The Farnsworths are fast approaching five years on the open road! The family of five (six if you count their beloved eight-year-old dog Cinder) downsized to an RV in order to explore the U.S.A. Dad John works as an ICU travel nurse, while mom Kristin works as a marketing manager for their informative and fun YouTube channel No Ordinary Path.
We caught up with John and Kristin Farnsworth, parents-of-three, Ethan, 11, Aaron, 13, and Chloe, 8, while they were in White Mountains of New Hampshire to chat about road schooling, being a first responder during a global pandemic, and how to live a life that is anything but ordinary …
On the perks of RV living:
Kristin: Traveling teaches kids that the world is not as scary a place as we are made to believe. It’s actually an amazing place full of all kinds of different people and full of an incredibly beautiful creation. It never gets old. We stick with RV life because there's still so much to explore.
John: And we’ve grown a lot. We're certainly closer (and that closeness is not always a good thing), but overall, as a family unit we have learned to be very adaptable and have overcome unique challenges and obstacles while becoming stronger.
On honestly portraying the highs and lows of RV life:
Kristin: Social media is full of Pinterest-perfect images. They show the awesome highlights of RV life, and while the positives outweigh the negatives, we want to be real about the unique set of challenges that comes with RV living.
The good thing is that RV life teaches you to become a really good independent problem solver because, well, there's usually always a new problem to solve!
John: And it all becomes part of the adventure. Even when we run into the hard stuff, it makes for great content because it's an interesting challenge. It’s true to life, and I think people appreciate the authenticity.
On the importance of a family home base:
Kristin: A year or two back, we knew that we didn't want to stop traveling but we did miss having a place to land. We decided to put down roots so we could take short breaks from RV life. We started looking for a house two years ago, and finally in February we found a home in Glendale, Arizona. We couldn’t be more excited about it. Even though we’re exploring New England at the moment, and loving it, we are still excited to get back to Arizona for the winter.
John: Our house is also a kind of long-term investment or retirement strategy. I wanted a place to call home that we can fall back on if anything devastating happens. But in the meantime, the home works for us as a rental property while we’re out traveling in the RV.
On road schooling three children:
Kristin: I thought I could never teach my own kids. But I actually love it. I’m always looking ahead in the curriculum to see what they’re going to be learning. It’s a challenging game, but it’s so worth it.
We saw our kids fall in love with learning, again. I love that about road school. This whole experience is teaching them to always ask questions so that they are always learning whether they are in school or not.
We did a field trip to the University of Arizona and the kids were able to look through telescopes and see a supernova with their own eyes that was 40 million light-years away. We get to pick what fits for our kids, while giving them hands-on experiences that makes it so much more engaging and exciting.
On the benefits of living with less:
John: When we first started living the RV life, we moved into a Keystone Passport travel trailer. We had to learn to live with less. Initially, it was a bit of a shock. We went from a large two-story home in Colorado to a 37-foot travel trailer with only a few cabinets. It was tight!
Kristin: But what surprised us was how quickly we just adapted. As the kids grew, we decided to upgrade to a new 44-foot fifth wheel toy hauler—a much larger space. It’s larger than some apartments in New York City.
On giving each kid their own “RV room”:
Kristin: We felt it was important to give each of the kids their own space. Each of the boys have a queen size bunk bed that has curtains and is separate from Chloe. She has the loft with her own curtains. We have our own bedroom, and the living room seats everyone. There is a giant reclining couch where we can sit together and watch a movie as a family.
John: Now that we've gone from the old travel trailer to this new fifth wheel, it does feel a lot bigger. And then, when we go back to the house it just feels like a mansion to all of us since all the kids have their own room. The space issue is one of those unique obstacles that we chose as a family to overcome, but I think a lot of it was the initial mindset.
On being a travel nurse during Covid:
John: It was a terrifying time. I’d go to the hospital, and an ICU nurse normally has two patients, and I had four or five patients. There was a mass exodus of nurses. People were just burned out. It was tough on everybody.
I was worried about bringing it home to my family. But I was fortunate enough that the hospital worked with us. I’d bring a totally separate set of clothes and shoes and before going home at night, I’d shower at the hospital and change into a fresh set of clothes and then go home to our RV and then immediately throw my clothes in the hamper and take another shower.
On putting the “travel” in “travel nurse”:
John: Travel nursing, for me, has always been about travel. It’s about the adventure and the ability to say, I went to an amazing place. I’m seeing the places I always wanted to visit, and because it’s contract work, you can take a vacation in between. I have to work long hours during three days of the week, but the other four days, I'm on vacation, and I’m not in any kind of financial difficulty because I’m paid to be there.
On meeting history on the open road:
Kristin: As a road schooling family, we have the opportunity to teach history at the actual historical sites. The kids were learning about Paul Revere and the midnight ride, and we got to go to the Minute Man National Historical Park in Massachusetts where the very first battle of the Revolution took place. We went to the church with Paul Revere’s lanterns, one if by land, two if by sea. We got to go to the Boston Tea Party Museum and threw tea off the boat.
On their adorable travel buddy Cinder:
We got our dog Cinder shortly after our youngest daughter was born. Cinder’s eight, and she loves people so much. We call her smooch because she gives so many kisses and loves hugs. And she lives for a belly rub. She loves traveling in the RV because she gets to be close to the whole family. Even when we are at our house in Glendale, she tries to sleep in the RV.
On the importance of great sleep on the open road:
Kristin: We all sleep on an RV Mattress by Brooklyn Bedding. And we have the Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillows, too. The company takes the stress out of mattress buying because the size, weight, and height are all customizable to an RV.
John: The quality of the mattresses made it a no-brainer. Plus, we aren’t pulling extra weight because they are nice and lightweight—and super sturdy and comfortable. Now I’m sleeping better in an RV than I did on a regular home mattress.
Thank you, John and Kristin! It was a pleasure chatting about your RV life adventures!
Be sure to subscribe to the No Ordinary Path YouTube channel here
and their wonderful website here
where they share their hard-earned tips and tricks for all things RV-life, including travel nursing, boondocking—and more!
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