Do you ever feel like you move all the time? Well… we might have a family that has you beat. Today on the blog, we feature a family that moves A LOT! Sometimes, they are only in a location for a few weeks and they rarely stay in one place more than a few months. But guess what? They love it! Check out all about Anita Winslow and how she makes life on the road in an RV as normal as possible for her and her family:
1. Tell us a little about your family and explain how your moving works and how long you’ve been doing it.
When my husband, Scott, and I met in 2002, he was a long-haul truck driver working for a company out of Birmingham, Ala. After several dates, we knew that we were right for each other. I started taking trips with him in the truck. I had traveled in college with the music program, but it was nothing like this. We were in the cab of a big truck 24 hours a day for three to five days at a time. That allowed us to really get to know each other and we were married within three months of meeting.
He started working for a pipeline company in 2007. Everyone was staying in RVs and campers in campgrounds with this type of work, so we bought our first camper. It was the first time either of us had ever even used one. He worked a few weeks and then called me to see if I wanted to come work with him on the same job. I had never worked construction. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and had a background in banking and working in the mental health field. I had also worked for child protective services, but working outside with a bunch of men was going to be new. Luckily, there were other women working with their husbands and boyfriends. It ended up being great! We got to meet a lot of new people and we’ve stayed in contact with several of them, and some of them being our closest friends.
This job lasted for about 11 months. When it was over we didn’t have another pipeline job lined up and Scott found a job hauling windmills for a company out of Mississippi and I also worked for them on the business side. This took us from the gulf coast to Quebec, Canada to California to Oregon. This time we stayed in hotels as this was another hauling job and we were only in an area one night. He later went back to long haul, moving heavy equipment and oil rigs and then back to the pipeline in 2010. In May 2012 our daughter, Dylan, was born in Corpus Christi, Tex. We decided that we wanted to stay together as a family on the pipeline and haven’t looked back.
2. Where have you lived and what has been your favorite location? Is there any “usual” amount of time that you are places?
We don’t call it living in a new location as we are not typically in an area for more than a year. We stay where the job is, but we always say we live in Alabama. That being said, we haven’t been in Alabama for more than a few weeks each year since 2010.
Our job locations with a pipeline have been Hattiesburg, MS for 11 months, Three Rivers, TX, and Whitsett, TX, for about 15 months together, Houston, TX, for almost a year, Bonifay, FL for 3 months, St. Francisville, LA for 4 months, Washington, PA for 2 months, Pecos, TX for 3 months, Perry/Stillwater, OK for 10 months, Louisburg, Anthony, and Arkansas City, Kansas for about 4 months total, Harrison, OH for 3 months, Bowling Green, KY for 2 weeks, Memphis, TN for 3 months, and now we will be in Miami for 2 to 3 months.
Sometimes between job sites we have stayed in Meridian, MS. near where his current company is located for a few weeks to months at a time. Of all of the locations, we got attached to the most local people in Stillwater, OK. We got really involved in a church there and made great friends and would go back tomorrow.
3. How do you handle the constant change? What are the things you do in every city you land in?
I always look for the local library to find a story time or activity. We have joined a gym that had a children’s zone. I find a local park or playground and if we know we are going to be in an area for more than a couple of months, we always try to find a church. That is a great way for all of us to connect.
We try to find things specific to the area where we are. Oklahoma has cowboy museums and a deep heritage of the Native American tribes. We met some great people in a campground near Cincinnati that bought a house and we went trick-or-treating with them in their neighborhood. We also went to a Renaissance Fair in Cincinnati. Galveston has beaches and Kemah Boardwalk which is near Houston. With my bunch, they love to fish, so we find places to do that and they always find a Bass Pro Shop or Cabela’s.
4. How do you try to keep things normal for your family?
Since we live in our 5th wheel camper full time, we take home with us wherever we go. Home is always the same, only the campground is different. We keep a schedule. Bedtime for our daughter is consistent, dinner time is a family activity at the table and Sundays are always family day for exploring our locations.
5. What do you love about your lifestyle?
We all like meeting new people. We have friends across the country from Maine to California. We get to travel and see different places. If we didn’t do this, there is so much of the country we wouldn’t get to see and friends we would have never met. Life is an adventure and this lifestyle and his occupation allow us to live it.
6. How do you try to keep in contact with your family and friends? Do you get to have visitors in your different cities?
We exchange phone numbers and email, but social media is the main way we all stay connected. We talk with our family several times a week. Our daughter is almost 5, so she loves to do video chats.
My parents are retired and they usually try to visit if we are in an area they want to see. Since he has been working for the same company for more than 5 years, we have people that we travel with from job to job. We may not be with the exact same people every time, but there are always other families in the same campground.
7. How does your daughter view the moving? How do you help her with the constant change?
She doesn’t know another lifestyle. She was born during a job near Corpus Christi. We have always lived in a 5th wheel, when we visit her grandparents is the only time she has slept in a house.
She has always been a fabulous traveler. If the trip back to our home base in Alabama is too long, then I break it into two or more days, and she likes staying in hotels. She thinks it’s great getting to see new places, especially when we are where it is warm and near a beach, but she also looks forward to seeing snow every year. Sometimes we are in an area where that may be possible, sometimes not.
8. What are you secrets for living in a small space with your family? How do you make RV living work day in and day out?
Organize. A place for everything and everything in its place. We have a bunk house, so she has her own room. This means she has her own bed, closet and 1/2 bath. Her toys get picked up every night and her dirty clothes have their place. We sort through things quarterly and with each season comes a clean out. Things she has outgrown get sold or given away and toys go to charity or home to our storage unit if it something she wants to keep.
Scott and I go through our clothes too. Winter/summer clothes get put into space saver bags and stored in boxes under the camper until we need them again. The kitchen is another organizing trick. We found out quickly what was an essential and what wasn’t. Dual purpose items are fantastic. Plus you have to know how to stack things to use the space efficiently. Sure, it is handy to have every new gadget or trend that comes out, but then you think, “Do I need this? Do I have space for this? Will I use or wear this more than once?” If the answer to any of these is still a question, then really the answer is no. And with a no, then it doesn’t get purchased or brought into the camper.
Outdoor space is a must. We all need to just get out. We like to sit outside when it’s warm and drink coffee, read, relax in the sun, or just watch her run and play with other kids. So finding a campground that has that it pretty high on our list of things we look for.
9. What do you think you have in your perspective or personality that allows you to enjoy and handle the constant change?
We just say we live a gyspy life. Since we enjoy it, it doesn’t seem like trouble or stressful. From the beginning of our relationship, we didn’t know what the next day held as far as our next location. Driving a truck meant he could and has gone from Dallas to Denver to Rapid City, South Dakota to Tennessee to San Jose, California to West Palm Beach, Florida, all before going back home. This job is similar. When they tell us where we are going, they give us a rough estimate of how long we may be there and we plan accordingly. We get to visit a lot of places, kind of like an extended vacation, except he works 6 days a week.
10. What is your best advice for someone who moves as much, or even a lot less than you?
Keep it simple. Live one day at a time. It is so much easier to live this life with an open mind. I never know what tomorrow will bring, so I try not to stress when things don’t go as I planned, I don’t always succeed, but I try. Yes, we all get caught up in the day to day, but allow room for that surprise. We all try to micromanage our lives, but sometimes we just have to roll with what we are given.
11. Anything else you would want to share!
I ALWAYS get asked what are we going to do when it is time for our daughter to go to school. With the way we travel we plan on home schooling. We have talked with a lot of families that have chosen to homeschool. Some are in our hometown and others travel like we do. We have discussed curriculums and plan to use an accredited course. It has helped to have friends who do educational testing and others who work in the public school systems.
Yes, we could go home and leave him to work on the road, but then we are missing each other’s lives. With that option he doesn’t get to see her every day and watch her grow up and she and I miss him. We have decided that for us, it is best to stay together. Yes, we make sacrifices, but our family time together isn’t one of the things we are willing to go without.
Do you know anyone that lives life like Anita’s family? We want to hear about them! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!