I am Tim, also known as Van-Tramp. I have been full-timing in my van since December 2011. I do what I do out of the joy of traveling – adventuring as it is – around the country. In 2010 I drove nearly 17,000 miles around the West, visiting 15 National Parks and other attractions. Another 13,000 miles logged in 2011 and it was then that I began venturing into ‘boondocking‘ which has really captured me. 2012 brought on another 14,000 miles of travel and my first full year of full-time van living. 2013 came and went with many more travels. My 2014 travels included 8 months of urban camping with only a few short periods of adventures on either side. My 2015 travels including meeting and falling in love with Kerri and traveling as a couple to Alaska. 2016 started with my first road trip into Baja, and a lot more. 2017 was all about going East of the Rocky Mountains for my first time.
These questions seem to pop up from everyone I meet so lets just get them out of the way…
What got you started living in a van? In late 2009 I decided to stop smoking (for no other reason than it was going to bust my budget that month). To distract myself during the first few days I took my Datsun up to Yellowstone – my first time ever being there – and camped the weekend all by myself. That’s what’s sparked the need to get out and travel. The Big Blue Van came after a bunch of research between getting a van or a full-sized RV. The van was going to suit me best to keep traveling and since I was going to be doing this on my own, there was no need for a large vehicle. I wanted to see all the national parks so mobility (and MPG) was a priority over luxury.
How do you earn money? Do you have a job? I am co-owner of an online business that I co-created in 2005. My work consists of a server maintenance and customer support a few hours each day. While it may not pay as well as I’d like, I’ve yet to lay myself off.
Aren’t you afraid out there all on your own? The camping I do in rural and wild areas comes with some inherent risks, but nothing compared to living in a metro area. Statistically, I am in much greater danger living in a city among other humans. My risks out in the wild are limited to twisting ankle while hiking or rattle snakes, bears, and mountain lions. No, I’m not afraid.
How do you go to the bathroom and shower? I have a small porta-potty in the van that I can use. It is no different than a RV’s toilet and tank, but my tank is small enough to empty by hand as opposed to needing a dump station. I bathe either by using hot soapy water and a wash cloth, by using my solar shower outdoors, or going to one of the two gyms I am a member of.
Do you live down by the river? Um, no.
How much does it cost? Generally I spend $1000 or less each month. Anywhere between $300-400 of that is in gasoline which allows me to see new places constantly. Another $200-250 is in food. The rest is spread out among the few minor bills I have and FUN stuff, like the National Parks. I do publish my finances for all to see, so take a look. I do not factor in my savings or money I send back home to family.
What does your family think of you doing this? They are very supportive now. In the first year my Mother worried so much that she wanted me to call her each day, which prompted me to get a cell phone for the first time in years. She has since traveled with me multiple times and now doesn’t worry as much. My immediate family (Imelda and Timmy) know that this is what makes me happy and support me in my adventures.
UPDATE: In early 2015 I met Kerri while boondocking in Southern California and we began traveling together. In May of 2015 the van was stored in Colorado. Kerri and I now travel together in her Airstream trailer.