How Owning Less Makes Me Happier

How Owning Less Makes Me Happier

As I wrap up the year and enter 2021 I find myself thinking about happiness more and more and how owning less makes me happier.

I started this journey of Story Chasing by traveling full time to gather more moments of deliberate happiness.

This is what makes me happy – living with less and traveling. This is my dream. Yours can be something entirely different.

The one thing that I believe any of us can do – no matter what path you are on for creating more happiness is to live with less and adopt a more minimalist lifestyle.

Click here to watch the video: https://youtu.be/fwklLcn8gIg

My First Introduction to Downsizing

It all started when I downsized my living space when I moved to downtown Seattle in 2014 and into a 480 sq foot apartment. I got rid of the excess and only kept what I really needed to live, like a bed, a couch, a desk to work from, and all the bathroom, kitchen, and clothing essentials. I even downsized decorations so that I wasn’t moving things around all the time to clean and dust.

The freedom of owning less and living more simply in a minimalist life was thrilling. I had this feeling of abundance and peace that I don’t think I had ever felt before.

Gone were the days of Amazon packages showing up at my door on a daily basis – I mean where would I put the stuff?

It was so freeing.

I loved the smallness of the space and how simple it was.

At the time, I had no idea that I could go even smaller with my downsizing and minimalist lifestyle.

Next Steps to Even More Downsizing

Fast forward to 2017 when I bought an RV and set out on the road – I again felt this complete sense of freedom, calm, and extreme happiness.

I realize the thought of downsizing so much can be challenging to our minds, but once you start – it becomes addictive because you start to live without the clutter that causes stress and anxiety and sometimes even more money to maintain.

I began to shift my focus from acquiring things to focusing on relationships, self care, exploring lands, and enjoying the beauty around me.

My mind began to get clearer as if the physical stuff had been taking up space in my head.

 

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Living as a Nomad

The clutter was replaced with moments. With stories. Stories of traveling. Stories of people I met on the road. Stories of hiking, biking, motorcycling, whale watching, and so much more.

I got off the hamster wheel of buying stuff and instead traded it in for living in a van that’s 20 feet long and about 80 sq feet. This van is my mode of travel.

It’s the only thing I own in this world along with the contents inside. It feels good to me knowing that my little van, my home on wheels, allows me to shift my focus to creating more stories.

This may seem like extreme minimalism to some, but you don’t have to go this extreme. This is how I chose to declutter, downsize, and live a happier life. You can start to downsize and declutter in your own space now. What are you hanging on to that doesn’t serve you or add any value to your life. Even more important, what are you keeping around that is toxic to your life and doesn’t provide space for you to live a happier, more fulfilled life?

Simple living and owning less is what makes me happier. Leave me a comment below and tell me at least 2 things you can do this month to declutter and simplify your surroundings and your life.

 

This is Where I Live in My 20 Foot Camper Van

This is Where I Live in My 20 Foot Camper Van

In 2017 I sold my house and everything I owned to live out my dream life as a full-time digital nomad. I started in a 26 foot RV and within a year downsized into a 20-foot van.

I’ve been traveling in an RV for the last 3 and half years around the US, Mexico, and Canada, but I think we can all agree that this last year has brought about many challenges.

2020 has been filled with some major ups and downs and definitely challenged me with traveling between states and countries. I’m just grateful that I can still travel.

Just recently we were able to get my Canadian boyfriend, legally, across the border with his van but with the new travel advisories, we had to cancel our winter trip to sunny Baja Mexico. Instead, we’re spending some of the winter in the southwest United States and crossing off a few bucket list places, but first – I want to show you how I live in my van and what’s it like on a daily basis from morning until evening.

RVing is my dream – but what is your dream?

Watch the full video here: https://youtu.be/Q9DaWPVPdu4

MORNING ROUTINE

This is where I live.

I wake up most mornings to the sunrise. The circadian rhythm of my body has become accustomed to waking with the sun rising and getting sleepy with the sunset. This natural rhythm only happened after I started this nomad life and got rid of the alarm clock.

My mind and body enjoy and thrive under this natural rhythm of waking. It feels refreshing and gentle instead of that jolt from sleep you get with a loud buzzer ringing next to you annoyingly wake you up from a rather sound and joyous sleep state.

Lily seems to be in tune with her circadian rhythm as well and wakes with the sun though sometimes she’ll sleep in and I have to wake her for breakfast.

On this winter day in the desert, it can be quite cold at night. I typically sleep with the furnace off and instead opt for a very warm goose down comforter to keep us warm at night. Our propane tank is so small that keeping the furnace going all night would then require me to fill up with propane every 4-5 days.

So the first thing I do when getting up is to turn the van on to get those cold lithium batteries charged up a bit and to get the heat flowing through the van quickly from the dashboard heater. With the dashboard heater on I then turn on the furnace to help heat the floors and provide a constant source of warmth.

Opening the blinds will also help to bring in warm direct sunlight into the van and also help to wake us up in the morning.

I’ll wash up a bit, throw on some clothes, and start the coffee on my induction cooktop. I have a propane stovetop, but again, because our propane tank is so small I’d rather use an induction cooktop that uses electricity generated from solar panels or the 2nd alternator on my van. I also love that the induction cooktop cooks foods much quicker and more evenly.

Breakfast is usually oatmeal or eggs or a smoothie. Today we’ll have oatmeal with some raisins my fave is the Bob’s Red Mill organic thick-cut rolled oats with some nuts and seeds and a dollop of honey.

This week, Scott and I are in Quartzsite, AZ with our friend Dave and his dog Kirby who joined us during the holidays. I think we may even travel together a bit around Arizona soon too.

One of my favorite past times growing up is to sit outside and drink my coffee, eat my breakfast, and enjoy family and friends.

It’s no different for me now. It feels so good to sit here and enjoy my hot coffee and the conversations we have as a nomadic community of friends. It’s somehow peaceful and allows us to connect and build relationships – even or dogs partake of the morning chats as we watch the sun continue to rise and fill our campsite with warmth on these chilly mornings.

WHAT'S IT LIKE AT OUR CAMPSITE EACH DAY

When picking a camping site I have several requirements:

  • The weather must be above freezing and preferably warm during the days.
  • It must have a cell signal so I can operate my online business.
  • A space with plenty of room between us and other campers.
  • A place where I can sit outside and enjoy the beauty and throw out my yoga mat for some exercise.
  • …and lastly, a place that is peaceful and quiet most of the time.

If it has some trees to secure the hammock -well that’s a bonus! That one is a bit harder to come by in the desert with the lack of trees.

Most days I work on the business, but I also play a lot. Sometimes we’ll have friends who drop by for several days and camp with us. It’s one of the things I love about this life – the nomad community of friends with similar interests and the dream to travel and be free from the norm.

Our dogs are a constant source of entertainment. They love to play catch with the ball – except Lily who would rather sit on a lap and bask in the sun.

We go for walks and enjoy the landscape around us – yes even the desert.

We pick up the campsite when the wind comes barreling through and knocks over chairs and whips around the mats.

We listen to podcasts, the radio, and music – things that speak to us and enrich our brains and soul.

We break out a hobby to soothe our creative juices. I used to knit a lot, but it somehow seems useless in this life right now, so I have a new hobby I’m taking up that you will soon see. I’m so excited about this new adventure and the ability to create and use my hands for making beautiful art.

It’s one of the other things I love about this life – the simplicity of having time to create, to enjoy, to explore, to read, to build relationships. In my life before – it was a constant churn of busyness and chaos with work and the house. I had little room in my life to create or even date somebody.

It feels good to share this life with others and with Scott.

EXERCISE & SELF CARE

My weight seems to be a constant battle – one that ebbs and flows. I do well with losing weight and then I don’t. I’m in the don’t phase right now and working to correct that again.

One thing I constantly must do is to keep my body stretched and flexible. As I’ve aged I can feel the inflexibility creeping in so I love to do yoga and simple 5 minute back decompression that seems to reset my back each day and keep it moving as it should.

Feeling the warmth of the sun on my body and doing a short meditation as I decompress grounds me and balances my energy and mind. In combination with meditation, I journal to manifest my desires – my dreams – and express gratitude for every moment. While I love the tactile feeling of paper and pen – and I might go back to it – right now I’m journaling with my iPad and pencil to reduce the number of items in my van and keep it simple and minimalist in here.

Our current camping group has e-bikes so it’s great to get out on a long ride and explore a little bit. Quartzsite had some great gravel trails for biking and our fat tire e-bikes glide over the rocks and terrain with ease.

Bicycling – no matter what weight I was at – has always been a favorite form of movement for me all of these years. It’s a feeling of freedom for me. The wind, the sun, the ability to stretch my legs with each turn of the pedals. It’s another form of exploration for me. To wander and see our lands.

I love the peacefulness of a ride and how it invigorates me and lights up every cell in my body with happiness.

WE DO ERRANDS

I try to group errands together all in one day so we don’t have to prepare the van for traveling too often.

We have to go into town to throw away our trash at designated transfer stations or sometimes the gas stations.

Since the gyms are more restrictive now with COVID guidelines, we’ve canceled our memberships and use public showers in the local area. It can be a cheaper option.

We found this shower at the local laundromat for $8 per person that supplied piping hot water and great pressure. Showers are one of the luxuries I miss about the sticks and bricks life, but I’ll take what I have created in this nomad life, sacrifice a daily shower, live with the dirt, and keep traveling. This is why I started Story Chasing – to create more moments  – more stories that fill my life with happiness and to live more simply.

In most towns, you’ll find a local mail center that will accept incoming packages for you for a small fee. On errand day, we pick up all of our mail and packages at the local mail center, remove all the contents, and burn the cardboard at our campfire if we can’t find a place to recycle it.

On this day, we found a great pizza restaurant in town and splurged on eating out – picked the pizza up and took it back to our campsite to devour. Most of the time we cook our meals – which we both prefer, but it’s nice to have a meal cooked for you and also support the local businesses.

WORKING & CLEANING

I’ve definitely embraced the simple minimalist life living in a van, but sometimes I can get carried away with thinking I need that something that I’ve had in the van for over a year and never used. Dave and Scott challenged me to start the purge and get rid of stuff I haven’t used in a while like the clothes and shoes I’ve been hanging out to or the broken camera equipment that I clearly don’t use.

I still can’t believe that I got rid of eight bags of things hanging around that didn’t serve me. It felt so good to be rid of that stuff that was creating chaos for me and anxiety with the stuff just sitting around collecting dust and not allowing me to get to the things I really do use.

Purging those things allowed me to buy this roll-up table that is perfect for pulling up the chairs and eating a meal each day. It’s funny how this little table created so much happiness for me by simply allowing us to gather around it for meals, conversation, and community. It’s the simple things that make me smile.

FOOD & MEALS

Recently I added this small toaster oven to my cooking appliances. I’ve longed for an oven for a while now and really miss what it has to offer. Like the simplest thing of making toast for breakfast or for a sandwich at lunchtime.

Another favorite is my small propane grill that plugs in directly to my onboard propane tank. Scott and I both love to cook on the grill. It’s fast, easy and wow does it taste so flavorful. Sometimes I’ll cook a whole package of chicken thighs or breasts to prep for the week and add to salads, omelets, or have as a main protein and add veggies to the plate.

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SoloStove sent me this campfire stove and pot to try out some cooking outdoors with a wood fire. Dave was my guinea pig and decided to cook some vegan burgers and sausages which turned out so well.

I love the solo stove and what it has to offer, but I think I’ll stick to my propane grill and induction cooktop. It’s just easier for me and doesn’t require me to chop all the wood and get a fire started, but it’s definitely great for those times when you go backpack camping and need to cook or heat up your water for coffee. Thank you SoloStove.

EVENING RITUAL

At night we start the wind down from our daily playing and working to enjoy the sunsets – especially in this Arizona desert where the colors of orange, purple, yellow, and pinks lights up the sky. I honestly have never seen more colorful sunsets than here in Arizona.

Sometimes we’ll put on a movie or a new episodic tv show, chat, and enjoy a relaxed evening.

Campfires are our favorite night time get together with those camping near us. We’ll bundle up in our warm jackets and hats, bring out the chairs, our favorite beverage which is typically a chai tea latte for me, and sit around the campfire listening to the crackle of wood.

I’m always mesmerized by the breathing in and out of the glowing wood that helps to provide us with warmth and a stunning show of flickering flames under a dark night sky lit up with brilliant stars.

Freedom. That word keeps coming up for me. Getting rid of the junk is freedom for me. Living this nomadic life is freeing for me. Bicycling is freedom. Drinking my coffee at sunrise and grounding my feet to the earth is freedom.

This is where I live.

 

ReallReallOvernights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 

  • BLM land in Quartzsite, Arizona / $0

RV Accessibility:

  • Any RV can handle the BLM lands in Quartzsite. Just be careful in some areas with loose sand.

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  Really great cell signal except for January and February when thousands of people converge on this area for various functions in the area. AT&T was stronger than Verizon and you'll definitely need a cell booster, like the weBoost that I use, to get a better signal if you'll be working or watching movies.

Park Pass:  N/A

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Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

AT&T Data Plan – If you're a digital nomad or need any kind of cell connection than having one that is unlimited, not throttled and not capped is important.

weBoost Cell Booster – A must have when traveling full-time especially if you work and are staying in areas outside of cities.

Amazon store with all my gear – Click here to find all my gear used.

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My Top 10 RV Gear Essentials for Living in a Van or RV Full Time

My Top 10 RV Gear Essentials for Living in a Van or RV Full Time

Top 10 RV Gear Essentials for Full-Time Van LifeWhen you first start RVing, you might not know exactly what RV gear you need to stock in your RV and van with some of those essential items. I'd like to share with you my top 10 RV essentials, or what I think are RV essentials to have that make my life a little bit easier when I'm traveling in my van full time.

Today I'm writing to you from the desert in Arizona.

It's that time of the year where we all (digital nomads) start traveling down to the Southwest to get out of the cold from up North or wherever we've been traveling for the summer season.

It was definitely cold in the last couple of places we went to from Washington state all through Oregon, then California, and now Arizona.

With all the new regulations and advisories with Covid-19 – we might just be in Arizona for the winter. These are interesting times and we're all adapting to the change as we go.

Also, I'm going to share with you an amazing discount that Jackery is giving to all of you. Hint, hint – one of my top RV essentials is a Jackery.

They are giving you a discount during the holidays on a couple of their different solar battery packages for their power stations and also their solar panel.

You can watch the full YouTube video here: https://youtu.be/5hVTog0hkXM

#1 JACKERY POWERSTATION & SOLAR PANELS

The first item I'm going to share with you today is my Jackery solar panel power station system. This particular system is the Jackery 1000 Powerstation with 1000 watts of battery storage and a pure sine inverter which is a must when charging expensive electronics. It also comes with two 100 watt solar panels for a total of 200 watts.

There are three different AC outlets, one USB-C – which I use to power my GoPro when I'm recording night lapses outside. You have two quick charge USBs plus the 12-volt outlet, and a connection for your solar panels. There is a display button so you can see how much energy you're bringing in and how much energy you're consuming if you have a device plugged into it.

It's super simple to plugin using the cables attached to the solar panel and then using the adapter to connect two solar panels together, you then plug in into the designated spot. It's dummy proof for people like me.

Super simple!

Depending on the direction of the sun, you can pull in a much as 200 watts (2 solar panels at 100 watts each), but typically with the winter sun, I'm getting 120-130 watts with the two panels.

I started out with the 500-watt battery and inverter power station which worked really well. I love the 1000 watt too since I can double my capacity of energy to store and consume. I have quite a few electronics and camera equipment so it's really nice to be able to charge this battery during the day and use it at night to power devices and charge.

It also has such a small footprint that it's easy to keep in the van. I slide the folding solar panels between the passenger door and the passenger seat since I rarely open that door. That's Lily's little nest of toys and blankets.

Plus I can also charge my Rad electric bike battery off of the power station as well. It has a lot of different multiple functions and is great for anyone who doesn't want to install an expensive solar charging system permanently to their RV.

Jackery has a wonderful discount for you during the holidays. It's a pretty long list of discounts that I've added to the description box of my YouTube video. Click here to get the discount codes found under that video in the description and pinned comment for Black Friday specials and afterward for the holiday season.

Click here to buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/33a3hEh

#2 WEBER GO GRILL

The second item that I really like and consider part of my RV essential gear is my Weber Go. It's a grill. I don't actually have an oven inside of my van. I miss having an oven! So, this Weber Go grill takes the place of an oven – kinda.

I like to grill meats and vegetables and various things like that and it's just super simple to light up the grill and cook a good meal. It's just another way to cook instead of using the stovetop. In a van, you need very minimalist products, something small that can fit into the back of the van. So, I decided on the Weber Go.

I also decided on the gas grill rather than the charcoal. It's a lot easier and I can connect the grill to the propane tank on board the van with a quick connect hose. What's nice about it is, it's very compact.

You've got your grill surface. There's nothing fancy about it. It's got the lid cover to make sure all the meats and vegetables are cooked inside properly. Then there are metal legs that have a dual purpose to use as a stand for the grill and then fold up easily over the top of the grill cover when not in use and ready to store.

It's taken my cooking to a whole new level in the van!

Click here to buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/395HGAF

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#3 SAND-FREE MAT

All right, let's move on to the next one, which is my sand-free mat. I absolutely love this mat. It's quite interesting. If you look at the material on it, somehow the sand goes through this meshy area and stays on the ground rather than the top of your mat so it saves on cleaning and dirt build-up.

The other thing that I love about this sand-free mat is that even with a little bit of wind it seems to stay on the ground and not fly away. I'm not exactly sure how, but it does and it works.

This is one of my favorite items. I've gone through so many different mats since I've started RVing three and a half years ago and this is by far my top mat. It just holds up. It's made very well, no sand, easy to clean, easy to store. It rolls up really nice and compact and slides into back of the van.

Buy here on Amazon: https://amzn.to/35VRE5y

#4 TRIPOD CHAIR

The next essential RV gear is my tripod chair. It's very minimalist. It's easy to carry, and it folds up easily and it's compact. You can fold it up with one hand (which you can see in my video). There's also a little strap so you can carry it on your shoulder if you wanted to, then you just sit your bum right down in seat. Easy peasy!

It's really great when you have those campfires that you want to go to if you're hanging around in a crowd, during non-COVID times, of course, and walk with that rather than a big bulky chair. I use it as a secondary chair too, for guests who come over so we can sit outside.

Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2IYSo0T

#5 PROGRESSIVE INDUSTRIES SURGE PROTECTOR

The next item is, well, not as fun, but it's a surge protector, this is from Progressive Industries and a MUST. What I love about it, is that it keeps all my electronics safe in my van.

What this is used for is when you go to a campground or any place that you're going to plug into shore power to your van or RV. Mine happens to be a 30 amp, but Progressive Industries also has a 50 amp one as well. You plug this surge protector into the AC outlet on the wall, or at your campground, and then you plug your electrical plug from your van, or your RV into the Progressive Industries surge protector. It gives you all kinds of warning and error codes in the display to let you know that the power that's coming in is safe and to make sure there's no power surge. It also tells you if there's an under or over voltage, which is really nice.

You definitely don't want that to happen, because you don't want all of your electronics to be fried if there's a surge of power from the campground electricity. Unfortunately, campgrounds aren't always so reliable when it comes to the power coming into the electrical posts at each campsite. So, this is an absolute must to protect your RV electrical system from bad electricity surges, and under/over-voltage issues.

The one that I have is an older model, but the one shown here and linked is the new model with a great cover to keep it dry when it's raining outside.

Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2J0dRqD

#6 TIRE MINDER TIRE PRESSURE MONITORING SYSTEM

One of the other top RV essentials that I think is a must-have is my tire pressure monitoring system from TireMinder. I also have a coupon code for you that will give you 20% off if you use the code StoryChasing. It does exactly what it says it's going to do. It tells me what the temperature is of the tires. It tells me what the PSI of the tires are and alerts me if any of those numbers are not the normal range for safety.

I can monitor my PSI and tire temperature while I'm driving and make sure that my tires aren't ready to have a blowout or they're getting overheated. Those are things that you have to be aware of when you're driving as much as we do in van life and RV life.

I actually published a video on this when I talked about tire safety. You can click here to watch that video where I go into more detail about how to actually set it up for your van or RV:

It's a great little system – very small and compact. I just put it right on my dash and monitor my tires as I go. It's very, very simple. Also, I haven't had any issues with air leaking out from the sensors screwed on to the tire valve stems. It's worked really well for me. I love it. It's definitely a must-have.

Buy with coupon code for 20% off: StoryChasing at https://www.InnovationTire.com

#7 TRAVEL BERKEY WATER FILTER

My travel Berkey is a must-have for me because I drink a ton of water. It does what the name implies – filters water – better than any other filter I've ever seen or used. This way I have good clean water in my van and I don't have to buy a bunch of bottled water. It also states that it can filter river water.

I don't typically go places where I have to filter river water, but supposedly it can do that. What I love is that it has two carbon filters up here in the top chamber and then two more filters in the bottom chamber to filter out fluoride and other contaminants.

I love that because I can actually take water from my fresh water tank, put it inside the top chamber with my kitchen faucet hose, and then it filters the water directly from my van's freshwater tank. I would never drink from the freshwater tank directly. The filters last a long time at 6,000 gallons for the two top filters.

Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/35RWd10

#8 DJI OSMO MOBILE 3 GIMBAL

My next must-have in RV life and van life is a gimbal. You're going to be taking a lot of pictures whether you have a YouTube channel or not, so you'll want to get some of those good pictures and selfies, right?

I love this gimbal by DJI. It's an Osmo Mobile 3 and it's just amazing and simple. I use my phone a lot more these days for filming footage so this gimbal helps make my video shows a little bit more buttery smooth. If you watch the video, I demonstrate how to use the gimbal with the iPhone.

So, if you want something that's nice and compact, this is a great tool and it has a tripod function for it too. It also has some follow-me features on it and a bunch of different functions that really help you get that shot that you're looking for with still photos and videography. Again, it's not super complex. It's really easy to use, and this tripod screws off of the handle so you can use the gimbal with or without the tripod.

You can put it in your purse or fold it up and slide into your back pocket pretty easily.

Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3kZn92V

#9 CELL PHONE MAGNETIC DASH MOUNT

One of my other favorite things on my top RV essential in the van is a magnetic mount for my dash so that I can put my phone on it very easily, every time I get into the driver's seat and I can look at my Google Maps.

I can pull up anything that I want on there, but it's nice and easy. The back of the phone has these little plates on it that you just stick on to your phone or case and you just literally stick your phone up to the magnetic dash mount and it grabs your phone and stays in place. It can move around and swivel any which way you want on the ball head mount.

You can reposition the phone on the mount if you want it higher or lower just by pulling the phone off and putting it back onto the magnet.

It's just amazing. It's a must.

It's just super easy. It's not complicated. I've been on BLM land, washboard roads, rocky roads, back and forth to Alaska, to Baja Mexico, and no issues whatsoever. It has not fallen down.

Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2HucuzQ

#10 INSTANT POT & POT-IN-POTS

The last item – and one of my very, very favorites – is my Instant Pot. I absolutely love this thing. This is kind of a two for one must-have RV gear. I have these pot-in-pots, which are absolutely amazing to cook in for simple one-pot meals.

This is a 3 quart instant pot. It's nice and compact for van life. Just simple.

It has settings for rice, porridge, steam, yogurt, you can actually make yogurt in here – saute function, slow cook, beans, chile, meats, stew, and soups. I typically just use the pressure cook function or saute most of the time, or sometimes I even use the steam function. If I'm doing poached eggs, yes, you can do poached eggs in the Instant Pot. Isn't that amazing?

I cook oatmeal in the Instant Pot, steel-cut oats, regular oats. I steam broccoli, poached eggs, and cook rice, chili, soups, meats, and fish. It's pretty versatile.

The great thing is that it doesn't use a ton of power and that's important in an RV and a van, because you're always constantly concerned about your power, especially if you're boondocking. With the instant pot, it gets up to pressure – that's when it uses most of its power – and then once it gets up to pressure, it's hardly using any energy whatsoever and it's just cooking inside that pressure time. So, if I'm cooking steel-cut oats, which take about five minutes, I put the Instant Pot on high pressure cook for five minutes, it gets up to pressure and then it counts down that timer of five minutes.

During that time when it's counting down the time, that's when it uses very little energy. The pot-in-pots are really great because you can cook several meals in one. So, a lot of times I'll put rice down in the bottom chamber and I'll put fish and vegetables up in the top chamber. It cooks all of the food at the same time inside of the Instant Pot. You've got a meal all in one pot.

Buy the Instant Pot on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3kVq0Kj

Buy the Pot-in-Pot on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3lZ3ZM3

Thank you Jackery for supplying the solar panels and the power station and make sure you click those links for the discount to the Jackery. Not only for Black Friday, but also after Black Friday during Christmas, the first part of December, you can see all of the links below. You can buy it on Amazon, or directly through the link to Jackery and get that discount.

You can see all of my top 10 RV Gear essentials here in my Amazon store https://www.amazon.com/shop/storychasing?listId=PVY3YAKEWH8Y

 

How to Domicile in Texas as a Full-Time RVer & Get Your Mail

How to Domicile in Texas as a Full-Time RVer & Get Your Mail

Well, it's official. I'm now a Texas resident. I have a temporary driver's license, and I also have some license plates. As a digital nomad, what state you actually hold your residency in can have an impact on your travel plans. So I'll share with you why I decided to change my residency from Washington to Texas and explain to you that entire process about why I decided to set up my residency in Texas versus Florida or South Dakota.

Last year, I quit my job in June of 2018, so it's been almost a year now.

This is March 2019 and because I quit my job, I no longer had health insurance except through Cobra. It's about time that I figured out what state I need to domicile in so that I could get health insurance. One of the things that I need as a full time traveling, digital nomad, is a nationwide health insurance plan.

As a Washington state resident, they don't actually offer a national health insurance plan. So I needed to change my domicile to one of three states.

There's South Dakota, Florida, and Texas.

Those are three states that are actually really great for RVers because they don't have a state income tax. Just in general, they're a little bit more RV friendly. Some of the fees for registering your RV is a little cheaper there as well.

Why I Chose to Domicile in Texas

Texas

At first, I thought I was going to domicile in Florida because they had a nationwide health insurance plan. But this year in 2019, Texas actually offered a nationwide health insurance plan, so I decided on Texas instead.

I'll most likely be closer to Texas than I would Florida most of the year, so Texas just also seems to be more advantageous for that. Plus I have family there so I'll be in Texas a little bit more.

Also, the requirement with Texas car inspections is they do require inspections every so often, but if you're not in the state, you don't have to go back to get that inspection until you actually get back into the state. Then you have about three days to get your RV or your car inspected as soon as you get back into the state. That's another reason why I chose Texas because I wouldn't have to go back quickly to get my car inspected every so often.

In other words, I really don't have to go back to Texas very often unless I want to see my family of course. But there's no real legal reason why I need to go back, which is why I decided on Texas, oh and the ability to get on a nationwide health insurance plan.

It was a fairly easy process to get domiciled in Texas, but you need to know the requirements and step-by-step process.

Step-by-Step Process to Domiciling in Texas

There are four things that you need to do to get domiciled in Texas and you need to accomplish it in this order:

  • The first one is you need to establish an address in Texas.
  • The second thing is you need to get your RV inspected.
  • The third thing is you need to get your RV registered.
  • The fourth thing you need to do is actually get your driver's license.

I'm part of a club called Escapees and there's a subgroup called Xscapers that you might've seen me talk about every once in a while. They have a really great online program that shows you how you can domicile in Texas, South Dakota or Florida. But because I chose Texas, we're going to look at Texas today. You just go to their website and you can see the checklist has all of the information on what you need to do to get domiciled in Texas so that's how I started my process.

Escapees

Establishing an Address in Texas with a Mail Forwarding Company

The first thing you need to do is get an address in Texas.

Now for me, I do have family in Texas, but I don't want to burden them with having to get my mail and send it to me.

So I chose to get a mailbox with the Escapees group that offers a mail forwarding service. I began the process about six months ago in anticipation that I was going to be changing my domicile. Now, it doesn't take that long to get an address, really just a couple of days.

Mail forwarding service

So here's what I did.

I established that address about six months ago in Texas through the Escapees group. Then I drove all the way to Texas because I was going to be there to see family anyway, and decided this was a good time for me to go ahead and get domiciled.

Getting Your RV Inspected in Texas

The second thing you need to do is get your vehicle inspected. If you go to the Texas DOT website, you will find a list of places where you can actually get your RV inspected.

Pick out a place that's close to you, wherever that may be anywhere in Texas. Then you'll go to that particular facility to get your RV inspected to make sure it passes the Texas inspection test. 

Thankfully I passed – I mean the RV is only 1 year old so it shouldn't have been a problem. It cost $25.50 to have my RV inspected.

Then you'll need to take that RV inspection document to the tax county office to get your car registered along with the required documents for registration.

Getting Your RV Registered in Texas

Then you'll want to do the application for the registration, preferably online, to help facilitate time and just make it a little bit more efficient before heading into their office.

Documents for RV Registration

You'll need the following documents before heading over to the local county tax office:

  • Obtain RV inspection
  • Proof of inspection
  • Proof of insurance
  • Provide current proof of registration
  • Provide proof of unloaded weight of RV
  • Photo of the exterior of RV
  • Possibly bill of sale depending on when you purchased it
  • Application for title

There's an application for title that you'll need to fill out as well called Form 130-U.

You'll take your application for registration to the Texas county tax office along with the other items they will want to see.

They also want an actual physical picture of your RV so they can make sure that they know what they're actually registering, and provide them with the registration from the state that you came from.

My registration was from New Mexico, so I provided them with the registration from that state.

You need to know what your unloaded weight is of your vehicle because they do charge you based on the unloaded weight. My unloaded weight was on my New Mexico registration, so I used that, which was 7,700 pounds. You can also find your unloaded weight on a spec sheet or something like that that you have for your RV. But it's probably going to be on some kind of registration document that you originally filled out.

You need to show proof of insurance. I obtained my Texas insurance after switching from Washington which ended up being $400 more expensive in Texas than it was in Washington. So obviously this is going to be different for everybody based on what insurance you had and what state you were actually registered in.

I provided all of those documents to them along with my ID and received my plates right there on the spot.

They also provide you with a registration sticker that you need to put on your front window.

That was really it. It took maybe 15 minutes in order to get all of that taken care of. So not a long time at all.

Free 4 Day Mini Course Budgeting

Getting Your Texas Drivers License

Then I came over to the Texas driver's safety office in order to get my driver's license. That one took a little bit longer because there was a line for that, but I already had all of my documentation ready.

There is a nice checklist that they have online. In order to get your driver's license, all you need to do is fill out the application. Then you need to be able to prove who you are and the address that you're giving to them is actually your address.

Make sure to bring in further documentation, which is in the checklist. I would probably bring in a little more than you actually need just in case.

I would hate it if I came in and they had decided that they weren't accepting that proof of residency anymore. So I brought in a bank statement. I brought in my insurance that I changed to yesterday and that has my new address on it. I brought in my new registration that also had my new address on it.

You can also watch the video as a supplement:

How to Domicile in Texas

Documents for Texas Drivers License

You'll need the following documents before heading over to the Texas Department of Safety:

  • Application
  • Current drivers license
  • Vehicle registration
  • Passport or other forms of identification to prove US citizenship
  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of Residency documents like RV insurance, 1099s, W-2s, bank statements (click here for full list)

You'll be able to find all the documentation in the checklist that you can bring to prove that address.

You'll also need your current driver's license and you need to make sure it's current and not expired.

You'll also need another proof of who you are. So I brought in my passport. You can use a passport card if you want, but I used my passport. Then they also ask for your social security number or some proof of your social security number. I had my social security card so I just used that.

Then I brought it into the office. I showed them all of my documentation. I didn't have to do a driver's test or take a written test thankfully. They just completed all of the paperwork right there.

I had to record two electronic thumbprints and a signature. I also had to do a quick little eye exam because I do wear eyeglasses and then they took my picture. Then they give you a temporary license until you get your new permanent one in the mail.

What's funny about the driver's license number they gave me is that it's my old driver's license number from when I was 16 years old. I'm apparently still in the system, so they gave me the same number.

How Long Did It Take to Domicile in Texas

The day before I did the inspection is the day that I got all of my paperwork together and used as my day to research everything. So from beginning to end, it took me about 2.5 hours to figure out all the documents that I needed, put them all on a thumb drive and then go to the UPS Store to get printed so that I had everything ready to go and all I needed then is to sign off on all documents in front of them in their presence.

  • 2.5 hours for research and paperwork
  • 30 minutes for inspection
  • .25 hours for registration
  • 2 hours for a drivers license (only because there was a line)

Now, of course, that doesn't count drive time to Texas, but as you can see, once you get all of your documentation together, it does not take very long at all to do this process.

One of the reasons why I decided on Texas was because of the nationwide health insurance plan.

So I'm curious if you're needing health insurance as a digital nomad, how have you gone about getting the insurance? Leave me a comment below. I'd love to hear how you're getting insurance. Or if you have insurance at all, have you opted to just not have insurance?

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

weBoost Cell Booster – A must have when traveling full-time especially if you work and are staying in areas outside of cities.

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