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Tag Archives: families on the road

Membership has it’s Privileges; Top 5 Benefits of Joining Fulltime Families

Kimberly No Comments

The Fulltime Families Membership can save you thousands of dollars, but the privileges of membership go way beyond saving money.

Here are the top 5 benefits our members point to as their favorite thing about being a Fulltime Families Member.

#1 Finding My Tribe!

  • Fulltime Families Members share a common bond that is considered weird by the majority of American Families.   We think less is more… that’s weird!  We’re actually excited about living in 350 sq feet, alongside our family, every minute of the day… that’s weird!  We don’t want to wait until our children are on their own to explore this country… that’s weird!  Fulltime Families Members understand and embrace these “so called oddities”.  If making time with our family makes us “misfits” then we’d rather not fit in.  Fulltime Families supports and applauds You, the risk taker, You the pioneer, You the trail blazer, who is looking for more out of life than just security!

    #2 Making Spaces to Meet in Real Life!

    Fulltime Families hosts events around the country so families enjoying the full-time RV lifestyle can meet in person and make friends.  The reality is lifestyle can be isolating and connecting through Fulltime Families events, provides adults and children alike the opportunity to make friends and form bonds that span the miles.  It is very common for families to establish temporary or long term intentional neighborhoods with the families they click with, after an FtF event.  Just because your family is nomadic doesn’t mean you need to be alone.  Join us for our next event and embark on the next leg of your journey with friends in tow.

    #3 Connecting Families with the Services and Suppliers who commend their choices!

Isn’t it great to do business with someone who values you as a customer?  Isn’t it awesome to know you are supporting businesses that are supportive of your lifestyle choices and actually look forward to serving you? Fulltime Families reaches across all service and supply industries, vetting companies both large and small, to present our members with businesses of the highest level of integrity.  Through both our Resource Guide and our Partnership list, FtF Members are connected to trusted resources that will help you save time and money!

#4 We’ve Got Your Back!

At Fulltime Families, we’ve got your back!  Through our relationships with RV professionals, Home School curriculum providers and the media, we have a unique opportunity to help you spread your message and connect you effectively to the resources that can help you the most.  You’re not out on the road alone and being a part of the FtF family has made an impact through the collective voice and the collective efforts of your other FtF family members.  Case in point, in 2016 alone, FtF served 343 families in person at FtF events and provided over $21,000 in relief to RVing Families!

#5 Saving You Money and Time!

Of course, your Fulltime Families Membership will save you thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of wasted time.  Through our extensive list of partnerships, which currently includes a Free Year of Escapees and a Free Year of Good Sams Membership, our members rack up savings on:

So what are you waiting for?

Don’t you like friends, having fun times with people who get you, businesses that understand and value you, someone who has your back and saving money?  Join Fulltime Families today!  https://www.fulltimefamilies.com/joinftf/

 

 

 

 

Natural Hot Springs are Soaking Spectacular – with Video

Kimberly No Comments

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On this episode of One Epic Adventure, the Traveling Travaglinos, together with the Felty Foursome, hiked to Fifth Hot Water Springs in  Diamond Fork canyon, south east of Provo, UT.

This family friendly hike to the springs is approx 2.5 miles along a large and sometimes fast flowing stream.

We choose a spring weekday for this adventure, to avoid the crowds that arrive on the weekends.

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During the hike, the skies opened up and pelleted us with hail for about 10 minutes.
When you arrive at the springs there are several sparkling pools that have been made for your soaking pleasure.

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The pools closer to the water fall are considerably warmer then the lower ones which you’ll encounter first (and the fact that there was a gentleman bathing au’natural in the first one) made the upper ones far more appealing.

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Most of the pools create a convergence between the cool river and the very hot thermal springs.

Depending on your preference, you can find your “sweet spot” where the two bodies of water blend to your perfect temperature.

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We loved our time soaking in Fifth Hot Water Springs and recommend you check out this hike when you’re in the Provo Area.

Check out our short video and subscribe to our Youtube Channel to check out our other Epic Adventures.

Gardening in Your RV; How to Grow a Garden on the Go

Kimberly No Comments

One of the things I miss from my Sticks and Bricks life, is my garden. The ability to walk outside and harvest fresh grown, organic produce for free is something I know a lot of full time rvers miss.  So when I saw Ashleigh Priest’s pictures of her “garden on the go” on the Fulltime Families Facebook Group, I got very excited and asked her to write an article on just how she made her mobile garden a reality. Here’s what she had to say:

Rver Rver, How Does Your Garden Grow?

Rver Rver, How Does Your Garden Grow?

 

2015 has brought my family a few epiphanies. We had a rough winter for 2014. Too much of it was spent in our camper, as this Floridian family tried to adjust to a Minnesota winter.  It seemed something was always happening. First our truck needed an expensive repair. Our water access port kept busting every couple of weeks. The truck broke down a second time. A third time. We were behind on all bills.  Bad weather, meant work days missed and money was tight.  Some weeks we had to decide between food or paying the cellphone bill. Food obviously came first.

RV Garden

RV Garden

Boy food is ridiculously expensive! How do people with large families do this?

Here’s epiphany number one.

If only we had a garden we could have healthy food. Too bad we travel.

March came around and my back went out. I’m young. This should not happen. It’s always attributed to my weight. Yes, I’m very unhealthy.

This was epiphany number two.

I NEED to get healthier! I really wish we could have a garden. How can this become something we can do?

I did research. Joined gardening groups on Facebook. Asked if anyone in the traveling groups have a garden. The limited replies I received were in the “that’s a cool idea” vain..  and if I followed through with the garden to keep everyone posted.

Garden on the Go

Garden on the Go

So, I got to work.

I planned out what I wanted to grow. What I’d use for containers. How to make my own compost (what’s a better fertilizer than compost 😉 ).

My original plan was to build planter boxes from pallets, have holes on both sides, put some rope through the holes, and make a loop on each side.

Then take two 2x4s, drill 7/8 inch holes in them and put a wooden dowel in the holes after putting the dowels through the rope and hang up the planter boxes. The 2x4s would have a rubber covering on the top and lean against the camper.

Phew! Let me say if that sounded like a lot of work, it was! With two toddler boys, I was already stretch thin. I got two planters built and that was that.

I planted sweet peas and green beans in the boxes.

Then I simplified.  I used four 5 gallon buckets to plant tomatoes and corn in. Everything got covered at night because there were still cool nights.

Then we got a surprise snow! That storm killed all my plants except my sweet peas. I decided to wait until May to replant.

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This time I had a different plan.

I bought some storage tote boxes, soil, pea pebbles.

I took my original 5 gallon buckets, and with a hammer, and a nail, poked 4 holes in the sides of the buckets at the bottom. I put about 3 inches of pea pebbles in the bucket then filled up the bucket about 2/3 full with soil and added my seeds for corn and tomatoes (I feel like I just did this lol). Finally, I watered the seeds and set them aside.

I replanted green beans in the wooden box I used before. I watered them and put the box aside.

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I was ready to expand my garden.

Butter crunch lettuce, spinach, green bell pepper, parsley, and basil seeds were all planted in the storage totes, which had been prepped like the buckets, with several holes and pea pebbles topped with soil.

In one tote, I planted the lettuce and spinach together. This way I have an instant salad with the combination of these greens.

The other box was a little more tricky. I went to Dollar Tree and bought two long, plastic planter boxes. I poked holes in them. Next I filled the tote box the way I did the other containers. I then grabbed two pieces of broken concrete blocks we had laying around and placed them on top of the soil in the tote box. Afterwards I placed the Dollar Tree plastic planters, each on the concrete pieces. There was space in between these, which is where the green bell pepper was planted. In one planter I put seed for basil and the other for parsley.

So far everything has sprouted wonderfully. I’ve harvested two large handfuls of sweet peas already. My lettuce has been harvested for salad as I please. My corn is growing along with my tomatoes. My last box has just sprouted in the last couple weeks.

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The dirt on dirt.

I mentioned compost earlier. We made our own compost as well. We bought a Roughneck tote box (I think like 3 gallons) in dark blue. We have put in things such as used coffee grounds and filter, banana peels, orange peels, egg shells, ashes, mud, corn husks, and whatever else we thought of. We then bought fishing worms (don’t judge) and added them to the box as well. We read that the worms help aid in the breakdown of the matter and their excretions are good for the soil. I will be adding some compost to each plant this week.

I have been asked how we will transport our garden when we move. We have a bumper pull travel trailer so we are able to put the garden in the bed of the truck. We have a contractors topper on our truck so the garden will be protected during travel. As for crossing borders, we’ve never been somewhere we have been stopped, so we will address that if we ever encounter that problem. So I will say, use your best judgement and plan ahead.

Another option would be to place your garden in your shower during moves.

Rver Garden1

I’m excited to see how well our traveling garden does. I hope to have enough of a harvest to give me the opportunity to learn to can as well.

For those considering gardening on the go, this is my first garden ever. I have not killed the plants this go around (so far). If you put your mind to it and do some research, you can do it! Happy trails!

Ashleigh Priest is a proud wife of a union pipe welder/fitter. Mother of two rambunctious toddler boys, traveling this great land since 2011. Always looking for the best in life to make my family the happiest and healthiest it can be.

You can find her on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/ashleigh.huggins1?fref=ts

Fulltime Families Hosts Solar Fest in Oregon, Experience the Solar Eclipse with your Friends

Kimberly No Comments

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Fulltime Families is hosting a “Solar Fest Hangout” in Bend, Oregon,  August 17 to August 24th, 2017 at the SunRiver Thousand Trails in Bend, OR.

Some highly anticipated activities are:

  • Solar Experiments and Crafts
  • Black Out Dance Party
  • Solar Science Classes
  • Campfires and Corporate Meals
  • and much more

Families interested in attending this event are encouraged to make their reservations at this Thousand Trails park, asap.  Not a Thousand Trails Member yet, contact the TT / FTF Rep Alisha Deschene at  (207) 270-1121.  Non-Member rates are also available for this park.

An activities fee of $50 per family will be required to cover supplies for this week long event.  Please keep in mind, this is not a rally, it’s a “hang out” which has a more relaxed calendar of activities.

This event is limited 15 families.

Interested in hosting another Fulltime Families Solar Fest (or hangout) in another location?  Contact Kimberly@fulltimefamilies.com

You can reserve your spot for this event by reserving your spot with the form below:

2017 Fulltime Families Solar Fest Hangout
2017 Fulltime Families Solar Fest Hangout
Hosted at the Sunriver Thousand Trails Bend Oregon - Aug. 17th 2017 to Aug. 23rd 2017
Price: $50.00

What are the cancellation policies for this event?

Hangout Fee Refunds:

  • Cancel before June 18th, 2017 for a full refund of hangout fees with $10 cancellation fee.
  • Cancel between June 19th, 2017 – July 18th, 2017 for a 50% refund.
  • Cancellations after July 19th, 2017 will not be refunded.
  • Fees at non-transferable

Camping Refunds:

  • Please refer to the host campground regarding their refund policy.  FtF has no control over campground refunds.

Tee Shirt Refunds (if applicable):

  • Full refund prior to t-shirt order being placed.  After the order has been placed, no refunds are available.  Must pay additional shipping fee of $6 per shirt if you’d like your shirt shipped to you.

Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt

Kimberly No Comments

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I’m not a morning person. Trying to wake up before the kids and set our Easter Eggs is not all that appealing to me.  Where’s the sport in that anyway!  You can SEE so well during the day.. the eggs never really have a chance!

But filling eggs, taping them shut with reflective tape and letting the kid loose in a dark field, armed with baskets and flashlights.  Now, that’s my kinda hunt!

So, that’s what we did tonight.  With two Bru Cru kids, two Clan of Parents kids and 4 Traveling Travaglinos.

You do the math… 8 kids, 126 eggs, 5 lbs of candy = great fun for everyone and a 3.25 hour sugar high!

Tune in next week when we have a “Make your own Fireworks Party”… Just kidding… maybe 😉

Fulltime Families Canada Rally Sold Out

Kimberly No Comments

The FtF Canada Rally is Officially Sold out!

The event sold out in 20 days, our fastest selling event to date.  If you missed your chance to get a spot for this event, we do have a waiting list in the event of cancellations.  To get on the waiting list, email Kimberly@fulltimefamilies.com with your family name, rig type (5th wheel, motorhome, travel trailer, etc), rig length, and number of attendees.

No RV Yet?  There are options, send an email to the above address for more info.

Keep an eye on our Upcoming Events Page for more FtF Events coming soon!

The Perfect Addition to Your Easter Basket

Kimberly No Comments

cover-render-small birdbathsoup

Bird Bath Soup: A Sweet Little True Story

I’m thrilled to announce the release of our first children’s story book which each of my kids helped me bring to life.

Bird Bath Soup is based on a true story my mother used to tell me from an experience during her own childhood.  A story that stayed with me all these years and that I, in turn, fascinated my own children with.

And now, it’s here for your children in both ebook and hard copy version- and FREE through Kindle Unlimited

Brought to life with a spring time pastel palette, the hard copy is the perfect addition to your child’s Easter basket!

BONUS: Both versions come with a free audio download.  Have your young readers read along with me when you download this free audio file!

Fulltime Families Rally Instructions and FAQs

Kimberly No Comments

Registration is now open for the upcoming 2017 FtF Canadian Rally, hosted  by FtF Lifetime Member Family, the Fosters, in Mattawa, Ontario, Sept. 7 – 10th, 2017*, for FtF Charter Members.

Charter Members Early Registration 2/10 – 2/13

Lifetime Members Early Registration 2/13 – 2/16

Annual Members and New Members Registration opens 2/17

Here are some FAQs about the event:

How can I reserve my spot?

Go to the Rally Shop at:https://www.fulltimefamilies.com/2017-fulltime-families-canadian-rally/ to reserve your spot.

Does the price include camping?

Your rally fee DOES NOT include camping.  Please make your camping arrangements by completing this Camping Reservation Form and submitting it via email to stp@sidturcottepark.com.  Have questions or need more info about camping? Call Ian Foster at 850-405-9365.

What Utilities are Included on my site?

Please refer to the Camping Reservation Form for site types available.

Are Cabins, RV Rentals and Tent sites available?

Why yes!  Sid Turcott Park has several accommodation options for families who either don’t have their RV yet, or prefer to attend without.  Check out the Camping Reservation Form above for these options.

What Other Services will be Offered at the Rally?

Past rallies have included the following services.  When possible, FTF contracts with providers to secure services at a discounted “Rally Rate”  (additional fees may apply):

  • RV Wash / Wax Services
  • Mobile RV Repair Services
  • Pet Grooming
  • Hair Cuts
  • Gun Locker Storage (please note – you are not permitted to cross the border with firearms)  Details on a Firearms Storage solution will be provided soon.
  • other services coming soon

What happens after I reserve my spot?

24 – 48 hours after we receive a notification from Paypal, you will get an email from Fulltime Families with additional registration instructions and a Google form to complete. This will be sent to your Paypal Email Address. Upon completion of the form, you will be added to the dedicated Facebook account for this event.

What days should I plan to arrive and leave?

Please plan to arrive on or before 3pm Wednesday, Sept 6th to be parked appropriately. Scheduled events will kick off 11am on Thursday morning (Sept. 7). The event wraps up on the morning of Sept 10th

Early Birds and Pre-Rally: Many attendees plan to stay a full week. We encourage you to arrive on Sept. 5th and depart on Sept. 12th, if you are interested in participating in all pre and post rally events.

I’m a Charter Member and I only pay $25 per rally. How do I do that?

Charter Members, We will issue you a custom invoice for your $25 rally  rate.  Please send an email to kimberly@fulltimefamilies.com to register.

I’m a Pioneer Lifetime Member and I always save 20% off my rally rate. How do I do that?

Pioneer Lifetime Members (Red Lifetime Stickers) please email Chris for your 20% off promo code prior to registering for this event. Please allow 24 hour response time for this request.

I’m a Trailblazer Lifetime Member, how to do use my one time $50 Rally Credit for this event?

Trailblazer Lifetime Members, please email Chris for your $50 off promo code prior to registering for this event. Please allow 24 hour response time for this request.

I’m a current Annual Member and I’d like to upgrade to Trailblazer Lifetime Member. How do I do that?

Current Annual Members who are interested in upgrading to the Trailblazer Lifetime Membership option and receiving a one time $50 rally credit can email Kimberly directly.

What will we be doing at this “rally”?

Fulltime Families Rallies are 4 day family friendly events full of fun and fellowship (that’s a lot of f’s;). Schedules include a variety of family game times, arts and crafts, educational opportunities, seminars, campfires, socials, and big time fun! For an example, check out what we did at our last rally.

What’s Included in my Rally Fee?

Your rally fee pays for all the supplies, staff, rental fees, event insurance and administrative costs required to host the event. FtF ascribes to a “leave your wallet at home” policy when hosting events, so all efforts are made to allow attendees to pay once and just enjoy the event.

Who can attend the Fulltime Families Canadian Rally?

This event is limited to 25 families who are members of Fulltime Families (annual, Charter, Pioneer Lifetime, Trailblazer Lifetime, Annual). Not a member yet? Join Now!

Do you offer scholarships for this event?

Yes, we have a limited number of scholarships. To apply for an FtF Event Scholarship, complete the Application Form.

Are there opportunities to Volunteer at this event?

Absolutely, Volunteers are the life blood of Rally events. To be connected to the organizers group and find opportunities, you can join the Planners FB Group. We also have a Volunteer Board posted during the event.

What should I bring with me?

Your family, your fun and engaging attitude, your smile. Any other necessary items (pot luck meals, special supplies) will be published on a “Rally Packing Guide” published on the Fulltime Families Website and the dedicated Facebook Group for this event.

What are we eating?

Some activities will include corporate meals (pot luck), other times you will be eating on your own. It’s best to good food shopping and plan quick and easy meals while you are attending the rally, as you won’t want to miss a minute of the fun!

Do families Roadschool during the rally?

While there are many educational elements on the rally schedule, with so many kids and so many fun things to do, doing school during your time at the rally may be challenging. Many families suspend their studies during rally time.

How can I prepare my children for this event?

Rally is a fun time, but it can also be overwhelming for new attendees. It’s a good idea to review the schedule with your family so you can mark off activities you don’t want to miss.

What are the cancellation policies for this event?

Please refer to the rally shop for cancellation dates and policies.

Will I need a Passport to attend this event?

Yes! http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/menu-eng.html can answer many of your questions regarding border crossing with minors.

 

*These are the official rally dates. It is advised to arrive on or before Sept. 6th.  Pre and Post rally activities will span Sept. 5th – 12th.

 

Fulltime Families 7th Annual Family Reunion Open Registration Instructions and FAQs

Kimberly No Comments

Registration is now open for the upcoming Fulltime Families 7th Annual Family Reunion, hosted in Tallahasee, FL, Feb. 2 – 5th, 2017 and spots are going fast!

Here are some FAQs about the event:

How can I reserve my spot?

Go to the Rally Shop at: https://www.fulltimefamilies.com/2017-fulltime-families-7th-annual-family-reunion/ to reserve your spot.

Does the price include camping?

Yes, when completing steps 1 and 2, you will be paying for both your rally registration ($21.95 per person ages 3 and up) and the site rate of $28 per night for your water and electric site at the North Florida Fair Grounds.  Dumps are available, free of charge, at various locations on the fair grounds. Dump service will be provided for an additional fee on Wednesday (2/1) and / or Friday (2/3) for $20 per dump.

What Utilities are Included on my site?

All sites provide water and electric.  There are dump stations at the fairgrounds that you can use free of charge.  There are also bath houses available for rally attendees.

What Other Services will be Offered at the Rally?

Rally attendees will be able to (additional fees may apply):

Do I have to reserve with the Fair Grounds?

No, reserving with Fulltime Families and completing steps 1 and 2 on the Rally Shop page is all you need to do.

What happens after I reserve my spot?

24 – 48 hours after we receive a notification from Paypal, you will get an email from Fulltime Families with additional registration instructions and a Google form to complete. Upon completion of the form, you will be added to the dedicated Facebook account for this event.

What days should I plan to arrive and leave?

Please plan to arrive by 3pm Wednesday, Feb. 1st to be parked appropriately.  Scheduled events will kick off 11am on Thursday morning (Feb. 2).  The event wraps up on the morning of  Feb. 5th.  Attendees interested in staying after the rally ends, should consult the Fairgrounds for site rental.

Many attendees plan to stay a full week.  You can stay at fairgrounds for the rally rate of $28 from 1/30/2017 – 2/5/2017.

I’m a Charter Member and I only pay $25 per rally.  How do I do that?

Charter Members, please skip Step 1 and simply reserve your campground spot.  We will issue you a custom invoice after we get that payment and generate a custom invoice for your $25 rally fee.

I’m a Pioneer Lifetime Member and I always save 20% off my rally rate.  How do I do that?

Pioneer Lifetime Members (Red Lifetime Stickers) please email Chris for your 20% off promo code prior to registering for this event.  Please allow 24 hour response time for this request.

I’m a Trailblazer Lifetime Member, how to do use my one time $50 Rally Credit for this event?

Trailblazer Lifetime Members, please email Chris for your $50 off promo code prior to registering for this event.  Please allow 24 hour response time for this request.

I’m a current Annual Member and I’d like to upgrade to Trailblazer Lifetime Member.  How do I do that?

Current Annual Members who are interested in upgrading to the Trailblazer Lifetime Membership option and receiving a one time $50 rally credit can email Kimberly directly.

What will we be doing at this “rally”?

Fulltime Families Rallies are 4 day family friendly events full of fun and fellowship (that’s a lot of f’s;).  Schedules include a variety of family game times, arts and crafts, educational opportunities, seminars, campfires, socials, and big time fun!  For an example, check out what we did at our last rally.

What’s Included in my Rally Fee?

Your rally fee pays for all the supplies, staff, rental fees, event insurance and administrative costs required to host the event.  FtF ascribes to a “leave your wallet at home” policy when hosting events, so all efforts are made to allow attendees to pay once and just enjoy the event.

Who can attend the Fulltime Families Family Reunion?

This event is limited to 100 families who are members of Fulltime Families (annual, Charter, Pioneer Lifetime, Trailblazer Lifetime, Annual).  Not a member yet?  Join Now!

Do you offer scholarships for this event?

Yes, we have a limited number of scholarships.  To apply for an Fulltime Families Event Scholarship, complete the Application Form.

Are there opportunities to Volunteer at this event?

Absolutely, Volunteers are the life blood of Rally events.  To be connected to the organizers group and find opportunities, you can join the Planners FB Group.  We also have a Volunteer Board posted during the event.

What should I bring with me?

Your family, your fun and engaging attitude, your smile.  Any other necessary items (pot luck meals, special supplies) will be published on a “Rally Packing Guide” published on the Fulltime Families Website and the dedicated Facebook Group for this event.

What are we eating?

Some activities will include corporate meals (pot luck), other times you will be eating on your own.  It’s best to good food shopping and plan quick and easy meals while you are attending the rally, as you won’t want to miss a minute of the fun!

Do families Roadschool during the rally?

While there are many educational elements on the rally schedule, with so many kids and so many fun things to do, doing school during your time at the rally may be challenging.  Many families suspend their studies during rally time.

How can I prepare my children for this event?

Rally is a fun time, but it can also be overwhelming for new attendees.  It’s a good idea to review the schedule with your family so you can mark off activities you don’t want to miss.

 

 

What are the cancellation policies for this event?

Rally Fee Refunds:

  • Cancel before December 11th, 2016 for a full refund of rally fees with $10 cancellation fee.
  • Cancel between December 12th, 2016 – January 8th, 2017 for a 50% refund.
  • Cancellations after Jan. 9th, 2017 will not be refunded.

Camping Refunds:

  • Cancel via email up to 72 hours (4pm on 1/27/2017) prior to event for a refund less 1 nights fee ($28).  After 4pm 1/27/2017, we will not be able to provide refunds.

Tee Shirt Refunds:

  • Full refund prior to t-shirt order being placed.  After the order has been placed, no refunds are available.  Must pay additional shipping fee of $6 per shirt if you’d like your shirt shipped to you.

 

 

 

Guest Post: WWooFing with Kids

Kimberly No Comments

First things first, let’s clarify exactly what “WWOOFing” is. WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. As described on their website,

Visitors, or ‘WWOOFers’, spend about half a day helping out on a host farm, learn about the organic movement and sustainable agriculture, and receive room and board during their visit – with no money exchanged between hosts and WWOOFers.

When Trent and I first sat down to creatively carve out an itinerary for our trip, WWOOFing was a strong contender that we wanted to consider. We were intrigued by the potential possibilities that this kind of arrangement could offer us, particularly for our children. We liked the idea of exposing them to lifestyles that we have not had and opportunities for work that have not previously been an option. Free food and a place to park our rig would also be a helpful bonus.

First WWOOFing impressions

Last week Sunday we arrived at our first WWOOFing location nestled in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains entirely unsure what we were in for and hopeful that we would have a positive experience. Right out of the gate, we realized that our first error was assuming that because this ranch had RV hookups, they would also be in a location that was easy to access with our 40’ 5th wheel. I slowly followed behind my husband as he turned off the main road and inched along a narrow drive. Lined with beautiful deciduous trees bursting with color and threatening to baptize our home with branches, the one-lane road wound slowly toward our destination. With each turn I winced inwardly hoping he would not come to a low overpass or narrow bridge that would end our progress forward. Thankfully, we had been advised to arrive in daylight and the road finally opened up to our destination. Upon our arrival, our WWOOFing hosts exclaimed, “You just pulled that RV down that road? I am so sorry; we had no idea your RV was that big. We would have advised a different route had we known that!” Lesson learned: give more details about the size of our RV before assuming that it will be a perfect fit.

Our little home tucked into the foothills of the Smokey Mountains

Our little home tucked into the foothills of the Smokey Mountains

The upside to having a rough entry road for a remote ranch is fewer neighbors. For the first 6 days of our stay, only one little Class C motor home (another WWOOFing couple) shared our view. One additional pull behind RV arrived at the very end of our stay. Being in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains with this fall backdrop right outside our front door was an intense treat. Having so much breathing room around us was an extra bonus.

unfettered room to roam

unfettered room to roam

Our second erroneous assumption was that we would be the only WWOOFers during the duration of our stay. In reality we shared the week with five other WWOOFers. Three of them were young single men and the other two were the before mentioned motor home couple. We were the only WWOOFers with kids, but we enjoyed the mix of consistent workers throughout the week. After a month of consistent traveling, getting to interact with the same group of people each day as we worked was nice. Everyone treated our kids with kindness with some even going so far as to let our kids borrow personal art supplies, play their guitar, share a saddle on a their horse and letting the kids help with cooking projects in the kitchen. We appreciated the willingness to let our kids participate whenever there was interest or opportunity.

The upsides of our family WWOOFing experience

The community feel created by the mix of WWOOFers seemed like a strange college déjà vu. We would all sleep in our own rooms at night but then see the same non-family faces for breakfast, lunch and dinner while also intermingling for work and downtime. Cooking, washing dishes and working next to others day after day creates a unique environment to visit and learn from each other and certainly makes what could be a menial task more interesting.

Learning to make wontons

Ashlyn learning to make wontons

Aside from the other WWOOFers, our hosts displayed an incredible aptitude for encouraging learning throughout the week. Want to learn to drive a tractor? No problem! Want your son to learn to drive a zero-turn mower? Sure! Would you like to use our horses to go trail riding with your kids? Absolutely! It was obvious that their intent was to share the experience of their ranch to anyone who was interested in receiving it.

This particular location offered cabin or lodge room rentals, RV hookups, and room for horse trailers throughout the week, as well as a café that operated on the weekends. Having a professional, well-stocked kitchen was ideal for feeding our WWOOFing group. I’ve enjoyed our little RV kitchen much more than I thought I would, but having free rein to cook in a large space again was a real treat. In addition to having space to cook, having no food costs for the duration of our stay was a huge benefit.

trail riding

Getting ready to go trail riding

It is my understanding that while many “RV friendly” WWOOFing locations may be able to provide electricity and water, having sewer hookups is not common. In light of that, having full hookups with sewer was also wonderful.

impromptu concert

Quinten and Tanner enjoying an impromptu concert

Despite the fact that we were the only WWOOFing family with kids, our hosts did have children. Each weekday after their kids returned from school, our kids had the chance to interact, play cards, chess, soccer and tag with new friends.

First time driving a zero turn lawnmower

First time driving a zero turn lawnmower

We appreciated that our kids could participate in several jobs around the ranch. This was after all, the primary reason that we opted to do this and something we discussed specifically on the phone with one of our hosts before coming.

The downsides

Obviously it is understood that the intent of the WWOOFing arrangement is to trade labor for learning, room and board and (depending on the location) food. Exactly what you may be asked to do may or may not be something that appeals to you. In addition, the schedule of your day may vary from one day to the next. Because we only stayed for a week, we decided to let the experience take precedence whenever we had a conflict with school. This meant that we did school in the morning on some days and in the afternoons on others. Some mornings we got up earlier than typical and some days we worked late into the evening pushing the kid’s bedtime out farther than typical. Flexibility is important and something we worked to maintain. However, almost every night of our stay Trent and I went to sleep very tired and I believe that juggling our family needs with work needs with an ever-changing schedule played into that. We could have set school aside for the week of our stay but because we have had so many travel days packed into our last month (and we opt not to do school on travel days), we chose to work school into our routine this week despite the extra business it would create.

Internet service for us in our RV was dependent on what we could get through our phones. However, in the café area we were able to connect to the local Wi-Fi. It would have been nice to have access to this Wi-Fi in our RV because we had almost used up our monthly data when we had arrived. I imagine that this would vary at each WWOOFing location so if internet is important for your work or school, be sure to clarify this before arrival. Thankfully for us it wasn’t essential.

The work we did

Some of the jobs that the kids helped out with included:

  • Watering plants
  • Washing dishes
  • Food prep
  • Breaking down boxes for recycling
  • Cooking
  • Lawn mowing
  • Assisting with building projects
  • Cleaning a hot tub

Jobs that I did included:

  • Meal prep, planning and cooking
  • Washing dishes
  • Kitchen cleanup
  • Organizing the laundry room with labels

Jobs that Trent did included:

  • Fixing leaking toilets
  • Helping with the initial construction of an outdoor pavilion
  • Weed whacking
  • Hot tub cleaning
  • Dish washing

Other WWOOFing details

  • Food: you may or may not have food included in your arrangement as that varies from location to location. Exactly what benefits are included are typically defined in the profile of each host on the WWOOF.org website. If you have special diet needs (vegan, vegetarian, etc) this may limit how may “matches” show up as options for you when you search for potential farms but there are filters for those diet requests. Some locations may cook meals for you, while others simply provide ingredients and expect you to cook for yourself.
  • Hours: While the WWOOFing website says you can expect to spend “about a half a day” working, this varies from location to location as well. As I read though different farm profiles, I noticed some expecting as many as 6-8 hours of work while others were much more laid back. Some expect work on certain days of the week with specific days off, while others may have lots of work on one day and little to none the next day.

Final thoughts

As a family traveling in an RV, I do not believe that we fit the typical demographic in the WWOOFing community. In talking with our host we are the first WWOOFing family they have had in the three years they have been a part of the WWOOFing program. However, the WWOOF.org website does have filters allowing you to specify that you only want to be shown farms that allow RVs and farms that allow families with kids. (There is also a filter for those that have pets as well as filters for how long you wish to stay at a location).

WWOOF.org website

As a WWOOFing couple with kids, we tried to clarify through our initial phone call “interview” that my husband would be doing most of the regular work and that the kids and I would be available to help out once school work was completed. I think it is important to decide ahead of time what your family is comfortable offering in terms of work and hours and discuss this ahead of time with your potential host to make sure that everyone has similar expectations. Because we like having flexibility in our schedule and freedom in our days, I don’t see us WWOOFing frequently or for long durations of time. However, we did have a very positive first experience and would be open to doing this again especially if the location or farm was unique and offered something we wanted to learn. Just like traveling, it is the people and the experiences that create the unique memories that make this lifestyle rich and rewarding. Our first experience WWOOFing was a success because of the people as well as the experiences gained. If you are considering WWOOFing in an RV with kids I hope hearing about our experience will help you decide if this might be a good fit for you.

Author info: Heather Ledeboer is a traveling mom of 4 living full-time in her 5th wheel RV. She loves to write and share her experiences vividly and transparently on her blog Faith Takes Flight. You can also find her on Instagram and YouTube.

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