Scott Watson used to own a home in Forest Park, but held “the itch to sell everything, get an RV and go explore” for years.
His itch has now turned into a reality. Last October, Watson purchased a 21-foot long 2019 Winnebago Travato GL self-contained camper van and set out in late February for what many would call the adventure of a lifetime.
“Every day is a learning experience,” he said, “and that is exactly what I signed up for.”
The aspiring digital nomad went to his manager at his Downers Grove company, described his dream to him and asked if there was a way to combine traveling around the country and still working for the same company—a way “to morph my position into something that I was better at, enjoyed more, and in which I was making a bigger contribution.”
To Watson’s delight, his manager suggested that they “test drive” the idea. So, between October and December last year, he worked two to three weeks a month from his RV, even working from his driveway if not roaming around the country.
The willingness of both parties to be creative and take a risk seems to have resulted in a win for both.
“I support three managing directors in our sales and marketing efforts, while driving around the country,” said Watson, “and produce corporate customer events that are pivotal to our company’s growth. My CEO’s only mandate was ‘no excuses for missing work or meetings because you don’t have internet connections.'”
To make sure he kept that part of the agreement, the digital nomad acquired four different internet connections to ensure that he could do his job anywhere in North America that has good cellular coverage.
“Overall, it is working out better than my wildest dreams,” Watsons said, admitting that they were lofty. “Now, on a daily basis, I explore, learn, share, and contribute instead of being ‘chained’ to a corporate cubical without a lot of satisfaction at the end of the day.”
“My biggest ‘problem’,” he said with a laugh, “is getting my feet under me with this complete sense of freedom. Imagine a 15-year-old with resources and a camper to go wherever, do whatever, and whenever one decided to do it. Hard to explain that complete sense of freedom.”
And, he added, “My managing director gave me a great compliment—we can’t tell that you’re working from an RV.”
Regarding places he has visited that have “truly amazed” him, his short list includes, St. Augustine, Florida and San Antonio, Texas for their history; Austin, Texas for “being cool;” Montgomery and Birmingham, Alabama for their history, natural beauty and polite residents; Cedar Key, Florida for its natural wonders; and Port Canaveral, Florida for being next to the space rocket launches and returning rockets.
And that’s just a few.
Watson posts two stories weekly on his website named “Go Small. Live Large!,” and on YouTube under the same name, articulating what he’s learned. The subtitle on the website explains the content: “Sharing stories about interesting PLACES, fascinating PEOPLE, VANLIFE in a Travato GL, and working as a digital nomad.”
He said he’s met people who have emailed from him after watching his videos. He said he’s also met people and found parking through a website called Boondockers Welcome, which allows members—for $59 per year—to book overnight parking at the homes of hosts who are members.
“The overnight stays,” he said, “usually turn into story sharing over a glass of wine, with coffee in the morning. One couple in Chattanooga even invited me to stay for Easter dinner. They come from all walks of life, but the common denominator is a desire to make an authentic connection and have a sense of adventure and exploration.”
Watson’s partner, Kyle, doesn’t enjoy “living small,” so he spends most of his time at their Lake Worth, Florida homebase of operations, and then, when Watson is in a place that interests him, like New Orleans, he’ll take a flight there and join him for a weekend.
The RV adventurer has visited many places, seen beautiful landscapes, met interesting people, and also learned a lot about himself on his journey.
Over the last three months, he’s learned to use his video camera to tell stories and educate viewers; loved exploring, smelling, tasting and touching new things, particularly after he realized how disconnected he was from nature; learned that being alone is very different than being lonely; and become a better listener and communicator.
Perhaps, most importantly, he said, “I’m at peace with myself, again learning and sharing.”