14 Inspiring Campervan Experts and Their Advice for You

Unless you’re a hermit living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed the #vanlife trend.

Are you interested in life on the road, but don’t know how it’ll work for you? Maybe you have kids, or money is tight. Or perhaps you have one (or two!) furry friends you couldn’t leave behind. Maybe you run your own business that sells physical products. 

After spending a summer living and traveling around the US in our beloved “Vinny the Van”, we have become serious advocates of van life. Although Vinny has been sold to a new owner, there is no doubt in our minds that there will be a Vinny 2.0 in our future. We can’t speak highly enough about the freedom and adventure that comes with this lifestyle. And we want to share how you can experience it too. 

But don’t take it just from us. We interviewed 14 people of all ages and in all stages of life and asked them to tell us how they make tiny living on the road work. They are getting personal and sharing how they afford their lifestyle as well as their best advice for someone interested in making the leap and creating their own home on wheels. 

Hear stories from people living in RVs and camper vans, but also those living in a converted school bus and even an old ambulance. The beautiful thing is they are all a little different and have their own unique style — from luxurious to eco-conscious to completely quirky. Meet a rockstar couple, a family with three homeschooled kiddos, digital nomads, traveling soapmakers, a former NFL pro that now travels with his family in an RV… Some have lived in their tiny homes full-time for a handful of years, while others take epic weekend trips. Some are traveling solo, and others are traveling with a pack.

One thing's for certain: You’re going to be seriously inspired by these diverse stories. We certainly were.


Explore each expert's unique story by clicking on their name

 
 

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Family of Rockstars (yes, really!) living in an Airstream

Katie and Aaron - Pilgrim Life

Pilgrim is an americana/pop, husband and wife duo made up of Aaron and Katie Thomas- two Texans who met in Nashville and had a dream. In 2014, the couple decided to "go for it" and forsake the one-size-fits-all American Dream to find their own path. They released their first EP "I Found You", bought an Airstream trailer and hit the road. They and their two daughters currently live in their Airstream trailer full time, traveling wherever the wind blows them, sharing their music and stories.

1. Describe your set up.

We've traveled in three different Airstream trailers over the last few years. A 1974 28' Sovereign, a 2016 22', and right now we are living in a 28' 2016 Eddie Bauer Airstream.

2. What is your favorite part of your campervan? 

In this Airstream, there is a hatch door on the back end that opens the table area to the outdoors, with a screen. We just can't wait to be parked right on the beach with that!

3. What makes your campervan story unique?

I feel like so many aspects of our story are quite different than most I've heard. Mostly because it's been one wild roller coaster of a ride! When we first started dreaming of this life, we left our house and sold almost everything we owned, lived with family for a while to save up, recorded our first EP, "I Found You", and then bought a gutted 1974 Airstream. We built it out hastily but functionally just to get ourselves on the road. Our oldest daughter was 3 at that time. We started traveling, playing house concerts and documenting our journey. We have traveled all over the country, making a lot of mistakes, overcoming a lot of hurdles, going on and off the road. Eventually we connected with Airstream, the company, and this last fall we went on a three month house concert tour as part of their "Endless Caravan", in a brand new 22' trailer. We are now working with them on a new social action initiative called "Leave It Beautiful". (And since we added a new traveler in February, we also upgraded to a bigger rig.)

4. Where have you been traveling/living in your campervan?

We have been all over the country, finding little gems everywhere, but we have to say we are pretty obsessed with the west coast.  We love the diversity of landscape- from desert to mountains to beaches!  But then again, when we think back to places like Marfa, TX, Santa Fe, NM, Hot Springs, AR... we think, how could we ever choose just one!  

5. Are you a longterm vanlifer or is this a shorter adventure?

Since we started we've been in and out of full-timing, doing little stints of traveling and then spending the winter, for example, with family in Nashville. We recently took about 8 months off while we had our second daughter but now we're back at it! We make vague plans but a lot of times we really don't know what's coming next! Just living in the flow.

6. What is the most challenging part about campervan living?

I love this question because we were once asked this on a tv morning show and Aaron answered "the bathroom situation", which received a response of blank stares and *crickets*.... really awkward response for television!  Haha! Ok, but seriously, other than the sometimes tedious bathroom situation, the truth is there are a lot of challenges, from where to park it, to long car rides with kids, to it's raining and we're all stir crazy, to the sleeping arrangements... but it's all worth it when you have your eye on the prize. When you know why you're doing it. More time together. Seeing places we have dreamed of. Sharing out music with people in such a unique way. And so much more.

7. What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made to be able to have this lifestyle? 

Oh goodness, there has been a lot of sacrifice. We sold almost everything we owned and lived off very little as we were building this dream. The funny thing is that the dream isn't full time travel. That was just the vehicle which has created the space for transformation. The dream was to really find ourselves. Find out who we are, what we want, and become it. That's the most valuable prize. And although that's a never-ending journey, we are happy to say that we feel like completely different people than when we started- stronger, more connected, and more confident in who we are and what our purpose and calling is. 

8. How do you afford this lifestyle? 

To be honest, we barely did at first. We scraped by through video work and house concerts. And we did a lot of praying. But we believed in what we were doing and more importantly WHY. We have always believed that life can be fulfilling and are never satisfied with just doing whatever is safe and secure. We are now building a budding career around this lifestyle, from our video work to our music to brand collaboration. It's still all unfolding for us.  

9. What is the best part of campervan living?

The best part is when you get to park that thing on the top of a mountain or the edge of the ocean or the driveway of some incredible people! One of our favorite memories is of last fall, on our trip with the Endless Caravan. We were in Joshua Tree, CA, and decided to have a quiet Thanksgiving boondocking (meaning no hookups) in the middle of the desert. It was amazing! We made a full Thanksgiving meal and just hung out with each other! 



10. What is your advice for someone who is interested in campervan life?

Find out why you want to. Ask yourself what you really want in life and WHY. If you know those answers clearly and deeply, and this kind of living is in line with that, and you keep your reason, that fuel, on the forefront of your mind, nothing can stop you, and we say just GO FOR IT.  

Follow their travels (and music) on:

Website: http://www.pilgrim.life/

Instagram: @pilgrim.life

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Canadian couple road tripping through Europe in "Van Diesel"

Kevin and Kimm Otto - Otto Drive

Hey! Kevin and Kimm Otto here. We’re just a silly Canadian husband and wife currently living our dream of being “homeless” in Europe for a year. Kev’s favourite term is vagrant, but that’s all just semantics. Home base for us is the beautiful rock known as Vancouver Island, located on the wonderful West Coast of Canada. We’ve been together for a little under five years and are in our first year of marriage. A lot of our friends and family back home think that this year long van trip around Europe is our honeymoon, but the truth of the matter is we were planning this trip long before tying the knot. We both love traveling and road trips have seemingly been our means to do that. Most notably in some form of van.

1. Describe your setup.

The “boring” way, or rather, the technical way of describing our setup would be that it’s a 2003 VW LT 35 2.5L TDI with 45,000 miles on the clock. It’s tall enough to stand in and short enough to park in a stall without hassle. But to us it’s just home, or as we call it, “Van Diesel.” Basically, it’s a strategic English stealth-mobile. A black body around black windows that leaves only the iconic VW logo visible. The interior is an inviting warm maple wood finish, reminiscent of a cozy alpine cabin or a relaxing sauna when the kettle is boiling our morning tea. It’s a simple setup but contains all the necessities to make it home.

2. What is your favorite part of your campervan?

Well this might be a tricky question as I’m sure my favourite part of the van is not the same as Kevin’s. To me, my favourite part of the van is our side herb garden and our dashboard succulent garden. I love plants. I love how a little bit of greenery can make a space feel so much more inviting. I also love being able to cook and eat fresh herbs without having to buy them from the grocery store every single time. It also saves us a bit of money on certain things like green onions and celery - you buy them once then simply replant them to use again and again. The “garden” is a small portion of the van but to me it’s the small things that make the space feel comfortable. Kevin’s favourite part of the van is most likely the bed. It’s where we snuggle up on rainy nights to watch movies, but it’s also where we read our books, write our postcards home, or research the next place we’re about to visit. It doubles as a place to relax but also a place to be productive.



3. What makes your campervan story unique?

I think what makes our story unique is just how ambitious it seems. A full year to drive a complete circle around Europe is pretty ambitious. Or at least to us it is. The months leading up to our flight was the equivalent of building a house of cards - every small detail had to line up because if one thing failed to happen our entire plan would fall to pieces. Visas needed to be applied for, money needed to be saved, our belongings needed to be stored, jobs needed to be quit. Basically our entire life at home needed to be canceled. To top things off, Kevin and I had just gotten married which meant I had to go through the motions of applying for all new identification (kind of tricky to travel without a passport). Everything came together in the last week before our flights. Looking back I think we’re both a little surprised that we’re actually here.

4. Where have you been traveling/living in your campervan?

Well we’ve done a few van trips. All in different places with different vans for various lengths of time.

So far on this trip we are three months in and have circled Great Britain and Scandinavia. Special shout out to Norway the most beautiful and expensive country we have ever been. The increased expense pushed us farther into the van than ever before, homemade meals every night. We couldn’t go to pubs but we hiked over 60km in less than a week. Next we begin the long trek down to Greece through the great unknown of Eastern Europe.

Backtracking to where it began four years ago… it was about six months into us dating when we decided to drive across Canada in our mini-van, starting from Vancouver Island and ending up on the East Coast of Newfoundland. To switch things up we returned back home by coming through the United States. Our setup was simply just a bed with black paint on the back windows to block the morning light. Overall this trip took us six week and drove 19,000km.

Another trip we did was from Los Angeles, California to Edmonton, Alberta. We flew down to LA where we had been met with a fellow that we had bought a 79 VW bus from. This vehicle gave us so much trouble, but we feel that’s kind of part of the old school VW experience. Our muscles were beautifully bronzed from pushing that thing so far. We took approximately a month to complete the trip and spent our days and nights adventuring the beautiful beaches and landscapes of USA’s West Coast.

Another crazy adventure we did was spending three weeks in Hawaii in the back of a 9-foot rental U-haul moving van. The first part of the trip was spent on the island of Oahu. Once again, our setup was super minimalistic. We had brought an air mattress from home and then just bought some bedding when we got there. Our last night on Oahu our bed had caught on something and popped. When we switched over to the island of Maui we bought a “wine-stained” mattress off of craigslist. Gross.

These are just some of our bigger van trips that we’ve done. Me being from Vancouver Island, and Kevin being from Edmonton means that we’re constantly doing trips between the two places. We’re just lucky that the drive from British Columbia to Alberta means we get an excuse to play and adventure in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. It’s also not uncommon for us to take off for any length of time just to see different parts of Vancouver Island. After all, that’s half the fun of living in the Pacific Northwest. So much uncharted territory to explore. The only hard part is finding the time to do it.

5. Are you a longterm vanlifer or is this a shorter adventure?

What is Vanlife? Getting free accommodation is the best way to travel for longer, so any ideas of going someplace inevitably end up with how can we do it in a van. The van is a literal object but vanlife is more of an ideal. It is on the spectrum of life in between backpacker and home owner, and all things on a spectrum get blurry. We are spending a year in the van but also a week at a hostel in Berlin and have dreams of building a house. Minimalism, realism and the ideals of freedom are our driving factors. We are the sum of all our experiences, so vanlife will always be a part of us.

6. What is the most challenging part about campervan living?

I’m not sure if it’s one of the most challenging parts of van living or just one of the most challenging parts of traveling for long periods of time with someone, but what I’m recognizing on this trip is the importance of personal space. Because we’re sharing such a small space for such a long period of time, it’s so crucial to be able to recognize when it’s time to spend a little time away from one another. And I don’t mean where one person spends a week in a hotel while the other gets the van. When you’re traveling with someone, whether it’s a friend or husband or whatever, it’s just human nature to eventually get on the other person’s nerves. Save yourself the inevitable blow-up and just take a walk by yourself every now and again. Not only do you get some time alone, but it also gives you time to reflect and appreciate some of the amazing experiences you and your partner are sharing together.

7. What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made to be able to have this lifestyle? 

Supporting ailing family members. The phone calls don’t do much. It is tough to justify leaving for a year knowing that you might never see someone you love again. However, the world is a crazy place and that could happen at any moment to anyone. So we press on. Our families support us so much in our choices and encourage us to “do it all while you’re young”.  

8. How do you afford this lifestyle?

Kevin - Despite popular belief, you really can do anything you want. Once you free your mind of the invisible boundaries placed upon you, anything is possible. Now back to real life, it is very tough to live outside of society… so let's live on the edge instead. With every dollar spent ask yourself is this something that I really want or am I being told I want it? Do I need to drive a large truck to feel like a man, or is the free car from my mom sufficient? Question every dollar spent. Then work. A lot. I got a job in a remote part of the country and worked 12 hour days, everyday. It sounds extreme, but it took me four months of work to save up for twelve months of freedom. That's a pretty good exchange rate. Once you're living the dream, the same ideology applies: do I need Starbucks or is the van coffee just as good (even better?).

Kimm - Being on the same page of spending and saving in a relationship can be a tough one. But if it’s something you’re both passionate about then it’s easy enough to motivate and inspire one another to stay on track. I also worked my butt off and sacrificed a portion of my social life to save up for this lifestyle. I don’t make as much as Kevin so that meant that some times it meant deciding between making our monthly goal or going out for a few drinks with friends. I guess it really comes down to priorities. I’ve also been lucky enough to have skills that can be utilized while we travel. Right now I do freelance marketing for a company back home and sell some of my travel photos to stock photography websites. It’s not a lot to be completely honest, but something is better than nothing! Plus, I feel like I need at least a little bit of structure or else I go a little crazy.

9. What is the best part of campervan living?

The best part is when the engine is shut off and you open up the back doors to expose your newest home. We look across the epic and ever-changing landscape while laying in bed and remember the fantasy spawned by watching “Bed knobs and Broomsticks” as a little kid. This is magic - we have a magic bed that can appear anywhere we want. The magic doesn’t end there though. After watching the sunset we pull out the laptop to replay Donkey Kong Country on our Super Nintendo emulator. We approach the final boss and a literal storm has set in and the van is left shaking in the wind while the walls are getting pounded by the rain. After beating the game and having fallen asleep, we awake to a whole new world. Stumbling outside again it’s birds and sun against the morning dew. All of that is pure magic, we live in the future and it is amazing.

10. What is your advice for someone who is interested in campervan life?

Test it out! There’s ways to give van life a go without fully committing to buying and converting a van all in one go. Rent various types of vans, experiment with different lengths of time and distances to gauge where your sweet spot is. Some people prefer to just go on a fun week long camping trip to the mountains where as others are more than happy to spend months living out of their vehicle at the perfect beach spot. This method is also good because it allows you to see if it’s something you could see yourself actually committing to. It’s so easy to be fooled by the many instagram photos of people living their dream out the back of their pinterest decorated van space. As much as that is a part of it, there’s also some downsides to living out of a vehicle that I’m sure some people aren’t prepared for. It’s good to test the waters before spending a ton of money on something that you might actually not like!

Get in the thick of it. Rent the smallest U-haul, inflate an air mattress and drive off into the sunset. Then in the quiet moments of the night answer the questions of life. What do you like? What are you looking for? Does this have the potential to make you happy? In the morning after stretching your wrenched back ask the second set of questions. What would make the van better. A real mattress? A hot cup of coffee? A traveling partner?

Follow their travels on:

Instagram: @kimmexplores

Website: www.kimmotto.com

Facebook: To The Sea Photography

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Photographer living in a converted ambulance

Tobias - Tobias Scott Photography

My name is Tobias. My passions are kayaking, surfing, and climbing. I’m currently living out of a red ambulance I’ve converted into a cozy adventure mobile. It allows me to keep costs down and travel freely when ever I want. My favorite part of traveling is meeting and connecting with people from all over the world. I’m trying to find the “real experience” where ever I go, capturing these experiences.

1. Describe your set up. 

My rig is a 1998 Ford E-350 7.3l Turbo Diesel. I bought it with 69k miles on it from a auction. I kept most of the original L shaped storage and removed everything else to bare metal. I have 200 watt solar set up with two 155mah gel cell batteries. I power my fridge, sink, lights, and AC power from my solar. I have a two burner propane stove. I put in a TS performance chip that I can turn on and off if I need the extra power like going up hills.

2. What is your favorite part of your campervan? 

The best feature is the outside separate storage. This keeps all my wet gear (surfing and kayaking) separate from the inside. This is the most convent feature for my lifestyle.

3. What makes your campervan story unique? 

I could never afford a nice sprinter van so I found my way around it to get that sweet van freedom. I was in the market for a diesel with low miles. A retired ambulance was my ticket to get one. I started living out of it the day I bought it slowly taking the old gross ambulance interior out and replacing it with healthier denim insulation and cedar siding. The obvious benefits to an ambulance is the over abundance of storage pre-built. 

4. Where have you been traveling/living in your campervan? 

I’ve mostly have been taking it up and down the west coast. As far south as 300 miles down Baja peninsula. 

5. Are you a longterm vanlifer or is this a shorter adventure? 

I’ve been living full time for 2 years as of this November (2017).

6. What is the most challenging part about campervan living?  

Winter and moister are most challenging parts of living in a van. If I had a good way to heat it in the winter that would help with both those problems. Winter freezes my water supply and makes it almost impossible to start my diesel engine with out a block heater. Along with snow making it almost impossible to get around in. 

7. What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made to be able to have this lifestyle? 

Stability and comfort. 

8. How do you afford this lifestyle? 

I work seasonal work like raft guiding during the summer and photoshoot during the spring and fall to take winter off. 

9. What is the best part of campervan living? 

The list is endless, no bull ether. I truly love the lifestyle. It works for me. I like to do a lot of sports: Surfing, Kayaking, Climbing. I travel with gear for all of them. My rig being little more unique has helped as an ice breaker into local surf breaks and just in general a great way to meet new people. I love change and living mobile is the best way for that. My plans are always changing.  

10. What is your advice for someone who is interested in campervan life?

Take the time to pick the right rig for your style of living and travel. Are you trying to live in a city? Probably want a stealthy cargo van. Going far out into gnarly terrain, look at 4x4 truck or AWD van. I find the places I try and go I'm really limited by my heavy 2WD van. I get stuck so often I carry a whole kit of gear to get myself out of trouble. You can make any vehicle work but if you're trying to do this full time you'll thank yourself for waiting and taking the time to save up for the right base. 

Follow his travels on:

Instagram: @tobiasscottphoto

Website: https://tobiasscottphoto.com/blog/

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Soapmakers living in a 50-year-old bus, traveling around Canada

Raphaëlle and Mark - Boreal Folk Apothecary

Mark and Raphaëlle are a nomadic Canadian couple living in a 50 year old bus. They also operate their small off-grid business called Boreal Folk apothecary while traveling around Canada. Together, they form a dynamic duo living an alternative lifestyle while paving new ways of doing business.

Campervan Rockstar Boreal Folk Apothecary - Photo Credit: @kellybrownphoto

Campervan Rockstar Boreal Folk Apothecary - Photo Credit: @themackenzielife

Campervan Rockstar Boreal Folk Apothecary - Photo Credit: @kellybrownphoto

1. Describe your set up.

Picture a 50 year old greyhound bus. This 1967 MCI 5a is what we call home. It was converted from a public transport bus to an RV in the 90's so we haven't done much to the conversion since living in it. Now picture a white cargo trailer. This cargo trailer (a.k.a. the Wilderness Lab) hitches to the bus and we tow it everywhere we go. We do so because it's our mobile business. You see, we are the owners of the world's first off-grid mobile skincare company. In 2016, we spent 5 months building a solar powered studio, where I would make Boreal Folk apothecary's line of natural skincare products.

2. What is your favorite part of your campervan?

Before living in the bus, Mark and I lived in a van for two years. To save space during its conversion, we made bunk beds so for almost two years we slept in bunks! One of my favorite part of the bus is our big, comfy queen size bed! I also love the 'dining area' next to our wood stove at the front of the bus which is mainly all windows so it lets in a lot of natural light. Mark's favorite part of the bus is the fact that it was hand crafted here in Canada in the 60's. Rare is it to find vehicles that are Canadian made and assembled.

3. What makes your campervan story unique?

Our story is unique because we are a young couple who love to live a life dictated by freedom. We've built our business and lifestyle revolving around being able to live in the wild. We spend our time traveling throughout Canada, parking in our remote wilderness. Because we tow our production facility with us, we are able to manufacture (by hand) our natural skincare products as we travel along. Furthermore, while parked in nature, we harvest wild plants for their cosmetic properties and make our apothecary goods on the spot with those wild plants. It's an amazing feeling to be able to live and work remotely thanks to solar power and our amazing home/work setup.

4. Where have you been traveling/living in your campervan?

With our mobile setup we've traveled from Vancouver Island, BC as far as Quebec. We've almost traveled 20,000 kms (12,000 miles) in one year alone. This summer we've crossed the Rockies about 8 times. One of our favorite places was at the foothills of the Rockies in Alberta where each morning we would wake up to packs of wild horses grazing next to the bus!

5. Are you a longterm vanlifer or is this a shorter adventure?

We've already been living this lifestyle for a few years now. Since our whole business is on wheels, and we almost doubled our home's square footage by moving into this bus... I don't see ourselves living any other way for a while.

6. What is the most challenging part about campervan living?

There are always challenges that present themselves. Because our bus is 50 years old, it continually needs maintenance. Thank goodness Mark is a mechanic by trade and is able to do the work himself. For example, the reverse on our bus stopped working this summer so for two months we were driving around only able to go forward! Other challenges are that certain parts for the bus stopped being made decades ago so are no longer available... anywhere. There was an instance this summer, where we were parked deep in the wild and Mark had to blacksmith new break shoes so we could keep going. Also, parking such a rig can be challenging but we've learned that people respect this ancient relic everywhere we go.

7. What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made to be able to have this lifestyle?

I'd say the biggest sacrifice for me is consistent comfort. I say consistent comfort because we do live comfortably but sometimes... We've spent sleepless nights battling blizzards at -30 degrees Celsius. Days where we'd fix broken parts in the freezing cold, pouring rain or soldering heat. Times were we have no running water or no electricity. Sometimes we look at each other and laugh because we are soap makers but haven't had a shower in 6 days because we need to save water. Last December, the Wilderness Lab got stolen in Vancouver so you can imagine the stress that caused us. These are the kinds of sacrifices we make to live the lifestyle we have chosen. It can be a risky lifestyle but what is a life without taking any risks?

8. How do you afford this lifestyle?

Our small business Boreal Folk apothecary keeps us going financially.

9. What is the best part of campervan living?

Other than the fact that we can bring our house and business with us anywhere we want. The best part are the memories and crazy stories we are cultivating. Because nothing ever goes as planned, we always get ourselves in these crazy situations which tell a good story afterwards... We'll ask ourselves, "Remember that time our heater broke crossing Canada in the winter so we drove 4000 kms with a raging fire in the van's wood stove to keep warm? Or that time we parked the bus on our $92 gold claim in northern BC and panned for gold while living off of wild edible mushrooms we picked? Or when we perched the bus on a beautiful little hill in the middle of the prairies and distilled the best wild mint essential oils from the surrounding pond?

10. What is your advice for someone who is interested in campervan life?

If you are interested in this lifestyle, it takes dedication, planning and savings to get started. It's important to choose your rig wisely in order to meet your needs and mechanical abilities. Also purge, purge, purge all of the items and materialistic junk that take hold of our lives! We do not need stuff! I'd simply like to encourage you to take the risk, if you're thinking of doing it- do it. If it's not for you, at least you'll know and you can move onto chasing the next dream :)

Follow their travels on:

Website: www.borealfolk.ca

Instagram: @borealfolk

Facebook: Boreal Folk

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Minivan conversion on a budget

Tamara and Chris - Nomads with a Van

Tamara and Chris traveled North America for three years in their minivan-turned-camper named Red Delicious while working remotely. Both originally from California, they've shared advice with aspiring full-time travelers on their blog, NomadsWithAVan.com.

1. Describe your set up.

We have a 2012 Kia Sedona minivan that we converted for less than $500. We kept it really minimalist. We sleep in the center of the van on what is the equivalent of a full/double bed. In the back, we have a storage setup that we fashioned from milk crates. The most expensive part of our conversion was adding a bike rack!

2. What is your favorite part of your campervan?

It's surprisingly comfortable sleeping in the van. We didn't build our bed on a platform, so we have plenty of vertical space above the bed and avoid that coffin-like experience so many people have.

3. What makes your campervan story unique?

We started traveling full time just with backpacks in Latin America with our 15-year-old little dog named Holly. Once Holly started slowing down, we decided a van would be more comfortable for her to travel in. And being back in North America would allow us to freelance more easily while traveling. Tamara has big clients who laugh when they tell their colleagues, "My consultant lives in a van!"

4. Where have you been traveling/living in your campervan?

We primarily travel around the United States, but we did venture into Mexico and also rented a van and traveled around Australia. Our favorite places to park the van are in National Forest campgrounds. We tend to go where the weather is warm. We went to Michigan's upper peninsula in June and Albuquerque, NM in January and about froze our butts off. We especially like Oregon in the summer. 

5. Are you a longterm vanlifer or is this a shorter adventure?

When we first started traveling, we said we'd do it as long as A) we were still having fun, and B) it was financially sustainable. While we're still having fun and it's becoming even more financially sustainable, we're ready for a new adventure and decided to settle down for a while and host other travelers via home-sharing. To us, it was never about the van. it's about being deliberate about how you live your life.

6. What is the most challenging part about campervan living?

Van life is really hard in crummy weather, unless you have a spacious RV-like van. When it's raining constantly, you are either stuck in the van or bouncing from coffee shop to movie theater to library.

7. What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made to be able to have this lifestyle? 

Van life doesn't feel like a sacrifice to us because we're pretty minimalist and being able to get rid of our stuff was really freeing. The bigger thing was putting our friendships and careers on the back burner. While we're not so sad about the career stuff, it's been tough not having a community while we travel. Sometimes we'll roll into a town and think, wouldn't it be great if we could call up some friends and go grab a beer?

8. How do you afford this lifestyle?

Two ways: owning our own businesses and credit cards. We restructured our careers before we started traveling so we could be more location-independent. Tamara started freelancing and Chris started his own e-commerce business. The credit cards help us with cash flow since we don't get a paycheck every two weeks anymore, and we do our best to pay them off as soon as we get paid. Having good credit was really important for us from the get go -- it allowed us to get our van cheaper, for instance!

9. What is the best part of campervan living?

Everyday life is an adventure. You meet interesting people, like the guy at a gas station cafe in Louisiana who offers to call his brother-in-law who's selling firewood because we can't find any. You have weird experiences, like the time we looked outside and found a pig that wandered away from the farm and into our campsite in Washington. And we see incredible places, from National Parks to little-known trails. We're in a constant state of wonder which has made special memories and brought us closer together.

10. What is your advice for someone who is interested in campervan life?

Make an effort to travel slowly. If you're somewhere new every single night, you'll go crazy. Find a way to stay in a place for a week or two (or three). You'll have a richer experience, learn about the place you're visiting, and be able to stay mellow. Also, say "yes" often! If someone invites you to share a campfire, go to an event or whatever, be open to the experience. It's good to try new things and get out of your comfort zone.

Follow their travels on:

Website: NomadsWithAVan.com

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Small town guy & island girl living in a Vintage VW

Noami and Dustin - Irie To Aurora

Noami is from the island of Trinidad. She moved to the US at the age of 17, traveled around until she moved to New Orleans where she worked as an Environmental Scientist. She’s always had a nomadic heart and a passion for nature and the outdoors. Dustin is from a rural town in southern Louisiana. He took an interest in mechanics at a young age learning from his father, and rebuilt his first vehicle at age 15. Prior to van life he worked in Construction Management. Noami and Dustin met at an LSU football tailgate eight years ago and have been married for three years.

1. Describe your set up.

Our home on wheels, Irie, is a 1985' Volkswagan Vanagon. She has a 1.9 L four cylinder engine and a four speed manual transmission. She's fully equipped with everything we need for life on the road, including a sink, two burner stove, a refrigerator and a propane furnace. Irie is a pop top camper van with two fold-out beds, one top and one bottom bunk, so she sleeps four. Everything is powered by two 6-volt deep-cycle batteries wired in series to provide 230 amp hours at 12 volts. A 100 watt solar panel keeps the batteries charged. She's our home, office, and adventure mobile. Total living space is approximately 80 square feet.

2. What is your favorite part of your campervan?

We added an awning to our rig which has extended our living space by an additional 64 square feet. It allows us to get outside even when it’s raining or too hot to be inside the van. This space becomes our office during the day and on evenings we cook dinner outside together under the awning and enjoy wine with our front yard views. This addition has been a game changer.

3. What makes your campervan story unique?

We work remotely and are experimenting with an alternative lifestyle, trying to blur the line between work and play. We sold most of our possessions and Noami quit her job so we can live a nomadic lifestyle.

4. Where have you been traveling/living in your campervan?

We’ve been traveling across North America. We began in Louisiana and traveled to the east coast, Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, but most of our time has been spent in the Pacific Northwest. It’s just beautiful!

5. Are you a longterm vanlifer or is this a shorter adventure?

We have been full-time van lifers for a year and a half. We took a couple months off recently to give Irie an overhaul, and we plan to continue as long as we can sustain it.

6. What is the most challenging part about campervan living?

Well, sharing such a small space with another human comes with it’s fair share of challenges, but I think the most challenging part is blurring the line between work and play. I mean, how could I not want to play all the time with such an amazing back yard.

7. What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made to be able to have this lifestyle?

The biggest sacrifice we’ve made is quitting our careers. Dustin was fortunate to be offered a remote position when he quit, but overall it was a big risk because you just never know how things will go.

8. How do you afford this lifestyle?

We sold most of our possessions which helped fund the early stages of life on the road, and we were fortunate that Dustin was able to turn his work into a part-time remote position. He now works as a freelance construction estimator. I do freelance gigs also, whenever I can. All in all, we work together to sustain this lifestyle and fund our continued adventures.

9. What is the best part of campervan living?

The best part of camper van living is sharing it with my favorite human. In the early stages it was hard figuring out how to live in such a small space together. There were times when we didn't think it would work out. The best part is that we are figuring it out as we go. It has opened up so many possibilities and our relationship is stronger because of it. Compassion and love is our primary goal.

10. What is your advice for someone who is interested in campervan life?

Our advice to someone trying to live this way is to jump in, you will figure it out as you go. Go slow and enjoy every minute of it.

Follow their travels on:

Instagram: @irietoaurora


Nomadic workers exploring Europe with 2 dogs

Emily & Jack - Camper Travels

We're Emily and Jack from the UK, living full time in our self-built cabin van and slowly rolling around Europe with our two dogs - Tam & Rej. 

1. Describe your set up.

We bought a VW LT35 and self converted it into a full time rolling home in 2015. We use the sun for electricity and our mini log burner for heating. We have a teeny kitchen, running water, a shower in the garage, a double bed, a sofa underneath & a tiny table for cuppas...not forgetting the built in bed for our 2 full time van dogs!

2. What is your favorite part of your campervan?

The favourite part of our van build is the quirky wooden bed hatch we recently built - a life saver during the sweaty summer months! We ripped the back doors off and separated the garage so that we can open the hatch from bed and watch the day go by. ️We also love the cosy log cabin style we went for when converting the Van into Home.

3. What makes your campervan story unique?

We live in our van full time with our two dogs, working a little and travelling a lot. We spend as little money as possible by wild camping, enjoying the free things in life and buying food in bulk. Living in a van has taught us more than we'd ever imagined. We've learnt to appreciate and enjoy the little things in life... running water, heating, a hot shower... a cold beer!

4. Where have you been traveling/living in your campervan?

This year we have rolled through France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal in our little home. We've worked on a veggie farm in Wales, built cabins and compost toilets in France, helped a family build their cob home in Croatia and worked with communities in Portugal.

5. Are you a longterm vanlifer or is this a shorter adventure?

We have lived full time in the van for 2 wonderful, crazy years and we love it, owning very little and rolling around enjoying simplicity-a simple way of living for us.

6. What is the most challenging part about campervan living?

You have to get on really well to live full time in a van...we laugh a lot, talk a lot and have zero dignity - perfect vanlife combo!

7. What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made to be able to have this lifestyle? 

We gave up our jobs, gave up our rented house, sold everything we owned and moved into our new rolling home. We simplified our lives and opened up to a new exciting way of living - we have met so many wonderful people and grown so much ourselves since. It's a beautiful journey and we wouldn't change a thing. 

8. How do you afford this lifestyle?

We saved as much as we could when we first bought our van and began converting it. We also settle and work for a few months whenever we need to top up our money pot (usually once a year or less). It all depends how far we are travelling and how much fuel/food we need. We spend minimal money living in our van, we wild-camp and we rarely splash the cash... so a little money can stretch a long way for us.

9. What is the best part of campervan living?

Best part of vanlife....

  • The freedom to explore the world and have the comfort of your home right there with you - heaven. 
  • The opportunity it has given us to learn and enjoy simplicity, enjoy each other's company and appreciate the little but most important things in life. 
  • Finding an amazing wild spot and setting up camp for a few days surrounded by nature.... not much beats that.

10. What is your advice for someone who is interested in campervan life?

Our advice would be to just go for it....don't think too much into it. Just save some money, buy your van, make it your home and roll away. Everything will always piece together and work out. Lifes too short and precious for ifs and buts. Embrace the fear and do what makes you happy. Hit us up on Instagram for tips, ideas and adventures.

Follow their travels on:

Instagram: @camper_travels

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Couple living in custom-built "adventuremobile", seeking simple & healthy lifestyle

Laura and Shane - The Vanna Project

We’re Laura Hughes and Shane Eubank. We hail from Seattle, WA, and we’re on a daily quest to live simply. For us, this means that we travel, stay active and healthy, live within our means, continually learn, and say ‘yes’ to new opportunities. We have a Ford Transit 250 named Vanna White, and we spent the better part of 2 years converting her into an adventuremobile so that we can live on the road throughout the USA.

1. Describe your set up.

Our rolling home is a 2015 Ford Transit 250 named Vanna White. Vanna is a 148-inch wheelbase, high roof vehicle with a rack and kayak on top, which makes her over 11’2” but able to fit in an average-size parking spot (the best of both worlds in our opinion). We bought her as an empty cargo van, designing and converting the interior ourselves to include a kitchen with sink, permanent bed with side flip-top cupboards, and plenty of storage beneath the bed for all of our gear.

2. What is your favorite part of your campervan?

Some of our favorite parts of the camper van are the cedar paneling (which makes the van feel like a cabin), the side door hammock (which we use regularly to take in vistas and camping spots), and the roof rack (which has a patio feel to it and is used for grilling kebabs, morning yoga, and nighttime stargazing).

3. What makes your campervan story unique?

We both jumped into new careers on the road, building off of our talents and (most importantly) our passions. In addition to freelance writing and photography, I started a podcast as we hit the road this spring though She Explores called Women On The Road, and it’s all about life on the road from the feminine perspective. Shane is now taking clients as a leadership and development coach to help organizations and individuals reach their fullest potential.  

4. Where have you been traveling/living in your campervan?

We like a lot of places in the US, but there have been some that feel especially like home. Anywhere with a mid-sized community, a unique landscape, solid free camping options, and a host of trail networks to explore are going to make our list. It also doesn’t hurt to have a nice cafe or two. So far, these places have taken the form of Sedona, the Eastern Sierras, Mission Bay, Moab, Park City, Bend, and Bellingham, among others.

5. Are you a longterm vanlifer or is this a shorter adventure?

We just hit the road full-time this spring, but prior to that we were part-time, weekend warrior type travelers for several years: first in Shane’s Toyota Land Cruiser, and then for a couple years in the van we have now. It took a lot of reflection and coordination to realize the dream of full-time van living.

6. What is the most challenging part about campervan living?

Getting in the groove when you’re en route! While we absolutely love traveling to new places, there are a lot of factors you need to learn when you’re in an area you’ve never been before-- where to get water, where to properly dump garbage and recycle, where to sleep at night. The cheapest gas and food. And those are just the basics-- we also want to go explore like locals whenever possible. For us, the remedy is making it a fun and playful experience when we go somewhere new instead of choosing to be overwhelmed or exhausted by it.

One other challenge is more specific to people who travel with a significant other, friend, or family member: getting the space you need. It’s an ongoing dialogue we keep open to make sure we both get the time we need to feel independent on this trip, because we spend so much time together now. While we love that aspect of our travel, we also appreciate our time together more when we’ve each had our own alone time every day. So we make sure our schedules for the day and the activities we do reflect that.



7. What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made to be able to have this lifestyle?

Every chosen life change requires a sacrifice, especially if it’s moving. Seattle was home to both of us from childhood, so as we were getting ready to leave for full-time travel it became more apparent to both of us that even though we weren’t relocating to a place, we were moving away from home. We don’t see our friends and family as often now, which is hard because we love our friends, but we’ve found ways to keep in touch. It’s also been fun to find new ways to connect with them, through phone chats, video calls, and postcards. I even had Shane’s friends and family get involved in a project for his birthday where they each sent me an audio recording and I turned it into a special “podcast” for him to listen to. In every sacrifice we’ve made with this new way of life there’s a silver lining.

8. How do you afford this lifestyle?

I’m a freelance writer and photographer, as well as the podcast host of Women On The Road through She Explores. I love to use my creative energy to inspire others to say ‘yes’ to what they most want to do. You can find out more through my blog, How She Views It.

Shane is a leadership and development coach who is taking clients who want to push themselves to set their own potential ablaze. It’s been exciting to see his passions for supporting others grow into this line of work. If you are interested in knowing more about coaching, feel free to contact us and we’ll get you connected with Shane.

9. What is the best part of campervan living?

We love finding out again and again that what makes us so happy is so simple. Being out camping on free public lands, down a desert road or out in the forest, with all the groceries we need to cook for several days, and nothing but quiet surrounding us-- that’s it. Recently we lived this very moment when we pulled up to a turnout overlooking the beach just north of San Diego. The sun was setting and it was the perfect time to make dinner. We cooked, enjoyed the view with the side door open, and sat with faces to the horizon line appreciating the moment. It cost us nothing and left an impact we will never forget. We are so confident that we have everything we need in those moments.

10. What is your advice for someone who is interested in campervan life?

You don’t have to make “the leap” and dive in by quitting your job and moving away from home, or have a lifetime of savings and the perfect vehicle. You can start small like we did-- take the vehicle you have out for a weekend trip and see how you like it. You can borrow your friend’s van (if you’ve got the connections) and give it a try, too. You can do it for no other reason than being curious. If you think you might like it, try it with a small step!

Follow their travels on:

Instagram: @vannathetransit

Blog: www.thevannaproject.com

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US couple touring Europe in a British campervan

Brittany & Drew - Mr. and Mrs. Adventure

Brittany and Drew, who often refer to themselves as "2 crazy kids," left the 9-to-5 world behind in pursuit of their Personal Legends. Through the various countries they explore and the unpredictable situations they encounter, they've ultimately set out to fearlessly live a life that aligns with the core of their being. For nearly 4 years they have been braving the unknown, traveling in a camper van as they roll across some the most incredible landscapes in America, Canada, Europe and beyond, creating epic memories, deepening their relationship (with the earth, each other and the kind souls they meet along the way), documenting and sharing their extraordinary adventures along the way.

1. Describe your set up.  

The only thing we own (besides our 5x5 foot storage unit in San Diego, CA) is our British, 18-foot Ford Transit that was custom converted prior to our purchase 2 years ago. It's important to mention that it's British because the steering wheel is on the right hand side of the van, making driving on mainland Europe (where road directions are the same as in America) quite interesting, especially when people look over and see feet sticking out of the driver's side window. We sleep on a futon-style, pull-out bed that we make each night. Amenities include a 3-burner stove top, gas oven (pizza!), 3-way fridge + freezer, sink with running water, cassette toilet and a "garage" where we store our bikes inside the van (great for "stealth mode" in countries where wild camping is illegal).

2. What is your favorite part of your camper van? 

Our bed. Any given morning, when we're craving a good dose of "feeling comfy," we'll slide our giant, side door open so we can take in the grand view of the day, all while indulging in all our favorite simplicities: eating breakfast in bed, wearing our pj's nearly all day, drinking cup after cup of tea, reading whatever book is captivating us at the moment and trying to write all of our favorite memories down in our travel journals.

3. What makes your camper van story unique? 

Can't say we know of any other newlyweds from America (or any country for that fact) who flew to England to buy a camper van and are now roaming all over the roads of Europe and beyond... yep, nope, no one else comes to mind (LOL). If anyone reading this has ever done the same, PLEASE drop us a line :)

4. Where have you been traveling/living in your campervan? 

Our van travels (and never-ending honeymoon) have taken us across the roads (and water) from England to Ireland, Scotland, Holland, Austria, Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and next up we'll be venturing off to Morocco, Spain and Portugal! We also traveled all across the US and Canada in our family's camper van for a year prior to getting hitched (I actually handmade our wedding invites in the van!).

5. Are you a longterm vanlifer or is this a shorter adventure? 

We are full-time VanLifers. In addition to our European van home, we own nothing but a tiny 5 x 5 ft storage unit in San Diego, California. Our goal, after selling our European adventure van, is to build out our own custom rolling home to live, love and continue adventuring in back in the US of A.

6. What is the most challenging part about camper van living? 

While we continuously face the expected challenges of normal VanLife, we face them in a more complicated way. Think different countries, with different languages, different customs, different electrical + gas adaptors, constantly changing store names, exotic foods (which is especially challenging when you're allergic to gluten like Brittany) and unclear parking + wild camping regulations. Another thing about VanLifing in a country that isn't your own is that you are constantly feeling like a fish out of water. On top of not speaking the same language as those around us, being miles away from family or friends, going days without finding a hot shower and constantly not knowing things (like where to go for car parts that fit our English van, wifi, cash withdrawals, laundry, refilling our propane tank), we also Visa restrictions to worry about! Yes, it's extremely challenging, but for many reasons, we love it anyway. 

7. What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made to be able to have this lifestyle? 

We have had to sacrifice the opportunity to work on any other projects, or further any of our other longterm visions or goals, that require us to stay in one place. We want to build a life for us back in the US, but we aren't able to do so until we have satisfied our need to learn and explore abroad. While this is hard for us, we can't even begin to tell you how many times we have been told to "Do this while you are young!" and to be honest, we feel that we are on the right track and exactly where we are meant to be. We're not sure how our story will play out exactly, but it's got one heck of a beginning. 

8. How do you afford this lifestyle? 

We saved up for 4 years while working in Los Angeles, and now Drew remotely manages his family's old radiology company. We don't make much, but we spend even less. It's also fun to mention that we are able to make a bit of money by working with media/companies via "Mr and Mrs Adventure," enjoying lots of free adventures along the way.

9. What is the best part of campervan living? 

FREEDOM. We love not being committed to a schedule. If we love a place and want to explore longer, GREAT. If we are bored of a place and need to satisfy our restless souls, GREAT. We always have what we need... each other, and we're always ready to roll. 

10. What is your advice for someone who is interested in camper van life? 

Life without walls is one of the most beautiful ways to live, let alone one of the most affordable ways to travel. Prepare to taste REAL FREEDOM, to explore your world without reservations, and to indulge in the simplicity of living the simple life. You will be stripped of your comforts, but in turn, and in time, you will discover your truest, happiest self, and THAT is priceless.

Follow their travels on:

Instagram: @MrandMrsAdventure

Website: www.MrandMrsAdventure.com

YouTube: MrandMrsAdventure

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Former NFL Star traveling with family of 5 in an RV

Keith, Tia, & Family - Soulful RV Family

After 11 incredibly physically demanding years in the trenches of NFL, Keith Sims was ready for a change of pace. Little did he know his wife, Tia, had been plotting for years for this very moment. Tia had long ago decided the best way for their family to travel with their three little boys was by RV. She had been dragging Keith to RV shows for years. Tia put forth such a powerful case for the family to try RVing that Keith had no choice but to agree. Now the whole family is hooked! The Sims family home base is in the Atlanta area, but they spend over of 100 days/nights each year touring this country. Tia uses the travel to enhance the boy’s homeschool education. The whole family loves the space and flexibility that RV travels gives the family. 

1. Describe your set up. 

We have a 2015 Newmar Dutchstar Class A 43-foot motorhome. We still have our sticks and bricks in the Atlanta area. My (Keith’s) parents, and 3 sisters live very close by (less than 10 miles away). Family keeps us from selling our home. We are typically on the road between 100-150+ days a year.  

2. What is your favorite part of your campervan?

Having a pretty large Class A motorhome it allows us to really feel at home when we are in our rig. The bathroom and a half is key for our family. But the number one thing we love is our king sized bed. Keith is a former NFL football player and has had back surgery and continuing issues with discomfort and pain. The ability to have a really good king sized mattress, allows us to spend months at a time in our rig. Oh, and of course we changed the mattress!

3. What makes your campervan story unique?

Our story in unique for many reasons. First, we are an African American family of five. Keith is a former NFL football player. We homeschool and road school our three young boys (8,7,5), and we are semiretired and in our forties. We are pretty young to be traveling in a higher end Class A at our ages.

4. Where have you been traveling/living in your campervan?

We have taken our rig from Fort Lauderdale to Maine (summer of 2016) and as far west as South Dakota. We realize we have so many places we want to visit. But we have learned to slow down and enjoy the journey as much as the destination. We have so many favorite places. We loved visiting Acadia National park last summer. We are frequent visitors to Florida, Orlando and of course Disney. Tia is a Epcot addict.

5. Are you a longterm vanlifer or is this a shorter adventure?

With our kids being so young, we are mroe short-term RV explorers. We travel typically at least once a month for 4-14 days.

6. What is the most challenging part about campervan living?

The biggest challenge for us to balance our sticks and bricks home life and family with our desire to travel. Our family doesn’t understand how we could be gone so much and as soon as we get back home, start figuring out the next trip.

7. What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made to be able to have this lifestyle?

Hmmmm…. homeschool has been a big sacrifice, but our travel has enhanced that experience so much. Maybe missing out on holiday’s with the family. We love heading down to Florida, and Disney for the Christmas and New Years.

8. How do you afford this lifestyle?

After retirement from the NFL, I had invested with partners into the Dunkin' Donuts business. I sold my shares and due to my injuries from football I was awarded NFL disability. My wife quit her job (as a social worker) to be home with the kids and take care of the family. We live on a budget, but make things work.

9. What is the best part of campervan living?

The freedom to explore and see history first hand. I love the ability to explore the next exit or make a change in the middle of traveling. We did this two summers ago on our way to Mount Rushmore. We found ourselves in K.C. at Worlds of Fun. I looked at the map and realized that we were only 3 hours from Iowa State University (where I went to college). I asked my wife, who had never been there, if she wanted to visit. She agreed, I called the school to ask them for a tour of the football facilities. They don’t do last minute tours, but after they found out it was me (I’m in the ISU HOF for football) they said, "What time will you be here?" They totally rolled out the red carpet for my family and I. My favorite picture from that summer is the photo of my boys scanning the names in the ISU HOF and finding their Dad’s name on the list!

10. What is your advice for someone who is interested in campervan life?

Van life would not work for our family, but RVing does! For me (Keith), my advice would be to not wait a single minute longer. If you have the desire to get out there and see and experience the beauty of this country, just do it. As a former NFL player, I’m concerned about my future mental health. Health issues from concussions have become a reality that none of us want to face. I decided that if mental health issues may be in my future, then I’m going to get out there and make memories with my family now.

Follow their travels on:

Website: http://soulfulrvfamily.com/

Facebook: Soulful RV Family

Instagram: @soulfulrvfamily

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Homeschool family in a converted school bus

Ashley, Brandon, & Family - Trebventure

We are a family of 5 who converted a 1999 Blue Bird school bus into our traveling tiny home. We live simple and have no plans of staying still. 

1. Describe your set up. 

Blue Steel Bus is a 1999 Blue Bird, flat nosed school bus with a 8.3 Cummins engine. We gutted her and now house our family of 5 within.

2. What is your favorite part of your campervan? 

Our newly remodeled shower is lifted and has a transparent skylight at the top so you can take showers under the stars or with the warmth of the sun shinning down on you. 

3. What makes your campervan story unique? 

We sold our house and most of what we owned to hit the road in October 2016. We co-own three crazy children who we homeschool, everyday is a field trip when you live on a school bus! We own a Software company that allows us to work remote while we travel. Ashley did most of the wood working on the bus and is regularly referred to as "Babe Vila" by Brandon. Our bus is completely off grid accept for climate control. 

4. Where have you been traveling/living in your campervan? 

From Oct 2016 - Feb 2017 we travelled the entire west coast starting in Seattle and coming down to San Diego, CA. We loved the drive through the Avenue of the Giants and the gorgeous coastline north of them.  The huge trees and forest butted up to the gorgeous ocean was the most breathtaking views we had ever seen. We also spent over 31 days in Disneyland in 2016. We love the place...can't help it! We LOVE Silver Strand Island in San Diego, it's one of our favorite places to relax.  

5. Are you a longterm vanlifer or is this a shorter adventure? 

We are full time Skoolies. We don't know if this will be another year, 5 years or our forever home. We hate trying to plan where we will be. We try to take life as it comes and have no problem jumping on opportunities as they present them selves.

6. What is the most challenging part about campervan living? 

Personal space and volume levels. We have three children who are homeschooled which means we don't often get much alone time. We do implement a "quiet time" for the kids where they are to stay in their bunks for an hour and read, nap, sew etc. but no talking or interacting with one another. Mom get to chill out and enjoys a cup of coffee without any interruptions. 

7. What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made to be able to have this lifestyle? 

We sold our house, downsized, and homeschool which are listed as examples but I don't count those as sacrifices. Selling our house lifted us from a huge financial burden and I count that as a blessing that we were able to get out from under it without losing money. Downsizing helped us to be more focused on the important relationships in our lives instead of things. And homeschooling is the best education our children could have. Everything has its hardships and its benefits, but over all the benefits outweigh the hardships by far. 

8. How do you afford this lifestyle? 

We run a software development company called Pixegon which was founded in 2012. We have always run the company as distributed with employee count ranging from 10-20, depending on project workload. Not having a traditional "brick and mortar" business has afforded us the opportunity to travel quite a bit over the years and continues to be our sole source of income while living and traveling on the bus.

9. What is the best part of campervan living? 

The feeling of being home where ever you are. When you cuddle up in your bed and watch Office reruns while street sweepers go by outside in the Walmart parking lot, but you feel cozy in your own bed. We spent Thanksgiving eve eating lemon chicken orzo soup in a Hillsboro, Oregon Walmart parked next to our best friends The Millers (also full time skoolies) and woke up and went to Thanksgiving dinner in a commercial kitchen of another friends tiny restaurant. We love the lifestyle and the mobility it allows for.  

10. What is your advice for someone who is interested in campervan life? 

Stop waiting for the "right time" just DO IT! Nothing comes easy but the hard work pays off.  Do your research and spend time in different mobile living spaces to figure out what is the right space for your family. 

Follow their travels on:

Website: www.trebventure.com

Facebook: Trebventure

Instagram: @trebventure

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Eco-friendly couple traveling the US in a vintage travel trailer

Olivia and Kyle - Drivin’ and Vibin’

We’re Olivia and Kyle Brady of Drivin’ and Vibin’. We travel the country full time in our vintage travel trailer, with our adventure pup, River. We’re on a mission to live minimally and deliberately, as we connect with the world around us. We have been traveling for 2 years across the U.S. and hope to inspire others to live a life of adventure and passion.

1. Describe your set up.

We live in a 1985 Fiber Stream travel trailer, that we renovated ourselves. It’s 16 feet long and has a king size bed, kitchenette and bathroom/shower. We also added solar panels and a composting toilet, to make it more eco-friendly and suitable for dry camping.

2. What is your favorite part of your campervan? 

Definitely our king size bed! It lets us all spread out and have our own space, though the dog doesn’t always understand the concept of personal space.

3. What makes your campervan story unique? 

Our mission is to live minimally and deliberately and inspire others who want to live this lifestyle too. We make YouTube videos where we answer questions, share what we’ve learned along the way and document our adventures. We live on a small budget so we really focus on having experiences over things. We want others to know you don’t have to be rich to travel, it just takes a little planning and preparation.

4. Where have you been traveling/living in your campervan? 

We have traveled all over the continental United States. We have favorite places for different things: We love the abundance of free camping in Arizona, the red rocks of Utah, the rolling grasslands of South Dakota, the mountains of Colorado… we could go on forever. To us, each place is so unique and has something special to offer.

5. Are you a longterm vanlifer or is this a shorter adventure? 

We are full time right now and have no plans to stop traveling any time soon. We are open to all future paths though, and feel that as our needs change we will adjust accordingly. Travel is a part of us, no matter what our future holds.

6. What is the most challenging part about campervan living? 

Having reliable internet connectivity can be a struggle at times and because all of our income is generated via the internet, it's important we stay connected. We’ve accumulated a pretty fool proof collection of boosters and other gear to keep us connected, but occasionally we come across a dead zone.

7. What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made to be able to have this lifestyle? 

Being away from our family can be hard sometimes, we miss out on birthdays and holidays. When we're reunited though, we really make our time together count. When we're traveling, we combat homesickness by calling and FaceTiming our families a lot and our nieces and nephews enjoy getting postcards from all over the country. 

8. How do you afford this lifestyle? 

We saved for a year before we hit the road, so we would be prepared for any emergencies expenses and took our Etsy shop “The Wooden Earth” on the road with us as our sole income. Since then we’ve added a few other streams, now we also make money from our YouTube channel, blog, Drivin’ and Vibin’ merchandise, and we recently released an album of songs inspired by life on the road, titled “Among the Giants” 

9. What is the best part of campervan living? 

The best part of this lifestyle is the connections and friendships we make along the way. One of my favorite memories is from our first year on the road. We were a few months out and hadn’t made any friends yet. We were staying at a campground in southern California for Christmas and it was our first holiday away from home. When we pulled in to our spot that day, we were greeted by 3 other young RVing couples and after talking a bit, they invited us over for Christmas dinner. We were complete strangers, yet they welcomed us, with open arms, into their home. We all laughed and ate late into the night, like we had known each other forever. It felt like we were exactly where we we belonged and that's how we found the first of our tribe.

10. What is your advice for someone who is interested in campervan life?

Make a plan, set goals and do your research. The answers are out there and this community is full of people who are willing to help. Don’t be afraid to reach out and seek advice or ask questions. The hardest part for us was the preparation. Once you get out there, it's not nearly as scary as it seems and you will learn the ropes in no time!

Follow their travels on:

Website: Drivin' & Vibin'

Facebook: Drivin' & Vibin'

Instagram: @drivinandvibin

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Digital nomads living in a vintage RV

Amanda and Matt - The Van Project

We are Matt and Amanda, two full-time travelers living in our self-renovated 1964 Clark Cortez camper van. We bought our rig, “Tezarae” one year ago and immediately launched into a six-month-long renovation, replacing everything inside including the insulation, storage, plumbing, and sleeping area, as well as adding solar power so we can remain fully off-grid for up to two weeks at a time.

We officially moved into our RV full-time four months ago and began traveling and working from the road. We balance our time between outdoor adventures, our passion project which we lovingly refer to as ‘The Van Project’, and project-based work in the fields of photography and marketing.

Moving out of a wonderful apartment in San Francisco and into an 18-foot-long RV was an big leap for us. We are learning how to make it work every day and sometimes its challenging. We are enthusiastic supporters of people who opt for alternative lifestyles that stray from the beaten path. It is through following our true passions with determination and love that we can all find happiness in it’s many different forms.

1. Describe your set up. 

Tezarae is our 18.5-foot 1964 Clark Cortez Camper. Technically it’s an RV (one of the first US-made, before Winnebago exploded the RV market!), but it’s small and feels more like a camper or van versus an RV. We fell in love with the classic exterior look but wanted the interior to be cozier and, brighter. Also we needed a larger bed (the original beds are smaller than twin-sized!). So last year, we bought it and re-built 95% of the interior: we re-insulated and added solar panels and LED lighting, added a new fresh water tank and custom, handmade cabinetry and tongue and groove wood throughout. To make room for our queen-sized bed (luxury!), we completely tore up the bathroom, removing the sink, mirror, and a whole wall. We kept the toilet (although we have a no #2 rule!). For showers (a popular question!): we either use showers outside of the RV or use our sink sprayer and shower out the window (only suitable in remote areas!).

2. What is your favorite part of your campervan? 

It certainly doesn’t make for the most stealthy setup, (and means you need to manage outdoor temperatures differently) but we really love our wrap-around windows. While we spend a lot of time outside, it’s still a treat to open my eyes and see an amazing sunrise over an ever-changing landscape (the coast one week, the mountains or desert the next) while still snuggled up in bed.

3. What makes your campervan story unique?

What we find as we meet more people living this lifestyle is that everyone is making things work in their own way. At least two “unique” things about us are our vehicle (it’s age, and that we self-built it), and that we’re trying to work along the way.

As we mentioned before, our rig is a classic from 1964. Less than 4,000 of them exist. When we bought it we flew to Portland, Oregon on a one way ticket. The owner, a retired diesel railroad mechanic named King picked us up from the airport in the Cortez, brought us to his farm, and let us sleep in it for an evening to ‘test’ it out. He showed us most of the systems, and handed us two huge manuals. Everything else we needed was in there. One thing we quickly learned was that owning an older, classic vehicle means that sometimes you’ll have to do certain work yourself.

We discovered this firsthand when we were getting our oil changed. We asked if the mechanics could check the transaxle gear oil (transmission fluid) as well. After a quick look at the drain plug (which had been replaced with a 90 degree elbow) they declined to perform the oil change, not knowing the exact reason for the modification. It became clear at that moment that from time to time we’d need to figure mechanical things out ourselves or find someone who has experience working on classic vehicles.

We weren’t initially against buying an already converted van, but once we started looking, we quickly found that the ones that were available for a reasonable price would need some tinkering. So, we opted for the self-built route, and spent approximately 6 months demolishing and then rebuilding our home, learning about all the fun (or not so fun) systems along the way like plumbing, electrical, solar.

I’d (Amanda) barely picked up power tools before this, although Matt had a lot more experience than I did. We know our rig extremely well since we built it from the ground-up. If something breaks on the solar, we have at least a few ways to diagnose it. Now, I feel a lot more empowered around mechanics, carpenters, or technicians in general.

Finally, one thing that I think is important to mention is that we absolutely minimize spending and are working along the way. We don’t go out for dinners often. We don’t spend much time in expensive cities. We don’t often pay for activities, although we purchased an $80 US National Parks Pass (money well spent for us).

4. Where have you been traveling/living in your campervan? 

When we purchased Tezarae, we bought a one-way ticket to Portland from San Francisco. We took a bit of a chance since all of the other vehicles we’d looked at up to that point from online sources were sketchier than outlined in the original listing. If there’d been issues with the sale we probably would have been taking long, uncomfortable buses back all the way to San Francisco, but we lucked out! So our first trip was from Portland to San Francisco: we saw the Columbia River Gorge, Hood River area, and amazing central Oregon deserts like those near Smith Rock State Park, Bend, and then through the northern California Redwoods. This is a beautiful trip, and especially if you continue down the NorCal coast to San Francisco (which we didn’t do that time, but have done!), where you can stop at little, charming coastal spots all the way from Humboldt County to Tomales Bay: Patrick’s Point and Trinidad, Bodega Bay, and Tomales Bay (walk along the vast Limantour Beach, check out Alamere Falls, hand shuck fresh oysters!).

We’ve also spent a huge chunk of time in the Eastern Sierra this past summer, jumping between Lone Pine and Mammoth. This area is amazing for outdoor-lovers. You’ll find world-known mountains, (including Mount Whitney, the tallest in the continuous 48) rock climbing/mountaineering/bouldering (the Buttermilks, tons of classic alpine crags including a slew of 14k foot mountains) biking, fishing, hot springs, alpine lakes. The PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) and JMT (John Muir Trail) runs right through the Sierras so during the summers you’ll see the small towns crowded with thru-hikers. That’s a cool vibe to be around, and there’s so much variety it could keep us busy for a long time. There’s plentiful free and remote camping areas in the Eastern Sierra, which is a big consideration when you’re living in a van, at least for us. We’ve learned that we prefer to stay in more remote areas versus cities.

5. Are you a longterm vanlifer or is this a shorter adventure?

November will be one year since we purchased Tezarae, although we’re only about four months into living in her full-time (due to the restorations/renovations we did, where we “lived” in her while re-doing her at our good friends’ ranch property). As we said to our friends when they asked us this very question, we don’t have an end-date in mind right now. We love exploring new places, and a big motivation for us is to find one or a few places that we could call “home” for longer stretches. For now, we’re happy living this life. Eventually Matt will want a garden, so maybe when that happens we’ll need to stay somewhere longer ;-).   

6. What is the most challenging part about campervan living?

Fitting your entire life into a small space like an eighteen foot-long RV means that everything has to have a dedicated place. If things don’t get put back exactly where they belong, the RV gets cluttered and disorganized very quickly. The challenging part (according to Matt) is getting from a cluttered state back to a high-level of organization. In an apartment or home there is plenty of space to spread things out, making it easy to see everything that needs to get put away. In the RV there isn’t much extra space to work with. We end up having to move clothing and other things around from place to place as we locate and put away all of our things. Mostly, you learn to try and be much better about tidying up right away. Saving dishes for later becomes exponentially more annoying in a tiny space, versus a larger house or apartment.

7. What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made to be able to have this lifestyle?

It doesn’t really feel like a sacrifice for us anymore and I’m not sure if I ever thought of it in those terms, it’s more of a mindset shift. We lived in San Francisco and have a great group of friends, so “giving up” our Mission-area apartment with two amazing roommates wasn’t easy. Giving up the career path I was on (working in tech is an awesome thing in some ways, since you’re part of things that are so fundamental to the cultural meme of the US and world. Like YouTube- who hasn’t heard of it?) was terrifying for a while. But, I’m still involved in tech (see answer below), just not in quite the same way.

Matt and I love San Francisco, and we find ourselves going back fairly often, but I also didn’t feel settled there. Our relationship grew as we explored together: first South America, where we traveled in Ecuador, Peru, Argentina and Chile, hiking, backpacking and climbing, then in Yosemite, where we escaped to when we lived in San Francisco. So my soul is now a bit of a wandering soul ;-). It felt wrong to deny that. And once we returned from our travels and got back into exploring the local areas, we both remembered that this was a possible option. Then it was just a matter of finding the right rig.

8. How do you afford this lifestyle?

Amanda and I are self-employed freelancers, working on project-based jobs that usually last anywhere from a couple days to a month. It’s not like having a full-time job in the sense that we have to be VERY smart about budgeting our income so it can last from one job until the next.

I (Matt) am a photographer and photo retoucher. We sometimes travel for shoots. I’d love to get more work in the outdoor industry, and we’re slowly building connections in that direction. I’ve also worked as a photography producer and editor/curator/researcher for ad agencies in the LA area. Amanda previously worked full-time as a Product Marketing Manager at YouTube, and now her freelance work includes marketing-related needs (copywriting and editing, product marketing, go-to-market and launch strategies) for startups and smaller companies. She gets clients through a combination of personal referrals, online groups (especially Facebook groups), and other online websites and recruiters. Over the past year, we both also worked shorter gigs in production. This summer, we helped a friend launch a mobile retail and ecommerce boutique aimed at PCT and JMT thru-hikers (selling ultralight backpacking gear), so we both did a combination of marketing, photography, and retail work for her. So, it’s a combination of a lot of things for us. At the very least it keeps life and work interesting!

In addition to our personal freelance endeavors, we’re working on monetizing our website and social media presence. We intend to develop this passion project so that it can one day sustain our travels and mobile lifestyle. We only share information we find useful and relevant, so hopefully other vandwellers agree and continue to visit.

9. What is the best part of campervan living?

The freedom! We aren't tied down to one location - our home is wherever we want it to be. We can try out new jobs in new places without the commitment of signing a lease on an apartment. We can move our ‘home’ across the country just to get a change of scenery (and move it back if we need to change our view a week later). And because we aren't spending money on rent or a mortgage we don’t need as much income (we can work less than 40 hours a week, or work 60 hours some weeks and none others). Because we don’t need to work full-time we have so much more free time to explore our own creative interests and active pursuits. If we could distill the best part of vanlife down to a single word it’s ‘freedom’.

10. What is your advice for someone who is interested in campervan life?

A lot of people tell us that they want to try van living but that they’re waiting for the ‘right time’. It’s kind of like waiting for the ‘right time’ to have children. If you want to do it you need to do it. You can plan forever but sometimes people get stuck in the perpetual planning stage. You’ll figure everything about vanlife out as you go. The one part that you need to have figured out ahead of time is where your income is going to come from. You’ll either need to have savings to draw on or a plan for generating income as you travel (or maybe you just want to try stationery vanlife, in which case you might be able to retain/have a full-time job).

Follow their travels on:

Website: www.thevanproject.co

Instagram: @van.project

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Adventure-seeking couple living on the road in Europe

Becky and Anthony - Hymer Life

We are Anthony (age 33) and Becky (age 29) and we have been travelling in campervans together for 10 years. We are both based in the UK where we live and work when we aren’t on the road.

Ant loves to ride his BMX and has been sponsored by Standard Bykes (USA BMX brand) for 12 years, while I spend a lot of time surfing on the cornish coast. Other hobbies we both enjoy include travelling to new places, photography, hiking and snowboarding.

1. Describe your set up

Our campervan is a 1996 Fiat Ducato Hymer which still contains the original interior. The van can sleep up to 4 people as there is a bed over the cab that drops down (which is the one we use most of the time) and dinette seating that doubles up as a bed for guests. We have a separate bathroom with a toilet and a shower which is very important to us, so when we wild camp we are completely self contained.

We have added a bike rack, a roof rack for surfboards, a solar panel to keep the leisure batteries topped up and a LPG tank underneath the van which gives us cheap gas and the ability to fill up easily anywhere in Europe. We also have a ski locker which we fill with shelves when it isn't needed for its intended purpose, a gas boiler and a heated waste tank which is essential when camping in the Alps.

2. What is your favorite part of your campervan?

I think we would really struggle to live in our van without the boiler and the bathroom with the shower and toilet. Our boiler keeps us warm by heating the van throughout the winter and after a long hike there’s nothing better than enjoying a hot shower!

3. What makes your campervan story unique?

Our first campervan was a small panel van with a low roof which looked pretty cool but it wasn’t very practical, so when we were looking to buy a bigger van our only criteria was to have space to stand up and move around. When we found the Hymer we laughed about how the aesthetics looked so uncool! The camper was the sort of van you would see retired couples driving, so our biggest challenge was showing a more adventurous side to this way of traveling. I think we were one of the first couples to photograph Hymer campervans in a different way.

4. Where have you been traveling/living in your campervan?

Our plan when buying this camper was to see as much of Europe as we can. During the 4 years we have had the van we have traveled the UK, France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands but there is still so much of Europe to explore and the diversity of the culture and landscapes is amazing!

5. Are you a longterm vanlifer or is this a shorter adventure?

We had the van a couple of years before we decided to move out of our house and into the camper full time. The main reason for the change was to half our outgoings so we could spend more money on the things we enjoy. We have both found jobs in the UK that we love but in contrast we also love our freedom, so we are building our future on a balance between working and travelling whilst living small.

6. What is the most challenging part about campervan living?

We love having everything we need in the van, but at the same time we feel vulnerable having everything with us on the road! Keeping our possessions safe is our main concern as in the past we have been broken into and had everything stolen (including our passports) which was a very stressful situation to overcome in a foreign country. We never keep any valuables in the van now and have fitted an alarm which should help deter any thieves.

7. What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made to be able to have this lifestyle?

I guess the combination of renting out our house, living a minimalistic lifestyle by moving into the camper and leaving our jobs that we both enjoyed. The key to making it happen is knowing you can’t have it all. You can't have freedom and commitments at the same time.

8. How do you afford this lifestyle?

As much as we all would love a magic anecdote to this question, there isn’t one. No matter how you do it, whether you work on the road or save up at home, you will need a income to sustain a period of travel. We have found what works best for us is to dedicate a period of time to working, and then use the funds to travel. We try to save quicker by spending money only on necessary items and not eating out.

9. What is the best part of campervan living?

We really love the combination of being able to travel anywhere in the world, but having the same bed every night. It's also amazing how you can carry everything you need in such a small space.

10. What is your advice for someone who is interested in campervan life?

You should get out there and try it! Whether you rent or buy a campervan to travel a foreign country or buy a small van to explore at the weekend, we think its the best way to travel! Campervans have always been trendy, but try not to get too caught up in the aesthetics and buy something that suits your needs. It doesn’t matter what colour, make or model you get - the main thing is, it gets you out there exploring!

Follow their travel on:

Instagram: @hymerlife

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