People who full-time RV with kids are a brave bunch. Jim and I looked like freaks as we explained to our friends why we wanted to give up a conventional lifestyle, but I’m sure parents get even more flack when they defy society’s expectations of what family life should look like.
Nathan Swartz, 33, a native Pennsylvanian and Reneé Stevenson, 31, from Michigan are two parents who have the guts go against the norm by living on the road with their kids. These two seasoned road trippers have followed their heart’s urge to travel while showing their kids the world, instead of just letting them read about it in books.
The couple is also sharing the highlights of the best North American destinations with Wand’rly Magazine, a destination-oriented, online publication for “full-time travelers, hitchhikers, trainhoppers, snowbirds and galavanters.”
Jim and I were recently featured in their comprehensive guide to supporting road-tripping lifestyles, “How to Make a Living on the Road,” and loved the magazine so much we became subscribers.
All in the Family Road Tripping
We first connected online with Nathan a few years ago as he was traveling through West Texas with his young son Tristan. It was his compelling descriptions about the vast, wide-open skies and quirky residents of the Big Bend that inspired us to go there, and today he’s bringing his writing and design talents to an even bigger audience with Wand’rly.
Photo by Nathan Swartz
Nathan and Reneé currently based near Asheville, North Carolina awaiting the birth of their third child. They’re itching to get back on the road with the new baby and sons, Tristan, 10, and Winter, 2, along with Reneé’s mom, Nancy.
While getting ready for their new baby, the family has launched three beautifully designed and well-written issues of Wand’rly that cover everything from couch surfing to restaurant reviews.
Nathan is a talented graphic designer who left a position at PBS after road tripping got into his soul in 2004. “A friend of mine (and I) took 17 days off of work, hopped in my old Dodge Neon, and headed for San Diego from Erie, PA. It was a life changing episode, and I ended up quitting my job a few months later, started my own freelance web design business, and have been traveling ever since.”
The couple met up two years ago, and their son Winter has been road tripping practically since he learned to walk. Nathan says he’s become “an all time pro at sleeping in small spaces, making random state parks his back yard for a week or so, and learning how to make new friends in the time it takes us to pop the top up.”
When it comes to choosing a destination, Nathan has his favorite places he prefers to repeatedly visit. “Bisbee, Arizona is a real gem, it’s as authentic as it gets in my mind, no chain stores, border diversity, winding mountain streets and plenty of genuine people willing to make new friends. West Texas was home for many, many months. West Texans are the freest people I know, and the least political of anyone. As long as you can enjoy a good, cold beer and are willing to wave every time you pass someone on the road, you can make it down there.”
Inspiring Others along the Way
Nathan and Reneé are creatives who “make a great living from the wild world of web design“ and are now living their dream of launching a travel magazine for like-minded spirits. He’s the writer, she’s the photographer, and together they manage the publication while working hard to make it profitable.
“We just want to write entertaining articles about cool places to call home for a week or a month or so in the US.,” he explains. In the next two years, Wand’rly will cover the US, Canada and Mexico.
Destinations are a major focus of the publication, with the ultimate goal of inspiring other road trip dreamers to follow their hearts and get out there to see the world.
“Plenty of people are doing it already, we live in a really great time for wanderlust, it’s so easy to make a living online, and I know people who have a steady job don’t think that, but it couldn’t be more true.
I was afraid to quit my job, the security of a paycheck and just the “reality” that a 9 to 5er for an employee is in America. But it seems to me that there are a whole lot of people who would love to be able to do what we do, and what you and Jim are doing, they just need to see everyday people like themselves doing it as well.
So if we can help inspire a few folks along the way, not only does that make us feel good, but it ups the number of people we know on the road and can call on for a good night around the campfire at some point.”
Give Wand’rly a Kickstart, Win a Face Tattoo
Wand’rly is available online at no charge but you can get complete issues delivered to your in-box by subscribing just $5 a year!
An upcoming Kickstarter campaign is their big move that will give readers a chance to ”judge whether we’re ready for prime time by voting with their dollars, and in exchange it gives us a chance to talk with our readers and potential future readers about what it is they want to hear about, their questions about getting onto the road, homeschooling, whatever.
If you want to donate $100,000 or more, we’ll promise you our fourthborn son. Or maybe just let you name him. Or I’ll get a tattoo of your face on my face and take really cool pictures of you/me at scenic overlooks. That type of stuff.”
See why our road tripping destinations are often inspired by Nathan’s writing. Visit and subscribe to Wand’rly Magazine today!