This is the story of how we turned a crazy idea into our real life. If you have ever been struck by wanderlust and fallen down the rabbit hole that is instagram and TikTok travel accounts, you might have had a similar idea during quarantine. Pack everything up and hit the open road.
For us travel has been one of our joint passions throughout our relationship, something that has drawn us together and rooted our life’s desires together.
John and I are what you might refer to as starry-eyed dreamers. We are of the opinion that this is our one wild and crazy life and we intend to live it to the fullest. Here enters a crazy idea during a global pandemic and many months of being stuck at home, that somehow may just be the beginning of our wildest adventure yet. Before the pandemic, the two of us wanted to do as much international travel as we could early on in our life, but that all came to a halt in 2020 when we, like everyone else, had our lives turned upside down and we were forced to stop and wait right where we were.
Before the pandemic our plan was to go to a far off place at least once a year, but instead we were stuck in our living room making silly videos, sharing art that I was creating, trying to teach 5 year old’s through a computer screen, and running a design team all from our apartment.
Why we bought a van?
In February of 2021 we were off on a short trip to Vegas, where we visited Red Rock State Park. After which we drove to Death Valley in California (Soon to be a Death Valley info page) and spent the better part of a day exploring some of what this gem has to offer. To our surprise this location was nearly 200 miles across and was much, much more than just some desert in the middle of nowhere. Here we found salt flats, colorful rocks, and sand dunes that stretched off into the sunset. We were so surprised by the diversity of this park and how absolutely little we had heard about it. This is the biggest national park in California and we had heard virtually nothing about it until we got here.
On our drive out to this desolate location, we got talking about ideas and hopes and dreams. We were coming up on the anniversary of the pandemic and there was no end in site it seemed. We like many others, were feeling pent up and ready to continue our traveling shenanigans. That’s when the idea popped into our heads, have you heard of “van life?” We talked about how much we loved the idea of driving off into far away places and just setting up camp where ever our hearts desired. At the time we were whimsical and had no idea of any of the logistics that go into those beautiful moments perfectly curated and shared on Instagram. We didn’t know van life etiquette or about all of the planning that goes into seemingly effortless travels, but we’d learn all of that down the line, for now it was all just a dream.
Our first stay in a Van
Flash forward just a couple weeks and we had already decided to sieze the day and give this whole van life thing a try- so we rented a van. John loves to research and as soon as we got back from Death Valley he was figuring out just how those digital nomads really did it. We started watching van lifers on Youtube, some of our favorites have been Kara and Nate, Eamon and Bec, and The Van Wifes. Then, we quickly found Outdoorsy and decided to rent a van from a local Orange County neighbor and take it for a little test drive to a nearby California State Park for the night. We were able to rent an old 90’s Van, that had been self converted and was not exactly the most “instagramable” little ride and we were absolutely charmed by the experience. It felt so raw, we loved it! We thought if we like this in an old and hard to drive van, we might be on to something! It was just the 3 of us driving around Southern California, we were off the grid. That first night we took a hike and watched the sunset at our campground. We mused over what it would be like to have a van of our own… maybe someday we thought.
We Bought a Van!
Flash forward to April and we bought a van! We kept hearing online how hard they have been to come by and after our trip we couldn’t stop dreaming about van life and all the possibilities it could bring our little family. John continued to research non-stop and found a plethora of information for us and ways for him to work full-time on the road, all while we still live an adventurous life close to nature and in a more minimal way. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but we were set on our decision and ready to take a leap!
Ok we bought a van, now what?
Well, that is when the fun really began! People started to see just how serious we were about this wild idea of ours. Now, we were really going to do it! We found builders and got to drawing up our “perfect” van design that optimized every nook and cranny of our soon to be tiny home.
Summer Final Decision
In June of 2021, we picked our van up from the builders we worked with in Huntington Beach. Then by that weekend we hit the road! We took a summer trip to our homestate for a visit with family, that took us from California to Michigan and all the way back in just under 2 months. Phew, what a whirlwind that was, but it was all the time we had to start with, and that’s when we truly knew that this was not just going to be for Weekend adventures we were ready to hit the road full-time as soon as my schooling was done. So I finished school in December, we packed up our home in Los Angeles all of January, and we hit the road at the end of January!
Follow along while we learn first hand all of the struggles that come with van life travels and how we manage living in a tiny space with a dog and 2 humans. Here, I’ll share travel hacks, favorite places we visit, and everything that may come in between.