Introduction + Vehicle Recommendations for North America Based Nomadism

Skip to first unread message


Feb 7, 2011, 7:22:18 PM2/7/11
to the technomads
Hello everyone!

My name is Duncan Rawlinson and I'm new to the group here. About a
year ago I left on an RTW trip. This trip has turned into a full time
thing and I'm using technology to finance the whole thing.

I'm going to be back in North America for summer 2011 (1000 Islands
area) then I hope to continue exploring in Canada+USA+Mexico in some
type of vehicle in fall 2011 onward. (heading south...)

So my question to you all is what would you recommend for a vehicle/

A caravan+tow vehicle?
Small kombi?
Custom Sprinter van?
Something else?!

I know this is somewhat vague but I'm really looking for other
people's experiences. Hopefully someone here has already done this...

Please assume that budget is not the primary concern given this will
be our home on wheels (no mortgage/apartment/etc).

Thank you.

Cherie @Technomadia

Feb 8, 2011, 6:39:28 PM2/8/11
to the technomads
We traveled for over 4 years in a small geeked out travel trailer
pulled by a tow vehicle. We opted for that so that we could park
somewhere, set up camp and still have a get around vehicle without
needing to break camp. We also went small so that we could increase
our options for places to be, and we designed ours to be off-grid
capable (solar panels, large holding tanks, cell phone booster system,

We've certainly seen folks traveling in all of the options you
describe and many more. And really, there is no one right answer.
They'll all have trade-offs. More comes down to your personal
preferences - what feels right to you? What kind of camping do you
anticipate doing? (Campgrounds, RV Parks, Boondocking? off-roading?)
What amenities do you deem necessary to be comfortable? Will you need
workspace that is easy to set up without converting your sleep area
(the reason we went from 16' to 17' after our first year). What sort
of climate conditions do you want to be able to live in? What vehicle
do you want reflecting your personal style?

I highly recommend seeking out seeing each of the type of setup you're
interested in - spend some time inside them and feeling how they feel
to you. And we often recommend folks buy what they think will be
right, but remain open to trading in for something else after a while
when they really figure out what their true needs are after some

Best wishes,
- Cherie /

Jonathon Townley

Feb 8, 2011, 7:04:09 PM2/8/11
The last two issues of Readymade Magazine have featured handmade nomadic vehicles. Last was a sort of latter day Conestoga wagon pulled behind a car.

The current issue has a Honda civic CRX with a camper cobbled onto the back - sincerely one of the nuttiest things I've ever seen.

There's also instructions for creating your own SCOTTeVest style 'luggage' coat.


> --
> ---
> ---
> To unsubscribe from this group, send email to

Zach Hale

Feb 8, 2011, 7:15:08 PM2/8/11

Zach Hale

Feb 8, 2011, 6:51:05 PM2/8/11
If I were to start with the experience I have now, I might get a
custom sprinter or convert my own. That decision would be purely out
of cost of vehicle, maintenance and resale ability. I've been
traveling in a 85 Vanagon Westfalia for the last 9 months and it's
been pretty great except for the repair costs I've had to deal with
every few months since it's a 26 year old vehicle. I know about half
of what I've spent won't factor into its resale so it makes deciding
to try a different van much more difficult a decision. It fits into
most compact parking spots even since the front of the van goes
farther over the wheels and seems to just fit in wherever I go. The
gas mileage is varies greatly depending on what kind of driving I do,
but on the highways I get between 18-19 mpg w/ my 2.2 liter waterboxer
engine. I cook in it multiple times a day and converting it from a
cooking area to a sleeping area is very easy. I spend my days working
from coffee shops that have power and wifi, so power and internet are
not a primary concern for me in my vehicle. My laptop battery will
withstand an evening hacking away tethered to my phone for internet
before I'll need to charge it the next morning. Some of that time has
been spent with 2 people which is a bit cramped, but definitely
doable. I've also had no problem stealthing in it with my curtains up
— I've never been bothered. If you have any more questions, feel free
to send me a note.



Feb 8, 2011, 9:39:05 PM2/8/11
to the technomads
Thanks for your response Cherie. How is St John treating you? Looks
pretty fantastic! I've been reading up on Technomadia and I really
appreciate the article on this very topic:

There are some really great points on that topic in there.

We've been traveling australia for almost a year in a small 1988
Toyota Hiace van which you can see here:

It's been great except that it's very small and has no "office". My
office consists of a camping chair inside the van and my lap so it's
not exactly ideal. That's why I was thinking a sprinter van. A nice
big area in the back to work in would be fantastic.

Have you seen anyone with an office type setup in a sprinter?

Anyway, I appreciate your response.

Thank you!

On Feb 9, 10:39 am, "Cherie @Technomadia" <>


Feb 8, 2011, 9:42:54 PM2/8/11
to the technomads
Also, thanks to Zach and Jonathon as well. Those readymade articles
are fascinating.

Zach: you should get a solar panel for your setup.

We did that here in Australia to avoid cafes etc. It works
fantastically well for us!

On Feb 9, 1:39 pm, Duncan <> wrote:
> Thanks for your response Cherie.  How is St John treating you? Looks
> pretty fantastic!  I've been reading up on Technomadia and I really
> appreciate the article on this very topic:
> There are some really great points on that topic in there.
> We've been traveling australia for almost a year in a small 1988
> Toyota Hiace van which you can see here:


Feb 9, 2011, 7:22:56 AM2/9/11
to the technomads
I have to agree there is no one right answer. I wouldn't stress about
it though. We've been RVing ALL OVER Europe in a 1998 Ford Rimor for
the last 4 years and bought it on a quick whim. We've had no problems
with it and have found it to be the perfect super cheap home/vehicle/
storage unit to keep in Europe ( super easy now that we know all the
best sites).

We also did lots of traveling to Mexico, Baja & USA in an old Datsun
minitruck with a 6 pack on top that we bought on a whim. Again no
problems ( over 250,000 miles on it). ( This might be the best of both
worlds as one can use the truck for long stays while leaving camper in

There are pros and cons to the RV or Caravan and car models and it's
personal taste. The good thing about an RV in Europe is you park and
are done. The Caravan deal looks like a LOT more work to settle in.
Also I've had friends that have worried about being robbed in a
caravan and felt they would be safer in an RV where they could quickly
take off if needed. Much depends on how you will travel ( long stays
or moving more?) and what the mass transit is like. ( Wonderful in
Europe where a car and parking is often a bigger hassle than it's
worth.). But I think I could handle any of the above without

I would have something where you do not have to make up a bed. That
gets old REALLY quick.

Surprisingly one adapts VERY easily to a small space if everything you
need is easily accessible. That was my biggest worry as we had lived
in a very large home, but we live for 6m out of the year in a VERY
small RV ( van sized with cab over for 3 people) and adapted easily
and immediately.

Neither of ours was our first choice in RV, but they both worked out
well without any planning really. Trust your gut.

Another key is to follow the weather. Cold, rainy weather is not fun
in a small vehicle home IMHO. No problem for a few days, but being
able to add the grand outdoors and perfect weather makes it all so
much better. Having the beach or trees or beautiful lake etc as your
living room ( ie lounge chairs, table etc) is part of the bliss.

Ease counts a LOT and good vehicle that it is easy to fix.

By the way, we will be doing a USA road trip in the fall of 2011
( after Asia ...where we are now...India and then Europe for the
summer). Maybe we'll run into you. ;)

Good luck!



Feb 9, 2011, 4:39:53 PM2/9/11
to the technomads

Hi Jeanne,

Thanks for your response. You've made some excellent points here.
We've found that we've adapted very quickly to our tiny little van
that we have now. (1988 toyota hiace) We'll probably be doing lots of
medium length stays as we go along. week or two in each place and
then we'll move on. I'm leaning more and more toward the sprinter van
or smaller.

Does anyone on this group own a sprinter van by any chance or know
someone that does?

If so was is a custom job or a DIY job on the interior?

Oh and for anyone whose interested:



Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages