Ideas were buzzing in my head; maybe go out and start my own construction company? I was even looking at investment and rental properties in Minneapolis. No matter what happened I was going to need money. So I started saving, tucking money away for the next endeavor, selling my truck and getting a
more manageable payment with a used 4runner. Making an extra effort to pay off debts and keeping a financially liquid state.
I wanted to share some of my experiences in making this kind of lifestyle work. I think everyone in their lifetime should take on something like this. It doesn't need to be years at a time, but longer than a holiday weekend.
Start putting money away as early as possible. It is all dependent on your income and cost of living but I
would say a year would be good. Get rid of any unnecessary debts and monthly bills. The big vehicle payment, 800 channels on the cable box. Craigslist is a great tool. Figure out what you wont need for
the trip. Start selling well before your departure so you can sell at your own pace and get the price you want. If you wait until the last minute you'll be giving things away.
When I was crunching the numbers I put a simple excel spreadsheet together. Listing my monthly expenses, insurance, food, projected fuel costs, and general spending. Plug in your savings, and a quick formula will tell you how long you can make it on your budget.
I believe this is the most important and the most fun part of your pre planned cast off. There are dozens of
manufactures, models, and types of recreational vehicles out there. It really comes down to what kind of traveling you want to do.
If you plan on spending long periods of time in one spot or bouncing from RV park to RV park then probably a A,B, or C class rig would be the best choice. The A class is the largest model, typically with the flat nose front. These are going to be the largest of the RV family. Don't plan on doing much urban camping, or exploring forest service roads in these behemoths.
The B class is the smallest of these 3 categories. These are typically your van style with an RV conversion. Recently the Sprinter vans have become popular in the B class category.
multiple benefits to this more compact set up. One, you will only take up one spot in a parking lot, making overnight stays in grocery store lots and side streets much easier and a little more incognito. Second, once you are done with your trip or just need a normal truck, take the camper off and there you go. Third, 4wd will be standard on most trucks, allowing you to travel in winter and off road conditions with peace of mind.
My current C Class worked great for spending the winter in one spot. As the warmer months came
I'm spending more time outdoors, and more time trying to find a place to park it. Also the size of The Betty limits my ability to explore. A forest service road is risky not knowing the condition or areas to turn around. I've already been in situations where there was no turn around, forced to back up, with the trailer, to find an exit(that rear view camera is a life saver!). So to remedy this, its time for a smaller rig. I'm currently shopping for a late 90's Ford F250(3/4ton) or F350(1 Ton) with, of course, my favorite 7.3L Turbo Diesel motor. The C Class is currently for sale. For a camper I am looing at a hard sided slide in with a length between 8.5ft and 9.5ft. They do reach lengths up to 11.5ft but they will hang over your rear bumper limiting your ground clearance when off road. I plan to add a custom roof rack for added cargo, a bike rack on the rear, and a custom front bumper. The bumper will have a receiver hitch to carry a moto. I plan on spending around $15k on this very capable build(that includes a used dual sport moto). Now, I just need to find 15K, haha, but I digress.
First off, buy your set up BEFORE you leave your job! I set up the loan on The Betty before my departure, they aren't going to give an unemployed ski bum a loan. This will help keep your cash reserves up and extending your time on the road. Depending on the type of vehicle you buy, 15 year loans are available on RVs. The interest rates are higher but it keeps the payment very manageable. If you keep the RV for 15 years you will pay a bunch on interest, but for a year or two it works great. When and if you decide to sell it, don't plan on getting any cash out of it though. With a low amount going to principle each month, you will probably just sell for what's remaining on the note.
Of course if you have the 30 foot EarthRoamer, you could bring anything you want. For the rest of us we will need to pack a little more strategically.
I have a larger C Class and was able to bring a lot of stuff(actually too much). As the trip went on I realized most of it was never used. Outer wear for every possible weather condition, plates, glasses, silverware sat idle. At the end of the day you end up wearing your favorite hoody, using paper plates, and drinking milk right from the carton. My suggestion would be pack as if your leaving on a week long camping trip. This will keep you light but still bringing the essentials. What ends up being the most important is your outdoor gear and equipment. Whether its your mountain bike, a set of powder skis, or a roadside set of tools, these are the things your going to care about. Everything else just works itself out. Part of the adventure is just going, not necessarily having every finite detail figured out.
Let me know me know if you have any questions about starting your road life. I'm more than happy to answer them. There are plenty of other details and experiences I didn't cover.