Collecting Adventures : Andy and Kristen

This is a two-part story for us, so I should start by giving a little bit of our backstory. We had done some long-term international travel as a family with an old job of mine (Andy). While we were living abroad, we fell in love with exploring and experiencing new places. We found that Kristen (my wife) and I were always in a happier state of mind, and the kids thrived with adventure and exploring. However, after moving back to the States, the notion of traveling didn’t translate when we got back to Dallas Texas.  

Indirectly related, a few months later, I had a job change. My new job was a remote position for a software company. Soon after, we opted to purchase our first RV, a 32’ Class C, to take out on weekends, long holidays and summer breaks. We took a few small, local trips in the RV to start getting the hang of traveling in it. However, a couple of months later, we took a big trip across the country to chase the Total Solar Eclipse of 2017. The trip itself was far from perfect, but it was over a  week-long, and I never had to take time off. I was able to work on the road the entire time! We had an absolute blast, and as we turned to head home we asked ourselves, “Why are we driving 12 hours to go home!?” We wanted to just keep going! That was the moment the idea took to us.

As we continued home, we talked the entire way about how to convert to the RV lifestyle – what to do with the house and how to prepare for a transition to full-time RV life.

Our RV

We spent some time renovating our old RV to make it more appropriate for full-time living and we set our focus on the transition. That was over 18 months ago. We have been on the road now for 13 months so far. We recently sold our first RV to buy a 5th wheel toy hauler, and we can’t wait to see more in our new rig!

Our Class C perfect, but we wanted a new challenge, new experiences, and a bit more space (we still love tiny living). When we decided to buy a 5th wheel, we opted to purchase a toy hauler. With kids, this is a GREAT option.

Our Jobs While RVing

I am doing the same work I was doing before living the full-time RV life. I am a Product Manager for a software company. I design, build and manage software applications both on the web and for mobile apps. My applications have all been for other businesses and have been focused on the field service industry (think of an AC repair company or appliance repair). The apps we develop and manage help companies schedule their techs as we are trying to get rid of “your tech will be there between 8:00 AM and 2:00 PM today…”  We want it to be a true appointment time.

As for Kristen, before traveling full-time she worked as a freelance contract writer for software companies. She was able to manage her own schedule and had flexibility which allowed her to begin homeschooling our kids. Now, she is working on launching a virtual wedding and event planning business which will encompass her love of organization, planning, and travel. She has continued to homeschool the kids and also spends time helping others with organizational side projects.

Our Kids Are Experiencing The World

My favorite experience so far is watching the kids learn history where history took place. They are not learning from a textbook about the past, they are seeing it in real life! They have hiked and explored different landscapes, they have walked six revolutionary war battlefields and they have been to the top of the tallest mountain on the east coast.

They are learning far more than anyone could learn in a classroom. We have adopted the theory of “Why learn within four walls when the world can be your classroom?”

One Heck Of A First Day

As anyone with an RV knows, we have had our fair share of tire issues… Outside of those moments, the best story we have is from our first overnight in the RV. I had RVed before with my family growing up, so I knew the basics. However, now, being the leader of my own family… it was a bit more stressful. 

Trip #1, Day #1:  We had reservations in a campground that didn’t allow pets (wasn’t aware that was a thing), and showed up with two big dogs….  As expected, we didn’t stay and continued driving through Oklahoma looking for another place to stay for our fun Memorial Day weekend out. We settled on a nice GoodSam park in Ardmore, Oklahoma. It was lovely. We played ball with the kids, cooked a good meal, and were watching a movie as night fell.  HOWEVER, as we all know, springtime in Oklahoma calls for quick weather changes. Just before midnight, storms started to roll through. We happened to have YouTube TV and were able to stream live weather on our phones. This was a good thing because this storm had developed a tornado that was headed directly towards the county we were staying in! I don’t mean to sound dramatic here, we are from North Texas and get tornado threats all the time, but I have never run from a storm before. In this case, the weather reports said there is a confirmed tornado on the ground and if you are in the path of this storm GET OUT.  

At this point, it was a quarter past midnight, and we were ready for rain, but far from ready to drive away. In about twenty minutes, we had all connections tied up, chairs put away and a very unorganized pack up of the entire rig!  

To make things just a bit more stressful, as I was doing final walkarounds, one of our dogs got out and tore off into the night. Sirens were going off and RVs were leaving the park left and right. Meanwhile, we had to run this dog down in order to get our butts out of there!!

Thankfully, we made it safely out and we never heard reports of major damage. We ended up driving about 20 minutes south to a casino and spent the rest of the weekend in their lovely onsite campground. 

We Share Our Experiences With Everyone

We have a great internet set up that has been amazing and worked EVERYWHERE. I personally don’t find writing to be my best skill, so we made a video about our internet solution! Check it out on our channel.

We renovated our first RV head to toe. We LOVED it! We honestly miss it still at times. It was so much a home to us, with all our hard work and labor put into it. We have an eight-episode series showing the work we put into it and how we accomplished it all! The last episode is a full tour of it all done!

Make sure to follow along with our adventures as we are starting projects in our new Toy-hauler, except this time we are living in it at the same time!

A Wider Variety With RVing

My biggest adjustment is the way I buy food. I was a picky eater and was fairly brand loyal, always shopping at the same place for the same food. Traveling every week to a new place, a new region of the country and new stores was stressful in the beginning.

However, today, 13 months later, it is one of my favorite things to do! I have found some of my new favorite foods, and things to buy that my stores never carried! I believe we are eating healthier and we have made great strides to be closer to zero waste than we ever were in our house.

After traveling the east coast for a year, we are really missing all the good seafood! We cannot wait to make it to the west coast to see how they compare. 

Always Ready For A New Adventure

I feel our ability to travel and live full-time in an RV is a gift. We were lucky to be in the right time of our lives with kids, jobs, locations, etc to be able to make this work for us. We work really hard to also maintain our lifestyle because we are enjoying it so much. That being said, we are aware this time may expire and a new adventure might take us on. I think we could easily last for four or five more years until our eldest starts high school. We are expecting high school homeschooling to be a bit tricky to take on. However, we would love to find a way to migrate our travel out of the US at some point and explore more of what the world has to offer.  

We are always open to new adventures and ideas. When the right one comes along, I just hope we are open enough to listen to it!

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