SO, YOU WANT TO BUILT OUT YOUR NOMADIC HOME, or make some renovations and repairs, or just take care of some routine maintenance. But you need a hassle-free place to do it. Preferably a place with electricity. And water. And some tools you don’t have. And an extra set of hands. And some likeminded people.
That was the vision of a former marketing guy/morning radio personality/funeral home worker Johnny Blayze after converting his own school bus. I spoke with him via video conferencing. (Yay for modern technology!)
BLAYZE: I converted a bus myself. I rented a house to do it, bought all the tools that I needed above and beyond what I already had. And I realized that after I did that I had probably spent 30 grand extra on my conversion because of that.
What if there was a place that you could go, that you could do a conversion, that has the tools, that has a place that you can stay, why wouldn’t you do that rather than dump money into something that isn’t tangible in the end?
That was the inspiration for Wanderlust Waypoints
BLAYZE: So we started it when we were doing our conversion in Kentucky. We had a one acre little farm, and we put my big bus in the driveway. And then we had some space on the other side of it so we offered that space to the nomad community and some friends of ours, and we had three people over the three years I was doing my bus.
Halfway through the conversion, we found out my kids get motion sickness. So it kind of put the kibosh on the full-time travel plans.
We ended up coming back here to Tennessee, where my in-laws lived, and we started looking for land. I found a plot out here in Spencer and we bought it. And that was the start of Waypoints. In twelve months we’ve grown to ten locations. I’m signing two more this week and I’ve got a list of 160 people that want to talk to me about having locations, so it is growing super fast. The eventual plan is to have at least one in every state. We’ve already started working internationally. We’re talking to a guy in Canada right now and a guy in Germany.
CRVL: What’s your arrangement with the property owners?
BLAYZE: We do what’s called a land partnership agreement. It’s a very specific lease for either all or a portion of the property. We’re very transparent with our property owners because when we come onto a property we want to be seen as an asset.
One of the things we do is we offer our work camper program [where nomads get free space in exchange for work on the property], and even if the property owners don’t make a ton of money with us, it gives them ability to get some things done on their property they’ve been wanting to get done for years. They just don’t have extra hands. I saw it as an opportunity to provide not only the ability for my property partners to get some things accomplished but also for nomads to really use their skill sets in a way that hasn’t been previously available.
We gear our work camper program to people that are like digital nomads — somebody that has a full-time job or a part-time job doing marketing or whatever online. And they just would like to be able to offset the cost of staying someplace where they have a community of likeminded people around them.
CRVL: Do these places have a decent internet connection of some kind for digital nomads?
BLAYZE: That depends, like our West Virginia property is 172 gorgeous acres in the middle of the mountains. So it doesn’t have great cell service, but he does have internet. Amenities vary depending on the property.
When we start with a property we don’t ask them make any changes. We want to take what’s existing, use that to generate profit, and once that profit starts to come in, then we reinvest that profit in improvements.
CRVL: The amenities vary from location to location. I guess some have shop access, some don’t and…
BLAYZE: Yeah, our Concrete, Washington, location only has four sites, but it is a full-fledged metal shop to the point that there is a crane inside for people to do roof raises. It has every welder imaginable.
At my location here in Tennessee we’ve got a 3,000 square foot clubhouse. That has a community room and a shared bathroom and we’re getting ready to put the laundry room in now. It’s got full access to my shop down at the bottom of the property which has pretty much every woodworking tool known to man and a bunch of other automotive stuff.
CRVL: Is there something in particular you’d like to say about what you’ve got going on?
BLAYZE: We are about people first and foremost. I’m not in this to get rich. I’m not doing this to be famous. I’m doing this because I see a genuine need to a market of 11 million people that are completely underserved — and that’s just the digital nomad movement. That’s not including your weekend RVers and such. That’s just people that are strictly living in their nomadic vehicles. That’s 11 million people worldwide. Municipalities don’t have any rules that specifically fit people like this. Because I mean in the US, it’s technically still illegal to live in your RV year-round, but that shouldn’t be the case.
CRVL: I don’t suppose Wanderlust Waypoints would qualify if someone needed a domicile address and things like that.
BLAYZE: We’re we’re working on that, but that brings in a lot of legal stuff that I have not really had time to delve into yet. We don’t allow it now but it might happen at some point in the future. But people can have stuff shipped here.
It might be exactly what you need
Wanderlust Waypoints grew out of the skoolie community, but all types of nomadic rigs are welcome. Go to the Wanderlust Waypoints site for more information, particularly about amenities and rates.
To be clear, Wanderlust Waypoints is a business that is somewhat like a campground with workspaces and tools.
Although a fellow nomad might occasionally offer a hand or some advice and instruction, you do your own work and supply your own materials. However, you might be able to contract with one of the work campers, but that’s not something to expect. As the site says, “All Waypoints are places to give help, get help, teach and learn. We host workshops that cover a wide range of topics to help you ‘level up’ and add a few stat points… Connecting with the Nomad Network gives you a support system both on and off the road!