For me, the thought of packing up and heading out in a RV to experience adventure sounds captivating, but this is exactly what this family has done. Meet the Haverkos family, also known as the "Haverherd." (Check them out on Instagram @thehaverherd.) This family with three little boys is living out an adventure that has brought them closer together as a couple and a family. Want to know what this adventure has been like? Just read Bex Haverkos's words for yourself:
"We have felt the mist from dozens of waterfalls from coast to coast, dry camped at an island 60 miles west of Key West, witnessed a meteor shower from Cabot Trails, viewed sunsets that seem to stop time, ridden horses in western Texas, snowboarded in Steamboat, Colorado, surfed in Samara, Costa Rica, sand boarded at Great Sand Dunes National Park, slept out with the Sequoias in California and eaten ice cream of almost every imaginable flavor in North America. To have experienced so much on this earth, the word grateful is an understatement."
How did this family begin such a journey? Bex explains, " We began planning for our camper journey, as we like to call it, in 2015 when I was pregnant with our 3rd son, Tobias. At that time, I was at home with our other two boys and my husband was working 60+ hours a week running his financial services company."
Soon after this, the company was sold, and life on the road began, but it wasn't their first experience with adventure. It really began for Bex and her husband, Daniel, back in 2009 when they both participated in the World Race through Adventures in Missions. Through this experience, they lived out of a backpack on $14 a day as they traveled and ministered through 11 different countries spending a month in each. (check adventures.org to learn more). Their participation in the World Race gave their families and friends a hint that they were, in her words, "a little different."
Even though The Haverkoses had a reputation for being willing to take chances, it was a surprise that they began planning their journey while they had two small boys and another on the way. That is, however, exactly what they did. But they didn't undertake this move without a great deal of planning.
Bex says, "As we planned for our camper journey, we spent a lot of time researching and then searching for an SUV/Truck that could tow an RV big enough to house three kids. Then we started looking for a camper. We had a very small budget for both of these items."
Even though many people think that only the wealthy take off and do something like this, Bex says that is not true. "It’s kind of funny, because in generations past, this lifestyle would have been associated with people who were looking for work. We are not rich. We aren’t poor either."
In fact, they have planned for this for quite awhile. "We live a cost-conscious lifestyle and saved for years before embarking on this journey. We are in a good financial position, but we need to budget effectively and find creative ways to economically enjoy the things in life that we love the most."
With the preparations in place, they got their show on the road over a year ago. "We moved into our Airstream in July 2017 after my husband sold his financial services company in Maryland. Since that time, we have journeyed all over the US, Canada, and Central America. As we travel, I run a small, online yoga business. The aim of my practice is to create a connected and accessible community where people can come to learn or enhance their yoga and meditation practices in a judgment free zone."
In addition to running her business and raising their boys, Bex and family have been to some amazing places and seen some beautiful things while they have been traveling. "We love visiting national parks and exploring rural areas. Maine, Costa Rica, Banff (Alberta, Canada), Vermont, Nova Scotia, and Colorado, have been our favorite locations so far. We also loved our time in Montana where our sons did two weeks of summer camp. It was also the first place complete strangers invited us over for dinner."
For some people, the idea of traveling in a RV filled with five people might not seem like such a good idea, but the Haverkoses are not only surviving this experience, they are thriving. "Daniel and I are the weird kind of people who are better together than we are apart. We joke that we could be each others’ backpacks and never tire of one another," explains Bex.
It isn't only their relationship as a couple that has been positively affected, but also their relationship with their three boys. "Our relationship with our kids is very strong and seems to be growing by the minute as we continue life as we know it in our 200-square-foot ‘home on wheels," as the boys like to call it."
"One of the unique benefits of living this lifestyle is that there is no room for conflict avoidance," she continues. "We are all forced to learn how to communicate more effectively and seek forgiveness when we make mistakes. As our oldest son’s former kindergarten teacher used to say 'In this classroom, we make mistakes every day.' All five members of our family have humbly taken on that mantra. On a humorous side note, I personally do not thrive with a lot of noise, so it’s an on-going joke with friends and family about how much time I spend wearing noise-cancelling headphones."
The benefits of this journey have reached beyond just the here and now for their children, and the Haverkoses believe that their children will experience long-term positive impacts from this lifestyle.
"We hope and believe that this experience is providing each of our kids with a much greater perspective on the world. We have seen so many places, but more importantly, met so many people, that provides an opportunity to view different ways of life."
The Haverkos have also taken the opportunity to enrich the lives of others. "We’ve also done a lot of work serving the homeless around the country, and the boys seem to be recognizing that there are a lot of people who are down on their luck."
Overall, this lifestyle is building a stronger family with more empathetic children. "We feel that the camper journey experience is growing the bonds of our family tighter and strengthening our relationships. We think that the boys have become more patient human beings that value experiences over stuff. And lastly, we hope that more family time outdoors, as opposed to individual time in front of a screen, will give them a healthy foundation that will last a lifetime. "
With all the new and exciting things to do and see, there isn't really a "typical day" for the family because they like to be able to respond to whatever opportunities arise. "We have had a lot of fun homeschooling the boys, Matthew in grade 2 and Josiah in Pre-K. They each have accumulated more than 50 Jr. Ranger badges from various national parks and get to see, touch and experience things that most kids read a line about in a text book."
Though the family loves what they are doing, there are some challenges.
"The biggest challenge is having space to be adults. While having two ‘stay-at-home parents’ should provide plenty of back up in the daily shenanigans that the boys get themselves into, it can limit our time together to just be husband and wife."
There has also been a bit of learning curve to help them thrive as they learn how to deal with mechanical operations and issues. Another challenge has been learning how to thrive in relationships outside of the immediate family, "We are just starting to realize in year two on the road, that, while relationships within our family have been strengthened, it’s been hard to not have our normal friends and extended family around as much as we did in a non-mobile lifestyle. While video calls and technology make things a lot easier to connect with people, we find that it’s not the same as sitting down with someone face to face."
In spite of a few things that they are learning from, the Haverkoses were surprised that they were actually able to live this type of lifestyle though they realize they are very much living counter-culturally. "While the world seems to continue it’s steady push for bigger, faster, more, we’ve found that smaller, slower and simpler has some incredible perks. We’ve also been very pleasantly surprised at how willingly friends and family all over the country have modified their schedules to spend good old fashion quality time with us. That has truly warmed our hearts."
In year two of their trip, the family is not ready to wind down this adventure. "We have another year or so planned out in our Airstream, and we would absolutely do it all again in an instant. Daniel and I thrive in this type of environment, but we feel strongly that we need to settle down as the kids get older. We just aren’t sure exactly where that is supposed to be yet. We really want to find a place where people don’t take themselves too seriously, can make time for the important things, and try to put the good of others ahead of their own. Daniel and I talk all the time about when the boys are off to college we will pick back up with this lifestyle and maybe even expand it over to Europe or other parts of the world."
Bex believes that others should pursue their passions and recognize the role that fear often has in how we live our lives. "In the US, we are often driven by fear," she says. "We are told that the world is scary and will hurt us. I hate to think that people are making their life choices based on these unfounded fears. However, I absolutely understand the impact fear can have on us. Just 15 months before we left for our trip, I had such debilitating anxiety that sometimes it was hard to leave the house for a play date or even to go to the library. All that to say, I advise people to build a life intentionally that they are passionate about."
Want to know more about what they are doing and how they are doing it? Reach out to them. They'd love to hear from you!
"We love to authentically connect with people. Please reach out to us to talk or hang out! We have met new people all over the country and have found some of the most incredible connections."
Don't forget to check them out on Instagram @thehaverherd!!!