One Ordinary Family on an Extraordinary Adventure

6 Things We Learned From Traveling Across the USA With Our Kids

For the past three years, our life has been pretty centered on travel. Even though we did not leave California until March of 2014, we had been preparing to move into an RV and explore the USA for quite a while before that. Once the decision was made, we started downsizing. Then there were a few trial runs in the RV along with some remodeling and repairing to get our new home the way we wanted it to be. As we spent time traveling across the USA, we learned a lot about ourselves and each other.

We have more stuff than we need

chaos-227971_640This summer, we took a close look at what we had brought along with us in the RV and we culled quite a bit of things that we no longer used or loved. After that, we set aside things that we know we will need in the future. With what was left over, we packed up the van for a series of road trips. In the past month, we’ve visited family and friends and we took a brief, ill-fated camping trip. In each case, we have packed the van full-to-the-brim and discovered repeatedly that we are still dragging along more than we need. All of us have our favorite outfits, and we tend to wear them over and over and push aside the things we don’t care for as much. It seems that life would be a lot simpler if we stopped dragging those less-favored items along on the journey. We are working on that, but it is a hard process. Packing up this morning, I envied those folks that travel with just a backpack.

Time is more important than money

pocket-watch-560937_640This discovery was part of what prompted us to leave a perfectly lovely life on a small farm to begin traveling across the USA. Small farm life often requires an extra, off-farm job to support the family, and that was the case for us. The price of that life meant not as much time to enjoy family time. We’ve given up a lot in the way of material comforts over the past couple years, and yet we all feel richer for having done so. Obviously, we have the basics covered, and if we were struggling to cover the necessities of life, we would have to alter our lives in order to make sure those needs were met.

There is wonder in everyday life if you stop to look for it

mushroom-187077_640On a hike this past weekend, we found red mushrooms with little white spots. To those who live in the northeast—or wherever else these mushrooms grow—that might not be a big deal, but to me it was a marvel. I had never seen them outside of a children’s book illustration (call me sheltered, I know).

In the past couple years, we have taken more time to walk slowly, to look around, to savor the little things. The world is a wondrous place. Seen through the eyes of our children, the world is vast, unlimited, and endlessly entertaining.

Children are incredibly adaptable

children-766518_640Leaving the life we knew was a big change for all of us, and we had to deal with the fear of the unknown coupled with confronting the unknown itself. Day-to-day reality was usually not at all what we had feared, but sometimes there were difficulties that we’d not anticipated. Some days were kinda rough. Other days were off-the-charts amazing. On the difficult days, we found that talking things over did help us to sort of re-center ourselves. We also have seen how adaptable our children truly are.

Slow travel is really the only way to go

feet-768633_640One of the adaptations we made from time to time was to move along at a rapid pace. Those times we found the most stress and a lessened ability to get along. Our family does really well with traveling slow. We need “down time.” Life on the road isn’t about a string of destinations. It isn’t non-stop tourism. It is simply life. Yes, we want to experience each area that we visit, but we need to do that in small bites with time to relax in between, process what we have seen, and to reconnect with each other as well as with the old and new friends we spend time with along the way.

Learning Across America

Learning Across America

Rose Godfrey is a speech pathologist and freelance writer. The Godfrey family (Brian, Rose, and the 7 kids who are still at home) crossed the USA in an RV then set out to see the world.
Learning Across America

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  1. Bonnie Smith
    July 22, 2015    

    At the end of August we will officially be full timers. I had asked you before where everyone slept. We finally purchased a 34′ motorhome with bunks in the master, takes care of our 4 children. Then we have two jack knife sofas in the living room, takes care of us. Took out the small table and two chairs, built a long bench with storage. Placed a 5′ folding table in front of it and a 5′ folding bench on the other side. Sits 6 easily and gives me room to prepare meals if needed, and folds up for travel. Thank you for you site it has encouraged me greatly to just do it. We spent 7 wks last winter in a pop up camping in Florida, we didn’t want to come home. The motorhome seems huge in comparison.

    • July 22, 2015    

      Bonnie, that is fantastic. I hope you enjoy this life as much as we have. Having enough space is all a matter of perspective, as you already have seen.

  2. July 22, 2015    

    So true. Precious and wonderful lessons.

  3. July 23, 2015    

    Couldn’t agree more with these points, esp the slow-travel. With 9 of us in a 15 passenger van, traveling too much stresses us out mega. Packing up camp and cramming it all in our van & storage boxes puts me in a bad mood almost every time, and its the most likely time for family ‘fights’ to burst into flame. Traveling slower is far more beneficial for us, that’s for sure.

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