>I travel in my huge awesome van.
>The engine and transmission BOTH fucking went last Friday.
>I'm stuck in Newport News, Virginia for at least a couple weeks to get them both replaced.
>$8k in the hole.
Anyone wanna get a beer?
So I always wondered about those. Do you see any savings compared to someone who takes a compact car and stays in cheap motels? It seems like those camper vans burn through fuel fast and have a lot of maintenance involved. Plus you still have to pay if you want to use a campground.
I'm wondering too. I looked into renting a small one and it was about $100 a day, plus of course fuel and campground fees. So, I also think it's cheaper to drive and stay in cheap motels (plenty available for $50/night). What really is the RV advantage?
At a present top speed of 10 MPH amidst high engine knocking, intermittent total transmission slippage, and imminent threat of catastrophic failure to both, I wouldn't be kidnapping you very far. After the new engine and trans are put in then we'll talk.
Oh my sides.
I have literally never paid to park my van anywhere. Ever. I find places to stay. Yes, it gets 10.5 MPG average, ~12 highway. That is my highest cost associated with it - but in between driving, it's always possible to be stationary and live for a dollar a day eating rice and beans if you choose. Prior to now, I've had no mechanical issues that I was not able to fix myself. This one is a big one. I'll be eating rice and beans.
Cool brah. I'm literally just marooned in a parking lot until the parts come in 8 days from today so I'm pretty much up for socialization.
The problem is you're thinking about how you're expected to pay for stuff and not about how you can do it without paying for stuff.
>I have literally never paid to park my van anywhere.
Ok cool, but do you ever get questioned by the cops or have people with pitchforks run after you? What sort of places do you usually stop at? How much did this camper van originally cost?
If he is anything like most van dwellers I've talked to (thinking about doing it on the small) Walmart parking lots, lots of public parks you can park in over night for free, back streets and industrial areas you can park in. A lot of malls don't have a problem with it either.
>do you ever get questioned by the cops
Yes. Sometimes. Usually only if I've been staying in an area a couple weeks - people start calling the cops in hopes of getting rid of me even if I'm doing nothing wrong. Vandwellers get an image of being disrespectful/littering and I don't do that but they just assume I might so they call the cops. Then the cops come and say carry on have a nice day. I've only twice been asked to move and that was when I was on private property and didn't realize. If you have to travel with an ounce of grass everywhere then this might be a concern but it hasn't been an issue for me.
>people with pitchforks
None yet, but some creepy people following me / trying to sell me drugs sometimes.
>What sort of places do you usually stop at?
As the other guy said parking lots are often an option, although not always. I don't like to rely on Walmart. Everyone thinks Walmart allows parking, but many of them don't, because of the assholes that park their 40' motorhomes and then put out the awnings and lawn chairs and start grilling. There is a difference between "parking" and "camping." More often than those places, I prefer to park down an isolated dirt road or something. And don't forget street parking! I often turn up in a city at night, park on the street, and then have prime real estate until I move my van. I like to do this at the beach and stay for a week for free. Out west there's plenty of BLM land where you can just go into the wilderness. State park-and-rides are a safe bet, you're allowed to stay for 21 days most places.
>How much did this camper van originally cost?
$10,000. So my $8,000 repair is almost the cost of the vehicle and in that sense not a good investment. But in the sense that my house costs $18,000, it's still cheaper than most, and I'm totally free to wander.
Also, for those of you comparing to renting a small car / hotel rooms etc, I imagine you have to return to a home at some point and you're not factoring in that cost, and restriction, into your assessment. My van is my house. I go where I want. When I want to go "home" and relax, I pull over and flop down in the back. I never have to return somewhere or pay for a residence. I just keep traveling.
Ahyup. That's the big one - I'm lucky that way.
I'm a salaried technology worker. I do all my work from the road and clients never know. As long as I have an internet connection (mobile hotspot) it makes no difference where I am.
Among other systems in the van, I have 300 watts of solar powering an isolated deep cycle battery bank, made from two 6v Trojan batteries wired in parallel. I use this to power my computer equipment, lights, ventilation, water pump, and all other needs.
Sounds good. Are you able to cook in your van? What about taking showers? And what do you do when you have to take a shit/piss -- I'm presuming you hit up public libraries, fast-food places, and/or large stores?
Of course I can cook! I have a stove top, mini grill, pressure cooker... Don't underestimate the van's amenities. Yes I shower in the van, complete with hot water from my propane water heater. I also have a refrigerator, sink, two beds, furnace, etc.
Pee and poo disposal techniques are trade secrets, my friend.
I actually do have onboard toilet / holding tanks, but I don't use them for shit and piss because then I would have to empty them and I don't want to be bound to dump stations etc. But rest assured that I have revolutionary processes in place with regard to excrement management.
I'll take some interior pictures after work, don't have any great ones on hand. For now please see my collage of beer labels captured on one of my cabinet doors. Thanks.
Not so odd when your transmission dumps into 2nd against an engine that was already misfiring whilst hauling 6,700lbs of badass van down the freeway.
Ahh so you've seen through my hyperbole have you. Okay yes, I shit in the woods. Many vandwellers rely on public bathrooms, as someone suggested, but I don't like for my lifestyle to impose upon any public infrastructure; I never allow myself to be seen "needing" their facilities. Now that I think about it I've never actually shat in a public bathroom since going vanbound. If it's raining, or I'm in a city, or some other reason I can't shit in the woods, I shit in a 13 gallon trash bag, tie it off twice, fold it over itself, tie it up again in a grocery bag, mix that bag in with a bigger bag of trash, and chuck it in a public trash can somewhere. Oh yes. Your gas stations waste bins are littered with my tightly wrapped bundles of joy.
Other vandwellers do everything from shit in bags as described above, to carrying buckets of sawdust and composting their own... I'm not going to haul a bucket of shit around so this is what works for me.
I actually DO have an ingenious method of urine disposal, which is of my own design and unique so far as I am aware, but I feel the world is not yet ready for it.
H'okay picture dump commencing. There really are more details to this van than one might suspect from the outside. As I post these, I encourage you to pay attention to two things:
1) Everything is secured for driving.
2) Everything is easy to access while stationary.
Now where to start. How 'bout my kitchen. I haven't started cooking yet, but my stove top is under that metal cover; maybe I'll include an update later.
Cast iron = very yes.
Note single flip latches customized with bits of paint can bail.
Always use vertical surfaces; horizontal surfaces are at a premium.
These clear shoe pocket things are the best for storage. Staple them goddamn errrwhere.
To be honest I don't even use most of my "normal" storage source space because I put so much effort into using every other nook and cranny first.
The whole back area converts to a bed / shaggin' pad too.
I've fitted funny storage options in many areas to make sure my equipment is readily accessible, yet out of the way.
Yeah man. Here's the mantelpiece in action. Off Lake Champlain in a spot I know.
That's right, I can fire up my water heater from inside.
My refrigerator. Powered off propane, 120VAC, or 12VDC.
Ventilation... I have two of these smaller ceiling units.
This is my main ventilation though, exchanges 900CFM. When I bought the van it came with a roof mounted AC and I replaced that with this because I'm totally off-grid.
This is where the microwave used to be. Again, I removed it; I prefer to use its vacant hole as one of my few horizontal spaces. Also makes a pretty sweet box for my little stereo thing.
Toilet I don't use. 'Cept that time I ralphed in it.
The shower is really defined by the curtain, and the aluminum track it runs on, seen here. But it really works.
This is the floor of the shower, which I have filled in with some lightweight removable plastic bits that are tied together. Remove them to open the basin and drain.
Plastic bits removed - shower floor. (This I've also protected with rubber mats, which allow drainage.)
It's all fucked up and gnarly so people really fucking believe it when I'm holding it.
Up in the overcab, we have the master bedroom. This is the size of a Full mattress.
Computer fan ventilation in the sleeping area. I rigged up two of these, trimmed out with toilet flanges for extra sophistication.
...some sweet breakers behind this panel...
...and here's my battery bank.
Alright that should be enough to give you guys an idea. I'm going to stop posting before I open up the rest of my internal systems.
Oh yeah - I'm making red sauce tonight, and I just have to reiterate: Fuck that rental car rhetoric.
Damn OP, thanks for delivering. I didn't think it'd be that thorough. Good on you, man. It's a proper mobile home.
I'm curious, though: when you take a chick back do they sometimes get weirded out? I can imagine going back to a converted van-home not being hot for a lot of women
Have I mentioned I'm literally stranded in a parking lot for another week?
Funny, I literally just finished having my cock sucked a few minutes ago. Yesterday, I did the same.
Babes dig the van.
Okay yes there's a creepy factor involved but you have to have a sense of humor about it and own your lifestyle. Girls like to see someone passionate about something. That can be painting or volunteering or traveling off-grid in a sweet ass van. As long as you own it you have game. If you sit in front of a computer and make excuses for yourself you have no game.
Sometimes, but more often I like to find somewhere there's a lot going on during the day (festival areas, tourist strips, waterfront parks) and park somewhere with prime real estate and just socialize.
Seen in this picture are the aluminum rails I've attached to the back of my high top. Their purpose would not be immediately evident to some, but their design is quite deliberate. I use them to climb up on to the roof and sit on my "deck." They are spaced such that I can sit and rest my feet up there and there's room for two people.
Often I'll hang out in a public area like this and it's obvious to everyone around that I'm just being a van dude living the life. Especially when I have out of state plates and music playing from my deck. I always get a lot of attention when I do this. I'll strike up conversations with any cute girls and that naturally turns into them asking questions about the inside just like people asked here, which turns into... well baby, why don't I give you a tour of the van... oh look I have cold beer in the 'fridge...
After deciding I wanted to do this for real I spent a YEAR searching Craislist, autotrader, etc, within a 500mi radius, for a vehicle that would be ideal. I had a list of requirements - standing room inside being one of the greater limiting factors. I had pretty well settled I'd have to buy a Sprinter and convert it from scratch, and was even talking to a couple auction places about buying one, and then this beauty popped up in Salem, NH. That was right next door to where I was living in Vermont at the time. I went to check it out on a Saturday. I spent five hours in the parking lot at the dealer tearing it apart and crawling underneath it. There was stuff wrong with the house systems but I knew how to fix all of it. The frame was still painted! No rust. It came from Florida and only had 80,000 miles on it (most people who buy these things are boring people with houses and they end up only taking them out on the rare weekend). I came back on Monday with a loan from my bank and drove it away. On the way home, I bought pipe dies at a hardware store and repaired the water system on the side of the road. Filled up the water tank at a car wash with an open spigot. Thus began my van adventures. I've been all up and down the east coast but this winter will be my first trip out west.
I've met people doing exactly that. It's possible. If you're serious about it, check out cheaprvliving.com/forums
That's the best resource of information I've found for this lifestyle.
I envy you anon. I'm a 20 year old uni student, and I'm definitely going to do this at some point in my life. Some Software development jobs you can do from anywhere, so the goal is to graduate and pay off loans, save up money then take a job where I do just this.
How does your employer feel about you on the road? I know you mentioned you work remotely but are they actively fine with you never being in the office?
What's been your scariest/lowest moment on the road? Ran out of money, almost getting robbed, etc.
And finally, what made you want to do this? How long are you planning on living this life and are you overall happy with your decision?
Seriously good for you anon, hope to be in your shoes one day.
>I'm a 20 year old uni student
If you're not aware, some people also undertake this lifestyle to save money on housing while in school. It's a very cheap way to live even if stationary vs traveling.
>How does your employer feel about you on the road?
My boss is a control freak and I knew I would need a solid way to present this to him. What I ended up doing was setting up my mobile office and working that way with wireless Internet for six weeks before telling anyone. Then I asked my boss for a meeting, took him out in the parking lot, showed him the van, told him all about it and my idea, then added on "...oh and by the way, I've already been doing it for six weeks." There was no way for him to say my attendance would be affected with a mobile connection as I'd just delivered him six weeks of proof. He gave me the green light. We have an agreement that I'll return to the northeast in the summers for the occasional conference etc.
>What's been your scariest/lowest moment on the road?
Honestly my lowest is this week. The van won't move more than a mile or two in its condition so I'm stranded and will need to pay $8k to get it moving. But that said, the house systems still work, I still have a place to sleep, make hot coffee, cook my meals, take a shower, have cold beer. I never felt dismayed, it's just a setback. I'll take the money out of my 401k and after a couple weeks I'll move on.
The only time I've felt any sort of physical danger: One night I'd gone out on foot to learn the area I was in and realized I was being followed. Long story, but I'm not paranoid and a car was legit following me around the city at night. This kept up for over a half hour. I thought I'd lost him and I went back to the van, but then I saw the car pull in next to me and park. He got out and stood outside my van trying to peek in the windows. I had the rage bat in one hand, phone in the other, trying to decide which I should use. Then he went away... no idea wtf it was about.
>And finally, what made you want to do this?
This is an even longer story. Going back a few years, I'd moved in with a girl I was dating... we split... I left in the middle of the night. I didn't have anywhere to go so I slept in my car that night. A hatchback. No room to lie down. Then I did the same the next day. I could have moved in with my parents or something, but I didn't want to; so I lived out of my car and told no one. After a week I figured out how to fit a bed from the front dash to the back hatch so I could lie down. The next week, I realized a gym membership netted me 24/7 access to a hot shower for $10/month. And then life wasn't so bad.
After a few months though winter came and I had to get an apartment like a normal person. Then I had to buy a bed... and a couch... TV... desk... and as I was doing this I realized I'd come to resent those things. It was all shit I didn't need except for the fact that I had a place to put it; because I had an apartment, I had to fill it with shit to live. And I realized that living in a car taught me I enjoyed finding out how little I actually need to be happy. I started thinking about how I could do it over again, but better. That's what led into the year of searching for the ideal vehicle.
Of course the travel is a perk too.
>How long are you planning on living this life and are you overall happy with your decision?
I'm not sure. I've always thought I'd do the wife and kid thing one day and obviously that won't happen in a van. So when that day comes I'll see where I'm at. Until then, I'll explore and find which areas I really may want to settle one day.
But I can honestly say that I have zero regrets since hitting the road. To anyone considering this lifestyle, my advice is to go for it. When you're old you'll regret more the things you didn't do than ever you'll regret the things you've done.
I'm the guy you responded to. Thank you so much for sharing your story anon. I too feel the same as you do... I buy stuff just because I have a place to put it. And it's so easy to just get lost in the cycle of 'go to work, go home, eat, sleep. See shit you don't need, buy shit, never use it.' (although I'm a uni student I'm currently working at a 40 hour a week office job for a co-op experience until December). Have you seen the movie Fight Club? Large part of that movie is anti-materialism.
I also fucking love to travel and go to random places. Random small towns in the middle of nowhere can often times be the prettiest, quaint, and most badass places to stop on a road trip and just explore. There's so much to see in the world, and honestly so much to see in the US. The mountains of northwest are so different from the deserts and canyons of the South are so different from the Plains and caves of the Midwest (haven't gotten around to the northeast yet). You could spend a lifetime just exploring our national parks, big cities, random towns, various nature, etc. The world is so exciting and I'm so young, I'm honestly perplexed by my 20 year old friends who want to get married and have a family now. There's so much exciting things to do.
I saved your responses in my bucket list note collection to remind myself of what I really want to do once I'm financially able to. Seriously thank you so much anon, you really don't know how great it was to hear from someone like you.
My temp/spam email is the following
a r g b a r g b a r g @ Gmail
Shoot me an email, I'd love to stay in touch. I'm living in Madison, WI until December, then back to school in Milwaukee in January. I know the Midwest area kinda sucks and there's not too much to do, but if you're ever in the area I'd love to buy you a beer. Best of luck on your transmission trouble, and seriously enjoy the kickass life you've set for yourself.
Once the van is mobile again N.C. is my next destination. I'm meeting a travel buddy there. Not sure where exactly. But she's somewhere in that state living out of a 1986 pickup with a shell on the bed.
Back in the day when sci-fi was still sci-fi instead of drama, I was a fan of Lexx. I recently re-watched the series with a ladyfriend and realized that in the episode where Kai goes crazy the axe he wields is the exact same as my mantelpiece. I take that as a sign of encouragement.
Other fun props spotted include an N64 controller and the tines off a garden weasel. Best sci-fi series ever.
Druggie or gay is my guess. For what it's worth he was a neanderthal-looking negroid.
Sure, I'll shoot you an email. I'm always game for more travel acquaintances.
I don't want an "upgrade" in terms of space. I sought this vehicle out under very specific criteria. It is 19' long, with a single rear axle, single tire sets, and original body. That means it fits in a parking space and is legal to park on most any street. You can't get much more space without turning into one of those boxy motorhome monstrosities and then you become subject to a lot of restrictions. Although my ride is technically a class B RV it is really more like a tall van with amenities. There aren't many like it around anymore.
Picture is of some fans I installed to expedite the ammonia absorption process powering my 'fridge.
Yeah she traveled with me a while. I'm not going to post derogatory stuff here though.
Related, how often do you travel with people you meet? What's your relationship with hitchhikers? I know you're supposed to be cautious, do you get to know someone pretty well before you take them on the road with you?
Also this is unrelated to my question above, if you're still looking for someone to get a beer with, post this on a more active board here. More people = higher chance someone is in your area.
cool thread, cool photos OP. But how does the whole electricity thing works? I understand you have a boatload of batteries, but you'd have to power those? How does that work. Are they all powered by the dynamo in the engine? How long can you go on a set off full batteries?
My standing policy is that if someone actually needs a ride I'll oblige if I'm headed in that direction. Those people you see holding signs out that say "traveling, broke, help" never actually want to go anywhere, they just want money. I don't hand out money so I don't talk to those people. Hitchhikers want to go somewhere.
But as far as traveling with anyone on any kind of ongoing basis - to do so with so few square feet of living space, you need to be intimately comfortable with a person, which pretty much means that criteria for a long-term travel partner include 1) dating material 2) crazy enough to hop in a van with me and go on the road. It's a thin line to straddle.
The van was wired by the factory to charge the house battery off the alternator while driving, as well as when plugged into shore power. Shore power is an aspect I have not discussed here because I choose to live off-grid. However, if I were to plug in somewhere, there is a charge converter which would both charge my house battery as well as power my other systems (120v outlets, fridge, lights, etc). I have left this system intact.
In addition, I've installed 300 watts of solar panels on the roof. This is now my primary source of power and is more than sufficient to meet my needs during the day. I've upgraded my house battery to a bank made of two 6v Trojan T125 deep cycle marine batteries wired in parallel to create a single large 12v battery. This means that I have true deep cycle capacity and a relatively high AH rating vs the sorts of quasi-deep cycle marine batteries that are typically installed in RVs. Fully detailing how this all works would warrant its own thread - no, forum - but the short of it is that both my solar input and my battery reserves (for nights and cloudy days) exceed my needs. It is also isolated, meaning the house systems will not drain the starter battery.
In an emergency situation I could still charge the house battery by running the engine.
How do frivolously convince girls come back your house?
You headed to Canada(Toronto) or over to Cali? You can crash at my place if you want a break from the van living and we can go for drinks or some shit.
Looks like you're making it work for you and doing it how I would if I chose to live this way. I wish I could get all this on a motorcycle because the wind in my face is the only thing lacking in that setup!
>the wind in my face is the only thing lacking
Build up a tinyhome on a trailer frame, tow it behind a Jeep, fold the windshield down.
Running out of van related pictures so here's my turds smooshed into a collectible tin I found.
>At a present top speed of 10 MPH amidst high engine knocking
>engine that was already misfiring whilst hauling 6,700lbs
I think this could be something as minor as spark plug wires, your distributor, or maybe only the cap and rotor inside it. I really doubt you need a new ingine, probably only a few hundred dollars in work on that.
With the transmission it sounds like you're fucked, get a rebuilt one and have somebody put it in, or go used.
Two weeks ago I performed a full tune up with plugs, distributor cap, rotor etc to resolve a ticking noise (#8 cylinder misfire). The ticking noise and the CEL both went away with the tune up.
A couple hundred miles later however, the transmission decided it likes 2nd gear best and that the best time to tell me this would be at highway speed. With this, the engine was put into high RPM for a moment, and then power cut out... The engine didn't stop but no response to throttle... I coasted to the side of the road. I the previous tick in the engine had been replaced by a loud clunking knock. Metal shavings visible on the dipstick. I was able to putter at 10 mph to get off the highway.
I've had several diagnostics run including compression, back pressure, stethoscope. After going through all that last weekend I limped the van to a parking lot and had a garage put the parts on order. The van is worse after driving that far. Sounds like shit, doesn't like to go in gear, occasionally all power disappears, won't go up a hill, have to shut it off and back on to get drive to engage.
I called the dealers and they can't even get new create engines. I found some used engines locally but the 5.9 in this actually puts out more power than the standard 5.9 for the additional weight of the living quarters. So an engine from another 3500 van wouldn't give this any balls.
I'm having a Jasper engine and transmission put in. They'll be to spec, under warranty, and in theory better than new. 8k is with cheap labor.
My dream is:
>get a job driving trucks OTR, or even for the government
>do it for a years, save all of the money
>travel the world in comfy cool van
Is this viable? Yeah, this probably isn't the perfect place to ask, but it's a van-related thread.
The Sportsmobiles have a big following in some circles. But, not so much in my circle of vandwellers. For two basic reasons.
1) It's expensive to buy one of these conversions vs converting a van to a home yourself.
2) Because lots of custom parts are used to turn a 2wd van into a 4wd van, you may find yourself stuck somewhere and in for big money when a drivetrain part goes wrong and you need to find someone who knows the custom work.
Also because of the pop-up top you're limited to what you can put on the roof in terms of solar, etc. I don't personally like pop-ups at all although some people feel they give the occupant the option of blending in with the top down. Except a Sportsmobile doesn't blend in anywhere. For people who live this lifestyle in a mix of urban locations and dispersed camping locations, there are many ways to do so more cheaply and discretely. If you're set on going 4x4 in all the hard to reach places, and you have the money, you may prefer the Sportsmobile. However if that were my objective I think I would consider some kind of lifted pickup and a camper in the back. This way the drivetrain parts are more proven and standardized for replacement.
I'd been in Charlottesville seeing the area, and on a whim decided to head to VA Beach to kill some time before my rendezvous in N.C. This is just where I landed when I hit engine trouble. I pulled off at the first turnoff. Exit 248 I think. And here I am in Newport News.
I count exactly no saucepans in that image. I like cooking, and this is actually a compromise from what I would have liked to bring. Although I realize most would not have chosen as many pans you can see that I have made them fit nicely. I brought the pans I use most often, which are the 14" deep cast iron skillet, 14" shallow cast iron skillet, small flat griddle, etc. I actually neglected to post pictures of inside those kitchen cabinets, where I have some more pans. For sauces I use a stainless steel pot (pictured in the "red sauce" post) or the 2qt cast iron (pictured affixed to my ceiling). I also have a pressure cooker, and cast iron dutch oven (great for a camp fire).
Also: Pictured here are my solar panels, so people will stop forgetting I have them. It's time to give the roof and panels a cleaning.
How old are you?
What type of computer work do you do? i.e. system admin, software developer,etc.
How many hours a day do you put aside for work? Does it have to be standard work hours (9-5) or can you work on your own time, just as long as you get the job done?
I take it you just tether from your phone for internet connection, or do you do something else?
What's your average daily expenditure so far?
What your overall travel goals? I suppose you won't be ferrying overseas?
>doesn't recognize a mounted bottle opener
This generation, I swear...
You know I actually have had sex up there. Yes obviously not in a lot of positions but it can be fun to roll over next to someone in the morning and slide inside a pussy in a way that is forced to be intimate in close quarters. I tend to require a lot of vigorous activity in order to get off though, so I consider this foreplay.
To really fuck I like to make use of the back area. I posted a picture up above of the back made into a bed, which is a solid option. But also the panels that turn this section into a bed come in three sections which means there are several modular configurations for this area. Here's a picture of a sort of u-shape configuration, which is my go-to for fucking. It offers several advantages over one flat bed.
1) Her on her back, me on one knee, legs over my shoulders.
2) Her sitting, me pulling her hips into me.
3) Me sitting, her on top, gliding up and down my cock.
4) Doggy/missionary/usual stuff still possible if sideways across the flat part.
So yeah this gives the most options in one setup.
But I'm considering hanging a sex swing from the ceiling. I really don't have many good standing-up options currently.
>How old are you?
>What type of computer work do you do?
>How many hours a day do you put aside for work?
It's a standard 9-5 gig with some variation. Fridays tend to be short days. I work about 35 hours/week.
>I take it you just tether from your phone for internet
I have a "jetpack" mobile hotspot through Verizon. I have service with this almost everywhere. My phone is through ATT and conceivably I could tether that if within ATT coverage but not Verizon. I also frequently mooch wifi when available to keep my usage down on my jetpack. My favorite for this is Lowe's - they don't put a password on their network, and I can always pick up a good signal from the next parking lot over and mooch as long as I want.
>What's your average daily expenditure so far?
Not sure how to answer this question. Some days I might burn up 30 gallons of gas and cook a good dinner and buy some good beer. I haven't kept close track of a "daily average" that way. When staying in one area, I'm not buying gas often and I have the option of living cheap. As I implied in the beginning of this thread that is how I will be living for a while to pay off this $8k bill. For the past week I have spent only about $3 per day on food. Yes it is possible to live that cheap if you're determined.
>What your overall travel goals? I suppose you won't be ferrying overseas?
No overseas, but I have my EDL, which means the party van is unrestricted within the greater portion of North America; I can travel from the south of Mexico to northern Canada/Alaska at my option...
I have no specific goals other than to see different places, experience different things, and maybe one day down the line I'll have an idea of what areas suit me best. Or maybe I'll just never stop moving. I don't know.
right on, OP. Cuz I was thinking like how would you be able to do doggy in the bed area, which is in essence, a staple of sex. But seems you have it all figured out to the details. The sex swing sounds like a great idea, though it would require strong anchoring points.
>strong anchoring points
I have previously worked in the high end construction/remodel trade. I'm not shy about making things work. Between the vinyl ceiling and the fiberglass roof are two layers of plywood. This supported the weight of the AC which I removed. To install sex swing anchor points, I would run 1x3 cleats along the perimeter of the ceiling interior, and secure those cleats to the plywood with many flush screws. Then mount my anchor points to those cleats.
>So does having to work 9-5 every week day get in the way of having travel mates tagging along?
It's a consideration because it would just be awkward to have someone sitting in the van while I'm working. But realistically the goal of vehicle living is to live out of a vehicle, not live in a vehicle. During the day, one should be out seeing things etc. Also, for most people who live this lifestyle, they are accustomed to finding work in this way, using their time to make crafts, scour flea markets, sell things, or locate day labor. I'm pretty unique having the remote tech gig. Other people have to be out scouting every day anyway.
But yeah I'm alone right now and this town sucks.
Picture is Old Orchard last month.
cool. wish i could also have the sex swing thing when i travel though not sure where to put it (pic related).
I'm planning to do a world bike tour. Living like a vagabond for 1- 2 years. And although i calculated that it can be an average of $20 per day (this includes airfare. actually, what i meant from a question before about how much it costs you per day, i ment total cost of travel expenses/travel time).
I know that i won't be able to save enough for the entire trip without working full time (i'm a student now) so i wanna come up with a way to make money along the trip. WWOOFing is cool but for for the experience but usually the pay sucks. So ideally I was thinking of something that I can do online, such as yourself, if I bring my laptop. I have a friend who is a Linux server admin but the work is contract and not so great. So I'm thinking of maybe making some website that generates ad traffic or perhaps phone app development. But what you said seems interesting. What is SharePoint and what kind of training/certification does it take?
>wish i could also have the sex swing thing when i travel though not sure where to put it
Up in that tree over yonder.
>What is SharePoint
Hahahaha... yeah. That's the question everybody asks, because no one knows what it is, which is the beauty of being a SharePoint consultant.
SharePoint is a Microsoft platform that is used to build intranets and other boring crap. It's not something that you can install on your desktop to play around with. It's typically installed across multiple servers in a farm. And because it is big enough and confusing enough and Microsoft enough, encompassing of multiple software packages they've lumped together into one brick to unload on the general populace, no one really understands all of SharePoint. Which is why if you specialize in some aspect of it you can invariably sell that to companies who don't know that aspect.
As far as training and certification, I'm sure there's an answer to that, but I don't have it. I got buzzed at a wedding and gave a speech that was met with applause and the owner of this company offered me a job after. Apparently he liked my style. The truth is that 80% of being a consultant is knowing how to talk to people. The other 20% hasn't been hard for me to pick up on the fly.
>I got buzzed at a wedding and gave a speech that was met with applause and the owner of this company offered me a job after.
Wow, that's badass. So were even thinking of working in the technology support sector before that, or did you just go into the job knowing nothing of IT?
So is SharePoint popular in IT or a niche thing?
I've always been computer literate - building my own PCs starting around age 13. But I have no relevant formal training and always assumed those would be requisite qualifications for any IT position. Previously I managed a retail outlet, wrote for a newspaper, worked construction, and a few other things. I suppose I have always been a person of high capability and low ambition. That doesn't mean I'm lazy, I just never was able to pick any path I cared about enough in order to pursue. As it turns out, I have found the vanbound vagabond life to be the direction that suits me. And this job suits that life well. When I accepted the job I also had no idea what SharePoint was.
SharePoint is certainly prolific, although some coders and developers will sneer at it as it is restrictive in many ways. I would say there are definitely work opportunities there if that is the basis of your question. Try watching some YouTube videos. The lynda videos are a good introduction. Here's a good starting point:
Cool vid. Thanks for sharing (pun not intended).
It does look like something I could get into. Does it run on .NET? Do you use like C# to configure it or is it just more like a terminal interface?
I'm learning VB now (yeah its pathetic) but I'm hoping to advance to Java once i learn the basic concepts. I'm thinking of maybe like phone app development. I've got a few ideas. Obviously it won't be something huge, but I hope that it would be enough generate a bit of ad traffic.
Not sure how it will all work out, but I think it would be worth a try.
Most anything with out-of-the-box features can be configured using Microsoft's terminal interface through the browser. However use of custom HTML, CSS etc is always desirable.
Two other points of advice I can offer if you're thinking of this direction:
1) Microsoft is increasingly trying to force consumers into online hosted applications for their SharePoint. Many consultants who have specialized in the back-end DB management bits are afraid they'll be out of a job. Don't specialize in that.
2) The best way to make money is through the creation of something that can be sold more than once. There are two common genres for this. Developing applications and performing training. If you can build an app, you can sell it as many times over as it is applicable. If you learn enough about a topic, you can sell that knowledge to as many people as will buy a ticket to your class. One-off customized solutions always take a backseat to repeatable sales.
Maximum? There's no real way to answer that. Class B RVs are more desirable, partly because they're more discrete, but also they really just aren't made like this anymore unless you pay for a custom job or do it yourself. So they're hard to find. I was lucky to find mine in good shape for $10k. That's not to say you'd need to spend $10k to get into this lifestyle. Many people do it for a lot less money, or indeed a lot more, depending on your needs and ingenuity. Try hunting around your local Craigslist to get an idea of availability. Like I said, I searched for a year to find my vehicle.
As far as "something that would fit in," that depends what you mean. Some people think "fit in" means blend with other RVs in a campground. In that case, anything that like camper and is kept in good condition will fit in. If however by "fit in" you mean stealth, i.e., blend in on the streets where people don't know you're living inside, then my opinion is that a cargo van or window van with blacked out windows is best. My van is not the epitome of stealth.
These questions have their own separate schools of thought so if you're serious about looking into it I suggest the same resource as above, cheaprvliving.com/forums
If money is no object, and you want to maintain a stealth option, and you value standing height inside, I would personally buy a new Dodge Promaster and either convert it DIY (if you're skilled) or pay a company such as Roadtrek to do it (if money REALLY is no issue).
For some people it's sufficient to throw a bed in the back of a standard cargo van and take off. Relying on sponge bathing and the like. For me, I wasn't going to get into this lifestyle for good without certain amenities, such as the ability to stand up and take a hot shower, have a refrigerator on board, etc. I will assume you are like me in that way. You'll need to consider your needs in terms of power consumption. Or, just fit as many panels and batteries as you can if you have the money!
If I'm still living this lifestyle in five or ten years, I'll be buying a Promaster and converting it myself.
If you want to get into this lifestyle immediately and you have the money, then either do as I suggested above, or if stealth isn't as important, find a good Class B, and expect to upgrade some systems (most of these are intended to run at a campground, not totally off-grid). Expect to search far and wide for a good Class B.
Actually yeah. If money is no object just call Roadtrek and buy something.
Also this was before I repainted the hood and the after shot is up above somewhere.
Initially I planned to buy a Sprinter and convert it. I was close to putting the cash down a couple times. Would have, if not for happenstance.
The Promaster of course is a new model - sort of a game changer where previously only Sprinters were the choice of high top standard cargo vans. Although I have not compared precise interior dimensions, my impression from looking at the Promasters is that they are more square with upright walls. You wouldn't believe how much difference this makes in van living. Most all vans (not box trucks, or class C RVs, but vans) have curved walls or a fiberglass top which is narrower than the body. This has huge implications in terms of building cabinets... partition walls for a shower... or even sitting up straight if your back is against the wall. Not to mention simple reduction in cubic feet of living space.
The Germans went to war for elbow room. I'd choose a van for it.
Ford also has a new production high-top van. I suppose one might precisely compare dimensions of the three. But I recall my first impressions being in favor of the Promaster before I jumped on this Class B I'm in now. And if I hadn't, it would have taken me another year to get off the ground, converting from scratch.
Well chaps I still haven't moved from this parking lot, but, the party van goes to the mechanic tomorrow and I've booked a hotel for one week starting tonight.
Wish her well that she drives there under her own power. I'll be setting off this afternoon.
Looks like a nice view of the ocean, at least it looks like you stopped in a relatively nice place.
Where are you gonna head off to after? Do you plan your route pretty exactly or just kinda go where you feel like?
Ha my current view is of asphalt and the broadside of Lowe's. I'm just posting some random pictures taken over the last month or two.
I don't plan ahead much. Next stop is North Carolina to visit a travel partner gal I met recently. Then Georgia in November to visit an old high school friend. I have plans in Arizona in January. Between November and January I'll wander the southern bits, get some Cajun food, whatever.
1999 Dodge Ram 3500 1 ton 5.9L V8, Phoenix Cruiser
It is actually a factory-made Class B motorhome from Dodge. "Phoenix Cruiser" is its model name. However it's rare to find someone who recognizes that model.
It's best described as a bigass 3500 van with appliances.
I've no idea! But if it's a request I could swing through Austin on a whim. I give no fucks like that.
Attached is a picture of the world's creepiest sign I saw one time.
Wait, are you saying that you will come to austin if I cornhole you?
Like in your anus?
No not at all you fucking weirdo.
this all sounds pretty damn sweet, im trying to get into a position at work where i can work as a project officer/manager remotely. none of the shit i do actually NEEDS me to be in an office and i'd love the chance to travel around Australia
thanks for the inspiration OP!
sup vanbro.. read through the whole thread yesterday.. was pretty interesting stuff.. i have a van.. the exhaust fell off the other day..
anyway just saw this thread still up and thought i would say hi..
i helped a friend make a campervan from scratch for him and his mrs to go round europe on.. they broke up and he sold it tho.. and i helped my old boss put a bed in a van to do something similiar..
i must say i am quite impressed with how you have managed to fund your lifestyle.. computer/internet (or lack of) was one thing that drove me a bit nuts when i sailed a yacht round the med, twice..
anyway.. i hope the repairs go well and you continue your adventure.. peas
I know I'm firmly of the opinion that I would rather collect experiences than collect things. If you're thinking the same, I say go for it.
Danke. Sounds like maybe you've been involved with campers/boats for a while. Things have come a long way even in the last few years in terms of solar, mobile Internet, and even 12v compressor refrigerators are feasible now where they once only scraped by. It really is possible to do this, for anyone that has the balls to do it.
I'm in a hotel now. The van is undergoing surgery. With any luck I'll be back on the road Monday and hightailing it south.
haha.. cheers.. did an engineering course at uni and now people bite my hand off for work like that.. boats and campers are very similiar (one with considerably less wheels and the chance of sinking) but yea i agree with you its all about the experiences.. i am out to do a snowboarding season at the end of the month.. i want to stay out there and hit some moutain biking in the summer months..might get a van to live in (although i have seen some pretty hardcore folks in a van for the winter.. with a log burner i would imagine haha..)
>My van is my house. I go where I want. When I want to go "home" and relax, I pull over and flop down in the back. I never have to return somewhere or pay for a residence. I just keep traveling.
Man, what a life. I wish I could just give up everything and just hit the road but i'm too much of a pussy.
Awesome, you should come swing by Austin then sometime. I'd love to build a van to travel around in one day. I've taken two trips this year of living out of my car / camping and while it's a blast it comes space issues being a 2-door Japanese car.
There are people who live through winter conditions in a van. I don't choose to - but I do have a furnace in the van, and I could weather it if I had to. Instead if it gets chilly I often use my little grill set on low with the lid closed and treat it as a convection heater to take the chill off. It takes very little gas to affect the temperature in this way. The downside to this method is that, besides carbon monoxide, burning propane puts off moisture, which results in condensation. The furnace is vented and so its only downside is higher resource use.
Impulses are fleeting, regrets last a lifetime.
I know someone who traveled cross-country this summer in a fuckin' Eclipse. It's possible, I just don't know why anyone would choose to, when even a $1,500 cargo van would do you better.
But yeah I'll be headed in that direction between now and January. Anyone apart from that guy trying to bugger me can keep in touch with my kik: o.reyn51
There are exactly two things I've felt some resistance adapting to in this lifestyle. Neither of them are shitting in the woods, sleeping strange places, or being presumed a serial killer. They are:
1) I like to cook. Cooking is still easy, cleaning up is hard. (It's not sensible to run the sink a lot and waste water.)
2) I can no longer buy stuff online constantly.
To that second point, that's not to say I can't buy stuff online at all. You can receive mail at a post office just using general delivery under your name. But I've never tried to just send an Amazon.com order or something to general delivery. On paper I keep a relative's house as my physical address for legal reasons, ID, etc, and also have my mail sent there. If I need something sent to me it can be forwarded general delivery to a post office wherever I am. I just have to rely more on brick-and-mortar resources than my previous consumer impulses had become accustomed.
Also, did you select the cargo van when you solved that captcha?
those gd captchas. it made me say a bagel was a donut one time.
what grill is that? does it have good heat distribution? i have a portable propane grill but its kinda shit for anything other than dogs and sausages.
The grill is a Coleman Fold N Go. I bought it chiefly because it fits under my passenger seat.
I wouldn't say the heat distribution is great or anything the selling point is just the size. It's all that's needed to stow away under the seat and cook for two.
I did both of my two-ish week trips in a 1992 Nissan 240sx hatchback so I know that feel.
The front seat is surprisingly not horrible to sleep in and I can stretch out when those seats are laid back despite being tall. Although I mainly camp for that reason. I also take my mountain bike with me, have to take the wheels and seats off to fit it in the back. The car is packed together like a tetris game, anything in the back often requires you to move around items to get to other items.
I also love driving scenic byways and mountain passes, that would really be the only downside to having a van would be losing the sport car on my trips. Although a fridge sure would be nice. I go for the pantry route, all my food is dry / non-perishable so I don't have to bother with keeping ice.
Nice grill btw
>Also, did you select the cargo van when you solved that captcha?
I did then captcha told me I was wrong.
pretty jelly of your van OP.
"Just get a van. With a van, it's like you've got an MBA, but you've also got a fucking van! You're not just a man any more, you are a man with a van. We could be men with ven."
Not using cell tower batteries for one. Can fit 4-6 12V DC in the same space you have 2 6V tethered.
Can line them all up in the same space hit have 72V DC deep cycle in the same space. Probably his thought process. Cost vs. Savings is better across the board, and the Cell batteries are under warranty for 2-6 years. Even if they are second hand.
Solar/OTG should know this yeah?
Hahaha I can see how that image would appear to be from some kind of covert shower cam. In actuality it was just me slipping my phone over the curtain and she knew what I was doing. We were dating.
I haven't. Or at least not yet as a vandweller. I just got my EDL towards the end of this summer and I'm headed south/southwest through the winter. I can go into Mexico while I'm down there, and head back north in the spring. Canada would be a good option then.
Care to comment in this?
I'm a Class A guy and replaced my battery bank with cell tower batteries. Blows old 6V out of the water in terms of space/efficiency. Might be a heads up for a future upgrade. Glad to see another anon living the life. Hope your van gets all patched up soon. Many roads to travel ahead of you.
Comments? Yes there's always another way to optimize and yet Trojan has an excellent reputation for deep cycle battery longevity, with heavy plates, and this bank provides an AH rating that exceeds my needs, and so whereas he/you was only making an attempt at condescension, my comments are as attached.
op, anywhere in canada you have in mind for your spring traveling? may i suggest the sunshine coast? it's in BC just a ferry ride from Horeshoe bay ferry terminal in Vancouver. the ride is amazing, op you would love it! i could even show you around and grab a beer!
You are funny. I wasn't trying to be condescending in the least. Cell tower batteries are cheaper and more effective with a solar system. I was simply asking why you weren't using batteries designed for solar use for your solar setup. Didn't plan to upset you. Hope you got your rig fixed up dude, see you in the southwest this winter.
I took a walk by the repair shop today. The van is all torn apart from the front to get the new engine in. Have to remove everything from the grille, bumper, radiator, and everything else in front. Glad I didn't rent a hoist and try to do this in a storage unit. The new engine should be going in tomorrow. Hopefully buttoned up Monday.
For a junkyard swap it would be. Go check out Jasper's website for their prices and then figure in labor. A new crate engine would be $3,300ish just for the part, except Dodge says they're unavailable. In theory Jasper engines are better than new crate engines.
Picture is old engine.
I am going to do it but i can't right now.
When i was a kid my dad took me and my sister around Europe for an entire year in a camper not much bigger than yours, we had amazing fun and the freedom is unbelievable. I want to recreate it with my girlfriend now and live that life again. I really feel like the endless travel but in comfort is the ultimate goal of life. Always being somewhere new and having a new adventure but with your house on your back.
But it can't be forever, you need money. How do you make your money to continue it? Also, how long does the battery last before you need to drive to recharge it.
>How do you make your money to continue it?
>how long does the battery last before you need to drive to recharge it
I've outlined my electrical system a couple of times and the best answer is I don't need to drive to recharge; I have solar power. However, to answer your question from an academic standpoint, I could charge my battery bank to about 70% via the engine in an hour or so. The last 30% takes the longest. But this is a moot point for me. My solar input and my battery reserves both exceed my needs. I did this deliberately, because batteries last the longest if not depleted below 50% capacity. Most people who are hardcore into battery maintenance measure electrolyte levels in order to monitor this. I prefer to simply over-engineer and ignore it.
>this life is only for rich people
It's really not. There are people who live this life on $6k/year. I mean, with my repairs I've spent more than that this week, so obviously the people who do it on a restricted budget would not handle the situation in the same way. They'd go find a cargo van for $900 and drive it away. But I'm invested in my ride, I chose it under deliberate criteria, and I have the means to repair it. I'm going to keep 'er rolling.
>look at me I can image search
Yes, yes, I'm sure we're all impressed.
It wouldn't be the first time I'd been recognized, had you been legit.
I shave my head with a vintage double edge razor and Feather blades. I use Dove bar soap for lather and I don't use a mirror. I do this while showering.
This is deliberate and does not negatively affect me as you suggest. I am forced to infer that you are rather a pussy. My advice to you is to grow a beard and stop giving a fuck.
Thanks man. Feels great to be back on the road now. Those weeks I spent in Newport News were the longest I've been in any one place for a while.
Now I just need something to fire 21 times. Too bad 21 doesn't divide by 8 cylinders.
Europe is a topic that always seems to come up when traveling is discussed. Sure that would be an experience and all, but at this time I have no plans to do so. I'm just not sure it fits my MO. Getting the van shipped over? Figuring out a visa to stay? It all seems like expense and complication to continue traveling. I like traveling but what I like most is being able to wander at my leisure, self-sufficient in my own environment, and not having to worry about any other restrictions.
P.S. I got this sweet coffee mug from the parts manufacturer too. Best $8,300 coffee mug I ever bought.
And I finally made it to the ocean... Sitting on my deck.
I needed 2k in repair for my car. Was in grants pass, OR for 2weeks. Stayed in a mission. It wasn't too bad. Except now my travels are ruined. Im from OK. Just got my car 3 days ago. Im in Denver right now. Had to pay all the towing up front so I'm pretty hungry right about now
Whelp... I've never been broke enough to go hungry and I'm getting ready to cook dinner now so I'd share if you were closer.
Actually it will squeal the tires if you put your foot down. It's not gonna take off in a cloud of tire smoke but it does surprise people when a ten foot tall van chirps off the line.
Sweet thread, OP.
After I lived in SE Asia for a few years I came to the same conclusion you did after staying in your hatchback. "Why do we need all of this shit"? It changed my perspective on a lot of things, and brought me to the realization that most people in the US really are debt slaves. Paying a mortgage and racking up debt to buy cookie cutter bullshit houses and fill it up with useless bullshit, all so they can struggle month to month to pay for the shit that they barely have any time to use.
I own a mobile detailing business, and after getting my van I was so stoked about the utility of it, and how versatile it is. I live in AZ and I have thought about trying to find a way to dual-purpose my van into a temporary/weekend living space as well as full time detail van, so I can stay for a few weeks at a time and go out to places like Utah and California. I could just put up craigslist ads and work while I'm there.
Problem is my van's wrap isn't so subtle, and I would imagine I'd probably not blend in too well if I just park in shopping center parking lots... pic related.
I don't see why that wouldn't be possible depending on how much stuff you have in the van. Although I'd say step 1 would be adding ventilation considering your exterior is black and you're in AZ.
As far as blending in I think you're underestimating yourself. Your van will look just like what it is, a business vehicle. No one will think someone is living in it.
I would never buy a VW to live in. Sure they have the hippy nostalgia and that's what seems to get idolized, but realistically that 4 cylinder engine is underpowered and the whole vehicle is going to be expensive to repair.
The big 3 (Ford, Chevy, Dodge) with gas engines tend to be the easiest to work on, so that's what I'd suggest for an older used van. The Chevy there is actually pretty cool, I like the layout and one large sliding door. However there are a few things that stand out.
1) I'm skeptical of any vehicle when the seller doesn't list mileage upfront. That's one of the most important details.
2) I'm reeal skeptical of that extra AC hackjob on the back of the fiberglass top. I will bet you one hundred dicks that leaks. And why was it needed when they say the roof unit works?
3) Remember these campers are designed for weekend assholes to drive to a campground and pay for hookups. If you're going to live like me, off-grid, then you will need to do a lot of work to these systems. For example step #1 would be to rip off both of those AC units and throw them in the trash. They're useless without being plugged into shore power. For the roof AC, easy enough to mount a fan in its place. You'd have to get creative plugging the hole in the rear.
I'm not saying that Chevy couldn't be made to work, but consider your needs and your abilities. For $5k you could get a cargo van 20 years newer and potentially be the same amount of work to convert depending on your needs (standing height? I value standing height, but you linked to a VW without any).
P.S. I can tune my engine from inside!
Not OP but as cool as those are, I don't think they would "blend" in very much if you plan on being out in urban areas. Maybe OP can lend his opinion on this, but I believe if the vehicle is too old, it will stick out a lot. OP's Dodge looks like something you would still see on the road a lot even though it's probably well over 20 years old. That brown Chevrolet and that 85 VW won't be something that "blends" into a Walmart parking lot.
Also, as cool as the Chevrolet is, I wonder how much of that ancient stuff it's equipped with inside is usable and practical. I think you'd probably be better off finding a van that was later model or a cargo van that you can convert. Also, as OP's engine replacement ordeal shows, the older a vehicle is, the harder it is to find worthwhile replacement parts in the junkyard. A late model Express or Econoline van will have tons of low mileage replacement engines at the salvage yard. An old 70s or 80s van, not so many worthwhile options, which adds cost for when things go wrong.
There are two different types of "blending in."
#1 which is most often considered is stealth. Meaning, your vehicle doesn't look like someone is living inside. People walk by without giving it a second thought.
#2 happens when people know what you're doing but how well you blend as presentable dictates their acceptance of you.
My van doesn't do #1 so well. It's obviously a camper. But, it's in decent shape, and it's obvious I'm maintaining it, so it does #2 alright. I pretty much disregard stealth entirely. At night I often have lights on, music going, not giving a fuck - and people for the most part don't care because I'm upfront and presentable. If however you're living in a sketchy rusty van and lurking in the shadows then people are going to call the police and say you've been watching their children walk home from school.
Everyone focuses on the idea of stealth. I think stealth is only really important if you're in a city that has ordinances against sleeping in a vehicle. If not, just focus on blending in by looking presentable. Especially if you're traveling - you won't be in any one area too long anyway.
The two things you're not gonna change about a cargo van (or at least, not without making it look even more conspicuous than a camper van) are 1) no standing height and 2) not so many rear window options.
If you're good with those two points, and you have the ability to build whatever else you want, then I would say that's the way to go because you're going to get a more reliable vehicle for the money. But you DO need to decide first what else you want. Shower? Water tanks? Refrigerator? Solar? Or do you just want to slap a bed and a Coleman stovetop in there and hit the road?
If I were to start with a cargo van, I'd put in solar panels, a good battery bank, a compressor refrigerator, and some kind of water system (possibly solar hot water). Decide what you can't live without, and what you know how to build, and research the difference.