Back On The Road & Mississippi Bound

Van Life – On the road again, our first week back on the road, heading to Mississippi

We are finally Back On The Road & Mississippi Bound!

From Ontario to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi in 3 days.

On The Road & Mississippi Van Life

Well, we did it. We watched for a “warm” gap in the weather and went to pull the van out of storage the first day we saw above freezing temps.

Our experience storing the van overall was pretty good, sadly it ended up being insanely expensive. The storage facility only offers seasonal contracts, so we paid for Sept-May even though the van only ended up being there for just shy of 2 months. It was a price we paid for the peace of mind of our van being tucked away indoors and warm.

So we brought the van back tot he apartment and cleaned it out properly, every cupboard drawer, and surface was cleaned (still soo much dust from NWT, I think it is in the walls, and have no idea yet how we will get it out. Holly was at a boarding facility we were testing out for Ireland. So for a few glorious hours, the van looked shiny and new, and predominantly free of dog hair😍.

Vanliving, Fulltime Travel, Van Life On The Road & Mississippi

We organized all of the cupboards, some slight changes from last year, but overall the system we have seems to work. It is insane how much food we store in this van.

Everything fit nicely, and I am especially happy with my clothes cupboard. I included our new packing cubes in our last post, but honestly, they make my heart happy every time I open my clothes cupboard.

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After cleaning and packing the van, we cleaned the apartment and dropped off the keys, and said goodbye to our temporary home. Picked Holly up and hit the road.

Our first stop was at Logans mum’s house. We packed up all our winter gear from our time in Ontario, vacuum packed them and are storing them in her basement. We also stocked her fridge and freezer. We had done a Costco shop not too long ago, and now had way more food than we could fit in our fridge, and some items we knew couldn’t cross the border. One last yummy supper with the family and we were off.

Our First Night On The Road:

We slept our first night at an “On Route”, these are the top-notch rest stops along the 401. We were still winterized so we didn’t have running water in the van. Being close to 24-hour restrooms was nice 👌. Also having Tim Horton’s and Starbucks in the morning is a treat.

On The Road & Mississippi Van Life Tim Hortons

The next morning we carried on and crossed the border in Windsor.

This was our first time being stopped and inspected at the border.

They didn’t like hearing that we were not working, and we were traveling for 2 months (though we have crossed three other times, and they never seemed too concerned). We were also honest about the food items we had in our fridge and thought we had remembered to unload everything, that was a no-no.

We had to put Holly in an outdoor kennel, and head into the building. The border guards were mostly friendly and helpful to the people they were dealing with, ours wasn’t, but that’s just luck of the draw. The guards who inspected our vehicle took a few cherry tomatoes, avocados, and peppers…they were from the U.S and we didn’t think anything of it. They let us know that we hadn’t told them about those items and that the fine for lying to them about food is $300. Thankfully they knew weren’t trying to hide anything, so we got off with a warning.

Tip: They suggested making an itemized list of the contents of the fridge and freezer next time. In all honesty, we usually don’t cross with any food in the fridge, that big Costco shop, and the sudden change in weather left us overstocked…we will empty the fridge next time.

The silver lining in all of this is that Holly did amazing. Our biggest fear since day 1 of traveling has been Holly. She has a history of being reactive, so we worried about her having a meltdown at the border. She sat so calmly and sweetly in that little kennel and watched the guards searching our van without making a peep. She looked super sad, but overall that was a huge win. The training we did with her in B.C has been life-changing.

We watched the weather along 3 different routes south. The first day made it as far as Kentucky, the rain was insane! We were staying out of the freeze that seems to be affecting everyone right now, so that was good. We thought we would visit Mammoth Caves National Park, and do some bourbon tasting, but the majority of Kentucky was under flood warnings. With freezing temperatures two days away.

The next morning the driving conditions were horrible and we switched routes twice. We actually had to pull off the highway a couple times because the rain was so heavy we literally couldn’t see. We are from the PNW and have never seen rain like this.

Our route took us towards Memphis, we made a quick stop, and then straight on to Mississippi…and 75° weather! We forgot about the humidity in the south! We instantly delayed, picked up a couple of brochures at the visitor center, where we were greeted with “Y’all are so welcomed here, Y’all are a long way from home! Welcome to God’s Country”. Southern hospitality is real folks.
**Side note, rest stops in Mississippi have free dump stations!

We decided to stay in a state park for the night, we wanted to camp, we needed access to water and sewer so we could finally de-winterize our tanks. So we chose George P. Cossar State Park. Full hookups for $30. Free showers and they even have laundry facilities. The campground was amazing, right on Enid Lake. Huge sites, quiet, and the day we arrived, almost empty! We found out later that the weekend was fully booked out, event though temperatures were dropping again, I kid you not, “it’s ‘coon huntin’ season”. It is a very real thing, and all fill up for it.

Our first time de-winterizing wasn’t too bad. We drained all the antifreeze from the lines and fresh tank. We added water and bleach, flushed all the lines, and the water pump, and drove around the park to slosh it all around, and left it overnight. The next morning, after a perfectly quiet sleep, we drained again and added fresh water to rinse. We added some vinegar to the fresh water this round, one more rinse and it should be good to go. We started using the water for flushing, and washing dishes, man did I miss having our washroom!!!

From there we made our way to Pass Christian down some of the craziest backroads (thanks Google Maps). We got in after dark, which we usually try to avoid, but we knew the spot we would be sleeping from last year). The Walmart in this town is beach front…so we arrived after dark, walked the dog, went grocery shopping, late dinner and off to bed. I think this Walmart has the most beautiful view of any Walmart. It is a quiet spot, not a ton of RVs park there and it’s tucked away on the coast.

So here we are now on the Gulf Coast, we are excited to be back and have more time to spend. We don’t really have a plan, but we will likely head towards Texas first. We are checking out Gulf Islands National Sea Shore as it was full when we were here last time. Logan is in bird nerd paradise. His list for the year is already around 100, and we were in Ontario winter for the first month.

The Best Vanlife Gear – Our Favorite Items For Full-time Travel

Bestgear for full time travel

I should start off by telling you that when it comes to traveling in a van, less is truly more. We have put together our list of the best van life gear for our fellow travellers.

To be honest we often cringe a little when people ask us what they need, or when we hear or see folks telling people what to rush out and buy for their van or RV. The reality is you will find what you need, and what works best for you. Use as much of your own stuff as you can. Don’t rush out to buy things until you know your space and needs.

We really do still use a lot of items that we packed from home. When we started we thought when we started out that we would be rushing out to find all the collapsing items that have become synonymous with tiny living. But the reality is we needed less than we thought. One example I will give is a collapsible laundry hamper…yes they serve a purpose, and to each their own, but we are glad we saved the $10, and headache of finding a home for it constantly. We use an old pillowcase from home for dirty laundry, it works as a bag to transport the laundry to the machine, it is washable, it is compact, and when it’s empty it takes up no space, and it cost us nothing…

My little rant aside, there are definitely some items that we have grown to love, rely on, and found pretty essential in our van life adventure. We are sharing them here, we find this stuff useful and hope you will too. You can click any of the images below to get more information on these items.

1) Quick Dry Towels

Travel tips, vanlife, travel gear, best gear for vanlife, living in a van, fulltime travel tips

We actually can’t imagine vanlife without these towels. We have two sets of multiple sized towels. We use them for everything. They are lightweight and dry fast so we can hang then on 3m hooks in the van. They work for drying ourselves off and miss Holly too. We also use them for dishes and cleaning. They are anti-microbial so they don’t get that funky smell that regular towels tend to take on. They are easy to wash and dry and take up little space in the van. We so miss big fluffy towels sometimes but honestly, these are so practical we couldn’t do it without them.

  1. 2) Packing Cube Set

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These are quite possibly my new favorite thing. There’s no doubt that when you move into a van, you downsize your wardrobe to the essentials. We have never really considered ourselves minimalist but it comes with the territory of tiny living. Even after downsizing numerous times, my clothes cabinet has been a point of anxiety for me from day 1.

Enter Packing Cubes. These are such a great way to keep organized. A big glass of wine and a folding tutorial from Marie Kondo have turned my clothes cabinet into my little point of pride. Staying organized is so easy with packing cubes. Underwear, bras, shirts, pants, tanks, shorts, and socks each have their own cube.

No more digging through the cluttered cabinet of doom! These cubes are compact, lightweight, washable and have handles for ease of moving. The best-added bonus is that these cubes are great for organizing luggage…so we will be able to pack efficiently for our trip to Europe!!

3) Neoflam Midas Pots and Pans

Travel tips, vanlife, travel gear, best gear for vanlife, living in a van, fulltime travel tips, cooking in a van

We actually found this set through fellow vanlifers. We have a two burner propane stove, and love to be able to cook our own meals inside.

This set from Neoflam is great because the handle can be removed. This feature makes them easy to nest and store in our tiny kitchen. The lids are great for preventing a mess. They are also non-stick, and easy to clean (the colors are also fun). We have actually downsized to 1 pot and 1 pan, they can both fit on the stove at the same time, and cover our cooking needs perfectly.

4) No Rinse Bathing Wipes

Travel tips, vanlife, travel gear, best gear for vanlife, living in a van, fulltime travel tips

We are lucky to have a shower in our van, and while it’s tiny, we love it. That being said, we still have to conserve water and worry about finding dump stations, so van showers are typically short and sweet. When we had a house we showered every day, and some days twice. So this has been a big change for us. Not every day needs a shower, but we like going to bed feeling clean.

We use gym showers, and try to check in to parks with hot showers every now and again. Of course, swimming in lakes and rivers is awesome whenever you can.

No Rinse Bathing Wipes are also a good van life tool to have, after a day of hiking, no one wants to smell stinky feet. We have used everything from baby wipes to dude wipes. Finding wipes that are gentle on your skin, that can wipe away any grime from the day, can help freshen you up on non-shower days.

5) Dr. Bronner’s Mild Liquid Soap

Travel tips, vanlife, travel gear, best gear for vanlife, living in a van, fulltime travel tips, eco firiendly

I am happy any time I can find this magical stuff on sale. It is a little pricier than some soaps, but, it’s natural, it’s biodegradable, and it’s multi-purpose which is a necessity in a van.

You can use Dr. Bronner’s for dishes, and to make your own cleaning products. I know a lot of folks may disagree, but I will say I don’t find it cuts grease as well as say Dawn dish soap (so we usually have a little bottle on hand just in case). But otherwise, it is on par with regular dish soap, without all the nasty chemicals.

Other uses include body wash and shampoo! I love the lavender Dr. Bronner’s for this, and a little goes a long way. It doesn’t bother my skin, which seems to get more sensitive as time goes on.

Again one bottle that can be used for so many different things, is a must for van life.

6) GSI Outdoors Infinity Plates & Bowls

We started out with our old dishes from home and quickly learned a few things…Regular dishes are heavy, we were constantly worried about them rattling and breaking, and we really only need enough dishes for the two of us.

We quickly made the switch to these lightweight camp dishes instead. They are super easy to clean and very lightweight.

We no longer worry about breaking dishes. This brand from REI is great because you can mix and match and buy individual pieces, so we didn’t end up with extra dishes we don’t need. I know plastic dishes don’t sound great, but these GSI Outdoor Infinity plates and bowls are BPA-Free, and they nest so they don’t take up too much room in your cabinets.

7) Klean Kanteen Wide Vacuum Mug with Cafe Cap

These are two of our most used items in the van. These insulated vacuum mugs are must-haves for road-tripping and camping. They are super insulated so they work for keeping your drinks hot/cold all day. They don’t hold smells, so you can switch from coffee to tea, to water, to wine and back again without weird flavors. We also love that the lids come apart so you can clean them thoroughly.

8) King Camp Chair

Camp chairs are a necessity for vanlife. The way we travel has landed us in some amazing places, and the goal of this lifestyle is to live out of the van as much as possible. We hauled around our old Roots camp chairs from our homeowner days (they were literally falling apart when we replaced them.) We wanted something that was comfortable and compact. These chairs are a less expensive take on the chairs at REI/MEC. They are mesh and quick dry. One arm has a cup holder, essential for beers around the campfire. They assemble easily, although when brand new the material is tight, and a little muscle is needed. The high back is super comfy, and this chair supports Logan’s 6’3 frame.

9) Mattress Topper

Our van actually houses a king-sized bed! How lucky are we? We use this space for sleep, and for lounging. Our bed is not a fixed bed, it converts up into a sofa and two seats. Because of the way we travel we have opted to leave the bed down and made up all the time. This space has to be comfortable, for the amount we use it. When we first started out I think we slept two nights on the folded down bed, and then popped into Walmart to buy a mattress topper.

This round we opted for a Lucid 4″ Gel Memory Foam Topper. So far sleeping on this is a dream. It is very soft though and being memory foam sitting on it can really sink you in. The best option for us would probably be a proper mattress but the layout of the van, as well as our need to access the storage under the bed, has us opting for the mattress topper.

10) Weebost

The Weeboost Drive 4G-X! We picked this game changer up after 1 month of cell service frustrations.

This cell booster was super easy to install, no drilling into the van. The antenna is low profile so you can’t see it peaking over the roof, and it adds no height.

The booster works by grabbing any cell signal that’s available and boosting it through a receiver that is installed in the van. As an example any time we have 2 bars, the Weeboost usually tops us up to full bars of signal. It has bumped us from 4G to LTE. If you rely on the internet for pretty much anything, you want one of these. It works with any cell carrier. Remember it will boost a signal…if you are in an area with no signal, this won’t create one for you.

11) National Geographic Road Atlas Adventure Edition

We use our Google maps for GPS almost exclusively. The van does have a TomTom system in it, but it drives us crazy.

Google maps helps us with directions and finding specific locations, but we love having a physical map to refer to. (Not to mention Google Maps has a fun tendency to send us down some of the craziest roads.)

This National Geographic Road Atlas has a map of all the National Parks, and it includes side roads, public lands, historic sites, monuments, and campgrounds.

We also love using this Atlas to document our travels, we go back and trace the routes we have taken, so it’s practical (works without cell service) and is a cool keepsake from our time traveling.

12) Reflectix

We use this pretty much all the time. Reflectix is an inexpensive option for insulation. We have cut pieces to fit all of our rear windows. This has helped with keeping the van cool or warm depending on where we are. It also helps with blacking out the van, which makes sleeping so much easier. There are some great ideas out there for making these a little cuter or covering them to be more decorative or stealthy.

13) NOCO USB Charged Battery Booster

We picked this little guy up at the start of our journey. We don’t ever worry about a dead battery, we have only had to boost once and it worked like a charm. We charge this booster from a USB port while we drive, and it gives us peace of mind knowing it has more than enough juice to boost our battery. It also has a flashlight, and extra ports so it can be used to charge other devices. Multi-use, and there in case of emergencies, this booster is great and takes up very little space.

14) Air compressor

I wish I could say we didn’t need this, but again in case of emergencies, this little fella is a life saver. It plugs in through our 12V DC outlets so we can use it for all 4 tires easily. It kept us topped up when we had a slow leak up North. Another time we really needed this was getting stuck… we have gotten stuck in sand more times than we are proud to admit. One trick for getting out of that sticky situation is letting some of the air out of your tires… you will want to make sure to have an air compressor to top them back up when you get out so you can drive away safely.

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What are some of your favorite essentials for traveling in a van or RV?

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We are participating in the Amazon affiliate program, which means that if you click on a product in one of our posts and purchase something, we get a small commission at no added cost to you. We only link to products that we have in fact used ourselves. I also don’t want to blindly send you shopping.

The goal here is to give some helpful suggestions and start you on your way to researching what works best for you 😊


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Wrapping Up Our Winter In Ontario

January is wrapping up, and we are getting ready for a fresh start in February!

January is wrapping up, and we are getting ready for a fresh start in February!

We haven’t posted much since we arrived in Ontario, it has been tough.

We have had the van in storage for over a month, and it’s been the strangest thing.

It was a big shift adapting to living in our tiny space, and finding our flow….it was equally strange readapting to living back in a condo.

We were lucky when we headed out this way that a couple who lives in the same building as Logan’s dad offered to sublet their condo to us while we were here, and they wintered in Florida.

The concept of having more than one room, doors to close, light switches to flip…all a little foreign to us.

Some luxuries we had forgotten…. unlimited hot water and water pressure for showers, even a hot bath… a dishwasher (we only used it twice the entire time we were here) we are totally programmed to wash dishes by hand as we use them. Fluffy towels that have space to dry. A full kitchen, with a stove top and oven! A huge fridge and freezer. Being able to take our time, hang up our clothes in a closet and not have to worry about packing up again the next day…

Luxuries aside, we have missed the road. We are conflicted, there’s something nice about the structure and ease of living back in a condo, but we also feel trapped. We went from living in our campervan, to not even have a vehicle to drive.

We had family who let us borrow their vehicles for a couple days here and there, and even paid to rent vehicles to allow us to do errands, grocery shop, and generally get out.

It’s been a crazy experience being here. We remind ourselves constantly that we were here to spend time with Logan’s dad. And we did, we got about 5 weeks with him before he passed. That time is invaluable and we wouldn’t trade it for anything.

It’s been an emotional, exhausting, devastating and draining time. It was expensive, and just all around tough. But those negatives are overshadowed by the time Logan got with his dad when he was still here. The time we spent with his wife’s family, hours and days of round the clock hospital time.

The time we got to spend with the girls, and our niece, this experience created a closer bond. While we wish it was under better circumstances, we are eternally grateful to Logan’s dad for bringing us all together.

So now we try to start to move forward. We have a lot of great things to look forward to this year. It’s hard to be excited about things, but we are trying.

We are going to be getting the van ready to hit the road to try to catch some sunshine. We have friends who are traveling in the southern U.S. and we can’t wait to meet up with them.

We booked our flights to Ireland, making plans for my sister’s wedding. We are going to be renting a campervan for part of the trip too!

We will be heading to the East Coast of Canada for the summer and reaching some pretty remote and stunning places.

We have been out of commission for a while…and we are excited to get back on the road and share our adventures.

What are you looking forward to this year???

P.S. We have been doing some Amazon shopping for the van, and the trip to Ireland, and I will put together a short post with those items soon.

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1 Year Nomadiversary

November 1, 2018 marks 1 year on the road. 1 year of fulltime travel and van dwelling.

Life is a journey, and love is what makes that journey worthwhile

Fulltime travelers, travel couples, one year on the road, life on the road, vanlife

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Today marks 1 year of being on the road… ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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We started this account because a year ago, we quit or jobs, sold our home and hit the road in our tiny home on wheels🚐💨. We wanted a space for our friends and family to share in our travels and adventures.

Fulltime travelers, travel couples, one year on the road, life on the road, vanlife, squamish

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Over the past year this little page has grown into a fun community. Through this community, we have met and connected with so many

wonderful people🤩.

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This past year has taken us over 50,000km/30,000miles to 3 Countries🇨🇦🇺🇸🇲🇽. 22 states in the U.S, 5 Provinces and 2 Territories in Canada. 4 coastal shores, over 50 National parks, monuments, preservers, reserves, and sites.
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Fulltime travelers, travel couples, one year on the road, life on the road, vanlife, national parks

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Taking a leap of faith last year and setting out on this adventure is the best decision we have ever made💯. We are grateful for every moment (even the not so glamorous ones🤦‍♀️). ⠀⠀

Fulltime travelers, travel couples, one year on the road, life on the road, vanlife

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We have alot more ground to cover, and more adventure to come🌎. ⠀

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Thank you all for sharing this journey with us💕.

Fulltime travelers, travel couples, one year on the road, life on the road, vanlife⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀