LOL! I love my nomad life, I really do.
After almost 5 years on the road I was recently interviewed by the wonderful Joni Zander of TheGalavan , including a van tour of my no build minivan.
I was nervous about how I’d present myself, but was thrilled with the way she portrayed my simple nomad life! She made it relaxed and easy and edited out the awkward parts. She really has a gift and if you’re an aspiring nomad or already on the road, her channel is worth a look.
Joni captured my “highlight” reel, but every seasoned nomad knows there’s also a behind the scenes reel.
In the spirit of keeping it real, here’s some of the behind the scenes!
There is hardly any perfect weather for a van dweller. There may be perfect days, but weather is always a constant factor. Even if you claim to be “chasing 72 degrees,” it still can be hot, cold, windy, rainy, snowy, all in a few hours. Be prepared to be a little miserable when it’s too hot, too cold, or too windy. Thank god for Libraries!!!
It takes a while for the body to adjust to constant swings in the microclimate, not like sitting in a house with a steady 70 degree thermostat.
And let’s not even get into crossing the country through tornado alley and hurricane season.
Bugs, crawly things, javelinas, mice!
Critters on the road are a fact of nomad life.
This year I got a SUPER-mouse spending nights with me … he sounded like he was jackhammering my vehicle to get in on the first night. He was too smart to go into a live trap … I tried … and in the four nights in the vehicle he got into my food carts and left poop presents everywhere. Apparently he liked lentils, and that was the bait that finally lured him to his demise.
I’ve seen rattlesnakes, scorpions, javelinas and coyotes, thankfully at a safe distance. My traveling companion had the biggest huntsman I’ve ever seen in her van.
Finding The Perfect Campsite.
All the YouTubers make it look easy. Finding a free spot that checks all the boxes for nomad living can be a TORMENT. Level ground, reliable cell and internet, close enough to showers, laundry, other necessary amenities … AND tolerable neighbors. For two years on the Long Term Visitor Area in Quartzsite, AZ, I had the same man harassing me. This year he called the rangers and made up fake stories about me cutting down trees. LOL! I asked the ranger where I’d keep a chainsaw in my little van.
Recently I was in beautiful spot not too far out from a nice little town, but laundry time came I found out the closest laundromat was 40 miles up the highway!
Sure, there’s apps, Freecampsites.net, Compendium, Ioverlander, even Google. They may tell you there a shooting range nearby, but not that the locals are blowing up homemade fertilizer bombs that will rattle your windows and make you piss your pants. They don’t tell you that you’ll have a neighbor that lets his pack of guard dogs bark all day and night. It doesn’t tell you when the entire area has been abandoned by the rangers and taken over by a DRUG RING. True stories.
I count my blessings on this one. But this year I ended up needing extensive dental care requiring multiple visits over many months. The cheapest place that wasn’t Mexico was a dental school, and I found myself making a 5 hour round trip. To cut down on travel time and fuel costs I keep moving closer to the city where the dental school is located, but the camping got more and more sketchy. Hence the DRUG RING.
Things have changed in the nomad world over the last few years. There are more desperate people out here that have no idea how to properly nomad. They throw garbage around, including their own shit … and some areas have been closed to nomad camping because of it. People are desperate, angry and suffering. We met a man camped in a trailer who was a dog hoarder with 12 dogs … and no shoes. It’s heartbreaking.
Then there’s the dirt. The dust. The overdue showering and laundry. The unexpected expenses. The rising price of gas. Being responsible for your own water supply and cooking fuel. Getting out of bed in the morning in 40 degree weather. Trying to sleep in 90 degrees and 100 percent humidity. The constant van shuffle of belongings in a small space. No oven. Limited access to affordable organic food. No freezer. Cloudy days when the refrigerator is solar powered … and on and on, you get the idea. It takes constant planning and sometimes it just gets exhausting.
With all that said, this is still an incredible way to live. It’s fundamentally changed my body and mind, and filled my Spirit with a beautiful connection to the Earth. My body has found healing living outside in the fresh air and sunshine, and I put my feet on the the natural magnetic field of the Earth every single day.
I’ve learned how resilient and strong I can be, and have the privilege of meeting people from all walks of life, expanding my view of humanity.
I get to take in gorgeous sunsets, awe inspiring vistas, and meet other like minded nomads.
I get to see places I’d never see stuck in an apartment paying rent! I’ve traveled the U.S. from shore to shore and put my feet in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. I’ve camped in The Sequoias, The Grand Canyon, The Sonoran desert with the great Saguaros, and The Adirondack forest. I’ve seen the Painted Desert, Superstition Mountains, and more. And I’m not done!