When I started my nomading, I had to decide how to get around. Would I buy an RV? Fly from city to city? Drive my 2017 Toyota Prius Prime? I considered each option before setting out.
RV / Camper
A recreational vehicle, or RV, has several advantages: it provides a sense of consistency and permanency, even as my surroundings change; it alleviates the hassle and expense of finding and adjusting to new accommodations; and campgrounds can be very affordable — $20 per night in some places. (You can even stay at Disney World’s Fort Wilderness!)
But RVs themselves are expensive! The kind you hitch to a car or truck can be less than $10,000, but a self-contained drivable unit starts north of $50,000. In either case, given that I’d just bought a car in January 2017 that I’ll be paying off through April 2021, I was reluctant to buy another vehicle.
It wouldn’t be as simple as trading my car for a RV, either. When is the last time you saw a Winnebago parked at a movie theater or in a parking garage? Such vehicles are too big to drive into town, so I’d still need to tow a smaller, casual vehicle to get around once I set up camp somewhere. (Alternatively, my around-town car could be a pickup truck that’s towing a trailer, or “fifth wheel”, I live in. Either way, I’d need a separate vehicle and living space!)
I also like to consider myself an environmentalist, and I couldn’t see myself exchanging my 90 MPG vehicle for one that gets 9 MPG — though I acknowledge the equations are occasionally more complicated.
Finally, there’s the maintenance required for an RV. No thanks!
Planes & Trains
If I’m an environmentalist, then perhaps I should rely on mass transit. My nomadic friends Neil and Maria don’t have their own vehicle; instead, they rely on trains and planes to move from city to city. Doing so also gives them the freedom to choose international destinations without worrying what to do with their car.
While I too love to travel beyond my country’s borders, it’s not my first priority as a nomad. In my first year, I want to visit friends and chosen family, most of whom are in the United States.
Having a car also gives me more flexibility when choosing an Airbnb. Mass transit is more prevalent in city centers, where rent is higher. By having my own car, I can choose a more affordable apartment on the outskirts of town.
I’m also still figuring out what I need and what I don’t need to carry with me. I started out erring on the side of caution, bringing more than would fit in checked luggage. My car gives me the space to carry what may be too much stuff, allowing me to slowly shed what’s unnecessary.
Ultimately, I chose to stick with my Prius for all the reasons listed above: I already owned it; it gets great fuel economy; I can park it anywhere I like, including beyond the reach of public transit; and it holds all my stuff, including my bicycle.
When I do eventually expand my horizons beyond the continental USA, I’ll offer a nominal fee to any friends, family, or co-workers who will let me park my car in their driveways while I jet to other countries.
The only limitation I’ve yet to conquer is my annual inspection sticker — but that’s another story.
What would be your preferred means of getting around? Leave a comment with your method of transit!