A Day in the Life of a Rubbertramp
I learned the term “rubbertramp” in the movie Into the Wild. Alexander Supertramp is considered a “leathertramp” because he travels by foot, while a couple he met along the way call themselves “rubbertramps” because they travel by car. Whether traveling by foot, car, boat or plane, tramps find themselves stopping and staying wherever they choose for however long they want. No rules, no time frame; just traveling. To me, the term made perfect sense. Even the closest of family and friends don’t seem to quite understand how it is to live the way we do. The only people who truly understand are our other overlanding amigos.
One of the greatest things about traveling is all the people you meet. We have met more people than we ever thought we would on this trip. Some are people who you inspire through your own travels, some are people doing the same thing as you, some are quick conversations and some will be lifelong friends. We have met people out at restaurants while sipping a cold beverage, camping in obscure places and through email/ our website. One of the most common topics of conversation whether you are a fellow overlander or someone emailing us on a whim is our daily lifestyle. So, we live out of our truck? No big deal right? Well, it is definitely a different lifestyle. That’s for sure.
I have recently had a few separate conversations with people from back home talking about about our travels. I realized that no matter how many blog posts I write, they will still never fully understand what we do on a day to day basis. Although we are having the time of our lives and doing everything we want to in life, living on the road is not as glamourous as one may think. I have been following several overlanders for many years and one thing I am always interested to read about was how their day-to-day lives were. So, here I am to tell you about our life on the road. Things that I consider to be mundane, everyday things are actually interesting to you folks at home who don’t know what it’s like to live in a eight by six foot space with another human being and a dog.
One of the biggest tasks we completed before hitting the road was the set up of the back of our truck. As many people have read in our previous posts of the Truck Build Up, we wanted to create a living space that was simple and efficient. Our goals were to keep the front of the truck clear of “stuff” and make sure everything had a ‘home’ out back as well. That meant that everything had to fit underneath the bed. I don’t know how many times we sketched up plans of our proposed sleeping platform and cubbies. Probably hundreds. Finally, we thought we had it down. We made several trips to Home Depot to acquire all the necessary materials and started building. About a quarter of the way into it, the plan changed again and we were building our new house off the top of our heads, without a plan at all. It worked out wonderfully. Little did we know, this would be our preferred method of planning each day while on the road!
The back has six lift up cubbies. One for the auxiliary battery and hiking gear, one for the spare tire and spare parts, one for extra shoes, one to reach our clothing when the drawer is shut, one for odds and ends like dog food, water, first aid kits and such and one that serves as our ‘lockbox’ for our computers. We also have a slide out drawer for things we use on a daily basis such as our kitchen supplies, food and both of our clothing. Lastly, we have the fridge on a slide for easier access.
When we pull into a campsite, we have no ‘set-up’. This is one thing that many overlanders we have traveled with are jealous of. We pull into our spot, open the tailgate, and are ready to go. Our bed is always set up and chairs and table are at easy access to pull out. This becomes particularly handy after long days of driving and all you want to do is hit the hay once you reach your final destination. It is also really helpful if we ever have to ‘pirate camp’ on the side of the road, at a gas station, or any other undeveloped camping area that we don’t necessarily want people to know we are crashing in the back of our truck.
Each day, we grab the foldable table from behind the fridge and set it up. Then, we open the drawer, which is on a series of skateboard bearings, and pull out the stove and percolator. We throw the stove on the table, put filtered water in the percolator and set it over the flame. Our stove has the ability to run off of white gas or gasoline which is really handy down here because you find gasoline much easier than propane or white gas. When we are feeling lazy, the tailgate is our best friend! We set everything up right on the tailgate. It can get a little crowded, though. Also, if you set everything up and then remember you need something from the drawer, you have to slide your station in front of the fridge. Then, when you need something from the fridge, you have to slide it back in front of the drawer.
Our life on the road consists of constantly taking things out of the truck and putting things back in the truck. And repeat. Organization is key! Nothing is ever ‘easy to get to’ but everything has its place. When the truck is unorganized or dirty, you would think it was the end of the world. It’s a constant battle having to keep everything picked up. Back home, I would spread out all over our apartment and leave messes for weeks without Nate noticing. Not anymore!
We fill up our solar shower whenever we can for showers if we are camping in a spot that doesn’t have them (which is more often than not, it seems) and also for doing our dishes. This way we don’t have to use our filtered water. Also, when we aren’t using the solar shower, it packs up really small and can be stored away under the bed.
For laundry, I keep laundry soap on hand and do it when we have access to a spigot or a well. I dump out our kitchen bin and fill it with water then take our big pot and boil some water in it to wash in warm water. Having warm water is huge when you live outside! We can get pretty filthy living in the dirt 😉 We have rope and clothespins to hang them to dry. It usually takes me about two or three hours to wash and hang everything out. It takes a little while but we have all the time in the world! And its a good workout too 😉
When it rains or it is too hot and sunny out, we unzip our awning and set it up. It doesn’t take very long but when it starts to rain you have to be quick in setting it up! We aren’t able to just run inside for shelter.
When you primarily live outside, there isn’t much do to once it gets dark out. We find ourselves retiring to the back of the truck pretty early, around 7:00, and watching movies or reading before falling asleep. The good part about this is we get up with the sun around 6:00 to start our day.
On driving days, we get up and try to get going at a decent hour. No matter what the GPS or Google maps tells us for driving time, we always double it. This is something we have learned to do with the roads down here. They pretty much always take you longer than expected. But you get the reward of beautiful views and fun rollercoaster-like roads as well!
On non-driving days, we get up and go for a run/ make coffee. Then we juggle the life-daunting tasks of being on the road such as: going surfing, making delicious meals, lounging in the hammock, reading, writing blog posts, etc. It’s pretty rough.
Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times where it can be pretty stressful, but we try to make light of each situation. For Nate, any new noise from under the truck will drive him absolutely nuts until he can figure it out. There have been times that we are driving along and all of the sudden, the truck is pulled over on the side of the road and Nate is underneath it asking me to rock the steering wheel, jump on the bumper or pass him various tools. He will do anything to figure it out.
There have been times that we threatened to throw our GPS out the window until we come to our senses and realize that it helps us more than hurts us. It can get a little stressful when the GPS has lost it’s satellite or has taken us to a ‘road’ that is actually an oxcart trail. Now that we know how to calculate duration of travel, we are able to make an adventure out of it when it does lead us on the wrong path. Truck is large and in charge and when we get turned around in tight towns or busy places, it can really put a cramp in our style. Border crossings are not usually very stressful unless there is no where to park or it is close to 100 degrees out and Brady is waiting patiently for us back at the truck.
Having a new place to go each day is absolutely thrilling. Imagine setting off each day and traveling to unknown places. You don’t know how long it will take to get to your next destination or what obstacles you will meet on the way. You don’t know where you will sleep that night, if you will have a bathroom to use, or when your next shower will be. You don’t know how the weather will be when you do arrive and whether you will have to try to make dinner fighting the wind/rain or if you will be relaxing in your chair watching the sun set over the ocean. Our lives as rubbertramps are fun, stressful, cramped, exciting and spontaneous. You take the good with the bad and always remind yourselves that it is always in the adventure.