RVing with the Inmates

When we were in the planning stages of taking the whole family for an RV trip over spring break, I told myself things like “Remember, self, you are going from a bajillion square feet to a dining table that also folds out into a bed. Things are GOING to get dicey.” and “Remember, self, these children of yours are mostly animals and have zero capacity for understanding your need to introvert.” Needless to say, I had the bar set VERY, very low for this trip. It’s not pessimism, it’s a self-protection technique. I’ve gone into trips before thinking, “Self! You’ve planned and spent money and prepared awesome adventures for your kids and they are going to be forever grateful for your amazing vacation skills,” only to be let down when 30 minutes into the trip one of the inmates is telling me she’d rather be ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD than with her family on this trip. Setting low bars is just good life skills people.

So I’m just as shocked as you are right now to be telling you that the trip was a MEGA SUCCESS. Mega. In fact, the kids ranked it up there with Disney World and let’s just say this trip didn’t shave years off my life like Disney did. I’m pretty sure I aged like a 2 term President over the course of those 6 days.

So what made it so great? We’re still trying to put our finger on that exactly. Lots of little things like freedom and flexibility for them and for us, family togetherness with enough space to introvert a little, beautiful weather and air conditioning while we slept, and mostly NOT HAVING TO STOP AT NASTY GAS STATION BATHROOMS EVERY 15 MINUTES. This is huge people. Even though that thing could only go about 15 miles an hour, I’m pretty sure we made better time than we ever have in our whole life with children.

And look – you only have to pack a FEW THINGS. (this pic doesn’t even include our clothes)


After we packed most of our earthly belongings, we loaded up and headed for Arkansas. In the beginning I was a stickler about wearing seatbelts while the RV was in motion.


But as you can see it started to get a little loosey-goosey back there…


I’ll be honest and say that I eventually quit caring if they were wearing seatbelts. We were basically going school-zone speed in the right lane and it seemed like a shame not to let them take their chances in life like we did growing up.

We stayed in Hot Springs one night and had originally planned on going through Dallas on our way to Texas hill country after that. But then the forecast said rain all week in that part of the country and since our HOUSE WAS ON WHEELS we just decided to go to Florida instead!


John did ALL of the driving, which was so very nice of him. I found out I have a fear of parking houses.

We were sad to miss out on seeing family and friends in Texas, but the weather in Florida was fantastic and totally worth the small detour.

Here are my highlights of the trip in no particular order…

  • The food…   Maybe it was because I was forced to menu plan and grocery shop. Maybe it was because there was a lot of marshmallows involved. Maybe it’s because I learned how to make PIZZA OVER A CAMPFIRE.


  • Kids being able to sit facing either other during transport (which is just as much of a shock to me as it is to you).  Turns out they CAN get along on a roadtrip without staring at a screen! Looking over and seeing scenes like this was almost worth the cost of the rental…



  • Having a small amount of space to clean EVEN WHEN IT LOOKED LIKE THIS…


It only took half an hour for it to look like this…


(But when I try to clean all of 800 Snowden the inmates work approximately 42 times faster than me and the cycle never ends. Having a TOTALLY CLEAN dwelling made me happier than it should make any normal human being, even if it only lasted 4 minutes.)

  • Eating outside for almost every meal…. Rolling up lunch with one fell swoop is incredibly gratifying. I’m sensing a theme here…

pic 8

  • Watching this kid read whenever he wanted to….which was almost every spare minute.

pic 9

  • The options at our RV parks – RVC Outdoor Destinations… In Hot Springs, John, Jones and Abigail went on a massive zip lining adventure and they had a great playground for the kids. In Florida we could choose between the pool, the playground, and, ahem, boat rentals. (I’ll tell the boat story later…it’s a doozy.)

pic10 pic11 pic12

  • Quality Family Time… Obviously this could have happened at home. But being away from civilization, surrounded by mostly retired couples and trees, you only have EACH OTHER for entertainment. It’s a good kind of desperation. Sure, we had moments of conflict here and there, but for the most part – we actually LIKED each other for the majority of the week! It was a Spring Break MIRACLE!

pic15 pic14 pic13

We will most defintely be renting one of these bad boys again soon. If only for the rolling bathroom…

Helpful links:

Cruise America (the company we rented from)

Campfire Pizza Log

RV Packing List

RVC Outdoors (STELLAR RV Parks with 5 star amenities)




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