About Us

Hi! We are Kevin and Kara. And we love to travel.

kevin and kara

In 2013, we bought our motorhome, Pippi. In 2018, we sold our house, most of our possessions, and hit the road full-time in our RV.

Since we started traveling in our RV, we have driven Pippi over 60,000 miles.

We are Kevin & Kara, two Accountants who sold our house and left the corporate world so we could explore North America in our motorhome, Pippi. 

Table of Contents

What do we know about RV travel?

We have owned our motorhome since 2013 and have been living in our RV full time since 2018. As of 2022, a few of our travel milestones are 60k RV miles driven, 30 states visited (including Alaska) and over 50 National Park sites explored.

Most days our RV life is pretty amazing. We follow good weather and move whenever we want. But RV life is not always rainbows and sunshine. It seems like something is always breaking.

Thankfully Kevin is mechanically minded and can repair and replace parts when needed. He designed and installed our RV electrical system including a lithium battery bank and solar panels. Check out his solar and generator post for more about the RV electrical systems in our motorhome.

Who We Are

Kevin and I are two 40-somethings traveling North America in a motorhome. Most days aren’t glamorous but it’s a great way to explore new places with all the conveniences of home.

We both spent decades working corporate finance and accounting jobs. Almost 13 years were spent living in the northern suburbs of Atlanta.

Due to a sweet work assignment, we lived in London England for three years.

I wrapped up my career with two years working in Texas before we hit the road full-time.

Our personalities are Type A by most standards; we are great strategists and detail-oriented planners. We planned and saved for decades to gain the freedom to wander while we are young enough to fully enjoy it. 

kevin at kara visiting zion national park for the first time

How We Met

Kevin and I met in 2001 while studying accounting at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. We lived in the southeast US (North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia) for the majority of our lives.

Kevin loves football, especially ECU Pirate football. It is a fairly safe bet you’ll find us in Greenville NC during football season. 

Shortcut to Retire Early

There was no shortcut or trick that allowed us to leave full-time work before 40.

In short, we saved more than we spent.

We were also blessed with college educations and well-paid professional careers.

I like to tell people that I saved fifty cents of every dollar I ever made. That might be an exaggeration but not by much.

How We Retired in our 30s

Investing, as much money as possible, was the key for us.

We had second jobs and side hustles.

We paid cash for big purchases and tracked every penny of inflows and outflows.

We knew from our business background that we couldn’t manage what we didn’t measure. So we measured every dollar.

For the most part, we created our own financial plan with a mix of guidance from others. For the first decade, we used the Dave Ramsey cash envelope system to easily manage our budget. However, we didn’t find much other Dave Ramsey advice that fit our plan.

We skipped activities and expenditures that didn’t fit into our long-term plan. I can definitely relate to the Dave Ramsey quote “live like no one else so you can live like no one else”.

What does Cheap and Cheerful travel mean?

Our frugal travel style is Cheap and Cheerful which means we have fun on a budget. Most days we enjoy free or cheap activities like hiking, biking, and kayaking.   

We essentially live like locals eating most meals at home and choosing only the most unique, memorable paid activities. 

Don’t feel too sorry for us. Kevin and I both love to cook so we have great food at home.

Our one splurge is craft beer. Breweries are a favorite attraction for us and we treat ourselves to a local pint regularly.

How We Spend Our Time

Together, we enjoy scuba diving, mountain biking, kayaking, and hiking. Kevin is a more experienced biker and diver but I enjoy both.

Also, I (Kara) like to read in my spare time and finish around a hundred books per year, both fiction and non-fiction.

Now we are taking life one day at a time and just Trying to Unwind.  We are currently traveling throughout North America in our motorhome, Pippi. 

If you have more questions about full-time RV living, check out What Everyone Wants To Know About Full Time RV Living: Top 23 Questions We Get Asked.

Trying to Unwind Budget RV Travel Blog

Our blog, Trying to Unwind, is a labor of love and not intended to replace a full-time income. Our site includes minimal advertisements to help defray costs.

We recommend a few brand partners in our articles. Rest assured, we have personally used each of these brands and believe you will find value in their offerings.

Signing up using our referral links above, costs you nothing and helps support our great free content.

I love researching and planning trips. Recommendations are based on our personal experiences or in-depth research. If I didn’t personally participate in a particular activity, I will clearly state it in my article. 

Why We Share?

We want to inspire others to SPEND LESS and DO MORE.

We hope our minimalist lifestyle and frugal travel stories will encourage others to travel and make memories regardless of their budget. Most destination articles include free activities and free camping locations.

And honestly, we also share stories and photos as a way to memorialize the amazing experiences we’ve had along the way.

Join our journeys and let us inspire your next trip.  

Thanks for checking out our site.

pippi the motorhome

Who is Pippi?

Pippi is our 2000 American Tradition 37TRS. She is a 37 foot Class A diesel pusher.

Her full name is the Purple People Eater which is abbreviated P.P.E. and pronounced Pippi. 

We live in her full-time and travel North America.

She is a solidly built classic and we’ve owned her since 2013.

We are the third owners and regularly get compliments on her excellent condition. Kevin works hard to keep her fresh and shiny with regular washing and waxing. 

Why is Pippi called the Purple People Eater? 

Her main accent color, interior and exterior, is a dark plum purple. She has silver and purple full-body graphics on her white exterior.

In 2013 when we bought her, she even had purple carpet. Well actually, the original plum purple carpet was sun-faded with a few pinkish corners.

We’ve made a lot of modifications in our years of ownership. Modifications have included hardwood floors, converting to solar and lithium-power, replacing the RV refrigerator with a residential unit, adding an on-demand water heater and lots more.

In short, Pippi is not cheap but we love the home we’ve made. 

Should I buy a 20-year-old motorhome?

Pippi was 13 years old with 55k miles on the odometer when we bought her. We don’t regret buying an older lady.

In my opinion, a 20-year-old diesel motorhome still has a lot of useful life and shouldn’t be passed over due to age. Condition and maintenance records should be a primary deciding factor in the purchase of a 20-year-old motorhome.

How long do diesel pushers last?

We’ve had several diesel engine specialists tell us the life expectancy of a diesel engine like our motorhome is one million miles. A professional told me the house portion of the motorhome will fall apart before the engine dies.

Are old motorhomes good?

We’ve been touring other motorhomes since 2012 and found the older motorhomes are built more solid than a lot of newer models.

Prior to the 2008 financial crisis, many luxury high-end brands were separately held companies.

They focused on quality rather than producing large quantities of motorhomes. Since 2008, most have been bought out by national brands that produce a wide range of RVs.

Would we buy an old diesel pusher again?

Absolutely we would buy a 20-year-old motorhome again.

We do not regret buying Pippi even though she is an older lady. She is sturdy and we expect her to last for many more years of full-time travel.

I would argue older motorhomes are oftentimes better built than newer models.

Also, your budget goes further when you are willing to buy an older model. At the time of our purchase, we got a high-end luxury diesel pusher for less than half of a new low-end gasoline motorhome.

Since purchasing Pippi, we have spent thousands of dollars on engine work and repairs however we have friends with newer rigs who have done the same. Repairs are just part of owning an RV.

What is RECUPIRATE? What is RECUPIRTE?

Maybe you found this page because you saw our motorhome driving around your town, noticed the custom logo, and wondered “what is recupirte”.

Please read the story of the logo and its meaning.

The most common question we get from strangers: What’s your logo mean?

One of the most common conversations we have with strangers is about the custom RECUPIRTE decal on the back of Pippi. They don’t usually know how to pronounce the text so they just ask “What’s the story with your logo?”

The design was custom created by PerdueVision and is a peg-legged, hook-handed pirate enjoying a waterfront sunset from a hammock. The only text is “RECUPIRTE” with a pirate logo replacing the letter ‘a’ in RECUPIRATE. 

The story of RECUPIRTE (RECUPIRATE) our motorhome’s logo

Kevin and I met in 2001 while earning our accounting degrees at East Carolina University. Pippi was purchased in 2013 while we were still living in a sticks and bricks house and working full-time corporate jobs. 

We kept her in storage during the week and only occasionally used her on weekends.

Each September, we relocated Pippi from our home in Georgia to eastern North Carolina where she stayed for the entire football season. She was our tailgate home for ECU Pirates football before we moved into her full-time. 

Who came up with RECUPIRTE (RECUPIRATE)? 

Many years before we found Pippi, Kevin created the RECUPIRATE moniker. Likely with the assistance of a few beers, he dreamed up his perfect boat name, RECUPIRATE.

It is pronounced recuperate and with a minor typo including both ECU and Pirate in the logo for our recuperation vehicle, Pippi.

We have since created the brand Trying to Unwind for our full-time travel blog but aren’t ready to let go of our weekend fun times moniker RECUPIRATE. 

Who designed the logo? 

Our longtime friend, Paul, owns a graphic printing and design business. He worked with us to develop the logo including custom color matching to Pippi’s paint. PerdueVision has always done great work for us so check them out for your graphic design or printing needs. We are a perfect example that they can do anything you dream up. 

What does RECUPIRTE (RECUPIRATE) mean? 

re·cu·per·ate directly from dictionary.com 

/rəˈko͞opəˌrāt/ 

VERB (USED WITHOUT OBJECT), RE·CU·PER·AT·ED, RE·CU·PER·AT·ING. TO RECOVER FROM SICKNESS OR EXHAUSTION; REGAIN HEALTH OR STRENGTH.TO RECOVER FROM FINANCIAL LOSS. 

VERB (USED WITH OBJECT), RE·CU·PER·AT·ED, RE·CU·PER·AT·ING. TO RESTORE TO HEALTH, VIGOR, ETC 

What does Trying to Unwind mean?

And why did we choose it for our blog name?

As we travel full-time, we strive every day to slow down, relax and enjoy the moment.

In short, we are just Trying to Unwind. After years of corporate hustle and stress, it seemed like a good name for a small blog that I originally started to keep myself entertained.

Who is Trying to Unwind?

We are two accountants who have been planning our exit strategy since our early 20s. My name is Kara and my husband is Kevin. We retired from full-time work in our 30s. No, we didn’t inherit a fortune or hit the lottery.

We are planners and were blessed with great careers in corporate America.

Also, we lived with a purpose for 20 years to make our dream a reality. We never drove expensive cars or bought designer clothes; we had a plan and we stuck to it. It was not glamorous or sexy but most of life is not.

Emotionally Afraid to Retire

Once I reached the goal line to quit work, I was having an emotionally tough time adjusting to the idea of my new reality. With less than a month of work left, I was overwhelmed with emotions. And it was the weirdest feeling.

For more on adjusting to non-working life check out Retirement: Blessing or Curse?

I was employed since 15 years old and my career has always been a big part of my identity. After spending 6 years in college and 18 years working in Accounting and Finance, I had an identity. I was a Finance Director, and I was good at my job (or so I have been told).

When you meet someone new they usually ask ‘what do you do?’. Whether you acknowledge it or not, our jobs define us.

No One Wants An Accountant’s Haircut

I am an accountant and I am married to an accountant.

This title describes me and yet it does not capture my whole person.

Yes, I plan my life in spreadsheets.

But as a great friend once told her new hairstylist “I don’t like telling people I am an accountant because then they think I want an accountant’s haircut”.

Word to the wise – no one wants an accountant’s haircut.

Retirement Syndrome: More Than An Accountant

As I struggle with retirement syndrome, I keep reminding myself I am more than an accountant. However, the reality is I am a type-A person who loves to plan.

I plan my grocery shopping to eliminate food waste (we only have one planet) and maximize my budget.

I volunteer to plan vacations for friends and family (in spreadsheets of course).

Everything in our life is on a list or a calendar reminder.

I admit I am what most people would describe as high-strung in many parts of my life.

Stereotypical Accountant Personality

My husband is also a type-A personality but in a different way.

He has more of a laid-back personality but loves researching and is meticulous in everything he does. He was offended when I described our blog as two Type-A personalities just Trying to Unwind.

Kevin did not believe he was a Type A or that anyone would describe him as being wound tightly.

I asked how he would respond if I rearranged one of our meticulously organized cabinets. After considering the big spoons mixing with the little ones, I think he realized that maybe he is wound a little tighter than most.

What does Trying to Unwind mean?

Without corporate jobs dominating our identities, we are working to transition into a new way of thinking about our lives. We are exploring North America in our motorhome and strive every day to slow down, relax and enjoy the moment.

Join us on our journey as we try to attempt to find out ‘What does Trying to Unwind Mean?”.

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