I had no idea what to expect as far as what day-to-day life would look like as a family of six traveling around the country.
We’ve camped before and we did as much research as we could to see how other families did similar trips and we knew that it would take just jumping in to really figure out how this life on the road thing works.
I’m all about sharing the pretty places we visit, favorite restaurants, what we did, where we stayed and I hope you are enjoying seeing the stops along the way. For those of you who are curious about what the normal stuff looks like, this behind the scene post is for you.
Over the past five months, we’ve been putting together our list of stops.
The first step was brainstorming top places around the country we wanted to see. The kids gave their input; Ryan and I tossed in our picks. We used a combination of the Roadtrippers app and Google Maps to chart our course. When marking down stops, we took these things into consideration:
- At least one full day with two overnights in most spots
- No more than 3.5 hours of drive time between stops
Some places have much longer than one full day (like our two full days in Yosemite or five days in New York City) and there are a few drive days that are longer than 3.5 hours (like the nearly nine hour drive from Albuquerque, NM to Broken Arrow, OK – yikes!)
We’re mainly keeping to the perimeter of the US and hitting as many National Parks and big landmarks as we can. There are several places we are not going to see: much of Southern California, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota. Of course we’d love to see all of America, but we had to limit the stops at some point. I have a feeling 3.5 months will fly by and we’ll wish we had longer.
Once we had our list of places to visit, we created a spreadsheet with a row for each day and we just started filling it in.
There were a few places we wanted to be on certain days – like San Antonio on the last day of school to surprise our best friends, Washington D.C. on July 4th, and our last stop in Walla Walla, WA for the annual Jones family vacation. These helped us narrow down our timeline and figure out what stops we could or couldn’t fit in in the time we had.
Then we started booking our overnights. We looked for rv campsites with full hookups (water, sewer, electric) and campgrounds with extra amenities like swimming pools, little markets and laundry facitilies won us over.
In a few places, we decided to book hotel rooms. This gives us a break from trailer living, a bit more room to stretch out and works great for bigger cities where towing a giant airstream trailer through town sounds very stressful. On nights when we’re overnighting at hotels, we also had to book a place to keep the trailer (like a local campground).
Packing for me and the kids took up a big part of my brain before we left. Petty, perhaps, yet it felt like a big deal. We have a very tight space and an entire summer’s worth of outfits to fit. Each of the kids have a plastic bin to hold their clothes; Ryan and I each have small wardrobe closets.
I was super picky when packing clothes. We wanted multi-purpose, quality, washable, non-logo items that could mix and match. I didn’t mean to, but almost all of our clothes are in the blue/gray family. I looked around at us while on a hike yesterday and sort of laughed at how coordinated we were in our blues and grays and chambray :)
Each of the kids have a pair of tennis shoes and two pair of flip flops, one cheap pair and one nicer.
Each has a thin rain coat, which has been so perfect for some of the colder, wetter weather we’ve had on the west coast (see how our coats were especially helpful in this cute video Ryan posted).
Because once we cross over into Arizona (in just a few days), we’ll be in hot, humid weather for the remainder of the trip, I totally under-packed warm clothes. We’ve been wearing the same sweatshirts over and over again since day one. I stressed out for a bit a few days ago feeling like I just didn’t pack right, but we’re dealing.
I’m still trying to figure out the best way to share what I packed for me, but hopefully I’ll get to it soon!
We deliberately picked campgrounds with laundry facilities. I wasn’t sure what the cleanliness factor would be, but so far, so good. I sat reading the other night for about two hours while the loads went through the washer and drier. You have to stay in the laundry room while your clothes are washing, so it’s a little inconvenient, but it gives me a chance to catch up on alone time and reading – two good-for-me things :)
When stopping to visit friends, I will take full advantage of their laundry rooms.
Ask me in a few weeks how meals are going. We’re still figuring out what works, how often to eat out, when to grocery shop.
Our family loves eating good food at great restaurants and we want to experience local food everywhere we go. But … eating out for a family of six is expensive and not always the healthiest.
Breakfasts are easy in the trailer – oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, granola, scrambled eggs, etc. Lunches are usually snack lunch food – cheese, meats, crackers, veggies, fruit. When hiking, we’ve packed sandwiches and snacks to eat along the way. We’re sticking to simple dinners in the trailer – grilled chicken + salad, burrito bowls, burgers, pasta.
Dining out could easily be our biggest expense if we let it, so we’re trying to find a balance between eating out and in. And, actually, cooking in the trailer is not as difficult as I thought it would be.
We were very uncertain about how much we would be able to access the internet, and how good of a connection it would be especially in places somewhat off the grid.
Ryan researched and found a few solutions that have worked so well for us. We both brought along our laptops, we have our phones and we have kindles or ipads for the kids that we’ve been able to use at each stop.
Most campgrounds offer free wifi, but because we are running our businesses from our computers and often log in to personal info, we have avoided using the wifi as it is not very secure. We’ll (and by we’ll what I really mean is Ryan) will put together a post with all of the gadgets that have been helpful for us. Perhaps for Father’s day?
We did cruise through our data on our phone plan and had to up that by about day 3, but otherwise, we’ve been able to get online and keep up with work while on the road.
Are there any other logistics you’re curious about? We’re always happy to talk about this!