Vehicle dwellers usually find it necessary to embrace minimalism, at least to some degree. Still, we all need some gear in order to be able to cook, work, and handle other essential activities.
This page highlights some of the helpful gear that I actually use or have seen used by other nomads. Many of the links are “affiliate links,” like those to Amazon, that may result in me earning a small commission if you purchase something after following the link. None of the products or services on this page are listed just for me to earn a commission. These are all things that I believe are genuinely useful and helpful for nomads.
Once the sun sets for the day, you will need some sort of artificial lighting. Since I started out living in a car, I kept it simple at first with just a head lamp and a small flashlight. My current favorite light for all-around use is a Luci Light.
Luci Lights, made by MPOWERD, are a popular light for nomads. These lightweight, inflatable lanterns are solar-rechargeable, reliable, and inexpensive. The lights are available in several styles, including the Luci Lux with a frosted globe that produces a soft light.
I have a Luci Lux and absolutely love it. The light easily recharges each day with sunlight, and provides hours of soft, soothing light after dark.
Living as a nomad can be considerably cheaper than living in a house or apartment, but only if you can control expenses. Food is one expense category that can quickly become expensive on the road if you are eating meals at restaurants. A basic kitchen setup makes it possible to cook almost anything on the road that you would cook in a house.
Ozark Trail Propane Camp Stove
This stove is inexpensive (I purchased it for $30 at a Walmart store), but so far has worked reliably. I definitely recommend this style of stove over the canister-top style, because the canister-top burners tend to be easy to tip over.
There are other models that have built-in windscreens that would be useful if you plan to cook outdoors.
Another option with these stoves is to connect them to a larger propane tank rather than the one-pound cylinders. This reduces landfill waste, helps to avoid running out of propane in the middle of cooking a meal, and saves a lot of money. It is worth considering connecting your stove to a larger cylinder if you have the room to carry it.
Coleman Fold N Go+ Propane Grill
Cooking food on a gas grill is convenient and can deliver great results. The Coleman Fold N Go+ is a great little grill, and I have cooked many meals on mine.
This grill stores compactly in a travel bag and uses the readily-available one-pound propane cylinders. It is worth considering this grill if you are looking for an affordable grill for outdoor cooking.
Nomads often follow the weather to avoid the worst of winter, but even in warmer climates the nights are often cold during winter. Most people end up wanting some type of heat source, even if only for a few minutes each day.
Mr. Heater Portable Buddy
The Mr. Heater line of propane heaters are designed for indoor use without special venting (just crack a window). The Portable Buddy heater is probably the most common option for vandwellers and those in small RVs. This heater is affordable, and puts out between 4,000 and 9,000 BTU – more than enough for most smaller vehicles. I heat my trailer with a Portable Buddy when needed, but am not able to run it for more than about 30 minutes before the temperature becomes too warm inside.
As a digital nomad, I rely on a few tools to work on the road. Even those who do not work on the road, however, often need or want to stay connected while traveling.
No matter how hard I try to always camp somewhere with a good Verizon signal, sometimes it is just not possible. On those occasions when the data signal is weak, a weBoost Drive cell phone signal booster can mean the difference between being able to work and frustration.
I have been using a weBoost Drive booster recently and it usually increases signal strength by two bars/dots. The performance difference is easily demonstrated by starting a larger upload or download and moving the phone or hotspot in and out of the booster cradle. This booster is worth considering if you need to be connected while on the road.
There is a wealth of free information about nomadic living available online, including on this site and at Rubber Tramping (another site that I own). As incredible as the Internet is for accessing information, sometimes it is helpful to have the information downloaded and in one place. Books and e-books are ideal for accessing a large amount of information in an organized way.
Car Living by Robert Witham
Car living is not for everyone, but it is still being embraced by a growing number of people. Living out of a car provides mobility with good fuel efficiency, but comes with the trade-off of less space.
The ideas presented in this book are based on my own experience with living out of a car over the years. These experiences include car dwelling that was voluntary and involuntary, short-term and long-term, urban and boondocking.
My hope with this book is to make your experience easier and, dare I say it, positive.
Minimalism by Robert Witham
Minimalism. It is a term that has become much more popular in recent years with a number of blogs and more than a few books devoted to the topic. Many people are discovering that the dream they have been sold – that of ever-increasing affluence, unbridled consumerism, and the 50-year corporate 9-5 grind – is at best an elusive fantasy and at worst a nightmare from which there seems no escape. Minimalism, many people find, is the answer.
Minimalism is my contribution to the conversation about voluntary simplicity and, specifically, simplicity of possessions. I have been interested in simple living for as long as I can remember, and have been a minimalist since around 1999. Like many serious minimalists, everything that I own can fit into one bag. I can, and indeed have, packed to move across the country on 30 minutes notice (more than once).
How to Live In a Car, Van, or RV: And Get Out of Debt, Travel, and Find True Freedom by Bob Wells
One of the most well-known and thorough books on vandwelling, How to Live in a Car, Van, or RV will help you to get started with a mobile lifestyle. Whether you are just researching options or an experienced nomad, you are likely to find something useful in this book.