Get the latest as we make our way across the country in our 25ft Airstream trailer. Busy Campers is the adventures and ramblings of Celena Carr-Thomas and Shoam Thomas as we travel the U.S.A. in our Airstream trailer.
We’ve been quiet around here for awhile — almost a year! It’s hard to believe how fast the earth moves around the sun sometimes. In some ways our lives changed a lot in that time, and in other ways they’re remarkably the same. 2018 Recap: Emphasis on the Busy
One reason for our blog hibernation is that in addition to traveling full-time, we also run our graphic design and marketing business from the road. We got very busy with that last year, which is a good thing, but when we had downtime we wanted to get off our screens and out into the world.
Last year went by in a flash. Here we are flying through Monument Valley, UT at sunset.
Turning off the Firehose
The other reason is that I just wasn’t enjoying blogging about RV travel. There are a lot of people out there pushing this lifestyle (usually for profit) in ways that don’t feel authentic or accurate to us. Airstreams in particular are really fetishized, and the people of the internet often seemed more interested in our rig than they were in us, which was disheartening.
Don’t get me wrong — we’ve met so many lovely people through this blog, and there really are genuine and inspiring people out there who give you a little window into their lives through social media (hint: they’re usually the ones not trying to sell you an e-course). But we let the negative parts of it get to us, and it was just time to take a break until we had interest in it again. As Aziz Ansari said, sometimes spending time on the internet can feel like being “a million pages into the worst book ever.”
These days we’ve worked on setting healthier limits on our non-work screen time, and we stopped trying to keep up with everyone on social media. Basically, we turned off the fire hose, and it’s feeling good to be on here again. If you do follow us on Instagram, you know that we’re A) still alive and B) still living and traveling in our Airstream full-time.
We’ve been quiet on the blog for the past year, but we’re still traveling full-time. Last year we finally made it to Silverton, CO to see the snowcapped peaks.
In 2018, we embraced slow travel and only visited 4 states: New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. Traveling this way is much more our style than the long haul/quick stay variety. Moving a couple hundred miles, or less, at a time and longer stays let us get to know an area better, revisit favorite spots, and catch up with friends on the road.
Burying the Lead — We Bought Land!
Probably our biggest life update is that back in September we bought 5 acres of beautiful, wild land in Northern New Mexico that will be our new home base. Our property is several miles down a dirt road bordering the National Forest, and we have one awesome neighbor about 20 acres away, unless you count elk, coyotes, and jack rabbits as neighbors (which we do).
Just us, a campfire, and the stars.
Dulce, our dachshund, living dat off-leash life.
Before winter set in, we dry camped on our land for a month, and were loving a quiet life of mountain sunrises, campfires, and dark sky stars. Dulce had a blast with 3 whole weeks of fully off-leash life, until she decided that sniffing cactus was a fun hobby. We had our first snow storm of the year on Halloween, and shortly after that we decided to get the Airstream back down our dirt road so we didn’t get stuck, because no hookups in negative degree nights is no fun.
Burying the Land — In Snow!
This winter has been a doozy down here with storm after storm, so once all the snow melts and the mud dries, we’ll head back up to the land and start some projects. Our 2019 plans include building a small 120 square foot studio with a loft, possibly a bath house, getting our utilities and RV hookups in place, and starting a few raised beds (most RVers say the thing they miss most is their bathtub — mine is having a garden!). Down the road — probably in 2020 — we plan to build a 600-ish square foot cabin.
Northern New Mexico got dumped on this winter! This is what our RV park looked like after the 4th or 5th storm of the season.
Our 2019 Plans
We’re keeping the Airstream and travel will still be a big part of our lives, but we’re happy to be building a little spot where we can take a break from the road. We’re not sure what destinations will be on the list this year, since our focus will be on building, but we’re in Santa Fe for March, and we’re currently planning to spend April in the Truth or Consequences, Deming, and Silver City NM areas.
So that’s our big news, and how we’re ripping the bandaid off of blogging after a long break. In the coming weeks and months we’re planning on sharing more about some of our favorite moments and places from our 2018 travels, everything we learned the (extremely) hard way about winter camping in an Airstream, and progress on our property.
Happy travels to all of you out there, and shoot us a comment or a note and let us know what you’re up to!
Everyone’s favorite time of year is just a few days away — that’s right, Tax Day is April 17 (break out the party hats and confetti). We just wrapped ours up and thought it would be helpful to share a few surprising things we learned after buying our Airstream for those of you out there considering making the jump to the fulltime RV lifestyle.
Note: We are not accountants or tax experts. This post is about our personal experience, and you should always consult your own accountant before making any decisions that might have a big impact on your taxes.
1. RV Dealerships will say you can write off the interest on an RV loan, just like a home. But for a lot of us, there’s a catch.
Technically, this one is true — your RV is considered a second home, and you can deduct the loan interest (up to the $1 million limit in 2017, and the new $750k limit in 2018). But, and this is a big but, if you’ve sold your sticks and bricks home to hit the road, like so many fulltime RV’ers do, the interest on your loan likely won’t put you over the standard deduction amount, so claiming it on your taxes is a no-go.
Besides that, the math doesn’t really work out on this one — even if you can deduct it, you’ll probably wind up paying more interest over the lifetime of the loan than you’ll save in tax deduction. If you want to see some detailed examples, check out this post over on RV dreams.
As a side note, while the tax deduction isn’t a good reason to take out a loan, there may be other reasons to go with financing vs. purchasing outright. We did choose to finance part of the Airstream. It’s our only debt, and while we’d prefer to be debt free, we were starting a new business, which meant we wouldn’t get approved for other lending until we built up 2 years of work history with it. Even after that getting a loan can be trickier when you’re self-employed, so we wanted to keep more of our cash available for a future home or land purchase.
We're saving our cash for a cabin
Maybe... someday... Until then we just save a million of them to our Pinterest page so we can indulge in the fantasy. Hop on over there to catch yourself a case of cabin fever.
2. Planning on writing off your ‘home office’ in the RV? Hang on.
Back when we owned a house in Portland, we had a home office that Shoam used for his freelance business, and we were able to deduct a portion of our mortgage. In an Airstream, claiming a space that’s used exclusively for business doesn’t quite pan out — we work from the dinette, but we also eat there, watch movies, play cards (and constantly spill things on it) so we can’t claim it on our taxes. If you have a bigger 5th wheel or Class A with a garage area you can truly call an office that’s not used for anything else, you might have more luck on this one.
3. Consider travel expenses really carefully before deducting.
It might sound amazing to start a casual blog and write off all your travel expenses, since campgrounds and gas will probably be one of your major expenses. Unfortunately, business travel needs to be premeditated (i.e. you need to travel to your destination for the meeting/conference/whatever, not take a personal trip to Hawaii and then try to set up a meeting when you’re there to try to write off a whole vacation).
4. If you use an accountant, find one who gets what you do.
Now that we travel so much, we wanted to use someone who got that and would be used to communicating with us wherever we happened to be. We worked with Adam Nubern of Nuventure this year, and it’s been our smoothest tax time in years. As a fellow traveler, he’s super clear about his availability and when to expect to hear back from him, plus very proactive about reminding us what we should be doing by when.
If you’re looking for a new accountant for 2018, we’d highly recommend him. He’s not paying us, or providing any free services in exchange for us writing this — we just think he’s a great accountant and a good guy.
In case you missed it — Our shop is now open
Last week we officially launched our Shop, and it's loaded up with T-shirts, Hoodies, Pouches and Tote Bags for people who love the outdoors, camping and road trips. No... you probably can't deduct them from your taxes, but at least you can do your accounting in style, right?
Shoam says my dream life would be to live at a spa (he's not wrong). He's a good sport about it, so after a nice long break from the road in Taos he agreed we could treat ourselves to a couple nights at Ojo Caliente, an amazing hot springs resort in Northern New Mexico about an hour from Taos and Santa Fe.
Ojo had been on our list since before we even got to New Mexico, but when we found out they have a little RV park on the property we decided to wait until we could stay there to really make the most of it. I am not an easy girl to drag out of the water, so being able to soak as long as I wanted to and then just walk to my house was pretty incredible (#livingthedream). If you're in the area, we highly recommend setting aside a couple days to come here. We may just move in. They won't notice one extra rig in the parking lot, right?
The leisurely, and beautiful 40-mile drive from Taos to Ojo Caliente.
Adobe buildings abound at the resort with fire pits, desert plants and rock gardens scattered around the property.
Shoam and Dulce enjoying the trails.
There are several different pools at Ojo with a range of temperatures and different minerals that are said to offer health benefits. We especially loved the cliff-side Iron pool and the Lithia pool, and the water really does feel different in each. We made a circuit of all the springs both days, working our way from the cliffs back towards the locker rooms to minimize chilly walks in the 40-50 degree weather.
If you get tired of soaking (like that's a thing), there are several hikes, yoga classes and the tiny town center is right down the road with a couple restaurants.
Prices Entry to the pools: $24/day (save by bringing your own lock and extra towels to avoid extra charges) Stretch & Soak special (includes a yoga class): $30 RV Parking: $40/night
Yeah, I'd live here.
RV Parking Info
The RV park is tucked in against the cliffs, and spots are a bit rustic, but they have electric and water hookups, and you can walk right to the trails and the pools, which makes it totally worth the $40/night price tag in our opinion.
There are only a few spots that would work for bigger rigs, so make sure to specify your size if you're calling for a reservation. We'd also recommend dumping your tanks before you get there and planning to stretch them through your stay — they have a dump station, but there's a $20 fee to use it.