Our Top 20 Adventures from 6 Years RVing the USA as a Family

6 Years?!?  This week marks six years since we handed our house keys to a friend and hit the road in an RV. For a year.

Yea, about that “for a year” thing.

That was the plan.

Well, kinda.

We suspected we might be gone longer. But we had to put a constraint around the idea - mainly to help ease family concerns and buy stuff. It’s easier to choose an RV “for a year” than “forever”.

We’re six years into that one year trip and still going. Why did one year become six?

There’s more to see. More to do. And more people to meet.

To celebrate our “nomadversary” and help give potential ditchers an idea of what might happen out there on the road we’re putting two lists out.

We’ll start with the good list.

We talked as a family. We scanned old blog posts. We thought about the stories that we end up telling people.

Out of that work we present our top 20 adventures from six years traveling as a family.

1. Swimming with Manatees in Florida

Snorkeling alone was adventure enough for us - we had never done it. Snorkeling with these gentle giants was a magical experience and the photo of Miranda reaching out to touch a young Manatee is one of my all-time favorites.

2. Kayaking

It’s funny - we’ve been on and off again about using our kayaks, but when I think back to some of our best outdoor adventures kayaking is always on the list. Our time kayaking with monkeys in Florida, kayaking the Great Dismal Swamp in North Carolina, and kayaking into Lake Pontchartrain Louisiana are my favorites.

3. Snorkeling in the Keys

Building on our new ability to snorkel we booked a snorkeling trip in Key Largo, Florida. We don’t often do “touristy” things. Seems like we are disappointed most times we do. Snorkeling in the Keys was the exception. It was reasonably priced, well organized, and we loved seeing all the different kinds of fish.

4. Surf Lessons in California

Taking surfing lessons in California was on our earliest bucket lists. The only lingering shadow over the day is that MsBoyink didn’t take part and wishes she had. We intend to go back and right that wrong in the future.

5. Jeeping in Moab, Utah

The biggest thing I gave up to get on the road was the 1964 CJ6 I owned and spent a lot of time working on. Being able to rent a Jeep in Moab, Utah helped me get over being Jeepless.

6. BMX Racing in Georgia

This one was all the kids’ doing. We were in a campground that happened to have a BMX track. They found out there was a race, decided to enter, modified their bikes to qualify, found helmets to borrow, and went BMX racing.

7. Houseboating on the Mississippi River

Renting a houseboat on the Mississippi was a long-time dream of mine. After selling our house we could finally afford to do it. It was a bit different than we expected, but we talk about that experience a lot still.

8. Caravanning with Keiters

We heard about other families grouping up and traveling together, but we never expected to find that ourselves. What are the odds that you’ll meet a family where the parents get along, the kids get along, and travel plans can work together?  It happened, and our time caravanning with the Keiters is very special to us.

9. Building our Own Neighborhood in Florida

As suburbia-ditchers we are usually around people who don’t really “get us”. Retired fulltime RVers, vacationing families, work-a-day families, we are kinda all of these and none of them at the same time. Being able to create our own neighborhood with other members of our tribe who “get it” was a memorable time.

10. Living with Llamas, Goats, Sheep, Pigs, Horses, and Miniature Donkeys in Texas

Other than a dog, we never owned any animals. Our time on an animal rescue ranch changed us. We came away with a greater love for animals - especially the miniature donkeys. MsBoyink loved being able to take out her food scraps and feed the animals over the fence.

11. Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico

We’ve been to several National Parks, but our visit to Carlsbad Caverns stands out as one of the most memorable. I remember walking into one of the rooms that slowly revealed its size and hearing Miranda let out a soft “ooooooh…wow”. Her reaction gave me goosebumps at the time and made all of our work to travel fulltime worth it.

12. Tent Rocks, New Mexico

We’re not hardcore hikers (it’s constantly on our list to get better at). Tent Rocks was easily our most enjoyable hike ever. Slot Canyons, dramatic views, and all within a couple of miles made it a perfect fit for us.

13. Driving the Great River Road

Most of our travels are single destinations strung together. Our drive of the Great River Road which follows the Mississippi River from top to bottom was different in that the experience was all about the drive.

Highlights of the drive were Curling Lessons in St. Paul, Minnesota, Sun Studio in Memphis, The City Museum in St. Louis, and the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Arkansas.

14. Desert Presentation in Mesa, Arizona

This story about Miranda learning enough about the Sonoran Desert to give ranger-type talks on it is one of my favorite examples of roadschooling ever. She sourced the opportunity, took on all the learning, and agreed to give the presentation without any direction from us.

15. Kinston, North Carolina

If you grew up watching “On The Road” with Charles Kuralt you might think fulltime RVing in the USA will always consist of finding little out of the way towns, meeting the residents, and uncovering interesting little stories.

It’s not. Not always.

But sometimes it is.

Our time in Kinston, North Carolina is the best example of that. Cheap camping, town celebrations, Civil War history, and hanging with reality TV show stars - all in a little tobacco town in North Carolina.

16. Treasure Hunt in Florida

People are amazing. The time, work, money and attention to detail that someone we had just met put into creating this treasure hunt still chokes me up if I think about it too long.

17. Roadside America Attractions

We’re cheap. We don’t have a huge budget for visiting museums and attractions. We love Roadside America for finding local oddball attractions that are often cheap or free. We’ve used the app in our home state of Michigan, in California, South Dakota, New Mexico and more.

18. Ringing Rocks, Pennsylvania

I love a good mystery. And I love finding places that aren’t covered on every travel blog out there. The Ringing Rocks of Pennsylvania tick all those boxes. Even better - it’s free.

19. Tidepooling at Tongue Point, Washington

Any time someone asks for photos of our travels I always include one from our time spent Tidepooling at Tongue Point outside of Port Angeles, Washington. Scrambling around wet mussel-covered rocks, finding sea life that we’d never seen in-person before, all with the deadline of the incoming tide made for a memorable experience.

20. Meeting & Making Friends

Any “list of the good parts about travel” has to include people, and ours is no different. Whether it’s camping with old friends in New Mexico, making new friends in North Carolina, time together by design in Florida, or backtracking to meet a friend of a friend - it’s always the people that leave the lasting impressions.

Bonus - Finding Lily

This one is from Miranda. One of Miranda’s greatest frustrations with life on the road is not being able to have a dog (we know many families do it, but it’s just not for us while traveling).

While in a county campground outside of Miami a stray dog adopted Miranda. So it was her way of having a dog for a couple of days.

So There!

This wasn’t an easy list to make. There have been so many adventures, memorable stops, and new friends made. It’s hard to whittle them down to any number.

Reel to Real

But we want to paint a realistic picture. Life on the road hasn’t been all adventure. We’ve had challenges as well. Read Our Top 10 Travel Challenges From 6 Years RVing the USA as a Family.

6 Comments Our Top 20 Adventures from 6 Years RVing the USA as a Family

  1. Picture of Hennie Hennie September 27, 2016

    We hope to do this in a few years when we retire. Your experiences would be helpful with planning.

  2. Picture of Linda McElroy Linda McElroy September 27, 2016

    Wht happened to Lily? She is so adorable!! AND…your top 20 gave me goosebumps…we are in the process of getting our house ready to sell, and full time RV…you have inspired us into fast tracking it…

  3. Picture of Michael Boyink Michael Boyink September 27, 2016

    Thanks Hennie.

    Linda - we tried and failed to get Animal Control to pick up Lily, so unfortunately had to lead her off close to some people and get her to stay while we went back to the campsite.  It was a hard lesson but we were out of options.

  4. Picture of Joel K. Joel K. September 28, 2016

    #9 is one of my all-time favorite life experiences. That week, followed by the two and a half months that we spent hanging out with you all and the Shanks will always be something that I look back on with fondness.

  5. Picture of Don Don October 03, 2016

    Congratulations on 6 years of full-time travel! Thanks for sharing this list. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to get it down to 20.

  6. Picture of Michael Boyink Michael Boyink October 03, 2016

    No, it wasn’t. We keep thinking of other things…;)

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