“Think we can fit in this spot?” I ask my co-pilot. It’s the last 50-amp, full hook-up spot in the park. This is just after a veteran RVer passes by us and wishes us luck trying to fit in it because he can’t. He tells us he’s taking the only other available spot and he’s smaller than we are. “I think we can,” my co-pilot says. Fifteen minutes later we are backed into the spot and are leveling, having successfully avoided the three low hanging branches, when the man from earlier comes back by and seems thoroughly shocked that we did it. He gives us a thumbs up.
My co-pilot is 15. I am a single mom traveling on the road full-time with my two sons and our two Labradors. People are often shocked when they realize what we can do; how we live.
Many travelers in this lifestyle have a partner. They have someone to help with driving, kids (if they have them), finances, challenges, etc. But there is a growing population of us that do not. Traveling solo with your children presents its own unique set of challenges.
Single-Parenting On The Road
I am very fortunate that I have primary custody of my children with a somewhat set visitation schedule with my ex-husband. He gets them for the Christmas/New Year’s holiday, spring break and usually two months during the summer. They usually see their extended family during that time. The kids fly back and forth between him and me, so my goal is to be within an hour of an airport when they are scheduled to go visit him. I am grateful to have this arrangement because it helps make this lifestyle possible.
Another issue for anyone on the road is healthcare and dental. My children have insurance through their father’s job so I can take them to whatever health care provider I choose. Before leaving our home state, I made sure they had their visits up to date. Thankfully both my kids are fairly healthy and rarely get more than a passing cold from time-to-time. There are options out there for community plans through some groups as well as the Healthcare Marketplace. Choosing a plan that allows you to choose any provider as long as they are in network is usually the best. Sometimes it’s not always the cheapest and may have deductibles but there are different options available. Just make sure to check where there is coverage. Most insurance companies can give you a map and lists for each state.
Home educating my children has been something I have been doing since 2014, so this wasn’t a huge transition for us either.
We are domiciled in Florida and have to follow Florida laws but thankfully, Florida is relatively easy to deal with.
Still, this can be challenging as the only adult.
Some days it’s not easy making sure they are able to get their schooling in while getting to do and see what we want to.
We like to visit obscure places and recently stayed at Moundville Archaeological Park. That became the focus of our schooling for the week, encompassing history, science, math, reading and physical education. Climbing those mounds and walking around the park was great exercise! This type of schooling is often referred to as Real World Learning, Life Schooling, and/or Unschooling. However, I do incorporate some “traditional schooling” into their week by having them do worksheets and/or workbooks, write about the state we are visiting, and read certain books that I feel benefit their education.
Working on the road definitely has its challenges. I have to have internet. This week, at a rally, that’s not going as planned. I have to plan my travel days and let my boss know if they fall on a weekday. Thankfully, I have an awesome boss that works with me, but we had an open conversation about managing expectations, the challenges that I may face working on the road, and what my strategies were for overcoming them.
Trying to work with kids sitting just a few feet away can definitely be challenging. My “office” is my front cockpit because the dash is big enough for all my work supplies. I have to give warnings like “I’m getting on a call” or “Quiet, work call coming in”. It’s challenging but doable. Some days, weather permitting, I take my work outside to the picnic table. Work and Vitamin D, two birds; one stone.
Living in close proximity was quite an adjustment for everyone. The boys no longer have a room to go to, but then, they had shared a bedroom previously, so this wasn’t too huge of an adjustment. They still bicker and fight from time to time. I have had to adapt my parenting as a result of this. But the great thing is, I can make them go outside more! Previously we lived in an apartment and there was nowhere safe to play outside. Now they can go explore mother nature, with a walkie-talkie and code words/signals for distress (safety is paramount), and I can enjoy the peace and quiet. Go build a stick shelter, here’s a scavenger hunt card, go set up the fire-pit for s’mores later, go take some pictures, walk the dogs, play with the kids nearby, go pick up the camp, or better yet, the area surrounding us. The possibilities are endless.
RVing As A Solo Adult
I’ll admit, there have been many times where I have struggled juggling everything. That’s when I know it’s time to step back and reevaluate the situation. Why isn’t this working and what can I do to make it work, or do I need to scrap it and find a different way? Another thing I do is talk to my kids by calling a family meeting. They roll their eyes and groan but it’s their lives, too. I want their opinions and their ideas. They often have great suggestions.
I like to plan and see things in writing so I use a month-at-a-glance dry erase calendar where I write where we will be that month. I also have a year-at-a-glance calendar that I use to keep track of plans, such as reservations I have made in advance, or when the boys will be gone to their dad’s for visitation. I have a small dry erase board on the fridge where I write down the daily tasks and have a to-do list up there where I can keep track of projects, repairs, etc, that need to be done.
Something that helps me immensely is that I meal plan for a week. I have a binder with sheets of paper labeled breakfast, lunch, dinner. On those sheets are all our favorite meals. I use that to fill in a dry-erase meal planner that has a spot at the top for what’s going on that day. This is where I write what affects our meals.
Are we traveling and will we need to pre-make lunch? Is it going to rain or be cold (I like to cook outside and have discovered knowing the weather is just as important as knowing what I am going to cook). Are we going on a hike or field trip? Are we going to eat out or pack a meal? I usually do this on Friday or Saturday and then I order my groceries for pick-up from the store, if it’s available. This saves me so much time but it also saves me money because I don’t buy things I don’t need. I also try to plan whatever other shopping and/or errands I need to do around this time so I can get them all done in one fell swoop. This saves me money on gas.
Being single on this adventure has definitely been a challenge. I don’t date. I don’t have a lot of “me” time. Heck, I rarely remember where I left my coffee until it’s cold or a day old because I am busy. I do not have family, so, other than my children, I am the epitome of alone. I do have a few friends I confide in but no partner. That can be hard. When something happens, a breakdown, an issue with kids, dogs, RV, I am the one that has to handle it. But that is not always a negative.
There is a sense of accomplishment when you can look back at something that most people can’t handle and say, “I did this by myself”.
Getting The Whole Family Involved
One of the things I have done to help our family get used to this lifestyle is to join groups on Facebook and online. We are members of Fulltime Families, RVillage, Escapees, and Xscapers. We attend events put on by these groups in order to connect with others.
So far, we have made friends with a few families and keep in touch through Facebook and Messenger. At one event, we were “adopted” by an older couple. We often check in with them and they asked the boys to send them post cards of their adventures. Having these relationships, to me, is essential to us being able to continue this journey.
We have had to learn how to handle repairs and minor mechanical issues because I am frugal. This is a family event where everyone participates and helps. We changed our generator oil in a parking lot while boondocking because we needed to. We have also fixed our awning when it was not retracting properly. The bonus is this counts as shop class and life experience, and many times, it covers a wide range of educational topics.
My favorite places to learn from are the University of YouTube, Facebook groups specific to my RV, and RV forums. We also have an emergency repair kit we’ve slowly been building for issues we know we can handle but inevitably, there are things we just cannot do. In early October, we did spend a week boondocking at a repair facility getting quite a few things fixed.
On travel days, which have a lot of set-up or breakdown, everyone has tasks based on ability and we all have checklists. My 10-year-old is still learning the ropes, but I am working with him on adding some more responsibilities to his list. Right now, he is learning how to set-up the water and sewer system. My 15-year-old can back me into a spot and help me level better than some of the well-seasoned RV couples! We can also get our Jeep set up or removed from tow mode in about five minutes because we have a routine. Everyone knows their job.
We have definitely made our fair share of mistakes, like not locking the slides, having an unlocked compartment come open on the highway, or driving with the emergency brake on, but we learn from it and adapted our routine to avoid making the same mistake twice. And that’s just it, to be successful in this lifestyle, you have to be willing and able to adapt.
We are just over two months into our adventure. I have had one day where I wanted to quit. Then, I thought about what so many talk about in this lifestyle, my “why”. What is your reason for doing this? What is your “why”?
And so, the adventure continues.
Holly Blake is a single mom who travels full-time through the US with her two youngest sons and two labradors while homeschooling and working as a Transaction Coordinator for a Real Estate agent.
As a former military child and military spouse, being a nomad is deeply engrained in her. She and her children set out in September of 2019 from Jacksonville, Florida. She chronicles their adventures on their Facebook page, There and Back Again with the Blake Clan.
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