If you have ever dreamed of going on an RV trip with your family, do whatever you can to make that dream happen. That’s what our family did and although it means our retirement account is slimmer than it could be, we don’t regret going on what turned out to be a pretty incredible RV trip.
How The Trip Came To Be
Back in March of 2016 I went in for a routine mammogram. Two days later they called me back in. Turns out it was nothing, but the experience shook me and my family up–especially since my own mother had breast cancer at around the same age (she died many years later during her third and final battle with cancer, that time is was liver cancer)
That call back caused my husband and I to give up on the practical and do something that we have been dreaming of doing for years: taking a road trip across North America with our three children.
So January 2017 we hit the open road. My husband, myself, our 21 year old son, 16 year old son, and 14 year old daughter. We were gone five and a half months–a total of 22 weeks.
Above is a picture of our trip route. We left Indiana in early January, not returning until mid June. We traveled to Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Alberta, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and South Dakota.
We also drove straight through a few states on the way to others. I so hope we get back to explore those State and more someday. And yes, even after spending 22 weeks with each other in a 27-foot travel trailer, we still would like to travel more.
Updates From The Road
While we were gone I shared weekly updates on the blog of what we explored the previous week. Below is a handy list of all 22 updates plus one written two days after we left and another written about what happened the first week we were home. Simply click the highlighted titles below to read that week’s full update and see the pictures of that area.
Finally on Our Way! (click on words in blue to read that week’s update)
We left in minus one degree Fahrenheit weather.
Week One Update: Nashville and Atlanta
We learned a valuable lesson about just how precious and fleeting life is and visited an aquarium so incredible that we couldn’t stop talking about it the rest of the trip.
Week Two Update: Atlanta, Savannah and St Mary’s
We barely miss being involved in an accident with another car. We survive a tornado scare. We also eat what was our favorite meal out of the entire 22-week trip.
Week Three Update: St Mary’s and Little Talbot Island
We enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches of Florida. I have the best seafood tacos of my life! My husband and I get away for the night.
Week Four Update: Orlando and Niceville
The most expensive week or our trip by far! The cheapest campground of our trip.
Week Five Update:Niceville, New Orleans, and Sea Rim State Park
A BIG sibling fight in public and an amazingly thrifty find that the whole family enjoyed.
Week Six Update:San Antonio, Carlsbad Caverns, and White Sands
A sibling moment that melted this mom’s heart. Our first National Park visit of the trip. Sledding down hills that didn’t have a single flake of snow on them.
Week 7 Update:Gila Cliff Dwellings, City of Rocks & Sedona
Green Chile burgers, five hours of hiking in one day, and why I will never doubt my husband again when it comes to deciding what area would be interesting to explore.
Week 8 Update: Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Hoover Dam & Lake Mead
Waking up to over a foot of snow, views so amazing words and pictures cannot grasp them, and the most ornate dam I have ever seen in my life (and I have see a few).
Week 9 Update: Red Rock Canyon, Death Valley, Palm Springs, Laguna Beach
What was my favorite sunset of the entire trip and a restaurant so good we ate at it three times in a row.
Week 10 Update: Joshua Tree, San Fransisco, Yosemite, and Sequoia
California beaches, San Fransisco architecture, roaring rivers and the biggest trees I have ever seen.
Week 11 Update: Sea Glass Beaches and The Giant Redwoods of California
My favorite beaches of the entire trip–and we saw a lot of different beaches on our trip.
Week 12 Update: Seattle, Port Angeles, & Victoria
An entire wall of chewed gum, amazing glass work, and a return to the island of my youth.
Week 13 Update: Nanaimo, Tofino, & Courtenay
We stay at a campground with an amazing view–the best campground view of the entire trip. I finally make it to a place that was just three hours away from me my entire childhood.
Week 14 Update: Vancouver Island & Vancouver
Showing my family my childhood home, eating my weight in baked goods, and a ferry trip to Vancouver.
A return to the exact spot where my husband and I first met. Amazing lakes and more oh so yummy baked goods.
A hike to the local falls in the area, more lake views, and even more great food.
Week 17 Update: Canadian Rockies, Drumheller
This week starts with probably the best picture I took the entire trip. Also enjoyed this week were close up encounters with elk, Albertan sunsets and the badlands of Canada.
Week 18 Update: Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake
Mountain, lake and river views that took my breath away. Plus the story of the hike we never finished.
Week 19 Update: Craters of The Moon, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton
We visit the most geographically diverse National Park of our trip, and we end up with shoes that smell so horrible we store them outside our travel trailer.
Week 20 Update: Grand Teton National Park, Salt Lake City, and Zion
The kids finally get to see a moose, I get an unwanted free mud treatment, and we remember why we don’t like traveling on long weekends.
Week 21 Update: Kolob Canyon, Red Cliffs, Bryce Canyon, Red Canyon and Estes Park
The incredible beauty of the red rocks, canyons and cliffs of Utah, and a little bit of red I didn’t like so much.
Week 22: Rocky Mountain National Park, Mount Rushmore, Badlands, Custer State Park, And Wind Cave National Park
It is June and yet we are still walking on snow! I finally get to see Mount Rushmore. And how I really feel about the trip ending.
The Final RV Road Trip Update: And Now We Are Home
Why and how we cut an entire day of travel out of our returning route. What it feels like to return home after 22 weeks of traveling and how the trip changed my definition of home.
Wisdom Learned On The Road
12 Tips For Long RV Road Trips
10 Things To Bring When Exploring The National Parks
15 Essential Tools For An RV Toolkit — Don’t Travel Without These!
Before The Trip Planning
Prepping For Our RV Trip: We Are FINALLY Leaving
Changing Financial Goals: One Family’s Story of Swapping Practical For Crazy
3 Adults + 2 Teens in 300 Square Feet For 6 Months (now 5 1/2 months–the next article tells why)
The RV Life Is Not As Laid Back As You Might Think
How I am Cutting My Blog Work In Half During A 5 Month RV Trip
How Did We Afford Such A Trip?
When we first came up with this crazy idea to do this family RV trip I thought for sure it would stay an idea as soon as we started running the numbers, but it didn’t.
Yes, it is true we did receive an inheritance that helped pay for the trip, but we never could have made that inheritance stretch far enough to pay for such an incredible family bonding experience without practicing the thrifty principles I share in my book Thrifty & Thriving over and over again until they have become ingrained habits in our financial lives.
Habits that have helped us get rid of our debt, stay out of debt and generate streams of income that allow us to do things that we never thought possible early in our marriage–things like having my husband take six months off for travel.
You too can thrive financially! It all starts with building one thrifty habit on top of another and I share them all in my book, Thrifty & Thriving: More Life for Less Money available on Amazon in both paperback and kindle format.
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