It first began with a dream for an adventure. To unplug, unwind, and take time to experience magnificent national parks and uncover hidden gems alike. To learn and develop our budding interest in photography and our passion for hiking. To immerse ourselves in the outdoors, spend quality time with each other and swap rush hour traffic for slow, golden sunsets. We had talked about the trip, but we could never pin down the ideal time to do it. Was it in our 40s? Our 60s? Our 70s?
Eventually, our experience caring for a loved one with early-onset Alzheimer's disease became the catalyst that inspired change. While it was a very difficult time, it taught us to live in and enjoy each moment and was an important reminder that time is precious and nothing in life is guaranteed. Most importantly, we realized that life is not about waiting for things to happen, it's about making things happen.
"Most use the future as a kind of phony ritual that justifies the present. We'd love to drop all and explore the world outside, we tell ourselves, but the timing never seems right. Thus, given an unlimited number of choices, we make none... Sadly, the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. Conditions are never perfect. 'Someday' will take your dreams to the grave with you."
Like most decisions, our choice to embark on an adventure came with sacrifices. For us, it meant putting our careers on hold, losing valuable time with friends and family, and giving up many comforts of home. Although we tried to ready ourselves for these changes in the months before embarking, it is a unique way to travel that is difficult to prepare for. There are a lot of challenges that present themselves when travelling in a 12’ x 6’ space for an extended period of time. Overcoming these challenges required patience, flexibility and most of all, a good sense of humour (like laughing at yourself when brushing your teeth in a Wal-Mart while getting strange looks). This trip taught us a lot about ourselves and each other including valuable lessons on resourcefulness, communication, problem-solving and teamwork.
There was never a doubt that our adventure would be on four wheels – we love the flexibility, freedom, and affordability of travelling in a camper van. We also admire what van life represents as a movement - embracing minimalism, self-discovery, and exploration of the great outdoors.
After learning that a professionally-converted Sprinter van was far beyond what we wanted to spend, we purchased a very affordable and reliable Chevy cargo van and spent $1,000 USD converting it to a camper van. Although it lacked the bells and whistles of the professional conversions, it met our needs and enabled us to do what mattered most – to get outside and explore!
When we first started designing our van build we found it extremely helpful to look at other designs on the web. We wanted to return the favour and help others by sharing our design and steps of the build. We’ve written a van conversion guide that we hope will inspire others and demonstrate that van life can be affordable and accessible.
Since starting our journey, we’ve seen sandstone light up in brilliant shades of orange and vermillion during a Grand Canyon sunrise. We’ve slept under the milky way, with thousands of stars above. Our skyline turned from concrete towers to 800-year-old Redwood forests. We’ve traversed the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, slid down sand dunes in New Mexico, camped in solitude along the wild Oregon coast and lived out our dream surfing trip in California.
We hopped a plane to the other side of the world and camped with wallabies in Tasmania, saw the Twelve Apostles at first light, lived like castaways on the pristine beaches of the Whitsundays, and were left marvelled time and time again at the incredible beauty of New Zealand.
We hope we’ve inspired you in some small way to make your own memories outdoors and we're here if you have any questions along the way.