pick about relocating every 5 weeks?).

Through this journey, I’ve found there’s a lot more to long-term travel than just the excitement of it (though that’s there too!). There’s elements of living on the road that I could have never fully anticipated until I lived them myself. So for those of you daydreaming about switching lives with that Youtuber…

Jessica Swanda

Freelance writer. Travels the USA full time with her husband. Writes about travel, faith, books, and business. More about me: https://proofisinthewriting.com/