Driving away on our road school adventure was the part that ripped out my soul and rattled me. I remember listening to our favorite radio station until it turned to static. Danny reached over and turned it off and we rode in silence for a while and I cried some more because at the start of the trip, that’s what I seemed to do best.
Then, miraculously, we were doing it. I won’t go into all the details of realizing there was an extra waste tank we didn’t know existed . . . until it backed up into our little house. Or, how we blew three tires in the first week. I won’t talk about how one of our cats climbed underneath the 5th wheel to hide among the gears and electrical wires and how Danny had to take all of that apart to pull her out of there.
Nope. I’ll just skip all of that.
What matters is the good stuff, the bit I now carry around inside me wherever I go—when I’m standing in line at the grocery store and glance over at the magazines and think “we’ve been there,” it makes all that crazy so very worth it.
So enough about me; let’s talk about you. It’s one thing to dream about road schooling and another entirely to actually go do it. All the charm and mystery fade away when you face the reality of living with your dear, beloved family in 350 square feet for months (or years) on end. However, for us, what faded away was replaced by a reality that was even better than the dream because despite ups and downs, we were doing it.
Homeschooling While Traveling
How to Afford Roadschooling
How will you pay for it? Get creative.
Unless you’re independently wealthy, you’ll still have to sort out how to pay for your adventure. Maybe you have a location-fluid job like my husband and all you need is an Internet connection. This sounds great in theory but let me tell you from experience that when RV parks say they have “wireless Internet” they mean the kind slightly better than dial-up.
High speed connection is difficult to find and Danny spent many, many hours in coffee shops and libraries all over the country trying to work when we thought he’d be able to do everything from the RV. Will you take business calls? Consider privacy issues—your family can’t tiptoe around the entire time you’re on the phone with a client. Or can they? You’ll have to set up a routine for homeschool and work just as you would in a “normal” house. Some things just don’t go away and earning money is one of them.
Maybe you’re going to save your pennies for a few years and use that savings to finance your road school journey. Sell possessions you’ll no longer need. Say no to exotic cars. Does your mom send you $50 for your birthday? Save it. Brew your own coffee and keep your eye on the prize.
ALSO CHECK OUT : ROADSCHOOLING REVOLT AGAINST TIME
We met a road school family who only moved every three or four months. The dad worked construction while the mom taught the kids and explored the area with them. Then they progressed on when his company’s project was completed. Or maybe you’re a musician and can support your family with gigs along the way. You’ll have to plan in advance and do a lot of marketing and promotion to make it worth it. Another dad supported his family by doing odds and ends jobs in the towns they came to because he was such an incredible handyman. I helped supplement our income by writing because I can do that anywhere. What can you do? I suggest brainstorming. Put every idea down on paper. Don’t blow things off because they sound impossible or too crazy. Write it all down and consider every option.
Before you get depressed about working on the road, please keep reminding yourself that your road expenses will be significantly less than that mortgage or rent you’re currently paying. I promise to go into detail about our monthly budget in future posts.
Where do you want to go? Consider logistics.
This is the outstandingly fun part of the trip. We knew we wanted to spend the winter months exploring the delightfully warm south. Maybe you want to see those autumn leaves turn in upstate New York? Perhaps you want to experience Washington, D.C. on the 4th of July. Dream big, friends. Without a mortgage and with the help of your sweet, little house on wheels, you can make these goals into reality. We visited 26 states in 10 months. Get on Pinterest (I swear that’s not my solution to everything, it only seems that way), query friends and family. Maybe let your history and geography curriculum be your guide.
One rule we made early on (and only broke a couple times when we got truly desperate) was to keep our drive time to five hours or less on travel days. We drove mostly on Sundays, leaving Saturdays open for sightseeing. During the week, we explored in the evenings and my husband took off work now and then to experience major attractions with us (think New York City, Disney World, Boston). We kept our travel days short to just encourage an atmosphere of relaxation and give us time to slowly make our way down a highway and stop at hole-in-the-wall diners or read historical markers. We didn’t want the stress and flaring tempers that longer travel days often bring.
Also, avoid backtracking, obviously. If you’re going to be at a Civil War battleground over Memorial Day weekend, you have to plan that out months in advance. Another twist is that depending on the size of your rig, you’ll need to map out a route that avoids narrow bridges with weight limits or lower overpasses which will slice the top off your RV and really put a downer on the day. You’ll need to plan where to be for regular maintenance on your tow vehicle or the RV itself, as well. We knew nothing on God’s green Earth was worth driving our rig through The Big Apple. Nothing. We found a centrally-located RV park to use as a home base and took the train into the city and stayed in a hotel for a few days. From this park, we also explored Philadelphia. Two birds, one stone.
I know this sounds like a ridiculous amount of planning and in a way, it really is. I’m a natural planner so I was truly in my element as cruise director. If this isn’t your thing, it will be harder for you, but I promise planning a bit makes things go more smoothly. You’ll already deal with public laundry and homesickness and lack of storage. Don’t add “can’t find a campsite because they’ve been booked for three months” to the list. The planning process also adds a fantastic anticipation of what’s to come that will carry your family through the not-so-awesome parts—like driving in Atlanta traffic.
Next time, Lisa will delve into talking to friends and family about your change of lifestyle. Her blog is www.armedonlywiththis.com if you want to read about her family’s adventures.
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