How To Live on the Road for a Year: The Ultimate Guide


Deciding to pack up and live on the road for a year is an important decision requiring much thought and prep. While there are many things to consider, such as money, food, or travel plans, you’ll also want to make sure you’ll be comfortable and have everything you need.

Here are some essential tips on how to live on the road for a year:

  1. Have a money plan.
  2. Pack correctly.
  3. Have a meal plan.
  4. Know where you’re going.
  5. Focus on your hobbies.
  6. Prepare for different seasons.
  7. Go on short trips before committing to a full year. 

As you begin to prepare for your year-long journey of living on the road, there are many things to consider. The rest of this article will discuss in-depth steps to take to live on the road for a year.


1. Have a Money Plan

Living on the road typically means quitting your day job unless you already work remotely. Quitting your job likely means no longer having a source of income. Therefore, you’ll want to ensure you have a plan when it comes to money.

Having a money plan can either mean saving up a lump sum before going on the road or having a plan to make some money as you travel. Having money saved while on the road is a good idea in case you have unexpected expenses (such as vehicle repair).

While saving up is ideal no matter what you plan to do for money, looking for seasonal or remote jobs while you travel is an excellent idea. Some of these jobs may include:

Working in a National Park

Many people who choose to live on the road for an extended period usually do so to explore the state’s national parks. Therefore, what better job than to take seasonal jobs working in various national parks?

The National Park ServiceOpens in a new tab. offers many opportunities for everyone. They provide various work positions, both full-time and seasonal, in over 400 different national parks across the United States. So, if this is something you’re interested in, there are plenty of jobs available to make some extra money while living on the road.

Working as a Freelancer

Another option to make extra money while living on the road is to work as a freelancer. There are many jobs that freelancers partake in, such as writing, editing, or even graphic design. Any skill set you have can typically be used as a freelancer, as long as you can do it remotely.

There are various websites to do freelancer work through. Some of these websites include:

  • UpworkOpens in a new tab.: Upwork has job postings of all kinds from millions of clients. Therefore, you’ll be able to find clients looking for your skillset.
  • FiverrOpens in a new tab.: Fiverr allows you to post your portfolio and skill sets to market to companies.
  • PeoplePerHourOpens in a new tab.: PeoplePerHour is aimed at people with skills in software engineering, SEO, and marketing.

Working Through Social Media

Social media has only gotten more prevalent as the years go by. The more social media grows, the more help influencers or businesses need help managing their profiles. Remotely working as a social media assistant or manager is something you can do while living on the road.

As long as you have the necessary knowledge about social media and marketing, this is a great option to make money.


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Working as a Blogger

Living on the road is exciting, so many people like to blog about their experiences. Creating a profitable blog can allow you to earn money while on the road. However, to do this, you’ll need to know how to write in a way that’s interesting to readers and keep an audience coming back.

While typically, people don’t make a lot of money through blogs, the more views you have, the more money you’ll make.

Working on a Business

If there has ever been a small business you wanted to start, you’ll have all the time you need while living on the road for a year. As long as your business is something that you can start remotely, you’re good to go.

Even starting a business selling handmade jewelry or wood carving can be done on the road, as long as you have the means to get to a post office to mail them out.


2. Pack Correctly

It’s essential to correctly pack if you’re going to be living on the road for a year. While a year is a long time, and many people might think that they need everything in their home with them, you only need the necessities.

Knowing what you need and what you can live without is essential when living on the road. Therefore, you don’t want to overpack. Only bringing a couple of pairs of shoes or a minimal amount of clothes (depending on how often you want to do laundry) is a good idea.

I recommend having an organized packing system and luggage, such as the Veken 6 Set Packing CubesOpens in a new tab. from Amazon.com, when it comes to packing. This packing set has four different size packing cubes, as well as a laundry and shoe bag.

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Having these different sized bags can make sure you stay organized, and it keeps all of your clothes and personals in one place.

You’ll also want to make sure there’s enough room to sit or lay comfortably. If you bring too much stuff, you won’t be able to live comfortably on the road. Of course, you know your own lifestyle better than anyone.

However, here are some other essentials to consider when living on the road:

  • Water filter: Having a water filter is excellent for people who plan to stay more in nature. A water filter will filter out the water, therefore making it drinkable.
  • Heater: Having a heater will be essential in the cold months. However, I’ll mention more on this later.
  • Portable cooker: A portable cooker will be great for cooking food on the go, especially if you want to stay away from fast food while living on the road.
  • Portable solar panel: A solar panel, while not always necessary, can be helpful when you need some extra energy, like for charging batteries.
  • Handheld vacuum cleaner: Most people don’t think this, but cleaning up messes in your vehicle will be much easier with a vacuum.
  • Fire extinguisher: Living on the road is already dangerous, and without any way to stop potential fires, it’s even more dangerous. Therefore, having an extinguisher on hand is a good idea.
  • Dash Cam: Dashcams are an excellent idea when living out of your vehicle as it works as a security system of sorts.

3. Have a Meal Plan

Eating out all of the time is expensive, so you need to have a frugal plan. Packing foods that have a long shelf life, such as canned goods, is a good idea. At the same time, most people will understandably not want to eat canned foods for a year. However, doing so now and then will save a lot of money.

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Having a cooler, such as the Igloo 52 Qt BMX CoolerOpens in a new tab. from Amazon.com, is an excellent idea to keep any groceries cold. This cooler is extremely durable and is built to keep food or drinks cold for 4-5 days, which is pretty good for a cooler.

Most of the time, you’ll want to pack food that doesn’t need to stay cold, but having a few items or even drinks in a cooler will be a lot of help.

It’s essential to have a budget for food, especially if you’re living off your savings and you have no other income. Putting aside a specific amount of money every week for food will help in the long run.


4. Know Where You’re Going

For some, deciding to live on the road for a year sometimes means not knowing exactly where you’re going but seeing where you end up. While spontaneity is fun, it’s not always wise or ideal, especially when living on the road. There are many reasons to have an exact plan for where you’re going:

You’ll Get the Most Out of the Experience

Knowing where you’re going will allow you to plan out all your stops along the way and ensure you won’t miss anything fun or exciting. That doesn’t mean you can’t stray from your initial plan to see other sights, but having different sights in mind that you want to see will keep you on track.

You’ll Know Where All the Pit Stops Are

Even though you’re living on the road, stopping for snacks, a bathroom, and a shower is essential. Planning out areas where you can take a pit stop and get a shower will help tremendously while on the road. 

There are many public showers across the United States, many of which are free. However, some may charge a small fee. You can check out public showers by state hereOpens in a new tab..

You Won’t Get Lost

Every traveler’s worst fear is getting lost, or worse, getting lost while also being out of gas. Having a plan (including a gas plan) will ensure you know where you’re going and won’t be stranded on the side of the road. Therefore, while you should know where your pit stops are, you should also pay attention to gas stations.

You’ll Know Where the Seasonal Work Is

If you plan on getting seasonal jobs while on the road, knowing where you’re going is vital to know where the work is. 

For example, if you plan to work at national parks while living on the road, knowing where the national parks are (especially the ones that most interest you) is essential to getting those seasonal jobs.


5. Focus on Your Hobbies

Living on the road for a year can get boring at times, especially if you’re traveling alone. It’s essential to keep yourself busy to pass the time while you’re traveling.

For some people, living on the road for a year is great because they can focus on hobbies or even start new ones they’ve always been meaning to try.


6. Prepare for Different Seasons

Depending on where you plan to travel, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared for all different types of weather. This is especially important in times of extreme heat or cold weather.

For example, when it comes to freezing weather, preparing by having insulated materials around your vehicle, such as an insulated rug and window coverings, will work to keep the heat in. 

Having blankets, coats, and other warm materials is essential. Also, owning a car heater, such as this ROYADVE 12V Portable Car HeaterOpens in a new tab. on Amazon.com. This car heater is safe and effective for use in a car and even has an adjustable thermostat. Therefore, you can also use it to keep the car cool on hot days, as well as working as a defogger or air purifier.

With hot weather, investing in window coverings to keep the heat out and having appropriate clothing and cool beverages are a must.


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7. Go on Short Trips Before Committing to a Full Year

If you haven’t lived on the road before or have no experience, taking short trips to practice first is a good idea. For one, it’ll let you know if living on the road for a year is a good idea for you and how to deal with different situations.

Doing this will also give you a better idea of what to pack. If you tend to overpack, practicing beforehand will let you know what you do and don’t need, making packing easier when you decide to live on the road for an extended time, such as a year.


Conclusion

Living on the road for a year can be difficult, more for some than others. However, having a guide to help can make things a lot easier. Whether you’re living on the road for a year by yourself or with others, you should always have a plan when it comes to money, either having a lot saved up or getting jobs on the go.

Packing correctly, having a meal plan thought out, knowing where you plan to go, focusing on your hobbies, preparing for the seasons, and practicing beforehand are also all great tips when living on the road.

Martin

As an independent traveler, I try to share my positive and negative observations about van life as well as tips and tricks to make your life on the road easier. I travel and work in my old RV and would greatly appreciate a coffee from you if you find my content useful.

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