It was 2009 and my son, and I had been living in an RV for a year full-time already. There were aspects of it I loved–the freedom to pick up and go whenever I’d like, namely–but there were other things I didn’t enjoy…namely, sewer connections, packing it up and down just to drive to the store, always wondering if I’d make it under some branch or back some dirt road.
So when I saw our 78 VW Bus online, and the price was right, I asked the seller if he’d hold it until we could make the drive in a rental car from West Texas to Colorado. It was in a bit of a state, but I fell in love with it immediately and bought it on the spot. It turned out that my college sweetheart lived just up the mountain from where I bought the old girl, and thus began the process of convincing her to move in with us.
Surprisingly, she said yes. We spent that fall and the beginning of winter living out of our new-to-us Bus and just trying to stay warm until she could get rid of her place, save up some cash and quit her job. When Christmas Eve rolled around, all three of us were southbound with frozen feet and big smiles as we dove into what would eventually become the next couple of years–and two more babies–of traveling around.
We eventually put our Bus in my dad’s garage, bought a Ford E-350 and an Airstream, and did that for a few years. But again, I got tired of the bulk, of not being able to get back the forest roads, hitching up and packing down, of not fitting into the remaining available spaces at some national park or scraping the Airstream’s back end over railroad tracks. So, we got back into our Bus and headed to Mexico.
We may not live in the Bus forever, but it’s been our home for the better part of the last eight years, and even if we decide to “grow up” one day, that’ll probably just mean we buy a different van that doesn’t require quite as much maintenance on my part. Of course, the Bus will always have a home in my dad’s garage, after all this time it’s become a part of the family.
Why is that? Because living the vanlife / full-time traveling gig, well, it’s ripe with opportunity for the family. Much of this is attributable to the fact that I can work from wherever…I don’t go into an office every day, leaving my kids and wife behind. Though I’m tapping away at a keyboard for a decent chunk of the day, they are always around.
I’ve seen my boys take their first steps and speak their first words, taught them to swim, ride bikes, dive underwater, build awesome Lego spaceships, and everything else in between. This life has shown me—a former advocate of long nights out at the bar—that a night around a campfire with my boys are the most enjoyable. Teaching them how to make said fire, and be careful and respectful of it, cooking s’mores, telling stories, and then safely putting the fire out when we’re done is one of the most fulfilling ways to spend my evenings. My kids have lived in small town white America, made friends with Spanish speaking kids where communication wasn’t verbal, but through the kick of a soccer ball, and jumped off of piers with Garifuna kids in Central America. They aren’t getting one corner of the world’s views, they’re becoming world citizens.
The world is a big place. With what’s becoming increasingly clear to be infinite views—both literal and how each of us as individuals see it—-I just can’t imagine trading some 9 to 5 gig, living in a house, in one place, mowing my lawn and sitting in traffic, instead of doing this. It’s affordable, so I can spend less time working and more living. Our footprint is smaller on mother nature. And hell, it’s just more fun!
GET MORE INSPIRATION
VANLIFERS OF THE MONTH
Traveling in a van allows me to chose what and when happens, eat healthily and enjoy the moment as opposed to the control of work! There's nothing better than waking up and deciding there and then what to do, where to go or not.
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.