Happy Friday, i’m so excited to share Janelle from @homewiththehoopers. They’re enjoying full time travel and family time.
“Hey babe, what do you think if I traded in my motorcycle for a camper?” asked Andrew as he returned from a trip to Sturgis with his father. I blankly stared at him holding our newborn son while my toddler used my legs as a jungle gym. I simply replied, “Okay.” Within two weeks, we were the proud owners of a fifth wheel toy hauler. We were so excited about the camping adventures and memories we would make with our kids. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would ever be living in our “adventure house” full-time. Had anybody told me that is what was going to happen I most likely would have never been so carefree in my response to Andrew’s question that hot August afternoon 4 years ago.
Two years ago, on March 10 this wild and crazy adventure we are on began. A phase is what we called it at that time; to last no longer than six months – one year. We had a plan. We were using our camper as a means to escape life in suburbia and transition to a life in the country. We weren’t happy with the mortgage we had, the car payments, the never-ending pile of stuff. It was all so suffocating. We dreamed of a simpler life, one that only the country could provide (so we thought). Financially we were stuck. We could not buy a piece of land as long as we had our mortgage.
We are the Hoopers’. My name is Janelle. Together with my husband, Andrew, and our 2 little boys Corbin (5) and Wyatt (3) we sold our “picture perfect” suburbia home and comfortable life. We took everything we knew and felt comfortable with and left it behind. Downsizing from 3000 square feet to a little over 300 square feet, we moved into our tiny home on wheels in the pursuit of land (happiness). What we did not realize is how happiness would find us in those tiny walls. The debt disappeared. The stresses of life lifted. We never had to “pack” for vacations. We never looked for land. I will be the first to admit tiny living is not easy at first – it is a transition. Transitions can be painful. For me, I was a bit paralyzed if you will. Within six weeks we had sold our house, sold a ton of our stuff, I tore down my baby’s nursery I had just completed – I was emotionally paralyzed which on the outside looked like survival mode. I was doing the bare minimum (ie: I am pretty sure we were eating cereal and PB&J for almost every meal). It literally hit me about one month into tiny living when Andrew so kindly reminded me that this was our home and it actually had to be cleaned like a house. I kid you not. I was in such survival mode and still coming to terms with the fact that I was now the dishwasher instead of my actual dishwasher HAHA! It literally never even occurred to me that our bathroom needed a cleaning or maybe I could dust. It was an awakening moment for me. I snapped out of whatever funk I was in and got down to tiny living business. I started organizing and downsizing more. I bought cleaning supplies and started talking about our new lifestyle with joy and hope.
I tell you this story because tiny living is not for everybody. With all the tiny home shows on TV and Marie Kondo-ing going on these days it is very easy for one to feel as if their life is not good enough or they are selfish because they enjoy space and a large shoe closet. I hear you! I miss my bathtub and my walk-in pantry. I want to inspire you that you need to do you. YOU do what brings YOU joy. Think outside of the box, leave your comfort zone. Wanting to start your own bakery – do it. Want to write a book – grab a pen. Want to get a different degree - start applying to schools. The only thing that is binding you to your current life is you. You hold the power of change, don’t be scared to use it. Do not be scared to pursue that “stupid” idea you have been keeping to yourself for years – it may just end up being the greatest chapter of your life.
Once we finally acknowledged that we were in fact tiny dwellers and this wasn’t as temporary as we thought we began to really embrace the lifestyle and all it has to offer. We became park hosts at a local state park and for 1.5 years our children grew up in a magical forest hiking and exploring every day. Their back yard was over 600 acres. It was a beautiful blessing for our family.
Last year when Andrew was between jobs we took off and explored the west coast for 3 months. That was the trip that really made us step back and realize the wonders this lifestyle had to offer. We had been sitting on a gold mine of potential without even realizing it. We began to plan how we could in fact turn traveling full-time into a reality. A part of our souls came alive on that trip and we could not ignore it. When we got home, Andrew began searching for jobs where he could work remotely. He is in accounting and finance and was able to secure a job working from home and eventually the road! I quit my job as an RN right before Thanksgiving and we hit the road for full-time travel January 1, 2019.
We are starting our fifth week of travel and I have never once doubted if this is what we are supposed to be doing. We have swam with manatees, kayaked, held baby alligators, and played in the ocean from sunrise until sunset. My kids have made friends from all over and talk about those friends often as well as their friends back “home.” They are thriving. We have asked them to let go of every sense of normalcy they had and move every week. We told them they wouldn’t be going to school anymore, but that mommy would be their teacher. They are thriving. We downsized their toys (again) and weeded thru clothes (again). They are thriving. Our oldest has come out of his shell and places his own order when we go out to eat, he goes up to new friends and starts the conversation, as much as he fights me on homeschool somedays (we are still learning a routine) he is learning SO much. Corbin is thriving. Our youngest little fellow walked into the ocean by himself and put his whole head under water, he is learning so much from big brother’s homeschool, his already bubbly and social personality has exploded. Wyatt is thriving. As for Andrew and I, we continue to grow together and learn more about each other daily. We can pretty much read each other’s minds when the other just needs a minute to be alone. We are perfectly imperfect. We are learning as we go and because of that we too are thriving.
I am really leaning into the minimalist lifestyle. Almost two years in and I am still downsizing! Minimalism does not come easy for me, but its something I am striving for, not only for less clutter in our tiny space but for less clutter in my life. I have come a long way and as things I love need replacing, I am replacing with high quality items. If I have learned anything in this journey quality vs. quantity is key. If you are considering downsizing, I would take all the stuff you plan on bringing with you and take 1/3 of it. It is truly and simply amazing how little you NEED and the more you bring in initially the harder it is to let it go.
So many people have inquired on how the boys do traveling (or are shocked with the amount of stuff we do with them). Our goal has always been to be inclusive with them. We want them to see and experience as much as they safely can at their age. Wyatt does not remember life without hiking and at the age of 3 he could easily hang with us on family hikes with fairly minimal holding. Our big secret, we are not above bribery. An ice cream treat is like the golden standard in our house and man is it a motivator. With that said, we are in a spell as I am writing this and there has been no ice cream treats all week. HAHA. When we are in places where we are outside 99% of the time the nighttime meltdowns tend to drastically increase due to pure exhaustion. On the same hand they have been outside playing in the dirt, fishing, climbing trees all day and just being kids so I am willing to deal with the tradeoff of meltdowns. On car travel days they generally do pretty darn great. The longest travel day we have ever done was 17 hours. That was once. Our typical long days are around 5 hours but most days average 2-3 hours. We are currently moving 1-2 times per week. On travel days I always pack lunches and snacks to have in the car with us. We do not have DVD players or ipads for them to use and that is our own personal choice. We have tried it and just do not like the vibe it brings into the car – again we are not above bribery and if we have a super long day ahead of us sometimes, we will download a movie for them. At the end of the day they are 5 and 3. Some travel days are better than others, but we power thru and roll with it. Children are incredibly adaptive and the benefits they are receiving from traveling are far too numerous to count. I do not think that children should be an excuse not to travel – they teach you so much in the process and to see the world from their eyes the first time they are experiencing new things is one of the greatest gifts.
Our journey is just beginning! We are currently in the Florida Keys and heading to Alaska for the summer! We do not know how long we will travel. Right now, we have no end in sight. We do desire to plant roots somewhere, someday. Maybe. For now, our wheels are rolling, and we are exploring! You can keep up with us here:
YouTube Channel: HERE
Facebook page: HERE