Eleven fellow truck campers share how they went full-time, what their experience has been so far, and where their choice has brought them. This isn’t all pretty, but the stories are heartfelt, authentic, and remarkable. Don’t leave home full-time without reading.
Nobody forgets the day they leave their home base behind to live full-time on the road. Most can tell you the exact date. Some to the very minute. It’s a wild feeling that undulates between absolute fear and unbridled excitement; the RVing equivalent of a first kiss, jumping out of an airplane, or taking your driver’s test.
After months of sorting and purging all your stuff, putting your house on the market, and packing all the stuff you’re keeping, you’re finally driving away from your dependable and comfortable home base. At this point your brain is screaming, “What the heck are we doing? Here we go!”
From that moment on, you’ve started a whole new chapter. For us, that date was June 15th, 2017. We sold all our furniture with our house, so when we walked out our door for the last time, our house basically looked as it did when we lived in it. It was like we were going on another truck camping trip, but we weren’t. That’s the moment we closed that chapter and started a new one.
What you will read today are fellow truck campers who went full-timing during the past three years. It was a challenging time because of the pandemic, but they’ve made it work. Through their stories, they share tips about how they find places to stay, the reasons they went with the truck and camper they bought, and the ups and downs of living on the road. If you are thinking of going full-time in your truck camper, or any RV for that matter, their perspectives and advice are priceless.
On Friday, we’ll share stories from full-time truck campers who have been on the road anywhere from three to eleven years. Yes, eleven years full-time in a truck camper. It’s possible, but you have to start somewhere.
Full-Timing Date: July 2022
2013 Ford F-250
2016 Cirrus 800
Above: Organ Pipe National Monument
We started full-timing with a home base in September of 2020. In July of 2022, we decided to make it official, sold our home, and launched into full-timing without a home base.
Taking care of a home and a yard was not our plan. We had already downsized from a big house to a 470 square foot condo and found tiny living suited us well. Moving into a truck camper was the next evolution that freed us from spending all our time caretaking a home.
Having camped for years in tents and varying sizes of trailers, we were frustrated by the downsides of both. Tent camping meant packing up wet tents and being more exposed to the elements. Trailer camping meant an indoor bath and amenities, but gone was the spontaneity of amazing roadside finds.
Above: Dinosaurs Of Granger, Washington
One of the great joys of travel is being able to stop and experience small towns and roadside attractions along the way. Inevitably, we couldn’t find a place to turn around or park, so we passed up many interesting finds.
Above: Potter School House in Bodega Bay, California, setting for Hitchcock’s The Birds
A truck camper has been the perfect fit for us, allowing us to travel anywhere and park even in the smallest towns and craziest locations. We toured many rigs and easily settled on a Cirrus; our third nuCamp camper. We love the clean aesthetic, the Alde heating system, and the culture of the company. We couldn’t be happier.
We are still working our way to all the states in order to fill our sticker map. We start fresh with each camper, so entering our third year of truck camping, we have a good number yet to go.
We head to the southwest for the winter. Our exploring takes place the rest of the year returning us to the southwest before the snow flies. Six decades of Michigan winters was enough for us, so we try to avoid the white stuff.
Above: Quincy Mine, Upper Peninsula, Michigan
We know this year’s loop will hit the north-central states, so I start by favoriting everything interesting in each state on the route using Google Maps. I use Atlas Obscura, Roadside America and lots of Google searches for best of, most beautiful, top ten, and strangest sites in each state. During the year I make notes whenever I hear about something cool because I know we’ll be there eventually.
Above: Trees Of Mystery, Klamath, California
Next, I look where things are clustered and which places are worth a detour – UFOs, strange folk art, abandoned sites – and plan our route accordingly.
It’s the little out-of-the-way roadside attractions that have been the most memorable for us.
Above: Twin Arrows Trading Post, Route 66, Arizona
Some of the standouts since we start full-timing include; the Marfa Lights in Texas (we recommend spending the night at the viewing area), abandoned Two Guns Arizona, the Noah Purifoy Desert Art Museum outside Joshua Tree California, the International Car Forest of the Last Church in Goldfield Nevada and the nearby Rhyolite Ghost Town, Carhenge in Alliance Nebraska, the Drive-Thru Museum in Seale Alabama and Avery Island’s Jungle Gardens and Tabasco factory in Louisiana.
Above: Devil Boat, US 666, Arco, Idaho
Then it’s a matter of determining how long we want to stay in each area and how many miles we want to drive per day. That gives me a sense of generally where we want to camp. Then, it’s filling those in with everything from state and national parks, Corps of Engineer campgrounds, Harvest Hosts locations, boondocking spots, and even some Cracker Barrels and Cabelas.
I try to have a plan for the next couple of weeks, but there are certainly times when we’ve woken up unsure of exactly where we were headed that day. Private campgrounds are our last resort. When you camp 365-days per year, every penny counts.
We are a retired couple with a modest income. Our expenses are low because we simply don’t need much. Our average for nightly lodging last year was under $16.
We enjoy the incredibly diverse nature of each state and just walking trails, finding waterfalls and new views. That occupies much of our time. We do love eating out, but we balance that with quick meals in the camper. With rising gas prices, we will opt to stay a little longer than usual and take advantage of reduced camping rates for weekly or monthly stays.
Above: Tolstoy Park, the unusual home of Henry Stewart in Fairhope, Alabama
Living full-time in a truck camper is definitely different from being “at home” because you are always a visitor and don’t really belong. That can add a little stress, but it also adds the excitement of seeing each place with fresh eyes. So it’s a trade-off. We don’t sit around home well so, for us, it’s the better option.
One of the biggest frustrations is, that when things break, you have to find a way to deal with it. We had a broken furnace this winter. We had to find places with electric hookups or run our generator all night so we could use a portable electric heater until we could get the furnace fixed. Living with those problems is magnified in a camper.
We think living full-time is better than a non-stop vacation because, after the weekenders go home, we have places all to ourselves. We don’t have to rush to enjoy life. We can slow down, explore and choose our next direction.
Expect things to break, no matter what camper you have. Be ready to roll with the punches and make the best of things. Get to know your truck camper systems because you will be on your own to fix things most of the time. You can’t wait months for repair, or drop of your home for weeks.
Find community. It will help you more than you can imagine. We spend a lot of time at Escapees Parks and feel at home there. Our Cirrus family is also a great support system and we consider them friends. Attend meet-ups and rallies and talk to fellow campers. It’s a great big world full of amazing people and your truck camper is the gateway.
We are most alive when we are adventuring, seeing new vistas, meeting new people, and exploring new places. Get out there!
Full-Timing Date: May 2022
2022 RAM 3500
2022 Hallmark Victor
After years of working seven days a week, fourteen-plus hours a day, we required a reset. Our heart and health had suffered enough. Finding a way to travel that could be sustainable long-term, while allowing us to get off the pavement was critical.
We’re still at the beginning of our new lifestyle being full-time on the road, and we’ve certainly found endless challenges.
We’ve also found a lot of quiet places with only the sounds of birds, a creek, the wind, or just an airplane overhead.
After spending a few years interviewing people for our podcast, GHT Overland, we learned that a rooftop tent was not going to work for us. As tempting as a large truck was, that was going to be too much.
So we looked at how most people made changes after years of experience and then intermixed our best guess on what was going to work for us, hopefully forgoing the expense of making significant changes in vehicles and/or living quarters.
With a little fortune and several years of learning and talking with our guests (and endless YouTube videos) it came down to the following.
First, durability and the company building the camper. Are they responsive and small enough to truly care about each customer, yet big enough and established enough that we’re not going to be a guinea pig for a new great idea?
Second, a pop-up was key to allowing us more flexibility in the places we could go. A walk-on roof strong enough to store gear was absolutely required.
Third, true four-season insulation was essential.
Fourth, a 12-volt air conditioner was a must, as we knew we’d rarely – if ever – be close to standard services. A 12-volt air conditioner allows us the flexibility to hike in places our dogs are not allowed, providing them a comfortable and safe napping spot.
And fifth, with all the extra gear on the roof, having some type of motor assist to raise the roof was non-negotiable.
Planning where to go is an ongoing challenge that changes. Generally speaking, we’ve settled into a routine of having primary places to explore as our target destinations.
iOverlander is key in locating places to camp. Campgrounds in general are not our preferred option. If there’s a long stretch between locations, we enter the coordinates into Google Maps, select to avoid freeways, and see where it takes us.
In California, the cost of gas is a problem, so we select the most fuel-efficient route. Gaia GPS is a third tool we use as a complement to Google and iOverlander. It provides key information like cell coverage, topographic maps, and land ownership layers.
A passive investment income and the sale of business pays for our experience. We’re still focused on creating a small income from our new lifestyle by continuing our podcast, YouTube ad revenue, and selling photography prints. For us, it’s important to still be financially productive, while hopefully bringing value to others who are interested in doing something similar.
We’ve left behind the constant challenges of running a small business. We don’t have to deal with employees calling out sick, filling their spots when no one else is available, making payroll, making rent, or maintaining inventory. The list of responsibilities and the endless stress that creates is all behind us. So, is it an endless vacation from that? Yes! Are normal and new life challenges still a thing? Yes!
Where are we going to sleep tonight is a serious question that looms overhead each day that we’re on the move. How much water we have and where can we resupply is a life essential problem to solve. Not being home to celebrate birthdays, graduations, and other special days is big. Not being able to hug your children by having them over for dinner every Sunday has been another reality check.
Our advice is to confront the realities of what you are leaving behind compared to why you are considering such a dramatic life change. Consider scheduling time to return home to family around important times. It’s okay to take a break by getting an Airbnb or hotel room to reset.
There are times to throw all caution to the wind and there are times to be intentional. Make a running list of what’s important to you. Make an additional list of what would make your soul dance with exuberance. Then do what works for you.
Don’t listen to critics who don’t support your dreams! A life exploring all that makes you feel alive is absolutely possible. There’s going to be an exchange of giving up the comforts of your couch, along with many other things you may currently enjoy. That’s the unknown; the people, places and experiences you will find out on the road.
Full-Timing Date: 2020
2012 Chevrolet Silverado 3500
2011 Lance 950
Above: Camille and her pup on Sunset Beach in Iles De La Madeleine, Quebec
I started full-timing in November of 2020. Living full-time on the road has been a dream of mine. For many years prior to going full-time, I moved every six months to find work and travel. At that time, I was already living in bags.
During my travels, I would often rent a van. I settled in a city for three years to study and, when I was ready to leave the city life, living in a van, RV, or truck camper was the logical choice. I wanted to keep moving around and have all of my stuff with me.
I initially did a lot of research on vans and was committed to finding one until a friend of mine, who has owned vans and a truck camper, talked to me about his truck camper rig. I was intrigued by it. This friend recommended that I check out some truck campers to decide if I would like it or not.
Above: Revelstoke, British Columbia
I chose a truck camper because I can separate them for maintenance. I have a four-wheel drive truck which is more capable than the vans most of my friends have. At that time, there were also better and cheaper options for used truck campers than vans. Plus, I also liked the fact that I would look totally badass with a truck camper setup.
I chose my camper first, mostly because of the layout. For me, it is practical. It also had some nice features, like awnings, and didn’t have slide-outs. That was important. The truck camper respected my budget.
After that, I looked for the truck. I didn’t want either the truck or the camper to be more than 10 years old. For the truck, I wanted a specific bed length, cab size, engine, capacity, and price. The truck I chose met all the criteria I had.
Above: Winter set-up at an RV Park in Whistler, British Columbia
I mostly live in British Columbia, Canada in the ‘Sea-to-Sky Corridor’ which is Squamish to Pemberton. I work in Whistler and Pemberton but, being from Quebec, I travel back cross-country sometimes.
When traveling, I always check ahead for places to fill with fresh water, large parking lots in a city or village to park, propane filling locations, and free opportunities to stay overnight. I use iOverlander, Allstays, GasBuddy, Trailsforks, and Google Maps a lot.
Above: Driving across Canada, Marathon, Ontario
Having a dog, I also check for dog parks, beaches, or trails. I look at the weather forecast very often to have an idea of what to expect on the road; sunshine, rain, snow, wind, and temperature. For that, I use the Environment Canada app, the Weather Channel app, the iPhone weather app, and the Windy and Magic Seaweed; a surf app.
When I am driving cross-country, I usually have lots of time, but I always end up arriving in seven to ten days as I am eager to arrive at my destination. One day I will take things more slowly.
I am a massage therapist so I have found a job in a spa in Whistler, British Columbia. I am also a server in a restaurant in Pemberton, British Columbia. I like these two types of jobs because I can do them from nearly anywhere in the world. There will always be restaurants and people wanting massages.
Full-time truck camping is not a non-stop vacation. You have days that you need to do adult stuff such as cleaning, laundry, papers, appointments, etc.
I think it’s exactly what I imagined it to be. Some days I find it harder to do because the weather is horrible and I feel stuck inside. I feel the camper is too small. I get tired of having to put away everything before driving. Everything takes more time to do than I planned. I do not have a decent place to stretch inside. When something breaks, you need to fix it urgently because otherwise, you don’t have water or heat. It’s also challenging sometimes to find a big enough parking spot and deal with the price of the gas.
Above: Pemberton, British Columbia
That said, I love to have my home and all I need with me; my food and kitchen, my shower, and my clothes so I am ready for any occasion or activity. I always have my bed for a siesta or whenever I am ready to go to sleep. It is also very reassuring that I can leave my dog in the camper whenever I can’t have him with me. The camper is also his home and where he feels most comfortable.
I love finding quiet places with a nice view to park. I just chill there. I like the challenge living a minimalistic life brings and how it has changed my consumer habits. I always try to ask myself if I really need that thing before buying it because there’s no need to tell me twice that I don’t have much space to keep a lot of things that I barely use.
Above: Sledding at Rutherford Glacier, Pemberton, British Columbia
I love traveling with my truck camper because it gives me access to neat places when I take the time to explore. I also love that I am becoming more and more autonomous in my knowledge of how the camper works and fixing little things.
Above: Skiing in Breandywibe Valley, Whistler, British Columbia
If you have never traveled in a van or RV I strongly suggest that you rent one first for a trip longer than a weekend. Try it plugged in and off-grid so that you will know what type of camper you are.
After that, you have to decide if you like that lifestyle and if you want to try it longer. It is not a non-stop vacation and you sometimes have to deal with things that will bring you anxieties.
Once you are certain that you want to go full-time, I suggest that you find the right rig for you and your needs. Yes, people will try to give you advice from their experiences and it’s nice of them to do it, but they might not have the same needs as you have.
Here’s the decision process that I recommend:
1. Decide what your needs are.
2. Decide what your budget is. That includes the cost to purchase your setup, live on the road, and what your planned and unplanned expenses might be.
3. Decide what climate you like to live in. This might be based on your preferred activities. Choose a camper accordingly.
4. Decide how long you plan to live on the road. You don’t need a specific answer, but you need to ask yourself this question. Plus, if you have a partner, you need to discuss this aspect because your goals may not be the same.
Keep in mind that you have options on the road. If you find you need a break from being in a small space, or not having running hot showers, book yourself a hotel room or an Airbnb for a night or two. Give yourself a break. It’s okay.
My last piece of advice would be to not be hard on yourself if some days are hard. We all have our own rhythm and way of living. As long as we are happy and comfortable, that’s what’s important.
You can contact me on Instagram at camille.jacob if you have any questions or feel free to follow my posts there.
Full-Timing Date: 2020
2007 Ford Ranger
2014 Four Wheel Camper Eagle
Above: Waiting for Porcupine Caribou in Tombstone Territorial Park
I decided to go full-time on the road in 2020 for a couple of reasons. First, I had just enrolled in the video production program at Toronto Film School. I planned to have a travel vlog and be a videographer and photographer career, post-education. The program was fully online so I could complete the courses from anywhere in the world.
Second, I wanted to change my lifestyle. I left a career in healthcare due to issues with stress and I wanted to simplify my life.
I didn’t really choose a truck camper for living full-time on the road. It chose me. I had already built a capable Overlanding vehicle based on a 2007 Ford Ranger chassis and a Four Wheel Camper Eagle camper, so it was a natural and easy transition for me.
I don’t have an annual route, but I tend to roam from Alaska to Baja. How long I stay in a location is really dependent on what I’m doing. For example, I’m just about the go into the Alberta backcountry to edit a film I shot in Tunisia. All I need is water, food, and sunlight – for solar power – and I can edit for days.
I make ends meet living full-time on the road by working as a videographer, photographer, and writer. I’m not getting rich, but getting rich was never my plan. I work to live, not live to work. I also receive a small pension since I am an army veteran. That really helps me get by between freelance jobs.
Living on the road in a camper is a little harder than I anticipated. In one sense, I have reverted back to my childhood as showers are now a weekly thing. Finding WIFI when I need it can also be a challenge as I mainly boondock. Stops in locations with WIFI or cellular service need to be planned. I have a good set of ear plugs for roadside stops at night. Lastly, the recent increase in fuel prices have been cutting into my long-range travels. I hope these prices don’t last for long.
The advice I would offer to others who are considering living full-time on the road in a truck camper is to keep things simple. Reduce your clothing and belongings to simplify your lifestyle. Furthermore, I’d say, “Just do it”! Life is too short not to.
Jay and Leslie Pederson
Full-Timing Date: October 20, 2021
2016 Ford F-350
2022 Host Yukon
Above: We travel with our 60-pound deaf boxer
We went full-time in our truck camper on October 20th, 2021. We have been full-time traveling for six years. We made the decision to sell everything after a cancer diagnosis and decided life was too short to be tied down. It was tough going through treatment on the road, but we got through it.
We started in a Class A, went to a fifth wheel, and then to our truck camper. I keep calling it that we evolved to a truck camper. It was the best decision ever.
We wanted the ease of going mostly anywhere. We have the extreme off-grid solar package on our 2022 Host Yukon on a 2016 Ford F-350. We love the freedom it has given us.
Above: Dragoon Mountains near Benson, Arizona
We mostly boondock and wing it. We go to Arizona to visit my parents and go from there. We are originally from Washington State, and we are currently in now visiting our son and grandkids. We really don’t have a specific route, and we rarely make reservations. Of course, the truck camper rally is a given, but otherwise, it’s going where we haven’t been that’s beautiful or interesting. We are the, “take your time” kind of travelers.
Above: Harvest Host winery in Sonoita, Arizona
We retired young after long stressful careers. I’m a retired firefighter/EMT and my husband is retired from the oil business.
Above: Fort Townsend State Park, Port Townsend, Washington
Living in a truck camper is a continuous Jenga game. We have found it very easy to live with less. Make your choices count for that very valuable space. Most of our friends and family think we’re nuts to live in a truck camper, but we love the simplicity.
Above: White Tank Mountain Regional Park, Arizona
Keep your mind open to places to stop and stay. We use a lot of apps to find really great places. Think outside the box.
Jeff and Marcia Hopper
Full-Timing Date: May 2021
2016 Ram 3500
2016 Arctic Fox 992
Above: Jeff and Marcia, Grand Tetons, Wyoming
We decided to become full-time RVers in 2016 after our daughter got married and we no longer needed the big house and yard anymore. We sold our house and all of our stuff and bought a truck and fifth-wheel. After four-and-a-half years we decided we wanted more flexibility, so downsized to a truck camper. That was May of 2021.
Above: Monument Rocks in Kansas
We wanted to be able to explore things last minute without having to know if the truck and fifth-wheel would fit in the parking lot. We chose the Arctic Fox 992 because it had a dry bath and a livable layout.
Jeff is a software developer working remotely for Pluralsight. I have my own business called Happy Camper Nails. We carry a couple of different hotspots and unlimited cellular plans so we can be online wherever we are.
While we don’t have separate office spaces like we did in the fifth wheel, we have been able to make it work. We removed the dinette and built a custom couch with a swinging arm on the wall for a monitor and keyboard.
Jeff can use it as a standing desk or swing it the other way and use it while sitting on the couch. I have a small table that I can use as my desk at the other end of the couch, or I go sit on the bed or in the truck cab if I need separate space for a bit.
Another feature we changed was to cut the bathroom door so that the top part of it will open when we have the slide in. Being able to use your own bathroom at rest areas, gas stations, or on the side of the road is something we do not take for granted, but we don’t want to put the slide out to do so.
Above: Horse Camp Spot in Oregon
The first place we went with the truck camper was the Pacific Northwest. It was perfect! We normally choose our route based on events with family or friends throughout the year and explore the areas in between. We use a mixture of campgrounds and boondocking. City and county parks are great because they’re really small and a good way to meet the local people.
Above: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
It’s not a vacation for sure, although some of the views can seem like it. The small living space, having to manage the holding tanks, finding laundromats, and shopping in a new grocery store every week are just a few of the challenges. It’s worth it to be able to explore this beautiful country and stop at interning spots on a whim.
Above: The Oregon Coast
My advice for anyone considering living full-time on the road is to simplify and downsize things as much as you can now. Much of what we had in the fifth-wheel we didn’t use every day. We just kept it because we had room for it. It’s surprising how little we truly need each day. Every time you buy something new, get rid on something else.
Full-Timing Date: April 1, 2021
2021 Ram 3500
2021 Adventurer 901SB
Above: Swan Falls Reservoir, Idaho
We started full-time in our truck camper on April 1st, 2021. We were already living full-time in a fifth wheel, but really craved more mobility and didn’t need all that space.
As for why we went full-time to begin with, we both love to travel and loved, even more, the idea of being able to visit places for long stretches without spending vacation time and additional money to accomplish that. Full-timing has been everything we wanted, and so much more.
When we were researching options, we considered vans but ruled them out for a few important reasons. First, we did not want to take time off from traveling to build out a van ourselves. And second, already converted cans are very expensive and we didn’t like the available floor plans.
Above: The 901SB in Glacier National Park, Montana
We chose our specific truck camper, an Adventurer 901SB because we loved the layout. It has a really usable kitchen with a nice countertop, a roomy wet bath, and the dinette and bedroom are both a good size and comfortable to lounge in. We specifically wanted to avoid camper layouts where the sink or counter has a corner, and we didn’t want any slides because we wanted to have as little setup and teardown as possible.
We had already owned a Ram 3500 and it treated us well. With that positive experience, we went with a 2021 Ram 3500 Cummins diesel for our new truck camper. Although the Adventurer 901SB is promoted as a short or long bed compatible camper, we couldn’t make the math work (with the features we wanted) without going with a long bed dually. We could have made the number work with a gas engine, but we weren’t willing to switch back to a gas truck.
Above: Their Ram 3500 in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Travel is the whole point for us. We typically have a rough idea of where we want to go in the course of a year, and then the amount of planning is more or less dictated by our destination. For example, we spent this past winter in Florida, which required more planning. This coming winter, we’re planning to return out west where we’re excited to go back to winging it.
Basically, when we’re traveling in more populated areas – like the coasts – we plan up to a year out. When we’re somewhere with lots of boondocking opportunities, we plan anywhere from two weeks to only a day or two out.
No matter where we go, we always do a decent amount of scouting ahead online to make sure we have an idea of the access, cell service, and a backup plan for boondocking. We have a paid Campendium membership so we can see cell reports. For work, we need cell service on weekdays.
We both work in the tech sector and have for many years. We transitioned to remote work prior to 2020. Both our jobs are pretty traditional full-time desk jobs and require the internet to get work done. We both have regular work meetings, some audio and some video, and we work around each other’s calendars to avoid competing for audio airtime.
Above: Adventurer 901SB in Yellowstone, Wyoming
I’d say full-time truck camping is more akin to living somewhere that is pretty close to a cool thing you love to go do. Say, living an hour from Disneyland if you love theme parks. You still have to work during the day but, when you punch out, you get to decide to go do something fun and new. Actually, it’s been difficult for us to remember to take actual vacations while full-timing, even if it’s just to give us more time in areas with bad service.
Full-timing is harder than I thought it would be back when we began three years ago, but downsizing to a truck camper has been easy. We have no complaints and we are much happier than we were in a big rig.
Our advice is to have a serious think about what is most important to you. If you want to travel all over, move every week, fit in any campsite, drive up in the boonies down rocky backroads, and spend five minutes or less setting up at a new site, full-time truck camping might be the life for you! Just make sure you have realistic expectations about how small the space is, how limited your storage will be, and how often you’ll have to fix things.
Full-Timing Date: February 1, 2021
2019 Ford F-350
2021 Northern Lite 10-2EX
Above: Magnolia Beach, Texas New Year’s Day 2022
I have been full-time truck camping since February 1st, 2021. I am a sixty-year-old female working remotely for over two years. I had a Jayco truck camper for over 10 years in the 90s and used it almost every summer weekend to go surf fishing with family and friends with similar setups.
In 2020, I was living in a 2,000-square-foot house by myself. The reasons for that size house no longer existed and, after spending almost a year in lockdown, I realized I actually only used one-quarter of one floor of the house; bedroom, bathroom, laundry, kitchen, and a small part of the dining room that I used as an office while working remotely.
I am getting close to retirement age and had already planned to downsize when I retired. I decided I did not need or want all the extra space to care for and saw that I could get a great price for my house. The house sold in one week. After that, I moved into my sister’s house for a couple of weeks while I purchased my truck and camper.
I love my camper’s loaded or unloaded versatility, ease of parking, manageable maintenance, and ability to go anywhere. I have a 2021 Northern Lite 10-2 and a 2019 Ford F-350 King Ranch diesel long bed. I chose the camper both for its warranty and the company’s reputation, as well as its ease of operation and low maintenance. It has almost all the features I wanted.
I chose the truck knowing which camper I wanted. It’s a very comfortable vehicle to drive and has the best payload rating. I also got an amazing deal on it because I purchased it on New Year’s Eve and the dealer wanted to get it off the lot before the end of the year.
I drive on the weekends and work remotely during the week. I usually plan on a direction to travel and my first couple of stops. As I travel to a new area, I wing it. I mostly stay in one place for a week or two then on to the next, based on what there is to do or see nearby.
Last year I started out in the Florida Keys. From there I had multiple stops up the east coast to Maine, then a left turn out to the Black Hills of South Dakota by way of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, then back to my home base of New Jersey.
This year I was trying for Alaska by way of the southwest and then up the West Coast, but inflation and some family obligations have put that on hold. Instead, I am spending the next four to five months in New England and the Canadian Maritimes.
I work full-time remotely as a manager in a corporate design department. This year I am staying in one place for two to four weeks to save on fuel costs.
Living full-time in a truck camper is definitely not a non-stop vacation, but I often feel like I’m just doing some work while on vacation. All I need is beautiful scenery to be happy, and my travel planning and research does feel like I’m always planning a vacation. This is one of the things I love about this lifestyle.
On the bad side, you still have to do housework, maintenance on both the truck and camper and be mindful of storage and upgrades. It’s always a balancing act, as is weight. Safety is always a priority. Guaranteed cell service is also important so I can have internet access. This is my first thought wherever I go since I won’t have a job without it.
Also, finding campgrounds that suit me is a challenge. I don’t want to stay in resort campgrounds with my neighbor five feet away. I prefer small campgrounds with lots of nature around me. Boondocking can be iffy because I need the internet to work.
The most difficult situation from this past year is how booking national and state park campsites has become almost impossible. And the cost of a private campground site has become so high that it’s costing me almost as much as my mortgage was. My saving grace has been Hipcamp. I’ve had great success using it.
For me, full-time truck camping has been as I expected; not harder or easier. If you’re going solo, make sure you are comfortable with long stretches of no company but your own. If you are doing this as a couple, tight quarters with no break from each other can make or break a marriage, although the Covid lockdown may have provided some training and experience.
Jerry and Tina Callaway
Full-Timing Date: June 2022
2021 Ford F-350
2022 Cirrus 820
Above: Big Bend COE Campground, Canton Lake, Oklahoma
We have been full-time truck campers since June 2022, but we had been full-timing in a Ram Promaster van for almost two years prior to purchasing our truck and camper.
I retired in 2019 and my wife unexpectedly retired due to the pandemic. At that point, we had been mulling around the idea and figured this was our cue to make it a full-time gig.
The American dream of owning a home and chasing a 9-to-5 paycheck lost its appeal after my wife was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma in 2009. After her recovery in 2010, we proceeded to pour our lives into recovering from the medical debt, after which we started the process of life on the road.
We opted to move from our van to a truck camper for a few reasons. Our van was only a van. If we wanted to explore from a base camp we were always tied to our van. It was capable but not as much so as our F-350 and truck camper. We chose the Ford F-350 Super Duty with four-wheel drive and the 7.3 gasser for its payload and torque. It’s a beast!
We opted for the extended cab instead of the crew cab to up the payload a few pounds and move the center of gravity forward a little. We chose the Cirrus 820 for both the aesthetics and functionality. We love the European style and colors.
We are happy with the Alde hydronic system (for now), but we haven’t used it much. We quickly replaced the microwave with cabinets and the flush toilet with a composting toilet. We use an Omnia stovetop oven for any baking.
We follow 70-degree weather whenever possible. Gas prices have put a small damper on that. We used to travel every three to four days but have started moving every five to seven days now. And we travel shorter distances.
We travel in six-month increments so that we can visit with grandkids and take care of doctors, dentists, taxes, and tags at our home of record. While we are back, we will sit and plot a generalized route. While we are traveling we find different camping locations. We don’t stick to one style. We will usually try to boondock at least two weeks out of a month. National Forests, Corp of Engineers, State Parks, and National Parks are where we fill in the other weeks. Then we usually spend a week at a location with services; laundry, car wash, grocery, and a post office.
We are retired. I have a military pension, a civilian pension, and Social Security; one of the blessed boomer crew, I suppose.
We came to full-time truck camping with realistic expectations. My wife and I are realists and know that everything posted on social media isn’t reality. We have good days, better days, and sometimes crappy days. Neither of us was raised in excess so learning to live lean in a very small space wasn’t that much of a stretch.
Make sure you like your partner. Not love! Love has nothing to do with living in a tiny space. Love is great for fairy tales and sitcoms. Like is what will get you through a rough day. And mostly… Keep it simple!
Bryan and Corrina Barlow
Full-Timing Date: April 1, 2020
2016 Ram 5500
2017 Host Mammoth
We spent the first year of truck camper ownership doing trips no more than 600 miles away from home so we could learn how to live in it. But, if we were going to see all of the United States, we knew we needed to go all in and commit to selling everything and living full-time.
We thought long and hard about that kind of lifestyle we wished to live and we took the advice of your site. We knew we wanted to have the freedom and flexibility that a truck camper provides. We are in a RAM 5500 four-wheel drive truck for its payload and its ability to go off-road. We researched and settled on the top-of-the-line Host Mammoth after visiting their factory in Bend, Oregon.
Above: Northern Arizona Full Time Camping
We became full-time truck campers on April 1st, 2020. The day we closed on our house, all the rest stops and most of the campgrounds were closed due to Covid. We finally managed to find a campground host job along the Columbia River Gorge. We took that job from May 1st until October 15th. We then continued to wander around The West.
The following October we volunteered for five weeks at the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival in New Mexico (pictured above). We are presently in New England. It took us two years to get here. We will continue to be Codiwomplers, which is what we term purposefully wandering to a vague destination.
My wife and I have been fiscally conservative our entire lives and have saved enough to afford this lifestyle. We have a monthly budget of $5,500, which we rarely reach.
Above: Wyoming, middle of nowhere
Like any lifestyle, there is a hassle factor. There are days that you think you can do this forever and then there are days you were wondering why you did it. As a whole, we are glad we have.
My advice is research, research, research. Learn the mechanics and systems of your rig. Travel the first year locally to learn your rig. Practice makes perfect.
Rick and Judy Schwarz
Full-Timing Date: June 14, 2020
2020 Ford F-450
2014 Lance 1050S
Above: Camping in a field in Elk County, Pennsylvania
Living full-time on the road was our plan for 35 years. We worked hard all of this time to make our dreams come true. And, despite the pandemic, we retired and headed out according to our plan on June 14th, 2020.
We pull a custom-built kayak and utility trailer behind our rig. I learned a long time ago, if you don’t have your toys, it’s not worth going. Sure, you can rent bikes, kayaks, etc., but it’s not the same. My wife wanted to get off the ground. A truck camper made the most sense. We saw a small Lance truck camper in an Ohio State Park years ago and my wife was hooked.
After tent camping for years, our first truck camper was a used 2010 Northstar Adventurer. That’s when we were weekend warriors. It was a small wet bath model, and we hit our heads in bed. That camper lasted two seasons. We traded that in on a 2014 Lance 1050S and we have never looked back. For what we want, it hits the marks. It’s much bigger with the slide-out, has a dry bath, and we can sit up in bed. It makes our full-timing possible.
As far as a truck, we have a long drawn-out story about how got to a 2020 Ford F-450. And, it’s a happy ending. We absolutely love it. Not so much for the fuel prices.
We have a daughter in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Our son is in North Branch, New Jersey. Family and friends are around the country. We find ourselves making loops between them, ever-expanding. We primarily stay in county, state, and federal campgrounds. There are an array of camping apps we use.
Due to the increased popularity of camping, we have been forced to book way out. This puts spontaneity out the window. We would love to wing it and change plans in a minute, but that is not possible during summer weekends. We enjoy staying in one place for three to seven days. If we’re moving twice a week we’re moving fast, and no more than 250 miles per jump.
We are not working at this point, and hopefully never again. That was all part of the plan. The way I see it, we are traveling campers. Maybe things will change and we transition to camper living. At that point, we may be campground hosts, camp volunteers, or volunteers in some other way.
The first six months of living full-time on the road were the hardest. Now we both see no other way to live. As my wife said, “We camped for 35 years, but we needed to learn how to do camper living”.
We were just with our son for three weeks, doing repairs and visiting. I missed the road, and it’s great being back. It’s not a full-time vacation. It’s hard work at times. We have both gone through the full range of emotions; sadness, despair, joy, and happiness. But, as I say “it doesn’t suck”.
Our advice is to think small and have a plan. This did not happen by accident. If there’s one thing we are missing, it is finding like-minded people. We have lots of family and friends, but none of them would travel around with us for an extended camping adventure. We are working on fixing that. But, that will take some time.
On Friday we will feature long-term full-time truck campers; people who have been full-timing for more than three years!