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Is The Open Road The Path To Freedom?

Humans’ first stab at mechanical freedom was the motorcycle, a contraption born of inventors and tinkerers putting small motors onto bicycles. In 1885, Gottlieb Daimler is credited with building the first motorcycle. Daimler’s first motorcycle had a single-cylinder Otto-cycle engine mounted in the center of the bicycle frame, which became how almost motorcycles are designed even to this day.

Humans have always craved freedom, so it is no surprise that we are always striving to improve the mechanical modes of transportation in order to gain more and more freedom. The motorcycle was no exception. It was an incredible invention for the time, but it has three major problems:

  1. You can’t go very far.
  2. You are exposed to the elements.
  3. You can’t carry very many belongings or personal items.

Prior to the Model T being introduced in 1908 and the Ford Motor Company’s assembly line, created in 1913, humans’ primary forms of transportation were their feet, large domestic animals, and bicycles. Sure they gave us mobility, but the distance we could cover was limited because they all rely on animals or humans for power. With the advent of the motorized vehicle and the creation of the assembly line, the average person could afford an automobile and travel far greater distances than ever before.

There is some irony, though, to the story of Henry Ford introducing the assembly line. Yes, the affordability of the automobile gave a great deal more freedom to people, but it also inhibited us from having the time to enjoy this newfound freedom by creating what we know today as the “modern work week.” Through a lot of trial and error, Henry Ford figured out how long he could work someone doing repetitive tasks and pay them just enough to survive before they would snap or just walk off the job. I guess that automobile-and-freedom thing didn’t quite work out how we expected. The irony is that, through the years, ownership of an automobile has represented true freedom all over the globe. 

With the industrial revolution, the advent of the assembly line, and the invention of the automobile, Americans migrated from the more rural parts of the country to concentrate in big cities where the jobs were more plentiful. This was a huge shift in the way Americans lived. Free time was becoming harder and hard to find. This lack of leisure time has accelerated so dramatically, many people are considered burned out in today’s society.

As we learned earlier with the first motorcycle, humans love to tinker and invent. Almost as soon as the first affordable automobiles came off the assembly line, automobile owners began to make alterations to their cars for camping. Because of this, it wasn’t long before the first Recreational Vehicle (RV) was made.

The first official RV was the Pierce-Arrow Touring Landau, and it was introduced at Madison Square Garden in 1910. The Pierce-Arrow came with a back seat that folded into a bed, a sink, and chamber pot toilet that folded down from the back of the seat of the chauffeur. Yep, a chauffeur. So as you can imagine, this Model T of RVs was primarily marketed to the affluent. It didn’t take long for other companies to jump on the bandwagon, and before we knew it, the RV was being produced in large numbers. Jump forward to today and the modern RV can almost be had by all. They contain all the modern amenities of today’s suburban home, such as an oven, stove top, microwave, full bathroom, full-size beds, satellite television . . . and so much more.

Before you run out and buy an RV, you will have to figure out which type and size is best for your lifestyle and goals. WIth that being said you will need to do a few things first: 

1. You will have to downsize, yes, that means getting rid of a lot of additional crap!

2. You need a plan.

3. Money—this stuff doesn’t fall out of the sky.

I have been living in a travel trailer for almost a decade, as I write this. For some of it, full-time, and some of it part-time. When it comes to RV living there are so many ways to go about it, the possibilities are endless. All I can say take it step by step and remember you will have to be open-minded, as the plan you start with probably be different from what you actually end up doing.

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