October 18, 2013

Rubber Tramping

The possibilities for a home on wheels are only limited by your
imagination and creativity. This is a funky, comfy bus conversion.

Would you like your living costs to be $500 dollars per month or less? Think you could live in 45 square feet? Are you an unconventional, freedom-loving non-conformist? Rubber tramping may be for you.

In a growing trend in North America over a million nomads and gypsies are making their homes in RVs, converted buses, vans and cars. Some are fighting conformity while others are escaping a life of mediocrity.

Still others are reluctant rubber tramps forced on the road as financial refugees. The lucky ones are those that use the lifestyle to retire early with savings or a small pension. All are living life off the grid.

Airstream trailer conversion.

Vehicular living doesn't leave much room to roam inside, but there are benefits to being a new nomad. You can save money, be free of financial enslavement, live a small footprint lifestyle (very small), keep your belongings to a minimum, and be as mobile as it gets.

I see rubber tramping, van-dwelling or RVing as the equivalent of living in a sailboat except you live on wheels instead of water. Something that Linda likes about the pavement option is that you can't sink!

The thing that appeals to me most is the freedom. I also like the idea of being totally off grid and not having to pay someone simply to exist.

Rubber tramping - the view is great from this home on wheels.

There are drawbacks to life on the road. Winter is a big one. Another less solvable problem is how this lifestyle is seen by more conventionally housed individuals. As usual, there is a stigma attached to living differently, and living on four wheels is generally frowned upon, or can even be outright illegal in some locations.

Still, Linda and I are considering downsizing from our current 582 sq. ft. condo to a significantly smaller dwelling - maybe a bit more than 45 sq. ft. We are currently researching a wheelchair accessible RV that is completely set up for a handicapped occupant. It would probably be closer to a palatial 200 square feet.

Everything you need is contained in this mobile tiny home.

Will we be joining the rubber tramp community that is living wild and free on the land? With our current de-cluttering and downsizing project going "full steam ahead" we are definitely "on that bearing".

We will let you know how things go in upcoming posts.

"I stick my finger in the map. It smells of the open road." 

Rustic, functional charm.


  1. my husband use to live in a bus, but the police wouldnt have it, now we live in a tiny little house off 54 meter2, with 3 greyhounds, less and less stuff and a lot of love, we like this lifestyle , hope u and u wife find a nice place to call your home, love from marion , from holland

    1. Marion,

      Less stuff, More love! I am all for that.

      Thanks for your support.

    2. Hah! So it can be done with greyhounds.I have two and a cat. Wonderful.

  2. Anonymous10/18/2013

    Have you read "Walden on Wheels" by Ken Ilgunas? Great take on Van living and so much more.

    Hope that your dreams of the open road come to fruition. It's something I would do if I could!

    Best Wishes, Marla

    1. Miss Marla,

      Thanks for the support and the reference - we will be looking for "Walden on Wheels". It sounds wonderful.

  3. This is my dream life. I look around my home and minimalist though it is, I am still so overwhelmed. It depresses me. Council rates depress me. Wastage depresses me. Fun aren't I ? Thhis is my dream,

    1. Tasmanian Minimalist,

      You ARE fun, and are welcome to vent here any time you want. We feel the pain as things are not so good in Canada right now.

      When I read your blog (I added you to our blog roll on the sidebar) I see that you are headed in the right direction, and that you are heading towards making your dreams happen.

      But changing your relationship with stuff is really, really hard. I say this as Linda and I struggle with unloading things that are just holding us down. It is hard, even when you know it is good for you in the end.

      We have to support each other in breaking free from the madness. There is little support in mainstream society for lifestyles that aren't "growth" oriented like our economic system.

      Good luck in your year without shopping project - we are behind you 100%

      Stay strong - only 347 days to go.

  4. Have a look at Tosimplify.net. A cracking blog by Glenn Morrissette.

    Glenn became a minimalist and rubber tramp by choose. The blog will open your eyes to the possibilities of the mobile lifestyle.

    1. The Big Monkey,

      Thank you. We do appreciate the link to help us with our research on mobile lifestyles.

      I am ready to have my eyes opened to any possibilities. Red pill, please.

  5. Take it from someone who has lived this way for many years. Yes, it can be very cost effective, Yes, it can be a very green way to live. It all depends on how you do it. I believe you still need the basics including some type of health coverage if something major happens. The everyday chores don't go away like laundry but you can efficiently minimize many of these tasks living a full time van or RV life style. Solar is somewhat expensive up front but after awhile you can neutralize this cost then it's free energy to meet your needs. I could go on and on but I just say if it is a fit for both of you (this is very important, and maybe the most important aspect) keep your dream alive and go for it! Best wishes as you move forward.

    1. Bruce,

      You raise some very legitimate concerns that need to be considered.

      Linda and I are well-versed in life on the road and have spent months living out of a '79 Chevy van, as well as out of the back of a small truck with a topper. We enjoy roughing it, and an RV would provide substantially more room and support than our previous vehicles.

      If this comes to pass we will definitely be looking at a solar package to provide power.

      I appreciate your insight on this topic as it is derived from experience.

      Are you currently living a mobile lifestyle?

    2. Gregg, We are living the mobile life style. Started 25 years ago at age38. Went back to work a few times to rebuild funds but but couldn't live a "Normal Life" living in a house doing 8-5. Did some good work outdoors with parks & wildlife for awhile but still had the oppression of the time keeper. Hoping your in the position where Linda and you can truly travel and enjoy the many wonders of full time travel.

    3. Bruce,

      Wow. I am inspired by your situation and your moxy. Fantastic! Thank you for the encouragement.

      Please feel free to tell us more about your experience with living in a tiny home on wheels. For example, you must be in the south. Winter is a big factor in going mobile. We have done some winter camping, but minus 30 degrees C for more than a few days is pretty bracing stuff.

  6. My wife and I are going to be rubber tramping soon. Right now we are selling everything we own and hitting the road. She just graduated college with 2 bachelors degrees. Now is our time to be together and live freely for some time. We found several free camping spots and some nice cheaper spots. We have saved plenty of money to last us for quite some time. I have been working as a manager of a Starbucks and shes a manager at a small mom n pop coffee shop. We currently live in San Antonio,TX but are heading west to Oregon. We plan to settle down in the Portland area. Hopefully we will meet others :-D it feels like life is starting for the first time. I have been working sense I was very young.

    1. Beaux,

      Congratulations on your impending rubber tramping. There is no substitute for being free. I lived in Oregon for two years as a child and it changed my life. It is a beautiful place with forward thinking citizens. Good luck in your travels and enjoy your time off. Please do let us know how it is going from time to time.

  7. I am stuck with so much confliction.i have been spending the last almost 2 years, waiting. Pacing back and forth. Figuratively speaking; I've been banging my head against a wall because I don't want to live a 9 to 5 lifestyle. I feel stuck. I feel decompressed and restricted. I am a decently talented artist/ musician who has lived the same place in Colorado my entire almost 23 years of life. And i don't think I will be able to just.. be. Ever. Not like this. I'm asking you all for advice. How do you make a living on the road.? You know? I've talked with good friends about this topic and a lot say spanging, wire wraps,jewellery,all the way to selling dollar beers, and grilled cheeses at music festivals. But please give me insight if you could as I am in need of all the advice I can find.

    1. Hagan,

      I have been thinking about your comment since you left it here. I, and many people that visit this blog, know how you feel. Your need for freedom is palpable, and it is serious.

      I don't know about making a living on the road, having never had to do it before. But I do know a bit about living with as little as possible so I can be as free as possible, both on the road, and off.

      Cut your expenses, and make the life you envision happen. Whatever it takes. It will be hard, and at times scary. But it absolutely can be done. And should be done. A life of conformist mediocrity is a hard row to hoe as well, so you might as well be free.

      Be free. That is my only advise. And do let us know how it goes.

    2. I am posting your comment today to open it up to the collective wisdom of NBA readers.

      You can find the post, and any responses we may get, here:


  8. We are 16 years in Europe in a 6.2 meter camper. We have travelled over 150,000 miles and have lived in, not just "visited", every country on the European continent (except Belarus), Russia, North Africa, UK, the Middle East and Scandinavia. it has been a wonderful life.

    If you can pair down your lifestyle to a life and can live like a millionaire on less than a poverty income then this is the way to do it. But it takes compromise and creativity. Our lifestyle has cost us as little as $100/mo. and has never been more than $1,500/mo. An average over the 16 years of less than $16,000 per annum. Granted this is not spending nothing but it is a lavish and no holds barred approach to having your cake and eating it - a lot of it - too. We have never felt deprived nor have we ever looked back.

  9. A home on wheels is not really minimalist unless the wheels are a bicycle .. a motor vehicle takes a lot of expense .. however, it can be a great lifestyle .. I lived in a kia soul for 42 months .. it was fantastic, but I did get VERY lonely towards the end, and that was one reason I ended that lifestyle, though I camp in my Soul.

    1. Vehicles are very expensive, which is why we don't own our camper van any more. Wow, a Kia Soul is pretty small. That's great. An electric Soul would require less maintenance and should be less expensive to run. Motor vehicles are still a hassle, unless you are living in it. Then it might be worthwhile.


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