Struggling Today

A friend wrote a really honest review of his location independent lifestyle. They’re RVing through Europe (called Caravan-ing in Europe) and Ryel's post had been rolling around in my head.

So here goes:

It happened again.

We broke down.

Or more specifically Gracie broke down.

And people are starting to think that everything we write about here is a break down.

Perhaps we should rename this blog to "fixing our home along the way".

Here we are stuck in our second campground in East Texas in as many days.

I am getting discouraged I just don't know what's going on.

I mean I know that we have either a bad thermostat, bad water pump, or a blockage in the radiator system.

What I don’t understand is why things keep going wrong.

We have this pretty sweet lifestyle it's flexible and it can be a lot of fun but there are a lot of negatives with it.

For most people in our situation those negatives are things like loneliness or having to explain who you are and how you operate every day to someone new.

For me, for now, those things don’t bother me.

However, for me, for today, two different things are bothering me. To the point that I can say right now, I'm not liking this lifestyle.


But let me explain.

One of the things that really enticed me to the location independent lifestyle two years ago was having no lawn to mow and having no maintenance. Not having to always work on things and fix things. And not having things always breaking down. At that time that’s what attracted me to the location independent lifestyle. I was thinking mostly about the flying and staying in short-term rentals lifestyle I hadn't really thought through all aspects of the RV lifestyle.

Fast forward a year and a half... We buy an RV sight unseen drive it home from California with only a minor mechanical problem (the clutch fan went out and we overheated) Five months later as we're out on the road we had to replace the transmission and now we're stuck with an overheating engine. (again)

It could be the fault of the new transmission, perhaps them moving stuff all around caused a blockage in the radiator, or the clutch fan to stop working or the water pump or thermostat to go out.

Or it could be cause by an old engine (think of a 17 year old car, like a 98 pontiac grand prix… you don’t see many of this around anymore because they’re old and busted.

All I know is that ever since I had to pay the bill for the transmission and brakes I've been struggling.

  • Struggling with the lack of money
  • Struggling with the costs of all of this
  • Struggling with the fact that I'm not mechanically inclined.

I understand the basics of how an engine works of how a transmission works of how radiators work in the electronics of the vehicle.

But every time something goes wrong I might have an idea of something to try, yet I have limited tools, limited time and no experience. For example, I can’t even find the thermostat on our engine.

So I know there's going to be another bill coming at us.

I'd love to be more mechanical, more able to fix things when they're broken. To figure stuff out and to live cheaper because we could do our own repair work.

But I can’t.

And here we are... with

  • An overheating motorhome
  • A minivan whose door won't open and bumper won't stay on. (More on that door situation later after we figure it out with the insurance company.)
  • An awning that won't retract any more. I have to manually push it closed. The springs are broken inside which is another $500 repair.

What's going on?

Our finances aren't that great. We are not debt free. Most of the debt is because the business took such a hit last year. We're still trying to recover from that. Connex is finally making money again. We've got a good base of clients but we're still only at 50% of what we need to be to recover.

And there's more expenses coming in.

I feel like a failure to bring in money, I feel like a failure to repair our own house.

So I'm depressed right now.

I'm sad and that finances aren't coming in.

Sad that bills keep piling up.

Sad that the motorhome keeps breaking down.

We are on the adventure of a lifetime. It is an adventure for our lifetime.

Yet it’s not all peaches and warm fuzzies.

There’s some difficult stuff out here.

So what does the future hold?

I don't know.

But I do know I love my wife, my kids, and this adventure called life, even if I cannot seem to get ahead.

I was recently asked what I want my kids to remember me by, and my answer was that I'm an overcomer. So my hope is to overcome this too.

So would you want to RV fulltime after reading the negative of our life?

Paul Kortman

Dad of 4, husband, blogger, digital marketer, follower of Jesus. I podcast at and own We're on this crazy journey to travel the world as a lifestyle. Looking for help in how to live as a digital nomad family? Join this Facebook Group!

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  1. Sarah

    Never! The nomadic lifestyle is not for me. I’m quite content with a permanent home. I know though that you won’t let this setback stop you for long! Life isn’t always a bowl of cherries. However God is still faithful and in control. His promises for us are the same whether we’re at a high or low point in life. Be an overcomer!

    • Paul Kortman

      Thanks Sarah! Who knows maybe it is just a thermostat.

  2. Jason

    Sorry to hear that it’s been a struggle for you guys thus far. Let me know if you need to bounce ideas around or plan out something. Happy to help!

  3. mrlich

    I’m sorry to hear you’re going through that man. It IS really frustrating when something keeps you from the road.

    Here’s the thing though: no adventure is worth its salt unless things go wrong. It’s things like this that give you a challenge. It gives you a chance to prove your mettle.

    Now, for the frustration of not knowing: Is there a Chilton’s Manual (or something similar) for Gracie? I know that back in those wild untamed days of yesteryear before Google, manuals like that saved my carcass more than once.

    As always, please let me know if there’s anything I can do to lend a hand, but I’m pretty well certain that you’ve got this. :)

      • MrLich

        Atta boy. Information is key!

  4. Dan Dailey

    No good story is free of struggle. Looking back over my life I’ve learned that the times when things are good are only temporary reprieves from growing pains. We never grow in the good times. We are stretched and made stronger exclusively in the storms. Our most recent stormy season was by far the roughest we’ve ever encountered, and although I’d never wish it on anyone else, I’m also immensely grateful for what I’ve seen come from it all and wouldn’t have it any other way. Hang in there, Paul, and know that you aren’t a failure.

    Thanks for the transparency. Still hoping to meet you later this month ;)

    • Paul Kortman

      Thanks Dan! And we’re planning in hanging out with ya’ll! Looking forward to it, but it’s been pushed back to November. Hope that’s okay

  5. kellie


    We have a 2000 Georgie Boy and have had a lot of issues that have lead to me disliking the RV lifestyle! I have been able to YouTube almost everything and there are great step by step videos. Good luck and keep chugging away:)

    • Paul Kortman

      Yes but it just all takes so much time. This is my second run to the parts store today. :(

  6. Ryel

    Hey Paul, wow thanks for writing this, I appreciate your willingness to bare it all and share with us what it’s really like, and I empathize greatly with your series of challenges and feeling ill-equipped in handling them. The first month of our caravan trip crushed us and we often were a hair away from calling it quits. But now, looking back on it, it all seems a bit blurry and all I know is that we overcame whatever obstacles arose. If we can bring four kids into the world and raise them beyond infancy, then we surely can do anything! Step by step, day by day, you win small battles and eventually find a way through. And we both know it’s worth it. Hang in there! We’re rooting for you.

    • Paul Kortman

      Thanks Ryel. In the short time we’ve known each other you’ve inspired many changes in our life and many aspects of this post. Thanks for living an inspiring life!

  7. Karsten

    Traveling is awful. I’m not even being factors. Take a look at my travel blog – the first thing you see is a horrible bathroom in Turkmenistan. I find traveling more stressful than actual work. That’s because it’s less predictable and my skillset isn’t very adapted to the challenges. Probably also because I pick horrible travel destinations.

    So I do it in phases. Two months on the road, then back stationary. Your own preference may vary. Keep in mind though that even though you’re in an RV, you don’t actually have to feel compelled to move all the time. It’s this feeling of compulsion that tends to make me unhappy. Especially when reality doesn’t match up with what I think it should be.

    I’d say try to give yourself a break. Don’t feel compelled to always move, always succeed and always have to live up to your own very ambitious standards. I’m sure you’re doing your best in handling your situation.

    Feeling driven is often a good thing, but it can become harmful if it ends up making you feel depressed.

  8. Lori

    Thank you for being so honest! I will keep all these things in mind as I plan for my future nomadic lifestyle. =)

  9. Beatrice

    Hectic! It’s normal to feel like a failure and all of those emotions. When I read this I think of my own dad and his heart. You clearly love your kids and wife very, very much, it shows through your writing. You’re a provider and a loving dad. You’re an overcomer. And God is way bigger than this. Will keep you all in my prayers.

    • Paul Kortman

      Thank You Beatrice! I’m trying to do everything I can to be the dad and husband that God has called me to be, to overcome the model handed to me. I hope my kids can be more whole and healthy because of it!

  10. Ro

    We don’t have kids – but we did have 2 cats and a dog, when we sold our small buisness (barely escaping with our lives after the recession) and bought an American RV to tour France on a midlife gap year in 2012. We had a few issues with “the bus” within a few weeks of full timing, we decided to replace the plumbing as it was a little old and liable to pop (husband is very handy though), and our other main issue was that whilst I loved it while we were stopped, I HATED it when we were moving! It felt too big and unsafe to be driving on the roads. I literally hated it to the point I would get a lift or train or bus to the next place – not the idea when we set out for us to travel seperately. Our one mechanical failure was the handbrake clamping on during a 3 point turn to reverse into a camping space and it locked on whilst we were straddled across the road. It would go into gear but not move. Husband figured out the problem, but it took him 2 hours to fix it – all that time we could not move and became quite an attraction on the large campsite! It could have been so much worse though as 30 minutes earlier, we did a 3 point turn on a main road…We also had a flood despite replacing all the plumbing but that was 2 years later in the middle of winter when it was -20! We lived in her for 3 years, and I loved the lifestyle, the freedom of knowing if we didnt like a place we just moved our house. People would say “oh you are so lucky I wish we could do that” but the thing is they can – anyone can, but you have to take that leap of faith and embrace it wholeheartedly, otherwise when things get tough, as they do, you will throw in the towel too easily, and live to regret it. Happy Travels

    • Paul Kortman

      Yeah we’re beginning to feel the same. We live our house and since we bought it a year ago it’s been amazing to just up and move when we don’t like a place. But yeah the traveling isn’t going so smooth. While we don’t like to be separated either it might be something we consider.

  11. Brian Vincent

    You might consider whether your goal of being seen by your kids as “an overcomer” might just be playing a part in your having so much to overcome…it works out like that. Perhaps if you want your kids to see you as “an adventurer” or as “happy”, or as “sweet”, you might have a little different view of your present situation, and of you.

    • Paul Kortman

      Huh… hadn’t thought of it that way… I definitely see myself as an overcomer, it is a major part of my life’s story. I struggle with changing perspective like that to an adventurer, happy or sweet… or a romantic etc. Have any advice for making that mindset shift?

  12. Anita Kaiser

    this is definitely stuff to consider – I’d love to know how you are feeling now a few years later……

    • Paul Kortman

      Anita, that is a great thought and I totally need to write an update to this. Here’s a quick overview:

      – I had no idea how many breakdowns and how much money the RV was going to cost us. We’ve come to love it as a house and hate it as a vehicle.
      – I still hate the maintenance it requires
      – I am better at repairs and knowing the engine etc.
      – I still struggle with it, as right now the batteries are not charging and nothing’s making sense…
      – It now has two water leaks that I cannot determine the source… and we’re in the rainy season for two more months.

      However, we just booked a couple flights for next year and I’m excited to do that style of travel again. So perhaps the RV-travel thing isn’t right for us, but it’ll make a simple (good) house for us in Mexico for half the year, and the other half we’ll get to travel elsewhere by other vehicles :D


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