When you first tell someone you live and travel full-time in an RV — with kids! — you expect a certain level of curiosity.
Prior to transitioning into this lifestyle, my husband and I assumed we’d hear a chorus of “But why?” Or that we’d be peppered with questions about the daily minutiae.
Do you have a shower? Yep. What about a TV? Same one we had in the house we sold. Do you get tired of living tiny? Not yet, knock on wood!
But the question we get asked the most, yet expected the least, has to do with the holidays. As a traveling family with children, how do we handle special times typically spent with relatives and other loved ones?
Shaking things up
I understand wholeheartedly the kind of tradition in which this question is rooted.
I grew up in the South, as part of a huge Southern family. Holidays are sacrosanct. And, of course, I treasure every memory of piling onto my grandma’s nubby old sofa with all of my cousins after a massive feast so our stomachs could settle.
Or, you know, until a respectable amount of time had passed until we could get thirds or scoop out a heaping helping of homemade banana pudding.
This turned out to be one of the biggest considerations we made prior to embarking on our big adventure. For us, knowing we planned to travel full-time for only a few years, we felt as though our kids still had plenty of obnoxiously loud holiday gatherings with family to look forward to in the future.
Still, we’ve found over the past year that it is important for us to feel as though we’re doing something special on the holidays.
Mapping out a plan
So, we approach it much like we do our sojourning in general — we Google.
Whenever we know we’ll be in a certain area for a holiday, we pore over any information available online: event calendars, the Roadtrippers app, Instagram hashtags. Once we find something “special,” we build our holiday plans around it.
For Easter, we took our kids to an egg hunt in Benson, Arizona, and then ventured into the Wild West town of Tombstone to check out their holiday festivities.
For Halloween, we drove into the town of St. Helens, Oregon — also known as “Halloweentown,” where the iconic movie was made (and which recreates the movie’s town each year).
Our plans leading up to Christmas include going to the Bavarian village of Leavenworth, Washington, for their annual Christkindl Market and visiting the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm.
We’ll also be riding the Polar Express steam train in the Washingtonian town of Chehalis.
And, sometimes, we find a way to combine the new and unfamiliar with the comfort of loved ones.
For our daughter’s seventh birthday in May, we invited another full-time traveling family we bonded with during our travels to join us in the mountain town of Idyllwild, California. There, we hosted a birthday party with our new friends and their kids, after which we joined other campers to roast s’mores and sing karaoke.
We routed our travels in August to spend Labor Day weekend at California’s Lake McClure, and we will again in November to include Thanksgiving with family friends in western Oregon.
Don’t worry, protective mamas and papas — the kids did not have the keys to these jet skis, much to their chagrin.
Last Christmas, we spent Christmas and New Year’s in Florida with my cousin and his family, along with a few (hundred thousand!) fellow Potterheads at Universal Studios’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Yes, copious amounts of butterbeer were consumed.
Figuring it out as we go
Do we ever miss our family and friends back home on these special occasions? Naturally! I’m a grown woman with two children of her own, and I still always associate the warmth and loveliness of the holidays with my mama.
Another thing we’re still trying to hit our stride with? Holiday decorations. We so relished the production of untucking ornaments, garlands, and other holiday bits and baubles from their storage receptacles each season.
It’s tricky enough figuring out where to put a Christmas tree in an RV, to say nothing of carving out storage space for bins of decor.
However, we know this adventure will fly by in the blink of an eye. Before we know it, we’ll be standing still again, and our time of rolling and growing and loving and laughing on the road will come to a close.
And wouldn’t it be a shame if we didn’t make the most of every minute while we could? So, we’ll keep doing just that, and having a happy holiday wherever we happen to land.