Something to be considered for people wanting to take their life on the road, especially those of us with young children, is how will the holidays be celebrated. We are not a very religious family, but we do celebrate many traditional American holidays. In our decision to take our life on the road we still wanted to provide our children with the fun and excitement of celebrating holidays along with their birthdays. Although where we celebrate them and the ways in which we celebrate them will vary, it is great that we are still able to participate in them no matter where we happen to be. We planned on being with grandparents for Christmas, but hadn’t really considered where we would be or how we would celebrate other holidays. Birthdays on the road were also not something we had taken into consideration when planning this adventure. It is hard to plan for everything, however; birthdays are not too difficult. We just let the kids pick something unique, fun, and kid friendly in the area we plan to be for their birthday. I still make them a cake or special treat and we get them a small gift, something useful or something they need, but mainly it’s about the experience. Other holidays have taken a little more planning, but we always figure it out and so far it has always been fun and a new experience. So with a little planning and a big sense of adventure holidays on the road have been fun and exciting!
Our first big holiday on the road was Halloween. This just happens to be my favorite holiday because who doesn’t love free candy! We ended up staying in San Diego CA for this holiday which is an awesome place to be in October, especially for families. It is great for two reasons the first is because they have some of the safest neighborhoods for trick-or-treating and the second is that for the entire month kids get in free to all kinds of major attractions. This includes the San Diego Zoo, Seaworld, and Legoland. We try to save money and tend to be a very frugal family, but we had been planning to take the kids to Legoland for a while so it worked out really well. The kids only get in free with a paying adult (always a catch), but we wanted to go too anyway. Being there during the month of October saved us quite a bit of money and allowed us to see all three of the major attractions for much less than if we had paid for all five of us during any other month. The added bonus was that the weather was beautiful; the kids didn’t even have to wear coats over their costumes! We just chose a neighborhood near where we were staying and let the kids trick-or-treat. They also got to wear their costumes to Seaworld and do some trick-or-treating while enjoying the park. There was a small pumpkin patch near where we were staying so we took the kids to check it out and got some pumpkins to carve too. It was nice getting to do some of our families traditional Halloween things like dressing up, carving pumpkins, and trick-or-treating, while still getting to do some new things like visiting Seaworld and Legoland. Our first Halloween on the road was a success. I have no idea where we will be this year for Halloween, but I am sure it will be somewhere new.
Thanksgiving is all about a big meal and I do love to cook, but big meals and small kitchens don’t really mix. One small oven, hand washing every dish, and limited table and counter space were making me hesitant about preparing a Thanksgiving meal like I usually do. The ovens in RVs can really only cook one thing at a time which was another limiting factor to preparing a big meal. So we started looking into restaurants that would serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Our travels had us in Albuquerque New Mexico for Thanksgiving and there were several places that would be open on Thanksgiving to choose from, but each menu we found had something someone in the family wouldn’t eat. The Thanksgiving menus are also not cheap and some did not have a kids menu so if there was even a question about whether or not it would work for us, it was eliminated as an option. This meant that the list quickly shrank to the point of being non- existent. It left us with really only one choice…….the buffet. We are not usually fans of buffets as they can be expensive and we really don’t eat enough to make it worth it, but hey, it was Thanksgiving after all. Going to the buffet actually made it really special because it’s not something we normally do, and the kids were very happy to be able to pick and choose what they wanted to eat. We parents were able to get many of the traditional Thanksgiving options (plus a little extra) and the kids all tried something new. I love when they are willing to try new things. The best part was no dishes to wash when we got home!
There are many people who head south for the winter and this year we were able to join them. As I mentioned we planned to be with grandparents for Christmas and lucky for us these grandparents just happen to live in south Texas. Our kids were super excited not only to see their grandparents, but to see where their grandparents lived. They had been out to visit us several times, but we had never been able to afford to take the kids to Texas. This made it twice the excitement that Christmas normally has. It was great for us too because they were nice enough to let us stay on their property for free! We actually ended up staying a little longer than we had originally thought we would. The kids got to participate in many traditional Christmas activities like decorating the Christmas tree and helping grandma make cookies. Although we did get them several gifts it was nice that Christmas was more about being with the family this year. New Years was also celebrated in south Texas and we brought it in with a bang. Fireworks are legal in many states, but not the state we are from, so being able to buy them and set them off ourselves was awesome. Our oldest son even bought some of his own. We had a big bon fire in the yard and the kids lit sparklers while we waited for it to get late enough to start lighting them off. Our kids are still young and are not quite able to stay up until midnight yet so we lit most of them off before then so that they could get to bed at a decent time, but we did save a few to bring in the New Year with. There were also many other people lighting them off so we got quite a show when midnight came around. It was so nice to be able to celebrate these two holidays with family and the kids really enjoyed getting to see where their grandparents live, something we may never have been able to do if not for this adventure. This is the one holiday that we will be repeating in the same place as we have already planned to go back again this winter season.
I will admit that as a parent Easter is not my favorite holiday. As a kid however; I do remember the excitement of waking up to a basket filled with treats and hunting for eggs around the yard and I want to give that same excitement to my kids. This may have been one of the most difficult holidays on the road to plan. Deciding what to put in their “baskets” (we actually put the stuff in hats) was tough because we live in a trailer and do not need a lot of stuff piling up everywhere, not that anyone does, but we have even less space for stuff. So once we decided what to put in the baskets, we had to get the stuff, which was tricky since we are all together all the time, even at the store. Then we had to keep it hidden somewhere in our small space. There are not many hiding places in a travel trailer. We didn’t get them much, but they were excited to have a little surprise on Easter morning. I was hoping we would get lucky and find a place to stay that would have an egg hunt we could participate in, but no such luck. There were several egg hunts going on, but many wanted us to sign up which I was hesitant to do because we never know exactly where we will be and do not like to make solid plans (part of this life is the flexibility of staying longer or leaving early if we want to). I knew we would be in Georgia, but didn’t know if we would be closer to Savannah or Atlanta. After searching around online I found a park that was holding an annual egg hunt that was open to all no sign up required and it was only about 15 minutes from where we were staying. We ended up being closer to the Atlanta area. This was our first public egg hunt as we usually hid eggs around our house or yard depending on the weather. It was great, the kids had tons of fun gathering up the plastic eggs filled with treats. There were also several carnival style games for them to play and win small prizes. They had so much fun they didn’t want to leave. We stayed longer than we had planned and they were starting to pack up before we could drag the kids away. Oh, and did I mention the bounce house? It was great and I hope we can find one similar next year.
Fourth of July is a huge camping holiday. Knowing this we decided we should plan ahead, something we don’t usually do. We were heading up the east coast anyway so we thought hey let’s go see the fireworks in New York City. Our plans had included seeing the Statue of Liberty, so we thought why not go for the 4th? The campground, which is really more of a parking lot for RVS, where we stayed is the closest place for RVs to camp near New York City, so even though it was extremely expensive we decided to stay a few days. It was great for its location to the city and we were able to see the fireworks from Liberty State Park just a short walk away. There were several shows going on so we got to see tons of fireworks all over the Hudson River, it was amazing to see them going off over the Empire State Building. Watching them reflect off the water and the skyscrapers was truly a sight to see. Getting to be in one of the world’s most famous cities, watching the celebration of such an important historical event over such an iconic building, was an unforgettable experience and something I never thought I would be doing. Making these memories with my kids has really made this adventure priceless. Memorial Day and Labor Day are two other big camping holidays that I would recommend planning ahead for. Memorial Day kind of snuck up on us and we had never been fans of trying to camp on these busy weekends so we just didn’t even think about it. Turns out many people do plan ahead for it and it took us a few tries to get a spot on short notice. Labor Day is another one that many people plan on camping for so we found a place that doesn’t accept reservations, showed up on a Wednesday, and stayed through the weekend. Hopefully we will remember to plan ahead for these busy camping holidays next year.
Taking our life on the road has made for some great experiences and amazing memories and I would not trade them for anything. Our children have enjoyed choosing a new experience for their birthdays and don’t seem to miss the parties or the stuff. They have chosen to do things like mining for gems and visiting a large indoor bounce house. Our daughter is about to celebrate her second birthday on the road and is getting excited about the giant corn maze she wants to visit. Halloween is also coming around again and while we don’t yet know where we will be they have already started planning their costumes. We have tried to make the holidays fun and keep some of the traditions while being mobile. It can be challenging at times, but we are making new memories together as a family. We are looking forward to the new experiences we will encounter this year and can only hope they will be better than the last. I think that being flexible is an important component to this lifestyle because you can’t always plan for everything and you have to be prepared for anything. We go where the road takes us and if the time is right we will celebrate when we arrive!
Here are links to articles where we wrote about holidays on the road:
Here is a picture we found while writing this article that we like. In it Journey is giving her grandpa an arrowhead that she bought with her own money.