Shae and Sheri Smith and their six kids began their fulltime traveling adventure in September of 2008. Their oldest, Cody, is now 18; Hanna is 16; Naomi is 10; Gabriel is six; Josephine is four; and Tytus is one-year-old. They started their trip in one vehicle: a Dodge dually 4×4 1-ton. It pulls their 42’ Toy Hauler fifth-wheel. After baby number six was born, they bought a 15-passenger Chevy van that now pulls a flatbed trailer with four ATVs, three kayaks, seven bikes, and all the gear to go with it. They love being together, either just hanging around the camper or going on one of their many crazy adventures!
Here’s our 20 questions for this amazing family:
1. What led to your decision to travel fulltime in an RV?
“My husband was severely ill for 13 years. After a brain surgery, he was finally well. As time went on, we saw that our belongings and unnecessary commitments were stealing all of our time. We felt that we needed to bond closer together and to God. With a desire to teach our children to love each other more, us more, and get a great education, we sold our home and either gave away or sold most of our belongings.”
2. Do you plan to stop traveling someday or are you open-ended with your plans?
“We had committed to one year, but have continued for over 2 ½. We would like a home base at this point, but have decided to wait until we can afford it.”
3. What are three things you absolutely love about RVing fulltime?
“Spending more time with my family instead of things. Watching my children have experiences that are so special and unique. Meeting the amazing people all over the United States.”
4. What are three things you absolutely hate about RVing fulltime?
“When I take a shower, I have to stand in one spot because if I don’t the pipes leak. But not only that, if anyone flushes, washes, or brushes in water, my shower turns horribly cold. 2. Where on earth do I store everything I need for 8 people, year round. Clothes, school books, food, paperwork, entertainment… 3. Storms in a camper are miserable. I have gotten used to the high winds, but severe weather is not safe.”
5. How do you fund your travels?
“My husband is a telecommunications engineer and works out of an office made in our closet.”
6. What do your kids love about living in an RV?
“My teen daughter loves to meet new people. My teen son loves kayaking, ATVing, and hiking across the country. My 9 year old loves spending time with her family most of all. My 6 yr old like to conquer the new lands we go to. My 3 yr old just likes to stay at the campground and play. My one year old loves being outside so much.”
7. What do your kids dislike about it?
“Not much room. There are many days we stay home and because of weather we might have to stay inside. It gets cramped fast.”
8. How have you and your husband changed since you started this adventure?
“We have changed so much. As I write this, I am in the process of so many changes I dare not even attempt to write them all down.”
9. How have your kids changed?
“When they see someone in need they do not have to be told to help. From the oldest to the youngest, they jump up and help. Some are not as shy as they used to be. Learning to share and get along is better, but also more difficult in such small quarters. My teens are not afraid to make new friends.”
10. What is one item you brought with you that absolutely didn’t need?
11. What is one item that you cannot live without?
“So many…one is a crock pot.”
12. What one of the most common misconceptions about full timing with kids?
“We have six, so we are unique and have problems that smaller families do not. But for us, I find that I had thought I would spend less time on chores that I do. I had hoped to have more free time to do different activities with the children. Yet, we still do so much more than when we had a home.”
13. How did your family and friends respond when you told them about your plans to hit the road in an RV?
“Many doubts from some and lots of support from others. Most everyone thought we were a bit crazy, but this would not be the first time they thought that. We have always been a bit adventurous. We did not ask everyone their opinion. We only asked our pastor and our grandmother. We were careful to not discuss it before we made our decision.”
14. How do you handle naysayers?
“Honestly, I just don’t have time to deal with them. They can have their opinion, I just prefer not to hear it.”
15. If you could change one thing about your RV, what would it be?
“A second bathroom in the back.”
16. What is your worst/scariest moment during your travels?
“In south Florida, we were heading out for a day trip and just missed a shooting at the Wal-Mart.”
17. What is one of your most cherished memories?
“Driving through the Sand Hills of Nebraska. It was so peaceful.”
18. Name one place you’ve stayed that you would definitely go back to again?
“Almost everywhere, but to narrow it down, one place would be the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming.”
19. Name one place you’ve stayed that you would never go back again?
“South of Miami, FL.”
20. What advice would you give to a family who is considering RVing fulltime?
“Try it short term before you sell your home. If you cannot do that, then really take the time to be sure this is the lifestyle for you. Read blogs and books to find out what it is really like. This is not an easy life. Yet, as I say that, I know it is mainly because we have six kids in a camper. I believe some of the extra work and difficulties we have are because there are so many of us and the age of my children is so far apart. Still, I wouldn’t change anything. Much of the extra work wouldn’t change if I were in a house or in a camper. Just remember, sometimes our ideas of what something will be like can be totally different than reality. I have found that some things are much better than I imagined and other things much harder.”
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