<<< Guest Post by Bryanna from Crazy Family Adventure>>>
Sell almost everything we own— our beautiful house on a half-acre, fenced lot on a dead-end road in a perfect family subdivision— to be with our kids and each other 24/7 while we travel the U.S. in less than 500-square feet of living space? Heck yeah, sign us up!
And we did just that.
I’m Bryanna from CrazyFamilyAdventure.com and this is my story…
Here’s how it all began. My husband and I met as Juniors in High School – yes we are High School sweethearts. We got the perfect jobs, built the perfect house, had four amazing kids and then realized we wanted more out of life then working to pay our bills and going to Menards and Target every weekend to buy things we didn’t really need. Why is it you can’t leave Target without spending a $100 even if you only went in for toothpaste?
We started brainstorming. We had already decided we were going to home school our four kids who are currently ages 8, 5, 5, and 3, so that decision was made and really opened the door for us to set our own schedule. Then we started following families that were traveling full-time in an RV. All we could think was “wow!” They were visiting all of the places we hoped to get to some day, but we weren’t sure how we would when my husband only had about 4 weeks of vacation a year.
Instead of renting an RV to try it out we decided to buy one. I mean why not, right? We bought a class C with the intent that we would travel during those 4 weeks of my husband’s vacation time and try to stretch a few of those trips when my husband was able to work from the road.
We headed down to Florida in January 2013 to go on a 10-day trip. About five days in we called my sister and told her if we got a bigger RV we could totally do this full-time. We also asked if her family wanted to join us. They said yes! Let’s do this.
I know crazy, right?! Well, we figured if we were going to do it why not go all in. We didn’t want to look back 10 years from now and wish we had taken this opportunity to travel, so we went for it. That isn’t to say there weren’t a lot of tears and a lot confusion, because there definitely was.
It took a lot of work to downsize our over 3000 square foot house of everything we had accumulated over the years. Where the heck did we get 30 glasses and 15 coffee mugs? Not to mention that we had almost every toy you could imagine thanks to eight years of Christmases and birthdays. We had multiple rummage sales and sold a lot of things on Facebook and Craig’s List. The money we made went towards paying expenses to get our new RV and we also saved as much as we could.
In May 2014, we sold our first RV and moved out of our house and into our 39-foot Class A motorhome. Quite a transition, but we are so glad we stretched ourselves outside of our comfort zone to make it a reality.
We had done some light traveling in our first, smaller RV, but transitioning to full-time RV life was a whole other story. We are so glad we upgraded; it is nice having the extra space in our larger RV (our first one didn’t have any slide outs and our current one has 4).
Figuring out where to put all of our clothes, winter jackets, pots and pans, was a challenge, but we figured it out and we continuously downsize every month when we realize we aren’t using things that we originally brought on board. Overall our RV is like a really small apartment. We can cook in it, eat in it, shower in it, go the bathroom, sleep, all the basics, and it works for us. Did I mention we get a new front yard and backyard every week or so – and we don’t ever have to cut the grass or do landscaping. Talk about an added bonus!
By the time we packed up and left we were all set – we had the RV, had sold most of our things, and sold the house. In the beginning we couldn’t really travel since my husband and brother in-law, who’s family had joined up with us in our crazy RV life adventure, continued to work at the same jobs they had when we were in our house. That meant our first stop was to set up camp at our local Jellystone.
When we started the process of going full-time we didn’t have any online jobs set up and ready to go. Our plan was to take our time at Jellystone to figure out what we were going to do so we could travel. Our thinking was if we got out of the house we could start saving some money and really get ourselves focused on our next steps. While my sister’s husband and my husband continued to work, I started my virtual assistant business and our blog, Crazy Family Adventure.
I have to say it was pretty sweet living next to my sister and her family at an RV resort where everyone came to be on vacation. While most of the people were only there for a few days or a week, we were settling into a new way of life. Sometimes I felt like yelling, “hey people, some of us have to work and do laundry once in a while. It’s not all fun and games over here. And yes that is a mini trampoline setup in our ‘yard’ and no we don’t drag it back and forth, we actually live here.”
Once we were settled into Jellystone, we worked on the job situation for my husband. Half way through the summer he went in to talk to his boss to see if it would be possible for him to work remote for months at a time so we could start traveling in October (when our local Jellystone closes for the year). They said yes! He was able to work remotely for eight weeks at a time, but then we had to be back in Wisconsin for one week so he could go into the office.
Once my husband’s schedule was sorted, we were able to hit the road, which was stressful. We were now used to living in an RV but not used to traveling full-time. Moving every couple of weeks to new locations was definitely a transition, but it was amazing to finally be on the road and begin to travel to all of the amazing places we wanted to see.
The kids adjusted well to being on the road and we all started to figure out how we could make this work. Living in such a small space without the help of friends and family is no easy change, but we slowly started to figure it out. Our goal since our kids were born has always been to grow our relationship and bond with them. I think since we have such a great bond with them they were fine and able to easily adjust to RV life since they were with us.
Beyond that we all had to learn to be more patient as we adjusted to the small space. Luckily the kids were still at an age that when we were in our big house they were usually in the same room with me anyway. So it wasn’t that big of a change for them.
Other than that we just made it work. We know our kids and we know what doesn’t work for them. So we stayed away from any activities where they had to be quiet or sit still. And when we were hanging out around the RV for the day we made sure to get outside for walks, to play, to swim. Really all the same things we would do if we still lived in our house.
After we had been on the road for a few months we realized that we didn’t like that we had to head back to Wisconsin every eight weeks since it limited how far we could travel. We also didn’t like that my husband had to miss out on all of our fun daily activities because he was working. Time for another change.
When we began this crazy adventure, I had started a virtual assistant business. My husband and I decided to take that to the next level so that we could live off of the income from the business and my husband could find other work where he set his own schedule. Our goal was for both of us to work 20 hours a week without being constricted by a nine to five workday.
We busted our butts for six months and got the business to that point. We continue to grow our business, my husband is working 100% remotely on a part-time basis for his old company until summer 2016, and we are building up our travel blog. Life is good. We have to stop ourselves at times and say, “Wow! We did it. We are here. Let’s appreciate this moment before we decide on our next move.” We have so many adventures ahead of us, because I’m sure by now you can tell that we don’t like to settle in but instead push our limits.
There have been lots of challenges with the kids and lots of wins as well. The relationships they are building with each other and with us are amazing and that is our main goal. The relationships they build now will last them a lifetime and we are excited about it. The travel has been amazing and inspiring.
We love when all of us experience something together for the first time and we can see the awe in each other’s eyes. Like seeing Manatee swimming in the wild, hiking three miles up to 10,000 feet at the top of a mountain in Yellowstone, taking in the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains, seeing Mount Rushmore. The list goes on an on.
The travel moments are amazing and so are the days where we can all lay in bed together and snuggle because no one has to get up to rush to work or to school. Enjoying a midday trip to get ice cream, or one of my favorites, spending a Tuesday together as a family at the beach.
Leaving family and friends behind in Wisconsin has been hard and it is the one thing that really makes us question what we are doing. Not to mention all the new friends we are making on the road that we have to leave behind too. Even with all of that (and hoping people continue to come visit us – the Florida Keys are better than Wisconsin in January – hands down!), at this point, we have no plans to stop, and we hope to get overseas sometime in the future.
My sister, her husband, their two kids (ages 4 and 2), and their four cats also travel full-time and spent April to October in Yellowstone in their RV while her husband worked for the park. They are now out traveling and wandering the U.S. too. We try to meet up as often as possible and prefer to only go a month or so without seeing each other. Each family has their own style of travel and destinations they want to see so we don’t travel together all the time, but we do try to travel together as much as possible.
My parents currently have their house on the market and have started traveling full-time. We will be staying with them on and off throughout the winter. Funny thing is we never camped as kids. Seriously – we never went camping. We would take a lot of other cool trips, but we always stayed in a hotel or condo. Now my mom, dad, sister and me are not only traveling but also living full-time in RVs.
Life is to short to over think things. Instead we jumped in and said let’s see what happens. Travel is such an amazing way to connect as a family and really helps to open your eyes to the world and what all is out there. Every minute you can, take your kids out to explore the world. Living full-time in an RV isn’t for everyone, but your kids appreciate any adventure you go on and so will you!
Bryanna, her husband Craig, their 4 kids and 2 dogs sold their house, everything in it, and bought an RV and are now traveling around the US. They blog about their adventures at Crazy Family Adventure. Their goal is to inspire families to get out and travel more! When they aren’t out hiking to the top of mountains you can find them on the beach or at the local donut shop searching for the best donut in the U.S. They post daily at: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and on Periscope (@cfadventure).