One man has figured out a way to travel across the United States for next to nothing, but his way of life might not be for everyone.

By Jordi Lippe and Jordi Lippe-McGraw
June 20, 2016
Edward Mjelde
Credit: Edward Mjelde

Edward Mjelde has been living out of his Ford Escape SUV for more than a year, mastering the art of turning an everyday vehicle into a miniature home on the road.

The travel bug first bit Mjelde after he completed a 5,000-mile coast-to-coast walk along the American Discovery Trail. When he finished the trip in October 2014, he took out a loan on his car and worked as a regional sales manager traveling across the country. He continues to live out of his car and has found a way to cook, eat and sleep on the go.

“I continue to enjoy living out of my vehicle, it simply makes life more meaningful for me,” he said on Reddit. “I have no personal storage unit or side apartment. All of my belongings fit and are easily accessible in my trunk. I do not store anything on my passenger seats or in the floor space of my vehicle.”

The 26-year-old uses the side door storage pockets for his hygiene products, takes showers at the gym and uses public bathrooms. He then has three drawers in his trunk to keep his clothes, cooking items, and other miscellaneous items organized.

“The top drawer is my Hobby Drawer,” he said on imgur. “Here I store motion memory type activities (juggling, poi, butterfly knife, lock picking, harmonica) and various other fun items. In my middle drawer I store all of my clothes, using a technique to roll my shirts allows me to keep my clothing organized. Work clothes for the next day get hung up. In the bottom drawer I store all my cooking supplies and food. I also have an small case with basic utensils stored outside of the drawer.”

He then has a box for his bedding and camping stoves.

“I have two stoves, a Jet Boil and an MSR Dragonfly and a heavily insulated RoadieYetti cooler. I store food in my drawer and cold items in my cooler. I use two camping stoves to prepare my meals,” he added. “I store my sleeping equipment in a 42L Osprey Variant backpack, including an ENO hammock with Atlas chords, bivy sack, Therm-a-Rest Neoair mattress, mattress cover, compact pillow, and homemade tarp."

To find a safe spot to sleep, Mjelde says he tries to find places people don't often go.

“I use Google earth to help me out. I usually don't have much trouble,” he wrote. And in situations where he needs a permanent address, Mjelde either uses a PO Box or the family home in California.

"Learning to live this way is like learning a language through full immersion," he told Travel + Leisure. "It's a different kind of life. It's a life that is full of possibility that just can't be found behind the cover of white walls."