- Joel Young and his family spend about six months of the year traveling in an RV.
- Young’s three boys, who range in age from 7 to 15, are homeschooled.
- This is her story, told to MaryLou Costa.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Joel Young. It has been edited for length and clarity.
My wife, Jenna, and I grew up in rural Ohio. We both have great parents, but we haven’t traveled much. I was 17 before I even got on the plane.
We want to give our children – three boys ages 7-15 – exposure to the melting pot that is America, where culture shifts from state to state, so they can all find their place and their passions.
That’s why we travel about six months a year in a motorhome. We find that experiential learning is a much better teacher than a classroom.
We get to see historic places in person
We’ve been to Gettysburg, famous Civil War sites, Arlington National Cemetery and the Washington Monument, and we also spend a lot of time in nature. We take the kids to the mountains and look at the geological formations, and we have explored the deserts.
It’s much easier to make learning a natural part of life when you see new things than seeing the same thing every day through a computer and a book.
We recently traveled across the country from our home in Cincinnati, Ohio to Yellowstone National Park in Montana – about 1,500 miles. Then we went down to Utah to visit national parks including Zion, Arches and Bryce Canyon. We then drove through the Rocky Mountains, past the ski resorts, and back down to Boulder, Colorado, where we lived.
We have to plan a lot
There is a lot of planning involved. Jenna takes the lead on homeschooling, while I run mine video production Company.
When we travel, I get up early and work for a few hours. Then we spend the whole day together and I do a few more hours of work in the evening.
I work less when we’re on the road to get more pleasure out of it. I do, however, have a mobile recording studio that I set up in the motorhome. Kids are used to going silent when dad is recording.
As Jenna creates the boys’ programs using online resources and tools that match their personalities and needs – our middle child is dyslexic – I’m finding things I’m really passionate about helping with schooling. One of them is personal finance. I want my kids to know what’s going on with money before they reach adulthood. This is something that our public school systems lack. I also focus on entrepreneurship.
They take standardized tests in public schools and will take college entrance tests where appropriate, but we try to equip them to see in themselves the opportunities and skills needed to potentially start a business.
The world is changing so fast, so we want them to be ready to pivot whenever they need to.
We used to do two big trips of about three months each. But we’ve started breaking it down into three or about two months, so it’s more manageable – especially since the boys are into sports, so we try to make sure we’re back for those. Our children are also at the age where they are developing more lasting friendships and want to spend more time with those friends. Thus, the transition to shorter routes gives children more freedom and flexibility.
It’s as if the road has become a second home for our family. By traveling in a motorhome, we have more stability and our children can feel more comfortable in new places. This trip has also bonded our family together in a way that traditional life does not.
We create connections and memories that just can’t happen at home.