#vanlife - Hashtag Van Life

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An online community to connect you with fellow van dwellers and share stories from living on the road.
Posts tagged travel
Why am I living in van
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My traveling, downsizing, and living in a van is in response to many things that I experienced over the past few years. Here are a few: My experiences owning a junk removal company I spent 7 years of people paying my franchise to remove and haul away items from their house. Especially when the items were in perfectly good shape and could continue to be used. Let that sink in. We donated or recycled over 75% of the items but I was always shocked at how many things people owned but didn't need.

I was also surprised at the number of items that were still 'new in the box' or never opened that we hauled away. It shows you that items are sold at such a low price that people don't think twice about getting rid of an item that they never even used!

Living in a condo I purchased a 2 bed/2 bath condo in late 2008. It was a steal but I quickly realized that I didn't spend much time in my condo. I never got a television or cable and it was 30 minutes from downtown Denver so friends never came to visit.

My daily schedule dictated that I leave my condo between 6-8am and return between 8-9pm each day. I used my condo just as a place to sleep for 8-10 hours a day. That's when I started to think about not commuting each day to my office and being truly mobile.

My high school years I wholeheartedly believe that the job of a parent is to raise their kids to become independent, self-reliant adults. I feel that my parents did a wonderful job of this because at 15 years old, I felt like I could take on the world. I bristled at authority and being told 'No, you can't do that' - I would often disobey my parents and do what I wanted to do.

My high school years felt like I was biding my time to get to college and then the 'real world'. It was a time that I felt that I didn't have much control over my life and was constantly yearning for freedom. Many young people see the the 'real world' as a scary place, but for me, it's the most freedom I've ever felt in my life. I could do what I wanted - no expectations and your choices could forge your own path.

These experiences had been bouncing around inside of me for years and finally manifested itself after my talk with my coach in my #vanlife. I still may not know exactly what I'm going to do with my life, but at least I feel like I have the freedom and autonomy to choose how and where I live.

7 Reasons to Choose a Sprinter Van to Live In
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The reasons that I chose a Sprinter van over other types of RVs or campervans were:

1) Sprinters come with a 2.7L turbo diesel engine which produces a super efficient 21-25mpg with a very active community on the Internet

2) The interior height allowed a tall guy (I'm 6'2") like me to stand upright

3) I wanted a van that wasn't huge, imposing, and obvious if I parked it in a residential neighborhood. I wanted 'stealth' so I could camp anywhere. Sprinter vans do not look like an RV.

Minor reasons to go with a Sprinter van:

4) A fixed top/roof. I really preferred the fixed ‘high’ roof over popups (like a Westfalia van) because they are warmer in the winter, quicker to setup (or instant), easier to walk around in and easy to boondock (aka camping where you are not supposed to camp).

5) Shorter vehicle for better manuverability and easier to park than a big RV and high clearance so you can take it off-roading.

6) Most Sprinters are cargo vans so they typically empty and a blank slate for your vanlife building imagination!

7) Has tiptronic shifting which is nice on hilly roads and as a brake assist.

Here are a few annoying issues that I have had since I purchased the van: - The door locks are a royal pain in the ass. I hate the Eurovan ‘central locking’. Give me a simple lock/unlock button any day. Quite often the remote doesn’t even work. Very frustrating for what should be such a simple thing. - The lack of an anti-sway bar. The van handles front to back bumps just fine, but if you hit any bump that rocks the van sideways, be prepared to wait for 20 seconds for it to stop rocking. - Failure of the turbo resonator and the associated pipe. Both of which are easy fixes but can leave you in Limp Home Mode (where you can't accelerate over 35 MPH).

After searching for weeks on Craigslist, eBay, cars.com, and used car dealer websites, I purchased a 2005 Dodge T1N Sprinter from a HVAC company on the border of Wyoming and Montana that was the 2nd owner. It was originally from Pennsylvania where the wet winters caused a significant amount of rust on the frame. I got it for $10,000 with 160,000 miles.

I used CarGurus website to give a quick and dirty estimate on whether a van was a good value.

Overall, I have had a great experience with my Sprinter van, learned a lot about repairing a diesel engine and would definitely purchase a Sprinter van again!

Are you scared of the van life? I was...
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I am writing this after being on the road for two years. This is not a post about being scared for my safety while living in a van. It is about a deeper fear within me. Three years ago I decided to set out on my wanderlust journey. Only to realize I was terrified of leaving everything, selling my business and my belongings. I felt society and even my friends, business associates, and family would judge me. Would they think I was 'quiting life' or giving it all up?

Something was holding me back. I couldn't even take the first steps in living the van life. I was doing some personal coaching with David Hamilton and during one of our last sessions, he gave me permission to sell my businesses and start down the road towards vanlife. It was a simple statement that allowed me to take the first steps towards the vanlife.

'I give you permission to leave Denver and go on a roadtrip.'

It could have simply been the act of someone I respected, saying 'yes, you can do this'. It removed society's expectation that one must live life a certain way. Regardless, the permission that Dave gave me sent me quickly towards my goal of living a simple life in a van.

In the next few months I took the first steps to design MY ideal lifestyle. I hit the road in my Dodge pickup truck. I left Denver headed to San Diego and up coastal route 1 to Vancouver, Canada. While on the road, I loved to tell people about my road trip driving route 1. However, I felt embarrassed to say I was sleeping in the back of my pickup truck.

Personally, I always enjoyed my new adventurous life. The mornings when I woke up to beautiful vistas and sunrises were incredible. But I was still hesitant to describe the rougher aspects of living on the road, like peeing in a bottle or washing up in a mountain stream or wearing the same clothes for days on end.

After two years of vanlife, I have gotten rid of my head trash and I have no shame when I don't conform to society's norms. I am part of the movement to live simply - be it the vanlife movement, the tiny home movement, or the energy efficiency movement. They all tie back to the same underlying principle - living simply.

I now confidently tell people that I am a digital nomad traveling the US in my converted Sprinter van.

Now when I tell people I am living in my Sprinter van, I see faces light up. I inspire them. There is no more shame or embarrassment, only good feelings and freedom.

I have met others who are living this dream and I will share my stories, trials, and triumphs.

My mission is to connect current vanlifers, share my love of research and knowledge and bring more people into the community.