Sabbatical essential: Meet the Freedom Machine, our home away from home

A few weeks ago, we fully committed to our sabbatical in yet another tangible way.  We bought a used popup camper.  After doing the math, we figured out it would be cheaper to invest in this little beauty rather than in hotel stays as we spend six months traveling around to the National Parks (Sabbatical Part I). And we can sell it for cash before we head to Thailand. Of course we may decide we love it too much to part with it. We named her the Freedom Machine.

img_5229I’m sure there will be many more posts about the joys (and troubles) of owning a camper and living it in for long periods of time.  Stay tuned for that!  For now, I’m going to share with you a little bit about what we are looking forward to with this new tool of our freedom.

The Dogs

We want to take our dogs with us as often as possible as we tool around the National Parks, and staying in hotels, or tents, with them was going to be challenging and expensive (room deposits with dogs are not cheap). But with the camper, we can bring our dogs along with us without the hassle of only staying in dog-friendly hotels.  We plan to remove the smaller of the two mattresses and replace it with two dog beds.  Easy!

The Space


Just kidding (photo above from Although, I’m tempted to attempt this kind of makeover for our Freedom Machine. Popup Princess, help me!

This is the inside of our humble little camper.  It’s a 2003 Coleman Sedona, and it’s just right for us!


Yes, it’s close quarters (although Trent says it’s HUGE), but it’s still more space to bring camping chairs and hiking equipment and more clothes than I could if we had only our Nissan Murano on the road with us. We even bought a generator that will fit on the Freedom Machine to ensure that I have power for my laptop wherever we go. And it’s way more comfortable than tent camping. One drawback: we don’t have a bathroom on board. But that was a sacrifice we were willing to make.  And Trent did by me a portable solar-powered shower! Yippee!

The Savings

I figure we are saving upwards of $10K by investing in a camper instead of in hotel rooms. Not only are campsites cheap, but we can cook and make our coffee from the comfort of the Freedom Machine rather than constantly eating out. And, as I mentioned, we can sell it and make most of our investment back when we are finished using it.  That sale could pay for a few months in Thailand.

The RV Community

We are discovering that there is a whole subculture to the camping and RV world. We are looking forward to tapping into this community to learn all there is to know about camping and life on the road.  Some of it is far removed from what we are looking for (see picture below taken at RV show in 48 foot toy trailer), but as we have dipped our toe into this brand new world, we have met people who simply love the open road and who are more than happy to share their wisdom and travel hacks with newbies like us.


It Gives Us Wings

Travel is vital to both of our souls. Our Freedom Machine is a physical manifestation of our dream to travel and our ability to travel.  Our Freedom Machine makes it possible to achieve goals from our vision board like spontaneous trips to the mountains and spending time immersed in nature.  In many ways our Freedom Machine is the embodiment of our sabbatical. We can just go whenever we want, wherever we want (we can always camp in the Walmart parking lot!).  It’s also freedom from having to plan rigidly. We can be spontaneous and nimble. We’ll figure it out along the way as we take flight!


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