Making the leap to start living in an RV fulltime is a big decision – one that might not come easy to some.
But Karen Apkan of The Mom Trotter found the idea of living in an RV intriguing. She and her family have always been into some sort of travel, whether it was catching a last-minute flight to Paris or heading to Disneyland.
So RVing to see the United States, spend a lot of quality time as a family, and have adventures in the great outdoors seemed like a logical next step.
“I joined a couple of RVing Facebook groups and started reading about how people were able to RV full-time,” she said. “I wasn’t exposed much to RV life in the past – a lot of black people don’t RV – so I didn’t think much about it before.”
But the lifestyle looked exciting, so Karen, her husband Sylvester and son Aiden rented an RV for a mini-vacation and were hooked.
How They Chose the Best RV for Family Travel
Renting an RV was the perfect way for Karen and her family to experience RVing for the first time.
“I think everyone should rent before buying an RV or trailer,” said Karen. “Make sure you like it. Little things about it may annoy you. When we rented, we took our nieces and nephew so had four kids with us! The kids loved it so much and we were all really happy.”
After that trip, Karen knew living in an RV could be her every day life.
EDITOR’S NOTE: To rent an RV, head to the website Outdoorsy – which is a peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace a lot like Airbnb. Use the coupon code “wayward40” for $40 off your rental!
The couple eventually settled on a Fleetwood Tioga Class C RV, the perfect rig for a family.
“It was important for our son Aiden to have his own space, his own little room where he could go,” said Karen. “We also wanted an RV that had the bathroom and toilet separate.”
You can check out a tour of the couple’s Class C RV here:
Once they’d made the decision to live in an RV, everything went so fast. The couple put most of their stuff up for sale, sold their home, stuck everything else in storage and bought their RV one week later.
It all felt a little rushed, but everything worked out in the end.
“I was okay with letting our stuff go,” said Karen. “It felt very freeing for me. I don’t have stuff holding me back anymore.”
How They’re Liking Their RV Lifestyle
With COVID, things have looked a little different for Karen’s family than during a typical summer camping season. But, they’ve had a lot of fun and managed to make it all work.
“We’ve done so much nature stuff like hiking, exploring waterfalls and lakes,” she said. “We’ve also met so many families along the way.”
The family usually starts their day by getting some work done, and their son Aiden does schoolwork. Then, he usually finds children to play with wherever they’re camping.
“The RV community is really friendly,” said Karen. “We didn’t even talk to our neighbors when we lived in a house. In every RV park, my son has met friends and we’ve exchanged emails with parents.”
Karen and her family are living the RV lifestyle on the fly – without a plan, totally freeflow. If they feel the urge to move, they call an RV park and ask about availability.
“Planning is too stressful,” said Karen. “What if you’re in a place you love and you want to stay longer?”
Working and Schooling on the Road
This type of content creation work has given them way more freedom and flexibility than they ever dreamed was possible.
“My husband is a nurse and I worked in clinical research,” said Karen. “We both worked 40-50 hours per week before we started the blog.”
Now, the couple can choose where and when they work, an amazing complement to the RV lifestyle.
Their son, Aiden, is homeschooled, but not in the traditional sense. He’s “unschooled”, which means self-directed learning.
“We help my son explore and learn at his own pace,” said Karen. “He knows more about the RV than me and he’s 7! He can empty all the tanks and knows the difference between gray and black tanks.”
Aiden is also helping in kitchen, and does chores like putting gas in their RV.
“My son learns so much every day. Kids are natural-born leaders. Sometimes I buy him workbooks, but most of his time learning is out in the world,” said Karen. “For example, we incorporate math concepts into our way of life, such as when we’re hiking, cooking or baking.”
How Long They Plan on RVing
Karen’s family’s original plan was to RV for one year. They want to see every U.S. state, pay off all their debt, and spend quality time as a family.’
However, after only a few months of RVing, Karen can see it going on longer than they first planned.
“I walked into a house the other day and I felt so closed in,” said Karen. “I really missed my tiny space. I can’t see us stopping anytime soon.”
Be sure to follow along on Karen’s YouTube Channel, The Mom Trotter.
Karen and her son Aiden are also founders of Black Kids Do Travel, which has a mission to encourage parents of children of color to travel the world.
Other RVing stories to check out:
- Why RVing with Kids Doesn’t Suck
- The Best Small Class C RVs for Living and Traveling
- 40+ ways to make money from an RV
Kristin Hanes is a journalist who founded The Wayward Home as a place to learn about alternative living. She currently lives on a sailboat and in a Chevy Astro van, and has written articles about alternative living published in Good Housekeeping, Business Insider, Marie Claire and SF Gate. Read more about Kristin here.