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Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series exploring one family’s decision to intentionally pursue adventure and a closer family relationship by embracing the RV lifestyle full time. This segment explores the family’s decision to give up a traditional lifestyle the reasons why they opted to sell their home and buy an RV.
By Ronnie Garrett
On the surface, the Travaglino family seems like just another American family — a mom, a dad, four kids and four dogs. But there is one key difference, the Travaglino family lives life on the road, in a 350-square-foot RV that they move to a new destination monthly.
Chris and Kimberly Travaglino, and their children Dominic, Blaise, Tonia and DJ, have been RVing full-time for seven years, and they say they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“As a family, we are very bonded to one another,” said Kimberly. “We operate in more of a team perspective than our traditional sticks-and-bricks counterparts. Quite honestly, I’m not sure how traditional families are fairing in this culture. There are so many distractions and so many expectations put on families.
“I feel like the foundations of the American family are getting completely lost, and I feel like people who still want to be a family have to make radical choices for themselves on how to establish that, and for us, living in a camper is the way we have made that choice,” she added.
Moving in a new direction
Seven years ago, Chris and Kimberly felt like they no longer identified with the American dream; they had already achieved it.
“We had a nice house, good jobs, nice cars and kids in good schools, but we weren’t fulfilled, spiritually or emotionally,” said Kimberly
Then they purchased a pop-up camper and things began moving in a new direction.
Kimberly switched gears first. She began thinking, “Our lives might be more rewarding and fulfilling, if we turned away from the traditional American dream and lived our own intentional life [in an RV].”
But to do this, the then-family of five, had to begin making some tough choices on education, careers and belongings. “We had to purge 90 percent of our belongings from our 2,600-square-foot house,” she explained.
“Those were the big macro steps, but then within those steps we had to figure out what to keep and what to toss; what curriculum to follow in educating the kids; where we would travel and what our source of income would be,” she added, noting that a location-independent source of income was one of the biggest hurdles they had to overcome.
There were also other obstacles they didn’t expect, such as parents who were less than thrilled with their decision, and friends who didn’t understand their desire to turn to the RVing lifestyle full-time.
“We lost a lot of our social support, so we had to keep the ‘why’ as the forefront of our motivation because doing this wasn’t easy — it was hard,” she says.
It took the Travaglino’s three years to hit the road, and Chris confesses he resisted this change for most of those three years.
“I was forced into it, to be honest with you,” Chris laughed. “I would come home and things would be gone. Finally, she sold the bed, and I said, ‘Well at this point I guess we really don’t have a choice.’”
He agreed to try full-time RVing for a year. He recalls that year came and went and he didn’t even realize it. He says, “I liked it so much I finally said, ‘It’s been a year and a half, want to keep going?’ And she said ‘yes.’”
Kimberly says the kids were seven, five, three and the fourth came along one month after they started living in an RV. They all have adjusted very well, she adds.
“I have to pinch myself every day that we get to do this,” Kimberly says.
Is this for you?
Though the Travaglino’s love life on the open road, they stress that the lifestyle isn’t for everyone.
“If you are someone who needs to be told what to do and doesn’t like to think outside the box, then this probably isn’t the right lifestyle for you,” said Kimberly.
Kimberly provides full details on what to consider before RVing full time in her book titled, “How to Hit the Road.” But she says the most important thing to do is to ask why you want to transition to a fully mobile lifestyle.
“Is it because you think it will be cool? Are you running from the law? Or is it because you think the grass is greener elsewhere?” she asks. “If your why doesn’t set a good foundation, then it’s probably not wise to move forward.”
What kind of why that sets a good foundation? “An answer, for example, that says, I want to spend intentional time with my children,” say the Travaglinos. “A camper is the perfect tool to do this because it removes a lot of the distractions.”
If you find you have a solid reason doing this, Kimberly says the next step is to set a date to launch.
“Be reasonable,” she cautions. “If you don’t set a date then chances are good you’ll get distracted and get off course. It’s not important that you actually drive out on that date, but it’s a great motivating tool that keeps you making steps toward your goal.”
Next week: Buying the right RV, maintenance and upkeep, remaining connected on the road and working from the road.
Chris and Kimberly Travaglino have been full-time RVing for many years with their children Dominic, Blaise, Tonia and DJ. They founded the Fulltime Families support group before selling the organization last year. Kimberly’s book “How to Hit the Road – Making Your Family’s Full-time RV Dreams a Reality” is available on Amazon.