Admit it, it is hard not to admire people who live a nomadic lifestyle. The freedom to travel to new places, meet new people and experience new things is appealing to most. In this day and age it seems like there are more and more people living life on the road - but how do they afford it? Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to be born into money or slave your life away in order to afford the nomadic lifestyle. Here are a couple tips and tricks to make living on the road that much more affordable.
This has got to be the most important tip to remember. Create a budget, whether that be daily, weekly or monthly - and stick to it.
Food and fuel are typically the greatest expenses on the road. Don’t eat out. Simple as that. You can easily stock up on groceries for the week and spend around $2 per meal. Get creative with it (my favorite road meal is tacos)!
Limit the amount of driving you do - the longer you spend in one places, the less money you are spending on fuel.
Learn to be Self-Sufficient
Self-sufficiency can mean a few different things and has the potential to save you A LOT of money on the road. Whether it is knowing how to fix a broken drawer or faucet, to knowing the mechanics of the vehicle you are traveling in, not having to outsource labor helps you avoid potentially massive costs. Not sure how to do something? Google and YouTube have information about pretty much anything you could ever want to know about. Do some research and get your hands dirty.
Being self-sufficient in your vehicle can also help you alleviate some spending. A fridge/cooler, for example, allows you to stock up on food to prepare your own meals instead of having to eat out at restaurants every day. Solar power can also help you remain self-sufficient, even while off the grid (no hook-ups needed!).
This may be the hardest concept for people to wrap their heads around. It can be so tempting when you are in a new place to want to eat out, spend $7 on a coffee or visit the local shops and buy yourself a trinket. However, not only are you limited on space, but the less money you spend, the longer you can stretch your time on the road.
Do your Research
This is huge and relates to every aspect of living on the road.
Buying a new vehicle for your adventures? Do your research on how reliable the vehicle will be, what kind of gas mileage it gets, how easy it is to find parts for that specific vehicle, etc. Building out your own camper-van? There are ENDLESS resources online related to all things van-life (carpentry, electrical, plumbing…).
Finding free campsites is crucial to saving money. Apps like iOverlander or freecampsites.net can help you locate free spots to park overnight. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offers hundreds of free camping all across the United States. You might not be able to stay exactly where you wanted to, but there is likely a free camp site within 40 minutes driving to every major city.
Another great way to reduce costs is to obtain the National Parks Service’s America the Beautiful Pass. For an $80 annual fee (free for military) you can access more than 2,000 federal recreation sites (think Teton National Park, Yellowstone, Yosemite and much more!). Some of these national parks also allow free camping.
Life on the road may seem out of reach for a lot of people, however, if you put the time, energy and resources into it, anything is possible. Safe travels!
Guest Blogger: Emily LaPlume is a 24 year old entrepreneur, currently living out of her self-converted Ram Promaster with her rescue pup, Luna. In 2016, Emily founded Saturday Swimwear, a women’s, handmade, sustainable bikini company. She has been traveling and working out of her conversion van since June 2019, stopping at artisan markets across the USA. Follow her on Instagram @elaplume and @saturdayswimwear to stay up-to-date on her travels and to check out her swimsuit company.