Hannah’s note: We’ve been in Pittsburgh now for a few weeks. This is the longest we’ve stayed stationary since we started RVing almost a year ago! It’s been great to get in lots of quality time with our family and friends, and it’s been so nice for Tim and I to have built-in babysitters for Calla! We are getting spoiled and realize that getting back on the road will be quite a shock to the system! As of now we plan to stay here until mid-July then head back out West, but keeping north this time. Read more about our plans at the end of this post.
Today I’m so excited to feature another full-time RVing family – Jess, Chris, and Jonah of Life on Larson!
Tell me about yourself. Who are you? Who do you travel with?
We are Chris and Jess of Life on Larson. Creative wanderers at heart. Lovers of new experiences. Appreciators of deep conversations and meaningful connections. Voracious eaters of sushi and pho. Smellers of peonies. Wannabe minimalists and conscious humans. Cravers of mountains and oceans. Traveling with our three-year-old, Jonah, and our two King Charles Cavaliers (Henry and Louie).
How long have you been RVing?
We moved into our RV for full-time living in February 2018.
What was your catalyst for starting the full-time RV lifestyle?
Gosh, I feel like our story probably begins similarly to many others. There we were in our thirties, second-time homeowners, parents, working jobs we felt luke warm about. Doing the day to day that conventional culture would tell us was “normal.”
From the outside, we probably looked successful and happy, but inside we were dying. We were bored. We were uninspired. We felt completely trapped by obligation and responsibility and debt. It’s like we woke up one day and asked ourselves, “Is this it? Is this all there is?”
We had been trying to downsize and minimize our life for a while, especially after watching the Minimalism documentary, and felt inspired to own less stuff so we could experience more life.
While we were on that journey we stumbled upon nomadic living and travel via the Keep Your Daydream Podcast. At that time, I had no idea that there were people living in RVs and traveling full-time. But the first time we discovered it, we were like, “Yes. This is what we’ve been looking for. This is the next thing for us.” From then on, we put all of our efforts into moving toward nomadic life. It took us about a year total and we hit the road in February and haven’t looked back.
What is your rig?
We have a 35 foot Winnebago Sightseer 35J, which is a bunkhouse model.
Did you do anything to renovate your RV? If so, what?
Nothing. We had some fancy ideas and we still may do a few small things. But we’ve decided that that’s not where we want to put our time or resources at this stage in the game.
We did have to have a bit of work done on our car in order to tow it. We had to have the whole front bumper modified in order to install our tow bar, as well as having a supplemental braking system installed (something we subsequently found out we did not need.)
What are your “must see” destination(s)?
Places we are dying to go: Banff, Glacier, Yosemite, and we are dying to stay on the coast of the PNW at some point.
Places we’ve been and loved: Joshua Tree NP, Grand Canyon, Seal Beach (CA)
What advice would you give to someone considering the full time RV lifestyle?
Lofty advice (ha!): One of the mottos we live by is – What is the worst case scenario of _______ situation?? If you are sitting on the fence, just do it. Try it. What is the worst case scenario? Maybe you won’t like it. Then you stop doing it.
I’ll be willing to bet that no matter the outcome, you’ll learn things about yourself that you never knew before, you learn how to do things you can’t even imagine, you’ll see things you didn’t know existed. Your world will expand by just participating in the doing of the thing. It will change you. And, whether or not you like it or continue doing it, you will grow and evolve because of it, you’ll see the world just a little bit different than you did before and that’s what makes it worth it.
Practical advice: Definitely get a camping membership. Check out what works best for you or aligns most with what you’re wanting. But we saved tons of $$ by utilizing our memberships (we have Thousand Trails, Passport America, Good Sam and Harvest Hosts.)
What are the best and worst parts of life on the road?
Good question! For us the best parts are a little bit of what I talked about in the last question, how our worlds have evolved. How we have evolved. How we have grown individually and as a family. But also, how much time we get to spend together making truly memorable experiences. I can’t believe the things we done, seen, experienced, overcome together in such a short period of time. And it’s only been 4 months!
I also love how free we feel. Free to roam. Free to stay or go. It’s been pretty amazing. My words fall short.
The worst part for us was really just the driving. I was surprised to find out that both Jonah and I do not travel well in the motorhome. We both get a little carsick. Our first leg of the trip, it would take us an additional day to recover once we made it to a destination.
Eventually we switched so that Jonah and I would drive our tow car separately. We ended up spending more in gas money, but we were able to travel nausea free. Jonah would even nap in his carseat (something he absolutely would not do in the motorhome, even in his carseat) and then I could pop on a podcast or an audio book.
It ended up being a little less stressful for Chris to drive the motorhome without us in it as well. I think it was just less pressure on him keeping us safe so he felt less anxious. Win win win!
Do you have any pets? If so, what is it like to travel in an RV with pets?
Yes. We have two pups. Travel with them has been great. I was most worried about leaving them during the day when we were exploring warm locations. But we just leave our AC running on low and they’re fine. They loved being able to explore the woods as well, especially when we were boondocking near the Grand Canyon’s south rim.
And we never ran into an issue having them with us at RV parks. There was a park we stayed at in Anaheim that came in and walked them for us and played with them while we were at Disneyland all day. That was nice.
Do you work on the road? How has traveling changed your day-to-day work life?
Yes. Chris is a full-time musician and I am a part-time musician and full-time website and branding designer and photographer. I was working fully from home before we hit the road, so it wasn’t a crazy transition for me.
But finding reliable wifi is important and that can be a little tricky at times. We use a WeBoost to boost cell signal and a Red Port Halo Wifi Extender to boost wifi signal we get at RV parks and those seem to work well for us. I have to be a little more communicative with my clients about when I can be available and what are reasonable timelines for getting work back to them. Sometimes we won’t have great service, sometimes we will be in an area that we want to explore so I won’t be available for a few days.
It’s all about keeping people in the loop so that they know the expectations and the making sure that I follow through with what I say. It doesn’t always work, but I’m really lucky that I have amazing clients who are gracious and supportive of our lifestyle. That’s also the beauty of owning your own business. I get to make the rules and set the timelines. If I want to take a day off to go to the beach with my family, I do.
We didn’t book any shows on the road for Chris our first time out, but we will be booking shows for him when we leave again for the west coast in November. It’ll be our first venture with out of state booking for his solo stuff. We are excited to test it out and see how it goes.
If you travel with children, what’s that like? Is it much different from raising your kids in a house?
There are some pretty amazing differences that we’ve noticed so far. I mean, do we have fewer normal toddler outbursts?? No. Some things don’t change no matter where or how you live.
But, we are spending more of our time having experiences together. We are spending more time outside. We are spending less time running to this event, or that birthday party, or that activity that our three-year-old just *has* to participate in for their development.
And our kid is…well…normal. He enjoys talking to people, meeting new friends, running around a playground or a new library, exploring a new zoo, hiking a trail in the woods. And as much as I’d like to say that he got tons of time to just play outside and run free when we lived in a house, he didn’t get nearly as much as he does now, because we live in 250 square feet and we just naturally spend more time outside then we did before. It’s been real good.
The only challenge we’ve really faced is finding more families and kids on the road to interact with. We’d love to be more intentional about this our next time out.
Anything else you’d like to share?
If you’re interested in living nomadically, I think that anyone can figure out what works best for them. For us, we are from MN, it is our home state. It is where most of our family and friends reside. It’s also where all of our summer music gigs are. So our plan is to travel other parts of the US from November until April and then be here in the summers/fall to work and spend time with our families. It works for us. And it allows us to experience the best of both worlds.
But, as with anything in life, it’s all about deciding what you want to do and then taking the baby steps to making it a reality. We believe that no dream is too big or too small. Whether that’s RVing, or starting a business, or traveling more, or changing jobs, or spending more time with your family, or buying a house, or trying a new hobby. You can ABSOLUTELY do it. And you can start making it happen TODAY. Let no person or thing or societal norm tell you it’s not possible.