If you think full-time RVing is for Dads and Moms whose kids have already left the nest, think again. Joe and Kay Peterson, founders of Escapees RV Club, blazed a trail for full-timing families when they hit the road in 1972 with their two school-age children. Despite dire warnings from their friends and family who feared the kids would go astray with such a non-traditional lifestyle, the Peterson’s kids grew up to be responsible adults who now lead the biggest RV club in the world, Escapees.
Decades have passed since the Petersons made a bold move to travel with kids, but today’s families still catch a lot of flack from well-intentioned people who are unfamiliar with the lifestyle. As a result, the Internet has sprouted thriving support groups to help families get on the road and stay on it for as long as they want to be.
The dues-based group Fulltime Families (http://fulltimefamilies.com) was created to give them the moral support and technical resources they need to create a fun and stable home on wheels. Founded by Kimberly Travaglino, the group has published a terrific book called “How to Hit the Road: Making Your Family’s Full Time RV Dreams a Reality,” (http://fulltimefamilies.com/gear/ftf-bookstore-2) which shares the Travaglino’s full-timing story and explains all the details about how to start making your family’s RV dreams happen, from budgeting to homeschooling options.
Another full-timing support group, Families on the Road, is a loose-knit community of spirited kids and fearless parents who are “are here to educate, inspire and support all families who choose this lifestyle.” Their website, http://www.familiesontheroad.com, is a casual collection of blogs and resources for families seeking inspiration and “roadschooling” know-how.
You’re probably wondering how these families support themselves while traveling. The families I’ve met come from income levels and career backgrounds as diverse as their personalities. Some families have parents who work for a company that allows remote work via the Internet. Other parents work from their RVs running small businesses ranging from RV remodeling services to on-site welding. And yet others ply their trade in careers as electricians, natural gas pipeline workers and other blue-collar trades that enable workers to travel from job site to job site.
The most successful families are the ones who have given their road trip careful consideration before turning the key, by budgeting carefully and seeking advice from others with more experience in areas like homeschooling. Kids who hit the road with their well-prepared families are incredibly fortunate. Not only are they getting a hands-on education about the world around them but they develop resilient attitudes that enable them to more easily adapt to changing situations. Every full-timing youngster I’ve met has been personable and wise beyond their years.
If you’ve got a yearning to travel but aren’t sure how to do it while your kids are still under your roof, don’t wait. Talk to others, link up with groups like the ones I’ve mentioned and start living your dream as a family. If you do it right, the road tripping gift you give to your kids is one that will make a positive impact for a lifetime.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.
Ugh, with FIVE kids? Better them than me.