Our path to camper life was a bit unusual as it was mostly unplanned. Our original travel plan was to live off of our bicycles in Mexico for 6 months, and then possibly invest in a camper to make the return trip to our home state of Oregon.
Luckily for us our bicycle trip did not pan out as planned (you can read more about that here), and we became the proud owners of a camper that we consider our mobile tiny house. We are so grateful that events unfolded as they did, because camper life has proven to be so much more beautiful than we ever hoped for. Below we’ve listed ten reasons to fall in love with full time camper life:
1. We have the time and freedom to explore our personal interests
I love to read, but in my previous life I rarely found the time for it. Between work, errands, and then winding down from the stress of work and errands it was always difficult to find enough free time to relax with a good book. Our camper life has completely changed that. Nowadays I read frequently, sometimes all day long if the mood strikes me.
Time is a precious resource, and living in our camper has freed up so much time for us. We both took up new hobbies recently, like snorkeling and stand up paddle boarding!
2. We have gained true financial freedom
We own our home free and clear, with no mortgage or debt to worry about. While I logically knew this was the case when we bought our camper, it wasn’t until we began living in it that I realized what an incredible relief it is to live without a mortgage or a lease! Our home is ours, and we can move it to beautiful locations all over the continent. We regularly find ourselves with million dollar views of nature that we could never have afforded if we lived in a conventional home.
While we do pay for camping fees, we have found that many of the most beautiful camping spots in North America are free or extremely cheap! We often boondock on BLM and National Forest Land, which is completely legal and generally very beautiful (read some of our boondocking tips here). When we do stay in campgrounds we try to find BLM campgrounds or state parks that offer primitive sites. This way we rarely spend more than $5-$10/night, and a huge added bonus is that these campgrounds tend to be less crowded than the more expensive, full hookup campgrounds.
3. We have gotten back to nature in a profound way
We wake up to sunlight peeking through the forest canopy, to birds chirping. We fall asleep to the sound of the wind in the trees, or the sound of water lapping against the shore. We often fish in the sea or river for our dinner. We stop to smell the different plants in the forest, and I have learned to identify many plants that I never even noticed before.
4. We have learned to listen to our bodies
We no longer have a set schedule that we have to follow- we don’t have jobs to rush to or a big house that requires upkeep. The lack of schedule allows us to eat when we’re hungry, sleep when we’re tired, hike when we’re energized, and relax when we feel the need to. We wake with the sun and sleep shortly after it gets dark.
Following our bodies’ natural rhythms has shown us how deeply we were neglecting them in our previous lives. I’ve always thought of myself as a night owl, but without a television or computer screen to keep me awake I’ve learned that my brain actually wants to shut down once it gets dark, and mornings have become my favorite part of the day. (I do travel with my laptop, and have a strict no-laptop-after-dark rule for myself.)
5. We know what we consume
One important aspect of camper life is learning to monitor your consumption. We have a limited amount of water, propane, power (in the form of a 12 volt deep cycle battery), and food we can carry with us so it’s important that we know how long those supplies will last. When we first moved into the camper we quickly figured out that we would need to carry an extra propane tank, as well as extra drinking water if we wanted to boondock for 7-10 days at a time. We also learned how to reduce the amount of trash we were producing, because trash has to be packed out with us when we boondock! Learning how much we actually consume, and learning to reduce that consumption has been a really rewarding part of camper life.
6. We have become minimalists
There is a limited amount of space in our camper, which means every item we keep needs to have an important function. For instance, we had a drying rack for dishes that seemed like such a great idea when we got it. However, the reality is that we can’t afford the counter space for drying dishes, so we almost always towel dry them. The drying rack had to go so we stopped and dropped it at a Goodwill. We unloaded a lot of stuff when we first moved into the camper, but now we take the time to discuss any new item we will be bringing on board to avoid excess stuff. I’ve always loved the idea of living more simply, and living in a camper allowed us to transition to minimalism pretty painlessly.
7. When something breaks we can usually fix it ourselves
Our camper is small, simple, and only has a few electrical systems. When something breaks we are usually able to fix it quickly and without having to hire a repairman. The internet is a fantastic resource for camper upkeep and repair! There are DIY (do it yourself) guides for just about any camper issue. (Check out our DIY guide to installing a hard floor in a camper here!)
8. We know every inch of our house
Since we only have about 120 square feet of living space we know exactly how much storage we have, where the water tanks are, and where the pipes/wires are. Knowing our home so well makes upkeep and troubleshooting pretty darn easy. We also notice any issues immediately, which allows us to make repairs right away, before problems snowball!
9. We experience true quiet and true darkness regularly
We often find ourselves in the middle of nowhere. We see the stars without light pollution, we hear coyotes yipping, we hear squirrels jumping from tree to tree. We see and hear things that we hardly noticed in our more urban lives, and we’ve learned how entertaining it can be to just observe the world around us.
10. We’ve formed a much deeper bond as a couple
Our camper life has been such a positive force in our relationship. We explore new places together, we get to share a huge adventure, and we spend nearly all of our time together. We have gotten to know each other in an entirely new way since beginning this journey, and it has allowed us to become closer than ever before.