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Grateful Glamper: Breaking the Mold and Finding Freedom

By: Clara Vela
RV Mattress Grateful Glamper DeVries family blog breaking the mold and finding freedom
Life moves pretty fast, and the DeVries know they want that fast-moving time to be spent as a family. 

They exchanged their 9 to 5 jobs for remote work and an entrepreneurial spirit—and hit the open road in an old, used RV. That was five years ago, and Charity and Ben DeVries haven’t looked back since (although they have upgraded their RV!). 

We chatted with Charity about how to make RV life a practical and financially safe option, their decision to switch to a hybrid RV life, and how to pivot to suit your particular season in life. 

On their RV aha moment: 

One day we stopped and realized that as parents of two kids, aged five and seven, we were past the preschool years—and the time had flown by! There’s just a short amount of time where we were all going to be under the same roof, and we wanted to spend time together in a more meaningful way. 

We didn’t want to be sitting around a TV, we wanted to be exploring and enjoying fun experiences together. We wanted something more than just the status quo. We had watched other friends that had purchased a motorhome or a travel trailer, and we thought: how much fun would it be to do that with our kids?

On test driving RV life with a used RV: 

We realized that if we purchased an older, used RV, we could make it work. We found an RV for sale in our area on Craigslist, and we paid cash. That was our vehicle that got us started. We’ve grown out of it, but that’s the RV that got our foot in the door. Once you get started, you don’t want to go back.

On their hybrid approach to RV life: 

At the moment, we’re in hybrid mode. We have our home base, our headquarters—but our real home is wherever our family is. Sometimes our home is our RV, sometimes our home is in Florida. 

Our house is an investment opportunity for us. When we’re traveling, we rent it on Airbnb, but also, the house appreciates in value every year. So it’s part of our overall financial plan. We can use the house when we want it, but we aren’t too attached to it. And it’s always a place that we can come back to for the winter.

On the effect of Covid: 

In 2020, the Covid lockdowns affected a lot of campgrounds. Occupancy rates were cut to 25 percent or 50 percent. We found that difficult. We’d be in one location and enjoying that location and then the governor of that state would say, “No, we're going to restrict occupancy to only 25 percent instead of the previous 50 percent.”

Then half of us would have to go find a different campground and that really shifted the mindset of a lot of us. A lot of people felt it’d be nice to have a homebase that they could always come back to. Your homebase can be many things. It could be a house or a piece of land. Once you’re on the road for a couple of years, you realize that it’s a nice option to have.

On the kids’ hybrid school experience: 

Our kids are enrolled at a school in Florida. If we're not on the road, the kids go in person to school. But when we are on the road, they can study virtually or online. 

On the road, we make everything into a learning experience whenever possible. It’s not just history, we try to incorporate math, too. When we need to fill up the RV and reset our trip meter, we go through how many gallons we need and we tabulate our fuel economy. 

But of course, we love being able to see history. Last summer we spent a week in Gettysburg, and so when the kids learn about the Civil War in school, it's going to take on a whole new meaning; they stood in the fields where the battles happened. We also always take advantage of the Junior Ranger program at the national parks, and the kids get to learn about nature, the ecosystem, and geology.

On traveling light: 

A lot of times when people buy an RV, they think they have to spend thousands of dollars on all the gear. But we’ve realized you just need a few basic things. Every six months, we do a big purge cycle and clean everything out. Our rule is: if you haven't touched it in six months, you don't need it, and I can't tell you how much stuff we've donated. 

When you pack up a campsite, the less stuff you have, the easier it is. It’s less stressful and more practical to only travel with what you really need. One thing we learned is that you don’t need as much as you think you do. But if you do need something, there’s going to be a Walmart at your next campsite. 

On creating a peaceful home: 

My highest priority is to create a home that is a peaceful place to land at the end of the day. Too many people are forced to grow up in a home that doesn’t feel safe. So wherever home happens to be for us and whenever we're together, we try to limit distractions and create a peaceful environment.

On a favorite travel adventure: 

It’s hard to pick a chief highlight but if I had to choose, it would probably be New York City because it was such a unique experience. There’s a RV park in New Jersey where you can see the Statue of Liberty. We walked or took the subway everywhere in New York City. We’ve never lived in a big city with that kind of public transit. 

We went on a walking tour that started at Grand Central Station and saw all of the major sites and landmarks, like the Rockefeller Center, Central Park, the New York Public Library, and all of these historic buildings with the tour guide explaining the significance and development of different areas and buildings. We were also able to stop for amazing food along the way.

On great sleep on the open road:

We instantly felt a huge difference when we upgraded our mattresses to the Aurora Luxe. I don't understand how an RV manufacturer can pay such incredible attention to every detail in an RV—and then just blow it on the mattress. I’ve seen million dollar RVs and the mattress is sad and hard.

I’m glad we prioritize sleep. Driving and setting up camp is a bad time to be tired. We sleep so much better with our RV Mattress.


On their kids’ evolving RV needs: 

When we first started life on the road, the kids were younger and they saw it as one big adventure. And it’s still fun for them, but as they’ve matured, a few things have shifted. They want to be with their friends. When you’re five and seven, you just run up to the kids on the playground and say, “Let’s be friends.” Now, they have their school friends and want to be with them. Plus, the constant change isn’t necessarily good all the time. 

That’s partly why we went back to a hybrid lifestyle. Now we have a home base in Central Florida where a lot of places are just a short drive away. We can get away for a weekend and have a fun time in Tampa or Miami. During the summer, we purposefully connect with other families on the road. It just  depends on what season of life you are in.

On working through RV life’s tough times: 

We want our kids to learn from how we respond to difficult scenarios. A lot of things go wrong on the open road. And when we can respond well to those difficulties, we teach our kids how to face adversity. They learn that we can come out of those trials stronger with our connections intact. We hope to inspire other people watching our channel that when things don't go as planned, it can be a moment of growth.

On their canine friend and cute cats: 

We have two kids Dakota, 12, and Trinity, 11. We also travel with our dog Alaska and our two cats Scrappy and Kit-Kat. Alaska is a rescue from Big Bones Rescue in Colorado—and we love traveling with our dog and our cats. At first, we thought they’d be more comfortable staying at home with our house sitter, but they actually love joining us. We’ll say to our dog Alaska, “Let’s go in the RV!” And he perks up his ears. It’s his favorite place.

Thank you Grateful Glamper for sharing your adventures with us. All the best on the open road! 

To learn more about the adventures of Charity and Ben, check out their website here and their YouTube channel here