Time does not stand still for us. Things keep happening and life continues to move forward. As we travel through this amazing country we find so many new and interesting things to experience, but we still have to manage to fit in everyday things. Our refrigerator does not fill itself, the dishes don’t wash themselves, and no one comes to take out our trash while we explore a new city. There is still an endless amount of chores that need to be done on a daily basis and honestly it can be challenging to find time to fit things in when we are so busy discovering new places. It is also important to us that the kids pitch in to help with some of these tasks, but they are still learning and it takes time to teach them how to do these things right. Life is a balancing act whether stationary or on the road.
After a year of traveling full time and constantly moving around we are still finding our balance. We love exploring and discovering new or unique places. We do not love grocery shopping or doing chores, but they have got to get done. I teach my children that there are things we like to do and things we have to do and while these might not always go hand in hand we can try to make the best of every situation, even chore time. Chores will always have to be done and the longer we put them off the worse they are to do, so if we just get it done its better for everyone. A small house needs to be cleaned more often, but it takes less time to get it clean. All of the household chores that had to be done when we lived in one place came with us and still have to be done as we travel around. It is a little more difficult to do some of these chores, like laundry and emptying the trash, but some are easier, like cleaning one small bathroom and vacuuming our small amount of carpet. It has kind of been a trade off and I wouldn’t say things are easier or more difficult overall, just different.
Some of the tasks we have to do have changed and so has who helps with what. My oldest son now has the responsibility of occasionally emptying the trash for us, this is a great chore for him because he also has to locate the dumpster which is different in every camp. It gives him a sense of responsibility as well as autonomy in being on his own to find where the trash goes. The kids had their chores at our old house and that hasn’t changed, but what chores they are expected to help with has. Every moving day I like to make sure that the trailer gets a good cleaning (plus everything has to be stowed and put up for traveling anyway) and the kids can be a big help. They can do most of the chores that need to be done (with a little instruction and encouragement) like cleaning the bathroom, putting away clean dishes, vacuuming, sweeping, and of course they are always responsible for cleaning their room. Some of theses tasks were a big undertaking at our house, sweeping the floor took quite a while, our vacuum was really heavy, and counters had to be climbed in order to put away clean dishes. In the trailer nothing is too high, too big or too heavy for the kids so it makes helping out easier and can even be kind of fun. It’s nice to get to our next camp and have a clean house when we arrive, even if it doesn’t last long.
Shopping is a chore that can be challenging when you are always somewhere new. Every state has different grocery stores and while some carry over into other states eventually you will be in a grocery store you have never even heard of. This can be hard because every store is laid out differently, carries different products, has a different discounting system, and you don’t know anyone. Because we have a small refrigerator, we have to go shopping about once a week. Our pantry space isn’t that small so the fridge is our limiting factor. I have always been a once a week shopper so it really isn’t much of a change except that now I am always in a new store and the food has to be puzzled or crammed into the fridge. We can only fit so much which means we don’t buy
more milk until the jug is empty. The chore of grocery shopping can be difficult to fit into our schedule because we move so frequently and are usually gone most of the day when we aren’t moving. It works out that we typically do our shopping when we first arrive at a new place. This happens for a couple of reasons. It’s nice to have a full fridge starting out in a new place so that we can spend more time doing fun stuff and less time worrying about what we are going to eat. Having everything we need for meals is important, it makes life easier. After grocery shopping the fridge seems to be overflowing, but with five of us eating that changes quickly. Weight is always a factor when you tow a trailer so if we can eat our food store down before we travel it’s just that much less weight we are pulling behind us. So that is why we typically do our grocery shopping after we arrive at a new site. Always being in a new store was hard for us at first, but we have grown used to it and now we just take our time to get what we need.
There is another type of shopping that we still have to do on a regular basis. Having three kids that spend a majority of their time outdoors makes for frequent clothing and shoe buying expeditions (as well as other miscellaneous items). As parents we expect to buy new things for our kids as they grow, but when they are always outside hiking, climbing, walking, riding scooters, they just seem to go through these things even faster. They fall, they get caught in a tree branch, they get dirty. This was honestly not something I factored in when planning for this adventure. I mean sure I knew they would need a new pair of shoes here and there, but they are really wearing out quickly. Even my husband has worn out a few pairs so far. These excursions out to buy these types of item could really be the worst. Not only is it boring stuff to buy, but the stores are all the same. Unlike the grocery chains, which are different everywhere, the retail stores are all pretty much the same. It can also be tough to get good deals because we can’t wait until something we like goes on sale. Most of our adventuring takes place in out of the way spots like national parks and small towns. This means that we often make special trips to buy shoes or clothes or whatever. This means we buy what we came for because we might not get back to that type of store for a while. This has been a big change as I am big on getting things on sale, but now I can’t just go back next week and see if an item is on sale. So while we would definitely rather be hiking in a national park than shopping for shoes we make the best of it and get it done so that we can get back out to take a hike!
Many things have changed for us since leaving our home, our families, and the familiarity behind, but some things never change. Daily life continues on as it always will. The chores that we had to get done before somehow still have to get done today and tomorrow. Our lives have changed a lot in some ways and in some ways they remain the same. Dishes and laundry will always be there for us, grocery shopping will go on forever, but it is a good reminder for us to take the good with the bad and make the best of every situation. We are getting the opportunity to explore this country with our wonderful children and I am glad that they also get to be a part of the daily life stuff right along with us. It is important that they learn to be a helpful part of doing chores and other tasks that aren’t always fun or exciting. Plus it makes them even more grateful when we do go somewhere they like.
Here are some tips to help you keep your life in order too.
Have a moving day routine with everyone helping to put away and clean everything. Then when you get to the next camp you start fresh.
Don’t let the dishes stack up. Having a small amount of counter space makes large batch dish washing extremely difficult. We find it is much easier to just do the dishes after every meal.
When you are grocery shopping remember that you are traveling in a trailer and don’t over buy or you will run out of cold space. Nothing is worse then getting home from grocery shopping to find that not everything fits into the refrigerator. So go light the first few grocery shopping trips till you get used to how much space you have in your refrigerator.
Even though it is a hassle you should still get a shopper card at each new grocery store. We send an adult to the customer service desk as soon as we are in a new store while the other one starts to grocery shop.
Collect memories and digital photographs, they don’t weigh anything. We all like a good deal and getting new stuff can be fun and exciting, but your trailer has weight limits and only so much space. If you collect huge amounts of possessions then you will have to juggle where to put them. We started telling the kids, if you want something new what are you going to get rid of? Sometimes we forget that we sold most of our stuff to tour the country and slip into our old ways.
Storage and organization bins are expensive, but worth the price. We have plastic containers at the bottom of our closet with our non-hanging clothes and it makes them easy to get to and keeps the area tidy.
Life on the road in a travel trailer is like life in a ship. A place for everything and everything in it’s place.
Have fun on the road less traveled, we know we have.