In 2018, Grant ’18 and Jama ’94 Singley sold their cars, their house and their possessions to begin their RV life on the run…in a good way.

Grant Singley walked out of his final, final exam in May of 2018, joined his wife, Jama, in their RV and hit the road to travel as nomads, giving up the luxuries of home for a minimalist life on the road. That was four years and more than 110,000 miles ago with stops in the United States, Canada, Baja, Mexico and Europe–and they have no plans to slow down.

How did you meet?

Jama: Motorcycles brought us together in 2003. I grew up riding dirt bikes and 3-wheelers and I was eager to learn to ride on the streets; Grant was an excellent instructor.

What made you decide to sell everything and become “nomads with a purpose”?

Jama: Grant was offered a position on a motorcycle race team in Bergamo, Italy. We answered yes immediately. We moved just a few weeks later. We were only allowed four suitcases and we were provided a furnished apartment. “Furnished” in Italy meant a sofa, a dining table, four chairs and a bed. That’s it. No knick-knacks. No shelves or decorative items. Just the basics.

Moving into that apartment changed our lives forever. With nothing to dust, repair, organize, remodel, we were free to use that time to explore western Europe. The year and a half we lived in Italy, we didn’t have a car, but we each had a motorcycle so we spent our days riding around the Alps. We knew the minimalist lifestyle was for us and we knew the traveling lifestyle was for us. We just had to figure out how it could work when we got back to the states at the end of the race season. That’s when the concept of nomadic travel became our goal in life. Live small, live with less, live to explore. So for past the four and a half years, we have been living in a small RV and traveling full-time throughout the USA, Canada, Mexico and 17 countries in Europe. We have visited over 42 countries since 2013.

What makes for a good destination?

Wow factor.

Cheap. We love free.

Can we hike, bicycle,
kayak there?

Is it crowded
with tourists?

If we go early or late, can we avoid the crowds?

What is the significance of the hashtag #nomadswithapurpose?

Jama: We didn’t want our lives wandering the earth to just be fun. That’s not who we are so we made a commitment to have a purpose while we travel. Help people, donate, share our faith, volunteer, encourage the minimalist lifestyle, teach people how to RV full-time. Grant can fix anything so he helps people with his skill set.

Grant: We wanted to make a positive contribution to the world with our travels by sharing our experiences with others.

How do you decide where to go, what you’ll do/see and how long you’ll stay?

Jama: We hit the road for this epic adventure the afternoon Grant took his final exam at Auburn University. When we left on this great adventure, in 2018, we loaded up our RV with three dogs, a couple of bags of clothes and headed up the east coast. We traveled way too fast. We would get to a destination, wake up at 5 am., hike, bicycle, visit a historical site and visit the local towns to meet people then get up and do something adventurous the next day. Then we would move to the next destination. We started out following the “Two Rule”. Travel 200 miles, arrived by 2 pm and stay for two days. That was exhausting but we felt we needed some kind of plan. We both had “FOMO” (The Fear of Missing Out), like we must see everything. By the time we arrived in Maine we knew we were in the lifestyle for the long haul, so we decided to just choose a destination and stay until we felt it was time to move. We slowed down. We make no reservations and most days we don’t even know where we will spend that night. We wake up and say- where do you want to go today?

Grant: Jama uses Google maps, Atlas Obscura and other online resources to find interesting places for us to visit. We always say the great thing about this lifestyle is if you don’t like where you are you can just leave and if you like where you are you can stay.

 

What is it like being together in a tiny space 24/7/365?

Jama: Fortunately, we have individual hobbies to keep us busy and give us a way to take a break from each other. Grant will go for a mountain bike ride and I will randomly move things around in the bins and crates. I like shoes and I always need more shoe space. Living small means everything needs a place and it needs to be in that place. Headphones are also a lifesaver.

“Go outside, go down the street, go around the
world, because you can and you should.”

What did you do during COVID?

Jama: In January 2020, Grant and I, along with two dogs, landed in Amsterdam and bought an RV for a year-long road trip throughout Eastern Europe. As soon as we landed, we began to worry about how difficult it was going to be to find campgrounds without having reservations, waiting in long lines for tourist attractions and holiday traffic. Then the world shut down and the borders closed. We found ourselves with just a handful of other foreigners traveling in Europe. It was an amazing year as we wandered through 17 countries, most of them in the Balkans and eastern Europe. We were the only campers allowed in campgrounds that required reservations three years in advance and are normally packed. We could park at castle gates and walked right in for free and no waiting lines. We visited 12 national parks and in most of them, never saw another person. It was weird and wonderful at the same time. That type of travel freedom will likely never happen again.

Where is your favorite place you have been and why?

Grant: We are asked this question often and it becomes more difficult to answer as we explore new places. My favorite place in the US is the state of Utah, because it offers five national parks and seemingly endless land to explore on a mountain bike, motorcycle, or kayak–sometimes all in the same day. My favorite place outside of the US is Baja, Mexico. Baja offers almost endless beaches where we could camp at the water’s edge while snorkeling, diving, and kayaking.

When you travel abroad, do you sell a motor home here and buy one there, store your motor home or what?

Jama: We sold our USA travel trailer before we flew overseas and bought an RV through a European buy-back program. We bought it, lived in it for a year and sold it back to the company before flying home. When we returned to the states, we bought our current travel trailer. This is our fifth mobile, tiny home since 2018.

What made you choose this lifestyle?

Jama: This nomadic RV traveling lifestyle is NOT easy. Or cheap. Or luxurious. It is however peaceful, awe-inspiring, and truly a blessing. I need to learn to slow down, take care of my health and I had a bad case of wanderlust. Once you see a little of the world, you want to see more.

Grant: We both love exploring and experiencing new places. We chose to do it now so that we were physically able to do all the activities.

Do you plan to do it forever?

Jama: We will travel until we can’t physically do it anymore. We also have notions of living in an off-grid cabin in the woods, owning a disabled veterans only campground, living on a boat or being park rangers.

Do you miss being settled down somewhere and/or having a home?

Jama: I don’t miss being settled down or having a house, but I do miss family and friend. Video chatting is great, but nothing compares to hugging and seeing faces. We’ve missed births, birthday parties, graduation and even a couple of Christmases. We try to get back to Alabama for Thanksgiving and Christmas; it’s not always possible, but it’s always important.

Has your definition of “home” changed?

Jama: My definition of home has changed. When people ask where we live, we say “everywhere.” It opens the door to discussions about this lifestyle, reminds us of where we have been and refreshes the reason we are doing this. Go outside, go down the street, go around the world, because you can and you should.

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