Traveling full time with our four young kids has been quite the crazy adventure! There have been so many amazing moments, but there have also been a lot of really hard times too. We always like to tell people it isn’t all rainbows and sunshine and we are by no means on vacation all the time.
I know it seems obvious that space with six people and a dog in a small RV would be a struggle. And we are reminded of that challenge when we are tripping over each other or when two people have to use the bathroom. When you see the hashtag #vanlife all over Instagram you see these amazing beautiful pictures of their awesome van setup – when it is clean and organized, not when it is being lived in. The reality is space can get tight.
The upside of this is it pushes us to learn how to use the space more efficiently and to spend more time outside where space is not an issue. It also means we all have to figure out how to get along since we can’t go hide in another room when we are arguing!
If we were living in a house we would go to Costco and stock up! Not the case when you don’t have a pantry or a place to store food. Instead we have to stop at the store more often and not over buy since we have no where to put things. (Read more about how we meal plan here).
Beyond that, the cooking part can be difficult with minimal counter space, but as we spend more time in this lifestyle we figure out ways to make it work. When we live in such a “bigger is better”, culture it has been eye opening and informative to be in a situation where we don’t have the option to go bigger, but instead have to figure out how to work with less space and less things.
When our kids were younger, this wasn’t as much of a concern because they weren’t looking to be away from us. Instead they just wanted to be by us all day. Now that our oldest is 10, things are different. He wants to be able to spread his wings and we want him to be able to. The hard thing is, when we are moving to a different campground every week or two, it is a little scary to give him that freedom.
If we were in a house in a neighborhood where we felt comfortable letting him roam it would be different. Or if he was in school and away from us, he would get a chance to branch out more. We are still working through this and trying to figure out what makes sense, so he can have the opportunities he is looking for while still being safe and smart about it.
4. Toys, Clothes, Shoes
As you can imagine, with six people we could end up with a lot of belongings. In order to keep this under control, we go through and do another round of purging and donating every couple of months. This can be a struggle and takes time to do. Living a simplified/minimalist life takes work!
But, it has been great to see our kids adjust so well to this way of living. And, in most cases, they have no problem donating a toy they haven’t played with in a while or getting rid of clothes they don’t wear much or like anymore. The biggest challenge is when we go into a store and all of us (Craig and I included) want to buy something just because those stores know how to advertise things!
It is hard to say no to ourselves and also our kids because we just don’t have the space. On the other hand, this is a perfect reason not to go into those stores and instead make do with what we have!
Making choices where six people get a say in what we are going to do can be a challenge! One kid may want to stay around the campground all day and hang out, play Minecraft and go to the park, while another may want to go out exploring or hiking. When you don’t have a babysitter around and you are together all the time as a family it can be a challenge to make sure everyone gets a chance to choose what we do.
Luckily when we do pick what we are going to do and head out as a family, usually everyone comes around and enjoys it. Although, getting out of the door can be a challenge!
What I love about this lifestyle, is that our kids are getting to experience and try things that maybe they didn’t think they wanted to, but since one of us recommended it and they went out and tried it, they see that they really do like doing something they didn’t know they liked.
Living a life of full-time travel has continued to make everyone in our family grow and stretch as people and has made our family unit stronger as we work through these struggles and challenges together!