In the guide they cover the benefits and challenges of living in a van full time, building out a van for living, where to park, bathrooms, showers, laundry, cost, earning money, getting mail, insurance, and they share helpful resources for living on the road. If that sounds like a good read, go see the VanLife How To Guide now.
They bought their van in August 2016 and converted it into an off-grid mobile dwelling. They’ve been on the road since April 2017 and in that time they’ve learned a lot about building vans and living in them – which they share in great detail on their website, Gnomad Home and in their new VanLife How To Guide.
Kirsten Dirksen visits Eric Kennedy, tours his off-grid Mercedes Sprinter Van, and learns how and why he chose VanLife over traditional housing.
For many, the lower living costs of living in a van are one of the major draws. I don’t think this was the case for Eric. For Eric freedom, quality of life, and a quiet place to work with lots of fresh air seem to be what drove him to VanLife.
It’s a good reminder that while this kind of extreme downsizing comes with many trade-offs, it also comes with many benefits that are not easily replaced by traditional dwellings or work spaces.
Eric moves with the seasons. In the summer you might find in the Pacific Northwest, in the winter, the Southwest. He always has an open-air workspace instead of a stuffy cubical. He chooses the view and he works and plays when he chooses.
His computer and internet connection keeps him connected to work and an income. His wheels take him anywhere he feels like going.
Jordan & Kaylee and Trent & Allie have been traveling together in Mexico and Belize for about two months now; and they’ve gotten to know each other’s vehicle well. Jordan & Kaylee live in a converted micro bus and Trent & Allie live in a Ram ProMaster van conversion. In this video they compare and contrast these two vehicles and explain the pros and cons. It’s a useful overview for those considering vanlife and buslife. Photo via Jordan & Kaylee; to learn more about them follow them on YouTube. Also be sure to check out Trent & Allie on YouTube.
Why two tiny homes are better than one big one – my life in a van and on a boat
The following is a guest post from Kristin Hanes, a journalist and writer in the San Francisco Bay area. She writes about alternative living – campervans, RVs, sailboats and tiny homes – at The Wayward Home.
I became a minimalist by accident. At first, I didn’t have a grand scheme of living with less, ditching consumerism and going small. But I did have one major goal: pay off debt.
It was 2015, and I was paying a ridiculous amount of rent near San Francisco for a tiny studio cottage. Even though I made good money as a radio news reporter in the city, I was still in debt – loans with exorbitant interest rates. So, I took a huge leap of faith, determined to pay off debt once and for all and save an emergency fund. I was 35-years old with hardly any money to my name.
So, I gave 30-days notice on my cottage and my boyfriend Tom and I started living in his Toyota Prius. Talk about tiny living! For four months, we stealth camped near San Francisco, and sometimes set up a real tent among the trees in Marin County. I barely told anyone; we did this before “van life” became a trending hashtag. Sometimes, I battled with feeling low about living in a car. Friends offered their spare rooms with concern.
I emerged from the experience of living in the Toyota Prius as a changed person. No longer did I need stuff to feel happy. I wanted to be in nature, have freedom and adventure. And best of all, I learned Tom and I can successfully live in a very small space.
We paid off our debt, saved money, and he bought a 41-foot sailboat with cash.
Our journey into the sailboat life
At first, living on the beautiful 1972 CT-41 ketch felt like camping in a teak box. We had no working toilet, a hole where the stove goes, no hot water and no heating. But still, I felt happy. I’d cook using our JetBoil Flash backpacking stove in our tiny galley, the companionway wide open. The feeling of fresh air on my face while I fried up turkey burgers felt like a dream.
I felt close to nature, in tune with the wind and rain. Being in the boat during a rainstorm is still one of my favorite things in the world.
Sure, we also had our difficulties. We don’t have a “legal” liveaboard slip in our marina, so we spent a lot of time sneaking around. I would pet sit so we’d have somewhere else to stay, or we’d travel and go camping or backpacking. Sometimes, we’d go back and sleep in the Prius.
Cooking on a backpacking stove got old fast, so we upgraded to a hot plate. Finally, one year after living on the sailboat, Tom installed a stove. A few weeks ago, almost three years after moving aboard, we have a working refrigerator.
Living on the sailboat with hardly any amenities has taught me a deep sense of gratitude. Never before have I been so grateful and so amazed by a working refrigerator! I felt the same way about our toilet, our stove, and hot running water. I will never take those luxuries for granted again.
Over the course of three years, Tom has restored the boat almost to the point where it can take on oceans. Our dream is to sail the world.
Why we also have a Chevy Astro van
While I deeply love the marine landscape and can’t wait to go cruising, I am also a forest, mountain and desert girl. And for that type of exploration I would need a land yacht.
I found the van on Craigslist with only 57,000 miles, and knew it had to be mine. I picked it up in Sacramento and moved all my belongings aboard. The van felt huge compared to my small sedan! Now, the van is where I store all my clothes and shoes. It’s my living room and also my bedroom.
Sometimes we use the van to sleep in San Francisco, or we take it to hot springs or national parks. The van is small, but cozy, and has so much character, like wood paneling, a 90s-era television and a high-top fiberglass roof.
We love cuddling up in the van to watch a movie with the little windows open, letting fresh air wash over our faces. I’ve gotten addicted to this fresh air, so that now when I sleep in a house, I miss it dearly.
Why we love our two tiny homes
The other day, we were housesitting a mansion in San Francisco. I was cooking in a gigantic kitchen with a five burner stove, double ovens and huge center island.
So, what was the problem? I couldn’t see Tom.
“Where are you!” I wailed.
“Out here!” he called. He was sitting in a chair in the living room, reading. Just on the other side of a wall, but oh, so far.
“You need to be closer! I’m used to seeing you while I cook.”
So, he came into the kitchen and sat near me on a bar stool, and I felt so much better.
I’ve realized I don’t like big houses. So much wasted space. So much stuff. So much to clean. Now, I think about the nature ruined to build such a big house. It’s too bad our society has evolved to put more importance on big homes than trees, creeks, salmon, wildlife, flowers.
I’ll never, ever be able to live in a big house.
One thing I can see myself having one day is a tiny home in the woods. Then, we’d have three. A van, a sailboat, and a cabin.
I don’t know what in life could be better.
If only everyone could experience living tiny. The connection to nature, to each other, to simplicity. The world would be a better place.
BIO: Kristin Hanes is a journalist and writer in the San Francisco Bay area. She writes about alternative living – campervans, RVs, sailboats and tiny homes – at The Wayward Home.
I don’t know how many people are buying their postcards to enter, but if you’re wondering how a young couple can afford to give away their van in a promotion, watch the VICE News video below.
It gives us a peek into the world of influencer marketing and how big brands pay people with popular YouTube and Instagram profiles big money to help promote their products. For some people this might seem wrong, for others this will sound like a great way to help finance their own #vanlife.
I don’t know what’s next for Sabrina and Jimmy, but I wish them all the best and hope their iconic VW Bus finds a great new home.
Sabrina and Jimmy spend several stressful days cleaning the WANDXR Bus before the giveaway. After spending so much time together in a tiny VW Bus, it must be super hard to expel so much energy cleaning it just so you can give it away to someone else.
The giveaway ends on January 18, 2019 AT 7.00 PM PST. So there’s still a little time to enter this VW Bus Giveaway. You can choose to enter two different ways.
Free Entry – send a postcard mailed to Sabrina and Jimmy. For details on this option just follow the instructions you find in section 3 of their Terms and Conditions page. You can enter only once by mail.
Buy WANDXR Post Cards – You can enter as many times as you like this way, but it’s a paid entry per postcard. When you buy their postcards you’re helping to support their continued travel vlog. They also give back to the environment, animals, and humanitarian causes with every purchase.
Jimmy and Sabrina recap their adventures from 2018 – before they give away their van! They spent some time in Mexico and most of the time exploring California. They also explain some of the backstory behind their Volkswagen Bus Giveaway.
Like I mentioned, they are giving away their VW Bus. To enter you can mail in an entry for free or buy a limited-edition postcard from them for a chance to win their 1973 Volkswagen Bus and a one-way ticket to Los Angeles, CA (LAX) to pick up the bus and meet Jimmy and Sabrina.
Each postcard purchase counts as one entry. US Residents Only. Entry deadline is January 18, 2019 at 7:00 PM PST.The winner will be announced January 19th. Buy postcards at wandxr.co. To enter for free read section 3 in their terms and conditions for the instructions. Photos and giveaway by Jimmy and Sabrina. We’re just happy to help them get the word out.
Dylan Magaster visits with Philippe Leblond has been living in a van for over two years at the time this video was made. Philippe has traveled for years as a professional model, so a home that travels was a natural solution for him. Follow Philippe on Instagram. For more great videos like this subscribe to Dylan Magaster’s YouTube Channel. Photo and video by Dylan Magaster.
Kate began her vanlife experiment with a 2 month road trip. She liked it just fine, so decided to stay in the van. She lives very simply and has made few modifications. Best of all it gives her the freedom to live how she wants to and for very little money in the most expensive city in Canada… Vancouver. For more great videos like this follow Forrest Stevens on Youtube.
Have you seen Forest Stevens’ documentary The Reality of #VanLife? Forest shows the truth about #vanlife in an attempt to dispel the reality shown on Instagram. For more great videos like this subscribe to Forest Stevens on Youtube.