Live Small | Ride Free
Ching and her partner live in an off-gridable RV that they rebuilt themselves and is towed by a waste vegetable oil (WVO) powered truck. Ching’s focus is to be sustainable while living on the road – all while playing as much as she can in the woods, mountains, rivers and dirt. Learn more – interview with Ching below!
Photos above and below (C) 2015 Live Small Ride Free
Meet Innovative, Resourceful Ching
How did your lifestyle come to be?
Our lifestyle change was born out of our desire to fully live our lives now rather than later or when we’re retired or when things all line up perfectly. While our previous lifestyle was comfortable it wasn’t fulfilling. I used to travel a lot until I got out of college and had a job. I missed that previous life and became envious others who were traveling full-time until I realized that there was no reason why that couldn’t be me.
How did you choose your RV? Why did you decide to have a trailer rather than an all-in-one vehicle?
A lot went into choosing our RV and truck. We needed to have a specific truck and space in the truck bed to be able to run it off WVO (waste vegetable oil). A WVO conversion carries some risk of engine damage if not done properly; we didn’t want to have to replace our home and vehicle if things went wrong. We wanted a separate vehicle from our living space so that we didn’t have to tow everything around when heading to a trailhead. And most importantly, we wanted to have an RV so our dogs (especially Tybee who is 12 years old and can’t go mountain biking or long hikes anymore) would be safe and comfortable when they can’t join us outdoors.
How long have you been on the road and how long did it take to prepare?
We haven’t been on the road for long; our first day of living in the Toaster full-time was March 21, 2015. We bought the RV and truck back in 2011 even though we knew weren’t ready to leave Asheville, NC yet because we still wanted to explore and play there. We started the RV rebuild in December 2013 and it took us a year before we were done (it had a lot more damage to it than we realized).
Your RV is “off-gridable”, meaning it is fully sustainable without traditional power sources, like plug-ins for RV’s. What are some of the key features to living this way?
We have 1220 watts of solar panels on the Toaster that powers the entire RV. The only thing we use propane for is the stove/oven, and we only use that when we bake or have to be very conservative with our electricity due to extended cloudy/rainy/snowy days. We plan to eventually be 100% fossil fuel free. We also have an “Air Head Composting Toilet”, which decreases the amount of water we need to use and reduces our water waste. Find out why we call it an off-gridable vs. an off-grid RV.
What’s the longest you’ve stayed “off the grid” thus far?
As of August 1, we’ve been off the grid consistently for 81 days.
What are your ideal campsites? BLM, National Forest, Traditional camp sites?
BLM and national forest are our ideal campsites – quiet, free, and away from it all.
What have you learned about your boyfriend that you might not have without this undertaking?
How high of a tolerance Jerud has for my incessant miserably out of tune, non-rhyming and nonsensical singing. (Yes, it’s really that bad.) And how happy he can be. His previous 8-to-5-work life was draining him, now he is finally able to spend quality time and energy on things that are important to him.
Take a photo of your five must have items for RV living—
- Trail runners
- Mountain bike
- Fleece pullover
Why is it important for you to lessen your footprint? What small ways can other travelers do this?
With our passion for the outdoors comes our responsibility to take care of it. It pained us to think about how much fossil fuel we would be using while traveling to explore natural landscapes. That’s just ironic. While life on the road can mean a smaller carbon footprint compared to a stationary lifestyle, like water usage, there’s always more we can do. Decreasing the amount of propane used is a big one. Any amount of solar usage is great! Vehicle fuel usage is another big one – plan out your routes so you don’t drive any more than necessary and use alternative modes of transportation when it’s accessible, for example: biking in town or taking public buses to run errands. Switch out traditional lightbulbs to LEDs. Carry a reusable water bottle wherever you go. Bring a collapsible plastic container with you for leftovers when eating out. Apply the motto “refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle” to all aspects of your life.
Where are you now [August 1, 2015] and where will you be in one month?
We’re currently in Washington state and we’re either headed North or South from here. It’s still up in the air!