Wild Free Ones is officially on the road for Airstream's #EndlessCaravan, an experiential campaign that invites adventurers, families and explorers to discover new places and meet new people. Jeff and Kristina Jones are traveling along the east coast with their three sons to advocate for foster care and adoption, while sharing tips and tricks for traveling with kids. Keep reading for a look at their first week in the #EndlessCaravan Airstream!
We’ve now been acquainted with Airstream living for one week, and it's definitely been a unique and amazing experience. We’ve moved into a new, beautiful, tiny space, which is a sacrifice for our family of five. In exchange, this great big country we live in becomes our playground for the next eight weeks.
We keep comparing this experience to how it felt to care for a baby for the first time— feelings of pure joy and excitement mixed with ones of being overwhelmed and exhausted. Even between questions of "Should she be making that sound?" and "Which button again?", we embraced the learning curve of this new lifestyle. We’ve even already found a bit of community in RV living. If you ever appear frustrated, the older, more experienced "parents" are always willing to kindly offer some of their years of wisdom to you.
We have three little boys and they are typical in the way of being pretty carefree with occasionally leaving messes. But living in the Airstream, it’s been necessary that our kids adjust to the new “home” by being a bit neater than usual. They can’t get away with leaving shoes laying around or crumbs on the counter or floor, because the small space amplifies any clutter. We’re learning that the trailer demands immediate storing away and tidying up. This adjustment was met with some complaining at first, but it’s helped us to assign roles to each of them—like taking out the garbage, filling up water jugs or helping dad outside with stabilizing the vehicle and attaching the hoses and plugs.
We’ve decided to unplug a lot more as a family on this trip, in order to allow our boys to experience more in nature. We also packed along some board games and books for any rainy days and evenings. Additionally, our kids have been learning valuable lessons through conservation—when living in a trailer, you can't waste or overuse water, lights or energy. When you're "dry camping," you have to rely on your solar energy for light and there is nowhere to drain tanks. You can't just eat up all the food inside the trailer, because fast food runs don’t exist when you're 45 minutes away from the closest stores.
As a family, we are learning more than ever to roll with change and to be flexible when the unexpected happens. Our trip started later than planned due to extra time spent in Jackson Center. When it was finally time to launch and head to our first destination, a torrential downpour flooded on Jeff as he was hitching the truck to the trailer. Because of the continued heavy rain, we didn't make it to the Great Smoky Mountains our first night, but instead found a Kentucky campground to stay the night at until morning. When we finally made it into the national park, we were rewarded with some gorgeous mountain views as we traveled a mile up into the atmosphere.
We want anyone considering traveling with their kids on extended trips to know that it's totally doable, especially if you’re passionate about the idea, willing to plan ahead and prepared to make any moment a teachable one. We got a ton of wide-eyed, worried reactions from others when we announced that we'd be homeschooling on the road, but we're finding that these hands-on experiences are so valuable and priceless. It's like taking a field trip every day.
We call it "roadschooling," and there are unlimited opportunities to learn along the way. We make use of our driving time by learning geography facts while passing through different states. We’ve also learned science by observing the local wildlife (we spotted families of elk, wild turkeys and came in close contact with a copperhead snake!) and by talking through how the mountains we stood upon were formed. We were able to explore mountain trails, as well as a gorgeous waterfall within a Cherokee Indian reservation. We got our history lesson in by learning about the indigenous culture that first occupied the mountains of North Carolina.
We passed through North Carolina, and for the rest of this week, we will be in the Charleston, South Carolina/Edisto Beach area, where we plan on meeting up with a few families interested in fostering and adopting. If you're reading this and will be along the east coast in the next seven weeks, please reach out! We'd love to meet up with you and share stories and inspiration.
Follow Wild Free Ones on their Airstream #EndlessCaravan at airstream.com/blog, and on social media at @airstream_inc and @wildfreeones. Jeff and Kristina also post to their personal social media channels at @ohsnapjeff and @everydaywonderings and they blog at wildfreeones.wordpress.com.