Full-time Truck Camper living with Josh, Darci & Hannah

Last year, as luck would have it, Mark and I pulled into a little ranch in Baja and found ourselves camped right alongside fellow Four Wheel Camper owners. Little did we know, Josh, Darci and their three year old daughter Hannah would become fast friends. After spending three nights camped beside one another, and quickly connecting over similar interests, we parted ways but remained in touch via text. Fast forward ten months and we were all back in Baja. Our inclination that we would enjoy traveling together turned into many weeks exploring Baja side by side, creating memories that would last a lifetime.

Josh, Darci, and Hannah (and their dog Elli) live on the road full-time. They recently transitioned out of their Four Wheel Camper and over to an AT Aterra flatbed truck camper, their rig of choice for their next chapter of full-time travel…traversing the Pan-American highway. Their adventure began this spring with plans to take the Dempster Highway all the way to the Arctic Ocean. Come fall, their journey to South America will begin.

If Josh & Darci sound inspirational, Mark & I can attest first-hand that not only are they an inspiration, they are some of the kindest, most humble and gracious people you could ever meet. I hope you will enjoy this little peek into their world that has been so lovingly-crafted with wonder and adventure.


What led you to the decision to travel full-time as a family?

I think there are many things that led us here. It’s certainly been an intentional path for us but so much of it has also felt like an unfoldment. Ultimately this lifestyle feels like the best way for our family to experience each other and the world around us. Being full-time with the truck camper is giving us the right balance of comfort and accessibility. 

We often like having a goal or destination we’re reaching for to provide a little outline or structure to our travel while embracing the beauty of the in-betweens…that’s really where everything happens. 

The seed for international travel by vehicle was planted for us back in 2009 during a six week trip to Kenya. We borrowed an old Toyota Hilux that had to be bump started. We spent a portion of our time in Kenya with that truck, sleeping in the bed under a tarp. It was perfect. 

When we got home we bought a Toyota Tacoma to replicate what we had in Kenya and did lots of fun trips in that. 

That setup was simple and fun, but eventually we upgraded to a Four Wheel Camper for a few more conveniences. I was traveling a lot for work by that time and we took that camper across the country multiple times as our home away from home on some of those work trips. We did that for several years traveling full-time for a couple months at a time. 

We’ve slept in plenty of hotels over the years but having our own space gave us a nice sense of home. It also allowed us to be outside more, which is important to us. 

So, when we looked at how best to do what we’re wanting to do in this chapter of our lives, full-timing it in a truck camper felt perfect. 

Photo courtesy of Darci Niles

What do you do for a living? How do you fund your travels? 

I’m a Christian Science Practitioner…which means I support spiritual growth and transformation with those seeking that. In essence it’s a ministry of healing that brings to light an individual’s innate value and goodness. 

We’ve both enjoyed a variety of jobs over the last 20 years and have worked hard to be frugal and modest in our lifestyle. We’ve just focused on spending less than we make and investing the excess. We are still doing that. We did get extremely frugal for about 4 years…saving (investing) between 75-85% of our income as part of the preparation for full-time travel. 

My work is what we use to pay our expenses. The investments we leave to compounding.

What has surprised you about this lifestyle?

To name a few, we are often surprised by beautiful landscapes, good friendships, unreal sunsets and amazing wildlife. 

When we committed to this lifestyle, for us it means embracing the unknown. We want big adventures and enjoy surprises. We want awe-inspiring moments and expect to deal with some discomfort. We’re actually not trying to optimize our life for comfort…because like a lot of things in life, the path to something really worthwhile includes challenges and some struggle. It’s often those challenges that reveal the true value within the bigger picture.

That’s what this lifestyle is for us…a revealing of true value. A lifestyle on the move doesn’t allow for settling into an exact system that can be repeated daily. Every day is new and when you’re on the move, your relationship with nature, the culture you’re in, and the weather is a big part of it. There seem to be many surprises because that’s what we are seeking. We haven’t picked this mode of exploration because we are trying to copy something we’ve seen. We are doing this to see what surprises are out there for us. Each path we take forms a unique web of our story and we welcome it.

We are embracing what that means for us and look forward to seeing where it takes us.

What have you learned about yourself from this lifestyle? 

I’ve learned that I value having general goals for our travel while also maintaining flexibility to allow for spontaneity. 

Having goals requires dedication and persistence which naturally result in a sense of accomplishment when met. But coupling that with flexibility and spontaneity often leads to experiences that are unimaginable and couldn’t have been planned. There’s a real joy that can come with that. 

I used to be more predictable in my decisions and more likely to conform to the norm, but over the years, I’ve been drawn to step outside of the box and try things that we want to do and not just what we think we are expected to do. This travel lifestyle is a great avenue for embracing this approach. It creates space for us to break outside a mold and connect more with an innate sense of home, unconfined.

One thing I’ve known about myself is that I love exploring and I have an inclination to see what’s around the corner. What I’ve learned about myself is that sometimes that exploring can happen in 3’ by 3’ patch of earth. Both Darci and Hannah have helped me catch the sense of adventure on the micro scale. I love it!

Hannah: (4 years old)
I asked Hannah this question and she said: “I’ve learned that I like going on adventures.” Then she ran off towards the creek and is probably looking for bugs.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of full-time travel?

We both find the most rewarding aspects of all this to be the uninterrupted time it allows us to be together experiencing life in ways that strengthen and enrich us. We have honed in on our preferred system of travel and we chose a capable vehicle with a minimal camper because we highly value being able to go to places that may be hard to get to without 4WD. We have found that we experience places much more intimately with nature when we can access more off the beaten path spots. And with our daughter learning new things every day, we love the relationship it encourages with being outside.

You recently transitioned into to a new rig.  What are you most excited about?  Is there anything you’ll miss about your FWC?

Yes, we just transitioned from a slide-in pop-up Four Wheel Camper “Fleet” model, to a Bowen Customs flatbed with the AT Aterra XL. 

I’m looking forward to more storage/better organization, a more sound-proof interior, Arctic Tern windows and being able to easily walk around each other while all being inside the camper. These elements will make it feel a bit more like a tiny home and remove the slight “tent-like” feel that came with the hypalon walls of the Four-Wheel Camper. 

We bought our FWC in 2016 for just my husband and me, and honestly, it was great for two people. But now that our family has grown and the amount of time we’ll be spending on the road, the quality and upgrades will bring various comforts that we value while living in an extremely small space.

We loved our FWC and I will miss it for sentimental reasons since we spent a lot of time with it. It was a chapter of our life that we value. I’m sure I’ll miss the low-profile height of the “pop-up” style only when we find ourselves on a remote road or anyplace where the height restricts us in some way. Other than that, I won’t know until we spend some time in the new set-up.

The FWC was awesome. This new camper is also awesome. You really can’t go wrong with either. The new one was a more expensive upgrade than I initially felt was reasonable and I pushed back when Darci first voiced some of the things that were challenging her about full-time living out of the FWC with 2 adults, a toddler and a dog. Crazy, I know! We both are pretty good at attending to each other’s concerns so we started chatting more about it. In the end we landed on the same page and my thoughts had shifted about the value this adjustment added to our overall experience and its sustainability.

I’m most excited about having room to include the gear for outdoor cooking. And I think I’ll miss the FWC like I miss a good pair of boots when they’ve served their purpose. It has a lot of travel wear…there were sometimes odd odors around…but it also has stories…our stories etched into it. 

The young guy who bought our FWC is so excited to have it and adventure with it. He has been sending us trip reports and pictures. I have a feeling our paths will cross with him and our old camper more than once.

Photo courtesy of Darci Niles

How does full-time travel influence the kind of parents you are? 

We were fairly well traveled before our daughter came into our lives and sharing that aspect of us with her has felt like simply expressing part of our authentic selves with her. 

One of our neighbors, a kindred spirit, wrote this to me just after we sold our house:

“I admire y’all’s adventuresome lifestyle, and your willingness to continue with it even with Hannah on board. The arrival of a child so often causes people to be more conservative and “normal”. Kids go with what they are dealt. Of course at some point Hannah will tell her friends how crazy her parents were and what a weird childhood she had, but her life will be richer for all her experiences. Take care, and keep your raft upright!”
LC (lchukar) mobygoes.com

That message is a buoy. There are a lot of unknowns in life and in raising a child. They’re always on our mind…but we’ve also learned not to be afraid of it. We work to move forward thoughtfully and make adjustments as needed without being tossed off balance with fears of the unknown.

Right before Hannah was born I wrote down some of the things I really wanted us to foster in her…and in ourselves. It helps us be intentional about how we want to live, not where we want to live.

Here’s that list:

  • Provide a joyfully muddy childhood fostering curiosity, movement, art, science, and connection with nature, each other and the world. 
  • Travel to fill the above with diversity, opportunity and new perspectives 
  • Stay grounded to build relationships and stability
  • Take it slow but be capable of moving fast when the moment calls for it
  • Minimize excess living expenses 
  • Maximize family time and learning opportunities
  • Maximize outdoor time
  • Include friends and family when possible
  • Make friends and family wherever we are

We’ll strive for nurturing these ideals in all the different ways life unfolds for us.

Right now full-time travel is providing a variety of teaching opportunities that we hope will continue to bring awareness to our innate connection with nature, provide cultural experiences, establish resilience, and acknowledge diversity. These are things the whole family is continuing to learn together. 

We are taking time to live intentionally with our hearts and minds open to what unfolds and we expect it to be really good. 

What are some challenges you contend with when it comes to raising a child on the road?

I read a quote once that said “you will never look back and think you spent too much time with your kids.” This lifestyle for us is a full-embrace of our daughter and having adventures together.

The fact is, there are difficult times for any parent no matter what place you call home. The ones that come with this lifestyle, for me, seem more like lessons in the guise of “challenges”.  One funny (to us) example is learning to use a toilet (or an alternative method). Our daughter was not introduced to one toilet type that she learned and mastered quickly. Instead, she used a combination of your standard domestic flush toilet, commercial auto-flush toilets, RV step-lever toilet, port-a-potties, pit-toilets, composting toilets, toddler potties, a “Groover”, the great outdoors (a cat hole) and last but not least, she even asked me if she could use a pee funnel. In the beginning, this all seemed like a challenge because every time was different, but after all that time teaching the different methods, she‘s pretty flexible. 

Another example is because our overlanding set-up is minimal in what we can bring with us. Our daughter has one backpack of toys, some books, art supplies and a handful of her “stuffies”.  So when she has lost one of those items, it’s often the only one she had. There are some good lessons about accountability unfolding. 

Not having other kids to play with was something we were worried about six months ago. But last winter in Baja showed us that there is ample opportunity for play time with other kids, as well as ample opportunity for individual play and play with adults. She’s good at recruiting adults to play with her and I’m often impressed with the adults creativity and childlikeness. 

The challenges end up being opportunities for new growth…for all of us.

Do you ever meet other families living on the road?

Yes we do. I feel like this is really up to the traveler…you can choose to visit places where families gather together or places where you’re less likely to see people. Depending on the adventure you are in, you tend to cross paths with others who are passionate about similar activities. Some of them are fellow travelers and some are locals. Some you meet and spend a day with and others become life-long friends. Once you part ways, it’s up to you if you keep that forever relationship.

Photo courtesy of Darci Niles: Andrea and Hannah played many days together both on our way south and then back north. This campground was a favorite little oasis. Andrea is the daughter of the campground owners at Paraiso Misional in San Ignacio, Baja. (@paraisomisional on Instagram)

Mark & I have heard from people more than once “if we didn’t have kids, we’d love to live on the road like you do”.  What would you say to people who are drawn to this way of life but feel like it’s impossible to do with kids?

It’s not impossible. You really have to look at the pros and cons and decide for yourself what is more valuable to you. Every situation is so unique so there is no “one size fits all” answer or way of doing things…but I can say it’s absolutely possible if you want it to be. The hardest step is most often the first one.

What do you think might motivate you to return to living in a house?

That will depend on our goals. If there’s a time that it feels more right to be stationary for some time to allow our daughter to attend a more traditional school model, we will do that. We are open to road-schooling, but also want to remain flexible if another way fits our goals better. 

Really it could be a number of things I guess, it just depends on whatever sense of “home” serves us the best.

I do feel that vehicle-based travel will always be a passion of ours whether full-time or not. I don’t see that ever ending.

I have this vision of Hannah turning 18 and hitting the road with a couple girlfriends in an old truck camper…fledging the nest and guiding her own adventures. I actually told Darci that maybe we should keep the FWC for Hannah when she turns 16…I was serious too. I don’t see living in a house in our near future but if that became a need there are plenty of them around.  

Top three favorite pieces of gear or tech that you wouldn’t want to live without?


Nikon D610 camera – I love photography and find inspiration in expressing my love for nature, art and people in this way. It is my favorite form of a memory journal.

ICECO camp chair – New to me these past 6 months, it is the most comfortable camp chair I’ve ever owned and I’ve come to appreciate it in this lifestyle.

Patagonia nano-puff full zip hoodie – It’s just perfect jacket for me for adventuring. It packs well, takes on the weather well and layers well. I have come to value this while traveling in a minimal way.


Altra Lone Peaks – it’s not those shoes per se…just shoes. It’s what helps me do what I love most…explore. And while Hannah is still willing, my favorite activity in those shoes is hiking together with her on my shoulders. 

Inflatable Kayak – we got the lightweight Aire version…having a way to be on a body of water and explore is pretty awesome. 

Drone – It’s the DJI Mini 3 from Costco. We both love capturing glimpses of our adventures with photos and videos. The drone isn’t the main show of that storytelling but it provides such a cool and unique perspective. Mark and Michele are actually the ones that opened my eyes to using the drone for photos…not just video. Thanks guys! 

Photo courtesy of Darci Niles

What are you most excited about for the future?

I’m most excited about seeing what it has to show us. If I’ve learned anything throughout my life so far, it’s that it’s much more rewarding to see what Life reveals to me, rather than me attempting to force the outcome.

I look forward to watching our daughter grow. She amazes us every day and I couldn’t be more grateful to have her in our life and see what she teaches us.

I’m pretty excited for the in-betweens. We’ve got some big adventures on our horizon and we have a few points on the map picked out…but I’m probably most excited for what happens between those points. I’m looking forward to the unknown and surprise of it all…whatever it is I know it will be good. Meeting Mark and Michele in Baja several years ago is an example of this serendipity that makes the in-betweens so amazing.

For the near term, I’m pretty excited about doing a family polar plunge in the Arctic Ocean.

A huge thanks to our dear friends Josh & Darci for taking the time to share with us. You guys are the best and we’re so grateful to call you friends!

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1 Comment

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  • Great interview! Love how they find value in discomfort, which I think is at the heart of many full-time travelers’ worldview. I have a feeling Hannah is going to grow up to be awesome!


We’re Mark & Michele, modern-day nomads perfecting the art of slow, full-time travel.  Our tiny home on wheels and slow-paced travel style allows us to minimize our expenses while maximizing our freedom.  May our unconventional way of life inspire you to design a life that you love.


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