Couple Ditches House in the Suburbs for Travel Life in a Van with Two Dogs


Hi, I’m Jamie and I’m John. This is Crow.
And this is my Nymiria. And this is our home Nomi. We’ve always been travelers and
adventures so we met doing this program called AmeriCorps and Triple C. We
travel around the country in Chevy vans do community service, work with
nonprofits, disaster relief. I think that kind of primed us for van life. We sort
of fell into the the 9 to 5 house in the suburbs situation that you’re just kind
of subtly pushed into I feel like. We just woke up one day and looked around
and realized this isn’t what we wanted. We talked about doing one last hurrah
before we had kids. One of my best friends, shoutout to Collins, because none
of this would be a thing without him probably. He told us to look up the
hashtag vanlife. We found like the typical large accounts like @wheresmyofficenow and @idletheorybus We started just selling everything.
It took us close to eight months, seven or eight months to sell everything. We made about 10 grand from selling everything so that was a nice beginning. This is Nomi.
He is a 1996 Chevy Express 1500. He also goes by Tiara on weekends. We got him for
$1500. He had about a hundred thousand miles and we put fifteen on him. The
the build…oh Nymiria. The build overall, all in, the whole thing was
about ten thousand. You definitely don’t need to spend as much on the build as we
did. We just happened to set a ten thousand dollar budget and when you set a
budget you tend to spend that budget so if your budget’s less then you can
definitely find a way to make it happen. Nomi gets about 15 miles to the gallon,
give or take, which is a lot better than I was expecting.
Up top you’ll see we have our Fantastic Vents which has a rain cover on it
because insulation in the rain is key. You need a rain cover to have that
thing open in a serious rainstorm. We have 300 watts of Renergy solar panels.
This guy right here, which is actually an SAE quick disconnect where we can plug
in a fourth solar panel. We basically took a solar extension cord and cut the
end off and put a quick connector on and we can just plug it right in. That’s
charging three hundred and ten amp hour battery bank. We have two 155 amp power
AGM batteries. Since we have a lot of instruments and we have backpacking gear and
tools so we wanted enough space to store all that so we built a pretty high up
bed platform here and we just have a ton of storage under here. You’ll see
we’ve got a banjo and a guitar and here’s our spare water right here, tools,
there’s backpacks and a tent shoved back there too. This right here is our extra
solar panel and it just fits right under this platform so we don’t have to move
everything around to get it out and we just can pull this right out
open the PVC frame and plug it in. Welcome to our home. So when we
were building the van we felt like the stairs right here were just dead space.
We built these storage boxes on the doors. This one holds our trash and
recycling. This one is all of our dog supplies so food, accessories, etc. We
built as a little table it does not work outside yet but when we’re inside it
just props up into a little table. I like to call it our Yahtzee table because we
play a lot of Yatz. We also have a little broom and an umbrella that we
literally never use so we should take that to Goodwill. This is a Cajon. When we
were building the van the way that we did our setup we decided that we wanted
an additional seat so we decided let’s get an instrument. This is our fridge.
It’s made by ARB they’re a four by four company. It holds about a week worth of
food and a little bit of beer or a week worth of beer and a little bit of food.
These have been a godsend just a really cheap shoe holder and it
just holds all of our little tiny things that we don’t necessarily have a home
for and we don’t want to make a large home for so it gets them out of the
way and organized. First off this artwork is done by the phenomenal Lea
McGee. You can find her on Etsy or Instagram @sunnymcgeeart. So this is
our pantry. This is all of our dry goods and some wine. We have shelving up top.
It’s one of our many areas for knickknacks. This is our kitchenette. We
have a 14 gallon stainless steel tank. We can also access it through the top. We
didn’t really like the idea of our water sitting in plastic so we found this on a
winemaking website. This is our sink. We got a lot of boat parts for our van
build cuz they’re made for smaller spaces and they can normally move around.
We got a foot pump. We highly suggest the foot pump because you
are way more conscious of the water that you’re using and you have free hands and
then it drains into here. We just dump it in it’s necessary spots every like four
to five days probably. So this is all of our storage for kitchen stuff. Can you
stand up in here? Yeah I can. John can’t, but I can. Propane freaks us
out a little bit. We don’t have a lot of experience with it and it’s a
really small area. Found out about this. It’s an alcohol stove. It runs off of
denatured alcohol and it costs about $15 a month for us to run it. We have a
lot of storage going on in this van that was really important to us. Some of
the smaller things in the back we have some books right here. This is our
battery box that they’re sitting on top of. We have our not so every day
necessary items in here so different shoes, our extras box so like spare
velcro and twine or whatever. This is our bedroom.
One thing that we did that was important to us is we have little cubbies on each
side of our bed. Here on mine, a bunch of books and different journals. Same with
John. He has a bunch of books. He also handmade cup holders to fit our Hydroflasks perfectly, but mine broke. This is our closet again artwork by Lea
McGee and this is our closet so we have our clothes in
these cubes. One side is all mine, one sides all his. I know the bed looks a
little bit small. Whenever nighttime rolls around though these are part of
the mattress so we just took a steak knife to our mattress basically and cut
it up. These are all separate pieces. That was my non-negotiable thing
of like two humans, two dogs, we need a big bed. So insulation was really important to us
since we would be traveling year-round in all different climates. We made these
curtains. They’re made out of insulshine. It’s a reflective material with batting
on the opposite side. We just sewed this dark fabric under the opposite side of
the batting and they’re on hooks so that they can be reversible so we can reflect
the heat out or reflect the heat in. It works extremely well. Let’s say the sun’s
out over here, if we put this side of curtains down, the temperature in here
drops by like 10 to 15 percent or degrees. We did the math. We have a 3/4
inch poly isoform board in so it’s about in our value a 5 and then on the floor
we didn’t want to lose out on a bunch of headspace so we put Reflectix down.
It doesn’t really do much, but we figured it’s better than nothing. And
then we have cedar on the ceiling so it won’t mold and it smells like heaven. We
stained this part wanting to do like the whole log cabin
feel. And then we specifically did not stain
inside of our closet so that our clothes smelt like cedar.
We are on Verizon’s unlimited plan. They just offered unlimited data so we can
just hotspot our phone whenever we have cell service. If we don’t have cell
service we got this WeBooster. We turn it on and we can go from one bar to
all bars. We saved up quite a bit just selling
all our belongings. We were also freelancing at the time you know we had
some spare bedrooms so we were Airbnb’ing one of them out for a few months so we
built up a lot of savings we were living off of, but actually just in July we got
to the point where we’re covering expenses from income. We have some like
online businesses, web design, and just you know building websites. We started
doing all this before we hit the road too so that once we were getting settled
into van life we would have like a good side business. Mm-hmm, this is right
at the point where it’s starting to cross over so it’s exciting. Yeah we just had our first month where our income was higher than our expenses. Primarily we make like affiliate income from products that we mention and then with our blog specifically we’re just kind of trying to bring all the information that
we can find together in one place for other people looking to build their vans.
So when we started building our van we could find a million and a half YouTube
videos on van builds but there was very limited written work out there and most
of that was specific to one person’s van or it was very outdated so we were like,
“well, what if we created written content then?” so we started from the very
beginning like trying to keep it Universal so that anyone could benefit
from it and creating all of this we were taking additional notes for if we’d ever
want to build another van. In general we really believe in this lifestyle. We
think it’s a lot of fun. It like frees you up to pursue whatever other passions
you might have also just want to help other people you know just get on the
road as quickly and easily as possible so that’s kind of our goal of it. You
know it’s a cliche that your parents tell you but anything you put your mind
to you can do and that’s absolutely true. Once you really realize that within
yourself possibilities are endless but you can do anything you want but you
need to you know put your mind to it and take small steps each and every
day to work towards what you want to do. If you want to run a marathon just go
run down the block start there. A year or two down the road you’ll turn around and
you’ll look in the rearview mirror and you’ll see all these little steps behind
you that led you exactly where you wanted to go.

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