The Importance of Plucking Your Eyebrows…and Other Tips for Long Term Travel

1. Make Enemies

Having an outside enemy can help dispel the tension that inevitably builds up during travel and prevent you from snapping at your beloved travel partner. No matter how well you get along, it’s possible to get snippy with person you’re spending every day with, usually for really nonsensical reasons. Picking on an outside scapegoat helps vent that frustration. Here in the Propane Kitchen, we’re against people who use hiking poles on paved trails, Vibram 5-Finger shoes and a certain radio DJ. The more absurd your scapegoats, the better. The point isn’t to genuinely dislike people; the point is to laugh a bit and remind yourselves you’re on the same team.

2. Get a Job

Not a real job, of course, but a Trip Job, a task which you own and take responsibility for every day, something along the lines of cleaning the sink, reading the map or preparing snacks. Divide what needs to be done to give your leisure days a little structure. Easy, right? Now comes the tricky part – don’t comment on how your travel companion does his/her jobs. The right way isn’t always your way. Just shut up, let them do their work and be grateful it’s done.

3. Find a Way to be Alone

There are big ways and small ways of being alone. Big ways are obvious things like taking solo hikes or spending a few days apart. On this trip, I’ve found it’s harder to come by the small moments of alone time that happen easily when you have a house with multiple rooms and separate routines. Whether by putting on headphones or diving into a book, it’s important to snatch a few moments of privacy and find a way to be alone even when you are sitting right next to another person. This is where plucking my eyebrows comes in – it’s an excuse to shut the bathroom door and do my own little thing for 15 minutes. I emerge well groomed and more content.

4. Take a Break

 Oh, another stunning vista? Yeah, wake me for the next one.

You know how the first bite of a ripe peach is so incredible, but by the end of summer a ripe peach just isn’t as special any more? The same thing happens with scenery. Over-saturation with sight-seeing and constant active appreciation can dull your senses. Yet, on any kind of vacation, the urge is to constantly See! Do! Experience! Building regular breaks into your travel schedule allows you to more fully take in that next National Park or historic site. Contrast natural beauty with a few days in a city. Active days with lazy ones. At least one full day off every two weeks has worked well for us.

5.  Indulge in the Ridiculous

Also known as, keep yourself entertained. Though hard to imagine, a long-term trip is not constantly exciting. When you’re cooped up inside on the third rainy day in a row, talking exclusively in fake Southern accents keeps things lively.

Y’all be sure to come back now and read about more of our adventures, ya hear?

Statistics & Lessons from Four Months on the Road

We’ve now been on the road for four months, long enough that our former lives are just a hazy memory. We’re in our Winnebago Groove.

Random Statistics

  • Miles driven by Patrick: 10,000ish
  • Miles driven by Aimee:  Look! Was that a squirrel?
  • Miles hiked: 367
  • States/Provinces: 14
  • National Parks/Monuments Explored: 26
  • Scenic Byways Traveled: 22  (yes, we really have a list of all the Scenic Byways we’ve driven) Continue reading

Mining for Opals

We went opal mining a few days ago. The description for Rockhound State Park, just outside of Deming, New Mexico, noted quartz, agate and even opals are found in the hills surrounding the campground, and visitors are encouraged to haul away the stones. I like opals. We needed a place to camp in southwest NM. Perfect!

Now, I have no idea how to mine for opals, nor even what a raw opal looks like. Continue reading

Where are you going?

Where will you go?

It’s the question we hear most often. Where? Where will you stop? Where will you choose? Where will you pass by? A year seems like such a long, lazy, empty-but-for-possibility amount of time. Yet when we begin marking points on a map, measuring the miles against our ability to be cooped up in the rig together, it is quite clear there is not enough time to see all we desire.

So, we’re each making lists of our must-see places and things to do, and trying to find the best way (and best time of the year) to see each one. Our hope is to plan as we go, taking advantage of advice we hear on the road.

Me: Yellowstone, New Orleans, The Grand Canyon, volunteering on an organic farm

Patrick: Southern Utah, Colorado, see some real Midwest thunderstorms

List-making and daydreams take up increasing amounts of my time. Whatever I’m doing, there’s the quiet thrill of knowing I’m leaving. Everything is short-term.