People seem to be endlessly fascinated by my lifestyle and with endless fascination comes a myriad of questions. Maybe it’s because they don’t understand the lifestyle. Maybe they envy it. Others ask questions because they’re in the process of transitioning to a lifestyle on the road like mine.
This brings me to Carol. She is a family member of a coworker and has been thinking about retiring to live in a van and travel the country. She has a lot of questions so instead of answering them privately, I’m going to take the opportunity to answer them here on my site for the benefit of everyone!
How do you find good places to park? Do you have problems with it? If so what kind?
I typically live at airports but when I’m traveling I find places to park using FreeCampSites.net. I can be fairly stealthy and I’ve stayed in the Marina District of San Francisco for about 4-5 days with no problems overnight. I also stayed on the streets of Denver for a while too. Oddly enough, I’ve had the most issues with other campers on BLM land out in the middle of nowhere. I once had two guys shooting their rifles in the camp. I went over there and politely asked them to not discharge their weapons in the vicinity of other people and they stopped. I travel with a firearm as well, but I’m smart enough to know not to discharge it around other people unless my life is in danger.
What about showers?
My RoadTrek has a shower built in (with a 6 gallon water heater), but I rarely use it. I live mostly at airports (skydiving lifestyle) and most dropzones have showers and laundry facilities for their patrons. These facilities are only for skydivers so you wouldn’t be able to just park at a dropzone and take a shower. We can spot non-skydivers a mile away :)
I like the way the RoadTreks are laid out. How long have you been living in yours?
I set out on the road on August 15th, 2014. I sold everything I owned (or donated it) and locked the keys to my apartment inside for my landlord. I sold my car the day before and my motorcycle a few weeks before that. So at the time of this writing, I’ve been living a nomadic lifestyle for about 5 months and I’m loving it! I’ve got no plans to going back to house or apartment dwelling at this time.
Do you have moisture problems when it is real cold out or does your propane heater dry out the air enough while you have it on?
I use Reflectix in most of my windows for insulation and blocking light. It’s a great product and I know a lot of other RVers who use it. The only moisture problems I have is in the mornings there’s moisture between the Reflectix and the rear window (presumably from me breathing all night so close to it). Other than that, the heater does a good job of drying out the van… sometimes it does too good of a job so I keep a bottle of water by me at night that I can drink from so I’m not too dehydrated in the morning.
What is your heating cost? Spend much time North or in cold weather?
I have a 5 gallon propane tank on board that costs about $20 to fill. I’ve filled it about 5 times, so about once a month. This propane also runs my refrigerator. I try and avoid cold weather, mostly because I don’t want to have to winterize my water and sewage tanks. I try and stay in climates where it never freezes, though I got close a few times when I was in Arizona, and Florida has a cold snap going on right now that’s causing me to use more heat than normal.
Online I found some pads for under a mattress which helps the air circulate so no mold grows under it. What about those?
I haven’t had a problem with mold, but I generally am moving my mattresses around every week or so since the rear of my van is convertible from a bed to a living room space with a table. I have a foam twin mattress pad I bought at Walmart for $20 that works great.
I am wondering if you have a home base and how you handle having a ground tethered address for stuff like insurance, taxes, health care and job applications?
I don’t have a home base, but I do have an official home address in Florida. Why Florida? Well, I grew up there so I have ties to it, there’s no state income tax on individuals or pass-thru LLCs, and I plan to spend time there during the winter (as I’m doing now) which is important in case my state of residency is ever questioned.
I utilize a service called St. Brendan’s Isle for my mail. It’s like a post office box, but they give you a physical address and help you establish residency in Florida if you need to. It’s a service specifically for full time mariners and RVers. They receive my mail and scan in the envelope so I can view it online. Then I can say, “shred it”, “hold it”, “send it to me wherever I am”, or “open it and scan it”. I use that last option more often than the others and I get almost zero mail sent to my current location because I can read everything online!
As far as my insurance, health care, and taxes are concerned, my permanent address is in Green Cove Springs, FL. As far as job applications go… I don’t fill out any because I own and run my own business from the road. The business’s registered address is that same post mail box in Green Cove Springs.
Insurance is a funny thing. My van is technically considered an RV because it has a bathroom and a kitchen. Because I don’t have another vehicle and I live in the RV, many insurance companies I contacted wouldn’t cover me. I finally found a policy with Progressive for about $800/yr that covers full-time RVers. If you keep a sticks-n-bricks home or another vehicle, you probably won’t have trouble finding decent coverage on the vehicle.
Do you have a storage space anywhere for things you might use sporadically, but do not want to carry with you all the time? Sounds like you don’t. I would hate to give up my sewing machine but I often don’t use it for months at a time.
I have a banker’s box with old tax records at my parents’ house in Virginia along with two framed photographs I wanted to keep. That’s it. I wrote in a previous article about how getting rid of everything but the essential was psychologically freeing for me and I still believe that. I want to live a minimalist lifestyle and I can’t do that with a bunch of stuff.
Sometimes I miss having things for the kitchen (since I love to cook), but then I remember why I sold everything… to live simply. Once I have the desire to start accumulating a bunch of stuff again, I’ll probably go back to an apartment. I do know people with larger RVs that keep lots of stuff in them. A Class C RV could easily accommodate room for a sewing machine and all the things that go with it.