Educator Dan Ong, his wife Sue and their six children took a six-month road trip across the United States in 2015.
“I saw the children’s understanding of the situation. They were taking care of one another. We were rationing what we had,” says Mr Ong, 45, a programme manager and educator at a learning centre.
The incident is one of many adventures that Mrs Ong, 41, a stay-at-home mum, has written about in a book on their trip, 6 Kids And A Pop-up Camper.
Launched last month, the book features photographs taken by eldest son Asher, 16, and contributions from the rest of the family. It retails for $61.95 at 6kidsandapopupcamper.com.
They travelled to 43 out of 50 American states in six months, clocking more than 21,000km. Mr Ong estimates they spent about $50,000 in total, and did not stay in hotels or motels.
Mrs Ong’s childhood dream, influenced by growing up watching Sesame Street and American sitcoms, was to travel to the US.
What might seem like a radical American holiday to some was merely the Ongs’ way of seeing as much of the country as they could on a shoestring budget.
“We wanted to have a shared experience as a family, something special that only eight of us would have, before the kids grow up and move on,” says Mrs Ong.
The Ongs decided to do the road trip in 2015, using their savings and some money given by family members, because their firstborn Asher, then 15, would eventually have to do his national service and tertiary education, and would be unable to travel for six months.
Before their youngest child, Michaela, was born, they took their five children on a 24-hour coach trip from Singapore to Ranong in southern Thailand.
Although the children – aged four to 16 – are homeschooled, the family’s preparations for the trip included getting permission from the Ministry of Education for their son, Isaac, who was due to take the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) in 2015, to defer taking the examination till the following year.
Homeschooled children are not exempt from this national examination.
Mr Ong also had to leave his job of 17 years as a secondary school teacher to go on the trip.
Mrs Ong also got the older children, the youngest of whom was three at the time, to look at online resources such as information on antebellum houses in Charleston, South Carolina, and watch snippets of Gone With The Wind (1939).
Next page: They had taken along textbooks on the trip