Ever Dreamed of Swapping Your Home for an RV? These Families Did It...
Social distancing. Flight restrictions. Stay-at-home orders. For travel-loving families, 2020 may not have been the best year, but with virtual learning and the chance to work from anywhere-but-the-office, it was also an opportunity to try something different: RV travel. The trend was huge in 2020, and the RV Industry Association predicts it will continue into 2021. The appeal is obvious: a mobile residence with everything you need, in one sanitized space that lets you go wherever the highway leads you?! Why not.
We spoke to a few bold, peripatetic families who are making RVing a permanent or semi-permanent part of their pandemic lives. Want to follow in their car tracks? A great place to start is our Road Trips Forum, where you can connect with veteran road warriors.
Around the U.S.A. in Four Weeks
Monet Hambrick began her blog The Traveling Child in 2016 to share ways that family travel can be both easy and affordable. Along with her husband James and their daughters Jordyn, 6, and Kennedy, 4, they’ve explored the world’s off-the-beaten-path destinations—as far afield as Kenya, Singapore, Colombia, and Brazil—guided by the idea that “if kids live there, kids can visit.” Sticking closer to home during the pandemic, the Hambricks recently took a four-week RV trip that routed them from their home base in Miami north to Orlando and Atlanta and then across Tennessee (Chattanooga, Gatlinburg, Franklin, Nashville, and Memphis), down to New Orleans, and finally back to Florida. Mindful that coming from a higher-risk state like Florida would raise a few red flags, they took precautions: stopping for COVID-19 PCR tests on the road, keeping their documentation up to date, and planning their itinerary to abide by the quarantine requirements in each destination.
Learning to Go With the Flow
Lauren and Aaron Grijalva and their children Casen, 8, and Calista, 7, have been traveling full-time in a Coachmen Chaparral RV for the last two years. Blogging as The Wanderpreneurs, they have figured out the perfect way to balance exploring the world and homeschooling (or as they call it, road-schooling). Using a combination of apps and workbooks, the kids learn language and math and incorporate geography and social sciences through the places that they visit. Their journey hasn’t stopped during the lockdown, as they explored Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the breathtaking hiking trails of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, visiting friends and family and meeting up with fellow RVers along the way. Plans to spend the holidays in Texas were delayed for a few necessary repairs to the Chaparral and an unplanned pit stop in Florida. Detours are always a bit easier when you’re in the driver’s seat of your own life—literally.
A Winter Escape to Disney World
Keith and Tia Sims of The Soulful RV Family were way ahead of most of us: Tia’s aversion to germs in hotels prompted them to begin traveling in an RV back in 2014, along with a desire to explore the country. They’ve been RVing ever since, homeschooling their three boys KJ, 10, Jayson, 9, and Justin, 7, from the road, and the pandemic hasn’t slowed them down. This past summer, the Simses wound their way from Atlanta to Maine to visit Acadia National Park. Sharing the relatively small space of their Newmar Dutch Star RV has taught the family to compromise and work together on the road: The three boys have adapted to sleeping in one room and worked out a method for sharing decisions, everything from which music to play to where to stop along the route. They spent the holiday break the way they have for three years—at Disney World in Florida. A visit to the park is the family’s traditional gift to each other, and it always includes New Year’s fireworks at the Magic Kingdom and celebrating Tia’s birthday (which also falls during the season) by having lunch and dinner in different countries at Epcot.
A Soccer-Playing, Wine-Tasting Road Trip Out West
Rina Baraz Nehdar is the editor of LAFamilyTravel.com and the mother of two boys, Kaleb, 12, and Knox, 10, who are always ready for their next thrilling adventure. Nehdar and her husband Howard took the boys traveling in an RV when they were babies, and decided to try it again this summer when coronavirus threw a wrench in their plans. With the goal of having everything that they may need in one place—even the kitchen sink—they purchased a pre-owned 28-foot Keystone Passport with bunk beds and took it on several road trips from their home base in Southern California. One took them up and down the California coast; another sent them across the Southwest to Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. With the trailer, they’re able to enjoy outdoor adventures, visit historic sites, and attend the boys’ sporting events — like a planned stop in Arizona for a soccer tournament over the holidays. Where the road leads them next is up in the air, thanks to the virus, but the wish list includes Park City, Utah, and Cava Robles, an RV resort in the wine-tasting destination of Paso Robles, California.
They Sold Their Home for Life on the Road
Kay Akpan does double duty as a blogger at The Mom Trotter and the founder of Black Kids Do Travel, an online community that encourages families of color to explore the world. Lately, she’s also enjoying life on the road herself, along with her husband Sylvester and their six-year-old son Aiden. The Akpans caught the RV bug when they rented a camper over Thanksgiving 2019. The experience prompted them to sell their home in Los Angeles—before the pandemic hit—and buy a Ford Tioga Fleetwood to spend 2020 exploring the country. Their biggest adventure so far? Spending two weeks in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, where Aiden got to see moose and elk in their natural habitat. The family has embraced the idea of “slow travel”: They’re currently making their way from Tennessee back to California, but with no particular route in mind. They’ll just spend the next few months going with the flow and seeing where the road will take them.
Wandering Their Way to Wisconsin
Bryanna and Craig Royal and their children, 13-year-old Carson, 10-year-old twins Cannon and Melia, and 8-year-old Knox, have been living, working, studying, and traveling full-time in an RV for over six years. On their blog, Crazy Family Adventure, they share tips for life on the road, including how to book an RV for first-timers and how to use sharing platforms like Outdoorsy and RVshare. To the Royals, the idea of traveling such a long distance doesn’t feel daunting: They can prepare meals without stopping at a restaurant, spend the night without having to check into a hotel, and have a pit stop without entering the gas station. And they’ve found that RV travel has adapted to the pandemic, with many campsites now offering remote check-in. Over the holidays, the Royals traveled from Texas to Destin, Florida, and then began a cross-country journey back to their hometown of Kenosha, Wisconsin. They’re brainstorming where to enjoy warmer weather in 2021.
A Vintage Holiday Card Backdrop
As the founder of Camp Tech, a tech education company based in Toronto, and the author of the best-selling book See You on the Internet: Building Your Small Business with Digital Marketing, Avery Swartz managed a smooth transition to remote working. But keeping her nine-year-old daughter engaged after months and months stuck at home? That was a whole new challenge. Longtime car campers, Swartz and her husband Ian noticed on social media that a friend was selling a fully restored 1975 Boler trailer. On a whim, they purchased the candy-apple-red fiberglass trailer, hitched it up, and drove off to explore Ontario with their daughter and dog Isabel. One of the family’s favorite trips with North the Boler, as they nicknamed it, was spending Canadian Thanksgiving at a lakeside campsite at Presqu'ile Provincial Park; they also spent the summer in Muskoka, the cottage colony in central Ontario. Now parked outside Swartz’s Toronto home, the 13-foot trailer serves as a second office—and a backdrop for the family’s holiday cards. They’re ready to hit the road again once Canada’s weather warms up; until then, Swartz is renting North out so others can explore the province in retro style.