Why a road trip?
Our sweet baby was born in May. Our house went on the market and sold in July. Then we packed up and moved from California to Texas in August. Talk about a whirlwind!
With everything feeling so crazy and with emotions running high, my husband and I decided that we wanted to make the move to our new state as fun and memorable as possible for our five kiddos. We mulled over many options but ended up deciding to rent an RV. We planned a fun road trip and set out together for our new home. As hectic as that time in our life was, we still look back with such fond memories over the time that all seven of us loaded up in our RV and made an adventure out of our long trek to our new home state. We ate too much junk food, survived on very little sleep, saw beautiful scenery and bought all the gas station souvenirs.
If you decide to forgo flying and take a road trip to move your family from one state to another state, here are my top 5 tips that made our RV road trip so successful:
Tip 1: Rent an RV
Now, I fully recognize that this might not be the best option or be doable for everyone. Of course you need to consider your family size, your time constraints, and your finances. Also, the number of cars that you need to transport to your new home could cause a hindrance. But for us it was the best decision. We made so many memories being all crammed together in that metal rectangle. It was more affordable for us because our accommodations and travel expenses were bundled into one. We spent around $4,500 to get our family of seven from CA to TX. This included renting the RV, gas, our campsites at KOA sites, and food/miscellaneous expenses. (Just to be clear–this did not include the cost to move our stuff.)
Some other perks were that the kids loved being able to move around a bit if they got uncomfortable or needed some space. Mom and Dad loved that they could rotate seats. This led to less sibling fights. Cold drinks and snacks could be easily grabbed from the RV kitchen. This is a life saver when traveling with a ton of kids. I even had ice in the freezer and iced coffee in the fridge. This meant that I could grab a mid-day pick me up even without a Starbucks anywhere nearby. We rented our RV from El Monte RV. (https://elmonterv) They were wonderful–I would totally recommend them!
Tip 2: Plan it Out!
Especially if you have young kids, plan to only travel 4 to 6 hours a day. We mapped out our trip breaking up each day into about 5 hour chunks of driving. This kept antsy kids and mom and dad from going too crazy. We booked KOA campsites to stay at each night. Their website is very user friendly and helpful. (http://koa) They aren’t the most glamorous accommodations, but they were all clean and safe. We appreciated the clean showers. They helped everyone to get bathed quickly and efficiently instead of all seven of us trying to use the tiny RV shower. We also appreciated that all the KOA campsites had fun activities for the kids, whether it was a fun playground, a sparkly pool, or a small miniature golf course. They also offer campsites with dog runs, which is a nice bonus if traveling with your furry four legged family members.
Tip 3: Get the Wiggles Out!
Plan something active to do once you are done driving for the day. For us, this looked like making sure that all our KOA campsites had a pool that we could enjoy. The kids loved getting to our campsite and heading off to the pool to cool off. This allowed them to get out all the wiggles and energy they had stored up from being cooped up all day. However, if you are traveling in the winter or if a pool isn’t available, still try to find a way to let everyone get their wiggles out. That could look like running around at a park, exploring a new town, or going on a short hike. I promise you, getting that energy out and getting some fresh air will benefit everyone. It will also help ensure a better night’s sleep, which is a feat in and of itself in such tight quarters.
Tip 4: Give Grace!
Recognize that emotions are running high, not just for yourself, but also for your kids. Lots of hard goodbyes have been said recently. Extra patience and hugs will be needed! To be completely transparent, as fun as this road trip was for our family we still had our fair share of bad attitudes and fits. We had sibling fights and arguments. We even an incident that caused the glass door to the RV stove to break and shatter glass all over the floor while we were driving– talk about a disaster! However, as crazy as things got, that memory makes us all laugh now. During the long hours in the RV, we tried to have heart to hearts with our older kids about the move. We talked with them about the things they might be excited about as well as about the things that might be concerning them. We tried to be understanding of everyone’s big emotions, while also seeking to enjoy ourselves and make incredible memories.
Tip 5: Small & Simple Joys Can Lead to Big Memories!
Lastly, take a deep breath and have fun! Take a lot of pictures and try to make some good family memories. You are in the midst of a life altering change and as good as that change may be, it is still heavy and emotional. Find simple ways to be intentional with all the time you are crammed together in the RV. A few ideas are: play board games, read aloud a new book, or memorize a new family Bible verse.
It may seem like extra work, but I bought and wrapped special books, Lego sets, and craft sets for each of my kids. My kids looked forward to opening one gift each day. This gave them something new and fun to do and helped us curb screen time a bit.
We also allowed them to pick out a gas station souvenir at each new state that we drove through. They loved this so much and had so much fun picking out their little treasures. It was endearing to see the time and thought that our older ones put into their decisions. Our oldest daughter had to find just the right Native American inspired necklace in Arizona and the perfect mug to drink coffee from in New Mexico. And our oldest son made painstaking decisions over which gemstone or little bottle of gold to buy. Our other kiddos are younger, so they usually just wanted a toy but it was still super fun.
Lastly, each night we tried to eat dinner at a local spot. We didn’t always succeed at finding good food, but we still gave it the old college try. We went to a small taco shop in Arizona. We sat at a bright yellow table and drank glass bottles of Los Jarritos. We tried a local hamburger spot in New Mexico where we enjoyed icy cold milkshakes. In Texas (still hours from our new town), we took a limo, with Texas longhorns attached to the hood, to an over the top kitschy and touristy steak house. It didn’t have great food, but the ambience was super fun. The kids loved getting free straw cowboy hats and drinking soda from cups shaped like a cowboy boot.
What We Learned Along the Way:
Moving to a new state is no easy feat. As exciting as it can be, it is still usually riddled with decisions and stress. This is why we decided to make the most of our journey to our new home. It was something that had to be done one way or another, so we decided that we might as well make it as fun and memorable as possible. But however you end up moving your family from your old home to your new one, remember that God is in control. Try to enjoy the adventure. It’s not worth sweating the small stuff. Be thankful for the opportunities ahead. Be gracious with one another. Find time to pray together and hold on tight for the wild ride ahead!