3 Kids, 2 Parents, 1 RV: An Exeter Family Gives 'Roadschooling' A Try

Sep 4, 2014

Brecht Palombo runs a software company from a home office. He and his wife Becky – a stay at home mom – have cultivated a kind of flexibility their parents never dreamed of: they can live anywhere they want to. The problem is – they haven’t found that perfect place.

Floor plan for the 2004 version of the Safari Bunk 30 from Airstream.

Like a lot of middle class families un-tethered to offices thanks to the internet, the Palombos are searching for the there there. A place to put down roots. So – the Palombos are setting out for a year - with their three kids, and a dog – in a shiny Airstream RV. This particular Airstream model is called the "Safari Bunk" and it's just shy of 31 feet in length. Pretty much everything in here folds. Brecht has a folding monitor he plugs into his folding laptop so he can work each day in the RV.  The kitchen cutting board folds down – and even the couch. In the back – are the bunks where the family sleeps.

They’re setting off at the end of August – heading south for the winter, West to California, then up along the Pacific coast next spring. The Palombo’s aren’t the only family with kids traversing the country in an RV. In fact, there’s a whole movement of so-called “roadschoolers.” The website familiesontheroad.com has a list of 320 families who have homeschooled from their RVs over the last 10 years. For the Palombos, this adventure is about more than just finding that perfect place with good people, excellent charter schools and plenty of local food. Like other roadschooling families, the Palombo’s big adventure is part ideological rebellion.

Brecht and Becky don’t like the rigidity of a modern middle class parenthood. Not the standardized tests, not the after school activities, and especially not all that stuff.  So – they’ve been purging.  Including what Brecht says were rooms full of toys. Each kid went from a bedroom full of stuff to one small plastic bucket. Madeline points out some special things she didn’t give away: 2 dolls, a stuffed bunny, and her diary.

Becky is hopeful their new life will be simpler – easier:

"As the stay at home mom, I feel like so much of my day is taking care of our stuff. In a smaller space, it’s going to be an interesting experiment, it’s gonna be a lot smaller of a space to take care of."

Seven year old Madeline and five year old Vince have no idea what to expect on their great big American adventure:

Vince: Climbing a cactus...

Madeleine: And one part of the year it will just be baby animals baby animals baby animals. Annnddd….

But I suppose their parents don’t really know what they’re getting into, either.

The music track from this segment is called "Another Year" by Abby Posner. You can hear more of her work at her website: abbyposner.com.