We have always loved to travel, however, with 5 children it was becoming too expensive. Aside from the cost, it was impossible to find hotels that accept 7 people. Getting time off work was also a significant barrier. We decided in January of this year that an RV was the most cost-effective way for us to travel.
How We Full-Time with Five Kids in an RV
We have 5 children ages 1,3,6,7 and 9. Activities to keep them entertained are essential to our traveling. Favorites include legos, playdough, arts/crafts, games, and movies. With 5 kids in an RV we make a point to get out and do activities every day. We keep our agenda open, often using google maps to find new playgrounds along our route. We have a list of places for bad weather such as McDonalds playlands, museums, malls and libraries.
While it is hard traveling with so many little ones, they are at the perfect age where they are adaptable to the constant change. Their enthusiasm in our adventures of traveling is contagious. We keep a map on the fridge door and every morning our 3-year-old walks up to it, still rubbing her eyes, asking “where are we going today?”
We keep toys to a minimum, each child has a tote to fit what they want. We also have a carry on size suitcase for each child that holds all their clothes. We keep all swimwear, floaties etc. in one duffle bag for easy grabbing when headed to the beach.
Our must haves includes an REI backpack child carrier and Moby wrap for all our hiking. We made the decision to ditch the high chair, playpen, and double stroller.
Traveling From Illinois to Alaska
Our favorite experience so far full-timing has to be when we drove from our home state Illinois to Alaska this summer. We spent 3 months exploring Alaska. The kids were thrilled to see wildlife up close such as Grizzly and black bears, otters, seals, moose, buffalo, and eagles, just to name a few. They also got to experience climbing a mountain, a snow fight on a glacier in July, swimming in natural hot springs and exploring old gold mines. On our return trip home we drove part of the 101 coastal highway, stopping at several beaches along the way as well as camping at the Redwood National Forest. We finished off our 13,000-mile trip this summer with visits to Yellowstone, where we saw Old Faithful and Mount Rushmore.
Maintaining Our RV on the Road
We have a 2003 Class C RV 31ft. We have had a fair share of vehicle issues this year; Shredded tire, punctured tire, cracked windshield, broken stabilizer, wheel seal repair, replaced wheel bearings, brakes, calipers, rotors, shocks, generator starter and rewired heater. Thankfully, my husband is a mechanic and has been able to complete all repairs himself.
Boondocking and Keeping to a Budget
We are still working on this, so much is a variable from what you calculate when beginning. We utilize boondocking and gas stations that provide free dump and water fill, this saves a lot. Our greatest cost is fuel as we don’t stay in one place long and use our generator frequently while boondocking. Having a smaller fridge and shelf storage has also forced us to cut down on buying in bulk, so our grocery bill has increased in some areas.
We Full-Time as a Traveling Nurse and a Stay at Home Dad Homeschooling Our Kids
I, Hannah, work full time as a travel nurse, which is usually three 12 hour shifts a week. My husband, Jeff, has the full-time job of a stay at home dad and homeschools.
Due to us mostly boondocking we have not purchased any campground memberships. However, for next year we plan on trying Passport America. While we plan on spending the winters South, for this winter we will be in the Northwest, mainly Illinois.
- Generating too much garbage
- Washing dishes while boondocking
- Finding water fills offseason
Things we hope to change in the future:
- Upgrade to a 45′ bus conversion
- Try work camping
- Look into solar panels