The nomads of today travel the country or the world in anything from tiny houses and RVs to converted vans, either done professionally or as DIY (do it yourself) projects. Mander is a pioneer in this sense, considering it was born in 2017, after a year of intense labor by owner Jessy Muller. Jessy is the real pioneer, of course, and her popularity online attests to that, as does the fact that she's written an e-guide on the topic and offers 1-on-1 coaching sessions for modern nomads.
Jessy lives in Mander, which is actually a 1978 Dodge Commander motorhome she bought in 2016, not knowing a thing about life on the road except for the fact that she wanted to do it. She paid $1,900 for it after seeing it in an online ad, and she reckoned it would be the best choice for her because she didn't have a towing vehicle, and it was only 24 feet (7.3 meters) long, which meant she could use it in national parks.
The renovation was completed in October 2017, and Jessy set out right away. She's been living in Mander ever since: it's her Slow Roamer, her home on wheels that allows her to live independently and with reduced costs, experience the natural beauty of the country and meet new people, and stay off the grid for extended periods. The layout of the Commander is not the original one because Jessy switched it up to turn it into a home for herself and her cat (she had two, but one passed away), and she's done several upgrades to it since.
Inside, Mander offers a living room in the cab, thanks to swiveling seats. Right next is a small kitchen with everything from an extendable countertop to a four-burner stove with an oven and plenty of storage space. Opposite the kitchen is the dinette, which hides the kitten's home within a home: there's crawl space under the seating, which leads to the two exterior lockers, one of which also holds the cat litter.
The bedroom is at the rear, and it's the most spacious and relaxing area in the entire motorhome, holding a queen-size bed surrounded by windows. Jessy also put extra storage in here, with overhead cubbies and a full-size wardrobe providing her enough room to put all her belongings.
Not that she has that many. Jessy explains that the number one reason she's been able to live on the road for all these years is frugality. She practices downsizing in the way it was conceived in the early 2000s when the idea took root.
For example, she doesn't drive that much to cut down gas expenses, relying instead on a two-wheeler to move around a certain area. She first had a Kymco Super 8 scooter, then a Honda Trail 90 bike on a makeshift bike rack at the rear, but now uses a RadRunner e-bike from Rad Power Bikes.
The Mander doesn't have hot water or AC or stuff like a washing machine, so Jessy has learned to appreciate these whenever she can: at gas stations, in parking lots, or friends’ rigs. It's the absence of the many little things that the rest of us take for granted that allows her to live intentionally and, this way, to enjoy life more. You get a new appreciation of things when you no longer have them, if you will.
This kind of nomadic life and downsizing that Jessy practices is not for everyone, that much is certain. Resilient and adaptable, she's been able to turn her Mander into an equally resilient home on wheels, which is an impressive feat on its own, considering the age of the motorhome.