Full-Time RVer Feature: The Fitzgerald Family

Hannah’s note: Hello from I-70 just west of St. Louis. I’m blogging on the road today, literally. 60MPH, baby! I’m so happy to share Sarah, Brad, and their girls with you. We met them while boondocking in Moab, Utah and I’m pretty sure it was fate. They’ve been on the road for a year longer than us, and Sarah has been an awesome mentor to me, both in motherhood and in living this crazy life on the road. I hope you enjoy their wisdom!

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Tell me about yourself. Who are you? Who do you travel with?

We are a family of 4 from Wenatchee, Washington.

Brad is a 36 year old graphic designer who keeps the family financially afloat. He’s a work-life balance guru and avid trail runner who keeps our family operating smoothly with his master skills at to-do lists, punctuality, and beard-trimming.

Sarah is a 35 year old recovering busyness-addict. Her 11+ years of professional experience as a recreation coordinator, her passion for new experiences, and her ability to talk people into anything all work together to empower her as the family enthusiast for all things. In order to maintain her enthusiasm, however, she requires at least 10 hours of sleep each night.

Sunny is an 8 year old spit-fire. When she’s not creating something out of legos on the camper floor, you’ll most likely find her with her nose in a Harry Potter book. She only does life at 120% everything, has earned a Jr. orange belt in karate, and could talk a lawyer in circles in any argument. She’s a walking encyclopedia of animal facts (homeschool helps, but it’s mostly thanks for Wild Kratts) and has never seen a stuffed animal that isn’t cute.

Coral is an old soul & a sweet heart, in 5 year old body. She was born with the ability to communicate and empathize with everyone she meets. Her quick wit and expressive stories keep us all laughing even on the most difficult days. Her life-long love for walruses has encouraged us to assemble an interesting collection of unusual toys, and her recent hobby of rock collecting has earned her the title “Pebble Pup.”

It’s hard to be away from your people on holidays…so make up your own traditions! Family selfies from our Day 100 Celebration, Oregon Coast, Mobius Arch near Mt Whitney, and Times Square.

How long have you been RVing?

We launched in August 2016

What was your catalyst for starting the full-time RV lifestyle?

Brad & I had dreamed of a mobile lifestyle for years after he started his own Graphic Design business in 2007. It was a shared dream, but there were always a million reasons that it seemed unattainable – I had a full-time job that I loved, we were devoted to our church and close-knit community, having 2 babies and the subsequent exhaustion…

But one day it just clicked – we were ready to try new things on every front, and suddenly the only reason not to try this dream was fear. We spent months talking through plans, scenarios, budgets, before we (secretly) took the plunge and purchased our RV.

State 48! (We had our first tire change on the side of the interstate the very same day…woohoo!)

What is your rig?

We purchased a 2002 Keystone Cougar 5th Wheel bunkhouse, and we have ZERO regrets about the purchase. It seemed perfect for us at the time, and after living in it for 21 months we’ve yet to see anything that seems more appealing.

Our 5th Wheel, Stumbo

Did you do anything to renovate your RV? If so, what?

Nope – only some cosmetic updates after living in it for more than a year!

Legos, Legos, everywhere!!

What are your “must see” destination(s)?

When we launched, I was so excited to see the Golden Gate Bridge, Niagara Falls, Delicate Arch (we had previously visited Arches but had missed this one), Glacier National Park, Mesa Verde, and a moose in the wild. Sunny (our oldest) wanted to see the Grand Canyon, the Big Spike (Washington Monument), and the Statue of Liberty. Coral wanted to see a walrus. (This is harder than one might think.) I’m happy to say that we’ve hit all of those landmarks, but some of the best moments have definitely happened in between those “mountain tops”.

Sunny practicing her karate at White Sands N. M.

As far as recommendations, I would say it doesn’t matter as much where you go as just exploring and learning as much as possible where ever you end up. Some of our favorite places have been the Oregon coast and California Redwoods, pretty much all of southern Utah, the Santa Fe area, Glacier National Park, the Tetons, and Sedona, AZ.  We also had a blast in Joshua Tree National Park, Chincoteague, VA, and Custer State Park in South Dakota.  There’s just so much beautiful and interesting stuff to see that it’s impossible to really pick favorites. You’ll just have to hit the road and see it all for yourself!

Brad at the Wave

What advice would you give to someone considering the full time RV lifestyle?

Don’t let fear keep you from following your dreams. If you can manage a stable life in sticks & bricks, you’ll be able to do it on the road as well. I would also say don’t over-spend out of fear either! Get out there and see what you need – you can purchase items to support the lifestyle as you go. (For example, we’ve been on the road for 21 months and have boondocked for dozens of nights, but we don’t have a generator and just bought a solar panel last week!)

Lastly, it won’t hurt your kids to miss out on the traditional milestones back at home. Full-time travel gives your kids gifts that you can’t experience when you stay in one place. “Normal” life will always be available to them…show them the world if/when you can!

Coral at Coral Pink Sand Dunes

 

What are the best and worst parts of life on the road?

Best: all that family time!

Worst: all that family time!

We have loved how much we’ve all learned about our country – the geology, the history, the cultures. We frequent the Jr Ranger Programs at National Parks and Science Museums to augment our homeschooling, and we’ve all learned so much more about the world! We’ve also had the joy of reconnecting with countless friends and extended family; these refreshed relationships will continue to be a gift in our lives long after our travel is finished.

The toughest part is being away from the “comforts” of home – for me personally that means my tribe of girlfriends, holiday traditions, and the simplicity of a home wifi connection.

Sunny & Coral in the Atlantic Ocean, riding jackalope, Redwoods N. P., and Lake Powell.

Do you work on the road? How has traveling changed your day-to-day work life?

Yes – Brad works full time and I now work part-time.

Brad has become much more flexible with his routines. He often works more on weekends so that we can enjoy smaller crowds at recreation sites mid-week. He’s been known to take a conference call from the passenger seat of our F250 while the rest of us ride quietly in the background – back at home he would never have accepted that kind of distracting environment as an option for work. He also works more in the evenings than he ever did previously because we often do activities as a family in the afternoons.

My part-time work schedule lends itself well to our no-routine routine. I find moments to work whenever the opportunity presents itself – whether it’s in the morning while the girls procrastinate on their school work by playing legos instead, or in the afternoons when Brad takes the girls on a hike.

If you travel with children, what’s that like? Is it much different from raising your kids in a house?

Sometimes it feels like we are all living in a tiny box and we can’t get away from each other. The frustration of always being together is real. But I have to remind myself that I would get exasperated with them even if we had 10 times the space in a sticks & bricks house – parenting is just exhausting no matter where you are. On the other hand, we have had so many amazing experiences together this year, and we have all learned new strategies for getting along and new coping mechanisms for negative experiences. I wouldn’t trade all this extra time with them at these young ages for anything. For now, they still want to be around Brad & I all the time, and I know that dynamic is fleeting. I’m so glad we got to have this adventure as a family before they were too old to happily be along for the ride.

We love Jr. Ranger Programs!

The biggest difference is just that we have no additional support for childcare, so Brad & I can never do things without them. We didn’t often make time for that before traveling, though, so I think it’s something that easy to complain about, but isn’t really that different from life before.

In fact, because we now have no outside commitments (work, church, friends, volunteering, etc.) the 2 of us spend every single evening together after the girls are in bed. We also spend hours sitting side by side in the truck as we travel across the country. For these reasons, the first year of full-time RV life was the best year of marriage for us so far! It was our lucky #13.

Brad showing the girls the world, in D.C., Chicago Art Museum, and Death Valley N.P.

Anything else you’d like to share?

It will be difficult and exhausting, but it will be worth it!

How can our readers find you?

www.amanneroftraveling.us

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