Car life is now a “thing”. Or should I say #carlife.
That’s obviously meant tongue-in-cheek, as I have come to truly LOVE living in a vehicle, but still, glamorous it is not!
While many blogs, YouTube channels, and other influencers only show the beautiful, easy, adventurous, fun part of this lifestyle to get thousands of views, they totally ignore the crappy things vehicle dwellers deal with on a regular basis. Or as I sometimes call it…
So here are they are - in no particular order - all of the pain-in-the-butt inconveniences we struggle with everyday. The ugly truth.
KEEPING STUFF CHARGED
Phones, laptops, tablets, electric cigarettes (sorry, nasty habit), 12v refrigerators, car jumper batteries, lanterns, and a myriad of other tools that make our lives easier. They all need charging.
Even the portable power stations we use to keep these devices fired up needs charging!
It’s a vicious, never-ending circle. And unlike many nomads who live in larger rigs like RV’s, trailers, etc., most vehicle dwellers who reside in cars have very tiny solar set-ups…or none at all.
This means we’re CONSTANTLY juggling the charging of our electronics. Oh, the joy.
Being able to walk up to a real wall outlet and plug something in at any time is a luxury indeed. But instead, we rely on Starbucks!
If you’re thinking about joining this lifestyle, please take my advice and keep your device needs as simple as possible. The fewer things you have to keep constantly charged, the less headaches you’ll endure.
GETTING A GOOD CELL SIGNAL
Being able to get decent cell reception while living on the road can be difficult at times. Same with WI-FI if you’re anywhere off the beaten path!
There are many occasions where I’m forced to drive into a random town, to a McDonald’s or other fast food parking lot, just to be able to make a call or get work done online.
They sell all kinds of gadgets and other doo-dads that can help with this, like; WI-FI extenders, special antennas, etc., but many of these don’t work as well as claimed, or flat out at all. I’d rather save my money, thank you.
What does all of this mean? Simple things that most people take for granted when living in a house or apartment require planning and legwork once you move into a car. Even something quite common like browsing the internet or uploading a YouTube video can turn into a chore to accomplish.
While this might not sound like a big deal, for better or worse, we’re all slaves to our phones and other communication devices these days. Sending emails, ZOOM meetings, texting with friends, relatives & co-workers, watching movies online, and the million other things we use these devices for usually requires a decent internet connection.
Am I complaining? Not at all. But it’s a reality that many influencers ignore, because they only post the positive elements of car life.
There are actually MANY places to take showers while living on the road, such as; truck stops, gyms, campgrounds, beaches, YMCA’s, etc. But none of these options are as convenient as taking a shower in your own home. Because of this…
The vast majority of nomads do not bathe everyday.
Yes, it’s the dirty (pun intended) truth. Most people who live on the road - from my own observations - shower every 2-3 days. Some go longer. I myself go a full week between them. This because there aren’t many gyms where I’m located, only truck stops. And at $16 per shower, I have to use them sparingly.
Does this mean we aren’t clean? Absolutely not! We still brush our teeth daily, use deodorant, and lots of nomads (including me) give ourselves “baths” using baby wipes several times per week.
All of this is very normal within the nomad lifestyle. Not being able to enjoy a long, hot shower each day goes with the territory. And guess what? You actually get used to it after a while, and it becomes routine. Still though…
You do miss that squeaky fresh feeling you get when stepping out of the shower every morning or night.
As I always say; There’s home clean, and nomad clean…which means GOOD ENOUGH!
When you live on the road, a car IS your home. Which means if the weather is bad, chances are high that you’ll be riding it out in your vehicle.
Being enclosed for a day (or many) within the small confines of a car, can challenge even the most mentally tough of individuals.
There’s only so much reading, playing cards, and surfing the internet a person can do before going bonkers with boredom.
Remember this the next time you watch a nomad on YouTube lounging in some luxurious locale with a Mai Thai in their hand.
On top of this, getting stuck in the snow, experiencing a leak in your vehicle during torrential rains, or having to pray that your car isn’t ripped to shreds by hailstorm damage are also not fun occurrences.
Bad weather takes a toll on both you AND your vehicle.
Related to the above is the loneliness factor of car life. While most nomads (me included) tend to be loners by nature, and absolutely relish the solitude and privacy that comes with this lifestyle, the reality is that it can sometimes be too much.
Especially if you don’t have a significant other that you’re traveling with, or if you don’t keep in contact with a network of friends & family.
The camaraderie of having a neighbor, co-worker, spouse, etc. to chat or spend time with regularly is sometimes missed.
And while the majority of public figures in this lifestyle don’t usually discuss it, sex is also included under this topic. Nomads are obviously human too, and just like everyone else, we crave to be kissed, touched, and made love to on occasion.
This is why most vehicle dwellers try to spend as much time as possible OUT of their cars. It gets them off their butts, puts them in contact with the outside world, and all of the creatures and experiences in it.
Dealing with car issues and vehicle breakdowns are another unglamorous, stressful part of the nomad lifestyle.
When you live on the road, your AAA card is just as important as your health insurance card!
Not only are mechanical issues are a major hassle, they can also drain your savings faster than greased lightning. And when you travel as much as most car lifer’s do, it’s not a matter of if, but WHEN they’ll happen! Constant wear & tear on a vehicle (especially an older one) leads to trouble eventually.
Imagine having to shell out $1,000, $1,500 or some other ungodly amount for repairs. There go your savings for the last few months! To make matters worse…
Unlike living in a home - where your car isn’t 100% necessary - and you have the luxury of getting around with an UBER, bus, or maybe by walking, when a car IS your home, you’re basically SOL, and are forced to endure any needed repairs.
If you’re considering becoming a nomad yourself, it is HIGHLY recommended that you have at least a few thousand dollars saved up before hitting the road. If you never need to use it, great. But chances are that you will sooner or later. And having an emergency fund for repairs will make you sleep better at night.
I’m currently dealing with a broken instrument cluster on my Toyota Prius, which I plan to have fixed in about 2 weeks. Cost to replace: $400. Not an earth-shattering amount of money, but surely cash that would be better spent on food, bills, etc. Again, it’s not a matter of if, but WHEN.
In closing, let me say this…I’ve been living on the road full-time since the beginning of 2022, and it has changed my life in so many ways for the better. To me, being a nomad rocks!
The purpose of this article though, is to illustrate to others - especially those who are thinking about vehicle dwelling - that it isn’t all just peaches & rainbows. Yes, the positives FAR outweighs the negatives in my opinion, but there are many aspects of this lifestyle that the influencers ignore, which really doesn’t help people.
It’s important to always make informed decisions in life, where you weigh both the good and bad. This helps come to an educated conclusion. Without showing the bad however, how can a person properly weigh things?
While I tried to keep this on the light side, just know that - as with most things in this world - there are negatives in becoming a nomad. Nonetheless…
I wouldn’t trade this lifestyle for anything!
LIVE WISELY, LIVE WELL!