Memorial Day kicks off the summer travel season. In 2016, more than 38 million Americans hit the open road with their families for Memorial Day, reviving the Great American Road Trip of years past. Nearly 15 million of those will be traveling in Recreation Vehicles, RVs — travel trailers, motorhomes and campers of all shapes and sizes. Here, a committed RVer talks about the freedom RVing offers her family of 14.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Go RVing, which paid a sponsorship fee. All opinions are my own, based on years of RV travel with my family.
Living the RV Life
Our family of 14 (Mom, Dad and 12 kids ranging in age from 4 to 23) spends about 9-10 months per year in our RV, traveling North America. We much prefer the freedom and wildness of RV living to the more sedentary suburban lifestyle. And, as we travel, I can’t help but take note of how others travel.
Especially those driving the most luxurious of coaches. In 2015, we have the opportunity to demo a luxury 44-foot RV for 5 months. Oh man, it was amazing.
More Basic RV Travel
But before and after that experience, we travel in a 1999 Georgie Boy that we remodeled in 2016 to more adequately suit our family’s needs. Our RV is more of a travel vessel as we are outside on the daily hiking, biking, climbing, whitewater kayaking, surfing, etc. We don’t typically hang out in the RV, though Dan, my husband, does have a pseudo office rigged in the back bedroom.
Everything in our RV breaks down into a bed. The sofas, the dinette, everything. Our kids also love sleeping in hammocks under the stars, but on nights when the weather isn’t favorable, they have even hung hammocks in our RV! Crazy kids.
Our kitchen space is small, but it is serviceable. Meals in our RV on the road work exactly the same way we do at home. We have all the appliances, all the cookware, and nearly all the storage space we have at home. We utilize outdoor cooking on the grill or over the fire, and we even have a Sun Oven for cooking meals like lasagna and dessert like cake! The space inside is small, but that is actually just another thing about RV living that I love. My time isn’t wasted cleaning house, as it literally takes 10 minutes for us to all deep clean the space. All my time is devoted to my family and the fun things in life.
5 Years and Counting
Over the nearly 5 years of RV Travel, I can honestly say I can’t imagine hitting the road any other way. We are able to incorporate adventure in our daily lives, homeschool our children, make memories and live truly wild, and free lives.
We wake with the sun and retire with the moon.
Our family has never been as close and the gift of “getting away” whenever we so desire, produces a relatively stress-free, worry-free, life. Whether you are a weekend warrior, a summer vacationer, or an extended traveler, being in control of your own time and destiny is a wonderful thing!
RVs for Everyone
It’s truly remarkable to me that there is an RV for virtually every budget and need. For proof, all you need do is check out the Go RVing website. Here you can use the Find My RV tool to determine which type of RV will suit your budget and lifestyle best. From here you can go on to find dealers, discover new travel ideas, and my favorite, get inspiration and recipe ideas and more.
We have many friends who road trip for adventure, climbing, hiking, biking, kayaking, whatever. They pull small travel trailers and/or truck campers. We also have many friends who are weekend warriors and RV Travel in beautiful luxury coaches that put our own sticks and bricks mountain home to shame.
We fit beautifully somewhere in the middle. Truth-be-told, while there is such a wide spectrum of RVs, there are some things that even our modest RV and those million dollar coaches have in common.
Luxury Travel Experience
RV Travel is luxurious in that if you want to brew a cup of coffee, make lunch or even take a nap, you are 100% able to do so. The utter convenience of RV Travel cannot be overstated.
Budget Friendly Vacation
For those of us who live life on a budget, where eating out for three meals per day, plus hotel rooms, gas, adventure activities, and more, would send us to the poor house, an RV is a great way to actually get to travel, but keep the cost reasonable. We are able to cook all our meals inside, eat healthy and have money left over for the really fun stuff … the reason for our travels: the adventure!
Pet Friendly Vacation
Do you realize how mainstream animals have become, dogs in particular? They are everywhere. According to the American Pet Products Association, a whopping 37% of owners travel with their pets and that number is expected to continue to grow!
We’ve even been to restaurants with pets! They are so beloved, they go everywhere with their owners, even on vacations! Even we, with 14 people, travel with our mini Goldendoodle, Eddy and our two cats, Mia and Nala. There is no way we could or would leave our beloved pets behind. Yet most other forms of travel nearly dictate they do. Not so with RVing.
Eddy goes just about everywhere with us. When we are going somewhere he can’t, like paddling whitewater, Eddy hangs out with Mia and Nala in our climate controlled RV. With RVing there is no need to seek out pet-friendly hotels and pay extra fees to do so. And there is no need to stress out your pets by boarding them!
As all families with kids know, getting out of the house and getting anywhere on time is nearly impossible. That’s another reason RVing is such a Godsend to our family travels. We leave when we are ready. There’s no rushing to get through security, no lines, no stress. We have no worries about baggage fees and limits. We can stretch out, kick off our shoes and relax as we head to our destination.
I think one of the things I like the most about RV Travel is that we get to enjoy the outdoors, spending all day on the river or climbing or biking. But when we come home, exhausted and tired, we really are coming home. We have climate control, a fridge, a kitchen where we can fix healthy meals, comfy couches, our own blankets and pillows.
And, while our humble RV doesn’t have any bells and whistles, we have toured RVs that have bunk rooms, washer and dryers, heated floors, multiple flat-screen TVs, even dishwashers. You can literally find an RV with every luxury imaginable.
Seriously, you can literally bring every important piece of equipment with you. From bikes and kayaks, to longboards, camp chairs, tents, hammocks and more, you can bring the house!
With 14 people traveling with us, we have to be a bit more careful. But we still manage to bring 20+ Jackson Kayaks, and all the gear that goes with them! We have surfboards and crockpots, cookware, all our toiletries, board games, toys, and a plethora of clothing.
One of the biggest pitfalls of travel is hitting restaurants for every meal. It’s not budget friendly and it’s not healthy. I take great pride in feeding my kids healthy, home-cooked meals, even on the road.
We are able to keep a few days of food for our crew, even with our tiny fridge. We supplement with delish organically grown local produce. Our meals range from fish tacos to huge chef salads, and everything in between. And, of course, dessert, which often is S’Mores around the fire.
RV For Everyone
Bob Dotson, from American Story, once described us beautifully. He said, “We’d be the first in line on the Oregon Trail.” We are definitely trailblazers, adventurers and we love to challenge the status quo. This is why the full-time RV lifestyle has suited us so well. We can go anywhere at any time on a whim. And if we ever are at a loss for a destination, we either check out awesome sites like Pinterest and GO RVing for inspiration or we simply drive, destination unknown.
I’ll tell you a little secret …we have two regrets in life. The first is that we didn’t homeschool our kids from the beginning. The second is that we didn’t start RVing earlier. We got the jobs, bought the house, the cars, did the commute and the 9 to 5, the two weeks of vacation. And we uttered the letters, TGIF. The debt, the colossal debt drowned us. Being free of the mortgage, the car payments, the stress allows us to breathe.
Of course, perhaps, the full-time lifestyle isn’t for everyone. That’s ok. That’s the way it is for the majority of RVers. They are weekend warriors, hitting the road for adventure on their days off of work and school. Or they are summer vacationers, heading to the beach, to the mountains for a stress free time with their families. Maybe they are grandparents with grandchildren in tow. Or young couples with dreams of a future filled with joy. Or families hoping for one last hurrah before school starts in the fall. Heck, we know a few families who pile their kids into their RV and head to the ski resort at the first sign of a powder day.
The point is there is an RV for everyone. No matter who you travel with, where you go, what you do, RVing will always be the best way. Always.
Disclosure: Go RVing paid a sponsorship fee for this post. All opinions, however, are my own.