Most mornings we wake up, stretch, step outside and look at the waterfall to the left of our van as we splash our faces with ice cold water to wake us up. John takes one pup for a run (in his LUNA sandals, of course), while I hang back with the other two for a little bit of sunrise yoga. We eat, work on our laptops, eat some more, take the dogs for a hike, play some instruments around a fire, then go to bed for the evening.
This is what 9-5 looks like to us now. I don't really think this is what Chris Farley had envisioned when trying to scare people away from living in a van down by a river. Some of you might be thinking - wait, hold up - you live in a VAN?To which we say - YEPP! Sure do!
In the summer of 2016 my husband John and I bought a 1996 Chevy Express 1500 with a high top. Our plan was to turn it into a tiny home on wheels and travel the country with our three pups. Fast forward to now, we just hit our one year anniversary of living on the road - one year of living #vanlife full time.
Vanlife means different things to different people, but at its essence it's all about simplifying your life, getting rid of the useless noise that is thrown at us on a daily basis, and living life on your own terms. For some that means free-flowing nomadic travel. For others that means reducing needless expenses and staying around one area.
But whatever your goals, priorities, and dreams, vanlife is a great way to make it happen. Imagine not being tied down to a lease or a mortgage. Imagine having the freedom to go anywhere and do anything. Imagine a life not cluttered with too much stuff, where everything you need is within arms reach. Imagine a vibrant community of other vanlifers that are ready to welcome you into the family.
Thats what vanlife is for us. Its a way for us to create our own lives instead of blindly following a prescribed path that may not be for us.
Pre-vanlife we were living that 9-5 hustle in the "burbs". We had a beautiful two-story, three-bedroom house that we lived in all by ourselves and filled with stuff. It was a huge space for just the two of us, but we intended to fill it with children someday.
We wanted to do one last hurrah before we had kids - which through a chain reaction of sorts led us to vanlife. We discovered people from all over the world who had given up the lives they were told to have in order to chase the lives they dreamed of having for themselves.
Feeling inspired and motivated to live how we wanted instead of how we were told, we sold all of our belongings, found a van, gutted it entirely, and built our new home.
We built our rig with our own two hands, and we're quite proud of it. We're fully off-grid - we have solar panels on the roof that power a refrigerator, lights, ventilation fan, and outlets. We have a full kitchen with a two-burner stove, a sink, and 20 gallons of water. We also have a couch that converts into a queen-size bed when it's time to retire for the evening.
And we have plenty of storage for all of our belongings - everything we own we carry with us, and if we find we're not using something we give it away. There's no space in our lives for things that aren't doing anything for us.
So what do we do now? We're digital nomads. We build and run helpful blogs and websites, that in turn generate an income for us. Our main one is our vanlife blog Gnomad Home, which is filled with all kinds of information on how tobuild your own campervan and live on the road. Our goal is to break down the barriers preventing others from taking this leap.
Believe it or not, we work way harder than we did before vanlife. Pre-vanlife we were juggling multiple side jobs and ways of making money (Airbnb hosting, waitressing, babysitting, freelancing), while also working forty hours at our main jobs - and now we find ourselves working evenmorethan that.
The biggest difference though? We are our own bosses. We can choose to knock out 70 hours of work this week if it means we can go off-grid all week next week. If an emergency comes up and we suddenly need to drive cross country to be with family - we have the freedom to do that without worrying about whether we can take off work.
Life on the road is certainly not a vacation - we still work a ton - but having the freedom to decide when, where, and how we work is absolutely worth it.
Since we have committed to life on the road, our lives have changed dramatically - and very much so for the better. We eat healthier, we live more active lifestyles, we rise and rest with the sun, and most importantly, we have more time to spend doing things we deeply love - creating music, spending time with our pups outside, yoga, cooking, exploring and so, so much more.We're huge advocates of this lifestyle - but even if living in a van isn't for you, we think everyone should look for ways to take back their lives and live their creation. Do you think you'd ever make the jump?
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