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Searching for a Mobile Home in Arizona

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Backpacking is dead, killed by baby —

My travel baggage has increased a hundred fold in a short period of time. My possessions, supplies, and people no longer can fit snugly inside of a rucksack. I now need a travel strategy that can carry this load.

Traveling with a wife and baby has shown my trusty Kelty backpack its match. It has laid itself down in defeat, and now sits tritely next to duffel bags and an assortment of odd — a.k.a. baby — luggage.

I must announce that my long term backpacking days must be put on temporary hold. From these first two weeks of traveling with Petra (my three month old baby), living out of a backpack as a long term travel strategy seems absurd. I must bow down to Craig of Travelvice.com, for I now know the mountain he has been climbing.

I am in my tentative days of traveling with a baby, but it is my impression that a gurgling, spitting up, puddy like, pooping, easily overwhelmed infant may require more of its parents than can be hauled in a backpack. These backpacking days have been put on a temporary hold.

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Payson, Arizona, Southwest USA, North America
Monday, November 2, 2009
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Rather, these next few years of traveling will probably be carried out in mobile homes — first, a vehicle that can carry or pull a living structure, and, later, a sailboat (the dream).

Searching for a Mobile Home

RV/ Motor home option

RV in Arizona

RV in Arizona

The search for a mobile home — an automobile that can also be used as a living structure or pull behind a camper — has entered into its second week.

We began looking for an RV or motor home around Arizona — the RV capital of the world — and looked at a few, but have since shrank from this option. 7 to 10 miles per gallon of gas, a size that is bulky beyond our needs, the fact that neither of us are familiar with the mechanics of such a vehicle, a relatively large price tag, and the commitment of having an RV as our only means of transport (it seems silly to drive such a large home across town just to grab a jug of milk at the store) ruled this out as an option.

We do not yet need an on board toilet nor running water nor a generator nor many of the other features that an RV offers, so why would we want to pay for, maintain, and lug around all of this?

So unless we come upon a small, cheap, 15 foot motor home, this option has been checked off our list of possibilities. This form of live-in transportation is simply too uni-directional for our multi-directional path, we need a vehicle that can go just about anywhere — RVs are limited.

Motor homes in Arizona

Motor homes in Arizona


Pickup truck with camper cab option

This option would work if it falls into our laps. A pickup truck with an extended cab — for Petra’s car seat — that could accommodate a camper in its bed would meet our needs well. I am familiar with trucks, they can be purchased used relatively cheaply, I am more comfortable driving them than a motor home, they can travel off road or on primitive road ways, and the camper in the bed would be enough room for us to sleep in.

The main draw back to this option is that we would only have enough space in the back for sleeping alone, and this would probably prove to be not much of a “home.”

Truck with pull behind pop-up camper option

This seems to be the best option. If we could find a moderately priced used SUV or pickup truck, we could pull around a pop-up camper that could be our living quarters. The main benefit of this option is that a small pop-up camper can provide enough sleeping and living space to be called a “home” — for all intensive purposes, even the small pop-up campers that we have looked at offer just as much living space as a mid-sized motor home. We would also be able to unhook the camper from the truck if we wanted to travel short distances without the load. Another benefit is that these pop-up campers sell cheap.

From our initial overview, it seems as if we could purchase a used truck and a camper for under $4,000.

Having a form of transportation that can also serve as our living quarters would allow my little vagabond family freedom of locomotion without being tied to hotels or hostels. In point, we would be able to take advantage of the free camping possibilities that all of this state land in the west of the USA has to offer.

Hotels and hostels are expensive in the USA, and on weekends that we do not stay with friends, our costs of living rise up to nearly match my weekly income. This is not good. I am working to save money to travel.

Though, on the other hand, I am not loosing money either, and I am thoroghly enjoying these travels in Arizona.

If we could find a way to limit our weekly costs — by camping out in the desert — we could save a lot more money for our boat and futrue travels. By having a form of transportation that also serves as our home, then we have two of the three major factors of travel answered.

By having a mobile home — a place that is regular and consistent in the revolving landscape of travel which can also carry all of Petra’s crap — it is my impression that the traveling through this infant stage could be pretty good.

But as soon as Petra can carry her own backpack, rest assured, the Shepard family backpacking days will resume. Though, hopefully, we will be sailing by then.

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Filed under: Arizona, Camping, Travel Strategy, Travel With Family, USA

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3053 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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