GO RVING WITH A BABY
Our plan was to leave Orange County, California where we lived for 8 years and move near family on the East Coast. We wanted to settle down in a brick & mortar house and have babies. I convinced Danielle we should have one last hurrah by buying an RV and traveling for 6 months on our way out east.
We quickly realized that living in an RV can be just as “normal” as living in a brick & mortar house, except you get to enjoy scenery and experiences that would never happen living in a traditional house. About a year into our full-time RV travels we found ourselves pregnant while in Texas. It was exciting, but we had to make a big decision…do we settle down, or do we continue the incredible life to which we’ve become accustomed?
For me it was a no-brainer, CONTINUE RVing! Danielle had a few things she wanted to get cleared up before committing:
How solid was our income?
We made an agreement before traveling that we wouldn’t touch our savings. If we were to continue RVing, Danielle needed peace of mind to know that our income would be significant and steady enough for it to not be a concern. So to give her the peace of mind I committed to grow our social media business by 25%. This meant lots of coffee, 14-18 hour days, 6 days a week until we exceeded the goal.
What type of RV would be best for us?
When we started traveling we bought a gently used Type C motorhome. It was perfect for what we were looking for – ADVENTURE! We could fit into small, secluded campsites and pack up and travel on a whim. But having a baby meant there was NO WAY we were going to be sane and productive in a smaller RV.
Within a few days of finding out we were pregnant Danielle had researched all the major fifth-wheel toy haulers on the market. We decided the Road Warrior 425 had the perfect floor plan and amenities we were looking for and within a month made the move to upgrade. Now we have more space than we need which is great because we plan on growing our family in it.
How are we going to do doctor visits when we’re traveling all the time? Would we have to stay in one area? Would we have to constantly switch doctors?
We found a good doctor in Orlando and because the appointments were spread out, we were able to spend time all over the state making sure we were back in Orlando for the next appointment.
The doctor cleared us to head to Minnesota for 2 months in the summer to visit family. While we were there, Danielle wanted to find a doctor and do a checkup just because. That appointment changed things dramatically. It turned out Danielle had a full placenta previa and she had to be put on modified bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy! The other major change was that they said we were absolutely not allowed to travel until the baby was born.
The blessing in disguise was that before we arrived in Minnesota my parents installed RV hookups on their property to encourage us to bring the grandkids around more. We were able to Yamp (Yard Camp) through the rest of the pregnancy. It was the best of both worlds; we could spend quality time with family but not overstay our welcome since our home was just 20 feet away. We also got help and support when needed since Danielle was very limited on what she could physically do.
Back on the Road
A month after Ella was born I was itching to get back on the road. It also was December in Minnesota and Danielle was ready to head to a warmer climate. We hit the road for a border-to-border 6 month surfing trip up the West Coast from San Diego to Seattle. Now that we were traveling full-time again we learned quickly some of the changes we’d have to make when RVing with a baby.
It’s more of a production to move our large home-on-wheels with a baby compared to when it was just us. This is probably because we have A LOT more stuff. Since Danielle is taking care of the baby it’s now mostly my responsibility to get us packed and prepared to hit the road.
Every chance we get we stay at a campground for around 3 weeks to minimize the times we pack up and move. Having a membership with Thousand Trails has really helped us be able to set up a home base and then constantly take day trips to explore the surrounding areas. Although Ella doesn’t seem to mind a little spontaneity, it’s a lot easier on us to get into a routine.
Travel Shorter Distances
We’ve realized that Ella has a limit on how long she’ll stay calm while riding in the truck. We also have to stop each time she needs to eat. When we head to a new area we break up the drive so each day is limited to what she can handle. Another big help is planning our drive around her naptime. Usually we can leave around an hour before her nap and she’ll be chill all the way until an hour or so after she wakes up from her nap.
Keeping the Baby Happy
We’ve been able to stretch the travel time with her with a few upgrades. Danielle convinced me that since we travel full time, it would be a good investment to upgrade to a high-end car seat. She was right. Another upgrade was buying an aftermarket DVD player and this alone has made a HUGE difference when Ella’s tired and crabby. To go a step further, Danielle rides in the back with her to calm her if needed.
Inside the RV
One of the great things about an RV is that they’re built to stay intact while you’re rolling down the road. Other than outlet covers we haven’t had to make any changes to make the RV safe for our little one.
Changing the Layout
We’ve made multiple changes to our RV to accommodate the little one. Initially we removed 2 of our 5 couch seats to put her crib in the living room area so that I could keep the toy hauler garage as my office. We quickly realized that a toy hauler should be a toy hauler. She has officially taken that over and I’ve moved into the built-in office in the living room. We turned the empty couch space into a sitting and feeding area for Danielle and Ella.
The toy hauler garage is a fantastic cross over space. We built a portable closet for all of her clothes and put together her crib to sleep in.
We have 4 ways we bring our baby out-and-about depending on the adventure. We use our baby carrier around 80% of the time when we head out hiking, exploring, and going to local events. We have a little umbrella stroller that we use at campgrounds that are paved and when we go to local events where it’s going to be a tight fit. For things like hitting the mall, Walmart, etc. we use a “regular” size stroller. Finally, we have a jogging stroller to head off road. Our dog Bailey loves when we take the strollers because she’s getting old and she can ride underneath.
Exposure to a Variety of Experiences
It’s an incredible feeling knowing your baby is able to hike, bike, eat, swim and play all over the country. Another big plus to RVing with a baby, besides the adventure and new experiences, is you are traveling with all the conveniences of home. You’re still able to get into a routine, still able to provide the same love and care for your little one, but with the added benefits of new experiences. In our case her grandparents love it because we can bring our house to or near them. The sky’s the limit when you Go RVing with your baby.
Anyone else RV with their little one? We’d love to hear from you and answer any questions via the comments section below!