Crazy. . .and. . .amazing
We were living the traditional American dream! Hubby had a good paying 9 to 5 job, we built a big house in a great neighborhood, got some dogs, and had some kids. So how did we end up living full-time on the road with 4 kids and 2 dogs in a 23 foot Winnebago View. . .
How We Met
Craig and I were high school sweethearts. We started dating the first day of Junior Year. After graduating, we both went off to college, got engaged, graduated college, got good jobs and started planning and preparing for when we were going to start a family.
At the time, full-time travel was not even on our horizon. Yes, we liked to go on vacation . . . we visited Cancun 7 times since we started dating. Plus, did some road trips, but by no means were we RVers, campers, or super-experienced travelers.
We went to work. Both of us had really good paying 9 to 5 jobs in IT (Information Technology/Computers) at large companies. But, man, I learned quickly that a cubicle was NOT the life for me. Craig felt the same way, but honestly we didn't really know anything different.
We figured this is what we had to do to live our American Dream. The American Dream where you build a big house, then go to Menards to buy things to fix or build new things every weekend . Then stop at Target to buy more things to fill all the space we had in the big house.
We always planned on my staying home when we had kids. In the meantime, we got 2 puppies. We built a house, sold a house, then built our Dream house. It really was our Dream house. It had a perfect half-acre lot that we fenced in. Eventually, we added a pool, a huge deck, a swingset, and a sandbox. All at the end of the road in a great neighborhood in our hometown.
Over the next 4 years we welcomed 4 kids. Our first born son, Carson, girl/boy twins (no, twins do not run in our family and we weren't doing fertility - talk about a surprise!), Melia and Cannon, and then #4, our son Knox. Yes, having a 4 year old, 2 year old twins, and a new born was not easy!
Family Picture in 2012
When you have that many kids that quickly you aren't really thinking about much else besides how to make sure every one is fed, takes their nap, and gets plenty of snuggle time. So again, full time RV travel wasn't even in our thoughts. . .
Fast forward a few years when our oldest would be starting Kindergarten and our youngest was over a year old and we started to think about schooling. Since our oldest was about 2 we had talked about homeschooling. Talking about it and actually pulling the trigger to do it are two different things . . .
After multiple conversations and research, we decided to move ahead with homeschooling and chose Unschooling or more specifically Radical Unschooling. This really started to open the door, since we knew we wouldn't be on a school schedule.
How We Came To Full Time Rving.
We get asked this question all the time, and I think people are looking for this major lightbulb or ah-hah moment . . . not to burst anyone's bubble, but it wasn't really anything like that. Honestly, I don't even really remember how the first conversation started.
What I do remember is that my sister and I started talking about other ways to live. By this time, our house and things had really started to feel suffocating to Craig and me. We knew we wanted something different but just weren't sure what. Plus, Wisconsin is really COLD and gray for a big chunk of the year.
We also knew we wanted a way to spend more time together as a family and focus more on doing things instead of buying things. We didn't want to spend all our time maintaining a huge house. We really wanted our time and money to go into each other.
My sister and I were both stay-at-home Moms which meant lots of playdates and time for us to talk - in between chasing kids! We both did some research and talked about buying a duplex together and traveling when we could. Then we came across these families that were traveling full-time. Wait...WHAT?! People actually do this?!
Some were families that traveled around the globe and others were families that were RVing around the US. We both had pets that we didn't want to leave behind, so RVing sounded perfect. Plus, there is so much to see and do in the US!
We both went back to our husbands to share what we had found. You know you married the right person when they don't look at you like you are crazy when you suggest selling your dream house to downsize and travel!
The process then started to get our house cleaned out and ready to put up for sale. We had a LOT of stuff. But after multiple downsizing rounds and trips to Goodwill and rummage sales, we were able to get the house ready and listed.
We hadn't made the decision to travel full time in our RV yet, but the thought was there. Let me remind you, we had never RVed before . . . and had only camped once or twice. Our next decision was to buy an RV, which we thought we would take out on trips as much as possible while selling our house.
Then we'd downsize to a duplex, giving us more money to spend on traveling.
We found a 29 foot Class C with bunk beds in the back. So we bought it - why not, right?! We took it on a few trips, then planned a 10 day long trip to the Florida Gulf Coast. About 5 days into it, I called my sister and asked what they thought about becoming full time RVers?!
Our first RV
After that trip, we went home and continued to downsize - now that we knew we would be living in an RV, we knew we needed to get rid of more. We thought a 29 foot class C was too small to live in full-time. So we found the 39 foot diesel pusher motorhome that we wanted in Miami, FL.
Craig flew down and for the first time in his life drove a 39 foot motorhome through Miami and thousands of miles back home to Kenosha, WI. Once he got home we started our remodeling process of adding bunk beds. We also sold our 29 foot Class C Motorhome, sold our house and prepared to hit the road.
Geez, that all makes it sound so easy. It wasn't - emotionally or physically! That last month Craig and I slept about 4 hours a night so we could get everything done. And I cried and cried again about leaving the house, our hometown, friends and family. And, of course, the fear of the unknown was always there.
My sister and her family had been going through the same process, and we all decided to go live at a Jellystone Campground in Wisconsin for the season (May - October) so our husbands could continue their full time jobs, and we could figure out how to make money on the road.
From our house to our RV
When the day came to actually leave our house, I didn't think I was going to be able to do it. We stood in the kitchen balling our eyes out. This was our Dream house, where we brought all of our kids home from the hospital - how were we going to leave it? But my husband reminded me that we didn't want to look back 10 years from now and say we wish we would have had the courage to try this lifestyle. So we walked out the door and handed our keys over to the new owners.
There are days I still miss that house and that lifestyle. But I don't regret that we made the decision to leave it and travel full time.
Our Full Time RV Life Begins
The setup at Jellystone (the white rig is my sister's)
Moving into a resort campground like a Jellystone was a pretty cool transition. With a ton of kids' activities, making our own donuts every Sunday and a waterpark it felt like a vacation every weekend!
We stayed here right next to my sister and her family for the next 5 months. It was a lot of fun. During this time, my husband was able to talk to his work and convince them to let him work remotely 3 weeks at a time if he came back to the office for a week.
Sounds good! Let's do this. So November 2014 we officially hit the road and took our first trip to Tennessee. We quickly learned that 3 weeks wasn't enough time to travel, so Craig went back and was able to work it out so he could be gone 8 weeks at time. Sweet!
We did this for a while but quickly started to realize that we didn't like Craig having to be at his desk (AKA the table) all day while I was out exploring with the kids. He tried to go back to ask if he could work part-time. But we had hit our limit. His company said no.
Becoming Digital Nomads
Working by the RV in New Orleans
At this time we decided that we would focus on building my Virtual Business so that Craig could leave his job and we would have the freedom of our own schedule.
Over the next 6 months we focused on making that a reality. Let me tell you, working on building your business when you stay in Yellowstone for a month where the internet only works from midnight to 5 AM is not a good idea . . .
But we did it. I built it to a level that we felt financially could support us. So Craig went in to give his notice and guess what his boss said? What do you think about going part time. Seriously?!
But, we couldn't pass that up. For the next 9 months, Craig was going to be able to work part-time. It worked out great since, as with most businesses, things went up and down. Plus we wanted to continue to work on growing our Travel Blog and encouraging other families to travel full-time.
Once that 9 months was up, Craig joined our virtual business: Virtual Powerhouse and we are currently focusing on building his side of the business - Website Design, while still growing my side: Social Media, e-newsletters, and blogging for small businesses.
We also just recently released a course: How To Start A Virtual Business So You Can Travel Full Time to help other families start a business so they can live their full-time traveling dreams!
We are always focusing on our Blog as well and looking to continue to grow that so we can show other families what being on the road is like, things to do with kids in the destinations we visit, and how to work from the road. We love sharing and hopefully inspiring other families to get out and travel more.
When we started this, we never thought this is where we would be. We had no real plans to become entrepreneurs. Didn't have much of a background in it, but can't believe now how much freedom we do have. By no means is it all rainbows and sunshine. And we definitely don't have everything figured out. But each day we get closer and closer.
Homeschooling and Parenting From the Road
Choosing to go the route of Radical Unschooling with our kids is a great fit for traveling and also the relationships we want to build with them and for them to build with each other. We are constantly learning what this process looks like, and as the kids get older it is always changing.
Hiking with the kids in Ithaca, New York
What we do know is that being on the road in tight quarters has kept us all very close - at a time when most kids are going to school for 8 hours a day and then activities for hours at a time after that - we are together 24/7. And we are learning about each other, helping each other and just talking to each other.
Visiting Mount Rushmore
We have experienced awesome things together and accomplished some pretty amazing hikes and bike trips together as a family. And what better way to learn than to see the country. Our kids are breathing, feeling, being, and seeing everything they learn. It really is pretty cool and Craig and I are learning right along with them. Here is a post we did on RVing Living with Kids for 2 Years And What We Have Learned.
Hiking 3 miles to the top of Mount Washburn in Yellowstone
To explain Radical Unschooling in a few paragraphs is close to impossible so instead I always point people to our resource page if they want to learn more about it.
Downsizing Our RV
About a year into life on the road, we started to realize that a 39 foot motorhome was too big for us and was limiting our travels. So we started to think about downsizing. Funny how that happens. When we first started, we thought we needed as big as possible, but we have learned that isn't the case.
Instead, we wanted something smaller to give us more mobility and make travel days easier. We also wanted something that would get us outside more. With our 39 foot motorhome it was like an apartment on wheels, and we could spend days without going outside at all.
Our old RV and our new RV - quite the size difference!
In a smaller RV we would have more flexibility, better gas mileage, and more availability at campgrounds and RV parks. We started looking and quickly realized that we wanted a Winnebago. We knew Winnebago had a few smaller models, and they were really smart about storage and making the most of small spaces. Plus, we knew they made quality products.
Here is a post with all of the details around why we downsized.
Craig found the Winnebago of his dreams a 23-foot Class C 2006 Winnebago View. We loved the body and knew we could make the inside work with a few modifications (adding a bunk bed in the back). Let the search begin! In the meantime we got our 39 foot motorhome ready to sell.
We found the View we wanted and Craig flew out - de-ja-vu here - to pick it up and drive it back. After we got the new one, we dropped our current RV off at a consignment lot to sell it.
Our new RV a Winnebago View!
We now live and travel full-time in our 23-foot Class C Winnebago View with our 4 kids and 2 dogs and we are loving it! We are still working a few things out - all part of the journey - but we are really happy with our decision and our new home!
Click here for a video walkthrough of our Winnebago View.
We are super excited to be writing for Winnebago and to continue to share our story and the destinations we visit!