Tiny Living 05: Indigo and Zelda

"I live in my camper full time with my pooch Zelda, and we have
been doing so for around two years now. I'm very passionate about this
lifestyle, and I try to expose people to it every chance I can."

tell us a bit about yourself...

I'm Indy, and I travel with my dog Zelda. I'm originally from South Carolina, but I left the south for the first time at fifteen. Ever since then, Montana has been my home. I've been living the van life for two years now, though altogether I've been living a seasonal lifestyle for the past eleven years. This lifestyle is the only one that fully suits my soul and I don't ever plan on changing it.

From a young age I've held a seemingly perpetual sense of being out of place and always feeling uncomfortable. The only time that I ever felt at peace with myself or with others, was when I was traveling. I lived out of my backpack for a while, but that wasn't sustainable for me. I started living out of my car, and that was a little better, but still not what I needed. It took several vehicles, but I finally found my way to my very first van. She was a stripped down Ford Econoline, but she was my pride and joy, and the game changer I had been looking for.  Unfortunately, I don't have my van anymore. We traveled together until her front wheels were falling off, and even then I considered keeping her. Now, though, I have a new little home parked here in the beautiful wonderland of Montana.

what's the scoop with your current home on wheels?

My current home is a truck camper. It sits in the back of my truck and goes every place that I do, however slowly. It's from an older company called Six Pac that's no longer in business. I was looking for a camper that was small and yet had all of the amenities that I needed, but the only truck campers that I could find were excessively large. I was starting to lose hope that I'd ever find what I wanted, and then I found the Six Pac on Craigslist. It had everything that I needed—a bed, sofa, lots of storage, refrigerator. And it was small! It was the perfect fit for Zelda and I.

any funny stories of life on the road?

My camper was in really good shape when it came to me, and I didn't expect anything to break for a while. This past year I was driving through rush hour traffic in Washington D.C. when something happened. Being from a town with a population of around fifty, I'm not very comfortable driving through big cities, and was hardly able to breathe while driving through D.C. I was driving at grandma speed with my elbows tucked in and my back straight when a fancy SUV pulled up next to me. The woman driving started waving her arms at me frantically, and I automatically thought she was angry over my sluggish driving. I already try to avoid drama at all costs, so I tried my best not to look over at her. After a few minutes of relentless waving she was still trying to get my attention, so I glanced over at her. When I looked at her, she was pointing at my camper and yelling through the window. I couldn't figure out what her deal was, until suddenly my friend yelled 'Shit!'. At his exclamation I looked in my rear view mirror, and my stomach dropped. Going roughly 45 MPH through several lanes of speeding traffic, the back door to my camper was wide open and flapping back and forth. Everything that I owned was in my camper, and risked being scattered all across the interstate. Refraining from slamming on the brakes and having everything thrown from my little house, I swerved to the shoulder and stopped as soon as I could. We closed the door, locked it, and went back on our way. Over the course of the next month it happened again a few times, and now almost six months later, my door opens every time I drive at all. I've got this rope tied across the back of my camper to keep the door from opening too far, and its nothing short of janky looking. But I'm happy to have a door at all.

favorite aspects of your little home?

I adore my camper. It fits every single need that I have, and one of my greatest needs is stargazing. I was stoked when I found this camper, but even more so to see that it had a roof hatch over my bed. On starry nights, I prop it open and watch the stars as I'm falling asleep. One of my favorite things to do is lay under the stars around a fire when I'm camping, and now I can do that in my own home!

any difficulties to this lifestyle?

I've always struggled to stay in one place for any extended amount of time, my longest usually being four to fie months. Living in my vehicle makes it incredibly easy to leave at a moment's notice, and that is both my favorite and least favorite aspect of this lifestyle. If I decide that its time to move on to a different place, that's all fine and dandy. But sometimes I want to stick around somewhere for a while, and having the constant ability to leave whenever I want to makes it hard to stand by any decision to stay. 

what have you learned living this way?

I've always been somewhat minimalistic, but when I moved into my van I had the opportunity to fully explore minimalism and why it made me happy. I discovered that not only was my joy rooted in experiences instead of objects, but it seemed to be dependent on it. Soon I was fully embracing minimalism and using it to travel further and more frequently. Perhaps I've even gotten a little too obsessive with it. There were times when I've given away almost all of my possessions, keeping only the necessities that I used every day. Either way, I think it's minimalism that makes me the happiest. Not only does it allow me to travel often, but the lack of excess in my life allows more room for happiness. 

One thing that you have to do a lot of with this lifestyle is plan. On a typical day, I have to find somewhere to park that allows overnight parking and that preferably has a bathroom. I've got to plan my meals, what I'm going to buy to cook and how I'm going to preserve the leftover ingredients. I have to plan for my safety; am I somewhere that I can trust to not be robbed in the middle of the night? If I plan on going out of the country, I have to find somewhere safe to keep my camper. All of this aside, its a small price to pay. 

advice to someone looking to make a similar choice?

If you are considering transitioning into this type of lifestyle, I highly encourage you to take the leap. Who knows, it might not be for you. But what if it is? I lived the wrong life for too long. I could have been much happier, but instead chose to embrace the throes of a life not meant for me. What are you waiting for? The only happiness that is truly sustainable is the kind that you make for yourself. 

what's next?

Since I was a little girl, I've dreamt of visiting Easter Island. One of my earliest memories is sitting in the floor with a National Geographic magazine gawking at pictures of the large Moai statues. Finally, I have made reservations to go and visit Easter Island, as well as parts of Chile and I couldn't be more stoked! 

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