How to Enjoy More Family Time Together and Live in an RV Full Time

The Boyink family from Ditching Suburbia is on a mission. A mission to make sure more families enjoy time together before the kids will be off to college and family time is over.

In this interview they share how they got far more time together as a family, how they manage to live together in an RV and how they handled raising kids on the road.

Michael & Crissa Boyink in front of Sally the campervan.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

We are from Holland, MI USA. We are currently back in our hometown – we tend to visit once a year or so. Our oldest is now 20 and living here on his own. Our youngest just started working fulltime and is looking for a room to rent.

We are travelers, explorers, relationship-builders, writers, thinkers and readers.

For work we run a Content Studio where we create content for other businesses. We’re experienced at blog posts, graphics, eBooks, podcasts, screencasts and video.

How and why did you get into living in an RV?

We had the normal house and hated it. We felt alone there. We felt shackled to the house – always having to fix it. We thought we would die there.

Then my oldest turned 13 and we realized how short our time was together. We realized my income was all online and as homeschoolers we weren’t tied to a school system. We came up with the idea of a 1-year road trip as a homeschooling lark. 1 year turned into 2 became 3 and suddenly 6 years later we can’t imagine going back.

Sally the campervan parked near Lake Macatawa in Holland, Michigan.

What kind of RV do you have?

We have a 19′ 1995 Pleasure-Way Class B / Campervan. We’ve only been in this one for 2 months. We just sold a 34′ fifth wheel that we had lived in for 3.5 years. We wanted to be smaller and nimbler to be able to get deeper into cities and more further out into remote areas. We also got rid of some debt by selling off the fifth wheel.

We’re still figuring out the new rig, and it took too long to find it to think about replacing it now…:)

Our now-sold 5th wheel by the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado.

What are the best parts of living in an RV?

Living in an RV allows us to own our days. We decide when to get up. We decide where we’re going to be. We decide how long we will stay and when it’s time to move on. We decide what client work to focus on that day, or if it’s an adventure/outside day.

In the RV we live closer to the weather. There is no big house and giant roof to insulate us from rain, cold, or hot. We have to pay much closer attention to the weather forecasts.

What are the most difficult parts of living in an RV?

The surprisingly difficult thing is deciding where to go. When you can go anywhere, how do you choose? Oh, and national holidays / school breaks that fill up the campgrounds when we aren’t looking.

We aren’t often in a place where we “have to keep going”. If we are weary of the road we stop down for a while until we are weary of being at rest .

We avoid cold weather / snow by moving with the season – north in the summer and south in the winter. Inclement weather we try to avoid by season (not being in Tornado Alley in tornado season, etc), but also by carefully watching the forecast for where we are going.

Sally the campervan near Grand Rapids, MI.

How do you eat and sleep?

We are still adjusting to the kitchen in the campervan. We no longer have an oven. Or a grill. We had to downsize the crockpot. We have a 2-burner stove and microwave. We are having to shop more often because the fridge and food storage is smaller than we were used to.

We just started experimenting with some freeze-dried meals . We just had our first freeze-dried meal tonight. It’s a sponsored arrangement so you’ll have to watch our blog for our reaction to it.

For sleeping every night we convert the rear couch to a double bed. I’m 6’3″ and my wife is 5’7″ so it’s a small space. I have to sleep diagonally and she gets a corner to curl up in. We still get 8-9 hours of sleep a night.

The campervan had a “wet bath” which is a tiny bathroom / shower combination. I literally can not fit in there and close the door. So we removed the shower pieces and are relying on campground showers. We may create an outdoor shower in the future.

For the toilet we use a combination of the RV toilet and campground facilities.

Where do you usually park your RV?

One goal of moving to the campervan was to be able to park it in more places and different places. So far that hasn’t happened yet – largely due to having to be in this spot while our daughter launches. We are in a private RV park, and would rather be boondocking out west on public land.

Miranda and Crissa Boyink by Silverton, Colorado.

How did your children handle living in an RV?

We have two children, our oldest is 20. After traveling with us for 5 years he moved out on his own about a year and a half ago.

Our youngest is 18 and is with us for a little while yet.

Life raising kids on the road isn’t radically different than life raising kids in a house. You have good times and bad times. Fulltime travel was better for schooling opportunities, keeping family relationships close, and finding adventures to enjoy as a family.

Fulltime travel can make the teen-to-adult launch process harder. It’s been harder to get our kids a drivers license. We’ve had to stop traveling for periods of time so they could take jobs and internships to gain work experience.

We’ve always homeschooled our kids. Our approach has been a mix of free and commercial curriculum, homeschool co-ops, online classes, and self-directed learning. Life on the road was similar, we just changed the mix of those elements.

What are your best advice people new to living in an RV?

Slow down. 😉

You can’t see it all.

And don’t feel that you are “missing” anything. Learn to “leave it for a future visit.”

And, have some grace. With yourself and others. You are completely changing everything about how you live – from where you sleep to where you eat to how you get water to how you deal with trash. It takes a while to find your groove.

Our (now sold) 5th Wheel in New Mexico.

Based on your experience, how much does it cost to live in an RV?

We’ve done it for as little as $2500/month, but that’s including some “workcamping” arrangements where we provided labor in exchange for our site . We have worked on large Texas ranches, animal rescue ranches, goat farms, diary farms, and at campgrounds. We have found these engagements through wwoofing, and Workers on Wheels.

Our biggest expenses overall are the same as they would be not living in the RV – groceries and healthcare. Our biggest RV-specific expenses are fuel and camping fees.

What are your top 5 most essential stuff in your RV?

I need my tools – right now I’m using them every day as we restore this van. We need our technology (laptops, smartphones, internet gear). Past that? If we’ve learned anything in our recent downsize we really don’t need much . Other than the gear we need to keep an income coming in we could pack a bag of clothes and a box of food and be good to go..;)

What has been your best RV related purchase below $100?

Packing cubes, Magnetic Spice Jars and Using Magnetic Knife Bars.

Michael & Miranda Boyink play in the surf in Destin, Florida.

What will the future bring?

Not sure!

We want to give this campervan a good go – finding the places where we couldn’t get into with the bigger RV.

We want to explore National Parks more thoroughly – and are gearing up to become better day-hikers.

We are also looking at a drive into Mexico.

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