Advice to a Young Family for Working and Living on the Road.
We recently started corresponding with a young family like ours from Dayton, Ohio who are thinking about some extended traveling in a new RV they just purchased. Like us, they have young children and are looking for a more rewarding lifestyle than the typical 9 to 5. We are always eager to share our experiences with families who are contemplating taking the plunge. I thought someone else might be interested in my response as it might give you an insight that I don’t think I have shared before on the topic of working from the road.
I hope you had a good time in your new camper. I have a lot of info to give you so get ready
Before I started traveling, I had already been self-employed for about 4 years. The company my wife had been working for closed down and everyone was laid off the day she went on maternity leave with our second kid. The timing was right for us. She had unemployment benefits for awhile and we left when our second kid was only 5 months old.
My business had been completely a work-from-home situation. I rarely ever had to see my clients in person. What I would recommend for you, if possible, is to find companies who need to outsource ongoing graphic design or web development work. I know that is easier said than done. I had been working as a developer for many years for a handful of companies in my local area. Many of my prior colleagues had gone on to work for other companies and I leveraged those relationships to get long term consulting work at their new companies. It is a win-win situation since I have already been vetted out and they can get me for a lower rate in return for the work-from-home(road) flexibility. If you can try to get work that way, it would be the best way to go.
Although I do occasionally go on craigslist and search for projects under the jobs section. Many times there are people looking for contractors to do small to medium size projects. Every couple of weeks, I go on all the local craigslist sites and send emails out to all of the postings that I think might suit my skills. Most of these projects just require you to go in for an initial interview once and you can work remotely the remainder of the time. I have gotten about 10% of the projects I have applied for through craigslist but your mileage may vary.
Sometimes it is not beneficial to disclose that you are traveling. People are either unsure because they think you might not be available when they need you, or they might just be envious that you are traveling and give the job to someone else out of spite. I know, it sounds petty but it happens. I am not saying you need to lie but what they don’t know, won’t hurt them. It will give you a better chance at getting the job initially and once they know you can perform, it won’t matter to them later. On the other hand, a lot of them will prefer to work with you if they know that you are not moonlighting from another job. That is definitely something you should tell them upfront. That you are a full time consultant and can be available for phone calls and will reply promptly to emails at any time.
What you will find out is that traveling on the road is a lot cheaper than living in a house. Even if you stayed at full hook-up campgrounds every night at $30 a night, that is only $900 a month for rent and all utilities. I don’t know about Ohio but that is a lot cheaper than living in California. Gas will be another big expense if you move around a lot but if you stay at least a week at each place and move a couple hundred miles each time you relocate, you will save on gas expenses as well as getting lower weekly rates at most campsites. We can probably live on the road for around $20k a year for all 5 of us if we were budget conscious. That doesn’t mean pinching pennies, that is comfortably living with daily home-cooked meals and regular outings at local restaurants with a lot of sightseeing and activities that most cities offer for free.
I think a month on the road is going to fly by for you. It is probably just long enough to get you into a routine and it will still feel more like a trip than living on the road. When we took our first extended trip, we were out for 4 months. The second month is when we really got into our groove. And after that, we felt like we could be on the road forever. To get a real feel of what it will be like, I recommend to not have a solid itinerary and don’t reserve any campsites ahead of time. It sounds scary but it is what full timing will be like. Get comfortable with sleeping in Walmart parking lots and truck stops especially during transit days as it will be routine. We had to come back after 4 months because we kept our house vacant in case the traveling thing didn’t take. It was a safety net we felt like we needed for our first trip but it was expensive to make mortgage payments on it every month. Now that we know we can do it, we have rented out our home and are just going wherever the wind blows
What kind of work does your husband do? Is it possible for him to find some type of work to do remotely as well? There are a lot of different opportunities these days even for people that don’t have the typical skills best suited for working remotely. Workamping is popular at a lot of companies around the country and are good for seasonal income. Also things like Amazon Mechanical Turk is a way to make some money just by doing simple but difficult to automate tasks on your own time.
It is true that every family is different and you might not end up liking RV life. I think a lot of it has to do with how your kids adapt to it. There are a lot of full time traveling blogs out there that you can sort of get an idea of what it is like. But traveling solo or as a couple with no kids is a totally different game than traveling as a family. It is more challenging for sure but the rewards are definitely worth it. We have met all kinds of people who travel without kids. Most of them are retired. Some have even muttered under their breath as they walk past our campsite that they left home to get away from children. Others are happy to see us and tell us how much seeing our kids make them miss their own grandchildren. A lot of retired full timers say that they wish they hadn’t waited for retirement age to do it. It makes us feel like we are doing the right thing and fortunate to be in the right circumstance to be able to do it. I wish I had the experience my kids are having when I was their age. Your 2 year old is probably just old enough to remember being on the road but the 4 year old will definitely remember lots of details and it will definitely make a positive influence in their lives and your relationships with them in the future.
Our oldest just finished preschool and we will be officially homeschooling her as a kindergartener come September. It was a daunting idea at first but there is not a better classroom than being on the road. We have found that people are kind of split on the homeschooling idea, too. But regardless where your kids go to school, if the parents are involved and try their best to educate them, you cannot go wrong. It is impossible for kids not to learn while traveling. They will be bombarded with learning opportunities that don’t come as easily from inside a classroom.
I hope that helps you with your questions about working and living on the road. A lot of these things are situation dependent and there isn’t really a substitute for first-hand experience. The most important thing is to go into it knowing that the only thing for certain is to expect the unexpected. Some will pose significant challenges for you to overcome while others are pleasantly surprising. All of them make for the great and amazing memories for your family to keep for a life time. That is probably the best part of living on the road.
Brandy and her family are taking a month next year to try to get a taste of life on the road. Check out her blog as they prepared for their new possible lifestyle: SitesSeeingUSA.com.
over and out,
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