Cary mom Kaycee Hannen is in the process of getting rid of most of her family’s belongings, from clothes to furniture.
It’s been a lot of work unloading all that baggage, but Hannen and her husband, Louie, and their three kids will travel light over the next 12 months.
Granted, they’ll travel in a 44-foot RV with slide-out compartments that rivals a celebrity tour bus, but compared to a four-bedroom suburban home, they’re definitely downsizing.
The Hannens will leave in early fall to travel up and down the east coast, from Maine to Florida, and will also visit several Midwestern states.
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“We have no idea how far we’re going to go, but we’re probably not going to make it across the Mississippi River,” said Hannen, 40.
That’s because the family plans to spend about three weeks in each spot and will also return home every three to four months to check in with family and for doctor’s appointments for one of the children.
“We’re not in vacation mode; it’s full-time living,” Hannen said.
The kids, ages 7, 10 and 13, will keep up with their schoolwork – Kaycee homeschools them – and Louie, 42, will continue to work his job in the technology industry. He’s always worked from home, and now he’ll work from the road.
Hitting the road for a full year may sound like an impulsive decision, but the Hannens have done a lot of research. It actually will be cheaper for them to live on the road, they said, since utilities are often covered in campground stays.
“We wanted to make sure we did our homework,” Hannen said. “We were going to be smart about it, responsible about it. The debts are paid, the kids are the correct age and we had the savings to tackle it. It seemed like now is the time.”
The Hannens have also talked with families who are doing what they’re getting ready to do, connecting with the online community fulltimefamilies.com.
The website is comprised of families with kids who travel around the country, most of whom homeschool or “roadschool” as they go. The group was started by one family who realized there was a lack of RV-lifestyle information for families with kids; most of what they found was geared toward retirees.
The group holds rallies all over the country to connect roadschooling families. A Virginia rally will be among the first stops for the Hannens.
It won’t be the first rally they’ve attended. Kaycee and Louie wanted feedback from other families before they made the decision to rent their Cary home and hit the road.
“One family said they were going to do it for six months, and five years later they were still doing it,” Kaycee Hannen said.
With a just a few weeks left on the countdown, the whole family is excited about who and what they’ll see along the way. Stops include New York City, Washington D.C., and a variety of parks, museums and zoos.
“The only downside to it is that everybody is worried about missing their friends, but with the technology that’s out there, everybody’s got a tablet for staying in touch and doing video calls,” Hannen said.
The kids helped map the journey. One daughter wanted to see Maine, and their son wanted to see Florida. The other daughter had her heart set on Washington state, but the logistics were too daunting.
“Those three places, you couldn’t really get any further apart other than Alaska, so we had to regroup, bring them down to earth and show them the map, which is pretty much when we determined we were staying on the east side of the Mississippi River,” Hannen said.
Their Cary house is quickly emptying of furniture. Renting a storage unit for the year was too expensive. Hannen said she is not concerned about letting most of it go.
“We’ll enjoy redecorating when we get back,” she said.