Some of you have asked why I’ve decided to turn in my house keys and
trade them in for a life on the road. The answer to that question is
something that’s been rattling around in my head for a very long time.
Why do I want to live like a rolling nomad armed not with a camel and
saber, but with a camera and laptop? Below is the short answer… if
you want the particulars, click the read more link and you’ll get all
the painstaking details, perhaps more than you might care to read, but
this is, after all, my blog.
The Top 8 Reasons Ben is Chucking It All
(well, most of it, the rest is going into storage):
- Ability to be more comfortable when traveling
- Living with just what I need
- Opportunity to explore and photograph National Parks
- A chance to visit friends that are scattered around the country
- Chance to live with zero debt
- To lower my personal expense by having more of my living expenses paid by my company
- A sense of adventure
- Ability to truly live a unique life
Ability to be more comfortable when traveling
Over the last year, I spent 113 days traveling. That means that for over 30% of the year I was away from my own comfortable bed and all my stuff. That means being forced to eat at restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner (I know that doesn’t sound terrible, but you really put on the pounds the more you eat that way). That means trying to get used to the often terrible temperature control of hotel rooms, unfamiliar and uncomfortable beds, odd noises every night (that subject alone would be enough to make up a book), etc. I often travel so much that I can’t remember which rental car I should get in since they all seem to be white and I might have had three within the last week (this leaves me standing glassy-eyed in the middle of many a parking lot). In a motorcoach, I have my bed, bathroom, kitchen, living room, bicycle, car, reading material, office setup, etc. I can also spend as much time as I’d like in a city without increasing my expenses, so I’m free to explore or visit friends. I’ll still end up flying to many of the places where I speak, but now I’ll have to option of bringing my mobile-home as well.
Living with just what I need
I’ve been living in a 5+ bedroom home for the last few years. As a single guy, that’s a lot of space to pay for, decorate, keep clean, insure, etc. It’s really easy to accumulate a bunch of crap when you have more space than you need. I bought this house because I liked the location, views and style of the house. But now I look at how expensive it is to live this way and how much of my time is spent trying to pay for everything. On a motorcoach, I have space for all the stuff that I really use on a daily basis and not much else. In going through my house, I have not found a single item that I use on a regular basis that I cannot bring with me on the motorcoach. When you just have what you need and nothing else… no space to add any more, then your mindset changes. You no longer look at things and think you want to buy them. You no longer think that you’re missing stuff that you know in the end you’d never use or care if it was missing. The all pervasive clutter will no longer be my master.
Opportunity to explore and photograph National Parks
My last real vacation was 10 days spent exploring the National parks in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. I blasted through eight National parks in just 10 days and loved it. When would I get a chance to do that again? Whenever I convinced myself to take another vacation. What is a vacation anyway? It’s a break from work where you spend a very short amount of time doing something that you’d love to do "if you had the time", or "if you had the money". Well, I have a unique situation where my job does not require me to be in a fixed location all the time. My income comes from traveling and speaking at events around the country, from recording educational DVD’s and from writing books. Those are all things that can be done anywhere. Living on a motorcoach will allow me to stay parked at a National park for a week, a month, or any length of time that I want to, while still being able to get all my work done. Just imagine waking up early, heading out to take sunrise photos at your favorite National park, going for a hike and then getting into your own personal mobile-home where you have everything you need. Where you can take a quick nap and then write a chapter in a book, record part of a DVD, or just chill out. Imagine being able to visit every National park that you’ve ever wanted to explore for any length of time and not waiting until you’re retire to do it. I see so many people living this type of lifestyle after retiring… but that’s when your body isn’t able to climb those mountains quite as well as it used to. I don’t want to wait, so I’m doing it now.
A chance to visit friends that are scattered around the country
Every year I travel to about a dozen states and meet all sorts of interesting people. The problem is that after meeting someone, it might be years before I get a chance to see them again. By living on a motorcoach, I’ll have the ability to visit all those friends, I’ll have time to really get to know them better and they can come and join me on short trips (I have a rule already that nobody can stay on the coach for more than three days without being sent out to sleep in a tent). Many of my friends are photographers who run workshops. Being on a motorcoach will allow me to join them when they are out taking photos and will allow me to tag along while they teach a workshop. Who wouldn’t want to have a me teach a few hours of Photoshop during a photographic workshop in exchange for letting me tag along?
Chance to live with zero debt
Think of how many days a year you spend slaving away to pay for all the excesses in your life. The fancy house, expensive car, and all the other trappings of modern life. Then, think for a minute about what it could be like if you didn’t have any monthly payments, didn’t have to worry about how much you make each month and could make work-related decisions based on what you truly want to do instead of how much you’re going to get paid. Well, living on a motorcoach will allow me to have zero debt. No car payment. No mortgage. Nothing. That is a very freeing thought for me and really changes my mindset about how I structure my life. I might do a lot more work-related things that don’t pay quite as well simply because it’s what I really want to do.
To lower my personal expense by having more of my living expenses paid by my company
At the moment, clients pay to fly me out to their location, pick up the tab for my hotel, food, rental car as well as pay me to speak. Well, take all that $$ and put it towards fuel and you can go a long way. Not only that, but driving to a National park to take photographs that will appear in one of my books or be used in one of my seminars means that many of my expenses can be paid by my company. That will, in effect, give me a raise because I’ll lower my personal expenses. In fact I won’t own the bus personally. If my company buys it, then it can depreciate the asset, which will help lower our tax burden.
A sense of Adventure
I get really bored when things get to be overly routine. I think the longest I’ve ever worked at a job has been about 2.5 years. Once my work day becomes predictable and I don’t feel that I’m being challenged, then it’s time to move on. Living on a motorcoach will allow me to spice things up a bit and keep a sense of adventure in everything I do.
Ability to truly live a unique life
I have zero desire to live an "average" life. In my mind average=boring and predictable. The more predictable things become, the less excited and energized I become about what I’m doing. Just think of what it feels like to get out of bed in the morning. I want a life that I can’t wait to wake up and experience. I have a very active brain that needs constant stimulation and I believe that this new mobile lifestyle will provide enough interesting experiences to keep my mind stirred up.
This list is by no means complete. I just thought you might want to have some idea as to why I decided to sell my home and start living on a bus. If you have any unanswered questions in your head, then get them out of there by submitting them in the comments section of this post.
most of those reasons I wouldnt even have thought of (the zero debt, for example would be awesome). I love to travel but between school and work, taking time off to do so is hard, so I will definitely envy your freedom. You have certainly chosen a path thats unique, even dare-I-say-it “bohemian” but it sounds like you will be in your element. Have fun being a nomad!
Fabulous program. I sponsored the Toot Faries, a retired dental technician couple for 12 summers at my home in Ferndale, the Humboldt Nation, California.
The Tooth Faries demonstrated the life-style you are moving toward. It is not without problems, but the outcome is health, personally motivating, and motivates other to move toward their own goals. All of this is good.
Ben, this is an invitation to the Humboldt Nation, in the Redwoods of California.
Good luck in your new adventure and pass by when you can.
Dr Bongo D
Ben, I’ve read all your reasons for getting the greyhound. I’ve thought about it, and I’ve just got one question. Can I come too?
Ben, sounds wonderful! Does it take some special training to be able to drive such a large rig? I can barely make my way in a car!
Wil, you can see the bus at PhotoshopWorld if you happen to be there and I can point you in the right direction if you’d like to buy a bus, but I’m starting this adventure solo.
You don’t need any special drivers license or anything, but driving lessons are very much recommended. I’ve driving one for just shy of 4 hours and will have three days of orientation before I start driving it on my own. Driving a bus is nice since everyone gets out of your way (cops even back up when they see you making a corner).
Great reasons. Oh man – you’re making me want to run out to our motorhome (all 30′ of it) and hit the road now. I do love it on the road and being able to as I say “take the kitchen sink with” is oh so sweet.
Looking forward to hearing more about your adventure.
Best wishes on your travels. The freedom you describe sounds appealing and you certainly are on the path less travelled.
I wish you a lot of fun. All your arguments make sense to me.
You are living your dream and I wish you all the best!
My question to you is, who took the photo? Did you just apply motion blur to the road? It’s a pretty daring angle!
Ben, fair play to you!
I too took a so-called sideroad a few years ago (in Ireland), & never looked back. Sounds like your decision will work well for you too.
Also, thanks for the ‘CS2 Studio Techniques’ book! The blurb promised ‘Aha…!’ moments AND IT’S TRUE! I feel like I learned (and remembered) more in a day’s reading than in seven years of dabble. Looking forward to reading ‘…Up To Speed’. Thank you!
Finally, that road photo on this page; respect is due to anyone who can drive a motorcoach, hang upside-down out the back window, *and* use a camera at the same time. In focus. Maybe you’ll be passing that on in the next book 🙂
I do not know who took the photo… it is from the manufacture’s web site. One of the luggage bays must have been open with a photographer hanging out the side… either that or a suction cup setup like they use on some cars.
So Ben. Let’s say you want to bring a hot chick back to the crib. Do you just say “Hey baby, let’s go back to my bus?”.
Great seeing you at Photoshop World a few years ago. I’ve been really busy.
Congrats on the new adventure.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am glad that your talents let you live the life you choose.
I wonder about the access to internet?
How can you get into the the net while traveling though the country?
Take care yourself and keep sharing your thoughts (and future pictures) with us.
This is an invitation to visit and photograph the Cape Lookout area of the North Carolina coast. Check it out on Google Earth. I would be happy to take you around the area on my boat.
The dateline of your blog entry is March 6, 2006. Looking forward to your March 6, 2007 entry to give us “A Year Of Life In A Motorcoach” retrospective. Let us know if it went as you expected. Hours behind the wheel and loneliness would be my biggest personal concerns, but who knows? Hope it works out well!
(….oi ve! Ben! Find a nice girl and settle down already!)
I envy you, that is what I wish I could do if I had a chance. Now that it seems you have it: go for it!
PS Thanks for your wonderful work helping others in Digital and Photoshop learning!
As one who travels across country in the summer months (just because I can), I get it. My wife has graduated this same thought into world travel (the whole 3rd world country deal)… strapping her old Vivitar SLR across her shoulder and just enough in her backpack to keep her warm and safe. Who says you need to speak the language? Hopefully, I’ll get to that point, but for now the far east wasn’t built for tall giants like me ;).
Just let me know if you ever need a sherpa (with a laptop).
Congratulations and enjoy the journey!
-Paul W (aka bigcloud… that crazy guy who made you take a picture with a little rubber duck)
Maybe should we send one Cody so that Ben will have some company on all his trips!
Have a safe adventure. Let us know about how you adapt to this new world so that some of us (like me) will know what to do when we decide to follow your lead.
Wow Ben! Very interesting to say the least. Thanks for the message about losing your car keys. I had a good laugh, and understood your dilema. How is Nate? Please let me know..I think about him every now and then. And Nick too. Now about you new home…I am curious about future parking locations. They are large vehicles, and there are not many locations besides trailer parks where they are accepted for long term (or even short term) “resting spots”. Am also curious about any smell which might develop from living in an enclosed environment for some time. And laundry/dishes? Or how about art work on the wall and book space..enough space for you? And companionship..do you have any concern about being able to develop long term, lasting relationships under this type of living situation? Or how about health care? Voting? Oh boy…the curiosities are coming fast now. I’ll just stop it here. Congrats on your lifestyle choice, and best of luck on your future path wherever that might lead you!
All good road warriors have a CB handle. What will yours be? Best of luck in your new endeavor. Now, when you get older, you can truly start all your stories with “On the road of life…”!
Another question to add to the queue: how/where will you receive mail? I assume you’ll set up a PO box somewhere?
Hi Robin and Eric (both friends from High School),
My CB (and on-line handle for RV related stuff) is “The Digital Nomad”.
Office mail will go to a P.O. box in Texas (where I will officially be a resident) and will be forwarded to me when I tell them to. Non-official mail will go to my office where Regina will forward it to me when necessary, or scan and e-mail it to me.
Eric… you asked a boat-load of questions, some I’ll have to hold off until our next phone call (Nate, Nik, etc.)… here I’ll answer some that others might be interested in.
There are thousands of RV parks around the U.S.. You can also park at Wal Mart, K-mart, Sams Club and many others as well as Bureau of Land Mgmt land, etc.
Companionship: I’ll be meeting more people with this lifestyle than I ever met when I was hiding out in the mountains of Colorado, but I’ll only know what that will be like after living the lifestyle for a while.
I have health insurance that has locations I can visit all over the U.S.
Voting would be via Texas, which is where I will be a resident.
Books: I have maybe 100 books with me and that should be enough to last me a while. Then when I add more, I might give away some old ones. How often do you re-read a book? If not much, then why keep ones you’ve already read?
Art: I’m starting to collect tiny prints from the photographers I like. I might hang them in the bus, but I don’t have a huge need for a lot of artwork in the bus.
I have a washer/dryer in the bus and can also use laundromats if necessary. Dishes will be washed by hand (many people use plastic to avoid having to wash stuff).
Living in an enclosed space/odor… I’ll actually take showers on most days and open the windows on occasion to let the place vent out…. and vacuum the floor, etc.
Living in such a large country with so many possibilities, it seems like a little big adventure. I guess your days are far more exciting than most of us a (or at least mine).
Now, i’m working 2 years and 7 months, and yes, things are getting boring and predictable. Before i have even read your post, i was thinking about travelling and working on the road too (like a worldwide webdesigner/photographer/writer). Unfortunately, there are some problems: a lovely girlfriend i would have to leave behind, legal and insurance issues when you would do the same thing in Europe…
Btw, i wonder, where and how do you connect to the internet on a regular basis?
Hi Ben, congratulations for starting your new style of life. I am in the middle of changing my life too; I think life is to be enjoyed and the moment you start thinking each morning “oh no!, another day” is the moment you need to start changing things.
I’ve been a teleworker all my life from home but your idea of hitting the road has made me think about leaving home too.
My best wishes for your new life 🙂
Ben, your list of eight reasons is right on the money. Those are nearly identical reasons we have for doing exactly what your doing, with our Airstream trailer. We have a blog, too, at http://tour.airstreamlife.com and we post daily. I’m happy to share insights and mutual links if you like.
Ben, congratulations on your motorhome move – and the decision to DO IT NOW. We have a 40′ Monaco Diplomat and planned to use it full time (we lived in Delray Beach), but instead we are in Birmingham, AL for cancer treatment. Moral: Don’t wait, Do It Now!
I enjoy your books and your classes. Keep up the good work.
I have worked my way through two colleges in two states to get my masters. I have moved (over 8) many times to get my dream jobs in higher education. Today, they are few and far between (teaching wellness/fitness to University kids without a PhD.) My career is teaching (although I love nature photography) so no company I work for can pay for my gas, etc. and I have no right-offs. I am single, an only child, no kids, and 44 years old. And it looks like I may be looking for another difficult-to-get position again.
What would you think of a person like me getting a motor coach or place to live in full time?
How long could I make it my full-time home?
In your situation you might want to consider a 5th wheel trailer… they are the most popular rig for full-timing. You can get one at a much lower cost than a motorcoach which can make it an easier transition financially. The other thing that would help keep your costs down would be to stay in each location for a longer time than I do. Most RV parks have weekly and monthly rates that are much lower that the daily ones… If you can sign up for a month at a time, then your expenses will be much lower.
I really couldn’t estimate how long you could do it… it all depends on how much cash you have saved up and how much you can keep your expenses down.
Good luck to you—what an adventure!!
Perhaps your next book could be a travelogue a la John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley”. I’d buy it.