How does a “normal” couple with three small kids at home manage to get into the RV lifestyle? Allow us to introduce ourselves; we are Keith and Tia Sims, also known as Soulful RV Family. We currently travel with our kids and the family dog in our motorhome part-time. Our boys are homeschooled, so we take advantage of that freedom to travel and explore the U.S.
We came upon RVing by accident in the summer of 2014. It was at that time when we had just settled into our new sticks and bricks home near Atlanta, GA. Keith, a retired NFL player, was working for the Miami Dolphins gameday broadcast. This required him to be in South Florida every weekend of the NFL season, which is 20 weeks long. So he would travel by plane every weekend from Atlanta to Miami for his broadcast duties. We were spending money on airfare, rental cars, and temporary lodging which was getting old quickly. However, prior to me hitting my breaking point, I came up with a brilliant idea. I had been dragging Keith to RV shows for years, trying to convince him that RV travel would be great for our family.
He wasn’t sold and I could never find a good enough reason to justify an RV purchase. That’s until this opportunity presented itself. I pounced and suggested that we purchase a used RV to park in Florida during the football season. Keith could stay in it on football work weekends and once the season ended the family could travel in it on little vacation trips. Brilliant right?
As you can probably imagine, this hit my husband out of left field until he sat and ran the numbers on my hairbrain scheme. When he crunched the numbers and calculated the money that he was spending on his commute to Florida, plus how much we spent on family vacations; he realized that I was indeed onto something. We then began to shop for RV’s in our area. Our family however, was not impressed with this idea. They could not believe that we were actually considering getting an RV. None of us had ever camped or been inside of an RV prior to this.
We found a good deal on a used class A motorhome just before preseason football was about to kick off. After a quick test drive, we decided to jump in with both feet and purchased the RV. We decided to take a shakedown trip to familiarize ourselves with the RV by driving from Georgia to New Jersey to visit family. That was an amazing experience that taught us so many lessons about RV’s, trip planning, Murphy’s Law and to expect the unexpected.
Our plan for our maiden voyage was to set aside one week to drive the RV from Georgia to New Jersey and back, visiting family and friends while also stopping to enjoy a couple of campgrounds along the way. Prior to getting on the road we had two practice sessions with our salesman driving our “new to us” 42’ motorhome off the lot. In retrospect, that probably was not enough time to get used to managing the buttons, gadgets and maneuverability of our rig. We were probably on the road for an hour when our tire monitor began to scream at us, which let us know that the pressure was wildly off on our tires. I guess we should have checked that before we left. So in a panic, we pulled into the nearest truck stop and took care of that.
We made our first stop in North Carolina and set up camp for the night. The kids were so excited! We had our very first campfire and s’mores that night, feeling like full fledged RVers.
The very next morning, anchors up, we set out for New Jersey. Keith did an excellent job of getting reservations at a family friendly campground, where the kids would have multiple activities to do on a daily basis. The adults were free to enjoy the outdoors and the kids were able to literally bounce from activity to activity in between our visits with family. It was amazing to be away from home, but yet still have all the comforts and conveniences of home with us.
On that inaugural trip, Keith and I kept saying how traveling in an RV has changed our whole outlook on traveling with small kids. You see at that time we had three little ones (5, 4 and 2 years old) and traveling with them was a chore. I just remember packing diaper bags, snack bags, activity bags, car seats and patience. It was enough to make us think twice about traveling anywhere. The RV was a game changer for us!
It was definitely a trip that we will never forget. Ultimately, and quite ironically, it was the trip that made us fall in love with RVing. I say ironically because the trip was not perfect. We blew the front A/C during the first leg of the trip, which we dealt with that issue by buying some fans and circulating the air from the back unit into the front of the coach. Our luck ran out on the way back home though. The back A/C unit decided it had had enough and it died on us. So basically we drove all the way back home with no air conditioning in the rear of the RV in the heat of the summer. I still stand by what I said though… This was the trip that affirmed our choice to RV. We were hooked and there would be no turning back for us.
It has been 7 years since that maiden voyage, and two of our kids are preteens now and we still love to travel in our RV. We have learned so many lessons (and we continue to learn more) along the way that we hope to share with everyone in the future. We have traveled to almost every state on the east coast from Key West, all the way up to the coast of Maine. We have ventured as far West as the Badlands of South Dakota. 19 states down and counting. We have so much more to see!
We are excited to be able to share our journeys and our experiences. The road is constantly calling us on a new adventure and we gleefully acquiesce. Where we will find ourselves next is not always known, but we can’t wait for our next adventure. What we can be certain of though is that we will enjoy every moment we have as a family and squeeze every ounce of time that we can Rving while our boys are young. No regrets.
About the author: We are an African American family loving the RV lifestyle and traveling as we homeschool our 3 preteen boys exploring all this great country has to offer. Keep up with the Soulful RV Family on Instagram!