I mentioned in Part I of this interview, that Vanessa Runs agreed to a Skype interview from her Realta RV parked in Zion National Park, Utah. (You can see what that is HERE.) What I didn’t mention, was that it is her only home which she shares with her significant other, Shacky. I asked Vanessa about her gypsy lifestyle.
VR – When we first looked into the RVs, most of the lifestyle resources out there were for people living large – all the comforts of home on the road. Our goal is self-sufficiency. But most of the literature and resources didn’t really talk about what we wanted to do. Then we met someone who lives in a converted van with his family and that showed us it could be done.
WL – With a small vehicle, you have more agility and economy.
VR – We don’t have find or pay for a campground. We fit into an ordinary parking place. We have solar panels on the roof, so we don’t need an electric hook-up. We can even carry water for about a week at a time so.
WL – So water is really the only thing you need.
VR – Well, a safe place to park, a water source, and a place to run – that’s what we look for.
WL – How is being an ultra-nomad similar to being an ultrarunner?
VR – Yeah, they have a lot in common actually. Before we moved into the RV full time, we did a few long trips but always returned to San Diego.
WL – Kind of like training runs before the big race.
VR – Exactly! There are a lot of similarities. One of the most valuable things for both activities is how little you really need. You don’t need as much as you think. Even the things we brought in the RV… a lot of it we give away. We find it’s too much. It was a real eye-opener!
WL – It sounds like Thoreau, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach.”
VR – Except I was surprised at how hard it was to just get rid of stuff.
WL – You mean to “let go” of your possessions?
VR – (laughs) Oh no! That felt great. It was a cleansing or a purging. No, I mean literally how hard it was to unload your things. You think you can open your home and everyone will be eager to get a whole household’s worth of goods. But we spent a good three months just getting rid of things. The stuff we couldn’t get rid of we ended up leaving.
WL – I never thought about that before. I guess it would be hard to find a home for everything you own.
VR – The big things, we sold, like the furniture. There was a lot we gave away. Maybe if I started sooner, I could have organized a sale and maybe gotten more money to start traveling with but it all worked out OK.
WL – What is it like living with so few things?
VR – There is a lot less stress! The most liberating thing for me was how little time you spend cleaning.
WL – You don’t have much to make a mess with.
VR – And even when you completely trash the place, it’s so small it only takes 10 minutes to clean it all up again… and that includes vacuuming.
WL – Looking back, what (if anything) would you have done differently?
VR – I think I would have done this a lot sooner. It took me too long to really consider this (nomadic living in an RV) as an actual option.
WL – Thinking about giving up everything can mess with your head.
VR – There is this one place, when you’re about to quit your job, that it gets so hard.
WL – The point of no return.
VR – It took me a while to work up to that. Quitting your job is the hardest step. That one leap is hard. After that, everything else is easy.
WL – Regrets?
VR – Only that I didn’t do it sooner.
WL – If you could visit yourself as a little girl. What advice would you give yourself?
VR – To trust your sense of freedom. Trust yourself and your instincts. Stand up for what you want and don’t be afraid of exploring your unconventional desires.
WL – Good advice for all of us.
You can follow Vanessa Runs’ adventures and exploits on her blog at VanessaRuns.com or follow her on twitter @VanessaRuns Her book, The Summit Seeker, is an Amazon best seller in the sports and outdoors category.
Photos taken by “Shacky” Shackleton.