The World’s Best Roadschooling Convention!

My family and I are getting super excited for tomorrow. It’s the first day of the “World’s Best Roadschooling Convention” right here in Tucson, Arizona. I’ll be giving the key note address at 7:00PM tomorrow evening (and hosting a Moms-only circle Saturday morning)! Greg and Zoe will be on an Unschooling Panel Friday afternoon from 1:00-3:00PM.

The convention unofficially started for me yesterday, as several other authors and myself had a lovely afternoon of talking about our books and signing books at Mostly Books in Tucson. Here’s a photo:

RV Family — The Watkins Family from TX, USA

Wright on Time Books: Tell me a bit about your family.

Watkins Family: We are a family of five, Joe (42), Vicki (38), Jake (12), Jonas (10), and Jewel (8).

FuhKaui Watkins Family RV 01

Wright on Time Books: How long has your family (or did your family) live in an RV?

Watkins Family: We’ve been a nomadic family for eleven years now. We started off with just one baby in 1998 and now in 2009 have three easy going life long travelers.

Wright on Time Books: What states/countries has your family traveled to?

Watkins Family: We’ve been to every state except Alaska and the southeast ones. We have yet to take the kids out of the country….well, except that time in Big Bend National Park when we crossed the Rio Grande River by small row boat to eat lunch in a tiny Mexican village. We hope to travel Australia and Europe with the kids before they venture out on their own.

Wright on Time Books: Are you homeschoolers? Do you call yourselves roadschoolers? What type of homeschoolers are you (or do you prefer to not give your family a label)?

Watkins Family: We are most definitely full fledged life living unschoolers!

Wright on Time Books: How well does homeschooling work while living on the road? How do you get new resources (DVDs, books, audio books, etc.)? Are you able to use local libraries, or do you have to buy everything?

Watkins Family: I believe our traveling lifestyle has enriched our home learning tremendously! With Unschooling everything is a learning experience so curriculum and formal lessons aren’t required. We don’t waste money on textbooks and curriculums, and prefer to spend it on National and State Parks, Zoos and Museums, and gas to get us there.

We also use the Internet, TV, video games and people as learning resources, and have subscribed to dozens of fun magazines over the years, including Discovery, Nat Geo for Kids, Puzzlemania, Mathmania and Zoo Books, to name a few.

Wright on Time Books: Do you have a “home base”? This is especially important for legal homeschooling, isn’t it? Did you sell all of your possessions, or keep things in storage?

Watkins Family: We use my parent’s as our “home base” and since they live in TX we get the luxury of taking advantage of the lax homeschooling laws and no state income tax. For legal reasons you must have a state of residency, or else we wouldn’t even claim a state.

We have sold or given away almost everything. The only things we’ve kept have been personal and sentimental items, and those we store at my parent’s house. We’ve had a storage unit in the past but after two years learned it was a huge waste of money since there wasn’t hardly anything in there we even wanted after coming back to it two years later.

Wright on Time Books: What resources did you use both before you began your adventure and/or while you were on the road? Any particular books or websites that you couldn’t have lived without?

Watkins Family: When we first started out the Internet was nothing like it is today so there wasn’t the information out there like it is now. We never knew anyone who hit the road like we had planned, so we pretty much just forged our own path….and learned as we went.

Wright on Time Books: How hard is it to deal with the maintenance of the RV? What are the most difficult aspects? Who handles what?

Watkins Family: RV maintenance isn’t any harder than a home or a car, it’s pretty much a trade off. When we had an engine blow on our first RV we had to move out of it for a couple weeks while it got a new one, so we just hung out at Grama’s. When the power steering went out on the Bus (our current RV) we spent the day playing at the water park across the street from the repair shop. We try to make the best of difficult situations. 🙂

Joe handles pretty much everything RV related, filling water tanks, dumping waste tanks, fueling diesel, repairs, maintenance. Vicki handles the cooking, cleaning and shopping. Kids handle the video games.

Wright on Time Books: How large is your RV? What is it like? We want to know where everything goes and where everyone sleeps. In an ideal world, would you have wanted a bigger RV, smaller RV, or something the same size but with a different configuration?

Watkins Family: We have a 37 ft converted flatnose schoolbus. It was professionally converted by a Canadian company so it has wall to wall overhead cupboards, a large kitchen with floor to ceiling cabinets with large pull out drawers. Built in microwave, 4 burner stove, 10 cu. ft. refrigerator, double sinks, ample countertop space. Pullout couch for the oldest son to sleep on, with a cupboard for his bedding and one for his clothes. Four cupboards for books, art supplies, and games. Two for coats and hats. Built in TV. Dining table with 4 chairs. Computer desk, printer and chair, along with two cupboards with desk supplies. Small sitting area for kids to play video games. Bunk beds with shelves for the other two kids and their clothes and stuffed animals. Drawers under couch for toys and more games. Bathroom with tiny tub and medium shower, RV toilet, large mirrored medicine cabinet with sink and vanity. Floor to ceiling shelves for clothes in the master bedroom with more overhead cabinets to hold more clothes and old photo albums. Queen size bed with underneath storage. Lots of big RV windows. Two A/C’s. Three roof vents with exhaust fans.

We started off with a much smaller RV, and after three years in this one we’re ready to increase size again. However, I think my current configuration is perfect, just could be wider and taller, but I’d do the same set up over again.

Wright on Time Books: How often do you move to a new location? Do gas prices and campground costs affect this? Where do you usually stay the night? Do you have a regular route that you repeat, or do you continually seek out new places to visit?

Watkins Family: It’s never the same. We have no set agenda, and pretty much go with the flow. Gas and camping fees do affect our decisions but probably not as much as work, weather, mood and scenery does. We used to dry camp (overnights in rest areas and parking lots) a lot, but now we tend to hook up more often. We continually seek out new places to visit but unlike our old selves we’re finding ourselves visiting some of the same places over and over again. In the beginning you tend to move quickly and make mental notes to come back again when you can explore longer, so I guess we’re at that point now. We stay way longer in places than we ever used to.

Wright on Time Books: Who does the driving? Do you ever have issues driving such a large vehicle? Do you avoid cities or curvy/narrow roads up mountains, or do you take them in stride?

Watkins Family: Joey does ALL the bus driving, while I drive his work truck. Back in the old days though I would drive the small motorhome almost as much as him. Now that we’re so big we are finding driving challenges, unlike in the 23 footer. We much prefer smaller for traveling but larger for living.

We do avoid cities, and prefer the smaller highways. Mountain roads don’t scare us, but the bus does tend to get overheated so we have to allow for plenty of cooling breaks.

Wright on Time Books: How long have you been on the road/plan to be on the road? Has this worked out to your liking?

Watkins Family: As stated earlier, we’ve been on the road for eleven years and really never plan to give up the lifestyle. We may get a house occasionally here and there, but we’ll forever be nomadic. We didn’t plan to live this way, but it has become our liking.

Wright on Time Books: How do you handle privacy issues while living in close quarters?

Watkins Family: We shut the bathroom door and ask everyone to give us some privacy. That goes for adults as well as kids. Other than the restroom, there really isn’t a privacy issue at this point. Everyone has found their place that they can go to to chill or sulk.

Wright on Time Books: How do you keep in touch with friends and family? Do you visit them? Do they visit you? Phone, e-mail, etc.? What about holidays and birthdays?

Watkins Family: We keep in touch by cell phone, twitter, facebook and email. We visit family at least once a year, and friends whenever we’re in the area. Joey’s Dad just flew out and spent a week with us at a lake in NE, my parents have flown out for each birth, and one summer when we rented a farm in Iowa, but for the most part it’s us doing the visiting. Apparently it’s closer for us to drive. But if you ask our Mom’s it’s because they can’t pin us down!

Wright on Time Books: Does anyone ever get homesick for your old life? How do you deal with that?

Watkins Family: Our kids can’t get homesick because this is the only life they’ve known. Besides, home is where we park it! As long as they have electricity, they’re happy.

Wright on Time Books: How do you pay for your living expenses? How do you make money while on the road? Do you work full-time/part-time? Do you work certain times of the year and travel other times? Have any of your children had paying jobs?

Watkins Family: Joe is a traveling pipeline welder, so we actually get paid to travel to new locations! He usually works four to six months a year and then either wander aimlessly the rest or visit with family for extended periods. We normally always worked winters and took summers off, but now it’s just whenever. The only paying jobs the kids have had was $5 if they’d jump in a cold pool. Their choice, not ours.

Wright on Time Books: Do you have a towed vehicle? Bicycles? Mopeds? Etc.?

Watkins Family: We have had so many configurations! Started out with nothing but a motorhome, then added bikes with a pull trailer for the kid and groceries. Then we towed a boat for a while. Then we towed a work truck and a boat. Then we traded the boat for a 4×4 for me. So, now the bus drives solo while I drive the work truck towing the family car. Next I’d like to have the work truck towing a trailer towing my car……we’ll see.

Wright on Time Books: Do you have any pets that travel with your family? How do they like living on the road?

Watkins Family: We started off with an English Bulldog that would get car sick so we eventually let my Grandmother take care of him. It was another eight yrs before we tried another pet, besides goldfish. We rescued a kitten at a campground in Michigan and had her for six months until we lost her in a campground in Nebraska. We now have a rat and he’s the perfect bus pet! Driving over the Rockies hurt his little ears but other than that he seems perfectly happy.

Wright on Time Books: Where is the best place you’ve been according to each member of your family?

Watkins Family: Hawaii. Other favorites include Lake McConaughy in NE & Big Bend Nat. Park in TX

Wright on Time Books: How can we find out more about you and your family? Website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter, etc.? Please tell us also what the next great adventure for your family is!

Watkins Family: Vicki blogs at http://www.FuhKauiFamily.blogspot.com and twitters occasionally as Jakesmome.
Our next adventure is to find land in Hawaii and build us a small palapa on it. We’d like to give the kids a sense of community, and the ability to live off the land with water catchment, solar electricity, vegetable gardens and farm animals, but at the same time keep an RV on the mainland for work or for Island Fever.

RV Family — The Wright Family (Nope, not that one!)

Here’s another set of answers to “20 Questions for RV Families”. Shelley answered a couple of weeks ago, so presumably she and her family are on the road now! To have your family featured, please read the questions and e-mail your answers (along with a family photo) to info at wright on time books dot com.

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Wright on Time Books: Tell me a bit about your family.

Shelley: We are a family of 4 with 3 dogs. Married in 2001 & first son born in 01, son #2 born in ’03. Husband is active duty USMC and I’m a stay at home mom. Well, I sub a bit here and there at the boys’ school, but I still consider myself a stay at home mom. We have 3 dogs, 2 large and 1 tiny. We’re active in church & sports & always seem busy.

Wright on Time Books: How long has your family (or did your family) live in an RV?

Shelley: We begin moving in Wednesday!!! We are moving from Florida to California in December. We bought a house here in Florida & have a contract to close November 12th, thankfully!! And decided an rv would be nice for traveling back and forth from California to Texas where our family members live & it would be more enjoyable to visit with our own space, let’s be real, 3 dogs aren’t welcome pretty much anywhere 😉 We plan to live in the rv until we pay off the loan on that and the truck….I hope we will enjoy it so much we just continue!!

Wright on Time Books: What states/countries has your family traveled to?

Shelley: Well, not in rv travels yet, but we’re from Texas. We were stationed in North Carolina for 3 yrs. Danny was temporarily assigned to Maryland & we visited DC then. We spent 3 year in Okinawa & are finishing up a 3year tour in Florida. We have family in Oklahoma & we have spent a lot of time on road trips & I can tell you I am very much looking forward to a more relaxed rv traveling style versus hurry up in the car & trying to locate pet friendly hotels…NOT EASY!!

Wright on Time Books: Are you homeschoolers? Do you call yourselves roadschoolers? What type of homeschoolers are you (or do you prefer to not give your family a label)?

Shelley: We are not homeschoolers. Our kids are enrolled in public school and will remain in public school unless anything drastic changes in the public school system. Although we did homeschool our oldest his first half of Kindergarten (does that even count..lol) while we were in Japan until we got back stateside because I did not like the school.

Wright on Time Books: How well does homeschooling work while living on the road? How do you get new resources (DVDs, books, audio books, etc.)? Are you able to use local libraries, or do you have to buy everything?

Shelley: Not applicable to us

Wright on Time Books: Do you have a “home base”? This is especially important for legal homeschooling, isn’t it? Did you sell all of your possessions, or keep things in storage?

Shelley: Not really applicable to us…I don’t think.. We will have a home base in California, my husband is still active duty military 🙂

Wright on Time Books: What resources did you use both before you began your adventure and/or while you were on the road? Any particular books or websites that you couldn’t have lived without?

Shelley: Atlas, maps & reviewing, reading reviews for great travel books with guides to camps & family friendly trips.

Wright on Time Books: How hard is it to deal with the maintenance of the RV? What are the most difficult aspects? Who handles what?

Shelley: ???We’ll soon find out!!! I hear it’s a great deal easier than a regular house, I guess just KNOWING what needs to happen is the main thing. We have a warranty on our rv for now but after that we will be researching any problems and become our own handyman at all times possible.

Wright on Time Books: How large is your RV? What is it like? We want to know where everything goes and where everyone sleeps. In an ideal world, would you have wanted a bigger RV, smaller RV, or something the same size but with a different configuration?

Shelley: We have a 35’8″ ’09 Dutchmen Denali 330xrv-5m. It has a master room with a full closet & dresser & a loft with a queen bed for the boys which includes 2 sets of cabinets and a trunk. Our rv is a toyhauler so it has a whole open back room which we use for many things but mostly “had to have it” because of our dogs. We have 3 slide outs & several outside storage bins & cabinets inside. In some ways I think , man it’d be nice to have a 40+footer, I could really put some stuff in that! And then I think, man if we had a super small rv we could really enjoy some awesome & exclusive campspots. In the end, our rv size was determined based on what our truck could tow, we got as big as it could tow & we could not be happier with the configuration, it will be an adjustment no matter what.

Wright on Time Books: How often do you move to a new location? Do gas prices and campground costs affect this? Where do you usually stay the night? Do you have a regular route that you repeat, or do you continually seek out new places to visit?

Shelley: Our plan is to fulltime in an rv park close to Danny’s duty station & on long weekends & vacations travel to different spots, mainly on the west coast but also to include at least a once yearly route back to Texas for family & hopefully for the family reunions.

Wright on Time Books: Who does the driving? Do you ever have issues driving such a large vehicle? Do you avoid cities or curvy/narrow roads up mountains, or do you take them in stride?

Shelley: Danny says it’s all on him. We’ll see how long that will last. It’s not the driving that worries me, it’s the getting on the road and the exiting. 😉 We will avoid steep mountains due to our size, I’m just not sure we could make that. But other than something dangerous we’ll just hit whatever road we need to to get to our desired spot!

Wright on Time Books: How long have you been on the road/plan to be on the road? Has this worked out to your liking?

Shelley: We started planning this move this past summer. We officially begin our move in Wednesday but will not be fully moved in until the end of the month. We plan to continue full time rv life until we have paid off our truck and rv but I hope we enjoy the lifestyle and continue past that point…maybe indefinitely!

Wright on Time Books: How do you handle privacy issues while living in close quarters?

Shelley: Privacy…ha! I haven’t had privacy since I married & definitely no privacy with kids 🙂 But as for marital privacy…the “master” bedroom has a sliding door that will be used & we’ll adjust accordingly, haha

Wright on Time Books: How do you keep in touch with friends and family? Do you visit them? Do they visit you? Phone, e-mail, etc.? What about holidays and birthdays?

Shelley: cell phones, email, personal sites (blogging, facebook, myspace), trips back home. We’ll send cards & small gifts through the mail.

Wright on Time Books: Does anyone ever get homesick for your old life? How do you deal with that?

Shelley: We’ve been travelers from the beginning of our marriage, even though not rv lifestlye. Sometimes I think about what it would be like to have roots somewhere & live in a community that everyone knows each other. But maybe that is part of what draws me to the rv lifestyle. Friendly people & a sense of community in the rv parks everywhere.

Wright on Time Books: How do you pay for your living expenses? How do you make money while on the road? Do you work full-time/part-time? Do you work certain times of the year and travel other times? Have any of your children had paying jobs?

Shelley: My husband is still active duty military, and when he retires he will receive retirement pay. I sub for fun. We’re not a full time traveling family, just a full time rv family 😉

Wright on Time Books: Do you have a towed vehicle? Bicycles? Mopeds? Etc.?

Shelley: No, we tow the trailer with our ’08 Dodge Ram 2500 Diesel. We carry bicycles with us though.

Wright on Time Books: Do you have any pets that travel with your family? How do they like living on the road?

Shelley: We have 3 dogs and while they don’t care for road trips they enjoy nature walks and new places

Wright on Time Books: Where is the best place you’ve been according to each member of your family?

Shelley: We really enjoyed our 3years in Okinawa Japan

Wright on Time Books: How can we find out more about you and your family? Website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter, etc.? Please tell us also what the next great adventure for your family is!

Shelley: Well, I have a blog that I keep up sometimes 😉 and I do facebook & such. www.semperfiwifey.blogspot.com & facebook.com/shelleywright0103

Thanks for asking it was fun filling out the questions!!

RV Family — The Hale Family

More great answers to “20 Questions for RV Families”. To have your family featured, please read the questions and e-mail your answers (along with a family photo) to info at wright on time books dot com.

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Wright on Time Books: Tell me a bit about your family.

Chantee: We’re a family of 3. My husband and myself are in our 30’s and we have a 4 year old daughter. There’s also a 17 year old (step) daughter who lives with her mom, so doesn’t get to travel with us. About three years ago we got to a spot where we were done. We owned a house near the Skyline Drive, which we loved, and a hobby games store. I worked in a costume department and all should have been well. Which is to say, we had everything we wanted but time together – time for our family and we didn’t really feel fulfilled by the ‘status quo’. So we quit. We sold it all, bought an RV and left. It took almost two years from realizing that’s what we wanted and needed to do to the day we pulled it off, but we walked out.

Hale RV Family 01

Hale RV Family 02

Wright on Time Books: How long has your family (or did your family) live in an RV?

Chantee: We’ve been on the road for a little over a year now, and are re-evaluating our set-up. What was enough space for a two year old is nothing for a four year old. When we were initially setting up we thought of us spending a lot of time outdoors – but forgot about rainy or too hot days – and also wanted something small enough to boondock in easily but didn’t think about playspace. Those are oversights we’ll have to remedy now, with some ‘down time’ off the road, but it’s not really a big deal. One real advantage about being a ‘road family’ is that you can just take it as it comes. Not being trapped in one place – in a mortgage and bills – gives you a lot of freedom. The problem becomes narrowing your choices so you can make one instead of finding a way to make it work!

Wright on Time Books: What states/countries has your family traveled to?

Chantee: From Maryland down the entire south coast and in a month we’ll be headed out westward through Texas.

Wright on Time Books: Are you homeschoolers? Do you call yourselves roadschoolers? What type of homeschoolers are you (or do you prefer to not give your family a label)?

Chantee: Technically, my daughter’s not old enough for school. That being said she reads at a second grade level (Teach Your Child to Read In 100 Easy Lessons) and she does basic math in her head. We call it pre-school and have already looked into accredited options for her schooling. We’re not very religious and I’m a second gen homeschooler so I’m very picky. I don’t want the Bob Jones stuff I was raised on and I do want her to have less of the hassles I had (being ‘religiously exempt’ or unschooled) when I reached professional and college levels.

Wright on Time Books: How well does homeschooling work while living on the road? How do you get new resources (DVDs, books, audio books, etc.)? Are you able to use local libraries, or do you have to buy everything?

Chantee: I think homeschooling works great. We work around our schedule, keeping it going most of the year and taking breaks when we’re driving or just need it. I usually buy what I want, or get it online. Most things you can find there – except maybe really good reading supplies. I don’t think I’ve spent more than 100$ on her schooling this year. Libraries, which I love, are a bit of a loss once you’re on the road. You get it in one sitting because they often don’t allow ‘non-local’ users to check out material. I like things I can use again and again and for that I’m fond of Amazon’s buy it used feature.

Wright on Time Books: Do you have a “home base”? This is especially important for legal homeschooling, isn’t it? Did you sell all of your possessions, or keep things in storage?

Chantee: Well… a home base. I’ve been on the road before and my Mother is a queen among women, so she is mostly our home base. We’ve just picked up a Good Sam membership and mail service to try and take some of that responsibility off of her. I do all of our billing online and auto draft/deposit, which makes the lack of home base easier. As for schooling it’s a headache. If you want the local school system – which is absurd – you’ll have to be back for SOL’s and do all the paperwork. My answer to accreditation was K12. Also, if your kids are young like ours is they won’t even be in the system. Technically Jade doesn’t exist as far as the school processing goes. She’s never been and never will be part of the local census. My Mother is also kind enough to keep some of our stuff that we couldn’t part with (like my husband’s comic collection) at her place, otherwise we’d have a small storage unit. Everything that was truly worth something we sold – the house, the business, the vehicles. Everything else from the tv to the furniture we threw out. It’s not worth your time to sell it, believe me.

Wright on Time Books: What resources did you use both before you began your adventure and/or while you were on the road? Any particular books or websites that you couldn’t have lived without?

Chantee: We tried a couple of RV introductory books, we’d travelled before by car and converted van and had even lived in that van, when we were young for several years. I used RVT.com to help us find an inexpensive RV. We looked at a lot of floorplans and the style of life we thought we’d be living to help make that choice. I guess I was looking six months before I knew exactly what I wanted. We walked through a lot of used RV’s we saw on Craigslist or in the local paper. I refused to walk through new ones because I didn’t – and don’t – want something I can’t afford to own outright. Making payments that are unnecessary (outside of your insurance and phone bill for instance) will limit your life and your options. We didn’t want that. In the end, we still didn’t get it perfect, but life is a fluid thing, eh? We also got our RV about a year before we left our jobs, and lived in it while we stuck around, dry testing the idea.

Wright on Time Books: How hard is it to deal with the maintenance of the RV? What are the most difficult aspects? Who handles what?

Chantee: RV maintenance is… an issue… for us. My husband is not very technical so he can’t often do things around the house – auto maintenance and repair, and anything electrical outside of the lightbulbs being changed goes to a shop. We call around and price stuff. We are Camping World ‘members’ but that’s because we like their neat stuff for the house. Probably the two worst things that happened to us – because we’re in a class c (overhead bunk) we’ve had two mishaps. The first one was due to an altitude choke on the engine. Happens in Ford models, as we now know. Getting a tow truck into Allegheny National Forest in PA was difficult at best. The next time our alternator died. We were lucky enough to make it to a Wal-Mart parking lot but had to wait till Monday (two days) to get a tow to a garage. It always happens on Saturday afternoon. Just take it easy. We found joy in the Chick-Fil-A across the street and walking Wal-Mart for nothing better to do until we could get on the road again. Problems aren’t so bad as long as no-one feels it’s a ‘must’ to be going and everyone can just kick back and enjoy the day.

Wright on Time Books: How large is your RV? What is it like? We want to know where everything goes and where everyone sleeps. In an ideal world, would you have wanted a bigger RV, smaller RV, or something the same size but with a different configuration?

Chantee: We’ve a 27 ft. class C. Our daughter sleeps – and sometimes plays – in her own bedroom, which is the bunk/loft. Then we have our own bedroom in the back. I wouldn’t put a family in less space. Everyone needs their privacy now and then. Now I would do a travel trailer or a fifth wheel. I’d have a slide. Because two foot of walking/playing space makes a rainy day a chore. The vehicle would be nice too. It’s a pain to always pack up your house to go do something. It wasn’t too much of a problem at first but then we added a dog. There’s a lot you can’t do with a dog – like leave it in your car or RV, unless it’s back at the campground with the AC on.

Wright on Time Books: How often do you move to a new location? Do gas prices and campground costs affect this? Where do you usually stay the night? Do you have a regular route that you repeat, or do you continually seek out new places to visit?

Chantee: We move about every 4-6 months, and usually 800 or more miles at a go. Now, we take it slowly, only about 4 hours of driving – at most – a night and always about the kiddo’s bedtime. It’s easier on us and our vehicles that way, plus it gives us time to explore the town we stop in every night.
I’m a bit of a nomad. I don’t like repeats, and my family is pretty accommodating about that. With the exception of visiting family or friends I try to never go the same way, or do the same stops, twice. There are those rare occasions where we loved something so much, or the same road is just necessary, though. For driving days we usually stay at Wal-Mart parking lots, Flying J’s or other larger truck stops, or the occasional highway rest stop. We dreamed we’d boondock the national forests, but getting a 27 footer in and out of those fire service roads turned out to be a bigger chore than it’s worth. Plus the gas to go that far ‘out of the way’ on hopes of finding a good spot is excruciating. When we’re settled we’re usually volunteering in exchange for a site at a State or National Forest park. Some are great, some aren’t, it’s kind of hit-or-miss there. I refuse to work more than 30 hours a week (total for the family) in exchange for a site, though. After that it’s just not worth it, if you look at it as paying for something in cash with what you could have earned.

Wright on Time Books: Who does the driving? Do you ever have issues driving such a large vehicle? Do you avoid cities or curvy/narrow roads up mountains, or do you take them in stride?

Chantee: Usually my husband drives and I navigate because I’m better with the maps but I’m just as comfortable on the open road. We do avoid downtown areas – hitting a one way or tight turn on a car-lined street just stinks in an RV. We also like to take it easy on our engine, and the altitude choke is a problem still so we avoid certain altitudes and try to take it extra slow on curvy and hilly roads. That really depends on your rig, though, and how long you want your engine to last.

Wright on Time Books: How long have you been on the road/plan to be on the road? Has this worked out to your liking?

Chantee: We’re pretty happy so far, at one year travelling, plus. We’re coming off the road for a couple of years for some extra cash – a new rig’s in the works for us and my husband wants to start a business venture. My daughter thinks it stinks to have to meet and leave so many people behind but she’s getting to be great with pen-pals. As far as meeting our needs for more family time it’s been exceptional. We’ve been able to stop working on meeting the bills and start putting our family first.

Wright on Time Books: How do you handle privacy issues while living in close quarters?

Chantee: We generally have the ‘Say what you need’ policy. If someone needs space they say so, and then they retire to their room to get it. Or go outside. I haven’t found it to be a problem, except for the kiddo’s desire to be in the bathroom with me, which doesn’t work.

Wright on Time Books: How do you keep in touch with friends and family? Do you visit them? Do they visit you? Phone, e-mail, etc.? What about holidays and birthdays?

Chantee: We visit family and friends when we come by, sometimes going a couple of hundred miles out of our way to do so. We’ve been blessed with visits from some family too. If they know where we are in advance some of our friends and family will manage to take a vacation and camp out with us. I use Facebook to keep up with everyone, my husband uses MySpace, and then I usually send out mass emails every few months to keep in touch. We have a family plan so we call people a lot and we ended up with an air card too. WiFi was just too spotty, or too pricey as a lot of places want you to pay for the use. My daughter draws pictures and mails them along with the letters she writes her friends. She prefers to get ‘real’ correspondence but for the rest of us the phone and email seem to be working fine. My Mother and I are, obviously, very, very close so I was worried about that at first. Sometimes the distance makes me sad but a long chat on the phone will cure that, and she’s the best about taking a vacation to see us.

Wright on Time Books: Does anyone ever get homesick for your old life? How do you deal with that?

Chantee: Jade gets homesick the most. She misses her cousin, my brother’s daughter, who’s just 2 weeks apart from her, her sister, and her Grandmama. We do a lot of letters and phone calls and I even made her a travel map with pictures of all the amazing things she’s done. It doubles as a geography lesson and a memory book. She knows most kids don’t get what she does in terms of experiences, so it’s a mixed bag for her. A day at the playground will often cure those ‘missed friends’ blues. My husband is also very social, but he’s learning how to keep in touch long distance and that means a lot in terms of re-connecting with dear old friends he was barely in touch with before, plus he gets to add new people he meets to that list. I try to be sensitive to his needs and make sure that if he wants to go ‘out’ to be around others he can. As for myself I sometimes get homesick, and then I just start thinking of that large list of reasons I wanted out so bad. Keeping that list around is handy for those ‘blue’ days. Nathan and I do a lot of propping each other up when we question our choices. We try to stay real about the pros and the cons and evaluate it honestly, so when one is too far on one side of the fence we serve as good reminders for the other. I’m blessed, though, with a great relationship. My husband and I have always enjoyed each other’s company for inspiration and socialization.

Wright on Time Books: How do you pay for your living expenses? How do you make money while on the road? Do you work full-time/part-time? Do you work certain times of the year and travel other times? Have any of your children had paying jobs?

Chantee: We have a small amount of savings, which dwindles with every trip. My husband is an excellent Barista, so he works part to full time to pay the few bills we have and put food on the table. I work the rest of the time in the campground, helping in visitor centers and cleaning toilets and ‘organically trashed’ campsites. We prefer to work hard, save up, then travel as we want to, but it’s not for everyone.

Wright on Time Books: Do you have a towed vehicle? Bicycles? Mopeds? Etc.?

Chantee: We own a motorcycle, something we picked up after the Allegheny incident, for extra transport. It’s good for an emergency, and for Nathan’s drive to work. Now that we have a dog we’ve found that it’s absolutely necessary to have a second vehicle. We have to drive separately due to towing the Motorcycle already. We’re usually about 20+ miles to town so bicycles aren’t the easiest mode of transport but we do have them as well for fun.

Wright on Time Books: Do you have any pets that travel with your family? How do they like living on the road?

Chantee: We have a dog. He was a tester dog from my sister in law. He’s good for the family, although not too bright and doesn’t much care what’s done to him (including being my daughter’s playground play mate) as long as he’s fed and loved. He’s also a very small dog (14 lbs). I couldn’t deal with bigger in the space we have.

Wright on Time Books: Where is the best place you’ve been according to each member of your family?

Chantee: If we’d found perfect we might not be on the road anymore!
All together we agree on Assateague Island State Park on the Maryland coast. Hobe Sound, FL was a great place to stay the winter and learn to Kayak. Savannah, GA was a wonderful city to drive through, but we found we didn’t like staying there as much. And our daughter loved Myrtle Beach for it’s MagiQuest game.

Wright on Time Books: How can we find out more about you and your family? Website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter, etc.? Please tell us also what the next great adventure for your family is!

Chantee: Nathan and I are, separately, on Facebook and MySpace. We don’t blog or carry our own website although I do make them for friends on occassion, we’re kind of quiet in that respect. As for our next adventure we’re at the point where we’re enjoying turning our hobbies into our lives. My husband is finishing up a book he’s dreamed of writing for 14 years, and he’s decided that after that he’s going to turn his other passion – movies – into his job by starting a production company. I’m working on a novel and have several other things written. Writing has always been a passion for me, but before life always got in the way. One nice thing about stepping away from everyone and everything you knew is that you get to focus on what’s important. And that leaves a lot of time for self discovery.

RV Family — The North Family (currently in SD)

Wright on Time Books: Tell me a bit about your family. How long has your family lived in an RV? What states/countries has your family traveled to?

Kelly: We are a family with one 3 year old and two 90 lb dogs living full time in a 36′ motorhome. My husband is a helicopter pilot which takes him across the country to seasonal positions so we decided to sell it all and travel along with him to keep the family together. We’ve been on the road since last Oct. and we are currently in the Black Hills, SD and he is flying Mt. Rushmore/Badlands tours and this Fall we will be taking a month or so to travel and then be in the Smoky Mountains in TN for another touring job.

North RV Family

Wright on Time Books: Are you homeschoolers? Do you call yourselves roadschoolers? What type of homeschoolers are you (or do you prefer to not give your family a label)?
Wright on Time Books: Do you have a “home base”? This is especially important for legal homeschooling, isn’t it? Did you sell all of your possessions, or keep things in storage?

Kelly: We don’t homeschool yet but we do lots of outside activities and take advantage of what each location has to offer (parks, museums, zoos). Our home address is my parents’ address in TN where we get our mail and our cars are registered. We had a 5 bedroom home in Atlanta and we liquidated all but keepsakes and those are in storage and the Mother In Law’s home. We have an article on our blog about liquidating that was featured in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper.

Wright on Time Books: What resources did you use both before you began your adventure and/or while you were on the road? Any particular books or websites that you couldn’t have lived without?

Kelly: We read about RV life on the internet, RV Forum, Families on the Road and then just did it and learned by experience. We knew there were going to be several years of moving around for his career and we knew we wanted to be together. With two very large dogs apartments weren’t an option and some of his jobs may be two weeks on/two weeks off so an RV was the most feasible option for us.

Wright on Time Books: How hard is it to deal with the maintenance of the RV? What are the most difficult aspects? Who handles what?

Kelly: Once we hit the road we ran into some problems that mostly revolved around leaks…our home is an 01 so some seals and caulking were dried and cracked. We also did quite a bit of remodel on it over the year. We took out a lounge chair, installed a ceiling mounted curtain and put in a toddler bed for Caleb to sleep. He loves his “room” and we put underbed boxes under his bed for toys. We also got a storage ottoman to make the couch area more comfortable and it also stores toys. We took out the carpet and installed Pergo (much cleaner with the dogs and kid and looks great). We reupholstered the furniture for a more modern look, installed flat screen TVs, put vinyl sticky tiles on the kitchen backsplash and painted the whole place to get rid of the heinous wallpaper. We also removed the window boxes and added fabric valences. One of our favorite updates was laminating an antique map onto our kitchen table.

Wright on Time Books: How large is your RV? What is it like? We want to know where everything goes and where everyone sleeps. In an ideal world, would you have wanted a bigger RV, smaller RV, or something the same size but with a different configuration?

Kelly: Our home is 36′ with two slides. If we had to do it over again we might get one that has two slides in the rear bedroom because our dogs sleep on the floor back there and the floor gets pretty crowded. There is a door between the main living area and the back bathroom/bedroom and that provides privacy since our son sleeps in the front area. Also provides privacy if one of us wants to be alone in the back. Our office area is in the back also.

Wright on Time Books: Who does the driving? Do you ever have issues driving such a large vehicle? Do you avoid cities or curvy/narrow roads up mountains, or do you take them in stride?

Kelly: Brian usually does the driving but I’ve done it some on the highways. Brian is an excellent driver and has little intimidation about driving cities as long as we take it slow. We do, however, try to avoid very small towns and small gas stations that may put us in a bind. We tow an Xterra with a bike rack behind that so it’s intimidating for me to pull in and out of gas stations.

If we are headed to a destination we stay in roadside/commercial campgrounds or Walmart/Flying J parking lots. We also enjoy State Parks and campgrounds that are kid friendly if we are staying a couple of days. Right now we are staying in the parking lot of where Brian works. When we aren’t stationary with a job we try to make our route around cities we haven’t seen, friends around the country and natural areas we’ve heard would be cool. We love being on the road and we get a little cranky after being stationary for too long. Our son loves the travel also and we tell him we are going to go find a new “yard”. He calls it our BigTruckNewHouse named by him when we first bought it and the name just stuck. The dogs don’t like the driving down the road part but they are getting accustomed. When we are in small campgrounds their life is a bit tougher because they are always leashed. Sometimes in the more rustic campgrounds we can find a field to let them run.

Wright on Time Books: How do you keep in touch with friends and family? Do you visit them? Do they visit you? Phone, e-mail, etc.? What about holidays and birthdays?

Kelly: We try to go “home” to TN every few months to visit the Grandpeople but this Fall we’ll be living in that area for a number of months. We use Verizon aircard for internet and Direct TV. Our mail comes to my Mom and she faxes it to me (www.myfax.com is an excellent resource for this). We have few bills but things like insurance and bank statements we get online. Health insurance is a bit of a problem because it is independent insurance with little to no coverage out of state. Knock on wood…we haven’t had health problems but would most likely use a walk-in clinic if needed. The dog vaccinations we can get at places like Petco as a walk-in.

Grocery stores are always an interesting part of our travel. We don’t use coupons like we used to but I can look up the local grocery store sale ad and still shop sales for food. We eat out only about once a week (three year olds don’t love sitting in restaurants!). We often park in a rest area and make a sandwich or even if we hit McDonald’s we’ll eat in the house.

Wright on Time Books: Does anyone ever get homesick for your old life? How do you deal with that?

Kelly: I miss my big kitchen in the old life, Brian misses his big TV. I miss having a zillion toys for Caleb and a large yard for a sandbox and pool. I did take a plastic storage tub and fill with playsand and we take that along with us for his sandbox. We also miss babysitters!! But the things we miss are minor compared to the life we have. We are blessed to have each other in such a close way and we get to experience the various cultures and beautiful land across the country that so many people don’t even know about. I often say…I hope Caleb remembers even just a little bit of this experience. And I reccomend liquidation to everyone!

Wright on Time Books: How can we find out more about you and your family? Website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter, etc.? Please tell us also what the next great adventure for your family is!

Kelly: You can read more about how we started and a little about our day to day life at www.bigtrucknewhouse.blogspot.com and I have a small blog that I’ve shared some things like traveling with toddlers and dogs and housekeeping/cooking in an RV at www.kellynorth.blogspot.com. I hope you can read a little and laugh with us.