We recently wrote an article for HubPages detailing a few tips and tricks to implement while traveling in order to save some cash. As many of you know from following along on our journey with us, full-time RV living isn't extremely expensive, especially when compared to more conventional ways of living. However, there certainly are a few ways to save even more. You can read the full HubPage article here: How to Travel the Country Without Breaking the Bank, or just continue on reading for a few highlights. The choose-your-own-adventure starts now.
Food Can Be a Downfall
I would say, our biggest expense has to be food. We like to cook, we like to eat fresh and healthy, plus we like to dine out at new vegan places we come across. This doesn't help our bank account much. BUT, we learned quickly how we can make things work without going broke over breakfast. We stretch meals and learned to eat for nutritional value rather than taste. The problem that many people have is that they eat to taste. This can lead to spending a ton of extra money plus adding unnecessary calories into your diet. When you eat to fulfill nutritional needs, you aren't as picky, you don't overstuff, and you don't spend half as much money. A pot of homemade Lentil soup can last 2 meals for us, which cuts the cost of making it in half. When you stretch most of your meals, AND don't eat just for taste, you end up with a lot more money saved than you realize. We did, and that extra money went into our travels.
The Members-Only Clubs
Early on in our travels, we signed up for a lot of clubs. Even if there was a fee to join, most of them ended up paying for themselves. These clubs absolutely help you save money on the road, and to us, are essential to traveling the country on a dime. A few notable favorites include: Passport America, Good Sam, and The National Parks Pass.
Passport America is 50% off over 2,000 RV parks in America. We've gotten fully hooked up many a'time for less than $15/night. It's great after boondocking, to spend a day in an RV camp doing laundry, showering, and having full-time electricity. We paid off the annual fee in savings after about a month. Totally worth it.
Good Sam is similar to Passport, but we've found doesn't have the huge discounts. The plus, however, is that it does offer gas discounts at certain stations, which helps us save on the road.
The National Parks Pass is a must, for us. You pay $80 for the annual pass, and it allows for free entry to any national park or monument across the country for you, and up to three people in your vehicle. This means that the $30 Big Bend entrance fee was waived, along with $10 at White Sands, plus $20 at Joshua Tree. Three parks alone, nearly covered the cost for us, and there are about 55 still to go, that we'll cruise on through.
BLM Land is a MUST
If you want to save BIG on overnight accommodations, then BLM land is for you. There are over 264 million acres of public land at your disposal. The Bureau of Land Management administers these acres of public lands to whomever feels inclined to use them. These dispersed sites are much more primitive than you're used to, for example you can't hook up your RV and there certainly aren't any bathrooms. However, you can pretty much stay anywhere on BLM land for absolutely free, and basically stay as long as you'd like. We're currently on BLM land right now near Joshua Tree and not only are we surrounded by beautiful landscape, it's quiet, and a great way to disconnect.
These are just a few tips from the article that we wanted to highlight. Head on over to HubPages to read the rest of the travel tips. The bottom line is that traveling the country without breaking the bank is completely possible, because we do it every day, and you can too.
We didn't have too much luck hunting down vegan eateries in New Mexico, but boy did we hit the jackpot in Arizona. Not only did we potentially find the best vegan food in Arizona, but we also sampled a few dishes from other places that are a must-try. Since we've been traveling, we've discovered some pretty substantial vegan food in the United States. We understand how certain flavors work with one another, and ways you can substitute nuts and veggies to get a certain texture or dairy-free substitution. I might even venture to say that we are potentially becoming traveling vegan connoisseurs. Perhaps....
Take a look at the 3 vegan spots in Arizona that come highly recommended by The Roamans.
Pomegranate Cafe, Phoenix
Four generations of women from the same family were involved with Pomegrante Cafe. It began in 2010, as a shared dream between mother and daughter, Cassie and Marlene Tolman. Cassie's grandmother was the sole investor, and her daughter still works at the cafe every summer. Their vision was to combine these things: delicious flavor, nutritious ingredients, extraordinary service, and a unique, earth-conscious environment. Thus began Pomegranate Cafe.
Vanessa and I were floored by the flavors each dish carried. We started with the cheese plate (which remember is entirely vegan). Nut encrusted vegan cheese, combined with chopped fruit, raw hummus, parsnips, radishes, and olives made this one of the most aesthetically pleasing plates we've ever seen. After sharing this plate, we then ventured off and got our own dishes.
We were never disappointed once at Pomegranate Cafe. The menu was informative and fresh. There were SO many options from breakfast to lunch to dinner, and then of course dessert. We would've needed to spend weeks in Phoenix just to taste everything, and let me tell you if we didn't have a schedule, we would've.
I highly recommend anything with the baja sauce. My tempeh bacon, avocado, tofu sandwich was smothered in it and I savored every bite. Combine the nut goat cheese, which is covered in pistachios, with slices of strawberry, and you will simply melt into a puddle on the floor.
If you were doubting how magical this experience was for us, a hummingbird flitted by long enough for us to snap a picture. THAT was our Pomegranate Cafe experience in a nutshell.
We had difficulty finding Whyld Ass. It is not located at 101 San Francisco like Google or Yelp suggest. Turns out, they moved, but only down the street, so fear not. Call ahead to make sure they are open and verify the exact address, because their hours do vary on Sundays and Mondays.
With that said, let's dish on the dishes. We started with vegan nachos. Really, whenever we can try vegan nachos, we do. Why? Because with all the non-vegan elements that make up nachos, we like to see how some people allow for better substitutions. Whyld Ass, for example, subbed out dairy sour cream, for homemade turmeric cashew sour cream. YUM! Or you can add pickled veggies and marinated jack fruit, too. Or even a medley of beans to give it a more meaty texture. The nachos were divine, and started off our meal with a bang.
Then, we each respectively got some sammies, which were SO unbelievably flavorful, the plates were licked clean. I'm not even exaggerating. Grilled zucchini slathered in a vegan aioli...charred just right...or the Mediterranean-style wrap which had the most delectable tabbouleh I've ever had. Not too sour, not too bitter, not overflowing with parsley. It was refreshing.
We washed everything down with their in-house Chlorophyll water. You can read more about Chlorophyll water benefits here.
We got to meet one of the owners, Ryan, who told us all about his restaurant. The passion that oozed from him just speaking about nutrition and what he's accomplished was invigorating. IN HOUSE EVERYTHING. But then.....Ryan jumped in the kitchen and started cooking....all of it. He brought out our plates one by one and explained everything in each dish. We've never received such thorough service in any restaurant we've been in.
There are a few locations where you can find Whyld Ass: Flagstaff and Bisbee. We hear the food is equally great at both. The menu is updated constantly, so what you see online may not be what's in store. But you won't miss out either way.
Oh, and get the vegan oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. You won't regret it.
You really can't go wrong when you combine vegan sammies and cocktails. Plus when you add the relaxed, almost hipster-style, Prohibition-like setting, you have an environment that is deliciously comfortable.
We pulled up to The Volstead Public House at 7:30pm only to find they close at 8pm—the girl was already breaking down. Yet, she welcomed us right on in and told us not to worry. That's always a great sign. I can't tell you how many times Vanessa and I have been greeted by disdain when we walk in somewhere and they close within the hour.
I gotta say, the sandwiches were freakin' delicious. It's like, the most sensational vegan pub fare we've had. We ordered grilled cheese with pesto, pressed panini-style called Lucky Luciano, and the Squawker Texas Ranger, which is composed of a chicken patty, smothered in buffalo sauce, in between some provolone, and topped with arugula. This too, was pressed panini-style. Remember too, these puppies are purely vegan.
We opted for the side salads instead of chips, and the tomato soup. I can't say I was super thrilled with the soup (a bit chunky and tart for my taste) but the sandwiches were unreal. Hearty, filling, and loaded with flavor.
This would absolutely be a continuous lunch spot for us if we were in Mesa, especially because they try out new sandwiches constantly. Like the Corned Beef, or Mac n Cheese grilled cheese.
If ever you happen upon these cities and need vegan food in Arizona, then trust what we've told you. Vegan fare is our specialty! Okay, maybe not our specialty, but we take it pretty damn seriously.
As we said in our newsletter, this week on the blog we're dedicating time to a pictorial wildfire. We've been busy traveling in the Southwest region of the U.S., which brought on some sensational photos of our travels. I gotta say, living in an RV might not be the easiest all the time, but it sure does produce some great photos. Check it out.
We're about to embark on some pretty big things in these next couple of weeks, and we can't wait to share with you!
We've been traveling like crazy lately. LIKE CRAZY. And it's truly been glorious. We have taken some unbelievable photos and have seen some wonderful things. It's been such a great reminder as to why we're doing what we're doing, living in a small RV and making it work. Simply because we get to see sights like this...
We did happen to get a tad bit derailed after finding six puppies abandoned on the side of the road..... But that's a story better told next time...
To be continued....
We normally don't just spout off about books we're reading to anyone willing to listen. Although, I have certainly debated starting a book club. Ever since I was young, reading has played a huge part in my creativity and my overall growth, and I think encouraging more people to read is one of the most rewarding things you can do.
With that said, there is a book that just recently made it into rotation for us while we're living in an RV. One that I think everyone should read. It's from the same author of "Eat, Pray, Love", Elizabeth Gilbert, if anybody is already familiar with her work. But her most recent publish, is one that I have been waiting to get my hands on ever since she gave an inspired TedTalk. Watch below. It's worth the 7 minutes of your day, even if you just play it in the background.
In this clip, Gilbert talks about the importance of continuously creating, even after we've been marred by roadblocks, fear, and failure. She even mentions how her success from "Eat, Pray, Love" became an issue for her creativity. It was such an inspired TedTalk, Gilbert went on to expand greatly on the topic, and thus wrote...
"Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear" is the type of book I've been waiting for. I've always had a fascination about the creative process for many people—how they do it, where they pull inspiration, if they have a process at all. But what also fascinates me is the fear that ends up blocking our creativity entirely. Gilbert touches on this in a very poignant way, as it does require a great deal of sensitivity.
But what I enjoy most about this book is that "creative living" is not directly related to having a career in the Fine Arts. It's not geared toward writers, or artists, or anybody working in a creative field. It's directed toward us all. Gilbert writes, "I'm talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear". I found this passage to be especially relevant to what Vanessa and I are doing on the road. Giving up the stability of our lives in Florida in order to pursue the curiosity of exploration, rather than staying put, out of fear.
Gilbert then goes on to talk about her fried Susan, who gave up her dream of ice skating as a child, and recently took it up again as a hobby at forty-years-old. Gilbert writes "She...had always loved [figure skating], but she'd quit the sport during adolescence when it became clear she didn't have quite enough talent to be a champion. (Ah, lovely adolescence—when the "talented" are officially shunted off from the herd, thus putting the total burden of society's creative dreams on the thin shoulders of a few select souls, while condemning everyone else to live a more commonplace, inspiration-free existence! What a system...)".
It's true, when you think about it. How many of us have had our dreams squashed simply because we weren't the best in the field? Or perhaps because it had already been done? Or perhaps because we were told that we weren't talented enough? Creative living is a blessing. It means you're able to express yourself freely, without fear. It is entirely more rewarding than any other path we are forced down.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is trying to live a more creative existence. It's time that we inspire each other to live without fear, and pursue what feeds our soul, no matter how far off the conventional path it may be.
I'd love to hear your thoughts below, whether on the book itself, or on your own experience with creative living!
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