Choose Your Own Adventure(mobile)

If you're ready to make the leap and go full nomad, this guide has plenty of insight on your options for a mobile shelter
May 17, 2016Words by Kathleen Morton

It's safe to say that we're big fans of the adventuremobile here at Huckberry HQ. Even if we can't spend every waking moment on the open road, a well-appointed exploration machine still captures our hearts with the promise of freedom, independence, and excitement. Kathleen Morton rounded up some of the best options at your disposal for the moment you're ready to heed the call and put the rubber to the road.

Above: Rachel Farabaugh / Below: Kathleen Morton

The Camper Trailer

Camper trailers can range in size, anywhere from a teardrop to a large RV. How do you know what’s right for you? Start small and work your way up. You may be surprised at how much space even the smaller ones have for standing up, walking around, cooking meals and having friends over.

Pro: Connection to Nature
By getting small, you’re giving yourself an even bigger backyard. The thin walls of this adventuremobile allow you to hear what’s going on outside and its big windows bring in enough sunlight to heat your small space. Unfortunately that same closeness with Mother Nature can be met with resistance when your vehicle isn’t properly insulated. Prepare by winterizing your vehicle in advance to stay warm and dry.

Pro: Cost-Saving
Since smaller, used camper trailers are not usually as popular as vintage vans or Airstreams, you may end up spending less. Even after factoring in additional costs for renovations or materials, that cost may still be smaller than some of the other adventuremobiles on this list.

Con: Difficult to Tow
Camper trailers require another vehicle to tow it from one place to the next, and that vehicle often has to be a truck or something of similar size. Moving can become a hassle. After a while of owning one, you may want to look into something smaller that doesn’t require a lot of setting up and taking down each new place you park.

Tiny House, Tiny Footprint
How the author, her boyfriend, and their dog split time between a small cabin and a 1969 camper trailer.

Above: Ben Hurst / Below: Kathleen Morton

The Van

There’s something dreamy about traveling in a van and after owning one for several months now, it’s hard not to agree. When your average speed is around 40 mph down frontage roads, you learn to love the hum of the right lane on the highway. There’s just no need to hurry; life’s too short, anyway.

Pro: Comfort
A van is a great size in between a car and a camper trailer. Some have pop-ups that allow you to stand up with an extra area to sleep. Sprinter vans are built to be cargo vans and will give you space to add a bed and kitchen, and most campervans already come with all the amenities included.

Pro: Community
The #vanlife community is there for each other, hosting meetups and forming best friends to hang out with on the road. Oh, you have a van, too? High five! Van owners are eager to talk shop with each other.

Con: Breakdowns
Unfortunately, that same community knows fully well that their adventuremobile might not make it to their destination. Breakdowns do happen and won’t always be in the most convenient places. These breakdowns force you to learn how to fix issues when you can’t get your van to a mechanic.

The Love/Hate Relationship with Van Life
This couple didn't just move in together, they turned two separate apartments into a Sprinter van and hit the road.

Above and below: Megan McDuffie

The Car

Sometimes you just want to get somewhere fast and a van might not be up for the challenge. The best option might be what’s currently sitting in your driveway.

Pro: Remote Locations
Choosing an off-road vehicle might be your go-to adventuremobile if you’re trying to get places that others can’t access. The more space between the underside of your vehicle and the ground, the more you’ll be able to climb rocks and maneuver difficult terrains.

Pro: MPG
There’s certainly a wide range of cars that offer economical fuel options. Some of most compact cars offer the best gas mileage, but there are also trucks and SUVs that can match them. This adventuremobile will most likely be able to get you to your destination the fastest while saving money at the gas station.

Con: Lack of Space
Have you ever slept in a Subaru or similar size car? It’s not always the most comfortable experience because you have to move everything to the front of the car, outside the car or in a rooftop carrier. Unless you’re going to choose a larger car or outfit your vehicle for long road trips, you may want to consider choosing an adventuremobile that you have more space to move around in.

Sedan Life
Think you need a Sprinter van to hit the road? Think again. Fresh Off the Grid proves that the best adventuremobile is the one you already own.

Above and below: Jay Austin

The Tiny House

If you want to live small and want your space to look as much like a house as possible, this might be the best adventuremobile for you. Plus, you’ll turn a lot of heads driving a tiny house down the road.

Pro: Build it Yourself
There’s a freedom in living small, but there’s even more freedom in knowing you built it with your own two hands. You want an attached hot tub or a sauna room? No problem. After all, you’re the architect and homebuilder.

Pro: Mortgage Free
Most people choose this lifestyle because they want to live debt free. This adventuremobile will allow you to skip the monthly mortgage payments and still have some of the luxuries that other larger houses have.

Con: Building and Zoning Codes
Tiny houses are trendy, but what many people don’t know is that the city you live in may not be in support of you parking one in your neighbor or friend’s backyard. To avoid getting evicted, find a tiny house village or a city that allows for backyard accessory dwelling units. Read up on your local city and zoning regulations, or find a remote location where you have less of a chance of people knowing where you’re living.

Shelter: Tiny House
How one man sated his wanderlust by staying put, and building a tiny house.

Above: Kate Oliver / Below: Jillian Lukiwski

The Airstream

What do Matthew McConaughey and Patrick Dempsey have in common? Besides being actors, they both own custom Airstreams. And even NASA has been using one since 1983 to shuttle astronauts to the launch pad. There’s a reason that people use them as photo booths at weddings or will rent one out on Airbnb.

Pro: Style
Airstreams offer a modern, stylish interior that other adventuremobiles can’t match. There’s something about the curved walls that make your indoor space feel bigger.

Pro: Durability
An estimated 60-70% of Airstreams ever made are still in use today. That’s pretty impressive. But when you think about how they resemble small airplanes and are built with sturdy aluminum frames, it starts to make sense.

Con: Cost
Because they are built with durable materials, Airstreams usually come at a hefty price tag. This adventuremobile might not be the most economical option just for traveling, unless you make it your full-time home.

Coming soon: Lessons Learned from Building out an Airstream
How Huckberry Ambassador Dylan Gordon built out a vintage Airstream and lived to tell the tale.

Above and below: Julie Puckett

The School Bus

Think it’s just a bus shuttling children to school in the mornings? Think again. These buses range from 200-300 square feet, and couples and families are choosing them for their tiny home conversions.

Pro: Character
While the school bus is similar in design to an Airstream or a large camper trailer, it has a history and role in transportation that you instinctively think of when you spot one. Not too many people are living in school buses in comparison to some of the other adventuremobiles out there.

Pro: Party Bus
Have a lot of friends? The standard school bus can carry 72 people. Just make sure you check state laws or give your bus a good paint job first. In some states it’s illegal to drive a yellow school bus not registered to a school district. They don’t want children mistaking it as their ride to school.

Con: Full Makeover
Unlike campervans or Airstreams that are designed to be liveable, school buses don’t usually come looking like a tiny home. First you’ll have to take out the seats and add insulation. Then you’ll have to add other amenities, like a kitchen, bed, workspace and storage areas.

Friends of Huckberry: the Gillibus
If you're in the Bay Area, take a leaf out of Huckberry's book and ride in style with the Gillibus.

Kathleen, her boyfriend Greg, and their dog Blaize spent more than a year living in a camper trailer in someone else's backyard. Now they split time between their camper and a cabin in the foothills. On their blog, they share stories of others living alternative lifestyles, hoping to encourage others to reduce their environmental footprint and connect with nature.


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