WHY WE RV WITH KIDS

Family in Yellowstone NP

A few months ago our oldest son, Thing 1, asked me, “Do you think someday I will be nostalgic for our life on the road?” He was so serious, so thoughtful, as he waited for my answer.

“Yes, yes I do. Someday you’ll look back and wish for a time machine,” I said with a wink.

You see, I know from experience. While I didn’t grow up living in an RV on the road, I had very free spirited parents who loved to pile us up in the car with an RV in tow or, later, in a motorhome and hit the road. Some of my favorite childhood memories are staying up late with my dad as we drove. The white dashes disappeared under the headlights as we talked about life. Or the time my parents let me drive the motorhome at 16 years old while they took a nap in the back. Let’s just say that nap didn’t last very long, and years later it’s still something my dad and I laugh about!

My husband, too, has many wonderful memories of RVing in a pop-up trailer with his family. Their days parked along the California beaches were filled with body boarding in the cool waves and the smell of the BBQ. With these sort of experiences shaping our childhoods, it was only natural that when we had children of our own that we’d want to create the same type of joyful memories for them.

RVing with kids is about so many things.

RVing with kids is about learning to appreciate nature and beauty. We are finding this more of a challenge as our culture increasingly becomes filled with pixels and information. It is important to Brent and I as parents that we help our kids connect with nature and see a “big picture”. Our hope is that they will see how we are intertwined with nature. I love my computer as much, or maybe more, than the next person, but nothing lifts my spirits, calms my worries, or puts life into perspective more than the simplicity and beauty of being outdoors. Hiking may not always be our kid’s favorite activity, but we do it anyway because we know it’s good for them.

RVing with kids has been about learning to live with less. The more stuff we have, the more time we must spend trying to buy and maintain that stuff. Personally, Brent and I would rather invest in experiences than stuff. RVing full time with kids is teaching us to prioritize, teaching us to separate our wants from our needs. We are still learning and there is a lot of stuff we enjoy but we are finding out we don’t need nearly as much as we thought! Even if you aren’t a full time RVer, weeklong or weekend trips can have a big impact!

RVing with kids is about learning from experience. There are so many ways to educate a child. We use some traditional curriculum that I’ve handpicked for to meet each boys’ needs. But along with textbooks, we get out there and explore. The boys participate in Ranger-led programs in campgrounds, visit nature centers and museums, and take tours. We watch science in action while learning about calderas as steam rises from the earth around us in Yellowstone National Park. History comes alive when we walk the Freedom Trail in Boston or run down the “runway” at the Wright Brothers National Monument. And, of course, what better way to get in PE than by spending four and a half months doing snowboard school in Colorado! But perhaps most important are the lessons in character that come with living in a small space, lessons in communication, forgiveness, and flexibility.

RVing with kids is about slowing down and strengthening family relationships. In the past our family was so busy that relationships were often strained. At one point it felt like our life was a series of “hurry up let’s go” as we rushed from one activity to the next. If I’ve learned one thing as a parent, it’s that time flies. It just seems like yesterday my teenager was learning to walk. We certainly don’t want to encourage living at warp speed by making “hurry up” our family mantra. Stepping away from a packed schedule and moving into the RV was one of the best decisions we ever made because it allowed more family time than we ever imagined and through that we’ve gotten to know each other on a deeper level. It’s not always easy but the time we have together is priceless.

RVing with kids is about developing courage and learning to meet and accept new people. Since becoming full time RVers, we have become part of a community of like-minded people. Regularly the kids are making new friends and learning that we can enjoy people who are different than us. We also like to visit different types of churches while we travel In the beginning, the boys would want to stay with us instead of going to the youth service. On one day in particular, I was struck by the confidence my son had gained when I walked with him down to the youth church and he said, “Mom, you can leave now.” Love those subtle hints.

Expecting Adventure

Last summer, we found out we were expecting baby number three. Baby Nomad will be joining us around the beginning of April. A few people have expressed bewilderment about our choice to continue to live in an RV with the new baby. Yes, it’s a bit out of the box and, truth be told, we were considering settling down when we found out we were expecting another baby. After the initial shock wore off, we decided as a family that staying on the road was the best choice for all of us. Besides, RVs already come “baby-proofed” from the factory with their stay-closed cabinets! And we wanted to continue fostering the closeness we experience as a family with the new one. Life doesn’t have to end with a new baby. In fact, we like to think of the introduction of this new member of our family as the beginning of a new chapter in our grand adventure.

A Week or a Weekend just Go RVing with Kids

Experiencing the joys of RVing with kids certainly isn’t limited to full-time RVers. Opportunities to connect, create memories, educate, appreciate, and experience nature abound whether you have a week or a weekend.

Do have a favorite RVing or camping memory from when you were a kid? What do you like about RVing with kids?