The flexibility of homeschooling allows families to pursue creative —and sometimes unorthodox—routes to educate their children. For example, as COVID-19 continues to impose new normals around the country, many families have stepped out of the house, stepped into an RV, and taken the show on the road (literally): they homeschool and work on the go, via a homeschooling method sometimes informally known as “roadschooling.”
Families trying it out for the first time in 2021 join thousands of other families who have already blazed the path, as these new roadschoolers take in the sights, meet new folks, and learn a lot along the way. Take a look at these four families’ answers to common questions about roadschooling, and maybe get a few tips for your family to try it out for one night, a week, or longer!
Families in this story
The Schmidt Family:
Tj and Susan with their seven kids (ages 4–17)
>> 14 Days (mostly vacation with a little homeschooling and working on the side)
>> Current rig: 1996 Fleetwood Bounder 32-ft. Class A motorhome
In their first RV trip as a family, Tj, Susan, and their seven children covered 5,000 miles and over a dozen states. Best advice and tips:
- Walmart is RV-friendly, and there’s always parking!
- Buy gallon jugs of water and freeze them overnight, so as they melt during the day, they stay cold.
- Save money with a National Park Pass ($80/year), a Passport America for RVs discount membership (save 50% on campgrounds), and Good Sam, an RV club savings card.
The Royal Family:
Bryanna and Craig with Carson, 14, Melia, 11, Cannon, 11, and Knox, 9
>> Seven years full-time on the road
>> Current rig: Ford F350 truck, 2020 Keystone Montana High Country 5th-wheel trailer
>> Website: CrazyFamilyAdventure.com
In 2014, Bryanna and Craig sold their home in Kenosha, WI, and have been unschooling on the road with their four kids ever since. Next up for the Royal family, as I talked to them one afternoon in mid-2021: “We’re in Lake Tahoe, CA, right
now,” Bryanna said. “Tomorrow we will be heading to the California coast, the Napa Valley area, and then north to Oregon after that.”
The Sanocki & Clemence Family:
Drew Sanocki and Sara Clemence, with Jack, 8, and Lia, 6, plus Grandma on the way home
>> Three-month cross-country trip
>> Current rig: 2007 19-ft. single-axle Bambi Airstream
With their two kids, Sara and Drew left San Diego to pick up Sara’s mother in New York and bring her back to California. On this trip, a “flexibility” mindset applied to more than just education. “This Airstream is technically
supposed to fit three or four people, but we ended up squeezing in three adults, two kids, and a dog!” Sara laughed.
The James Family:
LaNissir and Lorenzo, with LaStazia (Star), 23, LaMaree, 19, LaKayla, 17, Lorenzo Jr., 15, LaNesia, 14, LeoNardo, 11, and LaLaila, 5
>> Three months of “anytime RVing”
>> Current rig: 2021 Coachman Freelancer Super C motorhome
>> Instagram: @TheJamesFamilyAdventures
“‘Beach Blazer,’ our RV, sleeps 9–10 people,” said LaNissir. “Our first thought was about giving the kids what they needed while we are on our property at Taylor Beach in MD. We are already campers, and outdoor
people, so the RV was just a step up from camping. Our next trips are to Florida, Georgia, and Texas.”
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
We asked these homeschoolers about their experiences, challenges, and insights around doing school and work on the road.
Court Report: So why did you try RVing?
>> Bryanna: We were living the American dream— house, playground, pool—but we felt like we were just trying to maintain it. As long as we were tied down with a house, we knew we could only travel a certain part of the year. That just wasn’t enough for us! We always knew we were going to homeschool our kids, so we started looking at different options. With two dogs that we needed to bring with us, we decided RVing would be a good fit.
>> Tj: We had a desire to see more of our great country together as a family, especially before the kids grew up and left home. We had been talking about doing a trip out West for a few years, so we looked at hotels and what it took to rent an RV and pay for mileage. When we found a great RV deal on Facebook Marketplace, we went from there.
>> Sara: We needed to go pick up my mom in New York City and bring her back to California. RVing seemed like a safe way for our family to travel together during the pandemic. It eliminated the need to get on planes or public transportation and allowed us to travel in a self-contained way. When we would stop at a gas station, we would use our own bathroom in the Airstream. We were able to get takeout and make our own little “restaurant” in our RV. The kids had been cooped up for more than six months, so it felt good for them to get to explore a little again on our cross-country trip.
>> LaNissir: We decided to RV since we were traveling from Maryland to Virginia so much—we are restoring our family beach property that is two hours from our home. We are in the process of building a barndominium (a metal barn or shed that’s converted into a living space), and there are no close hotels, so we decided to RV instead. Of course, having a RV turned into many more opportunities for family travel.
CR: What was the best part about RVing?
>> Bryanna: Family, freedom, and travel. We get to spend time together as a family and do what we want to do, when we want to do it. We get to do really cool amazing things—for example, we pulled up to California’s Alabama Hills Recreation Area, went down the Movie Road Trail, and saw where the movie Tremors was filmed. And then we hiked up Mount Whitney! Our kids’ favorite part of homeschooling on the road was being able to be active and not tied to a desk—plus learning all the time, everywhere, not just during certain hours.
>> Tj: For us, the best part about RVing was being together in a more comfortable and convenient vehicle and being able to experience things as a family. When you’re in a car, it’s a little cramped, and feels more cramped the longer you’re on the road. The RV gave us more freedom and options—including the ability to have all of our clothing, snacks, and everything that we needed—all in one place.
Seeing wild bison, climbing the hills in the Badlands, and hiking up to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park were my kids’ favorite parts. And most of our kids are looking forward to the next trip!
>> Sara: I liked the freedom of being in a different place every night. And weirdly, even though we were jammed into the Airstream, we felt all cuddled up and it was reassuring knowing that everyone was safe and sound and all together.
>> LaNissir: I love the freedom and flexibility of RV life. I love being able to eat healthy meals, take naps, and travel. We wouldn’t travel as much if we didn’t have the comfort of the RV. The camper allowed us to practice physical distancing from other travelers when on the road during the pandemic, while promoting quality family time. I have learned a lot about my kids, even more than I did at home.
CR: Well, what was the worst part about RVing?
>> Bryanna: Because the RV is a small space, everything is out, and we see it all the time. And I do miss having a bathtub! Or when it’s a disaster in our living room, having a basement to send the kids downstairs to play.
>> Tj: Having to be on a tight schedule, as we had a limited time frame for our first trip.
>> Sara: The bathroom. The tiny little bathroom. Even though it was convenient and having our own restroom onboard allowed us to avoid using public restrooms, we barely used our shower and sometimes showered with a hose.
>> LaNissir: The worst part about RVing is dumping the black and gray waste tanks, as well as cleaning up the RV for our next trip.
CR: How does your family homeschool while on the go?
>> Bryanna: We unschool, so we learn things as we go along. Whatever we do during our day, we learn from and expand on that, then continue to educate through activities based on their interests.
There are always questions, and the kids always want to learn. The kids learn from conversation and listening to books on relevant topics, such as the physics of canyoneering.
While on the road, the world is the kids’ classroom: everything they want to see or do, they can! They don’t need a lot of direction or instruction—they just go for it.
For us, it’s not about planning for the most part. It’s based more on the weather and other factors. We keep it flexible and adapt. We enjoy this lifestyle.
>> Tj: Before the trip, we printed out a 5 x 5 ft. wall map from National Geographic and requested visitor guides from nearly all of the states that we were going to visit; this way, we could all learn about and discuss the things we wanted to see and do along the way. Along the journey, we used RoadTrippers.com to add a few more interesting experiences. Every child had some say in where we went on the trip.
Our kids also collected National Park Junior Ranger patches and pins as we traveled across America. Having these fun goals helped them pay attention as we explored the parks and looked for information and answers.
The fun of learning about a new place or time in history was definitely our kids’ favorite part. Any “roadschooling” we did primarily focused on this sort of learning (although several of my kids did have a small amount of traditional schoolwork to complete). Most of the kids just kept a journal and/or participated in the interactive activities at the places we visited.
>> Sara: We would usually do school in the morning before we packed stuff up. My husband would take the dog for a walk or do laundry, and I would work with the kids.
We did some learning on the road while we were driving too. For instance, we listened to some audiobooks and podcasts along the way that related to different topics and destinations. We really enjoyed listening to the Louise Erdrich Birchbark House series, which is like the Little House on the Prairie series but told from a Native American family’s perspective. I chose this because we were driving through a lot of Native American reservations. We also learned about Navajo code talkers through National Geographic.
>> LaNissir: We normally homeschool in connection with a community homeschool co-op. Our co-op paused activities in April 2021, giving us extra days to be out in the RV. I bought a portable printer, hole punch, stapler, and laptop stand, which allowed me to print educational materials related to where we were going and to put together end-of-year portfolios (required in our home state of Maryland).
We traveled to the Statue of Liberty on the Hudson River and to Mathews, Virginia, where they filmed the movie Harriet. We’re all learning, and it’s so much fun.
CR: How did you as parents fit in your own work?
>> Bryanna: We had the idea to support families on the road by bringing together speakers who can share knowledge and experience. So, we organized and hosted an RV summit online for families who are already on the road or want to get on the road. We had thousands of sign-ups and people joining us to learn more about RVing. It was energizing to hear their excitement and to help people feel more comfortable about the decisions that they are making. And it was easy to fit into our relaxed unschooling days.
>> Tj: Although our trip was mostly vacation, I did keep up with some work. I would work in the evenings when we were at a stop. I would do most of my work offline, and then briefly hop online to upload and send any emails or files in a batch. Out West, we had little to no cell service, so we borrowed a free Wi-Fi hotspot from the public library that had better coverage than our cell phones. With 20 gigs of data for the trip, the hotspot allowed some of my kids to take online classes in the evening.
>> Sara: I homeschooled the kids and my husband fit his work around our travel schedule.
>> LaNissir: I work remotely, so it’s easy for me to fit it all in. We mostly plan our getaways around my husband’s work schedule. We love using mobile hotspots.
CR: Do you follow a schedule while RVing?
>> Bryanna: Some people bring their life from their house and live like they did at home. Others get rid of all schedules and let the road take them where it leads, seeing and doing a lot of things. Some fall in between.
For us, this lifestyle is about being active and doing things as a family! We are always looking to push our kids to try new things. We did a huge hike with our kids in Tahoe and then went paddle-boarding on Lake Tahoe. We did canyoneering—rappelling down a mountain—in Zion National Park. And as our kids have gotten older, they really enjoy meeting up with their friends, so we’re often adapting our schedule to fit in opportunities to travel alongside with other families.
It’s exciting and fun, but we still have downtime. We like to find other families and places to give ourselves a break (physically) from each other. Everyone can go off and do their own thing for a little while. And then there are times when we spend all day in the RV.
Having the freedom to go out and explore or play, from sunup to sundown, is what our kids remember and love the most.
>> Tj: Normally we would drive about 300 miles a day due to our tight schedule and all the places we had decided we wanted to see. We would normally look up a campground along the way and made a reservation a day or two in advance.
>> LaNissir: We are “anytime RVers”—which means we are probably in the RV about four or five days a week. We come home to reset and work around my kids’ and husband’s schedule. We have a plan all the way through the summer and then 90 days out. When it gets cold, we’ll head to Florida, where we’ll get to visit my grandmother and other family.
>> Sara: We wing it. We sometimes book our camping spot while on the way there!
For us, this lifestyle is about being active and doing things as a family! Having the freedom to go out and explore or play, from sunup to sundown, is what our kids remember and love the most.
CR: What were some unexpected hiccups along the way?
>> Tj: The day we tried to drive from Iowa to South Dakota—it felt a lot longer than it looked on the map! Taking a long drive in an RV can be draining on everyone. It’s monotonous. It doesn’t necessarily get any easier. That day definitely stretched us.
>> Sara: The circumstantial mechanical problems, such as a tire blowout on the Airstream and an engine issue with the car. And the unpredictable weather changes. On our way back through Texas, there was a freak ice storm! Everything was covered with ice, so we had to stop driving and buy wool hats. But then we went from 25 degrees in Texas to 103 degrees at our first stop in Arizona. We were unprepared for that!
>> LaNissir: The more you do it, the more you learn. I found a mobile tech to come out to our RV because I thought that the air conditioning had gone out. Instead, it was just that the humidity was high, and I was in direct sunlight. It was a bit of a circulation issue. One little tweak made all the difference . . . but thankfully the AC wasn’t broken!
CR: What are your top tips for first-time RVers?
>> Sara: (1) Try it out. (2) Leave lots of time to figure out your rig. (3) Plan for weather changes.
>> Tj: As Captain Cold says, “Make the plan, execute the plan, expect the plan to go off the rails, throw away the plan!” Start by talking with others who RV and asking for tips that they found helpful. Give yourself flexibility in your travels. We knew the places we wanted to visit and set a few hard dates for specific locations, but we also left plenty of room in our plan for flexibility.
>> Bryanna: (1) We actually wrote a book: Full-Time RVing with Kids—An Insider’s Guide to Life on the Road. (2) All your ducks will never be in a row. (3) Just go for it!
>> LaNissir: My top tips for first-time RVers are (1) just make a simple plan to get out on the road, and (2) make time to plan your next trip while you are on the road so you can take notes on how to make each trip better and better.
CR: How many states did you cover?
>> Bryanna: 40 states so far, plus Canada and Mexico. We like it out West, so we keep coming back. We plan to go international soon.
>> Tj: Well, 17 on our latest trip, as we travelled through MD, PA, OH, IN, IL, IA, SD, WY, CO, UT, AZ, NM, TX, OK, KS, and MO (and, of course, WV, which is home). Pre-RV, we’d also been to every state east of the Mississippi.
>> Sara: We’ve covered 15 states, starting in San Diego and going through AZ, NM, TX, OK, AR, MO, TN, IL, KY, VA, WV, PA, NJ, and NY.
>> LaNissir: We’ve visited 12 states in the RV so far: DE, NC, SC, GA, IL, TN, FL, VA, NJ, MD, OH, NY, and also DC. We’ve pretty much been up the East coast trying to get the “Beach Blazer” out, and we’re about to fill up our little map.
CR: What did you see?
>> Bryanna: From Montana to Baja in Mexico, to the Florida Keys, we love anywhere you can explore and hike. The RV gave us freedom to enjoy free places with family and friends.
>> Tj: We really packed it in:
- Maquoketa Caves State Park, IA
- The Badlands, SD • Wall Drug Store, SD
- Mount Rushmore, SD
- Independence Rock, WY
- Arches National Park, UT
- Horseshoe Bend, AZ
- Grand Canyon, AZ
- Painted Desert/Petrified Forrest, AZ
- Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, OK
- Pawhuska, OK
- Little House on the Prairie Museum, KS
One of our favorite stops was South Dakota; we loved the Badlands’ slow, 30-mile loop. We also loved the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest in Arizona, and the Arches National Park in Utah—there are so many natural arches in the stone, and you can climb and hike.
But Arches was hot—with a heat index in the 100s!
>> Sara: Pleasant surprises! One was how well our kids did on these long drives—often at least three hours a day. And another was that although the kids used to be nonplussed by new places, yet, right out of the RV, they’d be in a creek or climbing a tree. That was pretty wonderful and unexpected. (In my mind, I think of my kids as “indoorsy.”) Also, my mom thought it was fun! Once we picked her up, she was pretty game.
>> LaNissir: We’ve been to TN, IL, SC, NY, NJ, and more. We try to make each trip better than the last—it’s about relaxation and slowing life down. RVing gives us the opportunity to “go with the flow” and really connect with the family. There is no “check-out” time: we just put the sides in and make our way to the next location. Our RV life is about decompressing from the hustle and bustle of regular life.
CR: Any final thoughts on RV life?
>> Bryanna: It’s important to have some alone time. Our kids have gaming PCs, tablets, so everyone can go find their own space and do their own thing for a little while.
>> Tj: Living out of an older RV did present some challenges. But it also was a great learning experience. It did create many opportunities to work on our relationships with each other in a close environment. While there were some hiccups, for the most part we had a wonderful time. Several of the kids are eager to go out again. Bringing a couple of rolls of quarters is helpful when you’re doing laundry in an RV park.
>> Sara: Some RV parks have laundry, some don’t. Most of the ones we visited had terrible or no Wi-Fi. We just dealt with it. It was hard for my husband because he was still working remotely. I’m not an outdoorsy person. I didn’t grow up camping or RVing, yet we managed to do it and have a good time. The kids loved it and caught the travel bug. Since then, my husband has taken them on some trips to nearby destinations in California.
>> LaNissir: RV campers are the nicest people in the whole wide world, and meeting people on a campsite is the best way to learn how to RV. We get so many tips just from being out with other RV families. It’s like a little community when you are camping!
CR: Thanks everyone for sharing your stories. Enjoy your next roadschooling adventure!
Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of roadschooling from these four families, we hope you’re feeling inspired by the opportunities and possibilities to try a little on-the-go learning with your own kids.
How many roadschoolers are there?
While we don’t have any way to know just how many homeschoolers are hitting the road now, a look at recent growth data from two family-centric areas of interest related to homeschooling suggests that the roadschooling growth could be exponential:
- The United States Census Bureau’s Pulse Surveys found that the number of households homeschooling has doubled from spring 2020 to spring 2021.
- The RV Industry Association (RVIA) estimates a record 11.2 million RV owning households, with 9.6 million intending to buy within the next 5 years. Of these owners, 1.5% are full-timers, while 16% of part-timers travel about two months a year. 
- New RV shipments in 2021 were up 34% over 2020.
- Public roadschooling Facebook page: Facebook.com/RoadschoolingFamilies
- Private roadschooling Facebook page: Facebook.com/groups/Roadschooling
- Annual National Park Pass—entrance to most US parks and recreation lands: USparkpass.com
- Every Kid Outdoors—free National Park access to 4th graders and their families: EveryKidOutdoors.gov/index.htm
- Passport America—discount camping club: PassportAmerica.com
- Good Sam Club—discount RV/travel club: GoodSam.com/club
 Go RVing RV Owner Demographic Profile, www.rvia.org/go-rving-rv-owner-demographic-profile.