Today, we’re debuting a sneak peek of one of our upcoming projects: Beyond the Dream. The documentary follows three young adult immigrants—who have only temporary protection from deportation—as they navigate the uncertainty of their twenties…and of their legal status.
At Roadtrip Nation, we’ve learned that when you’re out on the road, every situation quickly becomes a metaphor that can be applied to your everyday life. And after logging 19 days and over 3,000 miles on the road in the Green RV, the Dream Team not only gained wisdom about their lives and careers—they also became experts on what we like to call, “the Tao of RV Living.” So in the spirit of the insights learned in today’s Beyond the Dream webisode, here are 10 of the best life lessons we’ve learned from our travels:
1. Say “yes” to just about everything…
As road-tripper Pratishtha points out in Beyond the Dream, before DACA passed, she wasn’t able to legally drive; that, in addition to her discomfort traveling without protections, meant that a cross-country road trip was completely out of the question. But last summer, when she saw an opportunity to finally travel across the country, she jumped at the chance—she said “yes.”
Not everything you say “yes” to will feel quite so grand, but over time, what feel like little yeses —saying “yes” to applying for that dream job that always felt slightly out of reach, “yes” to finally getting the ball rolling on your side business, “yes” to having coffee with a potential mentor—will accumulate over time, and one day, you’ll look back and be glad you were so open to new opportunities.
2. …but do your research beforehand.
Fun fact: the average Roadtrip Nation green RV is about 12.5 feet tall! So while your heart might tell to say “yes” to taking that scenic parkway with the historic (read: low) bridges, if you’ve done your due diligence, your head should hopefully tell you “no.” It’ll save you thousands of dollars in damage…not to mention that always-awkward call to your insurance agent.
In your everyday life, basic research can save you the same kind of embarrassment and wasted time. Simple things—like actually reading up on a company and its products before going into a job interview, or taking time to ask employees about a company’s culture before accepting a job offer—will save you from spending time on something that’s not going to benefit you in the long run.
3. Always be ready to reroute.
Building off of the previous point, if you do hit a roadblock, you can’t let it ruin your day. At the risk of sounding like a Robert Frost poem, taking your second-choice route doesn’t mean your trip is going to be any better or any worse; it’s just an opportunity for a set of experiences that you wouldn’t have previously had!
4. Live in the moment.
In our Beyond the Dream webisode, the road-trippers take a visit to Zion National Park, where they pause to reflect on the importance of living in the moment: “This moment is only going to happen once. You’re here; take advantage of it,” says road-tripper Alexis.
It’s crazy easy to get so caught up in the stress of “What’s next? Am I still on track?” that you stop appreciating the things that are happening to you right now. So whether you’re working an entry-level job, or taking a tour of a national treasure, make sure you’re still absorbing and learning from what’s happening around you.
5. Take nothing for granted.
You learn this lesson very quickly when your RV’s refrigerator burns out, or the hot water heater is being finicky. On the road, you’re not always going to be comfortable—it’s a fact. But being in a slightly uncomfortable position now and then isn’t a bad thing—it’ll show you how quickly you’re able adapt to new environments and challenges, and teach you to appreciate the simple things in life.
6. Make plenty of time for pit stops.
Know that moments of spontaneity are going to arise—and embrace them! If you stick to too rigid a route, you’re not going to have time to pull over and take pictures with cool heaps of junk. And sometimes, you just have to pull over to take a picture with the cool heap of junk.
7. It pays to work on your interpersonal skills.
When you’re completely lost in the middle of nowhere, it’s highly beneficial not to feel *awkward* about asking for directions. Travel acts a catalyst for interactions you never would’ve normally had, with people you might not usually talk to, but when you’re not on the road, developing those interpersonal skills is just as important. (Maybe the words “job interview” are flashing through your brain right now.)
If you don’t have the advantage of a 36-foot-long bright green RV acting as an ice-breaker, you can try joining an intramural sports league, or attending a Toastmasters meeting in your town. You’ll quickly learn that a.) Most people are generally good and nice! And b.) You’re probably better at socializing than you’d thought!
8. Put your self-care first.
Spending weeks on the road can be exhilarating and exciting, but they can also cause some serious wear and tear on your mental and physical health. On the road and in your worklife, make sure you’re taking enough “me” time to stay healthy. Make time for rest, creative or deep thought, or meditation—whatever helps you reset and stay balanced.
9. Not everything is going to be sunshine, rainbows, and Instagram-worthy photo ops all the time.
Parts of living on the road are very unglamorous. Have you ever accidentally put food down a sink without a garbage disposal, only to have it come back to haunt your nostrils two weeks later? No? Ever had to dump an RV? (If you don’t know what we mean by “dump an RV” you’ll have to keep tuning in to the Beyond the Dream webisodes.) Know that when you’re seeing other people’s trips or jobs on social media, you’re only seeing the highlights. Your journey will have highlights, too—as long as you don’t get so stuck on the bad times that you miss the good.
10. But sometimes, the most unexpected experiences make for the best stories.
Don’t write off the bad times as strictly bad! Time and time again, the people we talk to on the road tell us that failures and setbacks are what made them successful. So when your car breaks down, or you don’t get the promotion you were hoping for, accept that you’ve had some bad luck, take time to find the silver lining—or humor—in the situation, then get ready to press forward once again.