Thoughts On Our New Travel Life
Hey there, friends.
I'm currently nestled into the dinette bench, a tiny stainless steel pint glass, a thimble really, of wine by my side. A candle is crackling on the counter behind me and the sky is inky blue. Legs covered in a gray and white kantha blanket that reads vintage, but was a new find at the hip San Diego store Pigment. At the other end of the camper, the little ones sleep, worn out from a day playing in the northern California sun. The only sounds I hear are the occasional hum of a car on the nearby road, the cadence of bugs singing into the dark night, and the crackle of metal screws in wood as Kirk hangs the last of our cabinet doors.
How did we get from housebound in snowy Indiana to here? The last month was exhilarating, overwhelming, a veritable roller coaster of emotions and long days. Yet we crossed over to life on the road, our little family of 5 calling a 19 foot travel trailer home for this season.
Some of you have asked questions about how we are making this lifestyle work, and so I'm going to answer each of the questions below:
What is it really like living in such a small space with little ones?
Now if I tell the truth, will you ever take the leap yourself? With that said, life with little ones in a small space is very similar to life with little ones in a big space. There are naps to be had, snacks to be eaten, outbursts to quiet, hurting to soothe, and boredom to tame. We are already learning that boundaries are not only necessary but a true balm in a tiny space. The girls are sleeping in the curtained lofted area, and when one needs time alone, this is the place to seek solace. We all stay outside as much as possible in the fresh air and sunshine, both as an antidote to cranky moods and also for the space. All three kids go to bed at the same time, Kirk crawls into the loft to read to the girls, and I nurse the youngest to sleep on the couch that "converts" to a crib. Once the kids are asleep, we lounge on the dinette (which is also our bed), drink wine, and catch up on the day. Walks, doing laundry, and the truck are all places I seek respite and to recharge as an introvert.
Is it hard living small? Of course it is. But not any harder than it is simply raising children. We adapt to our environment and make it work.
How are you able to do this financially? Are you working from the road, using savings, etc.?
Ah, so this is the question everyone wants to know an answer to, and I understand why. This kind of lifestyle seems out of reach or for the lucky few who are financially well off or IT workers. Since we are neither, how are we pulling this off? First, we both have portable jobs, but not in the way you may think. Kirk is a Speech Pathologist and is taking travel rotations as needed to support our travel and savings. These are up to 13 week long contracts, and we are able to choose the location. I teach humanities online for a university and this helps supplement our income greatly. We also made a fairly nice profit off of our little brick house, bought a very inexpensive travel trailer, and live as frugally as we can (within reason.) We do have some debt, although this lifestyle will enable us to pay it off.
All that to say, we are not unique or financially flush, but we did explore ways to support this lifestyle. If you are interested in pursuing full-time travel, leave me a comment below, and I would love to help you explore your options.
How do you decide where to go and when? Are campgrounds typically booked far in advance?
For us, our travel is determined by three things: location of family and friends, Kirk's work contracts, and bucket list places. In between Kirk's contracts we will travel on a much looser schedule. We use Instagram to help us find interesting places to visit, and we also follow our intuition on destinations to explore. We generally make campground reservations the same day, and this has worked well for us. More popular destinations may require an advanced reservation. However, there is almost always a place to sleep for the night if you're flexible.
As we settle into this lifestyle, I think we will stay in certain areas for longer periods of time as the constant moving is hard on the kids. It feels really good to wake-up in a familiar place and to find a constant in the surrounding environment. However, there are so many traveling families that approach their movement in different ways. If you're seeking this lifestyle, trust that you will find a rhythm as well! The key is to get on the road and experiment.
How are you dealing with food? How do you buckle down and eat in instead of eating in restaurants all the time?
We have always cooked the majority of our meals from scratch and at home, as a means to eat healthy as well as pinch a few pennies. However, we love a good restaurant meal as a break from cooking and as an opportunity to try the local cuisine. When we first set off on the road, we slept in a different location each night and had long drive days. This made it difficult to cook so we resorted to eating out inexpensively or picking up food from the grocery store. If it was the latter, we would typically grab the fixings for a picnic lunch: hummus and guacamole, raw veggies, fresh berries, a hunk of (if possible) raw cheese, and bottled cold-pressed juice.
Now that we are semi-stationary, we are leaning back into cooking. We find that we start feeling lethargic and rundown with too many restaurant meals and our bodies thrive on fresh, home-cooked food. Although our kitchen is quite tiny, we can still cook nearly anything between a saucepan, skillet, pressure cooker, and a Vitamix. Tonight I pan cooked wild-caught salmon and sauteed broccoli; it was a simple meal that took about 20 minutes to throw together. My hope is that we can continue to clean up our diet and also find a place of rest in our daily mealtimes.
That's it for now, but I want to leave you with a question. Would you be interested in reading more about the art and rhythm of raising a family on the road? There are plenty of people writing travel logs, sharing destination tips, and nuts and bolts of travel life. That doesn't really fit my writing style and why try to repeat what's already been done? I would love to share the heart of traveling with kids, how it feels (both the hard and the affirming) to raise a family with a frequently changing exterior environment, and what it looks like to create a sanctuary on wheels. If this interests you, please let me send you my weekly posts direct to your email. You can sign-up by going to the homepage and scrolling to the very bottom where there is a spot to enter your email address. Your vote of confidence is much appreciated! Of course, if there are other topics of interest, please comment those below, and I'll tackle them in upcoming posts.
It's off to bed now for me, to stretch out on our little dinette bed and watch the moon rise through the thin, cream-colored linen curtains flanking all of the windows. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next week!
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