Hauling Toys: Kid Cargo

Raising Kids in a Toy Hauler RV
Luis and Sandra helping Julian wheel his bike out of the toy hauler RV.

I grew up in New York City, a place filled with diverse cultures and every kind of person imaginable. So, when my parents took my brother and me for adventures as kids, we left the hustle and bustle of the city for nature, traveling up and down the East Coast and exploring a new campground every few months. 

I wanted my kids to have the same sense of adventure, feeling just as comfortable in a bustling metropolis as they did in the wilderness. So one day, my husband Luis and I bought an RV. 

When we began our RV journey in July, 2016, our kids were little—Julian was three and Milena was one—but the time had come to pursue our dream of long-term RVing. We finally had the money, flexibility and inspiration to take the leap. We’d done some window shopping the year before, falling in love with toy haulers and all their cargo space. When it came time to buy, we knew exactly what we were looking for. 

We found a gently used toy hauler that looked and felt brand new. The previous owners had traded it in for a different model, but the RV’s second full bathroom, side patio and onboard generator made it an ideal choice for us. Traveling to California, Mount Rushmore or the Grand Canyon suddenly felt within our grasp, even with two little ones in tow. The toy hauler’s space meant we had the flexibility to adapt our living space from day-to-day and year-to-year to suit our growing family. We bought it, and the next thing we knew, our life hit the road.

We’ve settled into an easy way of staying in the toy hauler. The garage area serves as a playroom, sunroom, office, classroom and bedroom at different times of day. A fold-out couch turns into our youngest’s child's bed at night. During the day, we reconfigure the room for learning. The bed converts back to a couch, and we set up a built-in table with a laptop and books to serve as Julian’s classroom. 

When we pull out toy boxes and tuck the table and couch away, we have an instant playroom. Open all the blinds and curtains to let the sun stream in, and the same space becomes a sunroom, perfect for a little yoga or a cup of coffee in the morning. 

At night, the space converts to a bedroom. With curtains hanging across the door, a bookshelf and stick-on wallpaper, we transformed the garage into a homey little nest, perfect for sleeping and family story time. 

And when we need to, that space gives us room to entertain guests or bring toys on our journey. Last summer, we brought along a four-wheeler and a couple of kayaks and still had storage for all of Luis’ fishing poles.  

The side patio slides out to give us additional space outside. It transforms into the perfect play area for both kids, providing them with plenty of sunshine and fresh air even as they stay within the security of our RV. As they grow, we have plans to build two custom lofts for the kids, giving them separate beds and a space of their own, wherever we go. That’s the best part of our toy hauler: knowing we can adapt it to our changing needs over the years and keep it in the family for a long time.

Before we bought the toy hauler, we knew we wanted to change our lives. We wanted our children to make profound memories and experience all the delights the world has to offer. Our RV has provided an ideal home base to raise our kids, even as we travel from state to state. At the end of the day, we don’t need a ton of space—we’re busy collecting experiences instead of things. But the space we do have is infinitely flexible, letting us create the home of our dreams while we raise our kids with our own definition of freedom. 

The RV featured in this story is a 2016 Heartland Edge 397 ED.

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