In this RV Profile, photographer Shani Leead meets up with Jess Ari at her RV in Bishop, California. Currently working as an office manager at Sierra Mountain Guides, Jess maintains a simple lifestyle with minimal expenses and immense joy in her comfortable and cozy camper.

Quick bites

  • Age: 33
  • Trailer type: 1980 AutoMate 20′ Camper Trailer
  • Miles: probably a lot!
  • Time spent in trailer: 9 months
  • Birthplace: Oklahoma
  • Relationship status: single
  • Time since last shower: a week
  • Average monthly expenses: $0 living expenses, $200-300 food

I’m living in a trailer because …

I want to be closer to nature, to live minimally by collecting experiences and fewer things, and to have a low cost of living.

What has surprised you most about this lifestyle?

The depth of which I love it! There are challenges and always something to fix, but it’s all part of the wonderful experience.

Do you have any nuisances?

Not having running water. Not necessarily for showers, although that would be nice. More for washing my hands and dishes. I’ll be reworking the plumbing this spring, so hopefully this small annoyance will soon be a thing of the past.

Do you have any tricks for organization?

Luckily, my trailer has a ton of storage, and I have a storage unit, so it’s never been a huge issue for me. My rule for bringing anything new in the trailer is that I need to be willing to get rid of something to make space. This has really helped keep down clutter and anything that’s unnecessary.

 What’s the best feature about your setup?

The space itself. I spent a lot of time painting and decorating. I wanted it to be sanctuary where I could come home and relax after a long day of playing or working.

What is the most essential item in your vehicle?

Electricity! I’m plugged in for the winter so I’m able to have heat from a space heater, which has been a life saver! I’ll be back on solar for the spring and summer though. It also feels great knowing that you’re using clean energy to power your home.

If you had a magic wand and could do anything, how would you improve your vehicle?

Running water or air conditioning for those hot summer days.

What books have you been reading?

I just finished The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida and just started Flood Girls by Richard Fifield.

Any last words for those living on the road or in an RV? What about people not living this lifestyle?

For those who haven’t lived in a van or trailer, I highly recommend trying it, even if that means renting one for a road trip. Everyone should experience the freedom it provides.

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