- Written by Elizabeth Hensley
When it comes to living on the road full-time there are definitely a lot of perks, but there are also some misunderstandings from the outside world.
Whether it’s being rich, living in a bikini, or having a worry-free lifestyle, here are ELEVEN MISCONCEPTIONS we’ve experienced first-hand.
11. We are on vacation all the time.
It’s great to have flexibility on the road, but it’s not always gravy, baby. For example, we have to focus on things we didn’t when we lived in a house, like where we will sleep that night, how much water we have on-board, what level our solar is at, when we are going to shower, how much cooking fuel we have, and where we’re going to dump our grey water.
Always on vacation...Working seasonal jobs at the sugar beet harvest in North Dakota, 2019
10. “Wow, you live on a bus. You must be rich!”
Re-read that and try not to sense the irony. Income seems to be the biggest concern we hear about life on the road. For some reason, society has taught us that living a simple life closer to nature comes with a hefty price tag. Our bills are less, but most of us still work online or seasonal jobs to make some cash along the way. But you don’t have to be rich to live this lifestyle, just resourceful. There is a difference.
9. Downsizing ends when the adventure begins.
Nope, it’s constant. Downsizing was a muscle we flexed moving from our two-bedroom house to our 34-foot bus, and it’s one we use on a weekly basis. If it doesn’t fit in our lives, it’s got to go.
Downsizing from our two bedroom house
8. We have EVERYTHING figured out.
Wherever we go, people tell us we are living their dream, or wish they could do what we are doing. This often comes with the idea that we know something they don’t or that we can do it, but for some reason, they can’t. If anything, we are always working to find balance in this lifestyle and there’s no “right way” to do it. It’s just about taking the leap and having faith in the process.
We have everything figured out alright.
7. We have NOTHING figured out.
No matter how many people love what we are doing, there are always a few who view mobile living as something that’s wrong with us or society. They make us feel like we always have to explain ourselves. But our approach is to take it in stride because they are the ones who need to hear from us so we can re-frame negative stereotypes.
6. This will last forever.
For some of us, this may ring true. But for others, life on the road may be a transition between chapters of our lives and modes of travel. It may last years or months depending on what we’re looking for and what we want to experience. But no matter where and how long it takes us, each journey is beautiful in its own way.
This will last forever. Cut to 2060- Get off our lawn!
5. We live in an Alternate Universe.
Despite what you come across online, we are real people. Most of us still go to (or sleep at) Walmart, eat junk food, and have bad days. However, they are slightly less bad than before we set out.
4. We want to sleep on your couch.
When we visit, people often feel obligated to offer up weird places for us to sleep. They offer up their couch, futon, child’s old bedroom, or a guest bedroom to give us a break from the road. But the truth is, that’s not necessary. We come with our home. We built it and we like it. And! It comes equipped with our very own comfy bed. Also, since we travel with our whole house, packing for us is a disaster.
"Isn't this so much more comfortable than the bed in your bus home?"
3. An on-board bathroom and shower are a top priority.
It’s true while living on the road you will need to use the bathroom and take a shower. But the reality of how this happens varies. If given the option, we always choose an outside bathroom over our 150 sq ft home, and we appreciate long, hot showers. We spent $65 on a cassette toilet for emergencies and we shower at the gym. In the end, both needs are met. And all those beautiful, shiny showers you see online? We hate to break it to you, but a lot of them are used for storage.
Toilet Life on the Road
2. We are always Insta-ready.
Recent “Instagram v. Reality” posts have become popular because as stated earlier, we do not live in an alternate universe. We live full-grown lives in tiny spaces. Our home, our dog (if we had one), and our bright, shining faces are not always as photogenic as we’d like them to be.
But when they are? You best believe we’re taking a photo of that sh**.
1. We lead a lonely existence.
For us, the truth is the opposite. Life before the road was a lonelier one. Sure, we were surrounded by people, but mostly, they were people we didn’t get to choose: neighbors co-workers, students, family. On the road, we are around just as many people, but for the most part, they are people we get to pick.
Our not-so-lonely existence in Lake Havasu, AZ
Thanks for stopping by. We'll see you on the HWY!
More Articles By Elizabeth Hensley
- Written by Patrick Schmidt
Buying Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrency
I was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1986, three years before the Berlin Wall fell, communism didn't pan out. When my parents and I moved to America in 1996, everyone was still using the Deutsche Mark as currency. Then, in 2001, several European countries joined the EU and Germany converted its money to the Euro.
Since then, times have changed dramatically. Digitized currencies are here, and they're here to stay.
I have been living in a school bus since August of 2015. During these years, I have truly come to value my time over money, saving as much of both as I can. I can always earn more money, but I will never have more time. Living in a 189 square foot bus home has allowed me to look at what is important, and what is not.
Over the past few years, I have met so many people and traveled to so many places. I thoroughly enjoy talking with people and hearing about their dreams and passions. What does everyone seem to want and need? More time and more money.
That's where Bitcoin comes in. Let me share with you, a few of the things I've learned.
Bitcoin - How much do I buy?
Just like there is the US dollar (USD), Chinese Yuan (RMB), British Pound (GBP), Euro (EUR), etc there is Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC), Ethereum (ETH), and so forth. These are all digital moneys which have different values to different people.
You can buy as much or as little as you want. Do you want to buy just enough to cover a purchase, or would you like to buy more as an investment, for when the price of bitcoin goes up?
You can buy 1.0 Bitcoin, 1 million Bitcoins, or .00000001 of a Bitcoin, which is termed a “Satoshi.”
1 Satoshi is worth USD $0.0000937402 – mere fractions of a single penny. That penny on the ground you walk by is worth more than the lowest possible denomination of a bitcoin.
Just as banks own gold bullion, the average person might have gold jewelry or gold teeth fillings, or use gold coins. All of them have a price and value, from the biggest bricks to the smallest nuggets.
1 dollar bill today is worth 10,668 Satoshis, which is equal to 0.00010668 BTC.
1 Bitcoin today is worth $9373.83 US Dollars (Price last week, today it's actually at $10,391.14)
What can 1 cent buy you? What can 100 cents buy you? What can 1,000,000 cents ($10,000) buy you?
Money is money, and I love it all. The more the better!
What do you need to learn?
I am not trying to make any of this sound daunting or complicated. Everything I use these apps for, day to day, can be done without having a scrap of knowledge about bitcoin or anything else about Cryptocurrency.
I don’t know a thing about how much USD is in circulation, how the Federal Reserve works, how much money it prints, the intricacies of digital banking, or all the legal stuff involved with any of it. I just know that if I have a dollar bill, I can go somewhere and spend it. If I have a lot of dollars, I can open an account and the bank will take care of it for me.
Just as you get paid in dollars and spend your dollars, you can get paid in bitcoin and spend your bitcoin. It doesn't have anything to do with investing, expensive computers, programming, nothing like that.
You download an app or two, configure your bank account information with these trusted companies, and save some money here and there on the things you were buying and doing anyway.
Real World Use
Do you spend money at Starbucks, Target, Amazon, AMC, Best Buy, Home Depot, Dunkin' Donuts among other places? You could easily be saving money at all these places with a couple free apps and a few minutes of your time.
Coinbase and CashApp/Venmo
The Coinbase app is by far the easiest way to buy and use digital money. Purchase, spend and send over 20 different kinds of currencies anywhere in the world.
Another app that I really enjoy, which offers only Bitcoin and US Dollars, is the CashApp. Have you ever seen the Square payment systems at farmers markets and stores? That company runs this app.
Both Coinbase and CashApp are considered "non-custodial" wallets that hold your digital money for you. Non-custodial is having your money at the bank, you own the funds, but they physically hold it for you.
Other digital wallets, like BlueWallet, are called "custodial" wallets. You own the money, and the money is right there on your phone, in your own account. You own it all and can access it at anytime. The physical wallet in your pocket would be a custodial wallet, you physically own the money inside of it.
CashApp, Coinbase, Venmo etc get linked to your bank account, in order to transfer your checking account dollars into the app’s wallet. From there, you can use the apps for making purchases, sending and receiving dollars, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Venmo does not offer any Bitcoin services.
Any of these apps provide you with digital wallets that hold your digital money, even if you only load US dollars into these apps. You can transfer money out of the CashApp non-custodial bitcoin wallet and send it to your personal favorite custodial wallet. That is like taking money out of your bank account, and putting it into the wallet in your pocket.
With CashApp you can easily buy bitcoin, to send and receive to anyone in the world, by using the app to scan QR codes, phone numbers or through email.
You can also invest as little or as much into the stock market through the app. Either way you use this app, it might help you save money.
CashApp does what Venmo does, and more!
If you're used to Venmo, you’ll have no trouble using CashApp. Both apps offer payment services right in the app, as well as free physical debit cards they will send you if you want to pay that way.
The main bonus to CashApp is its built in and easy to select "Boost program." Download the app, and on the screen you will see your virtual Visa card. From there, you can choose several "Boosts" to load onto your card. It's basically a coupon you are loading onto your card, much like you would do on your Wal-Mart and Safeway app. A boost is a digital coupon, and CashApp offers some of the best!
Browse through the Boost options, select whichever one, and as soon as you pay with the app or the physical debit card, that Boost discount discount is immediately applied when you go to pay with your Cash app or Cash card.
Today is the first of the month, which means I get paid for my social media work. I get paid right into the CashApp.
Instead of getting paid into a bank checking account where I pay maintenance fees and receive zero interest, I can get the money sent to the CashApp for free and save money on stuff I am buying anyway. I can turn my paycheck dollars into bitcoins right in the app.
Buying bitcoin in the app is super simple with low fees, which are charged anywhere you buy and sell bitcoin.
I use the app at my favorite local coffee shop and save $1 instantly with the "$1 Off Any Coffee Store" boost selected. Later on I can use CashApp on my phone or their free debit card to save 15% off DoorDash, $5 off at any restaurant, 10% Taco Bell, 5% off Home Depot, and so forth.
Now it gets even more beautiful!
This is the easiest and most efficient way to save money on things I’m already buying. To begin using it, you do not need any other app besides Fold.
Basically, the Fold app works with merchants to offer bitcoin-back rewards from buying digital gift cards right inside the app.
For my afternoon trip to Starbucks, I opened the app, which is linked to my debit card and bought a $25 Starbucks gift card.
(You could link a cash-back credit card, saving you even more money!)
I received 1.5% back in bitcoin satoshis, which is available immediately in the app.
Opening up my Starbucks App, I clicked ‘add gift card,’ and entered the gift card details from the Fold purchase. Boom! The money was instantly available in the Starbucks app.
Ordered my grande dark roast with no room, scanned the Starbucks app at the register and earned Starbucks stars to use towards future discounted purchases.
It’s that simple!
If I had set-up my Fold account with a bitcoin wallet like BlueWallet and not only my debit card, I could have saved 3% cash back, but that’s just a little more involved, but not by much.
My bank statement will show a "Fold gift card purchase", instead of "Starbucks gift card." If this kind of privacy matters to you.
Created by: @ScottSibley6
Saving the Most Money at Target
My wife and I love target. We mainly come here for clothes and exchanging our SodaStream CO2 refill cartridges.
Walking through the aisles, I opened the Fold App and bought a $50 Target gift card.
I'll get 2% bitcoin back - which is 0.00010819BTC, worth $1.12 today - on that gift card purchase. If I was purchasing this gift card with bitcoin I already had, which is a little more involved and technical, I could be earning 4% bitcoin back (0.00021639 = $2.24).
Earlier in the car, I bought a $25 REI gift card earning 8% bitcoin back, and a $50 Amazon card with 4% back, so I accrued some bitcoin in my Fold app wallet. I used this towards the purchase of the Target card, which I bought for $44.66. I’ll get the 2% or $1.12 back from towards the purchase of another card.
So really, a $50 card for $43.66 which was instantly available to me and the cashier with a scannable bar code.
My wife and I also use the Red Card and use the Target app with its “Target Circle Benefits” linked to that same gift card. So we also got 5% cash back, loaded right into the Target app. This 5% is also valid at any Starbucks located inside of a Target.
The fold app is so easy to use, and lets you save more money the more you learn about how bitcoin works.
I highly recommend Coinbase, CashApp, and Fold as free apps to use to learn about digital money, saving you cash money and letting money be a tool you can wisely use. Use the apps and rewards that are available to you from the places you visit the most.
Saving a dollar here, 2 dollars there might not be much, but I’m in this for the long haul. I’m about wealth, not getting rich quick schemes.
I am stacking pennies like I am stacking Sats(Satoshis)!
Want to learn more about Bitcoin, having fun and EARNING some yourself, at no cost to you?
Play the game for free, collect tickets, and every day there is a winning raffle for 25 to 5,000 Sats ($0.002-$0.459) that you can load right into your BlueWallet lighting wallet and pay wherever you want. How about getting 8% off Dominos Pizza on the Lightning Network? Operated by Fold as well.
Ever see those Gift Card racks at your local grocery store? Some of them have Bitcoin cards! They are super simple to use. Want to learn more? Take a look.
It's that easy. Happy earning!
Make it a wonderful day.
Articles By Skoolie Love
Thinking about buying a van, bus, RV or trailer to live in? Here are 5 ways you can start today, so you can accomplish your dream of traveling in a… Read More
Hey everyone! Welcome to our Bus Life Adventure. Let’s have a little chat about working for yourself, working for someone else, and what kind’s of things you want to keep… Read More
- Written by Elizabeth Hensley
Our fear of doing nothing outweighed the fear of the unknown.
The night before we moved into our bus I sat on the floor of the bedroom where we slept for the past two years. It was empty besides stacks of boxes from the incoming renter and blue fabric that would become our bus curtains.
We threw ourselves so hard into converting our new home, a 1996 34-foot Thomas International school bus, that we neglected to make a plan. It was far from ready, but our lease was up. In the other room, I overheard Richard, my partner and co-pilot in this decision, talking to our landlord. He said our local Walmart looked like the best option for our first night. This was not riding off into the sunset as I imagined. It felt more like jumping off a cliff.
Building a bus into a home is a psychological experience. Fear of the unknown keeps many people from jumping in, and we’ve dealt with our share.
This article looks at the fears we’ve faced, the fears placed on us, and how we re-imagined them to truly embrace life on the road.
Fear of Regret
That heading pretty much sums up how we got here. Before we started looking at full-time travel options, a feeling began to settle into our lives. At first it was subtle but then it grew. It started to feel too easy to let our lives pass us by without actually living them. We spent years getting educated and working less-than-ideal jobs. We became comfortable with the daily grind.
I questioned how I would feel later if I let this daydream go. Whatever the risk, would it outweigh not trying something completely new?
We know we won’t live this lifestyle forever and the only thing that’s promised is the present. Basically, our fear of doing nothing outweighed the fear of the unknown.
Fears from Family and Friends
Some people spend months or even years researching the ideal bus. Us? It went something like this: we learned about self-converting skoolies on a Monday, found one in our price-range by Friday, and rolled ours off the lot by the next Tuesday afternoon. It might seem like we were fearless, but the truth is virtually no one knew until we owned it.
We were afraid someone would talk us out of it.
Richard’s sister was the first to know. She heard the beep of the bus backing up, ran out of her house, and yelled over the groaning engine, “Why is there a school bus in my driveway?!” We popped our faces out of the window and smiled. “We bought it!”
In our experience, the more people cared about us, the more fearful they were. This is not necessarily bad, but we realized they wanted to keep us safe within their own worldview, not ours. So really, these feelings had nothing to do with us. Once they saw that we were committed and working toward our dreams, they came around and it inspired them to think out of the box too.
Fake it while you Make it
We lived in a subdivision with a homeowners association, so by definition, we shouldn’t have even attempted the bus build. But we rolled on anyway. We parked in front of our house and worked on the bus daily, storing it at night.
We pried up the floor, scraped and patched rusty holes, and scoured YouTube for advice. We weren’t always sure of the next step. But as the deadline loomed closer, we found satisfaction knowing why we were tired and what we were working for.
We became the entertainment of the neighborhood. We met some neighbors for the first time, shared our progress, and let them know our plans so they wouldn’t have to guess or label us. Before we left, we made fliers thanking them for their patience and invited them to our bus reveal, a few pieces of furniture placed inside our barely insulated and floored bus shell. This experience helped us hone our story, and we’ve been doing it ever since.
The leading question we get (besides where we shower and go to the bathroom) is how can we possibly afford this lifestyle? While I understand the practicality behind this concern, it is based on fear. We met a cashier at Wynn Dixie in rural Florida. He was young and enthusiastic, said we were living his dream. The only way he would do is if he knew it would come with financial stability.
As we left, I said, “If we thought like that, we would have never done it.”
How many people spend their lives doing things they don’t like because of the promise of stability or freedom someday? It might not actualize no matter how safe we play. Getting on the road before we had it all figured out forced us to think on our feet. We started with a little bit of savings and quickly had to think about what we would do to keep going. Seasonal jobs, consolidating bills, remote work, selling things online, putting some things on credit have helped us through. We are far from rich, but our lives are full.
One of the biggest fears people have thinking about life on the road is breaking down. It probably will happen. It happened to us – twice! When trouble happened on the road, instead of feeling alone, we reached out to the community. Nobody knows bus life like other skoolies, so we picked up the phone and called friends, looked up solutions on blog sites, and sometimes we would still have to go to a shop.
We built friendships along the way, and we were sometimes able to help when our friends needed it. In addition to getting help when we broke down, we also connected our water and solar on the road with the help of new friends, so we literally would not be off-grid without them.
Adventure is Fear Spelled Different
We didn’t just build a bus; we rearranged our lives. The benefit of fear was having the realization that we could use what we were feeling to take action. Every time something came up, we knew we had a choice to change our thinking and look for the good. Now we have been on the road for over a year-and-a-half, and do I have some stories to tell!
There's no one way to build a skoolie. Now that we're traveling full-time, sometimes we forget how much work it took to get here. Each part of this project has challenged us to improvise and tap into the knowledge of others, realizing that the only way "out" is "through". Sometimes we had to work separately to achieve a common goal, but we always came away with new skills and a greater appreciation for the process.
For us, the challenge became the reward. Every day is now a once-in-a-lifetime experience – even if it always has been – and unpacking our fears gave us the courage to notice.
See you on the HWY!
More Articles By Elizabeth Hensley
- Written by John and Jayme Sebell
"When and where is the Midwest Vanlife Gathering?! What can I expect from the weekend?"
~ By Contributing Writer: The Gnomad Home ~
Spill the tea! What’s the dirty deets?!
We have HELLA announcements about the Midwest Vanlife Gathering that we’ve been exploding to share with you all!
The Midwest Vanlife Gathering is May 17-19
For an additional $10 we invite you to come a day early on Thursday, AND/OR stay a day late until Monday!
We had hoped to work with the INCREDIBLE Forest Service in Missouri again, but the government shutdown threw a wrench into those plans. SO we adventured out in search of a new venue!
And we found Camp Manitowa - Cedar Point in Makanda, Illinois! It is a killer location for a van event. It is a family-owned, 257-acre property with a 12,000 acre lake!
We will have shelter in case of storms, electricity for live music, and they even have a super dank and cheap CAFE that will be open all weekend in case you don’t feel like cooking all of your meals!
There are also miles of hiking and biking trails, and a 9-hole disc golf course!
This will be a fun weekend of camaraderie with fellow nomads. We’ll have:
- Open mic jams, a community potluck, informational panel discussions with speakers such as AlwaysTheRoad DivineOnTheRoad
- Van conversion companies set up to discuss their services and answer van build questions.
- Stand up paddleboarding provided by the incredible crew from SUPStl and ShowMeSUP
- And an INSANE raffle.
Sidenote - this event is kid and pet friendly, and all rigs (or tents!) are welcome! This isn’t just for vans - come one, come all!
You have LESS THAN 10 DAYS to snag your Early Bird Tickets! Early Bird tickets are $42 for Friday-Sunday.
Extended stay (Thurs-Mon) tickets are $10 more. Price is PER VEHICLE. Starting March 1st, ticket prices are going up to $52.
And don’t forget - the MWVG is a fundraiser! We are donating ALL of the proceeds from the event and the raffle to our nonprofit partners. So grab yourself some tickets and let’s raise some money for some kickass organizations!
Midwest Vanlife Gathering is sponsored by ProjectVanlife