Interview by Ana Rubenstein
Have you ever thought about leaving everything behind and becoming a full-time traveler with your family? I personally fantasize about it sometimes but not sure I have what it takes to live this lifestyle. Brittany Kirby and Chris Horn though are two of these courageous human beings. Since October of 2017, they have been traveling full-time around the USA in their RV and so far they have covered 18 states along with their three little explorers Fisher (6), Boden (3) and Miles (8 months). Brittany recently shared with me a little bit about this experience, and I hope you enjoy learning about it as much as I did. Maybe you will even feel inspired to join this lifestyle?
1) Where did the full-time traveler idea come from?
I was in a Facebook group for a couple years called Full-time Families, for families that travel full-time. I always found the idea intriguing but never thought that it would be for us. Seemed so far out of reach. Honestly, when I saw people’s posts about traveling full-time in an RV with their kids, I kind of thought they were crazy.
2) How did you decide to “sell everything” and buy an RV to travel? How much planning was involved in that?
My fiancé, Chris, had been working himself to death (literally) since we had our first son in 2012. He worked long hours as a restaurant General Manager. He was hardly ever around for dinner, baths, beds, holidays, family gatherings, and more. It was not the life I imagined for our family.
On top of the stress that it put on me being alone all of the time, his work stress was slowing killing him. He ended up in the emergency room on multiple occasions with chest pain and had to be admitted to the hospital with dangerously high blood pressure levels.
Randomly one day when I was in the shower the thought came to me. When I got out of it, I told him we should get on the road. At that point, my Usborne Business (direct book sales company) was growing rapidly and I could work from anywhere. He said yes and I was shocked.
At first, the idea was to get on the road in a year as he had just started a new job and I was hoping to have time to grow my income even more. But once we started looking at RVs and doing research on the full-time traveling lifestyle, we couldn’t wait to get on the road. So, we made our new goal for 6 months which would be January of 2018.
Well, Chris’s new job didn’t work out. In August 2017, we decided to get our house on the market just to see what happened. In only 3 days, we had a contract on our house so we had 30 days to sell ALL of our things and get out. We sold our house in September of 2017. We stayed with family for a week and got on the road October 6, 2017.
3) Do you have a time frame for this trip? For how long will you be on the road?
We have no time frame for it. Neither one of us can imagine going back to a “sticks and bricks life”. We have so much freedom on the road. Our family is more connected and our physical and mental health is better too. So, as long as our kids are enjoying this lifestyle and learning and growing, we have no plans to stop.
4) What is or has been the biggest challenge of being a full-time traveler family?
We have been on the road more than a year now and I would say that the biggest struggle is realizing that this is our life and not a vacation. We still have to work, homeschool, cook meals, clean, etc. There are times – especially when visiting with family and friends – that it starts to seem like too much of a vacation. When we get out of our normal work and school routines we see a dip in income and our children’s behaviors.
Also, there are times that we’ve gotten out of the habit of cooking and eating in the RV just like we would on a vacation. That can add up way too fast, so it’s important for us to stay in our normal routine.
5) What do you love about this phase of your life and what you do not like so much?
I love everything about it. I grew up with a single mom that worked so hard to provide for us. Even on the hardest days, I try to remind myself that I get to be home with my children. Not only that, I get to explore this beautiful country with my children. Some days it takes a lot of reminding myself though.
6) What was the biggest breakdown you had while on the road?
We haven’t had any truck breakdowns on the road but as far mental breakdowns…maybe on rainy or snowy days trapped in an RV with 3 “crazy” boys.
7) How do you “survive” without a regular job?
There are some months that I feel like we just barely “survive” by only being able to pay the bills and basics such as food, gas, etc. It’s the first time in my life though that I feel like we are actually living. It is kind of crazy how our views change. When I look back now at the life I had when Chris was working long hours, I see a version of myself that I was barely surviving. Sure we had money for things like Disney trips, extra toys, eating out more frequently, but I can remember being so miserable being alone most of the time. Having to feed my kids 3 meals a day alone, giving them baths every night alone, reading them books alone, tucking them in alone, taking them to events alone, going to family birthday parties, parades, events all alone. And, when Chris had a day off, he was always distracted by phone calls and emails. It was hard to survive this phase of motherhood.
Although our income isn’t near what it used to be, I feel like this is the first time we are thriving. Sure we can’t do everything we want to do all of the time, but here are some things we have done to get by.
8) What kinds of things?
When we first got on the road we lined up several work camping jobs for Chris. He would work or volunteer so that would stay for free at these places. Even though some of them paid minimum wage we were up to a cheaper lifestyle by not having to pay a mortgage, electric, water, cable, internet, which takes a huge portion away from our bills.
We ended up buying a Thousand Trails lifetime camping pass. We financed it over 5 years and now we pay around $180 a month for FREE camping for the rest of our lives. This is WAY cheaper than paying to camp anywhere considering that camping fees can be anywhere from $30-$100 per night.
We also added a second and a third income to our family. We joined dōTERRA as Wellness Advocates.
9) So, basically, you are earning money with direct sales of books and essential oils?
Recently we decided to add another income to our family. Although I love the flexibility and growth potential of direct sales, it’s not always consistent. For example, January is usually pretty slow for my book business. Chris was hoping to find something that was a little more consistent so last November he got hired on with VIPKID. He teaches English to Chinese children online in a 1 on 1 setting. He makes his own schedule and for the most part, the times are early morning hours before our kids are awake. It’s nice to have something that is guaranteed and the pay is great too considering the flexibility. He gets paid around $20 an hour. By the way, he would be happy to help anyone with the VIPKID interview process if there is any interest.
10) What are good ways to save while traveling full time with children?
We have a museum membership that gets us into children’s museums and science museums all over the country for free. We also have a National Park Pass that gets us for free into all of the National Parks. Our homeschool id’s get us discounts places and we are always researching free things to do such as local events. We’ve been on several farm tours and live music events.
Once we spent an entire day in Chicago and spent only $9 dollars. We went to the Zoo which is free and drove around to find free street parking.
We also pack our lunches when we are going anywhere. Not only because it is healthier and cheaper, but half the time we are in the middle of nowhere with no food options.
11) What is next?
We are headed back to Florida for a Full-time Families Rally. It’s a great community of traveling families and we will be able to meet up with several families that we have met on the road. Our boys are excited to reunite with their friends that they’ve met along the way.
We will also spend a few months in Florida so we can catch up with friends and family that we haven’t seen in a year. Everyone is looking forward to meeting Miles since he was born on the road. After Florida, we plan to start visiting the East Coast.