I was talking to a friend last Thursday when I realized it was December 3 – one month since I left Ohio and started on this adventure! So, in hopes of maybe helping others who are considering embarking on a simple life on wheels (or providing entertainment to those of you all cozy in your warm, stand-up homes), I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned during this first month on the road in my tiny abode.
- The total cost in gas to get here was shocking, and not in a good way. I didn’t have a clue how much it would cost and honestly, I didn’t even try to calculate a ball park amount, but the total was (maybe unrealistically) more than I had . . . hoped? But when I sat down and figured out how much it was per mile, towing a trailer into the wind, I guess it really wasn’t all that bad. However, when you are living on a tiny budget and you see almost 3/4 of that month’s budget gone so quickly, it’s a little scary. But therein lies the benefit of this lifestyle, I can cut back on expenses this month to try and even things out – so that is good!
- Things you thought would be simple tasks can actually be a little intimidating at first; like finding boondocks, water, and trash disposal places. You can read what other full-timers do and think “Oh that will be easy”, but until you have to do it yourself in an unfamiliar town the first time or two, it isn’t always easy. The best advice I can give on this is ASK! Ask other boondockers, staff in stores, or people at the local BLM office or Visitor’s Center (if the town has them). These people can be a great source of information for handling these tasks.
- Keep your bags of trash small. It’s much easier and less conspicuous to drop a shopping bag size bundle of trash into the small opening of a bin than trying to stuff a giant bag into it.
- Water. I don't have holding tanks. I refill my empty gallon jugs instead of buying new, so I’ve had to learn how and where to find places to do this. Look out front of grocery stores, gas stations and other stores for water dispenser machines, they don't cost much per gallon. This is also a good thing to ASK others about, there may be a public water source you can use for free.
- You never know what surprises will come your way – like having a small herd of Desert Bighorn Sheep walk past your campsite.
|What a THRILL!!|
- Save your change. Quarters, dimes and nickels. You will need it for laundry and water dispenser machines. You may not always be able to get change.
- You will run into inconsiderate, “entitled” people no matter where you go (some heinously so). Unfortunately fresh air, natural beauty and the possibility of seeing unique wildlife doesn’t change them. I don’t have any advice for dealing with them (at least none that are appropriate to print!). Just be prepared.
- You will also meet wonderful people! Lots more of them around – thank goodness!
- Heat. Heat would be nice! I have discovered that, yes, a space CAN be too tiny to heat safely without electricity. Go figure. Just me livin’ in my tiny blue igloo.
- No matter how many times you go through your stuff, you will inevitably bring too many things you don’t need and not enough things you do need. (Chalk up another win for Murphy!).
- Flannel sheets probably would have been a good investment.
- All electronics need to be able to be charged via your car’s 12 volt outlet – including the charger for your camera’s batteries. Oops! (Thus my not so great photos)
- Dog. Probably should have been on my “To Get” list. A big, warm, cuddly dog. (Preferably one that doesn’t drool)
|Teddy Bear Cholla - NOT warm or cuddly! But at least it doesn't drool.|
- Even a cooler that you think is too big, and IS too big, still won’t be big enough to puzzle fit all the ice and odd shaped and sized grocery items you buy.
- When choosing your full-timing home on wheels, insulation is a good thing – but don’t forget the floor!! Cold feet are unhappy feet, and you don't want to deal with unhappy feet!
- There is a lot to be said for an indoor bathroom when it’s 37 degrees outside; but the view usually isn’t one of them! My rear may freeze to the seat, but my view is magnificent!
- Electricity, though extremely wonderful, can make us complacent. When you don’t have it, you really have to exercise your brain cells to think up creative solutions to problems.
- When your bathroom is of the primitive outdoor variety, ALWAYS take full advantage of nice indoor ones when out and about, especially running hot water!
- A comfortable place to sit is very important to both your rump and back. Not having such a place makes one an unhappy camper.
- A good pair of warm socks is crucial for a good night’s sleep when it’s cold. (Come to think of it, thermal underwear probably should have gone on that “To Get” list too!).
- If you plan to boondock in the desert, the best superfluous item to bring is a hummingbird feeder and something to hang it from. Endless, nearly free entertainment will be yours. (Just be prepared for Hummer Wars!)
- When you can’t cook inside your home, a good thermos is a comforting friend on cold nights.
- You can read about other full-timers experiences and suggestions, but your experience will be different not only from theirs, but even from what you imagined. Not better or worse, just different. Don’t be disappointed if it’s not like you imagined, just go with it and let it unfold into something wonderful.
- The sun, moon and stars will become your dearest friends that you look forward to seeing every day.
- Just because someone told you they took their 35ft. RV on that dirt road boondock and so you should be just fine, doesn’t mean you will. One person’s insanity is another person’s “OH SHIT!!”
- Your mind can go on and on believing you’re still 20 yrs. old, but your body will always prove it wrong! (I knew this one before I left, but I’ve been reminded of it again recently)
Well, that is all the wisdom I have to impart for today. Simple isn’t always easy, but it is fun in that it challenges one’s brain cells to think in new ways. Plus you live life more intentionally, something we often don’t do. Have there been nights when I’ve wished for that big 40 foot McMansion on wheels that I can stand up in with heat and electricity, comfy chairs and bed, indoor bathroom, and indoor kitchen with all the appliances for cooking gourmet meals? Sure! I’m not going to lie. But in the end, I think I would still choose my little tearbaby Zelda and Grania and a simple life full of purpose, creative problem solving, and adventure. Maybe somewhere just a little warmer!
“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
- Steve Jobs