Back in 2013 we got this crazy idea to sell our dream house, pretty much everything in it and buy an RV to travel full time with our 4 kids and at the time 2 dogs. A big part of our decision was based on not wanting to look back and regret that we hadn’t done it and we wanted a way to simplify our life and spend more time together as a family. At the time our kids were 6, 4, 4, and 2.
Now over 3 years later we are still on the road and have been living this crazy adventure of full time travel ever since. And yes it is as crazy as it sounds! It has it’s amazing take your breath away in a good way moments and also those moments of total fear and uncertainty. But through it all we have grown as people and as a family.
So how do we do it. . . . It has taken a lot of determination, stress, and the ability to reach well beyond our comfort zone.
The #1 question we get asked is how do you afford to travel full time? As much as we wish we had a trust fund to pay for our travels we don’t. Instead we started an online business that we can do from anywhere we have internet. That business is: Virtual Powerhouse (http://www.virtualpowerhouse.com).
We also work very hard to keep what we call our Burn Rate low. Meaning we try not to spend much each month and have a limited set of bills we have to pay. Our monthly budget goal is around $5000 a month (this covers the cost of everything). You can read more about how we afford full time family travel here: http://www.crazyfamilyadventure.com/afford-full-time-family-travel/
We quickly realized that we aren’t always on vacation and as much as we want to go out to eat at all the new places we are at or do all the amazing attractions. We can’t. This is our life and we aren’t always on vacation (even thought it may feel like it at times) so we have to be smart with our money.
Now that our kids are older 9, 7, 7, and 5 schooling has become the next question we get asked all the time. From the beginning we always knew we were going to Unschool our kids. We had done research even before we decided to hit the road and knew this was the path we wanted to take.
It really does fit in well with our lifestyle and all of the traveling and our kids are learning so much just by being at all of these amazing places we are visiting. They are learning about things from smelling them, touching them, and looking at them vs. reading about them in a text book. It really is a beautiful thing.
The basics like reading, writing and math have come naturally. Seriously we never “taught” them how to read. We do read to them but never taught them yet they are reading. No struggling to learn, no long hours doing homework or book reports. They have picked it up as they wanted to and when it was right for each of them.
Same goes for math. As we are hiking down a trail or driving in the car the kids will ask questions about math and we answer them. Or if they want to know how much something costs or how many they need of something we will talk through it with them. They retain so much more when they are the ones initiating the learning.
As they get older and the level gets more complicated we will figure out how to fill the gap. Living in a world where so much is available from online classes, College courses, You Tube, etc. Means you can learn anything you want to when you want to. You just have to find it. And Yes we know you can’t trust everything you see on-line – you have to do your research first to find the right tools.
It would be impossible to explain Unschooling in 1 post even if it was 4000 words long. Plus we are still learning how it works for our family and are by no means experts. That being the case I always send people to our Unschooling Resources page (http://www.crazyfamilyadventure.com/unschooling-resources/) so you can learn from the experts and to better understand what Unschooling is.
Where we Travel
Another question we get asked is how to we pick where we go and how to we plan our trips. We always kind of smile and laugh a little bit since there really is no rhyme or reason to it. Which is part of the beauty of it! We choose this life so we can have the freedom to go and do the things we want to do when we want to do them.
That being the case we kind of go where we feel like at that time. Sometimes there are commitments back in our hometown (in Wisconsin) so we may plan travel around that. Or else the weather helps us decide. When you are in an RV warmer weather in the winter is usually better!
We stay at State Park and National Park campgrounds, boondock (Where you stay for free on land with no hookups), in a Walmart parking lot for the night (really it is a thing – next time you are at Walmart at night look to the back of the lot to see if there are any RV’s there), or at RV parks.
We love going to National Parks and doing outdoor hiking and adventuring so we usually plan to go places like that in the state we are visiting. We also do enjoy big cities so try to rotate those in there now and then too.
Being Outside In Nature
We love the idea that we are outside so much of our day and recently downsized to a smaller RV (23 Foot Winnebago View) so that we get outside even more! We sleep with our windows open at night then first thing in the morning head out to enjoy breakfast and our coffee at the picnic table or to just play around the campsite.
We also love how our kids have learned not from sitting at a desk for 7 hours reading or watching movies about a location. Or by studying to answer questions on a test but instead by being there and experiencing it. Plus their North America geography is pretty amazing!
I wouldn’t say there was one experience that sticks out as a huge learning experience for our kids. Instead I would say that living a life of freedom and being outside hiking 7 miles where you are seeing Glaciers and mountains all around you and appreciating the earth we live in for the magnificence of what it is is the best learning experience they can have.
Learning how to read by sounding out and reading signs while we are hiking or at a museum. Finding bear scat on a trail we are hiking on or looking for animal footprints in the snow. To us and to our kids these aren’t learning moments they are life and experiences.
When we go for a hike or go visit a museum or a national monument we don’t mark it off as a school activity but instead enjoy it for what it is and in that process our kids are absorbing so much more. They aren’t being forced to learn and retain knowledge when we do these things. But they are learning since they are there in the moment. When you are in the moment and only focused on that it is hard not to pick things up and learn things.
The outdoors offers so much when it comes to learning experiences and we don’t have to categorize it or write it down in a checklist to make sure that learning happens. We don’t try to put our learning in a box that fits a curriculum or an age. But instead we are striving to always be learning and to always be excited about the world around us.
Living a life this way where the world is your classroom and outside isn’t just meant for recess is hard to explain. It also takes a lot of trust and risk to go against the norm and hope we aren’t messing our kids up! Yes we do still have those concerns now and then – just like most parents do. But the longer we do it and the more we see what our kids are learning and retaining the more trust we have in the process.
Being outside so much and experiencing all of the amazing places there are in North America has been an awesome adventure and now that we have awoken this wanderlust bug in all of us I don’t think we will ever be content to just stay in one place for to long!
You can learn more about where we have been and what we are up at our site: www.crazyfamilyadventure.com.