Community on the road. Can it happen? Will we find friends for our kids? Is there an app for that?
An RVing mom emailed us this week and asked:
I was hoping you could direct me to a discussion board or somewhere where families state where they will be and able to meet up. I have a 7 and 9 year old that would love to meet some friends on the road.DitchingSuburbia Email Inbox
Traveling families have a unique lifestyle. It can be fun and rewarding to meet with traditional suburban families and talk about the advantages of travel.
But sometimes you just want to hang with your peeps.
People who get it.
You want to share your struggles with how to do church on the road. Or how to deal with family and friends back home who aren’t yet on board with your lifestyle change.
And you want friends for your kids. Friends from like-minded families with similar experiences, values and viewpoints.
How do you find and meet other traveling families?
How to Find Other RV Families
Here’s our list of tools and tips for finding other traveling families:
RV Family Instagrammers
Suburban Sheep Shirt
If you have the same slightly sarcastic sense of humor as we do this may be the shirt for you. This design is both a commentary on suburban living and a declaration of your intent to leave it.
Styles available: t-Shirts,and hoodies.
Colors available: black, royal blue, navy blue.
Most photos get geo-tagged or mention the location. If you see someone close by or where you are headed, leave them a comment and start the conversation. We’ve had a number of meetups initiated on Instagram.
New to Instagram? We’ve made it easy for you to find other Instagramming RV families.
Also - follow the DitchingSuburbia Instagram account. We primarily repost photos from other traveling families so it’s a great way to find others to follow.
RV Family Blogs
When we first started on the road I watched other blogs like a hawk. If a family that I thought we’d get along with posted about visiting a place that was close to us I’d send them an email and see if a meetup was possible.
Some people post their current location. Others post about the place they just left.
This is how we first met the Ticknor Tribe. They published a blog post from a place we were close to, so I emailed them and arranged a meetup.
But how do you find the blogs of other traveling families? Again, we’ve made that easy for you - we maintain the best blogroll of RV families you will find.
And of course, having a blog of your own will increase the odds of another family contacting you.
Love it or hate it, Facebook is a handy tool for finding other families.
Here are five Facebook groups to check out
- Our Ditching Suburbia Group
- Fulltime Families (open)
- Fulltime Families (members)
- Location Independent Families
You might have to be proactive and create a “where are you now” thread if there isn’t a current one.
The main reason we replaced the RV decals with our own was to make ourselves easy to find.
Put your blog URL or your IG handle on your truck and RV. You might be surprised with how often it leads to people knocking on your door asking “are you guys fulltimers too?” or saying “hey - we follow you guys online!”
Location and Season
Your odds of meeting another family has a lot to do with where you are in each season.
In the winter, traveling families chase the warm weather so end up south of I-10. Orlando, Austin/San Antonio, or Mesa/Phoenix are winter hotspots where families tend to congregate.
Spring is the toughest season. There’s no magic place to be that will increase your odds of finding other traveling families or camping families - so fall back on your social tools until summer.
Summer is camping season in most parts of the country. If you can locate yourself in “destination” parks (state parks, resort parks with lots of amenities, etc), there’s a good chance you’ll meet other families.
These won’t necessarily be fulltime traveling families - but if you are just after friends for your kids it will still help.
And, you can sell the camping folks on the benefits of becoming fulltime Ditchers . . .
Through the end of October and possibly early November many RV parks have seasonal activities going on. They do this to keep families camping past the start of school and make a bit more money on their season.
Our unofficial home park in West Michigan has a fall weekend with hayrides, trick or treating, pumpkin carving, and a community pancake breakfast.
Being in a place for special fall weekends is another way to find playmates for your kids. Just be forewarned - these weekends often book out in advance so you’ll need to plan ahead.
Hit the Brakes
Remember this scene from Top Gun?
If you aren’t able to connect with other families because everyone is a moving target, hit the brakes.
Stop down for a couple of months, and let the other families come to you.
We took a camphosting job in a popular park for families in Mesa, AZ one winter and enjoyed lots of meetups as people came through.
Adapt Your Route
You may have to sit down as a family and make some tough decisions about your route. Is it off to another National Park? Or more time spent camping alongside another traveling family?
We once went from Michigan to Texas via Washington DC because it meant more time with caravanning friends.
We met those friends because they found our blog and got in touch (see!?).
Another way to meet a whole bunch of traveling families at once is by attending a Fulltime Families Rally.
We recently attended our first rally. We learned a few things.
Many families use the Thousand Trails membership system to save money on camping fees. Joining Thousand Trails to increase your odds of meeting other families might be worthwhile for you.
We tried the Thousand Trails system, but didn’t like it.
Once you’ve met a few families you get along with, you can build your own neighborhood.
It takes some advance planning, but the efforts are all worthwhile when you can share meals, campfires, movies, and deep conversations with your tribe.
Isn’t There An App?
My smartphone knows where I am. Maybe if we all share our locations to a Google map we can more easily find each other to meet up?
That’s how it starts. In our years on the road we’ve seen several attempts at creating an app or some kind of technology based solution to finding other nomadic families. They have all failed. Here’s our reasons why.
For us, life on the road has blessed us with more friends and deeper friendships than what we had in the suburbs.
What’s it been like for you?
Have you found your tribe, or are you still looking?