I’m frequently asked, when I share with people what I plan to do, why I’m not doing this back in a van like I did in 2019. They have a hard time relating to this new mode of travel when they think road travel should extend their home conveniences: standing, sitting, showers, bathroom, microwave, air conditioning… and on and on.
Actually, this is not usually their first question, which typically is “At your age?”
I think this new way to travel provides two healthy challenges for me. One is the general notion of roaming without a tether back to a safe home base, thus telling my inner logical we-must-plan ego to take a hike while I (try) to embrace serendipity. And the other is the daily challenge of flexibility and muscle use to live in and out of the Outback versus the laid-back convenience of my former 21′ Travato RV where I could freely stand up, sit, shower, normal bathroom, inside kitchen, and so forth. To that last challenge I say “motion is lotion” and think it’s healthy for me to be challenged to move like this every day rather than being sedentary. But back to this new mode of travel.
My takeaways from my Travato year were I was not always comfortable driving such a large, clunky, heavy box and at times that became quite stressful. Its size, while providing standing and creature comforts, was limiting to get to places I want to go, frequently difficult to park, and expensive to fuel. Plus, when I didn’t feel like doing much, it was too convenient to just stay inside and read or watch a movie (not that there’s anything wrong with those two choices). With Obie, the focus is on being outside. When I sold the Travato I knew I wanted to keep traveling but in a much smaller vehicle where driving was less stressful and I could easily take and park it anywhere I wanted to go.
What Obie and Nomadic Life 2.0 provide is an experiment in adopting a philosophy of being nimble, flexible, more basic, and free from any limitations on where I can go. I’m equipped for outside camping when the weather’s nice, yet staying inside when it’s not. Fuel efficiency is nearly double that of the Travato, meaning $$ savings plus longer distances between fill-ups. And being a car, zero limits to visiting places or parking as needed, even in garages (although with the roof box there will still be an awareness of low clearances (under 7’ whereas the Travato was 9’6”; most parking garages will not be an issue).
This approach is about embracing and enjoying the pureness of camping. Even when I sleep inside, it’s more related to tent camping than sleeping in an RV. And in my mind, a major part of these travels is to get more in touch with nature whenever and wherever. To that extent, I will try to stay away from traditional campgrounds and RV parks, and instead explore the vast, available public lands. Some of that will require driving on rougher roads, but Obie has high clearance, serious all-terrain tires, and skid plates for both engine and differential. I will chicken out on a given wild road way, way before Obie’s maxes his capabilities.
Some may think this relates to the folks highlighted in the Nomadland movie, but I’m not living out of Obie, although I plan to travel this way about 3/4ths of the year. And I’m not aligned with the more social RV crowd. Somewhere in between is where I am, and I think of that zone as explorers, those independent travelers whose focus is wandering and immersing in nature and cities while indulging in a lot of introspective time. That’s not to say I won’t be visiting friends around the country and hanging out, but more that I won’t stay long in one place like van lifers nor move from one rally to another group meet-up like a lot of the RV crowd.
I will delve much more into each specific aspect of Nomadic Life 2.0 over at my YouTube channel, Wandering Obie. Those topics are better suited to show-and-tell videos than writing here about them.
Stay tuned both here on the blog and over at the YouTube channel. Things are just getting interesting!