We get a lot of questions, so we thought an FAQ page was in order to answer the basics. Have others?? Feel free to comment or shoot us an email and we’ll get back to you!!
Questions About Airstream Travel
What does your Airstream look like inside?
It’s very modern. Most people who walk into our Airstream are pleasantly surprised with how chic it really is. We love it. Shiny interior, dark wood. It makes us happy. For photos and some commentary see blog posts here: https://currentlywandering.com/inside-the-airstream/
Why did you decide on an Airstream travel trailer instead of a Class C, 5th Wheel, or other rig?
What do you do for work that allows you to travel full time?
I’m pretty sure this is everyone’s #1 question. How do we pay for it? Are we financially independent? Hardly. Sam works as a remote programmer for a distributed company based out of Utah. They don’t really care where he is which is pretty convenient.
How long have you been traveling?
Well, that’s a loaded question. Check out the counter on the side bar for the exact number of days, but generally we’ve been traveling since July 2013. We started with a house swap, left full time in the Airstream November 2013, sold the house spring 2014, and officially drove away from the house June 20, 2014.
What about the kids? Do you homeschool?
Why yes, although we tend to call it “road schooling” as our school tends to move about the country. Utah has pretty lax laws, so we don’t have to do any testing, or follow a specific curriculum. We just had to sign a waiver ONCE with the district and we are good to go. Its not as hard as we thought it would be since our extracurricular activities tend to take care of themselves (hiking, museums, Jr. Ranger Badges, etc.).
What do you do about dental & health insurance?
We currently have a grandfathered high deductible HSA plan through HumanaOne. More details here: https://currentlywandering.com/2014/02/10/health-insurance-for-the-self-employed/
Technomadia also has a GREAT post on Affordable Care Act Health Insurance here: http://www.technomadia.com/2013/11/chapter-12-healthcare-and-staying-healthy-on-the-road-2/
What do you do about Taxes & Mail?
We just pay Utah taxes. Since we aren’t technically doing work for companies in other states, we don’t pay income tax there. If we had a seasonal job, however, (FL in the winter, CO in the summer) we would and our taxes would get a lot more complicated. Our LLC’s are registered to Utah and we just stick with that.
My parents collect our mail for us. They are super generous. Since that’s technically our address anyway, they just go through it and mail us what we need when we have someplace to mail it. A lot of companies will set up a “domicile” for you with an address and mail box though. For awhile we also used Traveling Mailbox, but that was before we sold our Utah house.
Check out Technomadia’s posts on selecting a domicile if you have more questions about it. They are much more experienced in that area than we are!
You are Mormon, right? What about Church Callings? Your Membership Records? Primary for the Kids? Do you miss having a ward family?
Our church is very community based, where your congregation is geographical and everyone holds some type of position. All “jobs” in the church are voluntary and we have no paid clergy. As such, our membership records need to “live” somewhere. We moved our membership records (along with our mailing address) to my parent’s house in Sandy, UT. It’s the ward/neighborhood I grew up in and our bishop (pastor) has been super supportive! Sam received a calling as an Elder’s Quorum district leader during our Christmas visit, so he makes phone calls, texts, and emails to track down the information. I’ve also been assigned sisters to pray for as a Visiting Teacher. We Bill Pay our tithing to our bishop’s house and he takes care of it from there.
The kids actually do great in primary! There was a few months where Cara was really nervous and struggled from week to week, but they generally jump in, try and make friends, sing really loudly and are so excited when they tell us how church went. I’m really grateful for amazing primary teachers all over the country who have taken our kids under the wing week to week. As a side note, our kids get sung the “Welcome Song” every. single. week.
There are days where we miss having a “ward family”. Seeing the same faces every week, being involved and helping other people in their lives is definitely a plus. It’s also nice to have some space from that. I don’t care where you live, there’s going to be some cliques develop in any congregation (adults & children alike). I feel that we get to avoid all of that and just concentrate on the gospel essentials and learning to be the best that we can be. We’ve also found that our traveling community of friends helps to make up for lack of church friends.
Ummmm… What about your personal life? How do you… well… uhh…
Everybody wonders. We figure if a pioneer family living with 12 kids in a one room log cabin can make adult activities work, so can we. Quietly, discreetly, after the kids are asleep. And yes, we do have a door. Of sorts. More like a curtain.
Your closet is tiny. How many clothes did you bring?
I have to start by clarifying that we are not clothes people. We are not shoe people. Even when we were in a brick and mortar house, we didn’t have all that much. So, it wasn’t difficult pairing things down to fit into our tiny closet. We each have about a week’s worth of clothing when it all boils down, plus 2 Sunday outfits. We also all have tennis shoes/hiking shoes, sandals, flip flops, and maybe one (or three in Jess’ case) other pair of random shoes. We try and keep those to a minimum as well.
What did you with all of your stuff?
Most of the stuff we had in our house was sold, donated, or just given to friends and family. It was just stuff. Honestly, trying to get rid of it was a headache and something I’d rather not have to do again. We do have a 10×5 storage unit for all the irreplaceable items, but I’m sure we’ll look at the stuff we put in there and scratch our heads wondering why we kept it all.
We wrote a series of blog posts about our experience. You can check those out here: https://currentlywandering.com/category/the-airstream/the-preparation/
What about grocery shopping?
I’ve always hated grocery shopping, so I’ve kind of given myself a free pass on this one. We buy what we need when we need it and I try not to stress to much over our $900/month budget. That includes disposables such as laundry soap, dish soap, paper towels, toilet paper, etc. We still shop at Costco when there’s one around as we’ve become attached to certain items there, but sometimes in small towns there’s not really options. We grocery shop probably every 4-6 days.
Blog post with a list of things we still buy at Costco: https://currentlywandering.com/2014/10/15/items-we-still-buy-at-costco/
What about Food Storage?
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are strongly advised to have a year’s worth of food saved up for emergencies, aka “Food Storage”. It’s a big deal. Many houses in Utah (and other places) have large downstairs pantries with shelves built for such storage. Home canning is also huge. We feel that the principle taught here is actually self-reliance, not necessarily hoarding food. We’ve got self-reliance in spades.
As such, we don’t actually have food storage with us while we are traveling. Its one of those things we made a decision on and let it go. Our trailer is a self-contained 72 hour kit though, and we do have some Mountain House freeze dried food, water, tent, sleeping bags, & JetBoil stored in the truck. If we had to take off without the trailer (or for some reason couldn’t get back to it) we could survive for a few days. I figure food storage is in case of emergencies, like if you lose your job or are unable to buy groceries. In our case we’d just stop moving (or move somewhere else if there were a natural disaster) find a cheap place to stay, and Sam would hunker down and work his tail off.
Where do you do laundry? Is it expensive?
I’ve learned to embrace the laundromat. I can do 5 loads of laundry (pretty much everything we own!) simultaneously and be done in an hour and a half. If we are using a laundromat in town, I’ll often pack up the kids and their schoolbooks and they’ll help me while doing their school work as well. Two birds with one stone. The easiest is when we are staying at an RV Park that has laundry facilities. While that’s a rare occurrence its a nice break. I’ll typically do clothes & towels once a week and wash sheets about once a month.
Are you ever going to settle down and be, well, normal?
Of course! We’ve kind of given ourselves a mental deadline of 3-4 years traveling. Whoah. Sounds like a lot, right? Not really considering how slow we actually travel. It will definitely take that long to see most of the country, and even then I’m sure we’ll still fall short. Our church has programs for youth ages 12-18 and we want our kids to be able to participate. Rachel turns 9 in 2014, so do that math and there’s our deadline. We have no idea where we will actually settle down, but we’ll let you know when we decide!
Questions about our original House Swap Experience
What were you doing? Exactly?
Our adventures started with a house swapping experience with a family from Virginia. Meaning, they stayed in our house for a designated length of time while we lived in theirs. Easy peasy.
How did you find them?
We actually didn’t. They found us. We had a listing on homeexchange.com which is basically a website for people who want to find someone to switch houses with. Most people do it for vacations so maybe a week or 2 at a time. You save on travel costs, and basically get a home away from home experience. Home exchange recently updated their website so now its super easy to search for homes in an area you want to visit and see if they’d be interested in a swap!
Why did you decide to do it? Weren’t you nervous about someone else living in your house?
Michelle contacted us about exchanging for a month over the summer of 2013 while her husband was deployed, and since we always wanted to travel, we jumped at the chance! You have to understand, I had been begging to leave Utah since we graduated 6 years ago. Staying in Utah was never in “the plan” but we just have never had a reason to leave. So, we stayed. It was convenient, we have friends and family close by, the area is beautiful, etc, etc. Doing a home exchange gave us the opportunity to live outside of our amazing little Mormon bubble and experience new towns, new culture and new activities with our children. It was perfect.
Was I nervous that someone else was living in our house? No. Not really. We are not “stuff” people. If I could give throw away 90% of the stuff/clutter/misc-toys-from-McDonald’s-that-my-kids-hang-on-to-for-months I would. There’s nothing in our house we are afraid of losing or afraid of them breaking. Its all replaceable. And if it wasn’t replaceable we put it away out of sight. Plus, we’re in their house. Isn’t that enough? We had plenty of conversations with them, got to know them, and it helped that we are both members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It just felt… right.
Why not? We lived 20 minutes outside of DC and there was SO MUCH to do there. We definitely did not get to everything we wanted to do in the 3 short months we were there!
Would You Do It Again?
In order to house swap, you have to, well, have a house. We’ve removed our listing for now (obviously) and currently don’t have plans to sign up again anytime soon. The experience was extremely positive and if we put ourselves in a situation where either a short or long term swap was feasible, we’d definitely consider it!