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  • Writer's pictureLily Temple

One Month as a Full Time Family

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

On August 9th we passed the one-month mark of full time living and travel in our fifth wheel. To mark the anniversary, Jeff and I sat down and reflected on the experience so far. 

For Jeff, the month flew by. For me, it felt like we’d been on the road for much longer than a month! I think the pace of the adventure contributed to that feeling–we covered a ton of ground, and saw and did more exciting things in that first month than in the last few years combined. 

We both agree that in hindsight, our plan to drive to the tip of Florida by the end of the year was very aggressive. We learned that with two toddlers and an infant, we can only drive about an hour and a half before we need to stop (usually because of a screaming baby, toddlers needing snacks and pee breaks, or all of the above). A stop takes 30 min to an hour, and after that we can go about another hour and a half before the baby decides she's had enough and cries inconsolably until we stop. 

In other words, we can’t drive very far on any given day. While we originally wanted to spend a few weeks at most places, we instead usually only stay a week or less to cover enough ground to get to Florida by Nov./Dec. As a result, we haven’t been able to really settle in, meet other full time families, or experience the areas we’ve stayed as much as we’d expected. More stops for shorter durations also means we’ve had to deal with a lot more logistics than if we’d planned a route closer to home. 

On the flip side, we have explored many places that we would otherwise surely never visit! I definitely wouldn’t have put Helper, Utah or Quitaque, Texas on my bucket list, but I’ve come to look forward to seeing some of these remote and random areas that have ended up on our path. We’re also both really excited to visit the South, which is totally unfamiliar to us, and where our good friends Ellen and Van will join our adventure for a few weeks! 

We have really enjoyed sharing our adventure with friends and family, and we have plans to meet up with people every month for the rest of the year as we cross the country. Sharing our trip in itself will make the trek worth doing. Exploring and experiencing all the new places together as a nuclear family has been a major highlight of the trip as well. I think it is safe to say after the first month we were able to check both the “family bonding” and “adventure” boxes off of our goal list! 

One month in we were also both surprised at how easy it was to transition to "tiny living." We imagined stepping all over each other, and dealing with constant irritation at being in each other’s way. In reality, we made some adjustments to how we operate on a daily basis to accommodate the smaller footprint, and our lives continued as normal! The small space hardly ever crosses my mind as a “challenge.” The fifth wheel floor plan, with its separate bunk room for the kids and tiny-home feel has really helped with that. Having a pleasant campsite so we can extend our living area into the outdoors makes a big difference as well. 

We have been disappointed that we have not found a way to boondock or do any “parking lot” overnights due to the extreme heat. Our original plan included the flexibility to stay overnight occasionally in a Walmart or Cracker Barrel parking lot, or on BLM land where we wouldn’t have any hookups. This would have allowed us to save some money on campsite fees, and for boondocking, escape civilization for the thrill of being alone with the land (and our demanding and boisterous 4, 3, and 1 year olds…). With temps soaring north of 100 on a regular basis for the past two months, we have had to run our AC’s nonstop to cool our giant rig, which requires 50 amp service. Finding full hookup campsites with 50 amp service for every single night of the trip has added logistics and expense. We also learned quickly that we go through A LOT of water to clean dishes, clothes, and grimy children. Our gray tank capacity is a significant limiting factor for boondocking for any length of time. We’re hoping we can try some boondocking and parking lot campouts later in the year as the temperatures drop, and in the meantime, we’re architecting ways to get by with less water so we can boondock for several days. 

Now that we’re almost two months into our travels, it's time to ask some more questions about what else we want to accomplish while we’re out here. Stay tuned!


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