There are three moments in an adult’s life deemed their happiest; our wedding day, the day our children are born, and when we become grandparents. In late November of 2017, we parked our RV in San Antonio and flew to Minneapolis to be there when our first grandchild, Declan, was born! We got new names; Memaw and Fashia. We became those candy-feeding, jumping-on-the-furniture, spoil-em-rotten grandparents!
Let me just say this. Having your own children is absolutely amazing. But, seeing your children having their own children is pure exhilaration! And, you hope their children will be just like them (or maybe not!).
Every time we see our little grandson Declan is like stepping back thirty-some years when our son was that age. When we FaceTime or see videos of our grandson in his jam-jams, memories take us back to our own son’s feet pitter-pattering the floor in his.
Since we are full-time RVers, we have a slightly different experience than those living in sticks and bricks. As nomadic RVers, becoming grandparents presented a unique relationship. Most new grandparents would be chomping at the bit to sell their home and move closer to their young family. Or they’d deal with the chaos of flying every month to see their grandkids. However, since we were already full-time RV travelers, it became easier.
So, what do we do? We take our home to see our grandson and his family!
Situating ourselves geographically...
We decided to not stop our nomadic RV lifestyle just as our parents didn’t stop what they were doing when we started our family in Massachusetts. However, we decided we would take our RV to Minnesota in the late spring, summer or early fall and fly to them in the winter.
In the warmer months, we typically boondock on a friend’s farm about a half hour from their home. But, if it’s too wet, we pull out our wallets and pay for a nearby RV park. We try to stay with them for at least a couple weeks.
When it comes to the winter months, we must situate ourselves in the southwestern U.S. at a reputable RV park where we can get a sitter to look in on our cats while we fly out to Minnesota. And of course, that RV park must be close to a major airport. This sometimes is more challenging because we’re having to make reservations at an RV park as well as airlines for the holidays. So, we tend to make our reservations by May or June. We also have to deal with weather on their end; hoping flights don’t get cancelled or delayed because of snow.
So, whether it’s hauling our RV to Minnesota or finagling flights during the winter holidays, birthdays and special events, we make it work.
How we keep up the communication...
Keeping in contact with our grandson and his family is as easy as picking up the phone or FaceTime. We get to see our little guy grow almost daily. We get photos literally seconds after our son and his wife text us from Minnesota. So, this means we need to have a good Wi-Fi connection. Recently, we got an unlimited WiFi plan so we didn’t have to worry about overages during our conversations with Declan.
Each week, we get to share bath time with our little guy. Why bath time? Because each time we’d visit, that was Declan’s and my time. We’d play with his boats and “fishies.” We’d also splash as much water as we could not caring about making a mess. I mean, that’s what grandparents do, right?!
So now, when my FaceTime ringer sounds, I roll up my sleeves and share “virtual bath time” with Declan. We’d play and talk while his mom and dad watch over him with the camera phone.
Exploring and sharing together...
Contrary to what sticks-n-brick’ers may say, living the RV life actually enables us to see him more. Speaking honestly, we could never afford flying out every month to see him while also paying that hefty mortgage and real estate taxes.
When we became grandparents, the shopper in me took on a new level. There is no greater shopping experience than buying things for our Declan. And living in an RV requires much restraint, otherwise, I’d buy it all.
While we love to buy him tons of clothes, we try to respect what our son and daughter-in-law’s wishes on how they dress him. But so far, they’ve not passed up anything we’ve sent him.
Considering that we are nomads who love adventure and exploring, we tend to shop for clothes that resonate. And, of course, those are not hard to find. Anytime we visit a National Park, I make a beeline straight to the gift shop to find Declan a little t-shirt, book or something educational. And, I will ask for an extra brown paper bag with the logo on it to use to wrap his little presents before shipping them off.
When we can't be there in person...
With the above communication factors, we also do some cool things to interact with our Grandson on the road. Now, granted, as I write this, he’s only 18 months old. But, we try to do things that are unique. Most interesting places we visit, we send him a post card.
We always look for an age appropriate book that has something to do with the area we are exploring. For example, when we were hiking at Anza Borrego State Park in California, we bought him the Dr. Seuss book Why Oh Why Are Deserts Dry. We threw in a toddler t-shirt with ‘Future Hiker’ on the front. He’ll learn about where we are or have been and will be excited to go with us when Declan gets old enough.
Distance does make our hearts grow fonder...
We’ve proven that being a career military family away from our loved ones. And now, as an RV full-time family, it still rings true. The less we see them, the more we appreciate the time we do have with them. We make great effort to travel to them.
When we do see him (and our son and daughter-in-law of course!), we play during his bath time (in real time!), read his books we sent him, go for long walks, partake in his swim lessons or play until we’re all worn out.
And then when it’s time to roll again, we go back to our cyber dates.
So, if you’re a full-time RVer, and new grandparent or grandparent-to-be, these are just a few examples of how you, too, can have a great relationship with your grandchildren while still enjoying the RV lifestyle.
There are no rocking chairs for Dan and Lisa Brown of Always On Liberty. A few years after Dan retired from the U.S. Coast Guard, they sold their five-bedroom Kentucky home with everything in it and set out for the open road to see America with their new fifth wheel. They and their two Maine Coon cats have been full-time, adventurous RV nomads since 2014 with no plans of stopping.
Now, two RVs later, they are still searching for destinations unknown and forging their own paths. Their passions are motorcycle riding, hiking, kayaking and learning our country’s history. They also enjoy sharing their on-the-road experiences, RV tips and tricks, product reviews and how-to guides of RV life through their blog and writing.
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