Keith and Tia Sims are unusual even by the standards of RVers. For a start, they have six kids (ok, that’s not unique, but pretty rare). And then Keith was an NFL pro footballer for 11 seasons. For non-American readers, that is the equivalent of playing for a big team in one of the major European soccer leagues.
They are now in their forties and semi-retired. But most amazing of all, before choosing a mobile lifestyle, Keith and Tia had never even been camping – and they certainly hadn’t grown up knowing anyone who went RVing. In fact, truth be told, Tia isn’t even the outdoorsy type. “She doesn’t like bugs and cringes every time the boys get dirty,” her husband Keith says with a big smile.
They arrived at this lifestyle by accident and in a moment of quiet desperation. When Keith retired from the NFL, the family moved from south Florida to Atlanta. Shortly after, he accepted a part-time job five months of the year with his old team, the Miami Dolphins. Great news for Keith, but a challenge for his family. They found themselves wondering how they could stay in Atlanta, while having to spend so much time in south Florida. They thought about renting an apartment, but didn’t want to waste money. They also considered arranging a deal with a hotel, but that wasn’t practical either. The lightbulb moment came when they decided to purchase an RV. “Yes,” recalls Tia, “we finally hit on the best possible solution – an apartment on wheels.”
Initially, Keith was a bit more skeptical. “I have to admit,” he recalls, “I never thought I’d be interested in – let alone enjoy – RVing.” But once he started warming to the idea of investing in a mobile home, it was time to do some serious research.
The couple read numerous blogs, listened to podcasts and visited local dealerships before they finally felt ready to buy an RV. Even though they had zero experience of mobile living, they decided to break in the rig and ease themselves into the lifestyle.
Dometic tags along for the ride to help make their RVing experience feel as comfortable as home. “Yes,” says Keith, “we have a few Dometic products to make life onboard easier. The Oasis power door awning provides necessary shade. It can get pretty hot where we go. And that’s where our Penguin AC unit comes in handy too, and let’s not forget the CFX fridge/freezer.”
Keith and Tia see RVing as an opportunity to give their children educational experiences they wouldn’t otherwise have. The traveling has deepened the boys’ desire to learn. The family enjoys visiting historic sites, old battlefields, memorials, places where events took place that in some way shaped their country and its people. Keith sums it up, “We want our children not only to read about our great country, but to experience it first hand. To hear from their own little mouths how excited they are to get in the RV and go see these sights warms my heart.”
But doesn’t a family of five living in such a small space feel a bit cramped at times? Tia doesn’t think so. “It’s simple really,” she says, “when we’re at home, we stay at home, but when we’re out with the RV, we spend most of our time outdoors. Now that I’ve experienced this lifestyle, I find myself yearning for more. As Prince Ea once sang, ‘Everybody dies, but not every lives.’ We choose to live our dream.”