We budgeted about $18,000 to get ourselves going; around $10,000 for a truck, $5,000 for a camper, and about $3,000 in miscellaneous startup costs, including costs of travel back to the mainland, gear for our new lifestyle like additional camping and climbing equipment, and outfitting the camper and truck the way we wanted them.
Before we left Hawaii, we sold a substantial percentage of our stuff, as if an entire house, everything you own inside as well as those things you “keep” so we could check a few bags at the airport with everything we need to own, and I still brought way too much underwear. Eventually we were able to convert our things into $11,135. This was our main fund for startup costs, allowing us to reduce the effective hit to our savings account quite a bit. Overall, we only ended up having to spend a little over $5,000 from our savings to get going. This doesn’t include any of our ongoing expenses, like fuel and food, its just the cost to get ourselves set up to start living this way.
So far there are a few items we’ve purchased that stand out as super awesome and things that we rely on for our day to day living, as well as some stuff that we just love.
Top Nine Every Day Essentials
This mug has been used daily as our coffee pot and coffee mug since we started the trip. It’s a french press inside of a travel mug. Its pretty amazing how well it keeps the grinds out of the coffee, and keeps coffee hot for hours (WAYYY better than a JetBoil). The only two problems are that since you pour boiling water in, the water stays at almost boiling for quite awhile, so we’ve burned ourselves many times drinking too hot coffee. The other downside is that the press inside holds about 1/4 of the liquid in, so you only get about 3/4 cup of coffee for each brew. It works for us since we aren’t heavy coffee drinkers because we share the one cup and that’s usually good. Numbing the tip of your tongue works well for travel, with a partially functioning tongue the impending slur makes everybody want to help you.
Its always clean because we only use it for water, and due to the shape when we are driving around somehow this thing never tips over. We’ve come close to flipping the truck over yet this thing is still on the same darn burner on the stove.
These are great. We had one and bought a second. We use them all the time for fresh water. We hang them off the jacks on the back of the camper and use them to brush our teeth, wash dishes, as a hand washing station instead of using water from our water tanks. They pack in a backpack easily and carry lot of water but condense down really small for storage. This is a must have item for us, we use it all the time. The plastic containers take storage when empty and these hold tons, and if you develop a need to just go for a “walk” like we do and then 15 miles later are walking back…you will be glad you’ve got those 2 gallons of water in your pack.
This shovel is our best friend for bathroom time. It folds down to about the size of your hand, and is super sturdy. Perfect for digging small deep holes, which is what we need it for! Sturdy for digging poop into the ground, please take your toilet paper-pack in pack out…but this shovel doesn’t double as a hot dog cooker as the hinge is partially plastic. But it’s small and will also dig you out of a ditch with lots of digging.
We have owned one of these for quite a while, but living in Hawaii, ours broke due to the fact that Haley our pup would wear it while playing special dog olympic water polo in the ocean, so it corroded. We bought another after landing on the mainland, and this thing is so wonderful when you have a dog! Its effectively a remote control for your dog. You press the front button, and it give the dog a small vibration on its neck. Usually that is enough to get Haley to come running back to us, but it also has a shock mode for the times that she is bolting across the desert chasing a jack rabbit. It allows her to play and have some freedom and gives us the piece of mind that if we have neighbors that want some peace and quiet or we are near a roadway, we can keep control of her. It’s so much the better for dogs and humans in that it allows a dog to get a 50 mile hike in while you walk 5 miles with the dog never further than 300 feet away, so much for that 6 foot leash. I shock myself ten times every time I have to shock her for measure. Who is training who?
The entire line of Pop-a-whatever is such a space saver and headache saver for a small space. We were using an entire cabinet for plates and bowls, and now we just have these underneath that cabinet. Chris has allergies and so finding tissues at a half seconds notice is so nice. I had these growing up and scoured every Walmart and supermarket for them because I assumed everyone had one, but could only seem to find them on Amazon and at Camping World. But they do work in a camper…and no not enough people own them that you will find them at Walmart unless their clientele really worries about stuff like we do. If your worried about your kitchen or tissues staying where you placed them, for example your house has been lifted into the air, hit a speedbump, evaded a tire on the road at top speed, driven over hundreds of miles of washboard and offroad worse than you will ever find east of the Mississippi, pulled over by a cop while completely stopped or evaded a squirrel at 55MPH.
These things are all over the internet as a space saving device, and for good reason. We cut them up into little pockets that you can use and attach anywhere. We use them for silverware, spices, food, and tools, and still have a bunch left over if we find other uses for them.
We only just recently purchased this guy, and that was after two very cheap inverters that we weren’t happy with. Chris just happened to test the voltage on it and it read 97-94 VOLTS Cobra brand. Welcome to destroyed computers, printer, power tools…don’t always trust the Amazon reviews. As you probably know, its supposed to be 120V, so the result is destroyed electronics. Glad we figured this one out before frying everything we own. We decided on the Go Power 300-Watt inverter because it provides high quality power, its really quiet and really durable. We don’t have much in terms of power needs, so the 300W size is plenty for us. You can even run the thing at night. It not only works, but doesn’t sound like your camped near an airport.
The camper was originally outfitted with 12V 27W incandescent bulbs throughout. We pulled them all and replaced them with these. I think the wattage is under 3W per bulb now, so we can run lights whenever we want without worrying. 9 Bulbs inside means we can be lit up like a cruise ship for the energy of 1 old bulb. (Change your light bulbs to LED please for the planet…you get used to the light).
Other Stuff We Love
The hardest part about using them is finding them. When in doubt they are usually around your neck. Chris being a past Firefighter liked Streamlight but their headlights didn’t last a dwindle of time.
We have both used this filter for backpacking trips and trust it and know how it works. There’s so many options now for water filters, but this one is simple in its functionality, so I dont worry that it will malfunction when I need it. A plus is that is fits right on to our MSR dromedaries making the process a bit easier, since this can be kind of awkward to do for a single person (most times I would pump with one hand, position the intake where I wanted it in the water source, and use my feet to hold the container I was filtering into).
We have been changing our own oil for years. Its a really easy way to save some money, but with the 7.3L diesel, it takes 15 QUARTS to do an oil change. Seriously. So this replaces the oil drain plug and allows us to just push a button to start draining the oil at a very controlled speed instead of unscrewing it at getting oil all over ourselves. or dropping the bolt into the oil pan, which I do almost every time. It also lets us stop the draining process and switch to a new drain container if we fill one up. We just installed this after our first oil change, so not sure how it’ll perform yet, but super excited to try it out! No leaks after 3,000 miles. Change your own oil please, you will do a better job and it is easier than changing 5 lightbulbs. Buy rubber gloves if you’ve no knack and need to youtube it.
Always good to have an axe for chopping wood. This one works great, super sharp. It has silicone on it so some how if your not a lumberjack (we are not) it still splits wood with a “gentle” touch.
I left my winter coat on an airplane about a year into living in Hawaii, and just never bothered to buy another one since it was quite rare that I needed it. With all the adventures we expect to encounter, I thought it was worth investing in a super warm, super cozy winter jacket. This thing is so lovely and feels like wearing a fluffy cloud.
Sneaky little device that gives you access to water even when there is no outside access to an on/off valve. It’s for the janitorial sciences, we haven’t had to use it, but its good piece of mind that in an emergency we could get water in a city if we needed it. Never steal water, that’s illegal. Always give it back to the earth.
This is similar to the four way key in that even if the threads are worn and you cant get your hose to fit, this will fit over the fixture and allow you to get water. Again, not something we need all the time, but really great to have for a just in case. It’s amazing what the government will do to keep you from hooking a hose up, but again Chris as a firefighter this is for the life safety of the residents of where we populate.
The last climbing helmets we owned were over ten years old, so these were a serious upgrade. We tried on five or six different styles at The Desert Rat in St. George, Utah before deciding on this style for both of us. Its such a personal choice on these things, but it’s incredibly light, doesn’t block your vision, is easily adjustable, and very comfortable. The old heavy ones still have a place in our heart, and somehow might fit better, yet heavy climbing helmets mean more gas consumption for vehicle…er I mean human.
Da dawg. She is inside of our fitted sheet while I write this. Dees dogs are prissy, they can take a 50 mile hike yet still want to be under the covers when sleeping. And I mean under the fitted sheet this evening. Good sleep makes for good play. So we tend to find ourselves on the vertical sides of cliffs from time to time, or often. So in the “fitted sheet” style we will take her with her now. It sure is confusing for both human and dog. Yet dog is very happy to join human and human is glad dog is safe. Are we done talking about this?