I hope you enjoyed learning about a day in the life a flight attendant last week for the first interview in my travel series this month. This week I’m thrilled to be sharing an interview with my friend Linden Jones. We have known each other for quite a while; back in high school we played volleyball together and Linden has always been an incredibly positive and joyful person that I love being around. Though we haven’t lived in the same city for a while, it has been so fun watching her family’s adventures and the emphasis she places on healthy living and nutrition each day. I know you will love learning about how she and her husband have been able to transition into traveling the US full time with their family in this interview!
Share a little about your background – family, travel, schooling, etc. Did you travel much growing up?
Thank you so much, Emily, for asking me to share our family’s story about living on the road full-time! I have been married to my husband, Matthew, for 16 years. We have three sons ages 11, 10, and 7. We homeschool on the road. I did not travel growing up. The first time I got on a plane, I was 16 years old. The extent of my travel growing up was one weekend a year to Florida to see family. I met Matt and we married in college. He had grown up traveling and I always wanted to travel, so we started traveling together and it was a blast! Any time we could get away, that’s what we did. If he had a work trip, we would add days for sightseeing. We were married for 4 years before we had kids, so we did a lot of traveling together in those years. Once we had kids, we traveled the standard family vacation for a week out of the year to the beach or Disney.
Have you always been interested in pursuing a nomadic lifestyle with your family? If not, what sparked your interest in doing this?
We did not always have this as a dream. A combination of things sparked our interest in doing this. We started watching YouTube families that were on the road full-time and we were intrigued. Then some friends of ours decided to take the plunge and they loved it. They have been on the road now for over 4 years. I remember Matt and I talking the night before our oldest son turned 9 and we were just talking about how he was halfway out of our house and time was flying by. We decided if we wanted to make it happen, then we should start moving in that direction. It took us about 16 months from that conversation to hit the road full-time.
How long have you been on the road with your family so far and how much ground have you covered?
We have been on the road for 15 months now and have covered 26 states and 5 Canadian provinces.
How long do you plan to continue this lifestyle and would you ever continue being nomadic overseas?
Right now, we don’t really know how long we will continue. We have tentative plans to stay put this winter in Florida and then we will reassess if we want to head back out. In our first year, we had stayed at 54 different campgrounds! So, we have moved pretty fast. We are looking forward to being in the same place for a couple of months. We have talked about being nomadic overseas. It would make our jobs online more difficult, so we are unsure if it would be logistically possible.
How have your children reacted to being on the road?
They have done great! Kids are so resilient and need so much less than we think they need. I was so afraid that when we sold most of their possessions in order to make this trip happen that we would scar them for life or something. But the opposite has happened. I think they are more organized and more creative with fewer possessions. And most of our time is spent exploring places together, so none of us really miss the stuff.
How do you deal with being homesick/missing family and friends?
It is hard being away from family and friends, but we have been surprised by the blessing of seeing friends on the road. We have been able to visit people from our lives all over North America, some we haven’t seen in many years. Friends that we wouldn’t have taken a family vacation to go spend time with, but since we are exploring in their state and have our home with us, why not drop in for a few days? It’s been really fun! We facetime our family regularly and some family has flown to visit us in different states.
What steps did you take to prepare for being able to travel full-time?
There are many steps you have to take when preparing to travel full-time. We had to purchase our camper. We decided on a fifth wheel because of the space that it provides. We purchased our camper one year before we left so that we could use it and get a feel for the logistics of living in it. We had to decide what to do with our house. Ultimately, the right decision for us was to sell it. We had to figure out what to do for internet on the road. We work online, so we need reliable internet. We had to figure out how to get our mail. We needed a state to use as a domicile state because we didn’t technically have an address anymore. There are many mail forwarding services that also provide physical addresses, so technically we live in Florida. We needed to figure out the homeschooling laws for our domicile state and make sure we would be compliant. We had to liquidate about 95% of our possessions. We had a 3,400 square foot house and we downsized to 400 square feet. A lot of things had to go. We had a large estate sale, many garage sales, sold things on Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, donations, etc. The hardest decision to make was to decide the exact date we would leave. Matt had to resign from his job and we didn’t know exactly when we would pull the trigger and just make it happen. When he put in his month’s notice, we hadn’t sold our house yet or even most of our possessions. It made for a busy month!
What have been the most challenging parts of traveling?
Sometimes we get really tired, and on those days it is hard to keep the boys occupied. We have a travel day once a week, or more. We get to a new place and we want to explore. I feel like we have been on the go for the past 15 months. Some days we all just crash.
What have been the most rewarding parts of this lifestyle for you?
The best part is all of the time we spend together and the memories we make with each other. There is nothing better than a long day together as a family hiking in a National Park or exploring a museum together. We had never spent 24/7 with each other like this and we LOVE it! So often in our “traditional” life, we were going different directions and running from one event to the next without much daily time for conversation with each other. Now, we talk to each other all day and spend a ton of time together. It has been the most incredible experience as a family. It has truly changed us all and shaped our family in a way that nothing else could.
Do you have a particular itinerary planned out in advance or do you leave it flexible depending on how much you like a certain area once you arrive?
Matt does all of the planning. At any given time, he has the next 4-5 months completely planned out. Because our camper is so large, we have to make sure we have spots reserved. Also, we wanted to be in places like Yosemite and Yellowstone in the peak times of travel, so reservations were a must. There have been certain places that we wish we could’ve stayed longer or shorter for some, but overall it has been great and we have avoided the stress of short term scrambling for a place to stay.
What does a typical day look like as far as balancing work, teaching your children, travel time, personal time, fitness, etc?
I teach VIPKid in the mornings. By the time I am done, Matt and the boys are awake and done with breakfast. Usually, we have one travel day per week, three exploring days, and three camper days. On the exploring days, Matt will have lunch packed and we get dinner in the InstantPot with a timer. We then spend the day together hiking, exploring a city, going to a museum, biking, swimming, etc. then return to dinner. Then on the days at the camper, Matt will work on more traditional school work with the boys and we will also get our weekly work done with our online Juice Plus franchise. We usually catch up on laundry and grocery shopping on our camper days also. It has worked really well for us. Our personal time is minimal and is usually when we are exercising. Matt and I like to run, so we take our turns running each day for fitness and personal time. Also, we will have quiet time on the camper days where we each are reading or doing something creative on our own.
What do you and your husband do for work?
As I mentioned above, I teach English to kids in China with a company called VIPKid. We also started our own Juice Plus franchise six years ago and have built a great business with that.
What has it been like adjusting to living in an RV instead of a house?
We love it. We have talked a lot about never going back to a large house. If we ever do settle down in a house again, it will be small. We love that we can have our camper clean in 30 minutes! We save so much time! We love the simplicity of only having a few changes of clothes and doing laundry more often. We have experienced the benefits of the minimalist movement and we are hooked.
What advice would you give for someone looking to travel full time, either alone or with a family?
My one piece of advice would be that you both have to be totally on board. There is no way this would work if one partner is dragged into it. Living this way is hard work. There are sacrifices that you have to make in order to have all of the awesome freedom and adventure. You don’t want to make a spouse feel bitter for being forced into those sacrifices.
Emily again! I am astounded by how much Linden and Matt have been able to see with their boys in just over a year and have loved learning about new places through following their journey. I know they have both worked so hard to make the transition into being a nomadic family and I love that they have been able to create a life of adventure, healthy living and minimalism. You can keep up with their adventures by subscribing to their YouTube channel or by following them on Instagram! Thanks for reading!