I don’t really like planning. I have a lot more fun figuring things out as I go and seeing what happens. It makes life spontaneous, but it can also be stressful. That’s why I like the balance I have with Sonya, who is wonderfully opposite of me. She can put great plans together which has made our travels much nicer.
We have had our blend of both figuring it out and having something to count on. I think that captures a bit of the freejourner experience.
Ultimately, we value mobility, and I will talk more about this in another post. For now I thought I would share a bit about our experiences staying in different places on the road. It has taught our kids to be adaptable, and they love the adventure of it all.
This is my favorite way to road trip. I love waking up to birds outside and feeling cold crisp morning air with some coffee. We have camped in some rural spots and had flowing water to listen to and enjoy.
I am pretty picky about my gear and have tried out a lot of things. I tend to minimize (as with most things) but go big. I like great design and functionality that has a small footprint. So everything from our tents to cooking gear have been thought through. You can see more of our gear here on Sonya’s Pinterest.
There are campsites all over in beautiful places, and we use Allstays to find them while we are driving around to different destinations. There are a range of setups. Some places are more like resorts with pools, game rooms and entertainment. Others are the bare necessity.
The main thing is to have gear that is easy to set up and that you enjoy using. We pack ours in our roof box and access it when we decide to spend a few nights somewhere.
We have stayed at different hotels along the road. When we were up in Jasper, Canada, the kids joined me in the adventure to find a vacant room in a small town nestled in the Canadian Rockies in the middle of the night. We found one for a couple hundred dollars a night (ah, supply and demand) with booming bass rocking our room from below. We all slept from our tiredness and were grateful for a roof over our head.
On overnight hotels, the kids have found the magic of traveling with their Tom Bihn backpacks. We pull up and they simply put on their backpack with their whole life in it and we go to the room. They put their stuff into a corner and have their own toiletries put out, and we are off exploring the city we are staying in or grabbing a bite to eat using Yelp.
We plan on staying at Marriott Residence Inns when we are doing some shorter stays in other cities. They have more of an apartment feel with amenities we enjoy as a family.
Being mobile with our stuff and ready to pack in and out of rooms with a five person family has been a huge stress reducer. I think it removes the burden of having to track and move stuff around. We do laundry frequently and are pretty content with living with less on the road. There have been plenty of times we have jumped in and out of an overnight place because of the one bag travel we have all adopted.
I never knew what a yurt was before. Apparently a large population on our planet uses them. I think of them as a cylindrical simple cabin. It is minimally designed and keeps out the elements.
We enjoyed this whole experience with a couple of bunk beds at Glacier National Park. Our sleeping and reading were inside. Our cooking and fun were outside. It’s like luxury camping, and it forces you to be out in nature. I like the whole setup, and we would do this again if there opportunity arises.
I think it’s important to have a great camp stove to make it easy to manage meals and clean up. It makes the experience a bit more efficient.
We are now in a neighborhood that has been great for our kids. They ride bikes around the whole place, and we have even made some great family friends. It reminds us of our Austin neighborhood and how special it was to be out and know our neighbors. It was very “all-American.”
We will likely be in different situations like city living, apartments or more of a kids’ type neighborhood like we have here in Spokane now.
The one thing we found is that there are many options. By using Craigslist, VRBO and other local sites or homeschool groups, we were able to connect with people that wanted to rent their place. We told our story, and it made sense and built trust with the people we talked with. There is plenty of available short-term housing around. It takes a bit of sifting through the inventory to figure out what will work.
For us, having kids at the ages they are at means needing space to play. We are looking for other kids in a neighborhood, fields to run in, and trails nearby to explore.
We are grateful for the new friends we meet as well. I know as an army brat that friendship means depth and authenticity, not necessarily time on the clock together. We have found this and can sense we are making some great lifelong friends.
A Roof Over Our Heads
Well, one thing that living in one place for a long time can do is make housing seem like an entitlement. We can take it for granted. Having a warm, safe place to lay our heads and get peace and rest is something we talk about as a family. It’s neat to break it apart and make an adventure of the next places to stay. We are learning how to be more efficient and look forward to the unknown places and people we will meet.