Growing up, travelling was at the forefront of my mind. Any opportunity to do so I would jump on, often to the dismay of my mother. At the age of 14, my friends and I dreamed of buying a van and going on a long road trip to anywhere. Fast forward to my early 20’s; the road trip never came to fruition. However, my husband and I backpacked around Australia for a month and later travelled to French Polynesia.
Preparing to Travel
Being a homeschool family, we knew we wanted our children to experience different cultures and ways of life. Flights and accommodations for a family of 5 (at the time) was not feasible and thus began a new dream of RV travelling. My husband and I had gone through Dave Ramsey’s financial course and had in previous years become debt free. We were familiar with budgets and saving, and so we put forth a plan. A percentage of our income went into our RV fund. We picked up odd jobs over the course of a few years with profits going into said fund. When we were just about ready to travel, I sold my small business which gave us a modest budget for an RV. We soon purchased a 2000 Allegro Bay Motorhome with no rust and little mileage on a Chevy 454 gas engine.
Owning a motorhome does not come without challenges and learning curves. We thought we knew what to look for and how to operate one after a few years of research. Let’s say it has been a humbling experience. (Watch the movie RV with actor Robin Williams, and it will describe just about everything we have learned and experienced. And if you too are an RV owner, you will hilariously be able to relate.)
My husband is a lobster fisherman and commercial diver. With winter being his usual downtime, we planned to hit the road in February of 2020. Our children were seven, five, and three at the time. We also brought along our female Great Dane and a young man who was living with us at the time, trying to “get his life together.” And so, we began from our home base in Eastern Canada and made our way down to the east coast of Florida.
Shortly after passing the “Welcome to Virginia” sign, our motorhome broke down on I-95. Having purchased CAA prior to the trip, there was no need for alarm. The tow truck arrived and attempted to hook us up and tow us to a nearby garage for the night. I called an Uber for the kids and I while my husband, the young man, and our dog planned to ride in the cab of the tow truck. Sitting in the Uber, I could hear my husband hollering. As I stepped out to see what was going on (on the six-lane highway), I could see our dog running up the highway with her leash in tow. She had been spooked by all of the flashing lights and pushed out by my husband and onto the highway where she was hit by a small car. I ran after her for a mile, but she was too fast and was soon out of my sight. We asked the Uber to drive us up and down the highway multiple times but to no avail.
As I stepped out to see what was going on
(on the six-lane highway), I could see our dog running
up the highway with her leash in tow.
It was now the middle of the night, and we had to go to the garage and wait for sunlight to search again. I found many pet search groups on social media and soon had multiple people reaching out to me, ready and willing to lend a hand in the search. We had many tips from professionals, who devote their lives to finding beloved pets. We had one professional on their way later that afternoon to help us in the search. We all thought our trip was ending before it had a chance to begin.
The owner of the garage we were at offered us his car to aid us in the reunification of our fur baby. We hit I-95, where we soon found out you are legally not allowed to park on the side of the highway. With my children and I on one side of the woods and my husband and the young man on the other, we began scouring the area with multiple kind Virginians.
I soon received a phone call from my husband who exclaimed, “We’ve got her!” They emerged from the wooded area, my husband carrying the 90 lbs. of Great Dane. She had minor cuts on her legs and paws and was cleared by the vet. Within twelve hours from the start of the ordeal, we were back on the road with a working motorhome and a very tired dog.
The Adventure Continues
We continued on to Florida, making a few stops along the east coast and making it as far as the Keys. We continued up the west coast of Florida over the course of a month. Our plan was to return home after two to three months, but then Covid. We kept an eye on the news and skipped a few stops in case we needed to get home. The day we decided to make our way to Kentucky and visit the Creation Museum was the day we began getting a slew of calls and messages to say that there were talks of closing the border.
The Creation Museum was top of my list to visit. My husband reluctantly drove through the night, and we arrived just in time for opening. We spent the day in awe of God’s goodness and in how well the museum was presented. We sat in on a talk Ken Ham was giving, and afterward the kids (and myself) were able to interact with animals and learn about all of the amazing design features each one was given by its Creator. We were able to give our children tangible evidence of what we believe and why.
Racing for Home
After a full day and little sleep, we drove through the night once more to get to the border. A few hours prior to arrival, everyone came down with fevers and an illness none of us had experienced before or has since. As it turned out, we had Influenza B, and we spent the next two weeks in bed mostly, with family dropping food at our door.
Travelling in an RV with children and a pet did not come without its challenges, but I would do it all over again. The impact on your life and the life of your family from travelling and homeschooling cannot be measured.
As far as homeschooling while RVing, the course materials I brought along were Math and Language Arts. The rest of the subjects I supplemented with experiences on the road. In the mornings if it was a travel day, we would sit at our dinette and work through each subject. If we were parked somewhere and it was a nice day, we would move our work outside. With the eldest children being seven and five, we could easily be finished in under 2 hours. They also had age-appropriate travel journals where they would write and draw their experiences each day. The rest of their schooling came naturally and was unscripted.
From visiting Battleship North Carolina and learning about World War II, experiencing the kindness of strangers, to seeing the goodness and power of God, homeschooling on the road, though cut short, left our family with many lessons learned. Now that the pandemic has passed, we are making plans to travel again in the coming winter, perhaps toward the west.
Our children are now thirteen (the age of our recently adopted daughter), eleven, nine, and seven. We have more homeschooling years under our belt. Course work will be more time consuming as they advance in their ages, but we cannot wait to embark on the adventure the Lord has for us and what lessons our children (and ourselves) will carry for a lifetime, Lord willing.
Written by Tiffany Ingalls
Tiffany lives on Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick, Canada where she and her husband homeschool their four children. She has a conviction to see God’s kingdom grow by advocating for those who may not have a strong voice. Tiffany has a diploma in Family and Youth Care with Addictions and has plans to re-enter the field when her children are older. When she is not homeschooling or driving one of her children to the next event or social gathering, you will find her creating, whether it be through travel or event planning, writing, music, or gardening.