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Journal

Preparing for Life on the Road

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Making a decision and making it a reality. Two very different things.

After deciding to live on the road and let my apartment lease expire, I offered myself a giant pat on the back and promptly forgot about it. For a day. A week. And then a month.

Six weeks passed before I finally faced the reality of my current situation. I was in Utah, hanging out with some of my favorite people in the world. Taking photos, having fun. Making absolutely zero progress toward my goal of living on the road. 

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Five weeks. That’s how much time I gave myself to prepare for life on the road. In addition to doing other work, and attending to the usual business of life. I began by sorting through closets, and listing small items for sale on Craigslist and Facebook. I scheduled routine doctor and dental appointments. I signed up for a community garage sale and sold a truckload of clothes and household stuff. I found an inexpensive storage unit nearby and began moving things into it. Bags on bags of donations; so many hours spent convincing myself I didn’t need a favorite something, only to dig it back out of the bag later that night. So much back and forth. Letting go of things that had sentimental value, but didn’t add joy. Little by little, I learned to let go. 

At the same time, I was spending time researching SUV builds and road life hacks that would make living out of a truck a little easier. I already had a 4” mattress topper in the back, and a Thule rack up top. I had a power inverter for charging my electronics on the go, and a few packing cubes for organizing my clothes. For food storage, I picked up a Yeti cooler and two stackable plastic bins. I used a cloth bin to store tumblers, plates, spices and utensils. I experimented with bungee cords and carabiner clips until I had created a hanging closet for my hats and jackets. I ordered a twin size version of the same bedding I already had. The goal was to make it feel like home.

I invested in organizers for the middle console, a small shower caddy, a bluetooth speaker for watching movies on my ipad. I strung LED lights to make the space feel warm and comfortable. I used black out fabric to craft curtains for my passenger side windows. For the back side windows, I bought some cheap black foam board and cut them to fit. I ordered mosquito screen mesh and installed rain guards on all four doors for added stealth. I researched what my first aid kit should look like, as well as what kind of gear I should have for road emergencies. It was a learning curve, to say the least. But it was also exciting, like building a fort on wheels. 

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And then, I got into a car accident. Three weeks before I was supposed to move out, a Yukon rear ended me at 40 mph. The Yukon looked totaled, and I was afraid the Xterra would be, too. Fortunately, it wasn’t beyond repair and the shop had it back to me just a few days before I was supposed to hit the road. And then, a tire went flat. Which led to the costly discovery that all four tires needed replacement after years of wear and tear. And then, one of the brand new tires went flat… and I began to wonder if it was all a sign from the universe.

I cried. I journaled. Once again, I questioned what I was doing with my life. 

Photo by  Nathaniel Wise

I went back to the drawing board, writing out every possible path and outcome I might encounter. And at the end of it, my decision remained the same. I wanted the road, whatever the cost. 

And the costs were high. For all its advantages, living on the road is not easy. There are so many things to consider that many of us - myself included- often take for granted. To name a few…receiving mail without a mailing address. Finding health insurance when you’re constantly crossing state lines. Taxes as a freelancer. Auto insurance without a permanent address. Figuring out where to sleep at night. Familiarizing yourself with local & city ordinances, finding places to shower and/or use the bathroom. Figuring out how to prepare & eat healthy foods with limited space and no kitchen. Water storage. Laundry. Steady wi-fi. Where to go, how to work. So many things had to be considered, and figuring these things out literally made my head spin at times. 

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For me, the easiest way to learn was to dive right in. Mistakes on mistakes, lesson after lesson. I am still far from having it all figured out; but 15 months of living full-time in an SUV has definitely taught me a thing or two. A lot of these topics are bigger issues that I’ll dive into over time. If you’re interested in a detailed breakdown of how I made my SUV into a home, you can find it here.