An Awe-Inspiring Life on the Road
Life on the road is pretty freaking awesome! We’ve seen more in the last year than we would have seen in 10 years of regular vacations. Van life and RV living is a much larger culture than you think it is. If you ask most people they tell you they wish they could travel more or they don’t make enough money to travel. A recent study actually revealed most Americans don’t even take all their vacation because they are afraid of loosing their job. WTF? Are you kidding me, who wants to live like that?
Keep reading and we will help you figure out the secrets to leaving it all behind and how to travel for a living.
Changing Your Comprehension of Money
Most if not all of the things regarding money will completely change with a life on the road so why would you look at it from the same perspective you do now? Lets look at some real life scenarios that apply to a lot of people.
I need a better job/promotion to make more money so I can:
1. Buy a more expensive house closer to the city so I don’t have to sit in traffic.
2. Buy a 2nd house so I can get away from the city where all this traffic and people are and relax.
3. Buy a commuter car because all the miles on my regular car are making it worth less.
4. Pay property taxes on the above things
5. Meet my friends out for dinner because I’m too tired to cook or traffic is to bad to go to their house
6. Buy expensive clothes for work so I can get that promotion to (see #1-#4)
7. “Keep up with the Joneses”
Ok so now lets look at those same things in your new life
1. You have an RV or a van that fits you and your family and you can go where you want. No more traffic, no more need to spend more for the same size to be closer.
2. Your new home on wheels can take you everywhere.
3. Your commuter car is now a mountain bike, a kayak, an ATV you tow etc. Something to have fun with not something you need to do your old job.
4. These won’t be anywhere close to what they are above.
5. You’ll be cooking most of your meals and saving a ton of money plus feeling better because you won’t have all those mystery ingredients restaurants put in stuff.
6. Most likely a nice dress or shirt and tie are a thing of the past. You didn’t really like wearing that stuff did you?
7. This new way of life is so freeing, there is none of that crazy pressure to have this or have that and if you encounter it start up the rig and drive away.
* Most people live in a vicious cycle of having to spend more to make more just to get by.
People see all their old bills PLUS the new bills to live on the road because they view it like a vacation where they have to pay for both at the same time. You’re not going on vacation your starting your New Exciting Life of FREEDOM!
Conquering the “Scary”
Van Life or RV living is a very realistic possibility for a lot of people. It also is a very scary undertaking. The thought of selling everything and living on the road fulltime is a lot to wrap your brain around. Humans don’t like “The Unknown”, they like a comfortable, safe routine they can count on, don’t laugh it’s true! Once you put a plan on paper and spell it out it loses some of that “scary feeling”. The scary won’t completely go away until you fully embrace your new life of simplicity and unpredictability. Once you do you will understand why it is so desirable to live on the road and travel like those already doing it.
Do the Math
You’re basically laying out a budget here. This will change a little once you learn the in’s and out’s of the road but you need to have a good foundation. Based on your traveling lifestyle your budget can vary drastically from one traveler to another. For instance, if you have a part time job somewhere you might have to stay at a campground for a monthly fee vs boon-docking.
Here’s a list of most of your costs:
- Camping – This can range from barely anything to $500+/month to stay at a campground on their monthly rate. If you stayed at a campground for 2 weeks at their nightly rate of $30/night it would cost you a ton! Plan for the most economic situation possible. There is also work camping. Where you can stay for free and work at a campground.
- Food – Cooking 95% of your meals will allow you to save a ton of money and eat healthy. This is a new lifestyle not a vacation, if you go out to eat all the time it is going to be ridiculously expensive. Our food bill for 2 people is around $550/month.
- Fuel – Another cost based on your vehicle, what type of fuel you use, and how much you are driving. Our first 8 months on the road we drove and drove and drove. We had the “We’re Free Mentality”. While there’s nothing wrong with that it’s very expensive to only stay in an area constantly for 2-3 days. Spend a week to a month in a place and your fuel costs will go down.
- Repairs / Maintenance – Set some money aside in the budget for these things, just like you would living in a regular house. Just realize they will be a little higher as this vehicle gets 100% use vs sitting in the driveway or at the office.
- Health Insurance – Obamacare is actually going to work for you now. Obamacare is better for those people that don’t make a lot of money as coverage’s are the same from plan to plan but the less you make the less you pay monthly for coverage. In some cases you might even get more coverage. DON’T keep the insurance you have now unless your income is going to stay the same or you are keeping your job. An income of $34,000 for two people gets you about a $200/month credit. An income of $18,000 for two people gets you about a $350/month credit. You can call a broker and they can put in your income and give you a quote. Also remember a life changing event allows for coverage anytime over the year so if you quit your job that counts as a change.
- RV Insurance – make sure your home is covered, you never know what can happen.
- Phone / Internet – Verizon has the best “middle of nowhere” coverage. We use about 15 gigs of data with the blog and our bill is around $150/month. This can be cut a bunch depending on your needs.
- Having Fun – Everyone’s hobbies are different. We have Mountain Bikes, kayaks, and hiking gear. The blog takes care of most of our other adventures as we trade articles, pictures and videos for rafting, zip-lining, off-road tours, etc.
Your New Adventure Home
Will a small van work for you or do you need a full blown 40’ RV? First off no one NEEDS a 40’ RV. What do you want to do with your new life of adventure? This will determine what you need. Are you going to work out of the rig, is it just you, do you have a family, what are your hobbies? This is a huge part of the “leaving it all behind” as you need to figure out how to pack your new life into a much smaller area.
Kelly and I brought our hiking/backpacking gear, kayaks, and mountain bikes. We left our ski gear with those boxes of pictures but have plans to make them fit somehow soon. We have met single people, couples and full blown families living in vans and RV’s traveling all over and they are all super glad they made the change.
Visit our All Things Sprinter Page for more about our van.
Selling Everything You Have
This is a cleansing not a time to be sentimental. You will have to get rid of 95% of everything you have. We put a few boxes of pictures in a friend’s basement just in case we decided to get another house. They are still there and we are still going with no end in sight. Sorry Matt you might have to hang on to those boxes longer than planned.
Don’t put all your stuff in storage, sell it. The extra cash to start your amazing new life will be useful and you don’t need any more bills. You are trying to live cheaper and have more fun in life.
Selling everything will take a bit of time so plan ahead. We listed all our large items on craigslist and then sold the rest of our stuff in a huge weekend long garage sale. We ended up with about $5,000-$6,000. What we didn’t sell we donated for a tax write-off.
Read our article Time for Change
Hitting the Road, Now What?
So you’ve gotten rid of everything and have your new van or RV, now what? That question is so huge I can’t possible answer it….but you can. Why did you want to leave it all behind? This is your answer go do THAT! Your new exciting life is out there……Go get it!
I Can’t Afford to Have an Amazing Life of Travel
You can’t afford not to! We’ve all heard the story or been part of it. “Mike worked his whole life and then finally retired and died a week later”, or “Sue got hit by a car driving home from work” the stories go on and on. These unfortunate scenarios should give you clarity and the motivation to start living and stop waiting. Living on the road is cheaper than living in a regular house so you can get by on less cash. You work now and deal with all the things you hate; traffic, pollution, hurry up lifestyle, etc etc. Why not work on the road and be happy, have fun and relax.
Here’s a few articles to help you get started towards a new exciting life
I’m also writing an article about Making Money on the Road so keep your eyes out for that as well as other useful tips on our blog.
Keep this in mind when it comes to money:
- You’ve always been told to have as much money as possible, why?
- Money can’t buy happiness
- You’ve never been told to have as much fun as possible (until now)
- When you’re on your deathbed you’ll regret all the things you didn’t do not the money you didn’t make.
- You can get by with a lot less than you think you can AND have MORE FUN.
Kelly and I do understand. We both did not come from money and no one has given us a dime. We both worked hard, saved, and were responsible. We have paid for our education, house, wedding, honeymoon, cars, and our current van life. We live within our means. This is attainable and doable. If you want to work less and travel more, make a plan and make it happen. We have no regrets even with only 1 real shower a week. So go do it!
Our Average Costs:
- Camping: $150/mo (We stay for free as ofter as possible)
- Food: $550/mo (We eat pretty good and pretty healthy so you could eat even cheaper)
- Fuel: $240/mo (Our rig gets about 20mpg)
- Health Insurance: $200/mo (This is for 2 people who don’t make a lot with awesome coverage and a $500 deductible)
- RV Insurance: $100/mo (We have a lot of insurance on this plan you could go much cheaper)
- Phone/Internet: $150/mo (2 lines plus 24 gigs of data)
- Repairs/Maintenance: $150/mo (this includes replacing an A/C unit this year)
Average Monthly Costs: $1,540
*This is for 2 people but doesn’t include the occasional meal out, alcohol or hobbies.
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got