Welcome, Y’all. We are so happy you stopped by to learn more about us!
We are Ryan and Monica Hoffmann, travel lovers and parents of four children. We enjoy nothing more than hitting the open road with our family.
We work as nurses and own a home in Seattle, Washington. While we would love to backpack around the world fancy free, this wasn’t ever going to be our path.
You see, the good Lord dealt us an interesting hand. We have special needs children: Two with autism and two more with ADHD. There’s something fishy going on with Monica’s genetics, and God bless her for it.
If this blog were to ask a single question, it would be this:
How do you maintain a stable household with autistic children and adventure in a way that satisfies everyone’s needs?
We’re currently working on the answer (and it makes more sense than we thought it would).
Monica and Ryan met in 2006 under unusual circumstances. Ryan’s mother had prematurely demented and Monica was her nurse on the memory unit.
One weekend while tending to his mother, Ryan watched a gorgeous woman feed applesauce to a man with vacant eyes.
“That lucky bastard,” Ryan thought.
And then that sweet nurse walked over and struck up a conversation. Within five minutes we were talking about travel.
Ten weeks later we flew to Los Angeles, rented a jeep, and tore a hole in the town.
Two months later we were married in Maui. Two months after that we were pregnant. Two years later it happened again. With Monica’s two children from a previous marriage, that brought us up to four little freeloaders in a short amount of time. Monica had to quit her nursing job to focus on the children.
Three years into our marriage life was hard. Parker, our second oldest, was diagnosed with autism at age five. Shortly afterward, Apollo was diagnosed with the exact same chromosomal abnormalities.
We were the proud parents of two boys (with different fathers) carrying the same genetic anomalies. The doctors at Children’s Hospital said they were one-of-a-kind (click for story).
Around the same time, our oldest son Bryce was officially diagnosed with ADHD. The walls of our home increasingly rang with noise.
So there we were, newly married and smitten, mired in terrible chaos.
Everywhere we went our oldest was whooping and screeching, our autistic hooligans ducking and weaving, and our baby girl was calling the shots from atop her daddy’s shoulders.
We were a circus, a spectacle on all fronts, the poster-folk for overbreeding. It didn’t help that everyone looked normal, eliminating any sympathy that comes from parenting children with special needs.
By all appearances we were bad parents. Public outings were often humiliating. It didn’t stop us from doing things, but it slowed us way down.
Around the same time, Ryan quit his job in sales and went to nursing school. Money was tight so we sold our nice cars and spent $4K cash on a couple of beaters. Now our vehicles matched our income AND the behavior of our children! Add in a years-worth of food stamps and we were a meth-habit short of trailer.
Toward the end of nursing school Monica had a great idea: We should take the kids on a road trip between graduation and starting a new job. We had held onto just enough money to pull it off. The children might destroy us, but this was our window to find out.
We drove our mini-van from Washington to California for 23 days in December. The kids performed amazingly — they were their happiest on the road. It was a revelation!
And the rest is history.
The experts say autistic children need to be nudged out of their comfort zone. It doesn’t always go well, however, as time goes by we are increasingly able to take them away from their bedrooms and drag them into the world.
We want nothing more than for them to think the big thoughts that come from marveling at creation, meeting people, and experiencing life outside of themselves. They seem to want it, too, as indicated by their moans of appreciation.
To read our Guiding Principles on the Road, click here.
I’m Monica. I love Jesus, and I adore my husband. As much as I love vacations, I wouldn’t go without Ryan. He is my travel partner, my best friend, my baby daddy, my sugar daddy…
I grew up on a farm outside Seattle. I’m grateful for my upbringing. My parents worked incredibly hard to provide for me and my five siblings. Money was tight. I could count on three fingers how many trips we took as a family. Farm living taught me a lot about life and death. While my babies are not growing up on a farm, they don’t have enough fingers and toes to count our family vacations.
I’m a nurse by trade and being a nurse to my kids on the road has been awesome. Only once have we had to take a kid to the ER! Nursing has been good to me. It’s allowed me job security when I needed it as a single mom. It provided me with a husband when the time was right.
Being a mom is hard – especially a special needs mom – but I wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had for anything! Those (hard) experiences have made me who I am today, and I like me.
I’m the lucky guy who gets to go through life with Monica. After years of waiting for the right one to come along, she entered my world and exploded the place.
Born in a suburb of Seattle, my childhood was full of sports and sleepovers. When I was five years old my parents took me to Mazatlan. These are my first vivid memories.
I attended WSU where I studied psychology. After a few aimless post-grad years, I packed everything I owned into an Acura Integra and drove to L.A. to take a crack at screenwriting. Somehow, I settled for a traveling sales position. For five years I traveled around the USA, forty states in all, racking up airline mileage. It was a life-altering experience.
A few years after I married Monica, she sent me back to school. I became an RN and have worked on inpatient psychiatric units the past nine years.
Other than travel, I love baseball, movies, and I’m learning how to use a camera. I am active in our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. My wife and kids take up most of my time, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Bryce is our oldest son, currently serving a church mission in Riverside, California. Everybody loves Bryce. He has a heart of gold. For many years he struggled with ADHD – boy, did we all – but around age 14 he came around and turned out to be an amazing man. His is our reminder to never lose hope.
Parker is our most interesting child. If he were to write his own bio, it would be Diary of a Wimpy Kid with prison shanks. His autism is a unique blend of chatty observations, inchoate political theory, Snoop Dogg, video games, and unapologetic self-absorption. Parker is the hard surface we bash against to round our rough edges. He is our gift from God.
Apollo is our sweet boy. He loves puppies and kittens and is very helpful to the family. He is full of muscles and strong as a horse, but he could care less (except when he’s using his strength to manhandle Parker). His autism presents very different from Parker’s: He is more aware of others, but his communication skills are less developed.
A natural leader in the sibling hierarchy, Halea is headstrong and clever. She is also our most adventurous and spends a lot of time with her parents. Her ADHD has magnified with age. She recently began medication on a trial basis. We have noticed an immediate improvement and have high hopes this can help her actualize her potential in the classroom.
We call him Frankie FOMO because the guy is in our business. Where are you going? What are you eating? Why are you petting Layla and not me? Frank is the perfect family ambassador. He also snores like a drunk on a sofa.
Her given name is Layla, but everyone calls her Pooper. Nothing embarrasses Ryan more than hearing his family call for “Pooper!” like it’s a normal thing to holler across the campground. “Pooper” is Monica’s shadow. Everyone else is tolerated at best.
Please visit our Start Here Page to see what we have to offer!
Learn our skills for traveling as a family. Get our free e-book PDF and jumpstart your family's journey.