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Family and friends ask, how can I live on the road?

Wow, what a fun question, every time Nuala and I are asked about our travels it’s usually a fairly top-level “we love it”, “we’ve been to 15 states this year”, “Maine and Montréal were amazing”.  We share some pics, everyone smiles and they say “you guys are living the dream!” “I wish I could do that” “maybe when I retire”.

So long-story short, yes you can live on the road, or at a National Park, or at a nice campground, even without a RV or Van (some provide cabins or accommodations).

If you really want to travel, move, mix it up, get out of Dodge or whatever your motivation the biggest hurdle will likely be mental. In the US, we’ve been conditioned since birth and the American Dream likely includes owning your own home, having a few cars, at least a few TVs, working 9 to 5, “getting by”, planning for retirement, all that exhausting rat race stuff.

Before we’d get into the nuts and bolts of worrying about living in an RV, Vanlife, or campground cabin first you may want to start dreaming.

  • Where do you want to travel?
  • Would you work remotely on computer, need a job on the road, want to work at a campground or national park and many more options.
  • How much do you want to change locations? Weekly, monthly, every few months, twice a year?
  • Are you traveling solo, with a significant other, with family, dogs, cats?
  • Do you see yourself driving a big RV, little RV, Van conversion, or taking the train to a National Park job?
  • Do you love campgrounds? or Boondocking* in a national forest or jumping between cities and sights?

* Boondocking in an RV, van, car, motorcycle with tent, etc – is self-sufficient camping, meaning having no access to water, sewer, or electrical hookups. This can mean parking in the backcountry or pulling over to spend the night at a rest stop or parking lot.

So many things to learn, so many ideas to contemplate, sooooo many resources for just about any kind of travel and living on the road it can make your head spin. The following are just a few places to start based on different circumstances, experience with camping, RV’s, vehicles, budgets and more.

Camping Membership 

In our case, I work remotely for my own company so the income portion of our travels is handled.

The hard part no matter your income level is if you want to Boondock for ‘free’ it takes up lots of time; electricity (generator or solar), water limitations, needing to dump, packing and unpacking camp and more. If you want to stay in campgrounds with electric, water and sewer it can be expensive. Cheap campground are in the $50 range per night, more average is likely $75 and up from there to $140+ per night.

As I do work remote, everyday I need power, and our solar/generator was taking too much effort. We we’re luck to find out about campground membership networks and Thousand Trails campground membership early on. Long story short:

Year 1: We tested out Thousand Trails with a yearly membership for about $650 and it worked out great. Probably paid on average $20 – $30 per night to camp.

Year 2: We bought a lifetime membership for about $6000 plus the yearly $650. This got us down to less than $10 per night and it will continue to go down over time. The membership paid for itself in less that 6 months, now it’s free camping for life (with some caveats).

Thousand Trails has been around for over 75 years and their memberships can be very confusing as they have different plans every few years. Here is one of many resources online to figure it out or reach out and I’ll help answer your questions.

We also boondock between campgrounds, usually in cities to go out, have dinner, listen to music, catch a concert, see the sites then we are ready to go back to another campground 🙂

If you NEED to or MUST get on the road fast for whatever reason

Sick of the rat race, losing housing, buried in debt, need to get away for mental health, or are even getting desperate there are ways to get on the road fast, even if you just have a car and a pillow. If you have a tight budget, or are desperate one of the best resources is a guy named Bob Wells and his network who started Cheap RV Living many years ago In his words “For more than 15 years, my passion, and purpose in life, has been to inspire, educate, and motivate people on how to live their best life possible – on any budget.”. He not only can help with the nuts and bolts of getting on the road safely and comfortably but also working through the mental stuff especially if you are rolling solo or in a less than ideal situation. Here are just a few of the resources that can help you:

There is so much to take in, learn and digest, try not to get lost in all the information. Think about your situation, decide what you need in the coming weeks or months, write down some of your vision, dreams and a plan can start to surface. The info Bob Wells shares is not for everyone, some people want a bit more ‘comfort’, more room, more amenities and that’s okay. If you see yourself in a bigger RV or tricked out van life there are plenty of resources and ideas as well that I’ll share soon.

And if you want to find a ‘work camping’ job fast checkout  Workampers Facebook Group has tons of jobs listings, discussion, community, and more. Search their posts and get just about any question answered

Hope this is a good jumping off point for you to consider a traveling lifestyle.

Much love, travel well!

Rob & Nuala

More to come . . .