Working mobile allows for freedom to travel
A new generation of RVers start full-timing while working on the road
Ben and Rebecca Pazdernik from Seward, Alaska, have it all—a sense of adventure, the freedom to explore it and mobile jobs to support it.
They purchased their motorhome in 2011 as an alternative to staying in hotel rooms when they went up to Anchorage for business.
“Decent hotel rooms are expensive in Anchorage, and it does not take long before you have paid out a year's worth of RV payments,” said Rebecca. “We also have two dogs and love to take them with us.”
The couple started exploring Alaska in their “rolling hotel room,” boondocking on the Denali Highway and going clam digging in Deep Creek.
“I guess the rest is history,” said Ben.
The dream to explore North America from the road was one the couple shared long before moving to Alaska. After purchasing the rig and wishing they didn’t have to put it away for six months of the year, they decided to give their cross-country dream some wheels.
“It took several years for everything to fall into place,” said Rebecca, “but here we are five winters later on a six-month road trip around North America, no doubt the first of many trips like this one.”
At the end of summer 2015, the Pazderniks headed south through western Canada to Washington state, turned left and travelled the northern United States to meet the turning of the leaves in Maine, and then headed down the Eastern Seaboard to Florida and warmer weather.
“Then we will work our way across the southern states to California,” said Rebecca. “In San Diego we are taking a trip into Mexico, what kind and to where is still being determined. Since we only have six months on the road, it will be time to work our way up the West Coast and back home to Alaska.”
It’s all about the rig
The Pazderniks' 1999 Tiffin Allegro Class A—nicknamed "Nellie" after Nellie Lawing, the Alaska pioneer woman who homesteaded an area outside of Seward—is 32 feet long with a 14-foot trailer. It's often loaded up with the couple's side-by-side ATV, two kayaks and two bikes.
“We absolutely love Nellie,” said Ben. “She is a tremendous part of our lives … she'll always be our first RV love. We really like being able to stop and have camp set up in a matter of minutes.”
Though Nellie has served them well, the couple is convinced they may have to custom build the perfect rig since it would have to be an all-weather, all-conditions vehicle.
“Being held back by weather frustrates us, so our next rig will be insulated to handle extreme hot and cold weather,” said Ben. “Four-wheel drive will also be required because you can't camp in the extreme weather if you can't drive through it.”
A couch with recliners for ultimate comfort and a renewable energy system also top the wish list, but for now Nellie is holding her own on some amazing adventures.
On the first day of their North American road trip, the Pazderniks found themselves crossing a mountain pass in the snow with the local knowledge that in just 16 kilometres (10 miles) more they would be safely below snow level.
“What we did not know,” said Ben, “was the State of Alaska made budget cuts to the Department of Transportation and they were not maintaining or plowing the roads Friday to Sunday. We ended up getting stuck going up a hill and it took hours to get things straightened out.”
An Alaska “happy place” is camping in Deep Creek, Alaska, said Rebecca. “There are clam beds, miles of beaches to explore on the ATV and the most amazing sunsets highlighting the volcanos on the other side of Cook Inlet,” she said. “Everyone who visits with us notes a special feeling about the place—a trip to Deep Creek is a required annual trek for us.”
The new generation
Ben and Rebecca represent a new generation of RVers hitting the road well before retirement and innovating to pursue mobile careers to finance the lifestyle. By harnessing technology and the mobile Internet, they realize that the possibilities are plenty.
By trade, Rebecca is a physician assistant and Ben is a sport fishing captain. “Together we have also built businesses that do not require us to be in a physical location,” said Rebecca. “We have positioned ourselves in the business world to help others accomplish the same.”
But that doesn’t mean RVing is for everyone, and the Pazderniks recommend travelling at least once in a rented rig before taking the plunge into purchasing. Obviously, a fair bit of research is required and what better place to start than online?
“The Internet is the most amazing resource of our time,” said Rebecca. “Blog posts and YouTube videos offer priceless information from real people with real experiences, not marketing companies.”
Ben recommends giving serious thought to discovering what kind of RVer you really are. “Will a Class A, B, C, fifth wheel or bumper pull trailer suit your needs?” he asked. “What kind of traveller are you: backroads, RV parks, wilderness boondocking, fast-paced or slow-paced?”
Make and prioritize your desires in a pros and cons list, said the couple. “You might not always be able to see everything you want to see on a trip, but there’s always another trip and it’s as much about enjoying the trip as it is about seeing everything,” Ben said. “So make sure you don't rush through everything and forget to enjoy the sheer joy of life on the road.”
Into the sunset
Moving forward, the couple has an extensive bucket list of destinations that would make any adventurer’s heart sing. The Rickshaw Run, a 3,000-kilometre (1,864-mile) trip in a seven-horsepower three-wheeled motorcycle across India for charity, RVing across New Zealand and around Europe, and even a live-aboard boat are all possibilities.
“Our RV adventures come from a deeper rooted passion for travel,” said Rebecca. “Experiencing new cultures is one of our favourite things to do. We live to get out there and see what it's like being a stranger in a foreign land. Embracing and learning from the experiences completely change your outlook on life.”
Ben and Rebecca are chronicling their adventures on YouTube with daily video posts ranging five to 20 minutes in length and covering everything from the practical aspects of life on the road to the wild and fun ways of the traveller. Check out their adventures at www.youtube.com/his_hers_alaska.
“We are now hooked on travelling in the wintertime and are not sure we can go back to the daily drudgery of being in the same place for the whole year,” said Ben. “Our thirst for travel and new experience trumps and fuels everything.”