My Four Wheel Camper isn’t huge. It’s rather small inside, actually. Most of the time it works great for me and the dogs – they hang out up on the cab-over bed, and I do my cooking and computering or reading in the main area when inside.
When I went on my previous no-destination adventure, I had this camper pretty set up for my daily needs. Just a few clothes, one storage container of food, only necessary cooking and kitchen tools, and so on. Of course, that was during a time when I had been going out campering almost every weekend. I’d gotten utilizing this teeny abode down to a science.
This past year of living in the Midwest, I think I only popped up my camper three times. And only once was to sleep in it. That’s when I remembered that camping in the Midwest is like trying to sleep in a sauna. No fun.
Because of the lack of use, I forgot how to pack up for a long trip and packed too much stuff and too much food.
There are a few tricks to comfortable campering:
- Pack light. Seriously.
a. You don’t need an outfit for each day. I have too many t-shirts with me now, and I think that’s seven. Whom do you need to impress, or even smell good? Admittedly, my dogs are pretty harsh critics, but they don’t mind if I wear the same t-shirt for four or more days in a row. I have two pair of jeans and one shorts. What I do bring a lot of are underwear and socks. I don’t mind if my jeans get dirty, but crunchy socks are the worst. I’m sure there’s expensive REI and Patagonia and Northface shirts and pants out there that are made specifically for this kind of abuse, but those are expensive. There’s no Jones’s to keep up with.
Just do you.All my clothes are in this container (and I have more than I really need. ha!), but there’s no contest for who can be most minimal! Do what works for you, just keep in mind that you don’t need as much as you think you do.b. If you are a reader, like I am, get a Kindle. Save the lovely hard copy page turners for your brick and mortar home. They are heavy and take up precious space. Yes, I currently have 9 books, a journal, a notebook, and a Kindle. Der.
c. Food. Pack staples and pick up what you need for the next couplea days while on the road. It’s way too easy to eat crap while traveling. Pick up local eggs! Get healthy snacks. Buy some celery and once at your campsite, cut them up with peanut butter for the next day of driving. Same with apples. Holy cow I’m hungry now. I’m currently snacking on Kalamata olives.
- Don’t feel like you have do everything today.
I quite like a “2-2-2” rule:
– Don’t drive more than 200 miles
– Arrive by no later than 2:00pm
– Stay no fewer than two days.
Even if you don’t totally adhere to this idea, it’s a great frame from which to work.
- It can take a few days, even a week or so to get into the rhythm of the road. If you are having a crappy time the first few days and nights, give it time. Breathe. Don’t beat yourself up for taking on this adventure. Tell yourself you’ll do a few more days and see how it goes. You can always turn around.
- The idea of “you can always turn around” is a good one. There is no rule saying that you must stick to your original plans or route. Even if you only have so many days for this trip, like during a vacation from work. Unless you’ve determined that the destination is the goal, and are simply driving from point A to point B the fastest way possible (via interstate aka “super slab”), then the trip itself is part of the vacation. I try to take slow little back roads, meandering two lane highways. This makes for a much more pleasureable ride. I don’t think people notice how harried they feel after spending a day barrelling along at 75mph through relatively generic view-scape. On the back roads you see people, critters, and at 45 or 55mph, can roll down the windows and smell the fresh air. Often times you will only see a few other vehicles on these roads. It’s refreshing and relaxing.If you made plans with friends, make them loose so that you don’t stress yourself out cannonballing across the U.S. to make a deadline you created. Deadlines suck.If you have to have a deadline, then make the time in between flexible. Give yourself a few markers so that you aren’t just randomly cruising and end the trip feeling like you accomplished nothing, but don’t lock yourself into timelines. Don’t stress yourself out with “We have to get to X by tomorrow at 2pm!”Bringing dogs along can be a great excuse for frequent stops and stretching!
- Maps are awesome! Don’t rely on your vehicle nav or phone app. It’s really nice to chill out over some physical maps. When you pull over at the rest stop, pull out your paper maps and see if there’s a more interesting route you could take.See that mess in the background? That was because of my too much stuff. It’s crazy easy to get cluttered inside the camper, which starts to make me feel stressy.Today, I spent some time reorganizing and now have a whole container I now don’t need! Yay!
- Remember when you used to go camping as a kid and would just eat whatever and go play, then eat more? You don’t need your dishes as ‘clean’ as you think you do. This is coming from someone who is rather paranoid about food-related illnesses. Some full-timers carry vinegar for cleaning. I haven’t tried that yet, but will soon.Being frugal with water is one thing I caution. Most folks don’t realize how much they use until they run out. It’s a precious recourse – use sparingly! Doing dishes is a huge water-waster, and for no reason. When I cook, I first wipe out my pans with a paper towel and/or give to the dogs for first round cleaning. I’ll use a little soap and water for wash and rinse, if I use soap at all.
I think that’s all I have right now.
It’s getting warm where I’m currently camped, so it’s time to hit the road for higher elevation!