Tag Archives: Julie Tran

On The Road, A Relationship Grows

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.

Julie Tran and Chris Zaccardi, on the road …

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.”

… and in front of their small home.

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.

Chris gets a helping hand from a fellow RV owner.

“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.

Julie And Chris Trade Old Hill For New Adventure

Seven years ago, Julie Tran and her husband Chris Ziccardi built a home in Old Hill.

She loves her “Mr. Rogers neighborhood,” and the rest of town. When their 2 foster sons were ready to be reunified with their biological parents in November, Julie and Chris were overwhelmed by support from friends, the YMCA youth program, and Kings Highway Elementary School teachers like Roseann Caruso.

But in a couple of weeks — the day their house sale closes — the couple will leave Westport.

With a 27-foot Airstream Globetrotter hitched to their Ford F-350, they’ll head to … well, they’re not exactly sure.

But Julie and Chris are ready for the next chapter in their lives.

Julie Tran and Chris Ziccardi.

The seeds for their decision took root in the pandemic. Julie is a life coach. Chris is a property technology executive.

As they realized the ease of working remotely, they reassessed their values.

“We thought about our lifestyle, our environment — everything,” Julie recalls.

“We had no idea how long COVID would last. But we knew we wanted sun, warmth, and a lot of land. We want to adopt or foster again in a place conducive to that. We envision a ranch with lots of room, sustainable, a place with solar or geothermal, where we can grow our own food.”

Those places exist. But the only way to find them is to hit the road.

“We’ve been cooped up for a year. We’ve got the travel bug,” Julie says.

Julie and Chris started by examining the “why.” They talked about their core values, and came up with 4: freedom, courage, adventure and love.

Julie and Chris are leaving the Old Hill home they built …

Then came the “what.” What does that look like? How would they do it? The safest way to travel now, they realized, is by RV.

There were a few snags. The couple did not own an RV. Julie had not been camping since she was 10. They’d never camped together.

“It’s a crazy idea,” she admits.

Then again, these are crazy times.

“We don’t know how to do what we’re doing,” admits Julie. “But we know we can figure it out.”

… for the RV they bought.

They spent months watching YouTube videos and joining Facebook groups. They researched and crowdsourced things like what kind of trailer they’d need — and how to back it up.

They learned the difference between campgrounds with electric and water hookups, and “boondocking” in more remote areas.

They’ll “start out strong,” with a bit of luxury and sense of community, Julie says. But they look forward to being alone, under the stars, too.

The adventure starts in earnest this week. They’re driving to Georgia in their truck. They’ll hitch the Airstream to it, and head north again for a couple of weeks.

When they leave Westport for good, it’s on a route with few anchors. Julie and Chris will stop in New Jersey, Florida and Texas to see family. Their only set time and destination is April 1: They must be in California then, for her sister’s wedding.

After that? They have no idea.

They hope to find a place to call home. It may be in Austin. Or Tennessee, Florida or Arizona.

Julie and Chris’ Airstream.

As Julie prepares to leave the town she loves — where their foster children thrived, and she found friends and activities — she has one message for those she’s leaving.

“So many people say they’ll live vicariously through us. But I hope it won’t be just vicarious.

“If you’re inspired by our story but think you can’t do it, imagine yourself on your deathbed. Ask yourself, if you had a do-over for your life, would you do anything differently?”