Two years ago when we decided to follow our crazy dream and live the full time RV lifestyle, I started a travel list. I am sure most of you know what I am talking about and you’ve probably created such a list of places you dream of exploring. I am continually adding to this ‘list of dreams’ and over the last couple of years it has been amazing to see this list unfold.
Now, instead of just a dream or a thought on a piece of paper, we are actually seeing these places in real life and in full color. The black and white of my imagination is coming to life and it only sparks a fire in our adventurous hearts to keep adding to the list.
This list is not just names on paper, but they are truly family memories that will last a lifetime. They are pictures of our family captured in time that will be treasured for years to come and hopefully by generations to follow.
After looking at this list, a rush of emotions comes over me. I am THANKFUL for the places marked off this list and the ability to experience them with the people I love. I am EXCITED for the future landmarks to explore and memories to be made as a family. I am OVERWHELMED and question how we will ever visit all these places and how to pick where to go next.
Believe it or not, we did not appreciate our National Parks until we started our travel lifestyle. We knew of National Parks, but honestly I had only visited one my whole life and that’s because Smokey Mountain National Park is conveniently located close to our hometown in Tennessee. We hiked a bit in the area, but I had no idea the beauty preserved by our National Park system.
When we first started RVing, we naively drove past a couple of National Parks. On our maiden voyage as a full-time RV family, we to the Florida keys we even drove right past Everglades National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park.
It’s funny to look back on those moments. I remember that list I had made originally of places to visit and now I see how over time our priorities have changed when it comes to travel. National Parks were something we drove by to get to our destination. Now they are the destination.
We have always had a heart for travel, but now after living this lifestyle, it has grown our love in a different direction. Our focus has shifted from crowded touristy spots to spots that open our eyes to all the natural and often forgotten beauty our country has to offer.
I think that shift happened because we embraced RV living. At first, the RV was just another way to vacation. Now it is a way to immerse ourselves in whatever area we temporarily call home. And these nomadic “homes” have changed our lives forever.
I’m not saying we don’t enjoy Disney World or Myrtle Beach every once in a while, but they’ve now taken a back seat to our 59 National Parks in the U.S. Not to mention the ones we would love to explore by our northern neighbor Canada.
In our 2016 travels, we got to check off 7 National Parks and we are excited to see where this year takes us. We are extremely excited that our next adventure will take place at the Grand Canyon National Park. This park has always been a dream of mine and I can hardly contain myself until we arrive. I have heard the pictures do not do it justice and this holds to be true in all our travels, so I know this park will exceed my expectations.
One of the best parts of the National Parks in not only the beauty it provides you and your family, but the money saved by this budget friendly activity. If you plan on attending multiple parks or even the same park multiple tines, a National Park Pass may be the way to go. We have LOVED our pass and it has been worth every penny and then some.
The pass is currently an $80 yearly fee with unlimited National Park admission and not to mention it earns you admission to over 2,000 federal recreational sites. Free passes are also available if certain criteria is met, including the annual 4th grade pass available to every US 4th grader. In addition, they offer some amazing Junior Ranger programs as well, so your children will love this as an activity. Make sure to check out the site for more details.
If you are planning a full time adventure of your own, then don’t make the same mistake we did and look over these precious beauties called our National Parks. Even if you are not planning on being in an RV, make it a point this year to get out and explore. Explore nature and these protected areas that offer some of the most beautiful views known to man. We have been overwhelmed with the artistry of our parks and your family will make some spectacular memories. Don’t just make a travel list. Get out there and live your list!