RV Lifestyle Influencer Spotlight: Our1Chance
Posted: October 11, 2022
Categories: Travel & Lifestyle
As Lippert Scouts, Jerome Braga and his family call themselves Our1Chance. They have been RVing since 2013 and enjoy seeking new adventures as a family. Jerome and his wife, Jen, are professional photographers who create content, branding and marketing for businesses across the country. The Bragas are also avid foodies who love to eat clean while navigating grocery store shelves in search of safe, allergen-free foods for their youngest daughter, Shayla, who is anaphylactic to dairy, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts. Throughout their journey, the Bragas have learned a lot about themselves, realizing the importance of life and living it to the fullest.
RV Lifestyle Influencer Spotlight: Our1Chance
by Jerome Braga
We are the Bragas: Jerome, Jen, Leighton, Shayla and our dog Chance. You might know us on social media as Our1Chance because that is the mission statement and family tagline that launched our surreal RVing journey back in 2013.
The Beginning of Our Journey
What started as a noble effort to find an affordable way to vacation with our family, turned into a life mission and an endless journey. Back at the beginning of our story, we sought out RVing because traditional getaways with our youngest daughter's severe food allergies wouldn't be possible. We have to make every meal from scratch and can't share linens or fabrics often found in hotels and planes.
One of the biggest struggles in the RV lifestyle is finding safe food for Shayla while on the road. As a family, we all eat the same as she needs to, and clean/whole, unprocessed foods aren't always available everywhere we travel. Grocery stores vary widely from state to state, and what they carry for inventory is usually a direct reflection of what the community enjoys.
Sourcing dairy-free products in the heart of cattle country is not as easy as you might think. We must be careful while shopping to ensure that we are getting food that is not processed in facilities that handle her allergens, which usually eliminates the larger production companies. The smaller independent labels are where we find success, but those brands distribute regionally, so sometimes we have to stockpile and do more grassroots research on their brands. Driving for an hour to get to a Costco or Whole Foods is often necessary since they are stores where we know we can find safe food brands, even though there might be a grocery store five minutes away.
Getting Our First RV (and Traveling Kitchen)
We bought a decade-old travel trailer (31-foot bunkhouse model) and were then able to safely bring our kitchen with us everywhere we went! We went on a few weekend camping trips and realized how much we loved RVing, the ease of keeping our daughter safe and the cost-effectiveness of it all.
To say we quickly caught the camping bug was an understatement. Within the first year, we decided to purchase a brand-new travel trailer (a 28-foot bunkhouse model). We loved that travel trailer so much that we thought we would have it forever since it had everything we needed. It had a center island, an electric fireplace and an outside kitchen! All these features we hadn't seen before in any other RV. We were smitten.
Rethinking & Refocusing Our Travels
Things went a little off the rails for us that next spring as we took the RV down to Washington, D.C. over April vacation. While we were there, we spoke to this fantastic, retired couple. We had asked how Texas was, as it was a bucket list destination for us, and their license plates were from there. The gentleman responded by saying they had never been yet. However, it was where they currently claim residency, so they can travel full-time in their beautiful Class A motorhome. We were surprised to hear they lived full-time in that gorgeous bus, as we had not known anything other than weekend camping.
We started RVing before social media dominated the bucket lists of us all. The extended trip/full-time lifestyle was quite intriguing to us. We both digested the conversation with that couple from Texas and didn't necessarily talk about it again.
We faced Shayla's first week of preschool in August of the same year. The week before she began, she had her first anaphylactic reaction due to a simple miscommunication and honest slip-up. We knew then that Shayla could not be left out of our sight as she learned to live with this life-threatening condition.
Quickly, our minds wandered as we went from Shayla needing to be homeschooled to withdrawing Leighton out of school and traveling the country in the colder winter months. As a professional wedding and commercial photographer, the winter months of Connecticut life didn't offer much opportunity to earn, so why not leave the cold behind for warmer roads?
Embarking On a Three-Month Trip
As we plowed through the rat race each day, we were stopped in our tracks by losing a couple of great friends to accidents and cancer. We knew we needed to do more, live more and be more deliberate than our path. So, we decided to take a full three-month winter journey and live the best we could with our one chance at life. That winter, we traded in our barely used travel trailer for a much larger 5th wheel bunkhouse and planned for the next winter's long journey. It would be our one chance to do this, and we were so excited about the unknown.
We knew we wanted a big kitchen with lots of food storage, plus a separate space for the girls to call their own. Our Lippert-framed 2014 Evergreen Bayhill was the perfect layout for us. We took a couple of shakedown trips with a new truck and RV and enjoyed everything about the RV. Then, armed with a huge photographic bucket list, we set out to create some once-in-a-lifetime memories with our little family.
We went from Connecticut to Florida, then to California via Texas and Arizona, then back through Utah, Oklahoma and Tennessee. We had an amazing time, but when we returned, we realized we did a LOT of driving and not so much exploring. We almost felt as if we didn't see anything! It all went by so quickly that we felt some buyer's remorse, and we decided we would have to do it all again! Our one chance looked like it would have a second chance that next winter after work calmed down.
Pivoting to Full-Time RV Life
After two cross-country winter trips (the second one longer than the first), we decided we loved this lifestyle and were craving all the locations we hadn't seen yet. So, in a fairly quick, unanimous decision, we decided to go full-time and not look back! We returned to Connecticut and began the year-long process of downsizing and setting our house up for the rental market.
With the help of membership programs like Thousand Trails, we can often stay in RV parks and resorts for minimal cost. During longer travel days, we also utilize the Harvest Host network to keep the exploration alive. We often get a good chuckle when checking into some Harvest Hosts locations, as they are taken aback by our membership number since it looks like we are missing a couple of digits. One of the perks of being OG, I guess.
Experiencing the Great Outdoors
Our favorite experiences on the road are often the times we get to boondock out west. We just love being able to be where there is no one around but you and nature. The astrophotography options are second to none in those places and the solitude. As professional content creators, we now make a living creating contracted media for the RV industry's largest brands. Places like this help us create quintessential RV imagery of iconic locations.
A Typical Day with the Bragas
A typical day for us starts fairly early. We usually try to kickstart the day with a family workout! Jen streams her workout programs on her phone and often enjoys having the girls roll out their yoga mats alongside her. I prefer mounting my road bike to the trainer and get a good Zwift workout. Breakfast, shower, and then we log on. Jen and I get working, and the girls begin their online school.
Getting things done first thing in the morning leaves the afternoon open for adventures and exploration. Whenever we are in new locations, we try to do something fun, local and unique daily! Of course, that isn't always possible, but it is the goal.
Taking Food Out of the Equation
Since we can't simply go out to eat, we explore in ways different from many people's perspectives. One of our favorite questions to ask someone offering us a recommendation is if you take food out of the mix, is it still your favorite thing to do in that area? Their responses often change with that variable so we can decide how valuable their suggestion is.
You can often find us hiking, visiting a nearby downtown for window shopping and culture, sightseeing tourist locations or just hanging out at the RV park and listening to people's stories.
Enjoying Culture & Community
Whenever we can, we try to immerse ourselves in an area's unique culture and community and secretly gauge if one day we could see a place we call home. Of course, exceptions to the routine often occur, and sometimes if we are in an RV park with a lot of road friends, the girls will work through school, blow through their chores and head outside with the purpose of connecting with their friends. We usually don't see them again until around dinner. It reminds us of our childhoods when we didn't come home until the streetlights came on.
Favorite Camping Acitivities
Some of our favorite RV activities are hiking, biking and kayaking. We try to do as much hiking as we can. The more monumental the hike, the better. Our girls learn so much about themselves on tough hikes, and the feeling of accomplishment we all feel after a challenge is something we reflect on and encourage each other.
We have spent the last few winters in Florida because that is where our journey took us, and to keep our sense of experience flowing, we bought inflatable kayaks, one of the best purchases we made. Getting out on the water, especially in places like the Florida Keys, is such an amazing experience and a great compromise to an epic mountain hike.
Side note recommendation: Probably one of our favorite kayak journeys was in Three Sisters Springs and being blessed to paddle alongside the beautiful manatees!
Follow Our1Chance to Keep up on Braga Family Adventures!
For more info about the Bragas, you can follow their epic journey online at our1chance.com or on their social media channels @our1chance.