Have you ever taken a leap of faith which ended up launching you in the most incredible and unexpected direction? When we left Kansas in the spring of 2018, we were about to embark on an adventure which would be a steppingstone to get to where we are today. What we thought was a two-year stint to the east coast ended up launching us on the most epic journey, one that some wait a lifetime to live; full-time RV travel. While we didn’t intend on ever traveling full-time like this, let me share with you how incremental steps paved the way to where we are today.
In 2018, we moved from Kansas to Virginia where we lived near my husband’s base of Dulles International Airport. We began homeschooling the children, finishing our first year in April of 2019. Since my husband works for the airlines, one of the perks of his job is free air travel. That summer, our travels began in April and every other week for five months, we were in a different location. We hopped on the airline and cruised around the country to attend events, visit friends, and family that summer. When we looked back on the year, we realized we were paying thousands of dollars for a home we were not living in. This got us thinking about where we would go and what we would do in the next year after our lease ended. It was too expensive to stay, but we did not know where we wanted to move. That fall, we began exploring our options. During our decade plus of marriage, we average moving every year and a half. This time, we decided we needed something that was affordable as well as flexible in case our circumstances changed and we move again.
In September, my husband and I were discussing our future plans because the contract he had with his company would be complete in the spring of 2020. Not knowing where he would be based next, we discussed a variety of options, including the idea of living in a Recreational Vehicle (RV) for maybe six to twelve months until we figured out where we would settle down. Since we were accustomed to traveling regularly, we figured this might be a good option and we could bring our home with us as we traveled. We decided to take a look at a local RV dealership to see what the rigs looked like and if it was something we thought would work for our family. As we discussed this idea, our enthusiasm grew and we became increasingly convinced this concept could work well for our family. We were going to be a full-time RV family starting in April of 2020. Little did we know, we would be perfectly oriented for the impending pandemic that was nearly upon us. We looked at rig options and decided we only wanted to invest one year’s worth of rent into a rig, including renovation costs. This seemed like a good plan and we were excited for the new adventure.
From the moment we started discussing full-time RV living, we started to picture what life would be like, what we would need in a rig, and how we would adapt. There are a LOT of options for RV layouts. We fell in love with the idea of having a bunk room for our children as well as a bumper pull rig, which would allow us to use my father-in-law’s truck so we would not have to purchase a new vehicle. We began looking around our local area and found a 25-foot 2013 Jayco Eagle 324BHTS Travel Trailer that met our wants and needs. We looked at and purchased it within a matter of two weeks. We were doing this!
Knowing that our new RV would be home, I wanted it to be cute and cozy. I asked a friend of mine for assistance in décor ideas so we could make the new space homey. We completely renovated the space and when we were done, our tiny home became a getaway cabin on wheels with ever-changing scenery as we traveled. When we hit the road that spring, we had no idea what to expect or what challenges we would encounter.
We were as prepared as anyone could be when the pandemic arose in the spring of 2020. Whether you believe in divine intervention, a higher power, or the universe, call it what you want, but we were thrilled to be perfectly set up for the most life-altering time yet in our careers. We have both been laid off, moved dozens of times, as well as pivoted as life threw us curves, but never had we ever been in a worldwide pandemic where the aviation industry went from a pilot shortage to a surplus overnight. I remember years ago, I attended a conference and a speaker on the panel said, “The only constant in our life is change.” This has stuck with me and I smile, thinking how true the phrase is. We have had to learn to adjust, which only prepared us more for full-time RV living.
We left Virginia, heading to Kansas where we have friends and family that we could be near while we settled into the rig and waited out the ambiguity of the aviation industry. As we became accustomed to our new lifestyle, we continued to organize, purge, and shift things around. We learned how to live more simply, as well as enjoy time together. We began to appreciate the simple things like electricity and water more. We learned to boondock (dry camp without electricity and water hookups), as well as conserve water, hang laundry on the line to dry, and wash dishes by hand. The children learned that while mom can run the household, they all had to pitch in to make things work more cohesively and efficiently. Personally, I learned to cook differently in the kitchen. We had a one-shelf propane oven and a three-burner stove. As I worked on cooking in tighter quarters, I learned how to use an instant pot, manage multiple pots on a smaller stove, sequence the pans and shift things around so we could have a hot dinner with multiple dishes ready at the same time. These things all took time and effort to master, but we did it.
The longer we lived in the RV, we began to see growth in other areas of our lives. We worked on interpersonal relationship issues as well as new ways to solve problems. We actually worked on problems. We changed from just separating kids during disputes, to being able to calm down and work through things. We grew as a couple and a family. Life on the road is definitely not easy, but it has given us the opportunity to see where we need to grow and to work on those areas. For example, we knew that the transitions from a stationary house to life on the road would be difficult for one of our children in particular. We had read and talked to other full-time RV families who shared that the more a child has a chance to practice transitions and how to cope, the easier it would become for them. Let me be real for a minute and tell you that at first, travel days were ROUGH. But with practice, the children began to build the skills to be able to deal with changes more smoothly and to manage the stress involved with those transitions. We taught the children to make “grab and go breakfasts” and prepare snacks and lunches for the day. We had audio books ready to listen to in order to make these days something to look forward to. We encouraged the children to think about ideas and options to help us improve efficiency and enjoyment of travel days. We made checklists and everyone has a job to do. We are a unit and we work together. Sure, travel days are sometimes stressful, but learning how to cope with that stress has been a huge part of growth for the entire family.
As we continue to learn and grow as a family, we continue enjoying the journey. We have had adventures exploring different parts of the country and learning about geology, geography, and history along our route. We have gained a greater appreciation for our planet, conservation, and wildlife. We love hiking together, working together, and teaching the children how to build and be safe around campfires. We have had countless experiences that have made memories of a lifetime in only a matter of a few months on the road. We have all learned more about each other and life. We live to have experiences and share those moments together.
About six months into our travels, I asked my husband what he thought about extending our six to twelve-month timeline of temporary travel to an undetermined end date. Smiling, he looked at me and said, “I think we need to consider a new rig with another bathroom.” I grinned back saying, “I was thinking it was about time for a new renovation project.” And thus began the adventure of finding a new rig for our family to continue our adventures, but that is a story for another day.
Have you ever had an experience in your life that launched you in a completely unexpected direction?