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There are a few questions that we repeatedly get asked about our travels, so we decided it was time to write a post answering our most frequently asked questions! From solar showers to free wifi, your camper life questions get answered below!
How do we find wifi on the go and how do we keep in touch?
Access to the internet and communication is essential for us on our travels, since it’s important that Tom can keep in touch with his two adult sons, and I need internet access in order to work on this blog.
For communication and internet access on our phones we use AT&T because they have a North America plan that allows us to use our phones (including data!) in Canada and Mexico at no extra charge.
For internet access on my laptop, libraries are my absolute FAVORITE place for free wifi on the road. Even some of the tiniest towns we’ve visited in the USA and Canada have public libraries with excellent free wifi internet!
In Mexico it can be a bit trickier to find decent wifi access, we’ve had the most success in sit-down restaurants. Usually when we arrive in a new town in Mexico we will just ask around about wifi, and generally there will be at least one restaurant that has it.
How do we shower?
Our Toyota Dolphin has a full shower, which we occasionally use. However, the shower uses a lot of water, and we are often trying to boondock for two weeks at a time so preserving water is important.
This is where our solar shower bag REALLY comes in handy! A solar shower is essentially a heavy duty black bag that heats the water inside when you leave it in the sun.
We are often alone in the middle of nowhere, so a shower tent isn’t necessary (though you can certainly find portable shower tents that fold up small), and we can hang the solar shower bag from the ladder on the back of the camper. The solar shower bag flows very slowly, so we can take an entire shower with less than one gallon of water!
We also love camping near water, so we swim frequently which extends the effect of our showers. Once every 1-2 weeks we will spend a night at a campground in a town so that we can resupply and take long, hot showers.
How do we charge our electronics while camping in an RV?
Since we normally boondock we set up a USB charging port that runs off of our coach battery. The charging port allows us to charge our phones, kindle, and other small devices. (Check out this boondocking guide for off grid camping info!)
A folding 100 watt solar panel charges the battery. We chose a folding, suitcase style solar panel (rather than a rooftop solar panel) because we can set the solar panel out in a hot, sunny, spot, while we park the camper in the shade.
Want to add solar power to your camper? Check out this guide to the best RV and campervan solar panels!
How do we keep perishable food cold when we’re boondocking?
Our Toyota Dolphin came with a Dometic refrigerator that can operate on electrical power OR off of propane. We rarely have the option to plug in so we primarily use propane to power our refrigerator. Not only does the Dometic refrigerator keep our food cold, it also has a small freezer compartment where we have an ice tray for making ice cubes, and where we regularly keep meat frozen.
To make sure we never run out of propane we carry two 20 pound propane tanks at all times. We can run our refrigerator, stove, and oven (yes, we have an oven!) for 10-14 days off of one of these tanks. When one tank runs out we can use the second propane tank to keep us going until we get the empty tank refilled.
How do we make money on the road?
One huge benefit to camper life is how affordable it is! Our monthly budget while traveling full time is less than half of what we spent living in a stationary home in Eugene, Oregon.
Our monthly income while traveling is a combination of Tom’s retirement pension (Tom is a retired paramedic/firefighter), occasional work that presents itself on our travels (last spring we spent 6 weeks in central Oregon teaching at an outdoor science school), and I receive a monthly income from this blog (thanks for reading)!
Other options for income while traveling include: online freelance work, remote office work, and work camping positions. With that said, be sure to do some research before you take a paid work camping job. Many of the companies that hire work campers are notorious for exploitative labor practices. If you’d like to read more about work camping and some of its pros and cons check out the fantastic book Nomadland by Jessica Bruder.
For some great information about working remotely and earning an income on the road, check out my interview with Kristin Hanes of The Wayward Home blog. Kristin splits her time between living in a van and living on a sailboat, and she makes a full time income working remotely!
How do we pay our bills and deal with mail?
Though we no longer have a stationary home, we still have some monthly bills that need to get paid (cell phones, insurance, etc). Before we left on our travels we setup paperless billing for all of our monthly bills. This means that we receive email reminders rather than paper statements, and we can pay our bills online.
For the rest of our paper mail we are lucky enough to have close friends that are willing to receive it for us. We’ve also considered using a virtual mail forwarding service, which sounds like an excellent option for full time travelers. We plan to choose a virtual mail service and set that up the next time we are in the states.
How do we live in such a small space with a dog?
Traveling with our dog has been such a rewarding experience for all three of us. Over the past 16 months Indy has chased wild horses, jack rabbits, and giant pelicans! What more could a dog want?!
As awesome as it is, though, living in a motorhome with a dog comes with it’s own set of challenges. The biggest challenge is maneuvering in such a small space with 2 humans and a dog. This is where my past career as a professional animal trainer REALLY came in handy. Before we left on our travels I trained Indy some basic behaviors that help make our space management so much easier. If you’d like to know more, read my step by step guide to behaviors to train your dog before you move into a camper.
How do we keep the camper clean (especially with a furry dog!)?
The first renovation we made on our Toyota Dolphin was to pull out the carpeting and install hard floors. This allows us to easily sweep out dirt, sand, and fur with a broom. If you are planning to travel with a dog in your camper, hard floors are ESSENTIAL. In our first year of travel we primarily cleaned by sweeping multiple times per day, and occasionally mopping the camper floors.
In November, however, Tom’s mother gave us a Shark handheld vacuum with a pet attachment, and it has made cleaning SO much easier. I don’t know how we lived in our camper so long without this amazing little vacuum! It doesn’t use any bags so once it’s full we can just empty it into the trash, and one charge allows us to vacuum several times. The best part is that the pet attachment will clean Indy’s fur off of anything, and in a small space that is a HUGE benefit!
Considering camper life? Check out our top 10 reasons to fall in love with camper life!
Want to know how we find beautiful, affordable (or free!) campsites? Head over to the side bar (or scroll to the bottom of the page on mobile), leave us your info, and we’ll send you our free guide to finding beautiful, affordable campsites!
If you have further questions about our camper life please feel free to contact us anytime!
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2 thoughts on “Your Camper Life Questions Answered: Solar Power, Free Wifi, and more!”
Brittany loved this one. I have read just about your whole site. We are about to pickup a 89 Dolphin also. Being in northern Wisconsin (we are retired) definitely plan on traveling & of course snowbirding. Really enjoy your stories & advise. Thank you, Bruce (Pappy)
Hi Bruce! Thank you so much for your kind words, and congratulations on your Dolphin! Hopefully we cross paths in our travels someday 🙂