When we tell people that we’re living and traveling full-time in an RV, their first reaction is anywhere from “How cool!” to “I could never do that!”
When they find out that we’re full-timers with kids, the reactions almost always turn to “That must be so hard” or “You’re crazy!”
So why did we decide to hit the road full-time with three young children? Why didn’t we wait until we were empty-nesters so we could travel in relative peace and quiet? We’re glad you asked!
You Want to Do What?
The short answer to “why travel full-time in an RV” is that we want to see more of this country (and the world). As for why we’re traveling now with kids instead of waiting, it’s because we want them to experience travel and show us the world through their eyes. The long answer is a lot more involved though.
We had talked about traveling full-time after all the kids were away at college even before we were married. Once we got married and had our first child, we fell into the stability and predictability of life with commutes, daycare, and a mortgage. We cruised along for several years, adding two more redheads to our roster and picking up some promotions and a bigger house along the way. But then everything decided to change on us.
In June 2017, the company that Brian worked for went through a second, wide-sweeping round of layoffs and he lost his job along with hundreds of others. Around the same time, Erin was getting frustrated with a lack of promotion for the third year in a row even after completing a second Master’s degree and a wide variety of specialized training in her field. These two circumstances pushed us to really take a look at where we were in life and where we wanted to be.
Finding another job is probably the most logical reaction to getting laid off or passed up for promotion. That was our initial reaction too, but the more we thought about what made us happy, the more we started to drift from that plan. In late 2015 we had been thinking about moving across the country because life was getting stale, but that idea got shelved when Brian received a significant promotion at work. But now that job was gone, so it just felt right to think about moving again. But how did that evolve into living full-time in an RV?
An Opportunity In Disguise
We started to look at the layoff and other circumstances as an excuse to pick somewhere new to live. Virginia has been home for both of us for our entire lives. Sure, we moved around the state a bit, but it was always Virginia. This new situation was as good a reason as any to find somewhere new to call home. It’s not that we wanted to get away from our friends and family, but rather we just feel an incredibly strong urge to wander. To explore.
Downsizing had also been on our minds a lot, and not just because it was becoming a trendy topic online. Our nice big house had filled up with clothes, toys, furniture, books, games, and so many other things that we felt overwhelmed by. The house gave us too much space to put things we didn’t need, and we had entire rooms that just sat unused. Our two girls shared a room by choice, despite having plenty of large bedrooms to accommodate them and all of their things. So not only were we looking at moving, we were also looking at downsizing our lives significantly.
Somehow, we’re not quite sure, this led to looking at RVs.
Go Small to Go Big
It’s one thing to go from a 2,600 square-foot house to something more cozy like a 1,000 square-foot rancher. It’s an entirely different thing to go from a full-size single-family home to a ~300 square-foot home on wheels. With five humans. And a dog.
While investigating methods to downsize our things and our lives, we read about and watched a lot of things about tiny houses. They are certainly cozy, and they force you to really prioritize the things you need on a daily basis, but even though they can be built on a towable frame they still seemed a little too “static” for us.
We have always loved to travel, but hate that there never seemed to be enough time for it. Limited vacation days and the rising costs of travel are a nasty combination that make it very difficult to get out and see the country (or the world). Life’s too short to just squeeze a week or two of travel a year in when there are so many amazing places out there to visit. While we were both growing up, vacations were limited to spring break or the summer when we wouldn’t miss school. Now as adults we were getting trapped in that same cycle again and we felt really strongly that we needed to break out of it, not only for ourselves but also so our children could get out and experience more than the little bubble we were in.
Enter the Recreational Vehicle
This is where RVs came storming into our lives. Neither of us had even stepped foot in an RV when we made the decision to seriously look into full-timing in one. Somehow, while browsing videos about tiny houses on YouTube, we stumbled across Keep Your Daydream’s channel. We didn’t even know that full-time RVing with kids was a thing that people did. And here was another family of five (including some redheads!) doing just that. Seeing this was, literally, life-changing. We immediately thought “we can do that” – so we decided to make it happen.
The first step was weighing the pros and cons of going full-time in an RV vs. moving to a house in a new city. Our pros list quickly filled up, while the cons were mostly just logistical items that we felt we could handle with enough care and effort. Some of the pros that swayed our decision the most were:
Spending more time with our kids
Prior to going full-time, our oldest was in 3rd grade and the two littles were in daycare while we both worked 40 hours a week. We only spent time with them on weekends and for a couple hours a night during the week. This was easily the biggest pro and far outweighed any con we could come up with. There are only so many spring breaks and summers before the kids aren’t kids anymore, and lost time is one thing you can never get back.
Seeing and doing more
We are able to see many, many more places in this beautiful country than you could ever hope to with only a week or two of vacation a year. We’ve been on the road for just shy of 3 months now and have been to 9 states, 20 campgrounds, and more than 50 cities, attractions, parks, and more. By our best estimation that would have taken our pre-RV family about 8 years to accomplish given our previous travel behavior.
Becoming more flexible
We’re both planners and we like to know what’s happening tomorrow, next week, and next month. The best part about this lifestyle has been the ability to just move on when something isn’t working out. While we’ve tried to get everything nailed down a couple weeks ahead of time so far on our trip, just two days ago our plans went completely sideways. We arrived at our schedule campground only to find that the spots were way smaller than advertised and we definitely weren’t going to fit. The solution to that problem was as easy as driving back up the road and finding somewhere else to stay for a couple nights. Sure, that can be a little stressful in the moment, but we are learning to go with the flow and are realizing that there’s always another solution.
Along those same lines, we’re also able to go wherever we want whenever we want. If we don’t like the weather somewhere, we can move. If we don’t like the campground we’ve ended up in, we can find another one. If we hear about something super cool that’s a couple hours off our route, we can change our plans.
Living With Our Full-Time Decision
Life on the road, so far, has been fantastic. Sure, it was scary to sell basically everything we owned and drive off into the unknown, but it has also been very liberating. It really does feel like this is what we’re supposed to be doing right now. Neither of us knows how long we’ll travel full-time, but we currently have 18 months of travel in the US and Canada roughly mapped out. After that, who knows. We’re keeping an eye on the cities we visit as potential new homes when we’re done on the road, but there’s also the possibility of heading to another continent and traveling there. Without a mortgage and the other chains of modern life holding down in one place, we are open to anything.