TOM & CAITLIN MORTON
BIO: We are Tom and Caitlin Morton, also known as the Mortons on the Move. We are originally from Michigan, but now our home is wherever we park it. We met in college and got married a few years after graduation – Tom in Electrical Engineering and Caitlin in Business Management. We bought a house in Michigan and both got jobs in Corporate America for a Fortune 50 company.
After several years of climbing the corporate ladder, we were feeling stuck: stuck in our house, stuck in our careers, stuck in our routine, stuck in the Michigan winters, stuck with our two weeks of vacation time each year. We knew we wanted to make a change, but we didn’t know what to or where to go. In our limited amount of time off per year we hadn’t really been able to do much of the traveling we’d always dreamed of once we were “making money.”
Back in 2013 Tom’s employer ended up going through a series of layoffs which he made through, but it piled on increase workload and stress that led to some very negative impacts on his health. That winter, we decided to getaway for a while and went to Florida for 10 glorious days. But all vacations have to come to an end: we landed back in Michigan to a 2-hour drive home in a blizzard and we were not happy. “I wish we could work remotely from wherever we wanted to be, whenever we wanted to be there,” one of us said. That’s when the idea struck: …well, wait a minute. Why couldn’t we? With the technology these days to enable connectivity from almost anywhere, could there be a way for us to combine our desire to travel, “follow the sun,” and still make a living?
We happened to drive by an RV dealership around that time on our drive home. Tom pointed at the RVs and said “Don’t people live in those?” By the time we got home, we had made the decision to live full-time in an RV and travel America. A year and a half later, after selling our house, horses, cars, toys, and most of our other belongings we departed our “normal” lives.
THE RIG: Our current “home on wheels” is actually our second RV. We started off this adventure thinking that we needed the biggest rig we could get because, after all, we were going to be living in it full time and had a whole house worth of stuff to move into it!…or so we thought. We learned the hard way that bigger isn’t always better. We knew we wanted a fifth wheel for safety and layout reasons, so we got a 2010 Heartland Cyclone toyhauler that was 41′ long. After buying this first fifth-wheel, discovering it was too heavy fully loaded for our truck, selling it, and finding & buying a new one, we ended up with our current set up which we’ve been very happy with!
We now travel in a used 2005 Doubletree RV (now DRV) Mobile Suites, model 32TK3 K3 (translation: 32 ft interior, Telescoping Kitchen, 3 Slides). We tow it with a 2010 Dodge Ram 3500 DRW 2WD truck with a Cummins 6.7 Diesel engine that we’ve made some upgrades to.
PETS: We have two dogs that travel with us, Mocha and Bella. Both are mixed breed pound rescues, and the best dogs in the world (we may be a little biased). Mocha is “Mama’s girl” and has been with Caitlin since a puppy. Bella is a little blonde dog we adopted when she was about 3 years old (so we think.) That was about 7 years ago. We call her our “miniature golden retriever” and our “eternal puppy” because everyone who meets her things she’s a puppy. Both are laid-back and outgoing, and love coming on hiking adventures!
PREFERRED CAMPING METHOD: We love to boondock, but we also love having full hookups every now and then. We typically end up going a few weeks off-grid, then come back to full hookup campgrounds for a few weeks. We love the peace and quiet of boondocking away from the fray and finding free million-dollar views. We’ve developed a travel system that utilizes various camping and boondocking memberships that keeps our expenses low and location variety high.
FULL TIME EXPERIENCE: We have been living full-time in our RV since the day our house sale closed on September 15, 2015. Since then, we’ve been following the sun and seeing so many wonderful places! We started off with a Google Map covered with pins that we’ve slowly been hitting and adding to as we go. We’ve traveled 22 states, Washington D.C. and the Bahamas, over 25 National Parks, and countless more State Parks, National Forests, and Recreation areas. In just these 2 years of travel we’ve seen and done way more than we could have in a lifetime of vacations, and there is still so much more to see!
UH OH! Fortunately we’ve only had a few really bad things happen to us on the road. The worst thing that ALMOST happened was we almost lost Bella. We left the dogs in the truck one time to go into an appointment and a thunderstorm rolled in out of nowhere. Bella is scared of thunderstorms and squeezed out the back window that we’d left slightly open for them. When we came out of our appointment, she was gone without a trace. We searched for nearly 8 hours before posting a Facebook ad to the local area. We were on the phone with the woman who found her within 30 minutes!
The worst thing that ACTUALLY happened to us happened at a quick overnight boondocking spot on the Oregon Coast. We couldn’t hear the thieves cutting our bike cable lock and remove our bikes over the wind and the roar of the nearby ocean. In the morning they were gone. Another Facebook ad recovered one of the bikes that was found stashed in the woods nearby, but no luck with the second bike.
In both of these instance though, the communities we were in responded to our requests for help with overwhelming compassion! We had people coming to help us physically look for Bella through the neighborhood near where she was lost. We had people offering to give us their own bikes because they felt so bad about our bikes being stolen in their town. The goodness of the people we’ve met in our travels has been amazing.
TOP SPOT: Oh there have been so many awesome camping spots! And we’re not sure we want to share our favorites – then they won’t be a secret anymore! We’ve had camp spots looking out over the mountains, ones with waterfalls less than 100ft away, and lakes, rivers, and oceans at our doorstep.
One of our favorite camping spots was just this past April in Lone Pine, CA at Tuttle Creek Campground. It is a National Forest Service campground at the base of the Eastern Sierra Nevadas and Mt. Whitney – the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States. We had amazing views of snowcapped mountains for as far as we could see out our front door! It was just a few miles away from the Alabama Hills Recreation Area, and we ended up extending our stay here to the full 14-day stay limit because we loved it so much!
FAVORITE MOMENT: We have had a lot of phenomenal experiences! From swimming with the manatees in Crystal River, FL to petting a rhino at the San Diego Safari Park; from seeing a grizzly bear and her cub in Yellowstone (safely from the car), to hiking the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park, and more.
But the BEST moment was in January 2017 when we finally met our goal of breaking even with running our own businesses! We originally planned on doing this RV thing for a year or two and hoped we could make some money in that time to extend our sabbatical from our careers and reality. But we proved to ourselves that we could do it, and now we know we can make money and travel – we won’t need to stop!
WHY DID I/WE DO THIS? Moving into an RV met so many of our goals and desires: getting to travel and experience more, being in nice weather, having a more active lifestyle, visiting distance friends and relatives, and pushing us to start our own businesses and live life on our own terms. The decision was made pretty quickly once we landed on the RV option, but it was still a year and a half of hard work and overcoming obstacles before the dream became a reality.
Firstly, Tom fell increasingly ill from the stress of his job which forced us both to remain working and therefore have health coverage longer, and we had more difficulty selling our house than we thought we would. Plus, there were just those tough days where we asked ourselves “What the heck do we think we are doing?” We were breaking from the society norm and that is extremely difficult on a mental and emotional level. In addition, we had kept our plan a secret from everyone besides our closest family and friends, so we felt like we were living a double life for most of that time.
But since we’ve been on the road, we’ve had so many amazing experiences and met so many wonderful people that we’ve nearly forgotten the challenges we had to overcome to get here. There were so many times in our first year that we’d said to each other “Even if we had to go back right now, it still would have been worth it.” Now we say, “Ha! We’re never going back!” This is our life now, and it has open our eyes and changed us so much that for us going back and sitting in a cubicle for 40+ hours a week is no longer an option. Living our lives on someone else’s terms is no longer an option. Is this life for everyone? Maybe not. But we wouldn’t have it any other way!