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Life on the Road

The perks and problems of driving, residing and traveling under one roof

Living in a 500-square-foot Manhattan apartment is great preparation for moving into an even smaller home, which is exactly what Trudy Lundgren did when she sold her co-op and bought a 1985 Bluebird Wanderlodge RV with 320 square feet of living space.

In July 2004, Lundgren, then 53, and her partner, Lisa Wade, 43, packed up their pets and possessions and hit the road — for good. While it isn't uncommon for retirees to travel the country in an RV, Lundgren and Wade weren't setting out to retire. They were reinventing the way they live and work. 

See also: Reality Check: RV Life.

"We are working, but look where my office is, and look at the view out my office, and every couple of weeks it changes," says Lundgren, a freelance graphic designer. "I don’t have the stress of a nine-to-five job. I don’t have the stress of living in a big city. Whenever I want to, I can get up from my computer and go outside and be in nature."

The women had long spoken about wanting to someday leave New York and live elsewhere. They just didn't know where. "So we decided, let’s take a trip around the country and find a place to live," Lundgren says. Traveling by RV was appealing since both had fond memories of road trips with their families. (Lundgren was raised in Southern California; Wade, a former flight attendant who later worked in retail sales, is from Kansas.)

When the September 11 terrorist attacks destroyed the World Trade Center towers, and with them much of Lundgren's client-based projects and personal sense of safety and well-being, "we upped the timetable 10 years," she says. By coincidence, on that day, instead of being in their downtown New York apartment, Lundgren and Wade were in Pennsylvania visiting an RV show as part of their extensive research about RV travel and life.

Since leaving Manhattan, the pair has parked their 40-foot Bluebird (named "The Catbird Seat") in, among other states, Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, Arizona, New Mexico, Missouri, Wyoming and Washington. Sometimes they stay in a place for one night; other times they settle down for several months. Although their living quarters are smaller than what they had in New York, "the kitchen is bigger," Lundgren says. And while the Big Apple had been their playground, America's parklands are now their backyard. The women are traveling all the time, yet they're home. "We don’t live out of a suitcase," Lundgren explains. "We sleep in our own bed every night. We have all of our clothing with us. We never have to pack or unpack."

Next: Watch out for bumps in the road. »

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