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Itchy Feet and the Urge to Move

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Fall is in the air here in the Sierra National Forest. The temps during the days have cooled off from the upper 80s to around 80. Evenings are no longer so warm but have a slight chill to them. For all of us camping here, with the subtle change of season also comes the first twinges of “itchy feet.” Amongst us there is a regular conversation about where we are going to spend the winter, even a few conversations about what we would do next summer.
Steve and I have been here for 4 months (since the first week in May—although Steve returned to Washington state for a month), so that is a long time in one place. He is really ready to get moving, it comes up in nearly all our conversations. I am too, but not as much as he is. This life is all new to James and Kyndal and they seem very ready to go. I can relate to how they feel. My first year on the road I moved constantly; I never stayed in one place for long. Wanderlust took hold of me and I just couldn’t wait to get to the next place. I look back very fondly on those days because I saw lots of new places.
The problem with that much traveling is it is expensive. After that first year of moving constantly and burning gas, I had to get a job as a campground host in National Forest campgrounds to build up my savings account. That meant spending 4-5 months in one place. Afterwards I traveled in the fall, but in the winter there weren’t that many places to go, so I ended up staying in Pahrump, NV nearly the whole winter. Because I had fallen in love with camp hosting, that next spring I went back to work as a campground host and spent 5 months in the Sierras. That winter I camped in Pahrump, Yuma, Quartzsite and at Slab City. It seems like I have traveled less every year since then.
Now that I live in my converted cargo trailer, traveling has become harder and staying in one place easier. Other than a few extended trips I have planned (possibly Oregon, Washington and the Canadian Rockies next summer) I expect to stay longer in one place than I have in the past.
And yet I still have itchy feet. After three to four months in one place the urge to go somewhere else starts to smolder like a fire deep inside me. With every week I’m forced to stay in one place that fire grows bigger and bigger. Finally after 5 months the need to move becomes almost a physical ache. Do you remember the old signs on cars that said “California or Bust” or “Alaska or Bust?” That’s how I feel, “Move Now (Anywhere!) or Bust!”
The problem is that it is still hot everywhere but here, and the only thing I hate worse than staying in one place too long is heat; miserable, overwhelming, unbearable heat! So I have to stay put here until the desert cools off and that is at least 6 weeks away. But my feet are just starting to itch, so I will be fine. I’m especially lucky this year because I’m flying back to Alaska for 2 weeks on September. That will throw a bucket of water on the smoldering flame. By the time I get back here it will be nearly time to leave.
What is it in vandwellers that make us unable to stay in one place for long? Do all of you have itchy feet? How do you deal with it? Bob


  1. Simply Lesa

    Yes I get itchy feet or as an old musician ex ofine used to say “smell the gas”… (hmmm could have been beans) seriouslly tho… i get anxious to go between one and three months. I start daydreaming and researching the next possibility. then a day comes when its just time to go. I usually have a general plan A and an emergency plan B of sorts.
    Currently I am not so patient as I am anxiously waiting and tieing up loose ends here so I can join you all at RTR or earlier… (smile)

    • Bob

      You are right Lesa, it all starts in the imagination. My brain gets hold of thoughts of a new place and, like a dog with a bone, it won’t let go. And also like you my year now revolves around the RTR. I can’t wait to get there again. I have made so many great friends there I can’t wait to see again. And I know I am going to make many new life-long friends. I’m sure you will be one of them Lesa!! And you are welcome to join us at anytime, my camp is always open.
      I would encourage everybody to start planning now to get to The Rubber Tramp Rendezvous this January in Quartzsite, AZ. Get more info here:

  2. Nemo

    Bob, I would reccomend that the group head to the Coconino national forest, just south of Flagstaff.. big pines, temps arent bad, and nights are still warmer 🙂
    still a tad to hot here, was in mid 90’s again today, but thats down 10 degrees from a month ago. Did have a couple days in the 70’s though, so it’s getting better!!

    • Bob

      Hey Nemo, I was just talking to Steve about you. He has really go itchy feet bad so moving comes up in nearly all our conversations. We were talking about how it is hard to find a place that is comfortable in the shoulder seasons April-May and September-October. It occurred to me that might be the perfect time to be at your place. At 6000 feet its cooler/warmer than Flagstaff at 7500 feet or Pahrump at 2500 feet. Medical and legal issues are still keeping me in California but next year I will be free and maybe we will descend like locusts on your place.
      Don’t worry, you and I are a lot alike and we will always respect your “me” time. Besides with 20 acres there must be plenty of room for us to tuck away in. Bob

      • Nemo

        I agree with ya Bob, the best time of year up here to me is the fall, starting end of September, and running through December.. after that it gets cold!
        not that I dont have a possibility of snow in Nov/Dec, I do, but it tends to not stay that long.
        and you wuld be welcome here anytime! I keep trying to talk Katie into it too.

        • Bob

          Everyone here is ready to go (except Cheri-but when the weather starts to turn that may change). So who knows we might see you sooner than later.

          • cheri

            I’m ready to go see Steve!!! I have to admit I love it up here and I don’t really have “itchy feet” yet but I would love to see Steve and if we could get Katie to come too that would just be too awesome. I love it when vandwellers get together. We do have a lot of fun.

  3. Janar

    Bob, when you have these jobs as a campground host…. do you still live in your vehicle or do the campgrounds provide a small cabin? How does all of that work exactly? Is the pay decent? Where and how do you eat? How often do you get time to yourself? What exactly do the jobs usually entail? I’m curious about and interested in maybe finding one of those jobs next summer (I am a teacher but won’t get paid during the summer months). So any advice or tips would be helpful! THANKS!
    By the way—- I bought your ebook on Kindle and really really enjoyed it. Learned quite a bit as well about the ups and downs and vandwelling. Good job!!!

    • Bob

      Hi Janar, I answer most of your questions in an article on my site, find it here:
      They don’t provide housing, you live in your car, van or RV. We have some very remote campgrounds where they let you live in tents. I tried to take a summers worth of staples (canned goods, pasta, rice, etc) with me when I first went to work. There are small mountain towns fairly close by where you buy perishables as you need them (bread, meat, fruit, vegetables). You get two days off a week and you can leave the campground if you want.
      Here’s three ways to get a job:
      1) Go to the RTR in Quartzsite, AZ in January where the vendors set up booths and do their hiring
      2) Join and fill out a resume.
      3) Look at a map of the area you want to work in and find the name of the National Forests. Do a Google search for that National Forest and find the phone number of the Ranger Stations. Call the ranger station and ask them for the name and phone number of the Concessionare who operates their campgrounds. Do a Google search for that company and find their phone number. Call the company and tell them you want to work as a host in their campgrounds at such-n-such NF and would like to do a phone interview with the person who hires for that area. Hopefully they will give you a phone number and you will do a phone interview with him and get a job.
      Hope that helps, Bob

      • Janar

        YES, thank you so much for this info and I will also read the article you posted.
        Thanks for the help.

        • Bob

          Hi Janar, you are very welcome! I will write more about workcamping later on, but since the season is just now ending it is a little early. If possible try to make it to the RTR in Quartzsite, Az. There is a very good chance you will leave with a job. What part of the country are you in? Bob

          • JanaR

            I live in Texas near the gulf coast. And I’d love to make to the RTR but being a teacher I will be back in school on those dates so I can’t. However I will be looking forward to reading more of what you have to write about it later on!
            * and I had to correct my name there…. when I typed the very first comment I meant to type a capital R for my last name…:0) not for it to say janar….hahaha

          • Bob

            OOPS! Sorry Jana, got it right this time! Someone has to fill those young minds full of knowledge, might as well be you! Hopefully our paths will cross one of these days! Bob

  4. Janar

    Oh and how do you go about getting one of those jobs? Who would I contact or what is the process??? that sort of stuff?? :0)

  5. Khyron

    Well the Pacific Northwest seems to still have awesome weather, as usual this time of year. I guess the downsides are it’s out of your way if you plan on ending up in the desert and with the area’s frequent cloud cover could provide some solar charging “challenges”. Still, it’s where I plan to spend next summer. Kentucky, where I’m at now, is about the last place anyone vandwelling should pick as a base of operations. Too hot and humid!

    • Bob

      Hi Khyron, finding a place with great weather year around is really hard. Having traveled around the country quite a bit I am certain I will spend all my winters in the desert southwest. The cost of gas then restricts how far i want to drive in the summer to find good weather. I believe the Sierras or Rocky mountains are by far the best place to spend your summer. I spent a summer near Leadville, CO at 10,000 feet and never got above 85 all summer. I loved it there.
      The Pacific Northwest is a great place to visit, but I would never call it home, not even for a summer! Bob

  6. Steve

    Well it is true and official that I have serious wander lust building in me and six weeks before I can do anything about it… I have found that I have explored this place enough, named all the animal neighbors around my camp, and have been staring at the maps daily… I have even thought about packing all my gear up and moving my camp about 100 yards just to find a different view… Oh well what can ya do really but wait the 6 weeks and dream…
    Khyron if your heading to the PNW dont get there before mid June or stay later the September, the rains and cold will be miserable… If looking for some nice spots lemme know, I can hook ya up with a few great spots to boon- dock..

    • Bob

      Steve, having friends like you camped nearby makes it much easier for me to stay put! Bob

  7. cheri

    It seems I am probably suffering from “itchy feet” less than anyone else in our camp but I have only been here since memorial day. I am loving just hanging out on the mountain watching the sun move across the sky each day. It is quiet and peaceful up here and even going into the tiny town of Shaver Lake seems like an effort. Bob and I had to go down off the mountain to Fresno about a week ago and I just couldn’t wait to get back “home”. It was hot and noisy and busy down there. I know I will feel the need to move when the weather gets cold up here but until then this is wonderful. I have to admit I am already looking forward to Quartzsite and RTR. I really miss so many of my vandweller friends and I am looking forward to meeting many many more this year. Grammahugababy and Tony

    • Bob

      Cheri, you are a calming influence on us all! You know us men, we would all be running around acting like apes without the womenfolk around to calm us down! Bob

  8. Trisha

    Gosh! You don’t know how timely this conversation about itchhave brain damagey feet is! I have been feeling like a misfit (am I mentally ill?, just plain crazy, have brain damage?) with my itchy feet that I have ‘suffered” from for many many years. Mostly in winter and spring. I have been blaming it on my cherokee heritage! But to the people I know, I am just plain “weird! It is sooooo good to know I am not alone in this world! I plan to attend the RTR and hope I will meet alot of people that will encourage me in my “weirdness”!
    I really like alot of alone time, but I find I need people too. But I really, really need people who like this lifestyle to help remind me that I am normal! I am not simply an outcast who can’t live the traditional lifesyle.
    Thanks Bob for this website and all of you out there who share and help me know that I am living a very worthwhile life!

    • Bob

      Hi Trisha, as far as I am concerned, you are the normal one, and everyone without itchy feet are the strange ones!! A million years of evolution can’t be thrown out in 10,000 years. Settling down and living in one place is not normal behaviors for homo sapiens, we are genetically hunter-gatherers and that means we have a constant need to move.
      I totally relate to how you describe yourself, every spring and fall I get very antsy and can’t wait to move again. I also need lots of alone, “me” time, but I also need people around me. You are going to love the RTR!! Being around that many like-minded people is incredible. Very freeing. It’s wonderful to finally fit in and be open and honest about how you feel and know that everyone around you feels the exact same way. See you soon! Bob

  9. freedombadeaux

    Hey Bob, Lots of good location info. Thanks! Taking notes the whole time while reading this forum. I hate reading!!! I think your about to change that! 🙂

    • Bob

      freedonbadeaux, I try to mix in pretty pictures for those who don’t like reading!
      Seriously, I’m glad you are getting good information out of it!

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