Lessons from a Year on the Road

Written by Andrew Chwalik, TAG ambassador

Living life on the road is a true adventure.

At the beginning of 2022, Rachel and I took off in our TAG for the open road. We didn’t have any plans other than knowing we wanted to explore. It was an exciting feeling. I’m sure you’ve all felt it before. That rush of adrenaline you get when hitching up your camper after a long winter. We wanted to go everywhere and see everything.

Our vision was to live on the road, out of our TAG named Gladis. So that’s precisely what we did. We wandered all around the United States, from the towering trees of the Redwood Forests to the sandy beaches of Texas. We stayed on the road for nearly an entire year!

I want to share a bit about our experience. And maybe inspire some of you to take more adventurous trips this year with a few lessons.

Turning a daydream into reality

Rachel and I had been talking about hopping in our Jeep and living out of our TAG for nearly a year. It was always more of just an exciting idea to daydream about. However, the opportunity arose for our jobs to be remote, so our dreams became an actual possibility.

Not to get too profound, but we reflected on our life and its direction. We both wanted to start a family soon, which would mean less travel. After a few serious discussions, Rachel and I decided to pack up the TAG and make our dream a reality.

I’d love to tell you that we had this grand plan where we would visit each National Park or try to camp in each state, but we didn’t. I read somewhere that it’s good for the mind to simply wander from time to time. We took that idea to heart and let it guide us on our adventure.

That brings us to lesson #1.

#1 Live the life you want to live and don’t apologize for it.

Rachel is excited for a new adventure!

While many of my friends were diving deeper into their careers or starting a family, my wife and I decided to give up our apartment and have no “permanent” address. We packed up our things and traveled full-time in our camper. It was scary because it wasn’t what society told us to do.

Looking back, I would do it all again without hesitation. The experiences my wife and I had on the road deepened our relationship in a way that wouldn’t have been possible living in a traditional house. That will always be worth more than climbing the corporate ladder or buying the perfect home with a white picket fence. Don’t be afraid to live your life on your terms.

Our journey took us to many places I didn’t even know existed. For example, did you know there’s a palace made entirely out of corn? That’s real. One thing I loved was boondocking on the beach at Mustang Island. We snagged a year-long pass for $12 and pulled our TAG right on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Hearing the waves crashing as your lay on your bed from the comfort of your camper is beyond relaxing.

As I was lying next to my wife during one of those peaceful nights, I realized the importance of lesson #2 for myself.

#2 We should all prioritize collecting experiences, not things.

My wife and I are minimalists, which is one reason we adore the TAG’s design and style. We’ve never been into accumulating a large number of material items. Granted, it is difficult to say “no” to all the cool gear we can buy for our camper.

Andrew and Rachel traveled in their TAG for a full year, visiting family, friends, and exploring new places.

Rachel and I have always been on the same page when prioritizing memories over materialism. It was almost emotional to live that lifestyle and reflect on it in the moment. We don’t get to take our “things” with us, but the experiences and relationships we have during our life can live on through stories. Are you more likely to tell your grandkids about the BMW you bought in your 30s or the time you accidentally hiked Angel’s Landing and lived to tell the tale?

Our travels were terrific but weren’t without some rough patches along the way. For example, we almost ran out of gas in northern California. Google Maps told us there was an open gas station nearby, and we JUST made it there. However, it looked like that gas station had been closed since the ’80s. Also, we camped in a blizzard in Indiana and lost electricity, stayed out in a windstorm in South Dakota and forgot to put down our stabilizers, and had our windshield crack in the heat of Death Valley.

But that brings us to lesson #3.

#3 Life gets messy no matter where you are or what you’re doing, but it all works out.

If I were working a typical job, there would have been things that stressed me out. Things would break if I lived in that house with the white picket fence. Don’t pass up an adventure because you’re afraid something might go wrong. Things go wrong in life; that’s part of the adventure.

Just know it all works out in the end. We got extra gas to make it to the next gas station, used a mini heater to stay warm until the next day, made it through that wild windstorm, and had our windshield replaced. Those bumps in the road became lessons and stories we can share with others.

One of Andrew and Rachel’s favorite stops on their year of wandering was exploring the Redwood Forests.

After all our adventures, we’ve returned to Ohio to start that family we talked about before this dream became a reality. However, that doesn’t mean our days of travel are over. Far from it! You can follow our adventures with Gladis on my Youtube Channel. Rachel and I will be making all kinds of fun content about our travels.

Not only that, traveling and camping in our TAG have become such a valuable part of our relationship. So we’re working on some exciting ways to ensure that’s always part of our life. We’ll share those details in our next blog.

See you on the road!

Follow Andrew and Rachel on their adventures!

You can follow along with Andrew and Rachel as they travel in their TAG Teardrop Trailer, nicknamed Gladis. Andrew shares his travels on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok, and Rachel shares their adventures on Instagram.

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