In January, I posted a story about Julie Tran and her husband Chris Ziccardi. They were leaving the Old Hill home they built 7 years earlier.
Their plan was travel around the country.
In a 27-foot Airstream Globetrotter, hitched to their Ford F-350.
Time to check in again on the peripatetic couple.
They were back in Connecticut earlier this month. They’d triangulated the US, from Florida and Texas to California, then back East to New England. They’d seen the Grand Canyon, hiked in Acadia National Park, met wonderful people, and had memorable adventures.
But the most remarkable part of their journey, Julie says, was strengthening their bonds with each other.
“Some people would be nervous. How can you survive in a tiny home with your significant other, and no space for yourself?
“It can be very challenging,” she admits. We knew it would test our relationship. But we thought it would be a good way to work on it, and learn to communicate better.”
It was, in fact, like being on Survivor Island. They were in a vehicle, sure. But as individuals, Julie says, “You can’t go anywhere else.”
The first 5 months were filled with challenges. Battery, refrigerator and air conditioning issues frayed tempers.
“Things come up every day that you don’t deal with in a house. How do you deal with a flat tire? How do you get internet on the road?”
They did it by communicating. They made conscious efforts to talk through every problem.
Before bed every night, they express what they appreciate about the other. They also say what they would like to be appreciated for. They talk about what worked — and didn’t work — that day. Without judgment.
Each morning, they share their intentions for the day.
“It’s changed the energy in our relationship,” Julie says. “And it’s made us more resilient.”
“Each person has to take responsibility for their own actions,” Julie explains. “That’s how you move forward as a team.”
They moved forward in their Airstream, too. Julie has discovered “so much beauty in this country. It’s everywhere.
“I saw birds learning to fly over the ocean. They danced in the sky. I saw goats grazing in the grass.” Slowing down just for 5 minutes to appreciate those scenes is therapeutic.”
Julie has learned too to “feel at home no matter where I am. Home is not a location. It’s a state of being.”
RV owners are friendly and helpful. She started a Facebook group for that community. Some people, she says, have been encouraged to replicate what Julie and Chris are doing.
“Especially in today’s environment, when we can feel we don’t have control over anything, it’s a privilege to provide that inspiration.”
Soon, the couple will gas up the Gulfstream, and head south again. The first destination is Key West.
After that: Who knows?
But Julie and Chris embrace not knowing.
And — thanks to the work they’ve done on their relationship, in the confines of their small RV — they embrace each other more tightly than ever.