How to Live Off the Land in a Camper

Updated April 17, 2017

The motivation to live off of the land in a camper differs for many individuals. Some people prefer the lower cost of living while others cite more environmental or social reasons. Whatever your reason for choosing off-the-grid living, it is important to take certain steps to ensure safety and comfort while transitioning to the camper lifestyle.

Choose a camper or RV. There are many things to consider when choosing a camper, including budget, desired features, and size and space utilisation. Since the camper will be your home, it should include the basic amenities such as a bed, kitchen and bathroom.

Brian Brawdy, as reported in the St. Petersburg Times, is a 47-year-old Tampa, Florida resident who chose an eco-friendly RV that runs on biodiesel and has features that allow him to harness energy from the wind and sun. Brawdy does not park in a single place, but travels the country biking, hiking and paddling around the lower 48 states.

Find a piece of land. The location that you choose to park your RV is important, especially when you intend to use the land as a resource. First, make sure that the space does not have zoning restrictions that prohibit campers. Waste may also be an issue if you don't have a septic tank, so consider locating near a pumping station or purchasing a composting toilet.

Find a source of water. If you intend to live off the land, water is imperative. A water source can be a well on the property, a spring or a stream. Nick Rosen in his 2009 article for Wired Magazine also advises collecting rainwater in large containers and says that if is done efficiently it can replace other water sources.

Consider options for food. If you intend to grow, hunt or fish for your food, it is important that the land you inhabit provide these options. Spend some time on the land practicing these activities. Look for deer, turkey and other wild game. Fish the waterways to see what types of edible fish populate the rivers and streams. Look at the soil and amount of water and sunlight available for farming or gardening. Finally, if the area is wooded, learn about edible plants, berries and mushrooms and hike the space to see if they grow there.

Take homesteading and survival courses. Living off the land is not for faint of heart, but many community colleges and environmental organisations offer classes to prepare you for the lifestyle change. If these are not an option, consider reading books and magazines on the subject. Nick Rosen in Wired Magazine recommends reading "The Humanure Handbook," by Joseph Jenkins and the magazine Mother Earth News offers consumers a digital option called "111 Modern Homesteading Articles."

Tend to your necessities daily. One you have begun to live in your camper, plan to spend a portion of each day planting a harvest, collecting food, gathering resources and tending to your water systems. Back Home Magazine offers homesteaders a free online edible plant guide that explains the nutritional value of edible plants such as nettles or weeds. Some of these items, among other foods that you gather or hunt, may need to be dried, cooked or canned so it is important to maintain the process daily.

Find a comfortable routine. Living off the land may prove daunting initially because volatile weather, isolation and even culture shock can topple the most enthusiastic land lovers. Remember that it's a choice and take time to savour the beauty and simplicity of everyday life.

Make money creatively. Living off the land does not mean living without money. Farmers' markets offer individuals a variety of ways to make money from their land whether selling home-grown produce or bundled wildflowers. Eustace Conway, a famous outdoorsman written about in WNC Magazine and Elizabeth Gilbert's book "Last American Man," makes money by offering tourists nature excursions on his property and selling firewood. Consider the resources that your property offers from fresh fish to herbs and then search for a market.

Things You'll Need

  • Camper or RV
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About the Author

Based in northern Michigan, J.R. Erickson has been a freelance writer since 2006. She has been published at the White Pine Press, Michigan Nature Association, Life in the USA, and The Four Cornered Universe. Erickson holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Michigan State University.