One of the greatest luxuries is living the way you want. Never trying to be someone or something else. Following the priorities that matter to you and playing to your strengths. Learning powerful lessons from those who inspire and challenge you to do your best, encourage and motivate you to do more than you thought you could. They’re people who make us look at life from a different angle and think. They’re today’s heroes of the day – Z and Lilu – a couple that uncovered a formula for living their best lives. We can go on those adventure seekers all day but let’s better hear the story first-hand.
So, what does it look like to seize the day? Two words here – van lifestyle.
Past Life of Van Life Couple
Hi, I’m Lilu. And I can’t believe we actually did it.
You see, Z and I have always been wanderlust addicts. Long before the road life, we did our best to make traveling an integral part of our quite conventional lifestyle. Although stuck in the routine of our regular jobs, we used every other opportunity to travel to a new place we’d never been to before. Once the trip was over, we immediately got to work on the plan for the next journey. And it wasn’t because we’re millionaires throwing money around. It’s because travel is a drug. Once you start absorbing the beauty of the world, you get high and can’t stop. The good thing? It’s the drug that heals.
Lifestyle Before Traveling in a Van
Before we started an alternative way of traveling (and living!), we’d been dreaming about a big adventure with the code name “a trip of a lifetime to Southeast Asia.” Huge plans for 2020, you know. We also put New Zealand and Australia on the list and were so excited to set off.
After years spent obtaining post-graduate degrees and corporate jobs, we were in deep anticipation of upcoming journeys to places where food tastes better, colors are more vivid, and a strong aroma of adventure is in the air. But until that…We were trapped and stuck in a busy routine. Our only reward was 4 weeks of vacation days. And the rest…three hundred days blended into one long-running slog of work. Ugh.
At this point, we weren’t a van life couple yet; however, deep inside we were ready to give up corporate jobs and downsize to live on the road. We called it a ‘sabbatical’ and pressed the Order Tickets button. Small win, guys. Yet so short-lived. The pandemic hit like snow in July. Before you knew it, I was back working at the ICU while Z continued to do his job for the bank remotely. Seemed like the world stopped spinning.
How We Traveled Before
Before traveling in a van, we were just like most people who got to see the world from time to time saving money in the name of travel because…once you start, it interferes with your job, hobbies, and mindset. We figured costs of every trip, made an A-to-Z plan, decided on the daily activities, and prepared all travel must-haves.
Together, we explored the wildest places and felt how every trip changed us in a positive way. Even after a minor vacation break, it was hard adjusting to normal life with bills, office meetups, and never-ending to-do lists. It definitely wasn’t what our souls intended. More and more sure-fire signs encouraged us to give up mundane adulthood.
The decision to Live and Travel in a Van
Covid wasn’t going anywhere. We had to learn to coexist in the pandemic reality. Motivated by a dream to become a couple traveling in a van, our small family was ready to regain the zing that comes with living a life full of flow, dreams, and freedom. Finally, we were ready to seriously research how to live in a van and travel questions and immerse ourselves in something completely different.
Was there any fear of quitting stable familiar life in pursuit of the unknown? One of the most popular questions, to be honest. The decision to travel full-time felt a little fearful. After all, it means new environments, acquaintances, and expectations (and failures of course!) that require many adjustments for success.
Now that I look back to what we’ve gone through with Z, it is easier to talk about issues we've encountered and combatted successfully, in retrospect.
- Learning from your mistakes is part of the process. The Achilles' heel of those ready for the grandiose changes.
- Traveling in a camper van requires you to have some savings. To save money, we decided to build a home on wheels ourselves. Van life blogs like Far Out Ride and YouTubers like Eamon & Bec, Max & Occy, and Adam & Venessa helped us stay on track.
- The what-if thing. You know, the most common obstacle the dreamers encounter. Your inner voice might whisper, “You don't know how to start van-life and it will most likely fail” Don’t listen to it!
- The fear (hesitation?) of moving towards an unknown future.
How to Start Vanlife
After having thought a zillion times about what makes you happy and knowing it’s the nomadic lifestyle, it is important to ensure traveling the country in a van is something you can actually do. We did our best to get there. Full of life, debt-free, and ready for a remote job in far-and-away lands. Three main checkboxes that are important to tick off on the to-do list of every van-dweller.
When asked about how to transition into this alternative lifestyle, we give the same list of tips:
- Raise your funds first. Living in a house on wheels might sound like a dream but a dream that you have to pay for in advance.
- Be ready for a bunch of challenges – from planning your build to picking appliances.
- Homesickness is a real thing and it would be helpful to set that expectation right away.
- Since so much investment is going towards building out a van home, it would be prudent to invest in a mechanically sound vehicle (lower mileage, clean title, and no rust).
- Tie out all loose ends and start a chapter fresh. Don't let previous affairs hold you back unnecessarily.
- Traveling also requires some self-discipline. Work hard to play hard. Your boss doesn't care about your struggles on the road or that you can't find wifi when you don't send the report on time.
- Have zero expectations – just enjoy the ride.
Inspiration for Traveling in a Camper Van
Hitting the open road had captured our imagination long before we actually set off on the very first journey. We couldn't stop thinking about the possibility of being able to stay anywhere as long as we wanted. It was a dream in our heads that was waiting to become reality. We were new to the van-life scene but had many inspirations that kept us dreaming even more.
Inspiration comes in many forms, and you just need to find what works for you. These are the top inspirations that helped us make the conscious first step out the door.
- Van life bloggers. People we could relate to. When you see someone living in a van home, you tell yourself, if they are able to have fun and travel the world, maybe I can too.
- Meeting other travelers. Sharing stories and learning from the experiences of those who have the same impulse to explore the world is precious.
- Trips. Journeys. Voyages. Every previous adventure urged us to embrace traveling as a way of living.
- Freedom. Packing up and heading to foreign far-and-away lands is a great boost that keeps you chasing your desires.
What has our personal van life journey taught us? Hmm. First, it has shown how diverse and uniquely good people are. How magnificent the world is, and how privileged we are to enjoy the life we’ve been granted.
What do we say to those on the verge of such a crazy idea? Don't hesitate. Do it! Best time? TODAY.