HOW TO SURVIVE LONGTERM WILD CAMPING WITH AN RV
Life on the road is awesome. Not always easy, but awesome nevertheless. To have the world as your playground and live in the most beautiful wild surroundings with endless possibilities for adventure – there is no better life if you’d ask us!
It’s well worth the sacrifices that we make and we continue to find that the less we have, the less we need. Here you’ll find an overview of what we do to survive a life off the grid. No house, no WiFi, no electricity, no running water. And yet feeling richer then ever.
Solar power all the way!
When we say no electricity, we mean the kind that magically comes out of the wall – after you’ve paid your hard-earned money for it. Although we might find it a fun experiment to go a month or so without any electronical devices, we’re definitely not at that point yet, so we do need some juice to charge our phones and what not.
We don’t feel the need to stay at busy campsites that offer paid electricity so consequently we run 100% on solar power. Our roof holds two 110W solar panels that get us through the day perfectly. On a cloudy day we run a little lower then with a scorching sun in clear blue skies, but overall, we have yet to be disappointed! We do try to work with our environment so with a rainy forecast we won’t run our fridge on solar power and preferably postpone a session of gaming or video editing.
We do realize that summertime in Scandinavia (with roughly 20 hours of daylight) has near perfect conditions for our solar panels but so far we haven’t had any trouble elsewhere in Europe either. Keeping a couple of battery packs charged at any time and utilizing your chassis battery whenever driving gets you a long way when it comes to making it through less sunny times.
Free water for the win
Since we left two months ago we’ve bought water in the store once. And this was only because we wanted some fresh bottles after using our current ones for a while. Even though our RV Brutus is suited with a 120l water tank and a brand-new pump, we’ve got a whole bottle system going on for our water usage instead. We’ve found that bottles are easier to fill up in all sorts of places (toilets, gas stations, any faucet we come across really), rather than having to look for a spot equipped with a hose and room to park our 7 meters long beast close enough to fill up our tank. On top of that, using bottles helps with rationing our water supply since it’s both easier to control how much we’re using (no flushing water down the drain) and to see how much is left.
We try to save any drinking water we can find for the purpose of, well…, drinking. When doing dishes, brushing teeth, washing hands etcetera we use water from streams, lakes, the sea, you name it. Even our toilet gets flushed with bottles of lake water! When running low on drinking water we also use water from natural sources to make tea and coffee, and as a last resort we have our Sawyer water filter to generate clean drinking water from pretty much any resource.
Of course, Scandinavia is absolutely fantastic when it comes to crystal clear streams running down the mountain, and more often than not we drink straight from the source and get to flush away our turds with sparkling cool glacier water. Yes, it is what it is guys. We poop, too.
Avoiding the stank
And now that we’re on the topic of stink and dirt; here’s how we keep ourselves funky fresh and smelling like wild roses – without a shower.
Not to lie: we do HAVE a shower, we just don’t use it. Not because we love to smell like sweat and sunscreen and campfire all the time (the latter we do like quite much actually), but because we’ve developed easier ways to get clean than cramping up in a 0.5m2 plastic shower. Oh, and our bathroom floor might have a leak. That, too.
We do have the option of outdoor showering by simply placing the hose outside of the bathroom window. But as we haven’t filled up our water tank once, that won’t get us very far at this point. So, what’s a happy wild-camper to do?
…WATERFALL showers guys! We’ve washed ourselves in rivers and lakes, poured bottles of water over each other’s heads, but nothing beats a good waterfall shower. Not even our sun heated shower bags that we used exactly once in these past two months. We bathe or swim or shower basically whenever the chance arises and so far that has kept us perfectly satisfied when it comes to cleanliness. Laundry, too, gets done whenever the circumstances are best. If you’d ask me there aren’t ever any right circumstances to do laundry rather than wander the woods but hey, a clean shirt after that waterfall shower sure feels good!
Wild food fun
Someday we’re planning to have our own garden filled with fruits and veggies, chicken and a goat. But while we daydream of fresh potatoes and home picked herbs we have to make do with what nature provides. And the supermarket.
We’re still learning when it comes to edible plants and mushrooms but enrich our diet with fresh herb teas, the occasional shroom and we’ve even made a burger out of red clover and lady’s mantle. Fruit, especially berries, is growing in abundance this time of year so we’re picking a fresh supply nearly daily. There’s raspberries and blackberries, red currants, blueberries and our favorite: the wild strawberry. And then some… that we’re still learning about. We don’t want to die just yet.
Even though we’d love to live of the land 100%, this proves to be really hard while traveling in an RV. We can’t dry or dehydrate food to store for later, don’t have the loading capacity to make a dozen jars of jam and have no hunting permit. So we do hit the store about once every two weeks to stock up on rice, pasta, crackers and any other basics that are affordable yet nourishing. Norway isn’t exactly the best place to be when it comes to affordability but there’s a catch here: fresh fish! (see what I did there?!) We’ve been eating mackerel, seatrout, pollack and cod as well as whelks and mussels. Although we didn’t really get to eat those last ones since they were completely stuffed with pearls. Oh bummer.
Getting from A to Z
We travel a lot, yet we don’t have any real plan other then ‘making it somewhere sunny in time for winter’. We never know where we’re going next until right before the moment of departure. Which is about every 3 to 5 days or so. The fact that we move around so much at the moment is partly due to our limited stay here in Norway. Put simply; in the long run Norway is just too expensive for us to sustain ourselves, even in spite of the free fish. So we want to make the most of our time here. But even in other countries we move around quite a lot because there’s so much to explore!
Venturing out from home base we usually first take an exploratory trip by mountainbike and head out on foot later to utilize any hiking options. We really couldn’t do without our bikes! We get to explore so much farther than we ever could solely on foot! Plus, there’s just something about slowly paddling through the forest or racing down a mountain slope with the wind in your hair.
Remaining off grid
We refuse to pay for camping. Not because we’re greedy but because it undermines the whole point of being free and self-sustainable. We don’t need electricity or water, so why pay for a piece of land to park on? We strongly feel the planet is ours as much as it is anyone else’s so we really don’t see the point in needing anyone’s permission to set up camp. (Meaning: pulling the handbrake. We’re not much of a garden-set -on-grass-mat-surrounded-by-tiny-plastic-fence-type. Yes, these people exist and we’ve seen far too many of them).
Of course we would love to park in the middle of the woods and next to secluded lakes all the time. But truth be told, even in Scandinavia we sometimes have to settle for less. Brutus is simply too big and bulky to go off-road like we used to do with our Ford Fiesta Bessie and wilderness really lives up to its’ name here. Forests are often impassable even on foot or by bike, let alone with 3.5 tons of steel under your butt. There are so many beautiful (parking) spots though, and more often then not we are completely by ourselves. Gotta love Scandinavia’s freedom to roam!
We’ve used both CamperContact and the Park4Night app to look for campsites (the latter one has the option to filter for sites surrounded by nature!), as well as a more adventurous approach of “let’s see where we’ll end up today”. Neither have ever really disappointed us. If anything, we are pleasantly surprised time and time again! By the view, a crystal-clear stream five steps out the door, dolphins swimming by or free WiFi at the mall.
If we could generate a web connection out of sunshine or wind we would. But until then we are dependent on our mobile data that tends to run out a lot quicker than we’d like. Trying to keep you guys updated on our adventures means we sometimes have to rely on finding free WiFi which sometimes turns out to be an adventure in itself! So far, we’ve walked the obvious road of chilling at McDonalds (yay for burgers and fries!) but also wandered around the supermarket for an inordinate amount of time in an attempt to update our offline maps. We’ve even circled around a closed mall to get a little bit of reception (and actually got just enough bars for a skype session seated with our back against the entrance. Oh yeah! Did anyone say leachers?). Scandinavia is great but when it comes to the comforts of city life like finding a venue with a WiFi connection everything is far, so faaaaaar away.
Which, truth be told, is exactly how we like it.
After having read this glorious story of how we don’t shower and flush our poop with a bottle of water collected from the sea we can’t imagine anyone still choosing a house over a mobile home. So, are you wondering if RV living is for you, or just want to know more about how we manage traveling around permanently in our 16m2 home on wheels? Shoot any question in the comments!