This week Passion Passport is featuring the on-going journey of the traveling duo known as Hair Ventures. In part one, Meg introduced the inspiration behind her move from Ohio to China. She then took us back to the night she met her future husband. Jonathan went on to explain how they afford to travel as a living. In our final piece, Jonathan offers their advice on living in a tiny van, on a tiny budget.

We’ve now been living in our small, 22-foot motorhome (it’s billed as a B+ motorhome, but in North America is considered a tiny RV) for 12 moths. We started from zero experience. And I mean, zero experience. I have no technical or mechanical knowledge. I am terrible at DIY and repairing, replacing, fixing or building anything and we have no camping, hiking, or outdoor-living experience. But, trust us, it can be done. It really, really can be done.

Getting Started

Don’t be afraid, embarrassed or self-conscious when you start out. As with everything in life, everyone has been in the same boat. Our first night in Milton (our RV), we nervously parked up at a Walmart, walked in, and asked ‘permission’ if we could stay – now, we don’t even bother with Walmart. (Lowe’s and Home Depot have free wifi in their parking lots. All of them.). And if not, streets. Those places where normal people park. Just find a quiet side street, close your blinds/curtains, keep noise to a minimum, and don’t overstay your welcome.

Resources

The Internet is actually full of useful information. This may seem obvious, but connecting with people through Instagram has been unbelievably helpful. There are a lot more people out there doing the same thing than you would expect. Also, Atlas Obscura and roadtrippers are worth looking at – who wants to drive for an entire day seeing nothing to get to your next location, when you can stop and see something completely weird and random? If you can think of a question, search for it on YouTube – someone will undoubtedly have already answered it. And made a video to show you.

Staying Clean

Planet Fitness has been our best decision (in terms of N. America). Being able to work out has been great, but more importantly being able to shower more than a military shower, and not having to worry about our seemingly tiny grey tank filling up, has been indispensable.

Traveling with pets

We bought Gogi (our dog) a cool mat at a Camping World in Arizona, and this has been our second-best purchase. We get a lot of crosswind in Milton, and with our solar panels now we’re able to leave a fan on for him. But having something cool to lay on, even when we’re driving or he’s sleeping, keeps him very happy.

Staying under budget

Why tip a server 20% when you can get your food to go, and eat in your own personal dining area, with as many drinks as you’d like, for a fraction of the price?

Bring your bike

Bikes. I cannot say enough how happy we are to have bikes. Because we’re able to park up pretty much everywhere (due to Milton’s smallish size), we can just pop out and cycle around the city. Much easier than trying to walk or rely on public transport.

Related:  Editor's Blog: What makes a traveler?

DIY Remodel

Revamping/remodeling. This was always our plan, and when I look back at Milton as he was when we got him, it’s sort of unbelievable. Our remodel may not be up to professional standards, but Milton feels like a home, our home, and when you’re on the road full time you can’t beat it. Remodels can be as cheap or as expensive as you want, e.g. just covering the upholstery makes a massive difference. And that is easy – all you need is some material and a staple gun.

Cooking Tips

I think this is one of the most commonly asked questions. We cook whatever we want as we have tons of space in Milton – we have bottles and bottles of vinegars, spices and oils. We do not cook any differently than we would at home. I think the most important thing for your kitchen is buying quality. You don’t have the time or space to scrub a pan or let things soak, so if you buy high quality pots and pans (1 big & 1 small of each) and one helluva good knife, you’re set.

Storage

Make sure everything has a place. Meg rolls her eyes at me for making cubbyholes for EVERYTHING, but it helps. When we get up in the morning it takes no time at all to get going, because we know where everything goes, tuck it away and hit the road.

Go smaller. We were worried that Milton might be too small – if you don’t include the cab, it is about 90 sq feet (8 sq meters), so our living space is small. A tiny house to the extreme, really. But he’s ours, and other than possibly having a permanent bed, we wouldn’t change a thing. Plus, we still have loads of unused storage space.

Go Solar!

Solar panels and an inverter. You’ll never need to pay for a campsite again. Enough said.

And finally, don’t worry, don’t stress, don’t over-plan, it will all work out. Planning too much simply tends to create problems rather than solve them, and if you keep planning you’ll never get around to the doing.

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Continue to follow Meg and Jonathan’s adventures at www.hairventures.com or via Instagram @hairventures. Have you embarked on a life-altering journey? Are you thinking about one? Tell us on social media, using the hashtag “YourJourneyAwaits.”

8 COMMENTS

  1. Hello Megan, Jonathan and of course Gogi…I love that you named your RV, “Milton”. First off let me say that at 62 yrs of age and healthy, & a total female, I am thinking of traveling in a camper of some sort and you have totally inspired me. I am on a limited budget and when I looked online..holy cow camp sites can get pricey after a month on the road. Now mind you I get on Pinterest and see all those cute campers but in reality I think I might be buying someone else’s problems; so I thought buying new, But again the price is stopping me. I have a four wheel drive SUV and thought maybe a small camper, but I want a bathroom with a shower and a larger refrig than just holding half gal of milk. Oh yeah..the salesman tell you “design your know”, but the $$$$$$$$$$$. I almost had a heart attach. Like you I love to cook good food so the kitchen is important. I live in a small apartment, so being organized is key. I can live with a two burner stove but not a small refrig. Plus I thought I have to have company so II thought a dog would be great..I had a Yorkie for years and he passed away at 10 yrs. old. So maybe a rescued dog. We’d be saving each other :).Well keep up the good work I am looking forward to a new beginning Next year. Talking or Chat soon. My nick name is “Jay”. All my friends call me Jay because they can’t remember Janean, Go figure.

  2. Hi I am Sami living in my 20 feet french RV (Eriba car) 6 months a year. Small is big advantage.( in France seen as a car) Can park erverywhere mostly in unbelivable places. A parking along a beach, in front of châteaux de la Loire discovering Chambord when deers wakeup….only your lack of imagination is your limit. For me Mc donalds is for toilets (no more pbs with black waters) and internet for price of a cofee. We can live with minimum without suffering. Satisfy essential needs….and meet a lot of interesting people. Next project. 6 months a year in U.S with a rv like yours.. Good life you 2

  3. If you don’t mind my asking, what do you do for income? My dream is to take a nation wide road trip, but I’m not sure how I could swing it. Love what you’re doing! Living the dream…
    -Kim

  4. Love this post! So inspiring and helpful! I plan on hitting the road in about a year and I cannot wait!! Thanks for posting!

  5. Hello. Everything I have been reading is interesting. I have been leaving for a few months on a new DUCATO Camper around Italy during the last 2 years. It has been the dream of my life. For a few years previous to this I had rented for times of 3 to 4 weeks during the last 15 years. Right now , although I am 69 I still need to work to get income. One simple answer in one of the questions is : for your Laundry I accumulate my clothes and then find a Commercial laundry where I can wash and dry all my clothes. I have now to get some work done but I plan and hope to get back to this site to exchange information and experiences. It would be nice when I will get back to this Mail to get to continue this first mail so as to have a real continuity in the writing and folding history. Bye for now. Claudio Meda. Italy and Kenya.

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