Lifestyle Profiles

How (And Why) We Became A Vanlifer

Van life has changed us in ways that we would have never expected.

Any time I explain my van lifestyle to someone new, the questions are always the same. Why would you want to give up a life of comfort for that? You actually live in a car? How do you even function like that?

Sure, I’d be lying if I said that I never missed having a big bed, a toilet I didn’t have to dump, and DEFINITELY my own shower. But overall, I was bored with my life and looking for so much more. I was still living in my childhood hometown, going to a local college, and trying not to hate every minute of it. I was more than willing to give up some luxuries in place of a meaningful life of travel and experience.

I was still in college when I discovered the van lifestyle, and I immediately took interest in it. I was fascinated with the idea of living simply and traveling, having all of my belongings in one car and lugging it around the country to live wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

While I understood it wasn’t going to be all glamour, as much as I fell into that social media trap (but don’t we all?), I was almost embarrassed to admit that I liked the idea of roughing it on the road. My family had a long history of hiking, camping, and road trips, so I figured it wouldn’t be much different than the experiences I already had.

Woman Insulating camper van panels
Photos via author

The van conversion

Halfway through my senior year of college, I found a cheap van on Craigslist and decided to drive out to see it in person. Even though the deal seemed too good to be true, it wasn’t. When it was time to decide whether or not I was going to drop all of my savings to buy this random, old, dusty cargo van, I could feel the panic begin to set in.

As much research as I had previously done, I still had no idea what I was actually getting myself into, or if I was even ready to drop everything I had known my entire life and hit the road. I ultimately decided that I couldn’t overthink it. I just had to take the jump, even if I might fall. So I bought it.

I was able to take it home a few weeks later, and I got right to work. I was still in school full time finishing my senior year, so I only had weekends to work on my conversion. I’d work until sunset trying to get as much done as I could. During my classes in the week, I found myself scrolling through van and travel blogs, eager to spend every waking minute on prepping for this new journey.

van lifer

Finding remote work

I applied for tons of online jobs to get a hold on a remote income. The weather got colder, slowing down my process, but I pushed forward. I was determined to hit the road as soon as I graduated, and I had doubled up on classes to get out a little early for that specific reason. I finished my build about a month after I finished school, and I left.

It seemed like the timing was perfect for me. I graduated with a degree in Theatre Arts, a career path that is currently on hold due to COVID-19. While that is extremely unfortunate, I felt like it worked out in a way to give me the perfect timing opportunity to experience van life without completely throwing away my future career plans. It seemed that everything fell right into place, paving the way for my new adventure.

van lifer

Why we love van life

I wanted to become a vanlifer to see and experience more of the world. I wanted to gain exposure to new places and cultures and learn how to live in nature. Although I only recently hit the road to begin my van journey, I already know that this decision was the right one to make.

It is incredibly freeing to not be planted in any one location. I don’t feel stuck anymore. I can change my scenery whenever I want, since every place in the country is only a road trip away. Living in my van has allowed me to experience the true values of life. I am constantly thinking about how to eat, where to sleep, how to keep myself clean. I am meeting people of all different backgrounds and cultures, and experiencing ways of life I never knew before.

van lifer

Van life has taught me that there is so much more to life when you just step outside of your comfort zone. There is nothing that we can’t do if we don’t put the time and effort into it. Converting and living in my van has strengthened my patience, my skill set, my resilience, and so much more.

I feel that I’ve become a much more well-rounded and open-minded person. I am eager for new places, new experiences, and new cultures. I became a Vanlifer to have a fuller life experience, and so far, I don’t regret a second of it.


6 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing so much of you! Been following on Instagram and this website is really awesome.

  2. Absolutely love your writing! I hope you have a fantastic journey cause I know you remember it for all the days of your life. Make sure you keep a journal everyday! Stay safe!

  3. So proud of you Jamie! Have a wonderful adventure and I look forward to reading about it!

    Love,
    Nancy

  4. You inspire me every day! My heart is just so full seeing your posts and I am so happy for you! Your writing is just so welcoming, and I can’t wait to read and watch more of your van life journey unfold 🚐❤️

  5. I am so excited for you and honestly, a little jealous, too. I cannot wait to read all about your adventures and live vicariously through your posts. I wish you miles of fantastic adventures and experiences. Be safe out there and you know where you can find a hot meal and shower. <3

  6. You are a constant motivation, lovely lady. I can’t wait to see what comes next for you – you are unstoppable!

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