Happy Mother’s Day to All Camping Moms!

May 4, 2021 | Interviews

Happy Mother’s Day to All Camping Moms!

By Nathan Paul Swartz

Life in an RV, especially when you travel a lot, can present unique challenges to those of us who bring kids along for the ride. While there is no “traditional RV family,” many moms who live the traveling dream find themselves playing even more roles than what might be considered the “traditional mom” role.

For example, school. While it’s possible to put your kiddos into an online school, the flexibility (and scattered availability of reliable Internet at times) of raising a family in an RV means that most parents become teachers. While many an RVing dad will participate in this endeavor as well, today we’re not talking about dad’s role in the adventure, today we’re all about the (and as a dad I feel fully qualified to say this) more special and essential parent in any kid’s life, Mom!

We reached out to a variety of traveling moms from a busy walkway’s worth of paths of life to see what raising kids, being mom-on-the-road, and just generally making it all work looks like.

A Solo Mom and Her 14 Year Old

Jessica Williams, and her 14 year old son Malachi, have been on the road for about two weeks.

“We are newbies with big plans!” she says from their 32′ Forest River Sunseeker Class C RV, parked in Cloudland Canyon, Georgia. They’ll be spending Mother’s Day at Hot Springs National Park.

“The goal is to visit and experience all 63 National Parks together before he turns 18. Because of the way we are traveling we plan to see as much as possible in this four month stretch.”

a mom and her son jump up in the air simultaneously in front of their RV

Jessica and Malachi. Follow their adventures on Instagram.

Malachi has an affinity for musicals, and so keeping that dream alive while pursuing this particular one are going to work in tandem.

“We are going to be doing things a little differently,” she explains. “We are living in our RV full-time and out on the road for the next four months. Then we will be stationaryish,” she laughs and claims authorship of the word.

“Malachi is part of a homeschool co-op,” which goes by the name of Artios, “that focuses on the arts, so we will go back for that and can travel around our state for long weekends and around rehearsals.” Artios provides multiple breaks, she explains, throughout the year, from two week to month-long vacations.

“At the end of April,” she continues, “we can go back to traveling for another four month stretch. So we are doing a mixture of long stretches of tons of travel and then stretches of being more stationary. He can continue to pursue the arts and we can travel. It’s the best of both worlds for us.”

The past year has been a cavalcade of concerns for parents, given the, at times, apocalyptic nature of the spinning rock we all live upon. Does getting into an RV right now seem like a safe decision? Or even if life was generally normal right now, surely traveling moms must have their concerns.

“For me as a solo parent,” she explains, frankly, “having a plan of where we are staying is important to me for safety. I am responsible for us and don’t have another adult to lean on, so making sure we have safe choices is very important to me.”

They spent nearly a month this past winter on a “practice trip.”

“We used that trip to figure out our ideal driving distance and how many days we liked to be in a campground before we were ready for the next adventure. So using that information, a map of the national parks and the USA,” and, she notes, Campendium, “I planned out the next four months.”

Malachi is a social butterfly, and traveling around with no siblings, even more so over the past twelve months, is not always conducive to such a personality.

“For us,” she speaks to how RVing and life in general has changed for them, “no.”

“But my answer to this might not be popular.” She laughs a little, but it’s clear she is confident in her choices as mom. “Maybe for the first month when we didn’t know as much about COVID and everyone was home,” she admits they were cautious about meeting other families and kids in general, “but for us life in our space didn’t change that much, we didn’t let it. We started RV camping last [summer] and have met other families and had great conversations every where we go.”

three photos of mother and son enjoying life at the beach, at a campfire and on horseback

Mother and son bonding time all across the United States.

“Just yesterday,” she goes on to say, “we met a couple living in a skoolie while on our hike. They are doing stretches of working and then stretches of a few months off to travel while living in their bus full-time. They gave us great tips for starting our YouTube channel and it was wonderful hearing their story.

“I love to celebrate others successes and when I see young people thinking outside of the box to create the life they want I think it’s amazing. We meet people at every camping location and love learning each others stories. The camping world has the nicest people!”

While we live in a diverse world, one that’s largely long abandoned the concept that the nuclear family is necessary, or even ideal, being a single mom who is also traveling must present challenges of its own.

“You are correct,” Jessica admits, “it’s been just me and Malachi for 14 years. The advantage is I didn’t need to convince a spouse this was a good idea.” She laughs a little, perhaps at the reality truly single parents live within, that the circumstance they’re in has, along with everything else that may come with it, provided a considerable degree of independence.

“I have total freedom of decision making,” she confirms.

“The disadvantage in this lifestyle is that I am responsible for all the things.” This also makes her laugh, but this time perhaps with a tinge of the ever-present concern this reality also abides.

“When putting air in the tires, driving switch backs or knowing I need to change the oil in the generator soon, I think ‘Hmm, it must be nice to have a husband.’ I am sure there are more benefits that two adult families have but I have been spouseless for 14 years now, so am so accustomed to doing things on my own I don’t really know what we are missing.”

Ignorance is, perhaps, bliss and all aside, Jessica is a hero — figuring out how to spend more time with her son, living out a dream of her own, but also making it work for him, as well. Not to mention having a great sense of humor about it all.

Malachi seems to have recognized what a mom he’s been blessed with as well.

Left, a young boy hugs a dog in the front seat of an RV. Right, mom walks three dogs in a dog park in South Carolina.

RV life for Jessica and Malachi.

“He is the most easy going human being I have ever met,” Jessica says. “He is also used to us taking adventures and trying new things. We actually had a four acre hobby farm for three years and have traveled quite a bit. My parenting philosophy has always been experiences over things. I don’t think any of my ideas surprise him anymore. I took him to look at RVs and he loved the loft area over the cab. We picked one out together and that was that. I did all the trip planning because he wants each location to be a surprise when we get there.”

So far, as she puts it, “All surprises have been good.”

“I didn’t realize how at peace I would feel and how much more energetic I would feel. I am really happy out here and love this time with my son. I love seeing him fall in love with the outdoors.” They hike and bike their days away, play board games and enjoy cooking meals together. They’ve also taken that advice and have started up a YouTube Channel.

“He is a much faster learning than I am.”

Jessica is funding this all via her career as a realtor, which she says provides multiple ways to generate income.

“It’s a tremendous blessing and a job I absolutely love. I also have an amazing tribe of women who support us through my online clothing boutique.”

Her entire life seems to have been crafted around creating an idyllic atmosphere in which to raise her son, and to give him the room to grow into the young man he’ll one day become.

Campgrounds Related to This Interview

“My goals for traveling together,” she explains, “are for my son to be incredibly grounded in his faith when he reaches adulthood and for him to see all the beauty that exists in the world. I hope that he is able to see a world full of possibilities, that when you work hard and dream big that anything is possible.

“In a world where so much negativity is constantly on our screens, it’s easy to lose sight of all the good. I hope that through our travels seeing this beautiful country we live in, we continue meeting amazing people from all backgrounds, and that he goes into adulthood full of amazing memories, full of hope and full of big dreams to chase. Ultimately I hope my son always knows how much he is loved and that I will always be cheering him on, wherever life takes him.”

Beyond that, Jessica has a message for any other solo mom’s out there who are considering traveling an RV, or any other dream, really.

“I hope that by sharing our story it shows others the possibilities. I think sometimes the world tells us we can’t do certain things because of our singleness and so we don’t try. But we are all capable of living an amazing life, if we take the leap of faith. This lifestyle is doable for single parents too and totally worth it!”

Across the country, in California, another mom has her own dream of living the RV lifestyle.

A Family of Four on the Road for a Year

Liz Wood — along with her husband Andrew and their boys James and Ben, ages seven and five respectively — hit the road last spring with a plan to travel for a year. Then 2020 set in and put their plans on hold.

“We decided to come home mid-trip” Liz explains. “We’ve been working and schooling and laying low and basically trying not to be a part of spreading COVID.” They were able to sneak a trip in here and there, and are now gearing up to hit the road again. “We’re currently planning to hit the road for a year plus starting in June.”

mom and dad carry their young boys around arches national park

The Woods Family, mom and dad carrying their boys around Arches National Park.

So once again, they’ll leave their homeland in San Diego, California to tour these United States. Looking back at the time they did get to travel last year, Liz recalls a few places that stood out.

“Carlsbad, NM was absolutely amazing. We camped on BLM land,” she’s referring to the free, often desert terrain provided by the Bureau of Land Management, which is essentially free boondocking on public lands.

“It snowed. The stars were amazing. And Tennessee was just absolutely breathtaking. We didn’t get enough time in Tennessee.”

So what makes a family decide to pack the kids up and live on the road in such a way?

“I always had a dream of doing an RV road trip around the US and visiting the national parks. We bought a pup camper when the kids were three and one and did two weeks around southern Utah and Northern Arizona. We were hooked. We did a longer trip up to Oregon in 2017 for the full solar eclipse, and started planning for a longer full year plus trip.”

an RV camping at night

The Woods boondocking near Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

“We definitely prefer boondocking,” she tells us, “or national and state parks. RV parks are last resort for us.”

To fund their travels, the couple saved vigorously so that they could spend the year enjoying themselves fully, rather than working during the trip.

“Mixed feelings,” Liz admits, when talking about how the kids felt about their parents new idea. “They are really excited about seeing new things and camping, hiking, etc. But they miss friends and all their toys on the road. They also thought they wouldn’t have to do any school work.” She laughs.

Nevertheless, life goes on and so did the trip.

“When we were on the road,” she explains, “some days were better than others. Some days they’d beg us to go home. Other days they were so excited about whatever it was we were doing. Since we’ve been home for a year, they’re excited to go back on the road again and talking about what they should pack.”

Children have a funny way of both expressing a range of emotions, and not always the particular ones that their parents feel might line up with the current situation. Thus is the life of any parent, though, really. Liz brings up a good point about the last year, and kids’ desires in general.

“Even the kids at home are not in normal school so…”

Still, life on the road can definitely be very different than one in a “sticks and bricks” home. So what did Liz have to change while traveling?

“Everything,” she clarifies. “Our daily stresses have shifted to planning and worrying about where we’ll park for the night, where we can wash our clothes, when we’ll be able to shower, will we find a dump station soon?

“But the simplicity of having far fewer material objects to keep track of, getting to experience the outdoors, teaching my kids about being good stewards of nature and about different animals that exist is such a priceless experience.”

When they first hit the road, they wouldn’t normally stay in any given location for more than two days. She’s considering changing that moving forward. “This year I think we plan to stay in a couple places for a bit longer to visit family and to wait out the winter.

Camping in Great Basin National Park.

The Woods camping in Great Basin National Park.

“We are basically making the most efficient route as possible to go through the US. Our camper is also not very winterized so we’re trying to avoid cold weather. We try to stay open to everyone’s attitudes on the road though. Sometimes we just don’t want to do another national park and we find a museum or playground instead.”

There are other, minor annoyances, like how much longer it takes to get somewhere when you have to hitch up the trailer, and just driving times in general. And then there are some big ones.

“OMG the leaf spring,” she recalls.

“We purchased tow insurance through Good Sam, kind of on a whim.” It’s a good thing they did, since their leaf spring blew — while driving — and the entire axle of their trailer was nearly torn off. They heard the sound, felt the rumble, and at first thought it was a flat tire. Luck wouldn’t be having that particularly predicament.

“I convinced the tow truck driver to drop us at my cousin’s house,” she explains. They just happened to be nearby family when this all occurred, and the only other option was an RV mechanic who wasn’t even open at that moment. “We weren’t sure [the mechanic] would even have time to fix the trailer.”

Luckily, Liz comes prepared.

“I keep several tools with me in the trailer to fix things so I’m fairly confident that I would’ve eventually gotten it fixed, it just would’ve taken me longer. I’m a competent mechanic and can fix a lot of things and could’ve fixed the leaf springs too, but the cousins had a lot more tools and people.” A a free place to park, with water and electric.

“One cousin drove me to a steel place to buy replacement leaf springs, while the other cousin jacked and cribbed up the trailer and took off the wheels and old leafs. While he installed the leafs we took the wheels to a tire place and had the tires replaced.” A necessary part of the process, since the tires had been shredded to pieces during the incident.

Before long, they were back on the road again.

“RV and trailer repairs are usually pretty straight forward. YouTube is a wealth of information. Many people are fully capable of fixing things themselves, they’re just scared to try or they don’t have the tools to do it.”

boys in a toy airplane

New experiences for the kids on the road.

Liz had to repair the electrical system on their former, smaller trailer before.

“My ability to fix stuff is one of the reasons my husband married me,” she smiles.

Teacher, travel agent, RV mechanic, Supermom.

Aside from major accidents and the world shutting down for what seemed like forever there, life in an RV with her kids has come with ups, downs and surprises all woven between.

“I think the kids and I disagree on what is an absolute need,” she laughs again. “We are pretty minimalist at home too so I don’t think a ton of thought went into what we need on the road. We just watch what we use and need at home and packed it. Everyone agreed that the boxes of LEGO are an absolute need though.”

A nearly universal opinion.

“Pretty much everything we packed got used,” she says, “except we didn’t need nearly as many bandaids as I anticipated needing. Items we found just weren’t getting used we also donated or passed along on the road.”

Liz and Andrew do homeschool their kids, and when they first hit the road they were enrolled with an actual online homeschool charter. “It sounds like we won’t be allowed to enroll with them next year and still be able to travel full-time.” She takes it for what it is, though, and continues to explain the reality of teaching her own kids.

“We have good days and bad days. COVID has really thrown a wrench into things. We primarily work in workbooks so we don’t need internet access on the road.” She admits that being cooped up in an RV, with many outdoor activities closed, was too much. Hence the return to their home in San Diego. But there have been lasting effects on her and her children’s relationship already.

Campgrounds Related to This Interview

“I think they’re more likely to talk to me about what they’re thinking and feeling. I also have much better insight to their education and how they learn so I can better advocate for them when we eventually return to in-person public school.”

At the same time, all this togetherness has changed her and Andrew’s relationship in ways, too.

“With my husband, we have to work hard to communicate with each other. There are always kids listening or interrupting. It can be hard to get time to check in with each other.”

They plan to head up through California and Oregon, to Washington state, when they finally get back out there this summer. Seeing places, friends and family, yes, those are goals. But maybe the biggest goal of this whole year or so they’ll spend — hopefully uninterrupted by cataclysmic events this time — is what it’ll do for their family, for their boys.

“I hope they remember an awesome adventure seeing lots of cool stuff and seeing the whole country. I also hope they have an appreciation for nature and leave no trace.”

Moving on from moms who are just getting started with the traveling life to one who has been doing it for over a decade, raising four boys in the meantime.

#Vanlife with Mom

Renée Stevenson first jumped into a Volkswagen Bus with her boyfriend in 2009. He had a then 9-year old son, Tristan, in tow. In the years that followed, they’d add two more — Winter and Wylder — to the mix, move into an Airstream and van combo, and keep on down the road.

In the decade that followed, their traveling style would change over and again, ditching the Airstream to get back into that VW Bus, traveling to Mexico and Central America for a year, and then ditching the VW for a Sportsmobile. Tristan would end up yearning for a more typical high school experience, which lead them to park the Airstream on some land in Colorado. This allowed him to attend his last two years of high school while Renée and the boyfriend took their younger kids on shorter trips.

Full disclosure, the boyfriend is also the author of this piece.

“Tristan was already basically an adult when we were in the Bus,” Renée says to how they were able to travel while he was in school. “I mean, well, he was able to go out and explore on his own, even in foreign countries, which I didn’t necessarily agree with. But as soon as we got to the land, he had a job and then he got a car and was fairly responsible. He didn’t pick up after himself, of course, because, you know, he is a teenager.”

a mom and three of her children having a birthday celebration in their van

Renée celebrates her 40th birthday with her three youngest boys, in their Ford van.

Looking back over all of these years and moments spent — nearly every single day — with her kids, Renée doesn’t regret a thing.

“This has always been what I’ve wanted,” she pauses, “well, at least since I knew I wanted to have kids. We have so much time together. I haven’t spent two weeks, total, away from them.” Once in awhile, she explains, she make take a vacation for a couple of days without kids, but it’s rare.

“The first time we did that, went on a trip as just a couple” she recalls, “we go pregnant with Wylder. So it wasn’t totally alone time.”

In June of 2020, just as Tristan was all grown up and heading off to join the Navy, Renée added another boy to her ever-growing collection. “June wasn’t two months old and Nathan,” her boyfriend — aka, “me” — basically forced us back onto the road. She laughs, but it’s not entirely false.

“Some friends were coming through Northern Colorado,” she says, “and we felt like we’d be safe hanging out with them. We hadn’t seen anyone in so long, with COVID and then being pregnant and the long winter in Colorado before that. So, it was too soon, maybe, but it was good too.”

a mom and two of her boys in a VW bus

Waiting for the engine to cool down outside of Real de Catorce, Mexico. More from Renée on Instagram.

So there they were, a newborn, an eight- and ten-year old, plus mom and dad, in a van with no dedicated bathroom, at least not one that didn’t need “set up” and no shower at all. How does a mom handle all of that?

Renée explains. “I would say the hardest part for me is staying organized and keeping my children clean.” She thinks on it a minute. “And it’s not ideal when you’re somewhere where you can’t just pee outside. We avoid places like that, but in Florida and Pennsylvania and everywhere back there, you can’t always just camp in the woods.” When pressed on what other challenges living in a van with so many people presents, she thinks only briefly.

“That’s kind of it.”

Would she prefer to live in a larger RV, with more space?

“No,” she says abruptly, “whatever we’re living in is fine, an RV or a van. It’s really easy to adapt to the space you’re in after a week or two. It just becomes what you’re used to.

“We live in an RV, the Airstream, when we’re on our land in Colorado, so I don’t think it’s necessarily easier or I miss it or anything. But I don’t think we’d ever travel in an RV again. I can’t see us doing that.

“For one, we would never want to tow something again. It’s just a pain in the butt. It also limits you.” Then she changes her mind suddenly. “I don’t know, I wouldn’t mind doing a weekend in a really nice one. But I live in an Airstream right now and that’s enough RV time for me.”

When it comes to the kids, she sees no difference in the type of rig in which you choose to travel.

“I think the kids are just so happy to have the outside to run round and play in,” she gives the shortest day-in-the-life ever, “and then just have their own spot, their cozy zone, to come inside to sometimes.

“Give them that, and they’re happy.”

She finds #vanlife completely suitable for her ideal way of moving around, but doesn’t always find moving around ideal, either.

“When we go back to the same places,” she’s referring to most of the United States at this point, “I do kind of get sick of it. I’d like to be going places we’ve never seen before. But ultimately, I think this is better for my children so I just try and remember that this is what’s best for them, and that’s what matters most to me.”

She’s determined to raise her children outside, under the bluest skies and most beautiful vistas she can find on any given day.

“They’re basically forced to live outside,” she laughs with a big, gummy smile, but again isn’t particularly joking, “and I think that’s the most important thing for our kids. Maybe not all kids, but that’s what matters most to us.”

a mom and son in a Volkswagen Bus

Touring Texas with her kiddos.

Before June showed up, they had been to nearly every state in the Continental US and had traveled to Mexico and Belize as well. Renée says her ideal place is somewhere warm, and tends to prefer national parks and forests. And the restaurants and cute shops that tend to show up in small towns nearby those types of settings.

She also says that, given how often they’re somewhere that’s downright hot, she likes to keep the door open when they sleep at night, and doesn’t feel like they’ve been to many places that were dangerous.

“I’ll be completely honest,” she seems bashful with the interviewer, “wherever my husband is, that’s where I feel the safest. I know he’ll never put us somewhere weird, and if it is, I just know that it’ll be fine.”

Not even traveling south of the border?

“Of course I was a little hesitant at first,” she professes, “but once we got there I realized ‘We are fine, this is fine, I’m not worried bout anything.'” People are good all around the world, and while some places may have higher crime rates than others, to paint 127 million people in a country covering 761,000 square miles seems drastically unfair.

“That’s the exciting thing too,” she continues, “going somewhere that makes you a little nervous and then getting there and being like ‘This is so awesome, I’m so glad I did this.’ Instead of listening to people tell you ‘Don’t go there!’ and then you just miss out on so much.”

Perhaps that is fine and all, taking established young human males to parts unknown, but what about a nugget who has only just barely seen the light of day? That must be incredibly scary and difficult.

“I’d say when he was a newborn, it was pretty easy,” she tells, “and then once he started crawling and maneuvering around, it became difficult because we didn’t have anywhere for him to do that. We were in the desert, and you can’t just put him in some grass in the desert.” Hantavirus and baby’s desire to put everything in his mouth and all. “He didn’t want to sleep in our bed anymore, because he wanted to get up and move around, so we needed to figure something else out.”

Thus, back to the Airstream for now.

“But when he was a newborn it was easy,” she says it like it’s a no brainer. Like newborns are akin to those little teacup dogs some people carry around in their purse.

a mom holds her newborn in a Sportsmobile

Renée with her newborn son, camping somewhere in Wyoming.

“The teenager,” she continues, “was the hardest, 100%.

“When your kids are little they just roll with the punches, they’re best friends. They get excited about doing everything and it’s just a good time. Once they get older, you know, they come up with their own ideas and maybe they’re not the same as yours, maybe they don’t want to hang out with their parents as much.”

Not being on the same page like that, she continues, “It just makes things a lot more difficult.”

Looking back over all of her years, her best memories were spent experiencing things — sometimes things she’d done on her own, before being a mom — with her kids, doing it all over again with them. “It was like doing it for the first time,” she says.

“My favorite thing is when we lived in a pink shack on the beach in Belize, we’d see dolphins in the morning and drink sangria at night and it was absolutely wonderful.

“Or the first time I ever went to the redwoods and got to actually just be in there with my children. And anytime we’re able to camp on a beach, or in front of a river with friends and just watch the boys play all day in the water.”

With one child already winning the battle for “normal school,” what will she say if the others decide to rebel against this treehugging, barefooted hippy lifestyle she’s trying to cultivate for them?

Campgrounds From This Interview

“I would tell them that we’re not really going to do that. We’re going to travel around, not get sucked into a school situation. When we’re in our town, where we have the Airstream, I put them in as many activities as I can, so they can have that socialization aspect that we miss out on when traveling…but no, we’re not going to get tied down by a school again.”

What about traveling during COVID, though? Surely that came with its own risks.

“I don’t think it was safer or not as safe,” she says bluntly, “it was the same. The only place we go is the grocery store, and my husband mostly goes.” A signed piece of paper in the delivery room where June came into this world upgraded their relationship status last year, thanks to Colorado’s Commonlaw Marriage laws.

“The same thing happened while traveling,” she explains that things weren’t much different in any aspect, except that, “We definitely missed going to cool shops and restaurants, but we just realized that wasn’t part of it this time and did it differently.”

Dog Moms, Too!

While this Sunday millions of American kids will wake up and spill burned pancakes and mediocre coffee all over mom’s sheets, another slew of moms altogether will be getting their faces licked while their kids scratch at the front door. While the traditional Mother’s Day will drop on May 9th this year, one week later the nation will celebrate National Dog Mom’s Day.

We caught up with Jess Taylor, who’s been traveling around towing her 2020 Forest River R-pod with her 4Runner for the last fifteen months, along with her Chihuahua/Miniature Pinscher, Foxy.

a woman and her dog pose near the South Dakota welcome sign

Jess and Foxy entering South Dakota. More from Jess on Instagram.

Rearing up a dog on the road comes with its own sets of challenges, and benefits, some shared with mothers of two-legged rug rats and some completely unique to those of a more canine persuasion.

“Some of the challenges,” Jess explains, “have been that some camp spots don’t allow dogs or are strict on what dogs can and cannot do and in turn, and if that current trip I only have my 4Runner, I can’t leave her in the car to go do a hike that she is not allowed on during more extreme weather.”

And Jess and Foxy do like to hike together. “I’ve been blown away by her desire to hike and keep going. I’ve always been very mindful of our speed and the heat. To be honest, the harder and colder the hike, the better she does. For instance, if I’m carrying a big pack, I’m usually hiking very slowly, but consistently. And then as long as it’s not hot, she does great! Her black coat heats her up pretty quickly, but the high 10,000 plus foot hikes, she has done great!

“Slow and steady!”

A teenager now, Foxy is finding her rhythm as she approaches her golden years, and Jess doesn’t mind one bit.

a small dog in a red jacket

Foxy on the prowl!

“The great thing about her is that because she is so small, she can take breaks whenever she wants and I can pop her into my backpack and we continue on. Everyone on the trail loves to see her smiling and watching over my shoulder out on the trail.”

She laughs a little before admitting, “[Foxy] loves to pee on everything…it tends to slow me down in pace.”

Jess goes on to explain one of the biggest challenges that comes with traveling with a dog.

“[It’s] national parks and national monuments that don’t allow dogs to hike on the majority of trails. I have traveled a lot of places all over the country with Foxy, but we have been limited to hiking trails in the popular places. Thankfully, just driving through, most parks are beautiful enough for enjoyment as we pass through.”

Driving through is another of their shared pastimes. But not always on paved roads.

“I’ve always been a truck and off-road girl,” she exclaims. “It is one of my favorite hobbies.”

a 4runner pulling a travel trailer, parked outside of a biker bar in Montana

Jess and Foxy camping in a bar parking lot, meeting new people, living the dream!

“That’s where my 4Runner comes in and why it’s all decked out with off-roading gear and scratches,” she says with a wink. “I use it for what it’s made for, getting dirty and taking me to gorgeous, secluded camp spots! As for the R-Pod, long story short, the idea came to live full-time on the road.” It took her 11 days from the time she realized she wanted to live on the road to her first night camping in the trailer.

“It was a quick move and I’m thankful for that. I can get stuck overthinking and end up not moving forward due to it. I think that with an ‘I’ll make things work no matter what’ attitude, it made the quirks and character of the R-Pod perfect for Foxy and me!”

Where the last year has been full of change for nearly every human on Earth, so it was for Foxy and Jess, too. But in a different way.

“[2020] was a complete adventure for me. I sold two thirds of my stuff, bought a travel trailer and Foxy and I moved to live on the road full-time in February. I am blessed to have a fully remote job that allows me to live a nomad lifestyle. Little did we know that a month later everything would change.

“Thankfully, the road life and boondocking away from people was already a norm for me when the social distancing requirement hit. Last year, Foxy and I travelled to 25 states; from California to Texas to Montana, and now we are out in North Carolina and I couldn’t have been more thankful for the timing on all that.”

Having created her own change, Jess was able to avoid much of the uncertainty that came with the forced upheaval that was last year.

When Jess isn’t out hiking, off-roading or busy running her marketing business, Rabbit & Robin, Foxy loads her up on countless other adventures as well.

Left, a dog and her mom canoe across a lake. Right, mom and dog huggging.

Foxy and Jess, adventuring together.

“We like to bike ride, canoe, SUP, snuggle, take walks, watch movies, go to restaurants, go to dog parks and beaches, fly across the country, backpack, make homemade dog treats, learn new tricks.” Foxy has even helped her mow the lawn before.

“We like doing life together!”

Foxy is a third generation RV camper, actually.

“I grew up traveling in a Class C RV quite frequently with my family,” Jess recalls. “My father was always looking for the best boondocking places. He always wanted to be away from people. We would usually have the most amazing views, with nobody else in sight. We would always have a fire and have places to go off and adventure in nature. So due to that, I also have come to love the seclusion and even the challenges that come with boondocking with tanks, electricity, and water. I love it!”

Jess grew up in California, and that’s where she left before starting this trip as well.

“I called a small cabin in the San Bernardino Nation Forest my home before hitting the road. I love the beauty and diversity of California, but with a desire to be out in nature and away from people, I needed a change and it was time to move on.”

Now with the open road calling, she does still have a reason to be somewhere in particular, though.

“For a little while, I’m going to stay in the general area of North Carolina, in the RV park on base, as my boyfriend is an Active Marine.” While the life of a service member is not as freeing as Jess and Foxy’s, they do get to take the occasional weekend trip together.

“I would love to take some trips here and there to explore more of the East Coast as it’s mostly new to me. To be honest, I’m more of a spur of the moment decision maker. I’ve been enjoying destination trips lately with Harvest Host or taking the trailer to an off-road trail and having some 4×4 fun. Something I would like to do is make some intentional trips soon to visit historical sites on the East Coast.”

With a considerable lack of boondocking available on that side of the country, Jess is learning to enjoy other modes of camping.

“I’m still really enjoying the simplified life of living out of my trailer even in the RV Park.”

Through all of this, Foxy has been the main constant no matter where she goes.

a woman wearing a shirt that says dog mom while holding her dog.

Dog mom.

“There wasn’t a big change,” she explains how Foxy felt about leaving California for the life of a full-timer, something she doesn’t intend to give up anytime soon.

“I think because we have taken a lot of road trips, and camped so often in different places, she has gotten used to all the travel. On rare occasions, she will not eat for a day or two during a transition but she adapts pretty easily and loves to hop in the car, look out the window, smell the air and get to the next new place! Thankfully, she rarely barks so she is unseen and unnoticed most of the time. She’s the perfect companion for travel.”

More than a stealth travel pet, Foxy means the world to Jess.

Campgrounds Related to This Interview

“I sometimes wonder if I could have done all this solo traveling without her. She honestly makes me feel so confident.

“I’m never alone, she finds comfort with being with me and anytime I say ‘You want to go outside,’ she gets a big smile on her face, jumps up and down, and runs to the door.

“I so love this pup and I’m so thankful for these last 13 years we’ve had together and I can’t wait for more memories to come! I’m a very proud dog mom and it means to world to me when my family or friends get me flowers or a card from Foxy on Mother’s Day!”

So there you have it, moms from all walks of life, living it to the fullest out on the road with teenagers, newborns, big, small and four-legged families alike. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms, and especially you #mybestlife ladies who do more than most of us realize for only a fraction of the praise you deserve!