One day, photographer Andrew Waits‘s aunt and uncle dropped everything, bought an RV, and headed out to live on the road. Four years later, they haven’t once looked back.
Intrigued by what drove them to seek such an unconventional life, Waits began meeting and photographing people in his hometown of Seattle and later all along the West coast who had made the decision to turn their vehicle — vans, trucks, RVs, and compact cars — into their home.
Waits shared some of the photos and stories here (and you can see many more at his website).
When Waits went out to meet RV and van dwellers in Seattle, he found a huge diverse group of people made up of a few communities.
A year ago, Bob was crossing a street when a BMW ran over his foot. He couldn't walk for 3 months and lost his job. He sold everything to pay the bills and bought the van to live in.
And those who went out on the road for spiritual freedom or individuality. Jude, Juan and Nick have been travelling together to that end for 40 years.
There is a big divide between the those with fancy RVs and those with more modest vehicles. 'We're the scum of the earth according to (those with fancy RVs) and they're the joke of the earth according to us,' one person told Waits.
Waits attended a number of meetups organised by CheapRVLiving.com and the Van Dwellers Yahoo Group. He says that they held workshops on how to modify your vehicle and how to find a place to park for the night.
This California man calls himself 'Gizmo Joe,' because he's constantly spending his money on the different ideas and machines that he likes to build from spare parts.
Waits says that there is usually a part of every city where police will allow vehicle dwellers to park for long periods of time without harassment.
He says that those with more inconspicuous cars, like compacts, have a much wider range of places that they can park for the night.
On the road, people often park at national parks (which let you stay for two weeks at a time) or parking lots for large stores like Wal-Mart.
Many people don't have an emotional or financial safety net to fall back on. Because of that, many choose to live in cities, due to the proximity to social services.
Sherri used to own a flower shop before she fell in love with truck driving. After trucking for five years, Sherri retired, but she couldn't give up the road.
Crucial to surviving on the road is planning out your meals and, if you are in a cold place, where you will get warmth.
One of the biggest problems is finding a good bathroom. Some times, people make makeshift outhouses, like this one.
Many of the people who are living in their vehicles by choice modify their car to bring domestic conveniences like this fruit basket.
Many people put solar panels on their car to generate extra electricity for generators, cooking devices, and Internet. These are a collection of car batteries wired to solar panels.
'I've laughed for 20 years with RV people,' one person told Waits. 'They take care of me ... We're just a big family. You get RVing in your blood and you can't get it out.'
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