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Beginner Tips, fresh from my Newb Brain ;)
It sounds like RiotRose is getting close to making The Leap, and Jewell Ann is close to making some trial trips, so figured I should pay it forward. Here goes!

These are general tips:
  • Start with whatever vehicle you have. You will learn tons, without making a huge financial commitment. Win-win.
  • As you learn what does & does not work for you, you can start deciding whether to stay with your current vehicle or what features you really need and/or want (for me, the issues included: better ventilation, the ability to stay completely inside for prolonged periods (i.e. tick free!))
  • Start with short trips, where you'll have access to some "facilities" (toilets FTW!), so you don't have to struggle with all the Big Issues at once.
    Do not feel you "must" go somewhere exciting or beautiful.
    Go somewhere close-ish.
    You can even start in your driveway. Smile
  • If you've never slept in your vehicle, it's a lot easier starting at home.
    Start with a nap at mild temperatures.
    Adjust your setup as needed/desired, and gradually increase your nap times.
  • Just buy the bare necessities, and repurpose as much of your existing Stuff as possible.
    For example: I lost my cold weather sleeping bag in the flood of 2008, and still have not replaced it.
    I survived many sub-zero nights in northern WI, just using blankets/etc.
  • Water: If you have weak hands, consider using some smaller sized bottles (e.g. 2L soda bottles, 1L "flavored water" bottles, plastic soda bottles).
    I have 4 one-liter sized bottles (Aldi/Walmart "flavored water"), and they're a LOT easier to deal with on a daily basis. When they're all empty, it takes a single gallon jug to refill them all.
    I will probably buy at least a couple more.
    Other Big Bonus: they're a lot easier to fill for free, both physically & mentally. Smile
    (i.e. I now have zero hesitation bringing one or two single-liter bottles into a fast food place, asking if I can get some water, then filling them. In contrast, bringing in a one gallon jug make me feel like all-eyes-are-upon-me.)
  • Practice "camp cooking" at least a bit, at home, before you Launch.
    Plan some simple recipes.
    Do not stress over nutrition. Make things that are both easy and morale lifting (cough Grilled Cheese FTW!). Wink
  • When you cook, either inside your vehicle or at a roadside grill/table, organize all your items before turning on your gas/fuel. Trust me, the very first time you cook, you'll learn this! Smile
  • If you've got a "shore power" outlet (or a portable power pack), you may be able to start without investing in solar power, which will reduce your Brain Drain. Wink
  • If you have one, try starting with just a cooler (unless you have Special Needs like meds that are highly temperature sensitive).
    I already had a small one, and use a couple of large soda cups filled with ice, which works ok for 2-3 days.
    A lot of items can go without refrigeration (there have been some excellent threads at CRVL).
  • For each of your Learning Trips, set specific goals, most of which are simple.
    Do not try to "do everything".
    Focus on a few key skills.
  • Bring something to do and/or entertain yourself.
    Boredom is one of the most off-sited reasons for "failure".
    For example, if you're staying close to your Library, get some books/DVDs/etc.
    Last summer, I decided to re-read the entire "Harry Potter" book series (which worked out well: I had finished all but the last book before my trip to Oregon, and by the breakdown had barely started the last book, but thanks to that forced 10 days, I was able to finish it Smile ).
    On my first local trip, I picked up some DVDs and a couple of other books.
    Blanch did an excellent write up on getting electronic books from your Library. I'll be trying that, soon. Smile
  • Check the weather forecast well in advance, and choose pleasant (by your standards) conditions. You've got options, embrace them! Remember my winter experiences. Smile

Aim Small, Miss Small.
That's a quote from the Revolutionary War movie "The Patriot". Yes, I'm channelling Gunny's Spirit. Smile

I'll be posting pics soon of my van in "submarine mode".
Jewell Ann: those will mostly be for your morale, so you'll know that your van is not messy, it's merely equipped for a Long Voyage. Big Grin
"Cause how you get there is the worthier part." Shephard Book to Kaylee, Firefly
[Image: dobby.png]

2019-Dec update:
I've escaped Winter!
[-] The following 4 users say Thank You to Kaylee for this post:
  • TWIH (04-21-2019), Xanthorhizas (04-21-2019), American Nomad Patriot (04-22-2019), NomadJack (04-23-2019)
All good advice!

Too many newbies try to do too much at once.  They've never gone camping, or cooked over an open fire, or slept outdoors in a strange place, and then they wonder why they get frustrated.

[-] The following 2 users say Thank You to TrainChaser for this post:
  • Kaylee (04-22-2019), American Nomad Patriot (04-22-2019)
If you are planning to stealth camp look around and see what is available. Maybe see if you can spot some stealth campers in your area. Try to see a different spot every day near you. They try it. Try to find a spot a bit farther away.

Get some info like www.onlyinyourstate and see what is near you. There are apps for hiking or bike trails, rest stops, Walmart, state parks - gps works to find small parks, National parks, historic sites, etc. I search free things to do in ***, then state. Big old hotel lobbies are some times very cool... we ran into a man who was going to all the state capitals and taking pictures. My dad used to look for old unusual churches. Look for odd things like the pink elephant with a martini or the giant tire man. Some towns have the worlds largest what ever. Maybe find a theme for your travels. A lot of towns have river walks. Do you like being in the wild? Prefer city? Somewhere in between? How about museums? There are museum, zoo, gardens and science passes that have affiliates and reciprocals. (This topic has been covered here.) Some don’t have reciprocals There are places that offer free days. Some museums and zoos are free all the time. Some places offer a pass good on multiple sites. Get a National Park pass. There are trails along a lot of waterways. Take a tour around all the Great Lakes... See if you can find local places to eat, family owned places to go to. Ask questions of people who live where you are visiting. They will tell you not to miss what ever they think is cool. We found a water ski show in Janesville, Wisconsin. Olympic quality. My aunt and uncle knew about it. It was pretty cool. I don’t think it is something I would try to do though... There are little houses every once in awhile filled with books, you can exchange books in them. Some times thrift stores have cheap books. Libraries don’t care if you sit and read or use a computer. You can ask them if there is any kind of attractions in their area. I like to walk through historic areas and look at old houses or what ever. I guess you can have just a few simple interests or you can thoroughly explore a place or two. I know a couple that love to explore antique stores so they hit them all. Then there are festivals large and small. There are state guides for festivals. Fairs can be interesting. If it is raining go sit in a big hospital lobby and read, the employee cafeteria might not be too bad. Free internet. If you are a musician, check out a local music store and ask where there is a jam or an open mike. You can do all of the above right where you live while you are still in your driveway. Go do something fun. Then expand.

Set a realistic budget. See if you can manage where you are now.
I'm not lost. I'm exploring.
[-] The following 3 users say Thank You to Snikwahjm for this post:
  • Xanthorhizas (04-21-2019), American Nomad Patriot (04-22-2019), NomadJack (04-23-2019)
Good point about not needing a fridge.
It's all a lot of $, then you have to worry about it, the panels, and the batteries.
Us boys are too dumb to know about anything besides cramming everything in the fridge, tho

What did the 60's hippy singer chick sing about freedom? 'If you ain't got nothin, you got nothing to lose.'
Sometimes dweller in 237k miles '07 Grand C-van w/ a solar powered fridge and not much else
[-] The following 1 user says Thank You to MN C Van for this post:
  • American Nomad Patriot (04-22-2019)
That was Bob Dylan.
[-] The following 2 users say Thank You to TrainChaser for this post:
  • American Nomad Patriot (04-22-2019), NomadJack (04-23-2019)
Janis Joplin-me and bobby mcgee
"not of the body"
[-] The following 1 user says Thank You to Blacktank for this post:
  • American Nomad Patriot (04-22-2019)
Dylan wrote it & sang it:  Like a Rolling Stone. Although many others did sing it. It

Joplin:  Maybe you're thinking of "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose", in Me & Bobby McGee.
[-] The following 1 user says Thank You to TrainChaser for this post:
  • American Nomad Patriot (04-22-2019)
Me and Bobby Magee by Kris Kristoferson , so it's country !,,,?
, Janis Joplin made it a big hit.
It's about relationships .

I'm also pretty good at name that tune..
Stay Tuned

Weirdo Overlord  YARC 
15 "Stinkin'Badges"  a "Full Monty Badge" 2 "Just Ignore Me" clusters  10 "Pine Cone" clusters  , one "Stinkin' Badger" and 128 of the coveted "Flying Manure Spreader"awards
(Pfeeeeeww ,What a "Stinkin' " honor !)
[-] The following 1 user says Thank You to rvpopeye for this post:
  • NomadJack (04-23-2019)
hopefully a 'newbie' into wanting van life HAS SOME camping experience. If a person has none, yikes big time--- cause they don't even know if they can handle a small contained camping type lifestyle.

don't rush. experiment. rent a small class B and see if you can handle that for a 4-5 day long weekend trip.
best is to try this life out before you even think of purchasing anything.

I know those who love this type of lifestyle will jump in and make it work Smile A van, tent, car and tent, or rv or whatever, if this lifestyle suits you then you have it made in the shade mostly Smile
[-] The following 1 user says Thank You to RoamerRV428 for this post:
  • American Nomad Patriot (04-22-2019)
Mine is just get the biggest 80's RV you can find. You got your space, your water, your toilet and shower, your oven, a generator, etc.

Its less shocking, less work, usually less money, usually less mileage on the thing, youre ready to go right away for the most part, youre gonna want to bring more than you need and now you can. And its easier to down grade than upgrade. Its actually way cheaper on insurance and it carries enough and is homey enough to stay in one spot much longer.

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