Growing up in a motorhome has provided this young RVer with a valuable learning experience.
By Melissa Carlson
President, FMCA TATS
Although RVing is usually associated with adults, I have a different perspective “” that of a traveling teenager. Think back to your teenage years and try to imagine spending that time in an RV, traveling the country. Add parents and grandparents to the mix, and you have my life. I have been RVing with my parents since before I could walk, let alone beg my dad to let me drive.
When the decision was made by my family to become full-time RVers in 1998, it was a mystery to my friends why I would want to share a 39-foot-by-10-foot space with my parents for the rest of my teenage years. To be honest, it was more than I bargained for. I was not prepared for how much I would have to share, or for the lack of privacy. The biggest adjustment for me was not having my own room. Even after seven years I am still not used to the front end of the motorhome acting as the living room, kitchen, and my bedroom. Not many teens have a driver and passenger seat in their bedroom.
Certain aspects of traveling have taken a great deal of getting used to. I have learned the value of space, sharing, and most importantly, how to get completely clean in a five-minute shower! One of my favorite parts of traveling is the freedom to choose where you’re going, how you will get there, and how much time you will spend there. Not only is traveling to new places exciting, but the journey alone can lead to new discoveries. I have received an astonishing education from the combination of home-schooling and RVing. Being introduced to new ideas, cultures, and regions has taught me lessons I never could have learned from a textbook or classroom.
When we first started traveling, I found it difficult to meet people my own age, because we stayed in one place for only a week, sometimes less. While attending my first FMCA international convention, I heard from a friend about FMCA’s Youth Program. I discovered the group had activities and outings specifically designed for teens. While my parents were enjoying the entertainment and seminars, I was becoming instant friends with hundreds of teens who were traveling with their parents or grandparents just like I was. After several years and many rallies, I became an FMCA Youth officer and currently am serving as president of the TATS (Teen-Age Travelers).
While growing up in an RV I have experienced many ups (FMCA rallies and meeting new people) and downs (running out of hot water and flat tires). I realize just how lucky I am to have experienced such a one-of-a-kind lifestyle at such a young age. I have grown up meeting so many interesting, unforgettable people and places. The knowledge I have received from traveling has led to a deeper understanding of what makes America, and the people living here, so amazing and unique.