We’ve often said that this full-time traveling lifestyle has thrust us into a season of “feast or famine” when it comes to community. While we are in close proximity to other traveling families, fireside chats, meals and general life together often abounds quite effortlessly. Conversely, the opposite is also true. When we are alone, especially for long stretches of time, a feeling of isolation is not uncommon.
A TIME OF FAMINE
Our first few months on the road felt very isolated. We knew there was a community out there, it was just a matter of finding them. Six months into our travels I wrote a post where I listed the highs and lows of our nomadic lifestyle. In it, I noted our lack of outside relationships as one of our lows. Three months later I wrote a post titled “Is it possible to have community on the road?” Below is an excerpt from this post.
Without a doubt, there are relationships to be had if you are willing to pursue them. Herein lies the rub. At times there is a choice between the pursuit of the location or the people…
Should our travels continue beyond this first year, I anticipate that the pull between places and people would begin to yield much more heavily toward people. As a result, I expect that we would begin to pursue places which are in close proximity to the people we wish to see rather than the reverse.
In three short months, our entire outlook had improved in this area. One key factor to finding our tribe was attending a Fulltime Family Rally. Rallies are in place to help families connect and create opportunities for relationships to develop that can continue down the road (both literally and figuratively). Some have even likened it to “speed dating for families”.
OUR FIRST FULLTIME FAMILY RALLY
We attended our first rally in Tallahassee, Florida last February. We came to it new to fulltime travel and very parched of community. The Florida Rally was huge, with over 80 families present. Seeing so many families all in one space really allowed us to get a better grasp of the size of the community we were joining. As we started to learn the number of years that these families had been on the road (some as many as 7+) and see the number of kids (and pets) they were traveling with, we began to see that this lifestyle could be sustainable.
FROM FAMINE TO FEASTING
Since that time we have kept in contact with and camped beside many of the families we met in Florida. As we worked our way up the east coast we met up with 14 families in a four-month time frame, despite the fact that we were traveling swiftly. While broken down for a month in Canada we even managed to connect with one of my former college roommates, a family who was learning to sail and an Instagram friend visiting from Norway who happened to be passing through the area.
From mid-July thru September we were either parked next to or living with family and friends. And since October, we have been traveling alongside other families almost consistently. In fact, in the last 152 days, only 7 of those have been without other families or friends camped nearby!
LET’S UP THE SOCIAL!
If that wasn’t enough, we’ve just recently filled up our social-interaction-tanks to the very tippy top by attending another Fulltime Family Rally.
I’ve sat blundering at my keyboard for a solid 52 minutes attempting to convey what it was like to attend the West Coast Fulltime Family Rally. Each attempt has felt feeble, grasping at wisps of smoke from a fire whose heat can only truly be felt by those sitting around it.
Nevertheless, I persevere because before we started traveling I wondered, “What it is like out there? Will we find friends? How will our kids connect? Will we be lonely?” I’m here to tell you: there is a tribe of families ready and willing to embrace anyone who is willing to show up in their house on wheels.
LET THE CRAZY BEGIN!
We were among the first of 40 families to arrive. Our site by the playground was strategically chosen, knowing that our kids would be spending lots of time interacting with other kids. As the kid count tipped the triple digit mark, we questioned the sanity of this decision realizing that it was more like relocating our living room to the middle of the monkey enclosure at a zoo ;).
Although the rally itself was only 4 days, most families came early and stayed well after the rally ended. For the last three weeks, we have had an endless stream of interaction opportunities. From nightly campfires to multiple potlucks, jam sessions, game nights, a parade of homes tour, scavenger hunts, field games, knitting class and lots and lots of nerf gun wars. Our RV is positioned in “rally ally” (aka the epicenter of the crazy) so we have had no shortage of socialization.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of our traveling tribe has been seeing a heart of helpfulness lavishly displayed. I have had the opportunity to observe online requests (through our group’s private FB chat) repeatedly answered within moments. Everything from requests for 1/2 cup of raisins to desperate desires for assistance with roof leaks and black tank disasters.
Each and every time the needs are met–quickly and with sincerity. Our group has secretly raised money to help support unexpected needs and publically shown love to our non-Fulltime Family neighbors by handing out gift bags with chocolate kisses and a note thanking them for putting up with our extra craziness during the rally. I’ve had a knock on my door asking if we need our propane tank filled. And I’ve witnessed a swift response of multiple moms toting essential oils, ice, and homeopathic remedies when a child got injured.
This. This is the kind of caring, coddiwomple* community I’m proud to be a part of. This warms my heart. This fills my cup. Seeing people love on people day after day can’t help but bring out the best in you.
coddiwomple (v.) Origin: English Slang Word. Definition: To travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination. This is the kind of caring, coddiwomple community I’m proud to be a part of.
WANT MORE FULLTIME FAMILY RALLY FUN?
Join the fun!
Fulltime Families offers rallies multiple times a year. Head over to their website and click on “upcoming events” to see past and future events.
My friend Jenn Barry wrote about her take on the rally on her blog Barry Good Times.
This post was written by a first-time rally attendee.
Our friends Nate and Marissa Moss filmed the rally RV parade of homes tour. Click here to watch (you can see our RV starting at 4 min 45 sec).
Our friends (and neighbors during the rally) the Boudreaux’s interviewed families to see what they thought about Fulltime Family and Rallies.
Here the Boudreaux family offers their video overview of the West Coast Fulltime Family Rally on their Fummins Family Roadtrip YouTube channel.
Here is one other perspective of the rally by Foralifetime.
Crowdsourced bonus material:
You might be a Fulltime Family if:
- You meet a family one evening. Spend an hour and a half getting to know each other. The next day they tell you they may reroute their travel plans and join you in Alaska next year. Neither of you thinks this is strange.
- You’re torn between wintering in FL or CA.
- You’ve attended an Instant Pot potluck.
- You go for a walk with the teens and they are debating RV floorplans and reasons for choosing one floorplan over another on a 5th wheel!
- You count bikes when a new RV pulls into a campground.
- You wake up and can’t remember what state you’re in.
- Your kids can’t figure out how to flush a normal toilet.
- Your Amazon account has over 10 ship-to addresses and you don’t delete them because they are all still potentially applicable.
How about you? Have you ever attended a rally? What was your experience? If not, does it sound like something that your family would enjoy?