With summer in full swing, we decided to reach out to a few RVing families that have been on our radar and inspiring us this season. First up, we’d like to introduce you to Barry Good Times. This family of five ditched their house in March of 2015 and embarked on a journey in a fifth wheel. The couple “road-schools” their kids and have decided to do go the non-traditional route in effort to obtain one simple life goal… to thrive.
We caught up with the crew a few weeks ago to chat about their very first week on the road, their day to day schedules, money saving tips and so much more. Check out the interview below.
La Mesa RV: What was your first week like on the road with your family?
Jen Barry: When we decided to launch full-time into the traveling-RV lifestyle, we knew that it would be a big adjustment for our three children. We opted for a short trip to Palm Desert to help us acclimate before we planned more extended travel. I remember that first week well – it was filled with a lot of excitement and a lot of craziness. What we learned quite quickly was that our family thrives when traveling and that less is definitely more! It takes some time to adjust to living in a modest 384 square foot space. I truly believe that through this experience, we have learned to have more grace with one another.
LMRV: Take us through a “day in the life” for you and your crew!
JB: I will be honest, we started out with a lot more structure in our schedule. Once we got a taste of travel and adventure with our kids though, we learned the value in expanding the walls of our classroom. Instead of simply reading textbooks, we live through history, we walk the geography and explore the science. So with the ability to visit the Alamo in Texas, walk through Gettysburg, dip our toes in the headwaters of the Mississippi, follow the Lewis and Clark Trail back west and then read the Constitution in person, we opt for more field trips and then add the school work around that.
Typically we will plan at least one main excursion per week as a family, usually on the weekend when my husband is not working. With two teenagers and a tween, we start our day with school work and try to leave the RV after lunch to explore the city we are in. Our activities will always depend on the location. If we are near a National Park, you will surely find us hiking. If we are along the coast, I guarantee we will be in the water. If we are in a big city, there will certainly be a coffee shop and some gourmet pastries involved.
LMRV: What are some ways you’ve saved money on the road?
JB: After 39 months of RV travel, we have learned many ways to save. One of our largest expenses is lodging. At this point, I do believe we have tried every RV club available. Our favorite clubs to save money are Harvest Hosts and a zone pass with Thousand Trails. We have also saved so much money on healthcare by switching to Liberty Health Share, rather than utilizing a traditional health insurance plan.
Food is also a considerable expense for our family, with almost three teenagers in the house. We use our Costco membership whenever possible to stock our freezer and fridge in the craftiest of ways. Having chicken and meats in the freezer sure saves money when you are in a small town with limited offerings.
LMRV: Family friendliest campground you’ve been too?
JB: Fransted Family Campground in Franconia, New Hampshire is the most family friendly campground we have visited. The owners of this park understand families and they understand kids. We have been to so many parks where the joy of the family camping experience has been lost, but not here!
The campground is gorgeous and nestled into the White Mountains. Kids are encouraged to be kids here. My children loved floating tubes down the tiny river that runs through the property. There is also a huge field with equipment for families to play baseball, soccer, volleyball, horseshoes, you name it, they have it. In a world where parks want to charge you for each kid you have, this park says come and have fun, all for one flat nightly fee. The owners welcome you with a smile, invite you to an ice cream social and help you plan your hike in the nearby state park. You can read more about this park on our blog. We are huge fans of Fransted Family Campground and would love to see many other families enjoy the same experience that we had.
LMRV: Name one place you’ve been where your kids had a blast but was also a great time for the parents?
JB: We absolutely loved camping at Custer State Park in South Dakota. This is hands down, one of our very favorite parks. We were able to park in the Game Lodge Campground and we had the best of both worlds, nature and hook-ups. Every evening bison roamed past our campsite as we grilled dinner and provided great entertainment. This area has so much to offer with Mt. Rushmore and several National Parks, not to mention amazing hiking and lake activities. We spent two weeks there and still did not see everything! If you love the outdoors, this should be on your bucket list.
LMRV: What is your easiest, yummiest, 100% kid approved go-to meal?
JB: Last fall I finally joined the rest of the RV world and purchased an Instant Pot. After two weeks of staring at it with intimidation, I began to experiment. I quickly fell in love with all the flexibility that it brought to our travel life! I am constantly finding new recipes online, but our family favorite is a whole roasted chicken. This chicken, is without doubt, the best chicken we have ever had. It is so easy to make! I will cook it after lunch and then it will automatically turn to “warm” until we are ready. I strip it off of the bone with a fork and have to battle my family to stay away until dinner is served as they are always trying to sneak some when the pot opens. I still cannot believe that my kids feel this way about chicken! We put this chicken in tacos, pair it with our favorite veggies and use it in sandwich wraps or put it in our favorite soups. My kids absolutely love it with roasted veggies and a fresh baguette. Fresh, tasty chicken works with so many meals! I will almost always use the chicken and then take the scraps to make homemade bone broth in the same pot, which delivers the most insanely delicious soup broth you can imagine.