I’m an adventurer at heart. I love going off the beaten path in travel and life. So, it’s no big surprise that I was drawn to Articulate, a fully remote company, even before remote work was necessary.
I was also drawn to Articulate’s human-centric approach. The company culture is rooted in encouraging and supporting employees to bring their whole selves to work and create and live healthy, balanced lives. Everything from the flexible time-off policy to the well-being benefit is grounded in honoring our individual humanity.
I knew remote work and a human-centered culture would give me the environment I needed to do a job I love and also thrive as a person. What I didn’t know was that my life was about to take a direction that would show me just how important these things would end up being.
Time for a Change
In the fall of 2019, my husband Josh and I were living in Michigan. We were looking for a change of pace—and more importantly, a break from the cold! So, over a few drinks one evening, we started brainstorming ideas about where we might want to live. And then it hit us: If we bought an RV, we could live anywhere.
We knew this was a radical idea, so we listed out the pros and cons. RV pros: We could finally escape the frosty weather in Michigan, and, in theory, my career wouldn’t be disrupted. RV cons: We’d be leaving behind our family, friends, and support system.
Maybe it was the liquid courage, or maybe it was fate. But that night, we decided to leave our Michigan community behind and take the road less traveled. And, as the famous Robert Frost poem goes, “… that has made all the difference.”
Sharing the News
Sharing the news with our family and friends was nerve-wracking. While our families weren’t thrilled at first—an understandable reaction since RV life is a pretty unconventional choice—they quickly came around to support us.
Having their blessing was great, but my next thought was: Would my job be as quick to support me? After all, it’s one thing to say you’re a human-centered organization, that you’re flexible and optimized for remote work—and a whole other thing to accommodate someone who isn’t fixed to a ZIP code or tied to a single time zone. On top of sorting out the logistics of working on the road, I was worried that our decision would change how my team viewed me as a person. Would they see me as a tourist instead of a team member?
The only way to find out was to spill the beans. So, I summoned up my courage and told my then manager, Kristin, what we were planning to do. Much to my relief, my team leaders fully supported my decision. In fact, they were just as excited for us as our friends and family had become.
Our New Home on the Road
Just seven days after we chose to commit to life on the road, we sold our home and purchased an RV. We wanted something comfortable for full-time living, so we chose a spacious model decked out with everything we would need, including a king-sized bed and a washer and dryer. The interior of the RV was pretty out of date, so we did a lot of DIY renovations to modernize it and make it a home we would love.
We also figured it would be smart to do some practice runs around Michigan before committing to living on the road full-time. After that went well, we hit the open road, and we’ve been at it ever since.
We’ve been able to get internet access pretty much anywhere on the road. Sometimes, I’ll even work at a nice park or on the patio of a coffee shop. Josh and I decided to keep to a schedule based on the Eastern or Central time zones for stability. That meant when we were out West, we had plenty of time to explore, but we usually ended up in bed by 8:30 p.m.!
We also discovered that while we can go anywhere, at any moment, there is something nice about staying in one city for a time. Slowing down and actually spending time in one area allows us to experience each place we visit fully.
Learning as We Go
At first, we didn’t have a travel plan. So, we were kind of winging it. We explored the Southeast, staying in places like Asheville, North Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia. Then we headed West, stopping in Alabama, Louisiana, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado.
As we’ve kept moving, we’ve gotten more organized. We’ve mapped out a schedule with the RV parks and state parks we want to check out. And we’re still planning to do some free camping, also known as boondocking, during our journey.
Of course, COVID-19 threw a bit of a wrench into things. We were planning to explore Southern California in the winter but hunkered down in Arizona instead. We were only going to be in Arizona for about a month at first but ended up staying there for three. Definitely unexpected, but it challenged us to practice thinking on our feet and being flexible.
In terms of my work life, not much has changed for me at Articulate, surprisingly—except that I got promoted! In fact, not only is my work life better than ever, I’m feeling happier and more fulfilled overall.
I do miss our support system back home in Michigan sometimes. But now, I take even more comfort in the community I’ve found with my coworkers at Articulate—many of whom are also living the RV or van life. No matter where we travel, my team is always there with me.
I have the best of both worlds: a grounded environment where my dreams can take root and grow, and the support and encouragement I need to choose my adventures. I can’t wait to see where the journey takes us next!
RV Before and After
Pictures from the road: