There’s something so romantic about living the life of a nomad, making a home out of wherever you stand. This free-spirited lifestyle had been around for as long as people have existed but was wildly popularized after the release of the 2007 film Into the Wild. While–spoiler alert–the main character of the film, Christopher McCandless, met a tragic end when he became trapped in the wilderness and starved to death after eating a poisonous plant.
The film did still strike a chord with many Americans who had the desire to live simply. Since then, it’s become more common for people to ditch the ordinary to live a life on the road, documenting their experiences on social media platforms like Youtube, TikTok, and Instagram. These people commonly rely on their knowledge of the wilderness and the kindness of strangers to get by. If this nomadic lifestyle sounds appealing to you, then here are some tips for how you can achieve it.
The first step in living a life on the road is figuring out how you’re going to get around. Converting a van is one of the most popular options for people looking to live a nomadic lifestyle, since, compared to other options, it’s relatively cost-effective and allows more freedom due to the fact that it can be parked just about anywhere. The downside to choosing to travel in a van is that your living situation is determined entirely by how well your van conversion goes.
If you do not feel comfortable or able to do the conversion yourself, there are now companies that do specialize in converting vans into portable living options, but these are not incredibly common and will be fairly expensive. Also, if your van is too small to include a bathroom then it won’t meet the requirements for home loan approval–if that is something you planned to pursue to help you afford to start traveling–and you will have to constantly be finding places to stop for a restroom and shower.
If all of this sounds like too much of a hassle to you, then it might be better to look into purchasing an RV. While this option is much more expensive than purchasing a van–and will burn through gas at a higher rate–it comes with many amenities that a van simply can’t provide.
If you purchase an RV, you’ll have a bathroom, a shower, and a much nicer kitchen set up than you would in a van. The only downside to choosing an RV over a van is that there fewer options for overnight parking since you need to find parking that can accommodate the size of your vehicle.
If you can’t afford to purchase an RV or a van to convert, then there’s nothing stopping you from traveling the country while living in your car, or buying train tickets and backpacking your way across America. These options, however, are much less safe and reliable and do not guarantee your access to food, restrooms, and showers.
If you choose to travel across the country this way, then it’s important that you spend a lot of time planning the route for your trip and researching to find places to camp, eat, and shower. If you’re traveling without a vehicle, it’s important that you also plan ahead to figure out how you’ll safely get from place to place. Chris McCandless chose to travel by hitchhiking. While hitchhiking is legal in 44 states, it is still incredibly unpredictable and could potentially put you in a dangerous situation, so it is highly recommended that you avoid traveling this way.
Planning Your Trip
Part of the appeal of the nomadic lifestyle is the ability to go wherever you want whenever you want, without having to worry about timelines or obligations. However, it’s still recommended that you do plenty of research and planning before transitioning into this lifestyle. Start by deciding what states, cities, and sites you’d like to travel to. You should research the area surrounding each spot on your list to find places where you can park overnight, shower, and, if you’ve got an RV, dump your septic tank.
You should also research the area to find where you can fill up your gas tank and stock up on resources like groceries. If you want to save money while traveling, then you should bring along a fishing pole so that you can catch and cook your meals whenever you want. Keep in mind, though, that many states do require that you have a license to fish in any local streams and bodies of water. If you get caught fishing without a license, you could be forced to pay fines.