Feb 182015
 

Going Gypsy

 A review of the story of empty nesters becoming GypsyNesters and an interview with the authors

What do you think when you hear about a couple selling their house and travelling the globe? Perhaps, like me, you are a little envious. Perhaps, also like me, you doubt you would be able to live like that and wonder how one starts off on that kind of lifestyle in the first place. In Going Gypsy, David and Veronica James tell their story about becoming full-time travellers with no fixed address.

David and Veronica raised three children, affectionately referred to as Piglet, Decibel and The Boy. When the youngest went off to college, they began thinking about what to do with the rest of their lives.

When they searched the Internet, they were astonished to discover lamenting and grieving about the empty nest. “Raising kids is hard work, and we couldn’t comprehend all of these people grieving the end of that task.” As David said, “The kids have grown into full-size Homo sapiens fully capable of feeding themselves. The time had come to let them do their own hunting and gathering.” He later adds, “Personally, we taught our little cubs that if they get really hungry, they can always kill and eat a bag of ramen noodles.”

After thinking about the next stage for a while, a plan began to emerge. The plan was to have no plan. They would become GypsyNesters. Of course, a life of no plans doesn’t happen without some preparation. There were jobs to wind up, finances to take care of and a house to sell. Anyone who has ever tackled the job of downsizing can relate to Veronica’s dilemmas and mixed feelings as she reduces their lives to sixteen boxes for storage. They buy a beat-up, second-hand RV that became known as BAMF (Bad Ass Mo Fo), thanks to middle child Decibel.

Chapters in the book alternate between David and Veronica’s voice. This gives the reader both perspectives, each full of heart and humour. Throughout the chapters, the back story of their lives up to this point unfolds. Lives as ordinary and unique as everybody’s. If you’ve ever thought that the kind of person who gives up their home and travels the globe couldn’t possibly be the parent cheering at Little League games, the volunteer at the school, the person waiting tables, delivering pizza or driving a mini-van, this book will make you rethink that preconception.

When describing herself as a helicopter Mom, Veronica says, “No one hovered like me. My rotor blades were sharply honed.” A worrier, constantly fearing for her children’s safety, she also describes herself as a “big, sloppy mess of fears.” And so, the transition to GypsyNester did not come about without anxiety.

“What if there are road bandits out there? Could we fend them off? What sort of implements are needed to repel road bandits? Do road bandits still exist?”

“What if other people think we are actually homeless? Are we actually homeless? Why do I care what other people think? Get real, I care what other people think.”

They conquer their fears and learn to live with conflicting travelling philosophies as they drive the back roads of America, reconnecting with family and friends along the way and developing adult relationships with their children.

Going Gypsy mentions a few of their stops along the way (David has an obsession with weird roadside attractions), but the book is not a travelogue. It is about how they become full-time travellers. You can read about their travels on their blog gypsynester.com.

The book is well-written, amusing and engaging. Whether you have a full nest, an empty nest or no nest, I think you’d find something to relate to in their story. For anyone facing a new stage in life, it is an inspiring and encouraging story. All in all, a satisfying read.

Interview


I had the opportunity to ask Veronica and David a few questions.

Q: It has been seven years since you decided to become GypsyNesters. What do you think now, when you look back and read about your fears and apprehensions at the time?

A: All in all things have gone about as smoothly as we could have hoped, so any apprehension was probably unnecessary. That said, a little bit of why things have gone well likely stemmed from our initial fears of making big mistakes. But mostly looking back we are surprised at how much we didn’t know. In a way, that ignorance kept us going because there was always something to learn or a problem to be solved.

Q: Are you still driving BAMF?

A: Yes and no. The original BAMF did finally give up on us, but true to his form, he gave us a good story. On Mardi Gras night, deep in the bayous of South Louisiana, as we were driving back to our campground with the sun setting, he threw a rod. However, not one to ever strand us, he limped the last few miles while making a horrible racket. As luck would have it, a friend had a nearly identical, but ten years newer, model available. We drove it for several years, and out of habit began to call him BAMF as well, until just recently when we traded down in size to a smaller camper van. The name was traded to him too, we call him baby BAMF.

Q: What has surprised you most about your new lifestyle?

A: Our first surprise was just how much we liked. As time went on, we also discovered how it had helped us rekindle our relationship as a post child-rearing couple. Sometimes that can be a difficult transition in a marriage, and we were amazed by how much closer we became by having new experiences to share and discuss. Traveling supplied those for us, but it doesn’t have to be that, any new endeavor will do, just as long as it is being taken on together.

Q: There is a chapter in the book where you muse about a future time when you become grandparents. Are you grandparents now? If so, how has that affected GypsyNesting? If not, now that you’ve spent some time as gypsies, do you think grandchildren would change your lifestyle?

A: We are not grandparents yet, and don’t see a change to that in the immediate future. We would love to be, but actively fight back every instinct to voice our desires of extending our progeny another generation to our kids. The image of becoming nagging parents constantly asking, “when are you going to have children?” is enough to keep our desire for new babies to love and spoil in check. It’s hard to say how things will change. We see our adult children fairly often while we travel about, so working visits into our schedule wouldn’t be too difficult. Veronica has said for years that she would like to take our grandchildren with us during summer breaks, and that would be fun.

Q: Is there another book coming?

A: We are in the very early stages of compiling a sequel. Our idea is to pick up where Going Gypsy left off and tell some of the amusing anecdotes from these past few years of exploring the world. As with Going Gypsy, we will endeavor to document our travels and observations, including all of the hijinks and shenanigans, with an eye toward inspiring empty nesters everywhere to embrace this new phase of life.

Thanks to David and Veronica for the interview.

Going Gypsy is available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, BAM! Books a Million and Indie Bound.


  55 Responses to “Going Gypsy: A Review and an Interview”

  1. Personally think it’s wonderful when people decide to discover the world. Have already lived, worked and integrated in or with most countries in the world. Today everything is global so it’s essential to undertand different cultures in order to understand the world.

  2. I have always admired people who have done this. I’m way to much a homebody to consider that. I would also miss my garden. That said, it does sound liberating and fun.

    • The message at the heart of the book is about embracing life and having the courage and faith to follow a dream. For you that likely doesn’t translate to becoming a gypsy. Enjoy your garden.

  3. My father had some friends come to visit when I was in high school who spent most of their time travelling in an RV. I always thought that would be a fun thing to do. I would probably start to miss having a home eventually, but I could see myself as a part time gypsy someday.

  4. Sounds like my type of book and lifestyle to say the least. I even people who are brave enough to do what the James family has done.

  5. This sounds like a great read. Thx for sharing, Donna. And thx to Veronica and Dave for writing the book. Knowing them from reading their blog, I’m sure it’s filled with humour and persoanlity!

  6. Good post! Thanks for sharing Donna.
    I like to know about other people’s culture and all.

  7. I have been meaning to download this book, as have read another review and it seems like a good story. I admire people who can take the extra step and sell their house…we have not managed that yet as our children are renting it from us (kindly helping with our travel costs)

  8. This is the second great review I have read of this:) Love the whole idea and am completely crazy about the name “Gypsy Nesters!” I very much enjoyed the interview:) Thank you!

  9. This sounds like a wonderful book, and I love their sense of humor! I too often wonder how people can be so struck down by empty nest syndrome, but as my oldest turns 10, I start to get a glimpse of what that will be like for me too. Thanks for introducing us!

    • Raising children is very rewarding and some of my best memories are when my daughter and step-daughters were little. But they grow up and the empty nest gives you all kinds of new opportunities. There is something to embrace in each phase of life.

  10. I have a long way to go until my children fly the nest. At least 17 years – assuming they will not return home after finishing university lol!

    A never ending road trip sounds fun but slightly unsettling. I would probably play it safe by holidaying often (with my house waiting for me) or choosing to settle abroad.

  11. Great post. I always like rading about other peoples books and I truley injoyed the interview. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Donna — I admire their wandering spirits. I could see possibly doing that for a few years but for the rest of my life? No. I’m the kind of person who needs roots. I don’t think I could become a full-time traveller.

  13. I also had the opportunity to review and recommend this book. People could probably read our 2 reviews and not have to actually read the book——JUST KIDDING, People. Read the book! Nice interview.

    • Suzanne, people would certainly get a good idea of what the book is about by reading our two interviews, but there is so much more entertaining stuff inside the book. You’re right – people should read the book. I really enjoyed doing the interview.

  14. Sounds like an interesting book although I doubt I could deal with the lifestyle. Maybe a year, but not seven.

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  16. I have admired Veronica and David for some time, ever since discovering their great blog. I love their sense of humor and adventure. I’m looking forward to reading the book. Great review, Donna!

  17. Great review Donna! I’m looking forward to receiving my copy from Amazon.

  18. Having followed David and Veronica’s blog for some time it’s great to read this review about their book –
    The have such a great wry sense of humour that shines through – their book I can see is going to be a great read 🙂

  19. Thanks for this Donna. As you know we are following their footsteps, RVing for five years, writing a book, and now traveling the world, It is very interesting to know about their progress.

  20. Sounds like a wonderful lifestyle choice to me. I am still planning but moving towards the gypsy lifestyle soon!

  21. Funny and spirited personalities, positive outlook and great travel stories make for great reading. These two have all that and a camper to boot. I’m a fan. Nice interview and review, Donna.

  22. Congratulations to the GypsyNester s in accomplishing their lifestyle and in completing their book!

  23. A good review of David and Veronica’s book and I loved the interview. As a couple of empty nesters ourselves who travel full-time without a fixed abode I loved reading about another couple who are living a similar lifestyle (although I’d hesitate to say that we’re anywhere as funny!)

  24. I’m going to have to get my hands on that book. Thanks for sharing!

  25. How interesting – and inspiring. A great example of how you should ignore your misgivings and just get on with it!

  26. Great review of a fun and inspiring book! I love their voice and willingness to take that huge leap of faith. We need more people like the Gypsy Nesters 🙂

  27. I love Veronica and David’s sense of humor and am sure this is a great read. They are an inspiring couple, and although I have a empty nest travel fantasy, I’m not sure reality will ever meet that fantasy. Thanks for further insight into this inspiring couple! I hope I’ll get to meet them in person one day.

  28. Great review! Good job!

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