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 – 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.
The Tim 2.0 story
Born and raised in the East Bay Area of California I spent 37 years of my life living in the rat-race that is California. As a teen, my Father sent me off with a church group to Yosemite National Park for a week long backpacking trip – likely the best thing he ever did for me in my entire life. Since that week, I’ve always wanted to replicate those feelings of exploration, solitude, and nature, but never really followed through with taking any action on it. Not that I had the time anyway, I did live in California… it’s all about work-work-work just to scrape by.
In 2008 I moved my family to Colorado to escape the oppressive government, high taxes, and poor quality schools of California (my son was in 4th grade). The state had just laid off 10,000 teachers and our city had just filed for bankruptcy (the first city in the nation). Three weeks later, after a huge garage-sale and a 1200 mile drive, we arrived in Colorado. This move proved to be the best choice I had made in all my previous years. In late 2009 I went to Yellowstone National Park and found that feeling again – more than 20 years since the first time I backpacked as a teen in Yosemite. Tim 2.0 was born that weekend.
Van-Tramp was born in March of 2010 with the purchase of the new-to-me van. Though I had no clue at the time, there was no stopping the inevitable; I was now a Nomad. I spent the first two years traveling – part-time – all over the West. I did so with little knowledge about van-life or full-time RV’ing – learning everything as I went. In late 2011, with my personal relationship of 18 years failing (in part due to all my travels), I chose to start a life of full-time traveling in the van, another choice that was not only right for me (and her), but certainly ranks as another of the best choices I ever made in life.
Three years I spent on the road, full time, in the van – exploring, hiking, biking, and just plain having the time of my life. I had not been happier in my life and knew it. I stayed in the West since I had family in both California and Colorado, and I regularly visited both. I met many other travelers during those years, even though I sought after solitude. I met up with one Airstream couple in particular a few times, meeting other couples and families due to their more social life then my own.
At the beginning of 2015, I met up with that couple again as they were camped in Southern California. They introduced me to Kerri, another solo nomad. On January 5th, 2015 I made yet another of the best decisions in my life by knocking on the door of her Airstream. Not only was I blown away at how strong she was to do this on her own, she was smart, beautiful, and funny. How could one not fall in love with such a woman? So I did… hard! Luckily, she eventually did too (whew!) and we have been traveling together since.
Kerri and I have continued living full-time as nomads, sometimes in her trailer and other times in the van. We have visited dozens of US States, parts of Canada, up to Alaska and even down to Baja, Mexico together, and we have no plans to stop our travels any time in the future. Instead, we are looking to go sailing by 2020 to further expand our travels.
Frequently asked questions
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. UPDATE: In 2017 I finally laid myself off after 10-years and am now creating indie-software.
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.
UPDATE-UPDATE: In 2018 we ditched the Airstream, and we both moved back into the van for some good times that only the van can bring.