Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost: Family, Adventure, And The Open Road

We mostly fell into our current lifestyle by accident.

By: Jess Curren

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We were headed from Utah to Virginia to house swap with a family and fell in love with the road on our 18 day trip to get there. Needing a bit more weather protection than a minivan and a tent, we looked into Airstream trailers and within a month were driving to pick up our used, 2008, 27FB International from an independent seller in Illinois. Two months after that we left Virginia for a six month trek that changed our lives. We no longer wanted a house with a picket fence, soccer practice, or sidewalks. We craved open spaces, new experiences, and time together as a family. We sold our house, most of our possessions, and left Suburbia for another road-based adventure and haven’t looked back. That was over two years ago.

One of the greatest advantages of our lifestyle is the ability to experience amazing outdoor adventure year round, all over the country. As a Recreation Management major from Brigham Young University, I spent most of my college years mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, skiing, and river rafting in Utah. After my husband and I were married, he brought his backpacking experience into the mix and we learned to snowboard together. Now, we get to share our love for these activities with our kids as we travel all over the United States. Since we follow milder weather (north in the summer, south in the winter) many of these pursuits are available all year.

Photo: Jess Curren

For us, there’s also never a drive “home”. Getting somewhere to backpack, hike, paddle, or explore takes half the time as once we are finished at a location we simply move on to the next. We’ve backpacked in three different locations around Lake Superior and in Georgia twice. We’ve mountain biked in the deserts of Arizona, the suburbs of Minneapolis, and the bike parks of Florida. We’ve paddled in the Everglades and the Florida Keys, hiked to all 10 Falls in Oregon’s Silver Falls State Park and to the top of Nevada Falls in Yosemite. Our youngest daughter completed three, ten-mile hikes before she turned five years old! We chose a small, 28 foot trailer so we could camp in the national and state parks putting us next door to trails and can leave on adventures right from our Airstream.

We’ve found doing hard things as a family has brought us even closer together. There’s a significant, shared accomplishment we feel, we love and trust one another, and have each developed a greater, personal confidence. We’ve watched our kids grow and mature and reinforce their love for nature and the outdoors. I can’t think of a better way to experience and enjoy our country than exploring the out of way, wilderness places!

In addition to their outdoor education, we also homeschool our kids. While I had never had interest in keeping our kids home before traveling, I’m completely addicted now. We call it “road schooling” because traveling provides many learning opportunities and it is easy to educate our kids about many practical life lessons. We study math, spelling, language arts, and grammar but they’ve also earned over 90 Jr. Ranger Badges as various National Parks, Monuments, and Historic Sites, visited countless science centers, can easily tell you exactly where to find a Saguaro cactus, and know what “Cypress Knees” are.

Photo: Jess Curren

Our kids converse and interact easily with children their own ages as well a adults, read well above their grade level, and can out-backpack, out-hike, and out-bike many adults. They also love to help me cook, are master grocery shoppers, and are proficient at laundry - many skills high school graduates are lacking. Far from limiting their education, I believe homeschool has opened our eyes to the possibilities this world has to offer and given them life-long skills.

We love that our pace of life is slower. More often than not, we take an evening walk together after dinner as there is nothing better to do. Going outside always seems to fix a grumpy mood, calm us down, and help us feel closer together. Luckily, “outside” and “wilderness” are often just outside our door. It’s almost cheating because we can experience slowly the amazing places our country has to offer while mixing in school and work.

Photo: Jess Curren

Almost all of our time is spent together as a family rather than my husband and I playing taxi running our kids to various activities. With Sam’s flexible work hours as a remote programmer, we eat three meals a day together and are always in each others’ space. Far from feeling restricting, as parents we feel we are more in tune with our kids and their needs. There are so many good things that kids (and even parents!) can be involved in, but really what our kids want is us. They want to spend time with their parents. We’ve traded suburb neighborhoods, after-school programs, and piano lessons for quality family time, traveling Insta-meets, Jr. Ranger programs, hiking, and swimming in lakes.

So that’s our story. At least some of it anyway. We are in awe of how traveling has affected our family and our life for the better and we couldn’t be happier. Will we travel forever? No. We have goals that will be hard to accomplish traveling full-time, but until then we will enjoy our wanderings and time together as a family.

Stay energized on the road with CLIF:

Cover photo: Jess Curren

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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.