I have officially lived in my van Billie for one week. For those of you who may be new to my journey, last year I bought a 2014 Mercedes Sprinter van, named her Billie and decided that I was going to convert her (with the help of my best friends fiance, Bobby) and live in her while traveling full time.
A lot of people ask what struck this need for adventuring and why I wanted to live in a van in the first place. Honestly, a couple years ago after a break up my curiosity of what else was out there really began. I started traveling A LOT to get away from Vegas and to get away from some of the heartbreak this place was bringing me at the time. I was putting myself out there by doing things alone and being okay with some solitude and a much needed relationship with myself. I was finally able to solely focus on myself and my business and also seeing the world from a new light and making new connections.
I had thought about airstream living and van living for a long time but never really thought it would happen … until one conversation that truly changed my life. Mike Smith, a fellow speaker doin the damn thang sat me down and dropped some wisdom on me. I can remember the conversation so vividly. After a couple hours of talking he asked me what my dream was and I replied with “I want to live in a van so I can travel while making my movement actually move. Literally and figureatively.” Shit got real quick … he replied with “Okay. Let me get this straight. You talk about living the dream. You tell people how to live the dream and you’re not living yours?” I looked at him like the exploding brain emoji 🤯and simply said “Yeah that’s about right.”
That conversation was life changing for me, literally. Leaving that Tuscon Starbucks I left f u l l y invested in finding a van, buying a van and then doing the damn van thang (and being so terrified to tell my mother this new plan of mine). Today is SOOOO full circle 🚐 I found a van, I bought the van, I named her Billie and THIS week she will become my full time home. Someone please pinch me.
My “so far” van life time line for ya …
In September 2018 I bought the van in San Diego. I had her for one day and then drove her up to Denver, Colorado where Bobby would work literal magic and turn a freaking box into a home.
February 2019 I got Billie back after being fully converted into my tiny home on wheels (she’s perfect). From February until July I did some road tripping on the weekends and spent as much time with her as I could while still living a “normal” work and teaching life.
June 29, 2019 I moved into Billie … FULL TIME. Yes, this means I moved out of my apartment and I do in fact live in a van. I will start my road tripping up the coast north west July 19th when I get back from an epic trip to Spain, Portugal and Morocco.
How did my first week in the van go? It was a learning experience to say the least. Honestly, since I decided I was going to live in the van it’s been a learning experience. The first week though I am just so freaking happy this is finally happening that literally nothing can bring me down. I have waited for what feels like forever for this to manifest and it’s finally here!
I’d like to lead off with I am currently still living in Las Vegas for a few more weeks as I make the last little bit of stable money and finish out work at the summer camp I work at. Yes, that means I sleep in a lot of parking lots. Yes, it’s 100 degrees or more out right now so I sweat when I sleep a lot. Yes, I have to find a place to shower and shit. Yes that’s not very glamorous but it’s my new life and I love it anyway.
Getting ready to move into the van I purged everythingggg. I sold all of my big things, I donated literally 80 percent of my clothing. I am storing a very small amount of sentimental things, holiday decorations (because I love decorating for holidays), my kitchen stuff (because fiesta ware is where it is at) and my pride and joy — all of my books! The purge was so damn eye opening. Seeing all the money I spent on “things” I felt I no longer needed nor wanted was disgusting. It made me realize how much we truly need to survive. How minimal we can be. I now have everything I need in the van and with me at all times and there is so much comfort in that.
First things first, I currently have no electricity in my van. My batteries were faulty and after trouble shooting for literally months we finally figured out what was wrong (hopefully). With that said, a couple of days before I moved in the van full time I had to send my batteries back to the company and I am waiting to get my new ones under warranty.
This means my fridge doesn’t work, my plugs don’t work, I don’t have lights (but twinkle lights are where it’s at anyway), and my vent fan won’t work unless we got some serious wind going on. Sure this sucks, but it’s too hot to hang in the van anyway so I try to only be in it when I am driving or going to bed. The fridge not working is a bummer but hey that’s what granola bars were invented for! I like to call it the van diet … sweating out everything and eating one meal a day because it’s to expensive to do more than that.
I kicked off living in the van with an adventure with my 4 year roomie Mikey. We woke up at 330am and drove out to Valley of Fire State Park for sunrise, a bit of wandering and for me to play around with my camera. It was exactly what my soul needed. There was no one else in the park at the time we got their so the quietness and isolation we had was refreshing.
After the adventure my normal work week began. I slept in parking lots all week (well barely slept), waking up at 5am (and many many times in between) in a puddle of sweat ready to go workout just so I could shower at the gym and head off to work for the day.
Like I said, it’s tooooo hot to hang out in Billie during the day so I like to think this is a blessing in disguise because I literally have gotten so much work done because I have to go hang out at a coffee shop from work to be in some air conditioning.
Over the weekend I decided I needed to cool down for a night and try to catch up on some sleep sweat not included. I was driving up to Mount Charleston when my battery and alternator light came on. Naturally Billie is stubborn as heck so I pulled over and she wouldn’t start back up for me. Triple A came and it was a freak thing because the alternator and battery were tested to perfection. Eventually, I got back on the road and found my camp spot in the mountains … which was short lived because the ranger found me (even though there were no “no overnight parking signs”) he said I had to go … so we moved on.
All said and done I still had a home cooked breakfast one morning and not one but two showers in a house, thank you Lindsay Cotterman. I had a break from the heat one night where I crashed on my friends couch, thank you Jason Sims. Many other thanks to my friends who have genuinely offered up their couches or showers but get why I have turned them down understand why I am just happy living life sweat and all.
I get asked everyday “where are you sleeping tonight?” my honest answer is always “I’m not sure yet, wherever the wind blows.” I get asked “where do you go to the bathroom at?” my answer is “a toilet just like you.” I get asked where I shower and easily enough the gym or a friends house.
Like I said some of this is not ideal … the no electricity, the weather conditions, the city life van living, but right now it just doesn’t phase me. Having something you have been wanting and needing for so long come to fruition is the best feeling in the world. I truly take on everything as a learning experience because there’s not really much else I can do. Every hiccup, every annoyance it’s room to grow and to learn something new.
The coolest thing about this week is that I had so many cool little adventures within my normal work week. I went to Valley of Fire which is breath taking. I went to Red Rock to check out the stars. I drove up to the mountains for green trees and sweater weather. These moments and experiences are the best part about living on the road, literally. You get to do what you want, when you want, where you want. I am sure there will be a day or week or month that I question this entire life style because of some major hiccups but it will be important to go back to a day like today where I am just high on life and grateful.