How To Live and Work With Your Spouse On The Road (Without Killing Each Other)

How To Live and Work With Your Spouse On The Road (Without Killing Each Other) 1

El Pais Motel and Campground is a wonderful lil’ patch of sand and palm trees just this side of Tucson, AZ. On a warm November afternoon, my wife and I ended a 20-hour road trip by pulling into the rich history of El Pais

El Pais Motel and Campground is – for my wife and me – a beautiful step on the long road of figuring out how to grow a business together. During our 3+ years full-timing it, we’ve worked together at fun events, managed Airbnbs, and worked other random gigs wherever we park it.

Brittain and I came to El Pais to go all-in on business together. Our plan? Renting out our vintage campers on Airbnb as a “glamping” experience for weary snow-birds. 

But our path to El Pais wasn’t an easy one. We had to figure out a lot of habits to keep ourselves sane while sharing a business. Here’s a smattering of what we’ve learned about working and living together in an RV on the road:

Let Failure Guide You

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Built in ‘48, El Pais Motel and Campground was a peaceful respite for road warriors of that day.

Before coming to El Pais, I crashed a business that I’d run for 5 years. Brittain had successfully run a micro Hostel in Kansas City, but we’d “failed” to figure out how to grow it. 

But that’s really a backwards view – My business crash? Tons of lessons learned that we can apply here at El Pais

Our “failure” to scale the Hostel? We actually hadn’t failed – the “micro” model we had in Kansas City of a 4-bed Hostel has become an excellent way for us to expand at El Pais. We’re growing up one camper at a time. Once one camper is regularly rented out on Airbnb, then we can buy another. If it doesn’t get rented, we don’t buy. 

Being open to what failure has to teach you is a vital mindset when you and your spouse are working together on the road. 

Create "Me" Time

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My wife, taking some “Me Time” in El Pais’s pool

Brittain and I have a wonderful lifeline we use around the camper: “Darlin, I need my “Me Time”. Translation? “You’re driving me up the wall, I’m OUT.” 🙂

Jokes aside, “Me Time” is vital for any couple. You need to be able to get away, to be yourself, and to pursue your own interests. It’s especially critical that you be intentional about this when you’re working and living together in an RV. 

Tight Spaces Mean You've Gotta Find Ways To Create Your Own Space

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Don’t be this guy - create some “you” space!

Couples in McMansions can easily break away to separate parts of the house when needed, but we tiny-homers don’t have that luxury. 

Instead, you need to figure out ways to get into your own space when needed – go out on separate hikes, let one spouse take the car for the day, or even take solo trips once in a while. 

You Won't View The Business The Same Way

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Design this good happens only when I give Brittain her space to create

Whether you’re working jobs together or growing a full-blown business, you won’t always agree on your shared work life. 

That’s why Brittain and I have rules for discussion and a division of labor

Our rules for discussion include no shouting, only clear and constructive statements allowed, and freedom to hit “pause” if things get too heated. 

Division of labor means you’re constantly figuring out ways to work in your strengths while letting your spouse cover your weaknesses. For example, I have a terrible eye for design while Britt’s design eye is world-class. Thus, she makes all out design decisions and I offer feedback. On the flip, Britt really doesn’t dig insurance and financial stuff, so I take care of the major items with that. 

But division of labor doesn’t mean you shut the other person out! You are a team. Britt is still very involved in financial discussions, just as I am in design. We know where each of us shines and try to honor that for each other. 

You'll Be At Each Other's Throats - Just Don't Stay That Way

No matter how proactive you are about “Me Time”, space, and division of labor, there will be times when it all breaks down.

That’s okay – just don’t stay that way. Get away for a few and chat it out later. Once you do come back to it, figure out a way to talk things out and get to a genuine “I love you” before going to bed. 

Embrace The Ebbs And Flows

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Our Airstream in her new Airbnb home at El Pais - we’re hoping for great things!

Brittain and I have had times of plenty and times of scarcity. Times of lots of work and times of no work. We used to freak out during the “ebb” times because we felt like we weren’t moving forward. But that’s not why you and I got on the road – we did it for the freedom and flexibility to enjoy the journey! 

So, as long as you’re keeping the lights on, be sure to enjoy the inevitable times when the work you do together slows down for a spell. 

Budget Together

Money fights and money problems are one of the leading causes of divorce, so I cannot stress enough how important it is for you and your spouse to be on the same page financially. Brittain and I have a monthly budget meeting and use everydollar.com to keep our finances on track. I also wrote this Xscapers article with some detailed advice on the subject. 

Figure Out Your Passion And Then Find A Way To Work It

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For us, it doesn’t get any better than this 🙂

Working and living together in an RV always goes much smoother when you’re both working on something you’re passionate about. 

Before El Pais, Brittain and I ran a Hostel remotely while we lived our road-life. We loved them both, but we were also passionate about bringing the two of them together. It was only through our intentional conversations about how we wanted the business to grow that we were able to jump on the El Pais opportunity when it came along. 

You’ won’t stumble your way to work you love, but you can (and should) take deliberate steps to get there – together.

Serve Together

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By running a profitable AND purposeful business, we were able to use a percentage of profits to build homes for Jamaican families in need.

Brittain and I have always believed in building businesses that are wildly profitable AND massively impactful. For every 300 beds booked at our Hostel, we built a home for a family in need in Jamaica. And not “Beach Jamaica”… we’re talking up-in-the-mountains people-in-extremem-poverty Jamaica. 

Whether through your business or life in general, finding a way to serve together is a must for living and working as a pair. 

When Brittain and I turned the corner at El Pais, I could see our pather in the rearview mirror. It was a path full of twists and turns, wins and losses, adventure and boredom. Most of all though, it was a path paved with an unwavering drive to build a life on our own terms. 

Brittain and I wish the same for you and your spouse as you tackle the journey of life together. Give us a holler if you ever want to chat about it. 

– Jost, josh@outofnorm.al

Josh Schukman

Author

Josh Schukman

Josh is half of the husband+wife duo behind OutofNorm.al – where their mantra is life, unwasted. Josh and his wife have been galivanting all over the country in an ’88 Airstream for the past 3 years…and counting. They seek out small towns, BLM lands and the next vintage camper they can renovate for their AirBNB glamping business. 

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