Why (and How) Our Family is Taking a Year Off
When you tell people that you are voluntarily moving into a 24 foot travel trailer with your husband and two kids, you get to enjoy a variety of reactions. Confusion, excitement, doubt. Envy and encouragement. I've seen a broad spectrum of responses play across different faces over the last 8 months since I began telling people that I was planning to sell the bulk of my stuff and move my family into an RV so that we could travel around America for a year.
It's been interesting -- and often surprising -- to see which emotions come from which faces; we've found support in the most unlikely places and "concern" where we least expected it. But mostly what we've run into are questions.
The who, what, where, and when have been the easiest to answer.
Who? We're a family of four: a 31-year old freelance writer (me!), a 30-year old cable installer (the husband), an 11-year old boy (Devin), and a 6-year old girl (Emma). No one gets left behind on this trip.
What? We've committed to at least a year of traveling the United States. We'll be living in a 24 by 8 foot travel trailer that we pull behind our old SUV. We plan to stay in each location for a couple of weeks at a time, parking in campgrounds, driveways of friends, and the occasional Wal-Mart parking lot.
Where? We know we can't see all of America in one year, but we're sure going to do our best to cover many of the parts we haven't seen yet. For us (a family originally from the Midwest and currently living in Florida), that means traveling up and down the East Coast, wintering in the South, and exploring the West next spring and summer. We've put together a map of our route with the specific goal of avoiding cold weather as much as possible, but we're also being purposefully flexible with our planning. In fact, we haven't even left yet and we've already changed the location of our first stop because of a blogging event we're attending in Georgia at the beginning of June!
When? We pull out of our driveway on June 1, five days after the last day of school.
Then the questions start to get a little harder to answer. The questions themselves start to get more complicated. It's not just how. It's how will you pay for it and how will you handle school and how will you and your husband have *ahem* alone time?
We're paying for it with the millions of dollars we won from our state lottery.
Actually, we've been paying for it, in part, for almost a year. We've been scrimping and saving and living without new shoes or cable TV. All of that saving (and three massive garage sales) helped us save up about half of what we think we'll need for a year on the road.
The other half will be paid for by blogging.
I'm a professional blogger and freelance writer, and I'll be able to keep doing that work as we travel. Does that mean I make tens of thousands of dollars every month blogging?
Um, no. That means that we figured out that living in an RV and traveling full-time is actually cheaper than maintaining our current lifestyle in an Orlando suburb. A lower monthly cost of living makes it easier for me to support us with my blogging, and made it possible for my husband to take the entire year off from working - turns out cable installation isn't conducive to the nomadic lifestyle.
Fortunately, that frees him up to take charge of the kids' schooling for the year.
Neither one of us has ever considered homeschooling before. In fact, we've both been pretty adamant that homeschooling was not a viable option for our family. And yet, here we are, investigating virtual schools and reading up on homeschooling curriculum.
And by we I mean him, because he is Officially In Charge of that aspect. (Yay for partnerships!)
Speaking of partnerships, ours plans to maintain itself with a little creativity, a lot of open communication, and a couple of tents we're bringing along for occasional outdoor sleeping nights for the kids.
Which brings us to the most difficult question of all... why?
Why in the world did we decide to do this?
I've been asked this question so many times, and I still don't have a good answer. The truth is, there are multiple reasons.
- I hate that my kids don't have recess at school.
- Travel is a personal passion of mine.
- I missed my family when I was traveling for work and pleasure.
- The idea that we're only allowed to work, go to school, or spend time with friends and family on certain days and at specific times started to seem really silly to me.
- I could die. Any day. Not because I'm sick, but because that's just the way life works.
- I want to share places like New York City and San Francisco with my kids.
- I want my kids to have a broad definition of what it means to be American.
- I want to travel with my family overseas, and I just can't justify doing that when there is so much right here at home that we haven't experienced.
All of these things began to swirl around in my brain after my husband Jared and I visited New York together for BlogHer 10. I found out on Twitter that other families around the world were living "location independent" lives, so I knew it could be done.
And then we just had to figure out how, when, where, and what. As a family, it was never a question of who - we always knew we'd accomplish the big dreams together.
We just had to start by asking ourselves... why not?
Britt Reints is a professional blogger currently traveling around the USA in an RV with her husband and two kids. She shares that journey, along with her passion for helping you find your own happiness, at Miss-Britt.com.
She encourages stalking and virtual hair holding on Twitter @missbritt.