From Alabama to California, we officially have one month under our belts. We’ve learned as much in the first month of “fulltiming” as we had in a year of planning and preparation; the sort of lessons that can only come from experience. Most importantly, what was once our “project” camper has become our cozy home.
We’ll break it down into sections and discuss the good, the bad, and the smelly.
In this 16′ home-on-wheels, space is a hot commodity. There are basically three sections, the kitchen, the bathroom, and the rest area. Our rest area is either a king size bed or a U-shaped dinette. We’ve learned that the king size bed formation gives us the most space to lounge. All three of us can stretch out without feeling crowded. However, when the dinette is set up we feel more productive and less like bums.
The kitchen is a one person area. When we’re both in the space, it turns into an awkward shuffle (add the dog, and well, you might call that a “cluster”). We have found that we brought more cookware than we would ever need. Our most valued pieces being a non-stick ceramic pan, a pot and a french press. The rest may end up at goodwill.
Even our clothes are mostly superfluous. We find ourselves using and wearing the same few things over and over. It becomes obvious what’s practical and what’s not.
The bathroom is a one person space at best. For example, we brush our teeth in the kitchen.
Once we watched the “Gone With the Wynn’s” review of the Nature’s Head composting toilet, we knew we needed one. The unit wasn’t cheap, but we’re convinced it was a great addition. It truly has no foul odor. We can use it for a month before dumping it and we don’t have the hassle of emptying a black water tank. The only downside is emptying the urine reservoir. The holding container removes easily and empties into a standard toilet without much effort, but the smell during this process is awful.
Boondocking (Dry Camping):
During our first 30 days we “dry camped” for eleven and “boondocked” for three. We consider dry camping to be camping with no hook-ups, and boondocking to be camping for free (almost always with no hook-ups). Our solar power will allow us to camp, while running the fridge, for four days. Our fresh water tanks will last about six days. The gray water tank is small, but with caution it will last six days as well. Our goal for November is to boondock for seven days.
We lived like vacationing tourist for much of October. Once we looked at our bank accounts, we realized it was time to create a budget. We averaged our monthly Etsy income and created a plan around that. In theory, we’d break even every month and not dip into our savings. We’ll have a detailed post about this at the end of November.
Running our Etsy store from the road has been pretty easy, even the smallest towns have a Post Office.
Traveling with a dog has had its share of challenges. Many National Parks limit the hiking trails that you can walk with your dog. We found that boarding our pup is inexpensive, but she doesn’t much care for the experience. One of our prized possessions is the Gentle Leader, a soft harness that goes around River’s snout and helps her walk well on the leash. She is a great snuggle buddy in the cold mornings and by far one of our favorite additions.
We’ve connected to the internet many ways this month. Our main connection is with our cellular plan via AT&T towers. We also use a T-Mobile hotspot with a 9GB data plan. If need be, we’ll hunt down a wifi signal from a local business. Overall, we like having internet, but not too much internet. If we have a strong connection we’ll get lost in Netflix, Facebook, or Instagram. If we have no connection, we’ll stress about being stranded in an emergency situation. Our patience was really tested at The Grand Canyon – the only access was free wifi at the grocery store, but it was the slowest we’ve used since 1997.
The smallest adjustment can make a huge difference. During the first 1,000 miles of towing we experienced trailer sway regularly. It was scary and made driving an anxious endeavor. I lowered the ball & hitch 2 inches, putting the trailer at a slight downhill angle. This adjustment gave me so much towing control that it can be pulled with ease at 65mph.
I also learned the importance of studying a map. More specifically, noting all the summits that will have to be crossed. Towing our home up a mountain takes some serious horsepower, and descending the summit takes a lot of strategy. I’m thrilled we installed new trailer brakes before we began this adventure.
We traveled fast the first month and squeezed in as many National Parks as possible; trying to experience their beauty before the snow crept in. This month we’re going to move much slower.
We camped with full hookups more nights than we found was nessecary. The scenery and the price is better camping outside of RV Parks.
Lastly, we realized how rewarding this life style can be. It’s liberating and calming. We’re allowed to nurture a soulful connection with nature and each other. Society becomes a room we can chose to enter, rather than being forced into.
Help support our mission – to live freely and deliberately – by checking out our Etsy store or treating us to a virtual latte!