Practical Dilemma Number One: I Have Too Much Stuff.

George Carlin has a bit on ‘Stuff‘ (one of his cleaner ones, but still not for kids, mostly because of Maui) that explains the American inclination to accumulate and store stuff. In it, he talks about vacations, and how you wind up with stuff at home, stuff in storage, stuff in your hotel, stuff at a friend’s house… Well, I’m in similar straits. I currently live in an apartment with two roommates–Stuff Location Number One. I have a bedroom and half the living room filled with ‘my stuff.’ I also have my bedroom at home, which my parents are graciously keeping open for me. That is a larger room, and equally full of ‘stuff’; Stuff Location Number Two. I’ve also got a few boxes at an old apartment from two years ago, with a friend who had renewed the lease when I didn’t: Stuff Location Number Three.

Condensing all of this down to a single car/SUV/truck, plus a 13′ fifth-wheel, is going to be the challenge of a lifetime. I’ll have to cull everything I have to a trailer and my room at home, but the stuff at home will have to be limited to things that would be fine in a guest room.

My books, clothes, and knick-knacks will be among the hardest to get rid of. I probably won’t actually ‘get rid of’ much of either of them. Books, I can re-condense into my bedroom bookshelves, excepting what I carry with me (I refuse to Kindle/Nook/etc. I’m a traditionalist). Clothes and shoes will be trickier, but if I am honest with myself and get rid of what I “might need someday,” it shouldn’t be too hard.

The biggest problem will be all of the little things, my candles and colored decorative bottles and hourglasses and all of those little things that I just… have. Like children and magpies, I am drawn to shiny things. I often pick them up in thrift stores and the like, just to fill the spaces I’m forced to live in with pretty. (Pretty is a noun, in this instance; just so you know.)

I have to decide whether I’m going to pack them up and keep them somewhere for when I eventually settle down (I know I probably will), or do I get rid of them out of hand and liberate myself from my ‘stuff’?

(Anyone know where I can pick up lots of bubble wrap on the cheap?)

Posted in Making Plans | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Possible RVs: Part 1

I promised I’d talk about the trailer I’m looking at getting, so here it is: I want my starter RV to be the Scamp 13′ Deluxe w/Bath Package. Some light googling has revealed that what I’m looking at won’t be much over $11k–less if I get it used–which to me seems completely reasonable.

For my first few years, a trailer will suit me just fine. I’d like to upgrade to one of those fancy, quarter-million-dollar Winnebagos eventually, but I’m not going to count on it, well, ever. As much as I like my ‘stuff’, I’m actually quite happy with little more than my computers, notebooks, and fashion things. My trailer will look quite a bit like a movie star’s dressing trailer, I imagine.

To tow this, however, I’m going to need to make a decision. The 13′ Scamps are made to be towed by cars and small SUVs. If I get my Buick LeSabre up to snuff and add a tow package, I’m sure I can manage with just that at first. The other things I’m considering, though, are getting a Jeep or trying to convince my brother to trade the Buick for his light duty Chevy S10.

These things, however, add significantly to my estimated “Cost of Getting On The Road”, and as of now, I’ve not had the best luck with my freelancing. I still have over 10 months to go, but the big things are what I need to get sorted out first. In order for this to be a viable plan, I have to have acquired the trailer and tow equipment before my complex asks about re-signing leases in April, and be making at least 2/3rds of my travel budget–around $800/month–through freelancing by May. I’ll pull out a calendar here soon and figure out how many days I’ve got left for each of my goals. Deadlines help, don’t they?

Posted in Making Plans | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Opposite of Frivolity

As fun as it will be to run around the country, taking pictures of the Grand Canyon (I really want to visit Supai, one of my Anthropology professors said it’s gorgeous) and car-dancing to classic rock radio on Route 66, there will have to be some work getting done; I’m not some privileged trust-fun baby. In order to afford my adventures (and still pay off my student debt), I’m taking up freelancing in a number of areas.

It will take some more practice and studying, but I do have some experience with front-end web development. I don’t expect to make $80k a year, but I don’t need to. Here’s a rough breakdown of what I’m expecting so far:

25/30 days per month parked in campsites: At an estimated $25/night for a hookup, $625/month for a place to park, have water, and electricity. Depending on how long I’ll be in any given place, I’ll spring for sewer, but I’m sure I’ll become vary familiar with free dump stations in the states before long.

Food: I don’t eat much. Between farmers markets in the summer, and cheap  discount stores in the winter, I’m budgeting $100/month for food.

Gas: I haven’t estimated this out yet, but I’m budgeting $200 for now.

Student Loans: My big hold-back–We’ll just say $500 for the sake of argument. It’s not quite that, but I’d like to get them paid off ASAP.

Roughly, I feel like I’m looking and a necessary income of $1500 per month. At (Michigan) minimum wage, that works out to be 50 hours per week. However, if I can pull an average of $10 per hour for my work, that’s just under full-time. As exciting as travelling will be, I am not going to be living it up 24/7; I think I’d go crazy anyway, from boredom. Trees are only beautiful for so long, you know. Between writing, blogging, and web development, I should have enough to keep me occupied and in food for the time being.

Obviously, this is all very, very rough guesstimating. (Surprisingly, Chrome recognizes that as a word!) I won’t know more details until I know what trailer I’ll have, what sort of car I’ll be towing it with, and the like. But for now, I have a ballpark figure to work towards. I have a general idea of what I will need to do, and that’s enough to get me started. If I begin now, I’ll have time to build up enough of a reputation on the freelance sites I’m a member of that I’ll have less trouble keeping up with the money when I finally get on the road.

If worse comes to worse, I can always ‘camp’ at various relatives’ across the country for a few months at a time while I get things back together!

Posted in Making Plans | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Frivolity of Expedition

Honestly, I just wanted to use the word ‘frivolity’ today. However, it’s well related to an idea I had: I’m taking off to see America, to travel and live life. It’s supposed to be fun. I’ve heard a couple of songs in recent days that make me think, ‘yeah, that’s why I’m going!’

One of my side-missions over the next few months will be to come up with a mix-tape (I might actually put it on cassette–I’ve got a tape deck in my car) for the first time I venture forth into the world, with the pavement under my tires and a trailer at my back. The idea may seen quaint, but I’m going to be logging a lot of hours with nobody but Pink Floyd, Toby Keith, Kesha and Rhianna for company–may as well get started on the right foot with them!

The order will be important, but for now just a few titles that will likely go on it:

  • Turn the Page – Bob Seger
  • Life is a Highway – Tom Chochrane
  • I  Can’t Drive 55 – Tommy Hagar
  • Run – Pink
  • Speed – Montgomery Gentry
  • Here’s To Never Growing Up – Avril Lavigne
  • Take A Back Road – Rodney Atkins

The trick will be putting them in order! My music tastes are all over the place, so this will be a lot of fun putting together a playlist. I’ll have my Pandora stations to keep me company when I’m in 4G range, sure, but CDs and cassettes will have to come along for the back roads and far-out spots where radio stations and internet are sparse. Time to start trawling thrift stores for $.25 tapes!

Posted in Making Plans | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Countdown: Eleven Months

If you were to glance at my ‘about’ page, you’d find that my mission, and I’ve already chosen to accept it, is to become a full-time RVer starting next summer. I’m sure a lot of people are choosing to start this lifestyle next summer, but many of them are men and women just retiring, with empty nests, being bitten by the travel bug. I am none of these. I am 24 years old right now, and with no all-consuming passion, no deeper calling after graduation, I have decided that staying in one spot is what’s killing me.

Many people my age don’t know what they want to do with thier life. I was one. I still am, in a way. But now, I have a goal. I tend to have a short attention span, so when I wake up every evening, with a big smile on my face, and it never feels out of place–wait, no. Sorry, that’s the All American Rejects. Seriously, though, when I think about something every day for two weeks, it’s significant.

Right now, I work part-time in a department store. Retail does not seem to be agreeing with me (I’m sure it must agree with some people; there are associates there who are celebrating 15 and 20 year anniversaries with the store), but my degree is in Anthropology. My most obvious options are research and teaching–neither of which appeal to me at the moment. Maybe later, but right now I have a life to enjoy. Obviously, I will have to pay for my adventures. The trailer won’t be free. Neither will gas, food, campsites, or insurance. Furthermore, I have student loans to take care of.

Is my decision to take off across the States (and probably Canada) irresponsible? Possibly. I will do what I can. I have plans to freelance to pay the bills. I’m not above taking a temporary or seasonal position somewhere I can park for three or four months, if I must. I wouldn’t even mind working a campground for a season in exchange for my hookup site. As long as I’m not tied down a year at a time by a lease, I will be much happier than I have been.

My current lease isn’t up until next June. In that time, I have to do several things:

  • Save the money for a down-payment on a trailer. I’m looking at a relatively inexpensive trailer, which I’ll talk about later.
  • Get my car into top shape, and get a tow hitch for it. (Alternatively, trade my brother for his truck.)
  • Find a trailer to practice driving with one attached. My aunt has one I’m sure I could use for a day.
  • Clear out my clutter. If I’m moving into anything less than one of those quarter-million-dollar mansions-on-wheels, I will need to cull a large part of my wardrobe, books, costume jewelry, knick-knacks, toys, and games. That will be an adventure in itself.
  • Create a budget to facilitate all of this, sort out what I’ll need to do for taxes, mail, and legal documents. I need to create a will and a living will, just in case.
  • Work on building momentum freelancing before I quit my part-time, to make sure it’s a viable income source.

As you can see, there’s lots to do. It feels like I’ve got a ton of time–eleven months is almost a whole year. But, none of these tasks I can do in a day. The journey to get to the journey is going to be long, but I’m 100% confident that it will be worth it.

Until then, bear with me as I get my life in order and get ready to go!

Posted in Making Plans | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment