I have a serious case of wanderlust! As a kid, we took lots of road trips, and I continued that into adulthood – from backpacking in Europe to traveling in a trailer across the United States. I love new environments, seeing new places and meeting new people. My aunt always says, “Joy never lets grass grow under her feet!”
Today, I live in an RV, or recreational vehicle—my “home” conveniently has wheels. I have been living in an RV for three of the past five years. Specifically, I live in a 22-foot travel trailer—a lightweight KZ Escape. I tow this RV with my 1999 Ford Explorer (V6).
Living in an RV allows a lot of freedom with movement, and this continual change is not something our society deems feasible for most (jobs are typically stationary!) I think it is important to note that I live my life with the belief that anything and everything I want are possible. It is all within me to make it happen. Yes, I have to take action steps. (“Vision” is the first action step!) My belief in this possibility is just as important as the possibility itself—this belief, in my opinion, is what actually creates the results.
As well, I have always been into healthy living. I started eating a high-carb lifestyle in my early 20s and adopted a high-fruit lifestyle 10 years ago. I feel that being a fruitarian is the easiest diet to eat while traveling and/or living in a RV. For food preparation, I need a sink, a bowl or plate and minimal counter space. The 24-inch-by-24-inch preparation space in my RV feels like a luxury! I am definitely not a “chef,” so I love the simplicity of this lifestyle. Cleanup and every associated task is so compatible with traveling—rinse, dry and done!
My daily food prep involves cutting a papaya or honeydew open and voilà! Keeping a trusty blender nearby is a wonderful add-on to this simple lifestyle. I go through phases with my Vitamix; sometimes I use it daily and sometimes only weekly. From time to time, I do more preparation—like creating spiralized zucchini or sprouting seeds or mung beans. Those are more for entertainment than nourishment, though, and not necessary for me on a daily basis.
When I found my current travel trailer, my goal was to be on the road and living in it, so I specifically chose the bunkbed layout for storage reasons. I use half of the top bunk for my fruit storage. If I had someone else on the road with me, we would use outdoor space for our fruit storage—likely using a portable, lightweight greenhouse or some other method to protect the fruit while it ripens. Refrigerator and freezer space is the only limitation I ever feel. It is a pretty minor inconvenience and actually a blessing in disguise. It encourages me to eat more fresh fruit!
Since I have shared how easy food storage and preparation are with this lifestyle, the bigger question is where I find my food, as quality is most important to me! When I arrive in a new city, I plug in a few Internet searches. The first search is always via Google Maps using the keywords “health food,” “Asian market” and “produce”—each being a separate search. For confirmation, I go to Yelp.com and look up the Google results (to read reviews) or type in the same keyword searches. Typically, those results give me all I need for a starting point. If they don’t give me enough quality options, then I search “organic” or “fruit” or “whole foods” individually.
When I am in a town for longer than a week, I locate the major grocery stores and search their online ads for what is in season and what kind of deals they currently offer. Some other favorite resources for local produce deals and activities nearby include:
- LocalHarvest.org: A site for organics, farms, farmer’s markets and local produce.
- PickYourOwn.org: Find places where you can harvest your own produce.
- UrbanEdibles.org: A fruit-foraging site for Portland, Oregon.
- CareersInGrocery.com/-resource-0.htm: To find wholesalers in an area.
- HappyCow.net: Great for restaurants. Because I don’t frequent restaurants, I only ever use this site for very special occasions.
- Meetup.com: For local fruit or activity groups.
Another great option is to just ask people. Locals love to point me to their favorite produce! Walking and riding my bike are also great resources. In fact, in most towns, I find fruit trees the second I walk somewhere.
It is important to note that there is a delicate balance I find between spending too much time searching and being okay with paying an “average” price and finding something close-by.
People often ask how I am able to sustain this lifestyle. For me, it is about overall frugality, proper planning and remaining open and flexible. There have been times when I have had to park overnight at a Wal-Mart parking lot because I didn’t plan my route properly. I can always rely on free wi-fi at McDonald’s or Starbucks, when necessary. Sure, these are not ideal circumstances, but holding tight to beliefs can sometimes create more mental havoc than being open and flexible.
Financially, I live minimally. I buy most of my “stuff” at thrift stores. Other than basic supplies (cell phone, toilet paper, etc.), I don’t need much to operate. I rarely eat out at restaurants—I would much prefer a fruit picnic! I rarely go out to movies. I sometimes rent DVDs from Redbox or watch YouTube on my phone. It is all about personal choices; my freedom is more important than splurges that most people enjoy on a regular basis.
I earn a living by doing operations and accounting work remotely for multiple companies. I started creating this scenario years ago when the travel bug bit. I worked for a company (at its location) and strategized how I could make my job remote. I put the wheels in motion long before I was ready to hit the road (key!). The strategy involved making the position more Web-based. For example, I set up bill payments through the company’s online bank portal rather than writing checks. In another example, I started using SignNow.com for all vendor document preparation. Rather than printing, scanning and/or faxing, this change made my tasks more Web-based. Not only was it more cost-effective for the company in the long run, it was also better for the environment and my future possibility of working remotely. These simple changes made my position more efficient, creating a win-win for the company even if it wasn’t interested in keeping me on remotely.
My experience in working for people is that if my goal is to make life better for them, they are willing to do/try whatever it takes to keep me on the team. Time and time again, with win-win being my focus, the rewards come back to me tenfold. I am pretty certain that I could make most office jobs in America remote—one just needs to be creative, think outside of the box and give the company reason to keep you!
Another stream of income that I have is through real estate. I used resources slated for the “American Dream” a.k.a. buying a home for myself, and turned it into a rental (my “American Dream!”) I chose a booming market (who says we are restricted to a home where we are currently living?) and now have a rental company managing the property for me. The rent I receive covers all my costs and then some, providing additional passive income.
Living in a RV is very cheap. The only major expense is moving around (fuel). The rest is cheaper than a “normal” life. Planning ahead can also help with cost—getting caught in an area targeted for snowbirds can blow a frugal RV budget in an instant!
I have found that the average RV park charges a monthly fee of $400. This is true for the West Coast, Central United States and the East Coast. Some are less ($250 to $300), and some are more ($500 to $600), but, on average, it is about $400. This price includes water, sewer, shower facilities, sometimes Internet—and, typically, electricity is metered. My highest electric bill has been $25 thus far, and that was from the air conditioning. My highest winter bill was $15. Granted, I was using more propane for heat than electric. Keep in mind, I have a very small unit and am more likely to put on a coat or take some clothes off than turn on my heater or A.C. unit.
There are lots of websites dedicated to boondocking (living for free). Personally, I find living in an RV with simple comforts (running water, sewer and electric) ideal. I am not sure I would enjoy it as much without these creature comforts for extended periods of time, especially since I work from my RV.
I created a YouTube channel, PapayaJoy, for friends to follow my travels and experiences. I like to post a few videos per month sharing my “out-of-the-box” life in an RV! My current focus and dream is to create an RV park and campground healing center that focuses on a high-fruity lifestyle, with an abundant food forest in the mix. People of all walks of life would be able to camp or stay in an RV or cabin or even become part of the community (with tiny houses, earthships and repurposed containers), all in an aesthetically pleasing environment. I would love to see a network of these pop up around the country so we can all travel around and visit the fun, different communities.
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