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Why We Became A Full Time RV Family

 In 2015, I looked at my husband and said, “This makes no sense. I feel like I’m always like I’m running the kid’s around, we never seem to have enough money, and all I really want to do is surf and camp! Can we just live in our RV for a few months?”

I have the best husband. He always says, “Yes dear.”

It’s crazy to think that we weren’t always a full time RV family!

In fact, until our oldest child was eight years old, all we did was go to Kauai about once a year for our family vacations.  Kauai had, and always will have, a special place in our heart.  If a security question asked, “Where would you most want to have a vacation home?” the answer was easy…Kauai. 

We didn’t stay at fancy resorts, although there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a resortist.  High thread counts, a treadmill in an air-conditioned room, and fruity drinks by the pool are a great way to vacation.  But with a big family it was easier to stay in condos and the condo we stayed at in Ha’ena, Kauai felt like home. 

I loved being there and for a long time I kept trying to figure out ways to move there.

Then something changed.  I changed. 

I think it had more to do with my kids growing up and not that I didn’t like Hawaii anymore.  I no longer felt tied down by diapers, nursing infants, and nap schedules. 

I was ready for more.  I was curious about what was out there.  I wanted to venture into the unknown. I craved adventure.

2009… Our very first RV trip

In 2009, the thought of camping was still a little intimidating to my husband, but he knew how much I wanted to and agreed to rent an RV and taking our first road trip to Lake Almanor with a quick detour to Sequoia National Park.  

Despite the white knuckles Victor had driving up the windy mountain roads, the insomnia he had from convincing himself that a bear was going to crawl through the RV window and attack us in our sleep, and the worry I put him through by insisting on driving until 3 o’clock in the morning to avoid traffic then sleeping only four hours at a truck stop, I somehow persuaded him into purchasing our own motorhome a few months later.

My husband loved me and knew I had some strange connection with the open road and the wilderness.

We took a lot of trips with that motorhome including weekend desert trips and a few longer two week explorations up to Northern California.  We even rented our house out on VRBO and lived in that RV for almost two months.  I loved planning trips.  I loved being outside.  I loved being in our motorhome. 

The only problem was that our Class A motorhome was a bit of a lemon.  It had constant brake problems and it felt like we were putting too much money into it.  In addition, we were spending almost every weekend camping locally at the beach in San Diego.  So much so, that Victor said we should just move to the beach.  We sold the RV and moved to the Coronado Cays.

Side note: IMO, Everyone should spend one year of their life living on the beach!

Beach life was fabulous, but it wasn’t long before I was getting anxious being so rooted and was missing the open road.  We still liked going to the desert, but we needed an RV that would sleep more kids since we now had Tatiana, our fifth. So we bought a twenty eight foot fifth wheel, toy box trailer. Wow! We had so much fun with it.

In the summer of 2014, 5 years after our first nerve racking experience road tripping to Lake Almanor, we took off on a 10 day road trip to Lake Powell.  

It was a trip filled with mishap after mishap ​and it was awesome! 

My brother towed his boat all the way there from San Diego.  Within 20 minutes of cruising the lake, while pulling the kids in the inner tube, the engine broke and we had to flag someone down to tow us in.  The boat was too old to get parts for in time, so we rented a boat for the remaining 2 days.  We had so much fun water skiing, wake boarding, inner tubing, and jumping off rocks that we forgot to keep our eye on the fuel gauge and ran out of gas in the middle of the lake.  Again, we flagged someone down and got a tow back to the docks.

But hey, better to see something once, then hear about it a thousand times!

Then, a few days later, we get lost for an hour in a freezing cold, pitch black, lava river tube cave in Flagstaff.   It was an out and back trail, but the lights on our phones died out and we had to wait for someone to come by to show us the way out. 

The next day, on the way from Flagstaff to Phoenix, we blew a flat near the top of the grade. 

It took Victor and I an hour to figure out how to get the spare to drop from under the trailer (there was a hole in the tailgate where you cranked a wrench…duh) and another hour to change the tire in the dark.  10 miles before we get to my sister’s house in Phoenix, we blow another tire on the freeway, but now we are out of spares and decide to take the risk and limp at 10 MPH to the nearest tire shop, which is closed of course because by now it is almost midnight. We leave the trailer in the parking lot overnight.  When we go back to get it in the morning, we realize we picked up a nail in one of the truck dually tires

Three flats in 24 hours!

Ask my kids if they had a great time on this trip you will hear a resounding YES!

Because on this same trip we hiked the most beautiful trails in Zion National Park, watched the most amazing sunsets reflecting off Lake Powell, enjoyed tranquil campfires under the clearest skies with bats flying overhead at Lone Rock Campground, and rock climbed at one of our favorite climbing spots, The Pit in Flagstaff.

  • The memories were priceless.
  • The effect this trip had on my personal growth was immeasurable. 
  • The bonds we created as a family in sharing these types of experiences are exactly what I want out of life and I am so grateful for all the experiences of that trip, both the easy and hard ones.

Traveling this way really is a lost art.  There is a skill and beauty to it that I can help you with.

The most important step in taking a leap towards adventure is actually to create a lot of small steps.

I love the connection it has had on my children and the relationship I am lucky to share with them.  The combination of effort and reward that we share as a family trickles down into the attitude they bring to everyday life.

You can’t talk about road trips without envisioning singing along to your favorite songs.  The long gaps of time on the open road provide that, as well as time with your kids to talk about goals, dreams, and an infinite amount of randomness that fills a kid’s (and adult’s) mind, but is rarely spoken in the everyday hustle and bustle of schedules and routines.

There’s rarely a moment when one of my kids aren’t talking and sharing thoughts or stories.  But occasionally it happens when everyone has fulfilled their need of being heard.  They all settle into their own peaceful contentment of reading or staring into the distance, happy in the confines of their own daydreams.

In between the long silences while driving or hiking trails, I will literally see inspiration flooding into them; their brains exploding with creativity.

Embarking on a journey as a Full Time RV family has enriched our lives immensely. I have seen how road trips, traversing diverse landscapes, have taught my kids incredible values through encountering myriad people and cultures. They have learned to be more open-minded. In seeing and experiencing so much of the world through our Full Time RV adventures, they’ve gained invaluable perspective. From scrambling to the top of a three thousand foot summit to topping out a new climbing route, the determination required to overcome fear, fatigue, and hunger in order to accomplish a goal brings a level of confidence that only comes from physical perspiration and mental persistence during our Full Time RV excursions.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” -Charles Darwin

I love how adaptable my kids have become.  They have learned how to “go with the flow” in many situations and that will help them tremendously in life.  They work hard and pitch in whether it’s setting up camp, preparing food, or cleaning up.  They like being a part of the big picture and know that everything in life won’t just be handed to them.

Their hard work transfers over to their own desires as I see them work to fulfill their own athletic and educational dreams.  Through repetition, persistence, and exposure to many elements, they have learned to face their fears and challenge what they are capable of.

Lastly, they have a level of appreciation that only comes from sacrifice

A delicious meal shared with family after an 18 mile hike, finding wifi after being off the grid for a week, and a hot shower after days of climbing and hiking.  Things that the creature comforts of modern life have caused us to often take for granted.

When we became a full time RV family in 2015, we had no idea the new trajectory our life was about to take.  Like I said, RV living was supposed to be short term in order to do a long road trip through Colorado followed by a longer trip through the Western United States and into Canada. 

The events that happened, the people we met, the places we saw, and the changes in psychology all played a role in developing this passion for living in our RV full time. 

You don’t have to become a full time RV family to experience the joys and rush of road trips.  Going from the comforts of a resort or condo to being self-sustained in the middle of the wilderness is not an easy jump, nor is it necessary for everyone.

Hopefully, with our blogs and Instagram, we can give you the tools and knowledge to get as close to raw nature as possible without losing too much comfort and security.

In the end, it’s all about the memories.

Travel doesn’t have to just be about seeing other cultures, hike new mountains, taste different foods— the desire to create memories can be a great starting point.

Regardless of how much curiosity and adaptability you may be starting with, I can promise that the one thing you will get is a lot of memorable moments.  

Moments when everyone is happy like:

  •  The kids are busy reading, playing, or exploring and you finally have time to breathe and appreciate the little things and the big things
  • When you all sit down for a meal, enjoy delicious food, and talk about the awesome adventures you did that day

Moments of laughter like:

  • When your husband freaks out on a hike because he thinks he hears a mountain lion in the bushes, but it ends up being a squirrel, (in Victor’s defense, there had been a cougar sighting on that trail a month before and we were the first ones on the trail that morning so it was eerily quiet)
  • When your walking on an easy trail and your clumsiest son trips while walking on a log and you can’t help but laugh (we felt bad for him too but don’t worry he wasn’t hurt)

Moments of frustration like:

  • When your dad doesn’t lock the fifth wheel axis into the hitch and you take a U-turn too fast and the fifth wheel comes sliding into the bed of the truck
  • When you lose your whole family’s passports in Spain for 24 hours only to realize that they were in a hidden pouch of your backpack all along (it’s as stressful as it sounds, read the story here)

And moments of pure joy like:

  • When you all cuddle together on one tiny RV couch to watch a movie for the hundredth time, knowing that your kids will spend the next week quoting parts of the movie over and over again.  
  • When you all gather around a campfire in a scenic, isolated campground, and stare up at the biggest sky full of stars you’ve ever seen 

It’s hard, it’s fun, it’s frustrating, it’s joyful, it’s tiring, but regardless, it’s memorable. 

And isn’t that what we really want from raising kids?  A whole bunch of great stories to share when they come home for the Holidays.

We have treated all our travels as baby steps by getting our bearings with trips that were on the beaten path with great infrastructures to count on first.  You don’t even have to permanently give up your resort style vacations either.  However, I hope to inspire you to explore the beauty and excitement that adventure travel brings.

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