Archive for Blog Posts

Consider upgrading your account to remove ads from your site and access enhanced blog features!

As an active HubPages author, I contributed this sabbatical planning advice article to HubPages on 9/9/09.

Begin Your Extended Vacation with a Plan

We all dream of taking an extended vacation or sabbatical, and doing absolutely nothing at all. If you’re able to save money to take time off from your career and make your dream happen, it’s so important not to waste that precious time.

Relax on your sabbatical, but don't waste too much time.

I know it sounds crazy, but to make the most of your extended sabbatical, you need to start with a plan before you actually tell the boss to stick it!

When we decided to take time off and hit the road in our RV, before we did, we held a mini-retreat. We bought a giant wall chart and jotted down all our ideas for what we wanted to do during this long vacation.

Here are some questions we asked ourselves:

  • What did we want to get out of our time off?
    We were sick of our business and wanted to do something completely different. So we figured our time off would be used to research new businesses for sale. We also wanted to explore personal interests, like gardening, animal rescue, fly fishing and knitting.
  • Where should we take our sabbatical?
    At the time, Our dog Jerry was sick with terminal cancer. We always wanted to do a road trip with him, so this was our chance to finally see America in an RV, before it was too late. If you dream of traveling, make a wish list of your ideal places to see during your break. But, remember, not everyone needs to travel to have a worthwhile sabbatical. Even staying at home during that time-off can help you feel invigorated (and you’ll save money too!)
  • How would we pay for our time off?
    Going on a road trip journey like this was going to be expensive. To finance our RV trip, we decided to sell everything we owned, including our house. We read a great book on how to finance our road trip too, and came up with a budget. Understand your finances before the clock starts ticking.
  • How much time should we take?
    When you’re a working stiff, even a month-long vacation seems like an eternity. The thought of taking even more time off just seemed mind-boggling to us. But believe it or not, even a month isn’t enough time to really recuperate from the daily grind. For a sabbatical to be really successful, and allow you to come back to work refreshed, or start a completely new career, you need at least six months.
Sabbatical success on our RV road trip

Make It Happen!

If you really want this time off, you can make it happen. Unless you’re loaded with cash, you’ll need to make some sacrifices, and lower your cost of living. But there are so many creative ways to finance a sabbatical without going into debt (I’ll explore that in another article), don’t let anyone tell you that it can’t be done, especially during a recession.

Never in a million years did we dream of taking a year off to travel, explore new businesses, pursue our hobbies, and be with our beloved dog until his death. But if we could do it, you can too!

We also never, ever thought that what we thought would be a one year sabbatical would turn into two and a half years of time off. And, after seeing what life can be like by living simply and not falling into the rat race trap again, we’ve vowed to continue this low-key, debt-free lifestyle as long as we can!

Consider upgrading your account to remove ads from your site and access enhanced blog features!

My fulltime, permanent road trip often takes me to some of the most offbeat and quirky parts of North America. In this post, I provide my perspective on the permanent transient encampment known as Slab City, in the Southern California desert.

Among RVers, no other camping area evokes such intense reactions as Slab City. People either love it, or hate it. There is no gray area among this 640 acre dismantled military base near the Salton Sea.

Which way to Slab City at gun turret?Made famous by its appearance in the movie “Into the Wild,” Slab City wasn’t on our radar until our friend Skinny Chef asked if we wanted to meet her there. Then coincidentally, I found this blog entry, by a young RVing couple we met back in South Carolina;

“The movie depicts Slab City as this really cool RV hippie community, where people of all ages hang out – peace, love, happiness, rock and roll, and all that. Well yesterday, we drove two hours to Slab City and nothing could be further from the truth.

Slab City is an RV slum, pure and simple. It’s actually really sad – people living in tents and abandon vehicles. There were even remnants of burned down RVs strewn all over the place. It’s amazing to think that people actually live this way in the US – and it’s only 80 miles from swanky Palm Springs.”

Low Road Slab City Loners On WheelsThis intrigued me. Liz is a nice person and I like her a lot, but the two of us are quite different. I’m crunchy granola and like to keep things simple, while she’s a high flyin’ New Yorker who’s into manicures, and the glamourous life. Once I saw what she thought of Slab City, I figured if she hated it, I’d probably love it.

I was right.

Slab City: The Last Free Place

Do come here with an open mind if you plan to visit. Many people we know would be completely offended by the post-apocalyptic look of the place.

To come here requires someone who is willing to look beyond the surface, to scratch a little deeper at a situation to learn the real story.

What Slab City Is:

  • Free camping. It’s a spot of abandoned, state-owned land where hundreds of travelers from all over the world come to stay for free, some permanently, others just to ride out winter. Call us squatters, if you will, since nobody has “official” permission to be here.
  • Serious Boondocking. There are no facilities whatsoever: no electricity, water, or trash. Nothing. The closest dump station is 8 miles away.
  • Kinda trashy, in places. Yes, there is some garbage and abandoned RVs around. The state doesn’t care about this spot, and the closest city refuses to clean it up since residents don’t pay to be here. It’s up to campers to be responsible for taking trash to town, and like any neighborhood, some people are better about this than others.
  • Very Social. There is much to do and see here, including social clubs, a couple of concert stages, a library, an 18 hole golf course, a church, hot springs, and more. We’ve been to two potlucks, and seem to be doing something every night of the week. We’ve never been so active in one location before.Off Grid Solar RV Boondocking at Slab City

What Slab City Isn’t:

  • Lawless. Contrary to how the media portrays it, I don’t feel in any more in danger here than I do in most cities. Sure, there are some sketchy looking characters, but if you keep away from them, they’ll most likely keep away from you. The county sheriff makes regular runs through here, and Border Patrol is constantly driving through.
  • Depressing. There is more creativity here than any tidy suburban neighborhood I’ve been to. Residents have contributed many hours of labor to build free amenities like the golf course (with free equipment!), concert stages, church, or the public shower down near the springs. I’m impressed that people would do so much with so little, in such an unforgiving desert environment. Now if they could only get it together to do something about the trash . . .
  • Mainstream. It’s as if someone took a sampling of every kind of ethnicity, personality type and mental disorder, and shipped them here. There are international travelers, old folks, musicians, fulltime Rvers, wandering travelers and offroad enthusiasts, all camped out in the same area as drifters, people struggling with addictions, mental illness and/or homelessness. Everyone seems to get along, following a live and let live attitude.

Church of the Sub Genius Slab City Art CampThe desert scenery outside Slab City is beautiful, surrounded by a rugged mountain range. On most days, you can look east to the Chocolate Mountains, about 2 miles away, and watch the US Navy spend your tax dollars by practicing bombing runs and playing war games in the air. We took two hour bike rides without seeing another soul.

The other day, Jim went to see Solar Mike, about our solar system. Mike asked Jim “How long are you staying?” Jim replied with “oh, a week or two.” Mike looked at Jim with a knowing look and chuckled… “Yeah, right.”

I think he could tell just by looking at us. The Slab City lifestyle is agreeing with us, and we’re going to find it hard to break camp this week.Slab City Community Sign

June, 2007, was the month that my husband and I sold our printing business and home, and headed out on an open-ended road trip sabbatical with our three legged dog. The blog we share, LiveWorkDream, chronicles our never-ending journey in search of our “next big thing.”

This post was written in August, 2008, during our stint as “workampers” on a Western Colorado dude ranch.

On Being Self Employed: Freedom from Motivational Posters

Vickers Ranch Hwy 149 Lake City COThis has been a rough week at the ranch. In the span of three days, two workampers quit, the chef got into an accident and might be out for the season, and some guests are being a challenge. I see the look on my boss’ face, and I can relate.

Back in the day, whenever things would get rough while we were running our old business, I would read this quote on the wall above my computer:

“I’d rather be the captain of my own dinghy than a junior officer on the Titanic.”

Dr. James Chan, Author of “Spare Room Tycoon; The 70 lessons of sane self-employment.”

It was a constant reminder of why Jim and I were working countless 12 hour days, jumping through flames to deliver impossible client demands, and barely stopping to catch our breath to show Jerry some love. Yet, despite the endless agonies that go along with being self-employed, I’ve never been happier while making a living.

It took me a long time to figure out that I was meant to run my own business.

I think I went through eleven different office jobs between the time I finished college, in 1992, to the time we got our business going, in 1997. I wouldn’t say I was a bad employee, just easily bored. At almost every place I punched a clock, I hated being expected to fit into a predefined role, and towing the company line. Oftentimes, I wanted to throw a brick at every motivational poster that plastered the cafeteria walls. So I became self-employed. The mistress of my own dinghy.

Gold Hill Vickers Ranch CO

I’m Wearing the Other Shoe Now
After a few years of running our business, it didn’t take me long to gain a real appreciation and understanding of what my former employers went through. Money worries. Taxes. Technology. Unappreciative employees (if any of my old bosses are out there, I wholeheartedly apologize for any bad attitudes and laziness I might have expressed while working for you!).

Yet, despite the headaches that come along with running my own company, I’ll never go back to punching a clock again. If I have one for-sure goal in life, it’s to always stay self-employed.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my boss Paulette continues to roll with the punches. She keeps on smiling, and her positive attitude will help her and everyone else get through whatever comes our way this season. Like small business owners everywhere, she does what needs to be done to keep the business galloping along.