We have always been outdoor recreation enthusiasts. For our honeymoon ten years ago we climbed mountains in Ecuador, and we have been pursuing adventures ever since. We were tent camping 100 nights a year, and never really considered an RV. Then we spotted a killer Sportsmobile van at the Fox Creek Fandango in Victor, Idaho back in 2012. That is when we knew we wanted a van. We were getting out to ski, ride, paddle, and camp as often as possible, but we only had so much vacation time, and we lived so far from the stuff we love to do. In March of 2016, we finally made the decision to pursue our passions full time. We set a target to be on the road by year-end and started the transition. We sold our house and lots of stuff, we wrapped up our jobs at nonprofit organizations in Ohio, and we engaged many friends to help us build out a 2014 Sprinter cargo van, that hauled audio visual equipment in its previous life. The process was challenging and painful, but everything went as well as we could have possibly imagined, and the outcome was so worth the effort. We love the look and feel of the van, and we are so glad we made the effort to build our own unique adventure mobile.
There were so many reasons why we decided to pursue Vanlife; we love the outdoors and our friends in the mountains. We wanted a simpler life, free of consumerism, and we wanted to focus on our personal well-being, health, and happiness. We had grown somewhat tired of the city, and we were finally willing to make the effort to create our ideal life.
We left home last December with our dog Uschi (half Basset/half cat). Our plan is to live in the van for four to five years. During the first six months, we have been exploring western North America, skiing and riding mostly. For the balance of our first year, we won’t be making any plans; we want to be free to join friends at music festivals, river trips, and whatever other fun experiences materialize. After the first year, we hope to do something a bit more epic; potential activities include driving the van from Alaska to Chile. We did a little research at the Overland Expo last month and met lots of great people doing amazing trips. We meet incredible people everywhere we go; that is the best part of Vanlife. When we meet someone awesome, we don’t have to say goodbye, we just redirect and follow them for awhile. We enjoy meeting new people, especially when we can do something kind for them. Lately, we have been bumping into lots of PCT hikers, and we are having fun feeding them, giving them rides, and sharing stories. We have plenty of time; we don’t have to stress about planes, or lost luggage, or renting gear. We have everything we need and just a few things we don’t; like the mandolin, I never play. Vanlife is not easy, but it suits us. We are having so much fun; I don’t know if we will ever go back to a city for any sustained period.
We don’t know how this story will play out. We may fall in love with a town and settle down, something may happen at home that requires us to return, we may take on seasonal work, we may find that being on the road full time is just too much, but I doubt it. Towards the end of the first year, we will likely try to find a more material source of income. Recently we were engaged in capturing content for a brewery. It’s the perfect gig because we just deliver the content rather than promoting it. I want to maintain our independence from any company or brand, so we can continue to be our authentic selves. Hopefully, a year of really living will introduce us to additional opportunities that help perpetuate the lifestyle. Whatever happens, I am sure we will continue to enjoy Vanlife because we are reminded every day how little you need to have fun. It’s rare that a day goes by when I don’t say out loud how lucky we are to be on this incredible journey.
We are heading up the 395 right now, enjoying our favorite spots in the Eastern Sierras. From there we will likely hit the Cascades, the Sawtooths, and the Tetons. Let us know if you see us nearby; we hope to see you on the road
Joe & Emilie
GET MORE INSPIRATION
VANLIFERS OF THE MONTH
Now that our daughter is here our decision to live in a van feels even more right. With ten months old she lived more than half her life in a van. And we feel she loves it.
We love to breathe the salty air at the ocean. Most times we’re traveling in Northern Europe, but just now we have been traveling through Southern Europe for six weeks.
The bravest & also the hardest decision in our life was to actually listen to our heart & do what we want to do, do what we love. It took us quite a time, 2 years to be exact, to really go for it! AND, if we could do it, everyone else can!