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

Author: Brandon

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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How We Earn Money On The Road

Our family is incredibly fortunate in that we are able to hit the road and travel at just about any moment.  We don’t have bosses to answer to and we…

Our family is incredibly fortunate in that we are able to hit the road and travel at just about any moment.  We don’t have bosses to answer to and we don’t have school administrations ringing our phones.  One of the most common questions we get is “how do you make money on the road (or in general)?”. In this post, I want to elaborate a bit on this answer in hopes that you can be inspired on your own journey.

How I (Brandon) Make Money

First a little back story… I have been into computers since I first heard that scratchy noise of a dial up modem connecting me to AOL, followed by distinct sound of “You’ve got mail”.  Throughout my childhood, I would tinker with various computers and electronic devices bending them to fit my needs, experimenting, and even destroying them to see how they worked.

This curiosity naturally led to me wanting to explore how software was created. Up until my first computer science class in high school, I thought it to be magic, and once I learned that creating software was no more than entering commands into my terminal, I was hooked.  After building tons of games, websites, and “apps”, in high school, it was only natural for me to pursue a computer science (CS) degree in college.

It was in college that I found the entrepreneurial spirit. My first “Startup” was a Christian jewelry website called jewelry4christians.com. Fun fact: I tried to call it JesusBling.com however Ashley quickly vetoed that name. We drop-shipped items like purity necklaces and true love waits rings. I built all of the software myself and this website helped fund most of my college career.

The iPhone Changed My Life

From here, I would move on to building and selling software related products until my senior year of college. That’s when Apple first announced the iPhone App Store. I jumped on the bandwagon very early in building apps for the iPhone.  During this time, I was hired by a company out of Portland Oregon and was allowed to work remotely (in my underwear if I wanted).  This was Ashley and mine’s first taste of what is was like to be able to travel around and still make money.  During my stent at this company, we would travel all over the US to places like Portland, Colorado Springs, LA, Destin, etc… (by plane mostly, and some by vehicle) while I still worked on the road.  This was however a full time 40 hour/week gig.

After 5 years at the company, I would be laid off without warning just before Christmas in December 2012.  You can read the full story here if you are interested.  This was the day I decided to found my company Pixegon (and our current main source of income).  It’s a software consultancy where other companies hire us to create their iPhone and Android Apps.

Currently, we have a team of roughly 5-10 engineers (varies because they are all contractors and they fluctuate with the workload).  This allows me to focus on “sales” which really means grabbing coffee/beers/lunch/phone calls with folks once or twice a week.

Starting my own company has been one of the greater joys in my life (besides family of course) and we are so blessed to be in a position where I can still work from the road having most of my time available to be with the family.  I usually work between 15-20 hours/week which leaves plenty of time for adventures.

How She (Ashley) Makes Money

Ashley has known since before I married her that she wanted to stay at home with our children.  I know this is cliche to say, but she truly does have the most challenging albeit rewarding job on the planet. When Ashley is not schooling the kids, making dinner, cleaning up, doing wood work, hosting dinners, scheduling mom groups, scheduling field trips (you get it), she’s building her own business.

Ashley has a knack for people. She gets along with everyone that she encounters and she’s a natural leader.  This has allowed her to transition very well into building a brand around our family and our adventures.  If you don’t already know from reading this blog, Ashley also runs a successful Instagram account called Trebventure.

Over the years, Ashley has been able to turn this hobby into something much greater.  She learned photography, editing, videography, marketing, etc… to create consistent content and build the account to something that actually generates revenue as well as provides us with free or discounted experiences. She intends on doing a blog series on how she did/is doing this in the future, so make sure to subscribe to our email list to be notified when that comes out.

She is also in the process of building up this blog and detailing everything about our travel and experiences going forward.

How Others Make Money

While our path to being able to earn an income on the road might not be the same as yours, we have had the privilege of talking to many other tiny dwellers / full time families and have learned how many of them earn a living.  Here are just a few of the “occupations” we have seen.

  • Blogger/Youtuber/Instagramer (this one is obvious)
  • Insurance claims processor
  • Financial Planner / advisor
  • Web Developer / Freelancer
  • Estsy shop owner
  • Social Media Account Manager
  • Cosmetologist (there is such a thing as “bus hair”)
  • Welder (they move around from job to job)
  • Oils
  • Fisherman / Boat Charters
  • Photographer
  • Videographer
  • Drone Pilot
  • Freelance Writer
  • Camp Host

These are just a few off the top of my head. We have met hundreds of folks from all walks of life with all sorts of interesting occupations.  The point of the above is whatever you love to do for a living, chances are there is a way to do it remotely and from the road.  If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to leave them below. We would love to hear from you.

Thanks so much for reading and be sure to subscribe to our email list for future updates.


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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