Goodbye House! Hello Open Road!

Ashley L - Goodbye House-3

If you meet our family you may say that we are a little different. Sometimes we’re even called ‘weird’ and I’m ok with that. We chose to live life differently than most people our age. We are a family of six who sold our home, bought an RV and now travel North America. We have been on the road for a full year with no signs of stopping any time soon. We get asked a lot of questions and I’d love to tell you a little bit about our story and why we are living on the road with our four awesome kids. So, grab a Cruze Farm Coffee Milk and sit down while I tell you a little bit about us! (If you don’t have a Coffee Milk, we can’t be friends! Run, don’t walk, to Pratt’s Country Store, Earth Fare or Whole Foods in Knoxville and grab like 10, because they are nothing short of amazing!)

Why?

Why not? We have jobs that allow us to travel, so why wouldn’t we? There is so much of this big beautiful world to see. We want to see as much of it as we can and we want to experience it with our kids. It’s amazing to be right there for all their firsts.

Like the first time they went snorkeling with barracudas in the Florida Keys.

snorkeling-in-the-keys

The first time she got to hold a wallaby.

a girl and her wallaby

The first time they flew a kite on a sand dune in the Outer Banks.

flying a kite in the Outer Banks

The first time they got to ride a subway in NYC…after being stuck in the rain past midnight. So fun!

subwayinNYC

The first time he got to kiss a dolphin.

kissing a dolphin

Their first 17 mile bike ride in Virginia.

17-mile-ride

We got to experience all of this with them and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

One of the reasons we wanted to travel was because we wanted to be debt free. It was hugely important to us to not owe anything to anyone. While we didn’t have car loans or credit card payments, we weren’t about to waste our money on one house for the next THIRTY years!

Teaching our own kids has always been important to us. We have always homeschooled and we thought it would be a great experience to not only learn about places but actually go to them. What better way to learn about the Dry Tortugas than to go tent camp on the remote island for two nights?

drytortugas

(That’s our tent up near the trees!)

Wouldn’t it be amazing to actually play in the gypsum sand dunes after you research why it’s in the middle of the desert and why it feels so cold?

kids at White Sands National Monument

Our kids are learning so much! They’re not stuck a classroom, they don’t have a structured day, but they are learning how to learn. If they want to learn how to do stained glass, we will do it!

learning stained glass

Everyday they’re learning about the world around them and that’s not something you can do sitting in a classroom.

We want to spend as much time as we can with our kids. (18 years is not that long, guys!) For our family, homeschool is the only option we would ever consider. I want to be the one to teach my kids about the world.

What did you do with all your stuff?

Great question! Our house was huge, to us. We had a lot of things that we didn’t really ‘need’ as most of us do. Our kids had way too many toys, I had WAY TOO MANY Ball Jars (seriously, it was a problem). We had things in our cabinets that we used maybe once a year and kept ‘just in case.’ Sound familiar?

As soon as our house was under contract (12 days from when we put the sign in our yard, thank you Jesus!) we had a big garage sale. I had slowly been selling things via Craigslist, online yard sales, and through Facebook, but I kicked it into high gear when we knew we’d be houseless in about a month. The things that didn’t sell and weren’t worth my time, went to KARM or Goodwill. I lucked out and the awesome people who bought our house wanted most of the furnishings and wall decor I had made! That made my job much easier!

It was hard trying to figure out what we really needed on the road. We loaded our new home with things we thought we needed, but quickly did a major purge. For example: we each have one cup that we use, we have eight plates, eight bowls, eight spoons/forks and three butter knifes! Our kitchen is crazy simple now, but that’s whole other post. It’s amazing how little you really need.

Soon we will be downsizing to a much smaller rig so that we can get into to some amazing spots we have been eyeing. We will be adding solar and batteries and even a composting toilet so that we can live off the grid for longer periods of time! Plus, if we’re in a smaller space, it will allow us to be outside more. You know…when your bed is your couch, your dining table and your husband’s ‘office,’ there’s no place to really go but outside! Sounds great, doesn’t it! Haha.

How do you afford to travel fulltime?

Ah, easy! My husband is an awesome web designer! He has had his business – FortySeven Media – for over 10 years and he can work anywhere we have internet. We are also starting to get into reviewing resorts and campgrounds in exchange for featuring them on our travel blog!

Right now we are trying our hand at ‘work camping’ which means we are Camp Hosts at an RV resort. I work in the office a couple days a week in exchange for our site.

camp hosts at rv resort

We are camping here for free and still have the flexibility to go explore the area. So far we are liking it, but it is weird being in one spot for several months when you’re used to moving every week or two weeks. We’re having to get creative to satisfy our wanderlust!

Do your kids like living on the road and sharing a room?

They love being together, they always have. They have a close bond that you don’t see often.

kids in their room

Of course they have their moments of fighting just like all kids, but they genuinely love each other and I believe it’s because we are all ALWAYS together. I hope that they will always stay best friends.

kids - best friends

They each have their own ‘spot’ in their room. They have their own bed, and their own drawer for their clothes, and their own stuffed animals. They respect each other’s space and we haven’t had any real issues about them feeling too close to each other.

And yes, they love traveling.

enchanted rock in texas

We wouldn’t be dragging them along kicking and screaming. Yeah, it was our idea to live on the road, but we didn’t do it without talking to them about it first. This next year they’ll have more responsibility of finding places for us to visit. They’ll research the area as part of their school work. I have a feeling we’ll be at lots of beaches!

Are you lonely? Don’t you miss your friends and family?

No! We’re robots and we have no feelings!

Of course we miss our friends and family, a lot. My parents live in Indiana and we were able to see them several times throughout the year. Jonathan’s parents lived just 15 minutes from us and we were over at their house weekly. We miss them all, but we do try to keep in touch with family and friends though texts, emails and FaceTime! Thanks technology!!

We actually found that we are way more social on the road than we were living in the ‘burbs and we have made way more friends. No, we’re not lonely.

We thought we would miss going out on dates. We used to go every couple of weeks or so when we were living in Knoxville. We have found ways to feel like we are on dates. Our kids go to bed around 9pm and that gives us a good three hours to talk, catch up and do…other things.

When we go out to eat (or if we go work at Panera Bread) the kids will usually sit at a table nearby (their choice) and that feels like we are on a date.

panera bread date

Every now and then we’ll rent a movie and they get to watch it in their room while we’ll watch another movie in the living room! There are so many ways to date your spouse without leaving your kids! You just have to get creative!

It’s simple, really. We just want to live a life where experiences are more important than possessions.

The last thing I want for my kids is to grow up and think that they have to live just like everyone else. I don’t want them to be consumers and conformists. I want them to find their own way though this great big world. Our job is to show them how they can do it on their own one day, and I have no doubt that one day, they’ll live their lives full of adventure, yet be satisfied in the simple way of life.

So, who wants to sell it all and live as nomads?

Who wouldn’t want this cliff out side of Zion National Park to be their home for a few days?

zion front yard

I would love to answer any question you may have! Feel free to follow our travels at BareNeckers.com or on Instagram @BareNeckers.

See you on down the road!!

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5 Responses to Goodbye House! Hello Open Road!

  1. Jaclyn Levy May 2, 2016 at 8:25 am #

    It’s funny, we moved to Knoxville for many of the same reasons you left! We used to live in the concrete jungle of the Chicago suburbs but felt surrounded by consumerism and disconnected from nature. Here we found a home that overlooks the mountains, we have trees and flowers for neighbors, and close access to gorgeous natural resources and a community that values the environment, and are paying thousands of dollars less a year in taxes than we did in IL. We visited the Great Smoky Mountains for the first time this weekend and loved watching our boys fall in love. We can’t wait to keep exploring! And I admit I can’t wait for my oldest to start pre-school. I loved school and the structured classroom and I know he will simply thrive there too.

    • Ashley Longnecker
      Ashley Longnecker May 2, 2016 at 10:15 am #

      Hi Jaclyn! Knoxville has some truly beautiful views. We sure do miss it and the Smoky Mountains! I’m sure you’ll love it there! So many great hiking options and great things for families there and it sounds like you’re boys are going to LOVE it!

  2. Kris May 2, 2016 at 9:38 am #

    This summer we are leaving our home near Knoxville and going on a 6 week road trip all over the country! Any tips on how to pack, food for the road, places to stay that are cheap-or free? What are the best off beat places you have seen? And how do you do laundry? At a laundry mat? My husband is learning to code and do online stuff, I am working on an accounting/paralegal degree, and we have already been discussing homeschooling. We are also working on an online store that sells things to donate money to charity. This sounds so much like what we are leaning towards in our lives! I have 2 years left to get my degrees, until then we will be spending the summers all over, but afterwards, this may be us!

    • Ashley Longnecker
      Ashley Longnecker May 2, 2016 at 10:20 am #

      Kris! You’re going to have so much fun! We absolutely love living on the road. So much freedom. There are several great places to check for free or cheap camping. Our favorite resources is Campendium.com
      Yes, we use a laundromat. At first, it was scary for me to do that (you never know what people put in there) but turns out there are some nice ones and it’s so nice to get it all done at once.
      As you know from reading the post, I’m a huge fan of homeschooling. It opens up a whole new world for the kids.
      Sounds like you have a great plan in place for being able to make a living on the road. Feel free to ask any more questions! Will you be in an RV? Van? Car?
      Best of luck!

  3. Kris May 11, 2016 at 12:51 pm #

    We will be in a Subaru outback! Lol crazy I know! Sorry my husband noticed you replied I forgot to check back! Another question, do you ever feel overwhelmed by the kids/husband, if if so how do you handle it? Lol my 6 yr old drives me crazy with all her random questions (I know she’s just curious about everything and love that!) But it makes me nuts sometimes! Lol

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