The Joy of Living in 400 Square Feet
One fee covers “rent”, water, electricity and sometimes even sewer and cable. You can just pay your fees and not have to be concerned with usage or bills later. Depending on where you “camp”, fees can be anywhere from $12-$99 per night. The average is about $32 per night. Any more than that is considered “pricey” and you’ll find that more at the resort-style campgrounds. The cheapest campgrounds we found were National Parks in New Mexico.
Along the way, we discovered the Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds. These are maintained by the ACOE and most always located on lakefronts. They’re usually on the lower end of the rate scale and rarely include sewer. Without sewer you have to pay attention to your grey and blace water tanks (toilet, shower and galley outbound water) since there’s no sewer in which to empty it. But after a few weeks, we discovered that we can camp for 5-7 days before we have to pump so we just do it at the pump out station after we check out to leave.
Less maintenance than a bricks and sticks home… most of the time. Cleaning the interior, sweeping and siping things down, must be done daily due to the small space. I have found that this keeps me on a routine and it doesn’t have to wait until it’s bad. Just sweep, swipe and you’re done! Some rigs even have dishwashers! We don’t, but with only 2 of us, it works out fine.
The exterior just needs a wash once in a while but we encountered a lot of rain which decreased the need for that. The slides need clearing before you bring them in as leaves, twigs and other debris can cause problems. That means a ladder and a broom. Dry out the awnings periodically to prevent mildew. And, of course, the truck requires a fluid change now and then and the tires checked.
And finally, the luxury of relaxation on the days you don’t have anything planned to see or do. Ahhhh! I spent a lot of time reading. Nothing better than a cocktail and a Kindle.
Change the view at will.
Early winter morning in New Mexico. The silence was amazing.
From the ocean in SoCal and San Francisco, to the lakes in Central California and all across the country and the mountains in New Mexico and Colorado, we sat at our modified dining room turned office and drank coffee and cocktails enjoying the best views and expressing our gratitude for everything we could see and do.
There’s always something to do or see.
Mendenhall Museum in Buellton, CA. Awesome collection of eveything racing… and then some.
We hiked trails to waterfalls, drove through towns that seemed like time had forgotten them, caught fish in the chill of spring at the most beautiful, mountain lakes, walked our cats in the snow (yes, you read that correctly), made new friends at Lake Powell in Arizona and met up with them few days later at Four Corners, snuggled up in quite a few major thunderstorms… I can’t remember all of the special moments.
Departures and Arrivals require the same routines ever time, such as backing in (not my favorite part), hitching and unhitching, tire chocks, automatic leveling jacks (thank goodness for those buttons! Manual leveling looks tedious), slides in, slides out, transferring the cats from truck to trailer and vice versa. There was preparing for Travel Days: packing a snack, catnip for The Boyz to keep them calm, things like that.
Rituals and routines are important at they connect meaning to actions. It really was a sacred part of our trip and it created a feeling of appreciation for each other that I can’t explain. We learned to take care of ourselves and each other much better as well. And now, the memories are some of our most intimate secrets as we are the only two people present in them. They are also part of what we miss the most since we settled back into a house.
I hope I have inspired you to try it
It helped get us out and about and reinvigorated our life and our relationship. It also changed our perspective on other states, other cultures, God, nature, material things, money, nutrition… the list goes on! I found out more about who I really am and I realized that I keep that part of me with The Palace. When I come home, I am the responsible, loving Wife, Mom and Grandma who likes to keep busy with my writing, art and the neverending chores. But when we enter the fifth wheel, I turn into a hippie teenager who loves to take walks, swim and wear next to nothing if weather permits. For me, that’s a huge change from who I was: a straight-laced, conforming, insecure woman.
If you have been thinking about doing it, I strongly believe you should at least try it for a week or two. Most of us out on the road long to stay there and many do. We will, God willing, be doing this full time for a few years to come until we’re ready to settle down.. if that time ever comes.
I think the more you read about our adventures from the past year, you’ll think more and more about doing! Stay in touch! Join our mailing list so you’ll know as soon as I post a new share!