Towheads surveying vistas in National Parks. Toddlers chasing drones in the desert. Giggling girls playing in frothing waves. These photos slide across our view from the feeds of traveling friends. We love seeing the ways families raise their kids once out of the suburbs.
We’re in a different place. Our two kids are 16 and 18 and are starting to resent being called kids. Their attentions are turning from chasing bubbles to chasing goals.
They are starting to tense, to draw back, to gather energy in preparation for the leap into adulthood. What if constant travel doesn’t provide the solid footing necessary for that jump?
The Cost of Travel
It’s hard for a traveling teen to make money. It requires an entrepreneurial spirit that not every teen has. Sometimes that fast-food job is the perfect start to a working career.
It’s harder for a traveling teen to line up internships to explore a career. Internships are measured in months, not days. Telling a prospect that you’ll be gone next week is a sure-fire way to get passed over.
Use Your Brakes
If you travel with teens and face these issues maybe our solution will work for you.
Stop down for a season.
You might live on wheels or under sails but that doesn’t mean you have to use them.
It might be hard as the adult. You’ve spent years in one place. You worked hard to get mobile. Your wanderlust is still strong. But, you made the choice to start a family. You need to own up to that choice and do the right thing - the hard thing - for your kids.
Many campgrounds and RV parks offer “seasonal campsites” - where you buy one site to park your RV on for the entire camping season.
Benefits of a Seasonal Campsite
We’ve just moved onto on a seasonal campsite in mid-Michigan. We’ll be here for five months - long enough for the kids to find summer jobs and internships. This is our second year of being “seasonals” here. It has the advantages of:
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Cheaper RentLike so many things in life “buy in bulk” applies here too. The more nights you buy the cheaper per-night cost you will get. Our monthly rate is $375 which works out to about $12.50/day for a full hookup site. That’s cheap living.
Cheaper InternetMobile internet plans are expensive. Cable and DSL options are cheaper. We put our $100/mo mobile Verizon service on hold and bought $50/mo local cable internet. The faster download speed and bigger data cap (300GB on cable rather than 20GB on 4G) is a bonus. Maybe we’ll save more money by streaming movies rather than renting them.
Cheaper Fuel BillsAs a fulltime nomad you often trade a mortgage for a fuel bill. Driving less we’ll use less gas. Not towing the RV when we do drive increases our average fuel mileage.
Cheaper GroceriesFood is a big expense for traveling families. You can’t buy in bulk because you don’t have the storage. By not moving we can be smarter about when and where we buy groceries. We can also put a dorm-style fridge outside for more capacity.
- Boat Launch
- Summer festival
- Farmers Market
- Local groceries
- Dozens of potential employers for kids
- Humane Society
- Parents cottage
- River Kayaking
RelativesOur spot is 16 miles from my parents house. We’ve been able to provide help when they needed it. I’ve been able to use my Dad’s shop and tools for trailer upgrades and repairs.
Fellow SeasonalsThe park’s other seasonals are a great chance to build community. Make friends during the summer, then look them up down south in the winter!
VolunteersBeing in one place for months will allow you to find volunteer opportunities. We’ve helped with local parades, car shows, and food kitchens.
Big Work ProjectsSay, like, oh I don’t know - writing a book? Travel can sometimes distract you from ambitious work or personal goals that need daily tending.
RV Repairs or ModsAs a seasonal camper you’ll can get away with more projects in the campground. You’ll also have more time to get them done.
ExerciseIt’s hard to get fit or train for endurance events while traveling a lot. Stopping down for a season and having a daily routine can help you drop those pounds.
Make sure you don’t end up in a seasonal spot that’s too remote. You don’t want to end up all “suburban busy” again. Choose the right park and you can be close to both the kid’s jobs and the things that interest you. Picture our home in the middle of a set of concentric circles and we have:
300 Yards Away
1 Mile Away
3 Miles Away
20 Miles Away
We don’t always think it takes a village to raise a child. Yet - there are benefits to being close to a village. In that village are the employers your teens will need for their jobs and internships. Seasonal campsites can provide other community-building opportunities:
Let’s face it - most traveling kids are going to start their working career by getting a “regular” job. Stopping down travel for a season gives them a chance to practice having a daily schedule. Having more regular days can also help with other personal goals: