AN ALL AMERICAN ROAD TRIP

Two summers ago, my family and I took a memorable road trip through Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and Oregon with a travel trailer in tow. I can easily remember the day we set out to hit the road for an all-American road trip as if it were just yesterday. When I think back at all the memories we have created on this trip, it brings nothing but a smile to my face.

 

We were on the road for eleven days, and each morning we would gather around the table to have breakfast as a family before we started the day. There was no need to rush and get the kids ready to head out somewhere to get breakfast. Instead, I allowed the kids and the husband to sleep in just a little more while I woke early and started breakfast from the convenience of our little kitchen on wheels. When all was ready, I would wake them, and they would greet me with their beautiful morning smiles.

 

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GO RVING ON ANY BUDGET

Before buying an RV, people want to know just how much their RV vacations will cost. Well, one of the best things about RV travel is that there are options for every single budget. You are in control of so many price points including the type of camper you purchase, how far you travel, and where you stay.

 

When we bought our first RV, we were teachers with lots of time to travel, but a pretty tight household budget. RV Industry Association estimates that RV vacations cost up to 59% less than other types of vacations. We have found that statistic goes hand in hand with our personal experience. Sure, we love to splurge on RV resorts, special activities, and dinners out when we travel. But if we need to stretch our pennies, RVing lets us control the budget in so many ways.

 

So, whether you are about to take the trip of a lifetime or you want to plan the most affordable vacation ever, here are five ways you can manage the budget when planning your RV travel.

 

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I RV SO I CAN COLLECT EPIC ADVENTURES BEFORE RETIREMENT

 

Did you know that the average person retires at the age of 62? Pair this up with the average life expectancy age of 78.7 years in the U.S, it doesn’t leave much time to enjoy life after retirement.

When Luis and I decided to be “crazy” and sell almost all of our belongings, buy an RV, and hit the road with our kids in July 2016, it was because we didn’t feel we had to wait until retirement to collect epic adventures.

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FATHER’S DAY CAMPING TRIP

Father’s Day Camping Trip – Our Newest Family Tradition

I’m convinced that if you fall in love with the RV lifestyle, your perspective on so many aspects of life changes. It’s not that you don’t enjoy new gadgets or other material things, but to me, you learn to adjust their place in your heart. For me, I’m a self-confessed gadget guy. I could spend hours wandering the aisles in stores like Best Buy. So, when my wife approached me and asked about a gift for Father’s Day, it would be easy to point her towards the last “must have” gadget but all that has changed…

 

On Father’s Day, dads get celebrated for all we do for our kids. New gadgets have supplanted gifts of cologne or ties. This year I was determined to make it a special day because my birthday, once again fell on Father’s Day. That double whammy gave me the opportunity to ask for a different type of present; I wanted to go camping with all five of my kids! While you might be saying, “What’s so hard about that?” Let me share that I have a blended family.

 

 

My older two kids are from my first marriage and they are both college age. I’m blessed that all my kids enjoy and love each other, yet, we have never really been camping together. Yes, my daughter has enjoyed some time with her little brothers at Disney’s Fort Wilderness, and who wouldn’t? But never have I had all my kids on a camping trip.

 

 

Do you want to know why this trip was so important to me? I truly love just about every minute I’ve spent RVing with my wife and 3 young boys. It has meant so much to our family and we have created and experienced some incredible, memorable things.  While my older daughter and son have only seen those experiences through our social media or pictures, I’ve always felt a little guilty that the older two weren’t getting the same experiences or sharing in the memories with us.

 

 

This Father’s Day, I was determined to give the same gift of family memories to all my children. That gift of all of us together doing something I love would be the perfect Father’s Day gift.

 

 

I had such lofty plans, a 150-mile trek to nearby Chattanooga, TN. We would visit a few of their best local sites, while still leaving plenty of time to enjoy and relax at the campground. Since, I assume, Father’s Day would be a busy weekend of camping I made reservations well in advance. I have to say, I was very proud of myself (patting myself on my back).

Then Murphy’s Law decided to turn my trip upside down. Thank goodness RVing has taught us to be flexible in travel plans. To save money, I decided that we would move the trip back in state and take advantage of our awesome local state park, Stone Mountain. Bonus, we are members of Stone Mountain, so we enjoy discounted campgrounds fees and full FREE access to everything the park has to offer.

 

 

 

So, with that change, I just shifted our plans and we were all set. I planned a weekend of the typical fun things we do while camping such as hiking, swimming in the pool, a fun excursion, etc.

 

Hiking to the Top

 

Knowing the temps would reach the mid 90’s, we decided to hike to the top of Stone Mountain for Saturday morning. We gathered at the base of the walk-up trail and took the “before picture”. It had been more than 5 years since I made the trek to the top.

 

 

This is a very known and well-traveled hike. I’ll admit, I was nervous. The entire mile would be a mile up and all hard rock. I wasn’t sure if my back and knees would survive.

My wife assured me that if I made it up I could take the sky ride down if I was hurting and I was….HURTING.

 

Ride the Ducks…

 

We have always enjoyed excursions like “Ride the Ducks” tours to learn more about the area we are exploring.

 

 

So, of course, I felt compelled to take my oldest two on the ducks ride. They had never heard of Ride the Ducks let alone taken a ride. My 20-year-old son, Storm, even got to drive the duck!

 

 

I was very proud of them both for really getting into the ride loudly quacking the horns along the way.

 

Campfire Cooking & S’mores Anyone?

 

What’s a camping trip without a campfire and some s’mores? Well sometimes Mother Nature just doesn’t work with you while you are camping. This weekend she wasn’t on our side. The first night the charcoal fire got completely washed away in a thunderstorm.

 

The next evening, I at least got the chicken kabobs basically cooked before the skies opened up.

 

 

Finally, we were able to enjoy some campfire s’mores time.

 

 

Pool Time….

 

With the temp in the 90’s each day, we certainly had plans to take a cool dip in the pool. That weekend the pool was the most popular place in the campground.

 

Wrap Up…

 

I’ve always enjoyed Father’s Day weekends.  I truly believe being a father is one of the greatest honors that God has given me. To spend that weekend doing what we love to do, camping, as an entire family was priceless. The memories of all five of my kids and me hiking, swimming, and camping together will stay with me forever. With my older kids reaching the age where they are living their own lives, it was so nice to take a weekend to slow down and just be a family together; sweating together, swimming together, eating together, and just plain being together.

 

 

Father’s Day camping trips will be a new tradition in our family. I hope this weekend has given my older kids the same appreciation and love for the RV lifestyle that their dad so enjoys…

 

We’ll see you and your family at the campground…

 

Keith Sims

Soulful RV Family Dad

 

ROAD TRIPS WITH KIDS: WHY THEY’RE BETTER IN AN RV

My family has taken many road trips and they’ve always been quite the adventure. This fall we embarked on our first road trip in an RV and I don’t know how we’ll ever go back to the way it was before.  Here are six reasons a road trip with kids is better in an RV.

 

Your Kids Will Feel at Home

Some kids really like routines and feel comfortable in safe spaces. On an RV road trip instead of constantly moving from one hotel to another you’ll sleep in the same space every night. This gives your kids a sense of home even on the road.

 

When we picked up our RV our girls immediately claimed their areas. Even though our RV only provided one enclosed bedroom there were four beds and they felt as if they had their own space just like at home. Just as we each have our own spots on the couch at home they stuck to the same spot on the couch in the RV and even sat at the same seat at the table too!

 

 

You Just Have to Unpack Once

As mentioned before, on a typical road trip you’re going from one hotel to another. This means you’re constantly packing and unpacking, which to many is the worst part of travel. On an RV road trip even though you’re able to see multiple places you only have to unpack one time.

 

This allows your family to really get settled and decreases the chance of you leaving things behind at the various hotels. I can’t be the only one that tends to forget things in hotel rooms, can I?

 

 

 

 

Your Kids will Make Friends at the RV Parks

When taking a road trip with kids you don’t often have the opportunity to meet other families. Most people stick to their hotel room when they’re not going out for the day. However, on an RV road trip you’ll be staying at various RV parks where there are tons of families with kids.

 

Each time we pulled into a campground kids were outside playing. As soon as we parked the girls were outside introducing themselves. We in turn would also meet the parents and we connected with one family so much we’ve even kept in touch since our trip.

 

Your Kids Will Have Space to Run Around

Space inside an RV to run around? Ok so while the space your kids have will depend on the size of the RV, your RV park will for sure have a lot of space. Our girls were outside at the end of every day running around. A lot of the RV parks even had pools and/or playgrounds for the kids to play.

 

 

On an RV Road Trip You Don’t Have to Worry about Bathroom Breaks

One of our least favorite parts of road trips with kids are the constant bathroom breaks. The worst thing is when you ask who has to use the bathroom before the last exit or rest stop for the next 26 miles and everyone says no but as soon as you pass it someone has to go.

 

On an RV road trip, you always have a nearby bathroom. Just pull over at the safest time and your kids can use the toilet. Not only will you always have that option but most importantly you know your bathroom is clean. When making random stops on road trips you never know if the gas station will have a working restroom or if it’s clean. We saved a lot of time not having to stand in long lines at rest stops and loved the convenience of having our own toilet.

 

 

RV Road Trips Save Time and Money When You’re Hungry

While on most road trips with kids you’ll have snacks and drinks with you, but depending on how long your trip is you might run out. We loved how much storage our RV had for us to stock up on everything with needed.

 

Not only did it provide storage, but we had a working fridge, freezer, stove and microwave. There are only so many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches we can take so having the option to make a quick meal or warm up leftovers from the night before made a huge difference. We saved so much money by not stopping to buy something every time we got hungry.

 

 

 

Our RV road trip provided our family with such a unique experience. Driving and sleeping in the same space proved to be really fun. It will be very hard going back to regular road trips, so we definitely see another RV road trip in our future!