We had a new friend over for a visit this morning and offered her blueberry pancakes and coffee for brunch. As a past world traveler and fellow “freejourner,” she made a sweet comment about how we eat “fancy,” compared to the “grub” she fixed when she traveled.
It got me thinking.
When we thought about taking this trip, we very quickly decided that we’d just focus on the western US, travel in our car (not an RV), and stay in places for up to a month at a time. I have no idea why I immediately suggested that, but it just seemed to make sense. And we got lucky.
It’s been the best way for our family to live “successfully” on the road. We are not just vacationing for a year. We are living, working, and schooling. Real life.
So, choosing to live in a city for a month has been so awesome. I’d recommend it to anyone.
Benefits of One Month
Housing is cheaper when you book for a month at a time. It increases exponentially when you book for one night compared to one month.
By living in a home vs. a hotel, we really get to feel like we actually moved in to a new city and neighborhood. It feels like home. We feel a part of the community and like a “local” person instead of a tourist or visitor. When we tell people we are staying in their town for a month, they are more eager to get to know us because there might be several opportunities to get together.
Our kids so far, really feel like they have lived in Spokane, Seattle, Salt Lake City, and Durango. They are almost like Army Brats. 🙂
Meeting Real People
One of my friends told me that she is amazed at how easily we meet “real people” and really end up forming friendships in the places we visit. I really think that is because we have stayed for a month in each place. Part of the friendships happen because of the “behind the scenes” work I do to set up potential opportunities, but part of it is just serendipitous – being in the right place at the right time.
One thing I do when we are heading to a new place is to Google if the city has a Yahoo Group or a Facebook Group Page for homeschoolers. I try to join if they allow.
Through those groups, we were able to visit the park days regularly in Spokane and Seattle, hanging out with many homeschool families. In Spokane, Don was able to give a talk to local families on entrepreneurship because of a mom I met at a park day. In Salt Lake City, one mom invited us over for Christmas Caroling and then brunch. Another mom invited us to a local Children’s play, ice skating and then ornament decorating at her home. I count all of those invitations like GOLD. I respect and appreciate anyone who goes out of their way to connect with people like us who are just passing through.
In Salt Lake City and here in Durango, I’ve done a bit of research to find opportunities for our kids to play sports. They missed playing on a soccer team this fall season and had gotten a bit out of shape once winter hit. So, I signed them up for an indoor soccer league in each city. It’s been an awesome way to meet people and to get in a weekly work out. The games have motivated our boys to run multiple times throughout the week as well, so they can hang during the games.
If you’ve ever moved to a new city, you understand what I mean when I say, “Everyone is a potential new friend.” And I mean everyone. The cashier at the grocery store or coffee shop, the stranger passing on the sidewalk, the family sitting next to you at dinner. I don’t know why, but we just take more initiative to talk to everyone – because we don’t know anyone! So, we’ve met some really cool people this way!
One of the kids’ favorite new friends from this trip is Justine, who we randomly met at Jimmy Johns in Spokane! Don was invited to a Happy Hour here in Durango by a guy we met the day before on a local hiking trail. We might go snowboarding with a group of families later this month because we started talking to the kids at the next-door table at Zia’s Taqueria! We really love meeting new friends. 🙂
But really, once we book our home and unpack our Honda Wanda, we live life just like most “normal” families like us. I go grocery shopping. We do laundry. I wipe down counters and sweep floors. Kids fix their beds and help with chores. I can make blueberry pancakes and coffee for guests. 😉
I search and look for local activities and attractions to hit when we can. We go to the library. (Libraries are an awesome place to visit and hang out as a homeschool family. And since we’ve been staying somewhere for a month at a time and have an address, we have been able to sign up for a temporary library card, which makes it fun for the kids to check out new books or DVD’s.)
We walk around the neighborhood. We go to parks and find hiking trails. We eat at home around the kitchen table when I am motivated and plan meals, or we search Yelp for a restaurant with one dollar sign and 4+ stars to eat out!
Our weekly routines are pretty typical for an entrepreneurial, homeschooling family like ours. Don yells out to the kids that he’s jumping in a meeting, so we all get quiet. The kids plug away at their daily checklists and readings while I juggle projects, readings, math help, and meals. They take little breaks by making puzzles or stop-motion videos or watching snowboarding pros on youtube. We come together at lunch time for a quick meal and then break up again for more work. But once we see the sun beginning to set, we are all itchy to get outside for a hike or run.
We just can’t let the day pass without some time in nature, some perspective from the great outdoors.
It’s just how we roll. We settle in.
The biggest surprise for me this year has been how “normal” life feels. Same story. Different setting. Beautiful memories.