Friday, May 26, 2023

Vagabond Life Ruined?

Only a few years ago it looked like a pretty cool idea to build a Skoolie (bus camper conversion) and travel the country. Or maybe you’d get a deal on an old RV and do some boondocking. My lovely wife and I converted an old ambulance to a mini home on wheels. Good times. 

Now things kinda suck. Campgrounds and RV parks have gotten both overcrowded and expensive. Many also have a rule where your RV has to be less than 10 years old. Forget about coming in with a bus conversion or something else homemade. 

Free camping is drying up. Fewer businesses are allowing overnight parking. To be fair some people have really abused the privilege. It’s one thing to quietly park on the back of the lot overnight and be gone in the morning. Too many people moved in long term. They open up their sliders, set up grills, lawn chairs and even clothes lines. Then there’s the drama of too many people on too many chemical enhancements. (or people who should be taking meds not doing so.)

Even Federal dispersed camping is shutting down. The rangers lack the resources to deal with the huge influx of people. Property is destroyed, garbage left behind, and some people even dump their waste tanks right on the ground. It’s disgusting. 

There are still some reasonably priced options left. There are Federal, county, and municipal campgrounds that are good deals. It takes some poking around to find them and they are more popular than they used to be. A vagabond on a budget has to plan carefully to make it work. 

Tent camping still has good possibilities. Tenting doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. A quality tent and a good sleep system make all the difference. That doesn’t mean you can’t still overpay for a tent site. During Independence Day week on the coast of Maine last year I paid over $80/night. Not much you can about that. It’s not something I’m going to make a habit of. 

If you are more flexible it’s easy to spend a whole lot less. In fact, after a couple nights we moved from  that expensive site to a much cheaper one in the same campground. Just going to a non-electric site can save a bundle. That’s one reason we camp with our own solar electric set up. 100 watts of power and deep discharge 12 volt battery provides enough for our needs. 

A big problem with camping right now is the huge number of homeless people. There are too many people living in old RVs or in tents who don’t have any other choice. It’s dangerous to camp in a lot of places these days. I feel for the homeless, but I also know better than to leave my stuff around desperate people. 

Security is more important than ever. Not only do you have to watch out for crazy homeless people, you could be mistaken for one by law enforcement. Neither outcome is good. 

I’m still tempted to live out on the road again, but it’s not going to be like it used to be. 



  1. A lot of our past adventures is best kept fondly in our memories.

    I remember once a policeman giving me a ride to the gas station and back when I ran out of gasoline. Good luck not being harassed and ticketed arrested for something now.

    I used to pick up hitchhikers, not anymore.

    Chemically dependent people both medical meds and street meds are dangerously unpredictable.

    A riff off Hollywood, it's no country for old men anymore.

  2. I'll go camping in the back yard. Only have to worry about the Bear that occasionally visit.

    1. It is nice to live in a place where others come to vacation.

    2. I too have a Bear which comes and stays in my backyard occasionally...

    3. You fed him so he might come back some day. . .

  3. Boat camping, most of the comforts of home and if you don't like the view or noise, just move.

    Biggest hazard is drunk powerboaters and Jet skis. Thus, I like shallow water boat camping. A subtle joy to see them mud plow their boats and destroy their jet skis when the muck clogs the cooling system.

    1. My 0day 19 sailboat draws only about a foot with the keel up. Great way to live and we could get into some tight spots.