School Bus Conversion | A Minimalist Family Adventure

A Family of 5 Living on a Converted School Bus. We blog about skoolies, travel, family, and minimalism

Month: November 2018

Our Top 5 Places To Find Free Overnight Camping

When we first started traveling, we had no idea that there was free overnight camping all around us  We generally would move from RV Park to RV Park, staying at Walmarts…

When we first started traveling, we had no idea that there was free overnight camping all around us  We generally would move from RV Park to RV Park, staying at Walmarts in between.  While there is nothing wrong with this way of travel, the cost quickly adds up.  Also, we were missing out on much of the adventure / relationships by staying in RV Parks.

After a few months, we realized there were tons of resources available to help travelers find great places to stay.  I wanted to highlight our top 5 places to find free overnight camping here so that you can enhance your adventures.

1. All Stays Mobile App

Link: https://www.allstays.com/apps/camprv.htm
Cost: $10

This was the very first tool that we discovered.  A developer based on Santa Fe (we know him) started crowdsourcing content in the late 90’s and has continued to do so ever since.  This app is the culmination of that data collection.  It has everything including:

  • State Parks
  • National Parks
  • Free Places To Park Overnight  (Walmart, Cabellas, Cracker Barrel, etc…)
  • BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Lands (cheap or free parking)
  • Gas Stations
  • and more…

The app makes it incredibly simple to find the above near your current location.  It usually provides info like address, ratings, cost, reviews, and photos of every location.  This app quickly became a source of comfort while we were on the road.

The only downside is the cost.  Currently the app falls between $10-$20 depending on the sale. Well worth it in our opinion.

2. FreeCampSites.net

Link: https://freecampsites.net/
Cost: Free

This tool is focused a little more on state parks, national parks, BLM, and smaller campgrounds.  It will usually have more places to show than AllStays in these categories and provides a VERY user friendly website.  You simply zoom in on a location and tap the icon for each place to stay. The tool can easily show you what’s free, paid, or permitted.

Obviously, the perk of this website is the data is free.  The downside is it might not be updated quite as often as there doesn’t seem to be a full time paid person running it.

3. Harvest Hosts

Link: https://harvesthosts.com/
Cost: $49/year

This is one of our favorites and has afforded us some of the most interesting and unique experiences on the road.  Per their website:

Harvest Hosts is a network of wineries, farms and attractions that invite self-contained RVers to visit and stay overnight!

The idea behind the service is very interesting.  RVers pay a fee of $49/year and have access to a database of over 600 farms, wineries, and other interesting locations.  Once you are a member, you are able to stay (for free) at any one of their locations.  Usually for a few nights to a week (could be more if you really hit it off with the host). The only hope/expectation is that you patron the place you are visiting (or even help out around the farm).

Check out their website and you will see no shortage of stunning photos.  Harvest Hosts really provides a unique opportunity to stay somewhere you might never think of (or have access to) for free.

The only caveat is they require your RV to be self contained.  So if you are a renegade who likes to run their gray water straight on to the ground (like some of my skoolie friends), this might not be the best choice for you.

4. Boondockers Welcome

Link: https://www.boondockerswelcome.com/
Cost: $30/year

Their website sums it up nicely:

Free Overnight Camping on Private Property
Make new friends and sleep soundly
Locals invite travelers to spend the night, share their stories, and save their money for the real adventure.

Once you become a member, you have access to their database to stay on property owned by other people.  So every new destination is a chance to connect with other likeminded individuals and share a meal, experience, conversation, etc…

We have not personally used this service yet, however it’s on our list for the next time we take a long trip.  On our property, we sort of have an informal version of this in that we invite other skoolie and tiny house friends to come stay and hang out with us while they are on their journeys.

You can eliminate the $30/year fee if you have property and become a host yourself, which is a super cool perk if you have the means.

5. Instagram

Link: http://instagram.com (duh)
Cost: Free/Beer/Meals/Coffee/Conversations/Stepping out of comfort zone

Finally, our #1 way to find free and/or interesting places to park is via Instagram.  Finding other folks in the skoolie/tiny living community and parking on their properties has been one of the greatest joys of living this bus life.

What’s really interesting is, there is almost a built-in trust / filtering system when you connect with people this way.  While many folks have their reasons for traveling (part or full time), they all seem to have similar values (generosity, kindness, gratitude, list goes on and on). This generally makes for an instant-connection when meeting in real life.

So while the other options above are great ways to find free places to park, nothing quite beats forming real relationships and connections by sharing space with other likeminded individuals.

We hope that you found this post useful and we would love to hear your suggestions for finding great places to park overnight.  Please feel free to leave them in the comments and we hope to see you on the road!


Affiliate Link Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you. We will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that we have experience with all of these companies/products, and we recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions we make if you decide to buy something through them. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you in achieving your goals.
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Does Your Tiny House Have Room For Toys?

OF COURSE IT DOES…but only the few that actually get played with. A question we get asked a lot is “where do your kids keep their toys?” In our previous house,…

OF COURSE IT DOES…but only the few that actually get played with.

A question we get asked a lot is “where do your kids keep their toys?” In our previous house, we had an entire room dedicated to playing. It was our “toy room”, and the kids rarely played in it. Instead, they enjoyed playing with boxes, bowls and the containers that held the toys more than the actual toys (proof below). They would dump all their toys out, get overwhelmed and ultimately end up back in the living room with us or outside playing.

I’ve read many articles written on people who live tiny with kids. Often there is feedback from internet trolls complaining about how kids “need their own room” and “need toys”. This is bogus! Kids all over the world live in one room homes with little to no toys and those kids are doing just fine.

These kids don’t have their heads in an iPad all day and they know how to find entertainment outdoors. Their only entertainment isn’t watching other kids play with toys on Youtube. They help their families with the work around the house and enjoy exploring, and getting dirty.

Although at some point when our traditional home is built, our kids will get their own room it will be a room meant for sleeping and for the resale of the house. The house will be built at moderate size and be built with simplicity in mind . It won’t be a place for them to constantly shut themselves away and separate from their family. They will have their own space, but our home will be built with the focus of being together and hosting.

So to answer the question, our kids keep their toys in their beds. They don’t have many and we are ok with that, but the few toys they do have they actually play with. If they don’t play with a toy it gets donated or thrown away. They naturally deal with the consequence of having too many toys because they are solely responsible for keeping their beds picked up and comfortable.

Here are our top three tips for keeping toys under control.

  1. Make kids clean up their own toys/rooms/beds, properly, not everything thrown into one bin or container. Sorted and put away properly. If they can’t do that then they have too much. A two year old doesn’t need 30 hot wheels cars, 4 different train tracks, 25 action figures, 4 bins of dress up clothes, etc. The younger they are the less they need, in my opinion. A few good quality wooden toys like Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube, few cars, dolls and some Duplo legos should do fine. Ill bet your kids won’t notice most of their toys are gone (ours didn’t) and those few things are easy to sort and organize.
  2. Teach your kids about other children who have less. I explained to mine that other kids could and would use their donated toys. Whether you donate to a local thrift store, a church, local gym, or a domestic violence shelter. Its good for them to realize its not going in the trash and what they are doing is kind. My youngest tries to give away her toys constantly because she loves the feeling of giving and it makes me so proud.
  3. Stop buying junk. Just because its on sale or is cheap doesn’t mean they should have it. The clearance toy aisle still calls me but on sale isn’t always better. I bought my kids RC cars because they were $10, originally priced at $40…well they broke within the first hour. The batteries cost me more than the cars did and now i know why!  My $10 could have gone towards getting ice cream or going to a movie instead. Not every good deal is a good deal.

I know that we are the extreme, living tiny, very few toys, 4 drawers of clothing for the entire family but if I knew then what I know now Id spend a lot less time organizing and much more time donating and throwing away toys.

 


Affiliate Link Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you. We will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that we have experience with all of these companies/products, and we recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions we make if you decide to buy something through them. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you in achieving your goals.
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