Never in a million years would we have thought we’d be living a nomadic lifestyle. Often folks will say to us “You’re living the dream!” and of course we nod and agree. We are living a dream! The only thing is this was never a “dream” of ours. Hell, it wasn’t even on our radar! Neither of us had even stepped foot in an RV before and traveling around the USA full-time wasn’t even something we’d imagined. Yet, here we are, five years later still going strong as full-time nomads! Things have changed a bit of course, life is ever changing, but we currently have no thoughts on stopping any time soon.
I’m not going to get into what got us started down this road since I’ve already covered it before (check out the post archives below). What I do plan to write about is how the road has changed us and how we’ve adapted to it. I mean, five years of doing anything will likely change a person. Some changes for the better and a few for the worse.
The first obvious change we’ve made has been to change the way we travel. For four years we towed a 30’ travel trailer with a 2500 Ram and enjoyed it. But towing can be stressful and we sometimes found places we couldn’t stay (National Parks being a big one). We had traveled 90k miles around the country at this point and travel trailers just aren’t really built to take that kind of abuse. Maintenance was becoming more difficult and things were starting to wear out already. But mostly we just wanted something different that was more “mobile”. So in comes the Roadtrek Chase camper van. We’ve now been traveling in it for a year on the dot and have no real complaints. It definitely changed the way we travel. It has made us more mobile and it has already allowed us to camp in places we couldn’t before. It’s everything we were looking for really. It was a good change.
But with all change comes some compromises as well. Going small and living in a van (down by the river as we like to tease) does of course have its share of them. It’s well, small. We have everything we need but it’s crammed into a delivery van. But we adapted and actually do not mind the small space now. But everything you do in a van compared to a bigger unit takes more time. We only have one stove burner so meals are simpler and if it does require more food, it must be cooked at different times thus taking longer. So we eat pretty simple now. It has a shower (wet bath) but it’s small and as such, showers take longer. Well, that’s actually not true. Showers are very short because we lack the gray water tank space. Military showers are what we do now. But cleaning yourself takes longer because of the cramped space. The one thing that doesn’t take longer is cleaning. It’s small so it’s quick to clean but we’ve found it requires more frequent cleaning since we are in and out all the time. But none of these things really bother us all that much. We kind of knew what we were getting into with the van and have no complaints. Actually, we really enjoy traveling in the van. The only thing we aren’t 100% sure about yet is its off-road ability. Roadtrek made the van well but there are a lot of parts under the van (batteries, holding tanks, wires, connections, etc.) and side skirts to hide it all. It’s also front wheel drive which isn’t bad, but the van weighs in at around 9500lbs and that’s a lot of weight to pull up a rocky incline (ask us how we know). We’ve recently put a 3″ lift made by Off Highway Van on as well as upgraded our tires to Goodyear Wrangler Adventure with Kevlar. 3″ doesn’t sound like much additional clearance, but it’s actually made a big difference (we have 9″ of clearance now at the rear axle). No longer do we need to worry about things hitting a parking curb or backing into one. We have plenty of that kind of clearance. We’ve also already gone down a few BLM and forest roads that we probably shouldn’t have been on with little issue. With that said, you can’t get around the weight issue. A four wheel drive Sprinter might have been a better choice for us in the long run but that’s yet to be determined.
I think the biggest changes, however, in the past five years have been to us. Misty and I agree we aren’t the same people we were when we left Indiana. Our outlook on life and how we live it has changed. Our outlook on the environment and how we need to protect it has changed. We’ve seen so much in five years and met so many different people (many of whom we now call friends) and all of that melds into you and begins to shape you into something new. I obviously can’t speak for Misty so I’ll just explain how I think I have changed. Maybe Misty can add her own thoughts as well.
So how have I changed? For starters, I’m WAY more laid back now. Those that have known me for awhile probably are thinking “but you were already so laid back” and I think that’s true. But now I stress about things much less, I let issues and troubles roll off my back much more easily and I overall don’t worry about much. Granted, that’s all easy to do when you aren’t working and traveling around seeing the country. But don’t let that fool you, there’s still plenty of things to stress about on the road, they are just a bit different. Money is still always an issue. Vehicle problems and maintenance, where to go to the grocery, do laundry, etc. are still things we have to plan out. Hell, even where we will be staying next (is there water, a dump station, access to cell towers, no trees for Starlink, etc.) can stress you out. But life has an overall slower pace now and I very much appreciate it.
One change that actually has surprised me is how okay I am with having fewer possessions. I’m not proud of the fact, but as a young man I always wanted “the best” and thought that the more I had the happier I’d be. Now, I didn’t have much money, so “the best” was usually “the best I could afford” which wasn’t much. Still, it was more a mindset than anything. But it sometimes takes getting what one wants to realize it’s not the correct path. Now we literally can’t have much stuff since all we currently own is in this 20′ van. Yet, I still have everything I need and even some extras. And I’m okay with that! Actually, I’m embracing it. Trying to live simply is a new mantra.
I’ve seen a big portion of our country now and have even seen places several years apart so I can see the impact of the current environmental issues we are facing. It’s bad folks. Climate change is real and it’s happening right in front of us. We need to collectively change some things to help out but sadly I don’t see that happening. As I type this we are camping on some BLM land on Lake Mead in Nevada. We last visited almost five years ago at the beginning of our journey. The spot we camped at last was near the water with tons of wildlife. The water is nowhere near us now. It’s crazy low and threatening the whole area not only for fresh water but electricity as well. Yet we still drove by golf course watering, businesses watering and of course farms watering. There is no easy answer of course but it doesn’t seem on the surface that anyone cares until it’s too late.
I don’t preach about the environment issues though. I don’t know enough to do that, but instead I just try really hard to do my little part. Walking beaches we pick up trash, we leave our campsites cleaner than when we arrived, we try to use as little water as possible. Basically, we try to be responsible and clean up after those who are not and leave as small of a carbon footprint as we can.
One other big change is how little I like large cities now. Granted, I’ve never really been a huge fan, but now I have almost zero tolerance for all the “crap” you have to deal with in large metro areas. Too many rude people, crazy traffic with impatient drivers (where do you want to be sooo bad, work?), homeless, theft and the list could go on. Of course large cities are where you get the wonderful museums and such so we go, but I don’t like it. No, I much, much prefer to be in nature as far away from folks as possible. Luckily there are still areas of this country where that is possible but it is indeed becoming more of a challenge.
Hopefully I can get Misty to add her thoughts on how she has also changed though I feel they will be similar to mine. Writing this blog post I found it rather difficult to define just how I feel I’ve changed. I think the changes go deeper than I realize and as such are hard to put into words (though I did try). All I know is I feel I’ve become a better person with an even larger open mind. Hopefully that comes across in my posts.
Our journey continues and hopefully we also continue to evolve as people.