July 2021

How to get insta famous cover image

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After spending lots of time perusing social media for why some van dwellers are “insta famous” and others aren’t, I’ve noticed a trend. Read on for a list of ways to skyrocket your presence online for van life.

Note: this is for comedic entertainment purposes only. 

1. Be really, really, ridiculously good looking.

It’s no surprise that most of those vanlife girls and guys with tens of thousands of followers on social media are super hot. Do yourself a favor, and become really good looking.

2. Show some skin.

This one is a no-brainer. Sex sells. So get on that bikini or speedo and start that photoshoot. Your followers will love that side boob action or that booty shot.

3. “Rescue” a pet (preferably a dog).

Your followers will fawn over a cute puppy. Watch your follower count rise when they see that charming “I’m hugging my new puppy” shot. It’ll make you seem more friendly and approachable. Be sure to extensively explain how you “rescued” it.

4. Brag about all the cool places you go.

It’s expected that if you are going to be van life famous, you need to be exploring the far reaches of the planet. You must visit secluded beaches. You must visit secluded forests. You must visit secluded deserts.

And of course, make sure to take lots of photos as evidence. So if you didn’t capture the moment in a picture and upload it to social media, did it really happen?

5. Get a drone.

How else will you brag about the cool places you go if you can’t take a distant aerial shot showcasing you in the center? You must also hide the controller so it looks like someone else took the photo.

6. Install “twinkle lights.”

A string of little lights running from one corner of your van to the next is a necessity in becoming a social media star. It says, “I’m trendy. I’m not like a regular person. I’m a cool person.”

Now you’re ready to be insta famous for van life!

~ Jojo 

6 tips on how to minimize your possessions cover image

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If you are anything like I was before starting this adventure, you have way more things than you can fit into any single vehicle. How do you minimize your possessions to fit into a mobile life?

Almost everyone has something they collect. For some people, they collect shoes, stamps, or books. For me, it’s always been art supplies. Whenever I had that urge to buy something, I would buy a new art brush or a new sketchbook.

Before long, I had a mountain of sad, unused supplies, some of which never got to see the light of day because they were stowed away.

After taking the plunge into getting a van to travel and live out of, I soon realized that my things were holding me back. The only way I could fit everything in there was if I didn’t want to sleep laying down or have room to walk.

So I began to purge my possessions. I followed the following steps that helped me minimize my things and maximize my space.

1. Ask yourself, “do I want to bring this with me into the future?”

Minimize for your future.

This is the most important question to ask yourself. You may have bought something a long time ago that served you well during it’s lifetime. But if doesn’t have a place in your future, don’t keep holding onto it.

For me, I kept lots of old watercolor papers that I used when I was getting back into painting. They were papers made from “student grade” materials. Eventually I started to buy and use “professional grade” materials and stopped using the old ones. I held onto the old ones because they still had use to them. But after asking myself if I wanted to bring them into the future with me, the answer was a “no.” So I donated the unused materials.

2. Get rid of duplicates.

Minimize duplicates image

This may come as a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many items you own that are multiples. It happens because we aren’t fully conscious of having and appreciating the first one. It can be pots and pans, hairbrushes, shoes.

I noticed this issue fully when I delved into my colored pencil collection. Somehow, I convinced myself into buying two sets of professional Prismacolor colored pencils over the years. I definitely don’t remember buying both sets. Where was my brain? Was I just happy to buy? I felt like I betrayed my first set by buying the second. I decided to donate the second set and to fully covet my first set.

Have you found any duplicates?

3. Ask yourself, “do I have emotional ties to this object?”

Minimalism with sentimental items image

No matter who you are, you will have strong emotions to some things you own. Where does it bring you in your memories? If it’s not a happy place, it has no place in your future. If it is a happy place, how strong are those emotions? Are you upset at the thought of getting rid of an item? Keep it for now.

When I was a kid, my grandmother gifted me a beautiful quilt for Christmas one year. I spent countless nights snuggled under it. My grandmother went through so much time to pick out the fabric, sew it, quilt it, and wrap it with me in mind, that there is no way I’m giving it up. It’s an item I will always treasure.

What are you uncompromising about? Why?

4. Say to yourself, “it’s served it’s purpose.”

Show gratitude while minimizing.

It can be especially difficult to let go of items that have never been used. The way I like to look at it, is that just by having the item around to give you good vibes, it has already served it’s purpose.

As tidying expert Marie Kondo suggests, showing gratitude for the time you had an object allows you to be thankful for what it meant to you.

You may have felt a euphoric rush after finding and buying it. Or it may have motivated you in some way. These are all valid. But if it doesn’t serve you anymore, then it’s time for someone else to get use from it.

5. Don’t be afraid to minimize everything all at once.

Minimize all at once image

It may be exhausting, but it’s best to go through all your things in one go. It could take days or weeks. As you go through each item, separate them into 3 piles of keep, donate, and recycle/trash.

When you are finally done with each section of your home, what you are left with are items that serve a purpose and things you want to bring with you into the future. I

f you skip a region of your things such as clothing or kitchen supplies, it will just be harder the next time you attempt a cleaning.

6. Minimize in phases over time.

Minimize over time image

If you are wanting to simplify to the point of fitting everything into a mobile life, you may have to do it in phases.

For me, I did 3 phases of purging. The first time was the hardest. I went through every item but still managed to convince myself I needed most of it.

A month later, I went through everything again. I became more realistic of what I needed and what use I could have with everything.

By the third time another month later, I became the most honest with myself and what I knew I would be most appreciative of keeping around. I no longer found use in old school papers or art supplies I didn’t like using.

After each phase, I learned more about myself and what I truly cared about.

Are you ready? I think so. Don’t worry, it gets easier with time.

~ Jojo

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When you’re traveling, your main expenses will be transportation, entertainment, and food. It can be all too easy letting your budget get away from you, but if you follow some handy tricks, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to save some moolah.

Shop around for gas.

Don’t settle for the gas station that is closest to you. If you are in an urban area, there is likely a gas station that has the lowest price within 5 miles of you. There are two ways of searching for the best gas prices.

First, I use Google Maps. When I type in “Gas Stations near me” a list of nearby gas stations and their current gas prices is shown. I scroll until I find the best price.

Second, with a user rating of 4.6, lots of people swear by the mobil app called “GasBuddy”. It does the same thing that Google Maps does but it also has options for discounts through them. If Google ever fails me, I’ll switch to GasBuddy.

And while you’re at it…

Don’t buy food at gas stations.

When you stop for gas, don’t even bother stopping inside the store for snacks. That’s where the gas stations really make their money-the profit off the ridiculous food prices.

$3 for a small bag of Cheetos? $5 for a loaf of bread? No, thanks! Prices in convenient stores are only convenient for the shop owners.

Instead, shop at local discount food stores or dollar stores. Dollar make me holla! It’s surprising exactly what you can find at the dollar store. I’ve recently found a big bag of ChexMix for $1 that would have fetched over $2.99 at a grocery or convenient store. Lots of things are regular sized and still only a dollar.

It’s not “Used”, it’s “Pre-Loved”.

If you’re in need of some new clothing, like a weatherproof jacket or hiking shoes, don’t buy them full price at stores until you stop by a Goodwill or Salvation Army. You will be amazed at what people donate.

My first pair of hiking boots were only $25 from a Seattle Goodwill shop! They were just my size and I still use them to this day.

A good tip: research the high-income areas in town and check out those stores first. Rich people often donate items that still have tags on them! I buy plates and cookware there, too!

Another good tip: Shop at the beginning of a new season. People feel compelled to buy new things when a new season starts and stores are stocking for the season. Inevitably, people will donate old things to make way for the new things.

Eat lunch out and eat dinner in.

If you’re the kind of foodie that lives to dine at restaurants, consider doing so for lunch instead of dinner. Every restaurant I’ve worked at (a lot!) has a lunch menu that has reduced prices. The portion sizes are usually only 10% less than the dinner menu and you pay much less. You can try new food places on a budget.

Happy Hour isn’t just for drinks anymore!

I’m not a big drinker, but you don’t need to be when lots of restaurants have “food happy hours”. It’s becoming a new trend to see that restaurants are competing for business by offering discounted food during non-peak hours.

Lots of restaurants offer up to half-off appetizers from 3-5pm or 4-6pm. You can make a whole meal out of a few appetizers. It depends on the restaurant so all it takes is a phone call to ask or search online. If they are savvy enough to do this promotion, they likely advertise it on their website. A little research could save you half your restaurant bill!

Don’t buy bottled beverages.

Ever since finding drink powders and squirt flavoring bottles, I noticed that I started saving money on drinks. When water is too plain and you need some flavor, just add a dash or squirt to a glass of water. Then boom-you have an instant delicious drink. You can add however much you want and they last for several servings.

With flavors like Mio’s “Blueberry Acai” or “Strawberry Watermellon”, I’ve amassed a collection of a few different flavors so we can switch it up each time. Goodbye soda!

Bonus: the bottles are so small that they barely take up any room! Also, there are several brands that also add vitamins and are sugar free.

Find free or cheap things to do.

The best things in life are free. When I decide to stop in a metro area for a few months, I like to explore all the local parks it has to offer. I stop by State Parks and neighborhood parks. Most parks have picnic tables where I can bring my lunch and sketchbook. I also enjoy sitting in a hammock and catching up on my favorite new books.

As an artist, I love spending time at Art and History Museums. Most museums will have free admission on certain days of the month. For instance, many Seattle area museums have free admission on the first Friday or third Thursday. Just check out the website of a nearby museum and find their free dates.

Take less with you.

Every pound on your rig takes gas to move it. The more things you have, the more gas you need. If you are packing your vehicle to the brim with things you don’t absolutely love, they are literally weighing you down.

If you need help in becoming more minimal, check out my other post, 6 Tips to Minimize Your Possessions.

Comment below what ways do you save money while traveling on the road!

~ Jojo 

This post may contain affiliate links as mentioned in our disclosure. This site is not connected with, affiliated with, approved by, or endorsed by the Urban Sketchers organization.

How to get started as an urban sketcher.

Who are Urban Sketchers?

An Urban Sketcher is anyone who creates art on location, either indoors or outdoors.

Do I need to be talented?

Everyone has their own individual talent. As long as you have a desire to sketch, that’s all you need to start. Self doubt has no place in creation. You need to trust that you have a unique perspective and that no one can create what you can.

Instead of comparing your talent to someone with more experience, try to learn from those people and use their techniques. Do you like the way someone uses color? Try to implement it in your own work.

What tools are needed?

At the most minimum, you need a pencil and sheet of paper. You don’t need fancy paints or pens to start. Look in your desk and get started with what you have.

If you’re like me, I’ve been hoarding unused sketchbook for years! It’s time to give your supplies the life it deserves by finally using them. Honor your art supplies by giving them a purpose with your sketches.

To make your life easier, you may find the following tools of the trade helpful :

• A lightweight, foldable seat

• A hard surface (I use a square piece of 1/4 inch wood)

• A hat and/or sunglasses for sunny days

Where do I go?

Anywhere your heart desires! The best place to start is where you are. Go outside and start drawing your own home or your car.

Research historic areas near you that have interesting architecture. Maybe there’s a botanical garden that has beautiful blossoms near you. Perhaps a coffee shop you frequent has an interesting layout or colors that you think would make a great sketch.

You are allowed to sketch in many museums but call ahead to check. For the safety of paintings, water and ink usually aren’t allowed so bring pencils.

As you commute to work or run errands, you’ll begin to see interesting locations everywhere!

What do I sketch?

What you sketch will depend on where you go. Once you get to a location, walk around until you see something that catches your eye. Don’t rush to find something and don’t second guess yourself. Follow your instincts however odd they may seem. I’ve seen people only sketch fire hydrants.

The easiest things to sketch are ones that stay relatively still like buildings or flowers. Drawing people is difficult since they move around so much. However, if you are trying to get better at drawing people, go to a library or coffee shop where people are sitting rather than standing. Standing people move too much.

Should I go alone?

It depends on the kind of person you are. I like to go at my own pace so I tend to go solo on sketch trips.

If you are interested in meeting other fellow Urban Sketchers, check out the official Urban Sketchers non-profit organization website and find a community in your country/city. If there isn’t one in your area, consider looking on or seeing if there is a Facebook group near you for artists. If not, start one!

Related Article: Why I Urban Sketch And You Should, Too!

Are you ready to start?

If you found this helpful, consider sharing it!

~ Jojo 

sketchbook ideas cover image

This post may contain affiliate links as mentioned in our disclosure. This site is not connected with, affiliated with, approved by, or endorsed by the Urban Sketchers organization.

Are you feeling unmotivated, bored, or stagnant with your art? Do you find yourself avoiding your sketchbook like the plague? Sometimes we need to shake up our routine to feel excited about art again.

Try one or all of these 5 ideas that prolific artists use to spice up your own sketchbook. There is no right or wrong way to create art. So grab your sketchbook and get inspired.

1. Pick the same object repeatedly.

sketch the same thing image

For artist Liz Steel, sketching coffee cups is a staple in her sketchbooks. She spends so much time in coffee shops, that it came naturally to paint what was in front of her. Over time, she has accumulated a massive amount of teacup sketches that define her style.

By sketching the same object found in different locations, you are able to build a link among your art. What do you come across often and appreciate the form of? Shopping bags? Graffiti? Pick an everyday object or subject to sketch and keep an eye out for it wherever you go. You’ll soon have a series collection in your sketchbook to look back on.

2. Stick to a limited palette of color.

color combos to try image

It can be overwhelming when you get a new set of paints or markers. There are some sets of paint that come with 72 colors! That’s not necessary for sketching. Some artists have a palette with 12 colors. Others choose only 3. The more limited colors you choose, the more creative you are forced to be.

So try starting with a warm color and a cool color. Try complementary colors. Mix up what colors you use. You may surprised at what you are able to create with just a handful of colors.

3. Implement a fade.

There’s no need to feel rushed to finishing a sketch. In fact, you can add more focus to a sketch by leaving white space. This effect can be especially impactful for landscapes.

Next time you are sketching, decide to focus on one point and allow the rest of the scene to fade. This can be accomplished by making the color saturated on the focal point and diluting the color on the non focal points.

4. Combine multiple images into one.

drawing a double exposure image

The method is often called “double exposure” in photography, where two images overlap. This technique of overlapping sketches can be tricky. It is difficult to know exactly where to place objects so that the finished piece doesn’t look overcrowded.

Start with just line drawings of two objects in one piece. As you start to add color (if you choose to add color), don’t overlap the colors. If you do, it could make the colors too muddy. Add selective color on parts you want to highlight.

The final piece is wholly original and very fun to look at!

5. Go BIGGER or smaller.

draw bigger or smaller image

If you have been sketching in primarily one size for a long time, consider going bigger or going smaller. Lots of artists stick to whatever size their sketchbook is, but changing the size of your sketch will require some creativity.

Some artists like Alvero Castagnet like to sketch on a large sheet of watercolor paper on location. He’s able to use a large paintbrush to start and then go into finer details to finish.

A painting as large as his will require more water and space to paint. It also will take more time, but you can capture more buildings and people in larger sketches.

Another artist Katie Woodward, does her sketches on tiny postage stamp sized pieces of paper. An advantage of this style is that it requires very little supplies to use so you aren’t carrying a lot with you. You can also finish a sketch in a very short amount of time and therefore create more of them in shorter time. And by sketching so small, you can focus on one particular point of interest.

Have you tried any of these sketchbook ideas?

What other techniques have you tried?

~ Jojo 

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avoid travel burnout cover
How to avoid travel burnout on the road

When you are constantly traveling, you can get burnt out. You avoid motivation. You forget why you are even living life on the road in the first place.

Burn out can come from decision fatigue-the constant need to make new decisions. Where to park, where to get food, where to get gas, where to get internet access. Most people go to the same places everyday so they don’t need to make these micro choices constantly. But when you travel, having to think on your feet at all times can be exhausting.

Here’s some tips to help you avoid burn out.

Create a routine and make it a habit.

create a ritual while traveling image

Usually routines exist around eating. Eating is a habit most of us already have. When you are traveling on the road, it can become all too easy to forget to eat or eat at irregular times. It can make you feel out of control over time. Set a timer on your device for morning, noon, and evening so you can remember to eat at consistent times.

Other rituals can exist for the morning when you wake up and right before you go to bed. The book Miracle Morning explains that the first hour that you wake up is the most important. He stresses 6 habits in the acronym SAVERS: Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading and Scribing (writing/journaling).

You don’t have to do ALL of the habits; choose the ones that benefit you and that make you feel more optimistic. I personally like to read and sketch. I also like silence first thing in the morning! What rituals or habits are you missing from your life that you think you’d benefit from?

Remember you are not alone.

keep in touch image

One of the main reasons people stop the nomadic lifestyle is loneliness. If you are missing your family, send them postcards to the places you go to in order to let them know you are thinking of them. Or set up a time once a week to talk to them via video chat or phone call. I’m sure they want to hear from you just as much as you want to hear from them.

If you are seeking camaraderie, join social media and seek out people in the traveling, RV, van life sphere. Start a conversation over social media. Make sure to update your profile because most people won’t start a conversation online with someone that has a private account or has no photos. Share who you are and what you like to do. Share tips or advice. There are more people out there like you than you realize.

Find a purpose with creativity.

creativity while traveling

Most people consume rather than create. But everyone is creative. Unfortunately not everyone expresses it. Creativity is like a muscle that gets stronger with practice. When you finally express your creativity, you can find inner peace and happiness.

Making art and sketching has been my passion since I was a kid. I’ve always kept a sketchbook handy. When I paint something new, I feel a sense of inner peace. I like to urban sketch (sketch on location) during my travels.

Creativity comes in all forms: writing, photography, painting. Do it for yourself. And remember to share it! Don’t worry what other people will say. By sharing what you create, you can find like-minded people and maybe inspire someone else along the way.

Are you starting to burn out? Why?

How do you avoid burnout while traveling?

~ Jojo