How to Live Your Dreams – Advice From Real Nomads

Choosing our personal happiness has been filled with highs and lows. Sure, people look at us like we’re insane when we tell them about our van project. Some might see our aspirations as a pipe dream, but choosing our personal happiness also comes with amazing perks.

The best thing to come from our adventure seeking has been the amazing community we have surrounded ourselves with. We never thought there would be so many people out there living for something better.

We thank our lucky stars for these folks who are there when we’re discouraged or confused, to laugh with us when we’ve screwed up, to inspire us when we’re feeling low, and to celebrate our wins. Every dreamer needs a support group, and this is ours!

Head on over to Instagram to support them in living their wildest dreams. And who knows, they might even convince you to live yours!

@ourvanquest – Gianna, Jake, and Luna

We are a family of 3 who decided to sell everything and live a simpler life. We sold our 4 bedroom house and converted a sprinter van into our tiny home on wheels. Living in a van was never something we had planned on doing. After choosing the common route after marriage like buying a home, having cars, and acquiring lots of stuff, we decided it wasn’t the life we were looking for.

Jake worked long hours to support that lifestyle and his 2 vacations a year just wasn’t going to cut it for us. Since we’ve minimized our time has freed up a bit, and we are able to spend more family time together. We also have less of an overhead, less space to clean, and less monthly bills leaving us extra money to explore.

Our advice for those looking to live a nomadic lifestyle is to be adaptable. You must be adaptable. You must be able to go with the flow and embrace the unexpected challenges you face on the road. Like anything, there’s the good and the bad so be ready for it.

We can, however, tell you from experience, there’s definitely more good than bad. The places we are able to see, the memories we make and the experiences we have had outweigh the bad hands down! We love this lifestyle, our van, spending time with Luna, and being able to be together every day. It’s a small space, but it’s our HOME.

@backyard_camper – Sam & Connie

We are Sam and Connie, from the UK, and we are weekend vanlifers.

We’ve been talking about converting a van for at least 2 years now and have been in the process of converting for about 6 months. We got into vanlife by accident, really. A few years ago we moved to New Zealand for a year, and the public transport over there is terrible. So, we bought our first van. We traveled the country and lived in our van for 6 months. We were hooked.

We headed to Australia but didn’t have as much luck there. So, we came back home with the idea of exploring the U.K. Vanlife gives us the freedom to get away whenever we like. On a weekend off or bank holiday, we can head to the beach/mountains/forest and have our little home on wheels there with us!

Our advice for anyone considering a nomadic lifestyle would be to try it! It’s probably not for everyone, but it’s something everyone should try at least once! Go on holiday and rent a van for a couple of weeks or a month and see how you go!

We’ve loved doing our conversion so much we’re already talking about doing another and possibly trying to start a van conversion company!

@vanda.the.panda – Brianne & Taylor

We are Brianne and Taylor, and we live in a van with our lab River! We’ve been traveling for over 3 years in 3 different vehicles! We’ve had a travel trailer, a motor home, and now our Sprinter Van!

Having a van was always our dream. We chose to live in a van because it combined the perks of both the travel trailer and the motor home, and we decided we could make the best of both worlds possible.

Traveling has brought so many good memories into our lives. We started our marriage off in a beautiful home in the suburbs of Atlanta. When we realized that there was more to life than just paying bills and dying, we decided to make a change.

That’s where our journey started! Since then we’ve been to more than half of the country and made memories that will last a lifetime!

The best advice I could give anyone considering van life or a nomadic lifestyle would be that the highs are very high and the lows are very low. Despite what you see on Instagram, travel life isn’t as perfect as the pictures.

There are moments that are amazing! Don’t get me wrong, but it can be challenging at times. Trying to find water or a place to sleep at night can be tricky, but if you have an adventurous spirit and love a good challenge, van life is right up your alley!

Every day is a new adventure and you get to choose where you want it to be! We absolutely love living this crazy life and honestly, we wouldn’t have it any other way!

@caraostara – Cara

Hi! My name is Cara Ostara! [Car-Uh O-star-uh] and this is my wild journey! A quick story of why I left my career of a decade, sold my ideal home and gave away two-thirds of what I owned so I could live in a van down by the river. Kidding, but I did trade my 1,800 sq ft Old Louisville (Kentucky) home for a 24 ft Class C Motorhome.

My journey started In September of 2018. I had planned a 4-day pleasure road trip in California to kick start what was actually to be a work trip. During my 4-day road trip, I drove from San Diego to LA. I slept in a travel trailer in Yosemite, ate wild dove outside of my Yurt in San Miguel, and had a cappuccino on the back patio of a mansion with an Italian artist in Laguna Hills. You could say the first 4 days of my ‘work trip’ were life-changing.

Since January I have driven over 18,000 miles, set up camp in 15 states, visited 7 national parks, and learned how to wrap my pipes and tanks in single digit temps to prevent them from freezing. Now 6 months into my solo journey I do not regret a thing.

Jolene (my RV) is my safe place, my 2 pups (Chibi Mae & Charlie Rae) love exploring all the new places we go, & this is the healthiest I’ve felt in a long time. People say I am brave, courageous, adventurous, crazy, & wild! And you know what? They are right! I love my wild life!

My goals in 2019 are to flourish while I am alone, learn different trades and skills, remember how to live creatively again, and help encourage others! Encouraging others to take care of their mind, sanity, and spirit. To help them realize self-care is important and that we only have one chance to live this life beautifully. Even if you have to put your ‘suppose to’ life on hold, do it!

Blog: Ostarasadventure.blogspot.com

Etsy: https://etsy.me/2UBKsaR

@gringos_advantures – Jeff

I’ve been doing van life for just over a month now. I chose this lifestyle when I found myself severely depressed from my job. I was living in my favorite city (NYC), but my job was too demanding for me to be able to enjoy my life there. After 15 years, I quit my job, bought a van, and spent 5 months in Kentucky converting it with my brother.

Choosing a life on the road, for me, was about reconnecting with family, friends, nature, and, most importantly, myself and my dog. My dog (a chihuahua mix named Brooklyn) used to sit and watch me work 10+ hours every day, and if she was lucky, would get a quick walk around the block at some point before I went to bed. Now she’s my co-pilot and gets to experience new places (and smells!) on a constant basis.

I’ve been able to reconnect with family and friends along the way. Some of which I haven’t seen in 10+ years. Now that I’m beginning to settle into this lifestyle more, I’m also looking to start drawing again. It’s a passion of mine that I lost the desire to do when my job pretty much took over my life 10+ years ago.

My advice to anyone considering a nomadic lifestyle would be to really embrace minimalism. Unless you have a huge RV, you’re probably not going to be able to have all the comforts you have in your apartment/house.

I downsized a lot before moving into the van, but I’ve found myself still downsizing while on the road. You’re probably not going to need everything that you think you will need, so really Marie Kondo you’re stuff before hitting the road.

@alyandmac – Aly & Mac

2 years ago (7/17/17) we got married and were very unsure about how we wanted to live our lives and what we wanted to do for work. We moved from Hawaii into Aly’s parent’s basement to figure everything out and look to the future. We were both looking for things we could do from home so we could spend most of our time together instead of at work.

That’s when we found our online coaching gig. Our prayers were answered! Soon after we started our home business we bought our school bus that we’re currently converting into our home.

We really feel that God is pulling us in the direction of living on the road, and everything has been falling into place. We chose the skoolie life because it will give us the time, financial, and geographical freedom we’re striving for! Our virtual health biz is perfect for our nomad life. It incorporates workouts, nutrition, social media, accountability, personal development, and it’s a way for us to sustain our finances on the road.

There are few people who are supportive of this type of lifestyle, but we know our hard work is going to be worth it!

We will be living on the road, helping others learn how to create a healthy life, and earning an income anywhere we are… As long as we have cell service!

If you’re considering this lifestyle, make sure you have a plan of action for what type of vehicle you want, an expense budget, how you’re going to make an income on the road, and where you’re going to get your resources.

This is definitely a learn-as-you-go life choice, don’t be afraid to ask around for help. And most importantly GO FOR IT!! Follow your dreams wherever they may take you.

@findingfreshair – Allison & Billy

Hi! We’re Allison and Billy! After living in the burbs of New Jersey for over 30 years, we decided to move cross country to experience life in the beautiful PNW cascade mountain town of Bend, Oregon. Since living in Bend for almost four years now, our postcode envy isn’t as evident, but we’re getting the itch to push our boundaries again.

We were first exposed to van life while honeymooning in the Galapagos islands where we met two European couples that resonated with us. The idea of success for lots of people revolves around money and the acquisition of more possessions. We define success as being able to spend as much time together, living simply, and having enthusiasm for the life we’re living.

For us, van life provides an important lens to live life by and enables us to focus on what’s really important. People can be impressed by multitasking, but we’re more impressed by giving full attention to what’s in front of us. By getting back to basics, it allows for limitless mind potential. That’s when we’re feeling our best and the most creative.

Instead of waking up and having to get motivated for the daily grind, we want to wake up and feel inspired. Our core life values are based around spending time together, experiencing new adventures, being outdoors, and feeling human again. Van life allows for that freedom and the ability to be in sync with who we really are.  

As we saw on a bumper sticker the other day, “Why Wait For Friday?” As a society, we tend to rush through life with the assumption that we’re going to live forever. Unfortunately, we forget to appreciate what’s going on right now and be in the moment.

Aspiring to the nomadic lifestyle is going to be a step by step transition for us. We know it’s in the cards, but we need to be smart about finances and our plan which seems to organically evolve over time as we make more progress on our DIY conversion.

We’d like to move into our van, ditch the monthly rent, keep our full-time jobs, and save up that way for a bit. Van life is honestly pretty commonplace in Bend so the concept doesn’t seem all that scary. All in all, if you’re not living your best life, don’t contextualize yourself and just keep doing what you’re doing. Keep striving for what’s really important to you. To be living doesn’t necessarily mean you’re alive!

@journeybyvan – Kelsey & Ben

We’re Kelsey and Ben. We moved to Arizona in March 2018 after living in Upstate NY our whole lives. We’ve both always had a desire to travel, explore, and adventure!

When we moved out West, we were taking road trips almost every weekend and spending way more than we wanted to on hotels, campgrounds, and eating out. We had both already been exploring the #vanlife movement on Instagram and talked about how we would love to make that a reality “someday.”

Eventually, we decided that there’s no time like the present and we began actively searching for vans to build out into our own adventure mobile. We purchased our 2005 sprinter van in June 2018, and after 9 months of working on the van build most weekends, we have officially finished our first van conversion!

Currently, we are still based out of Tempe, AZ for work, and we use the van for weekend road trips. Our goal is to be traveling in the van full-time by Spring 2020.

To us, van life means having the freedom to create a life that we truly enjoy living and doing more of what makes us happy. It means simplifying our life to just the things that truly matter and minimizing the amount of stress in our lives.

For someone who aspires to live a nomadic lifestyle, I would say that the best thing you can do is take one small step to get you there. We had been brainstorming van build layouts and searching vans for sale online months before purchasing our van. It wasn’t until we drove to look at some in person that it started to become a reality, and we decided to take the leap and go for it!

Of course, the research aspect is important, but I think it’s easy for people to get caught in the research and planning stage for too long that it seems impossible to materialize what you want.

If you aren’t sure how you’ll adjust to life on the road then start by taking a road trip in your car and see how it feels. If money is the limiting factor, then put together a budget or open a savings account dedicated to your van purchase. Just act now in some way to get you closer to that goal!

@backroadblog – Lia

My husband and I both wanted to travel while we were still young. We didn’t love our jobs and didn’t like waking up only to dread going to work. We quit, bought a camper, and went on our way. The camper life was a way for us to travel on our budget and see all the places that we have. We also have three dogs with us that we couldn’t imagine leaving behind.

This trip has taught me more in three months than I have learned in years. It has brought so much value to my life. It has made me feel like I am actually living life.

I have learned how to communicate more effectively. I can’t sleep some nights because I lie awake dreaming about what I want out of life. I have seen more places in this short amount of time than I would have imagined. I wake up each morning wondering what the day is like. Whereas previously I would wake up and dread the day. I count my blessings each day and try to remember how fortunate I am to be doing this. I thank God for leading me on this path and can’t wait to see what the future has in store.

If you are considering a nomadic lifestyle, do your research. Make a plan of where you want to go. Just a rough idea. Plan out your money situation. Save up if you need to. And plan on it not being like the idea you have in your mind. It isn’t like anything you expected. It will be tough at times and you will want to give up, but you have to remember why you started in the first place.

You will have days where you get bored, and that’s okay. You will have days where you feel like you should be working or have all these worries and that’s okay too. Plan on things happening that you wouldn’t expect. Prepare for your vehicle needing an expensive repair, your camper needed an expensive fix or visiting a place only to find out it isn’t what you pictured. Have an open mind and be grateful every day for the experience you have that others wish for.

@wearevanimals – Nick & Connie

We chose van life because we hired a van in Iceland last year and adored the freedom it gave us. We are wildlife lovers, and we feel that traveling in the van allows us to get closer to nature. We wanted to use the van, not only bring more wildlife into our lives but into other people’s lives too.

It brings us a lot of happiness and pride to know we have built the van ourselves despite having no experience. It is ours and we treasure that it is a project we have completed together. We are obviously still halfway through the build so no finished pictures yet.

It is hard to choose one thing to tell someone who wants to join this lifestyle but a few things I would like to say is…

– Don’t let the build take over your life so much that it makes you stressed instead of happy, take it slow and enjoy the process.

– If you struggle with breakdowns or hefty repair bills with your van, don’t let it get you down. Just remember how lucky and privileged you are to be able to have a van and be part of the community.

– The social media community for van life is incredible. For someone who struggles socially, I have found the vanlife community has boosted us and given us more faith in humanity.

– If you aren’t quite sure yet, go and do a van based holiday. It will definitely convince you!

@thatguyshem – Shem

I was on Pinterest about 4-5 years ago looking at random photos and came across a really old minibus turned into a skoolie and fell in love. I saved that picture to my phone and ideas started to spark inside my head on how to build a skoolie. I’ve also wanted to save money on trips and see everything north America had to offer for cheaper with no time limit.

For two years I wanted to pursue converting a bus into a skoolie but made up every excuse along the way not to. I was afraid of failing and not succeeding with the build and journey.

In 2017 I ended up getting pretty sick. I couldn’t work, drive, or even take care of my basic needs. In my own head, I thought it was something super serious like I was dying. I went to the doctors multiple times, but they never found out exactly what it was. I had to just deal with being sick for 3 months. The problem with being “sick” for 3 months was that it felt so much longer and it was an endless cycle of doctors being unsure.

I was just stuck in this gray area of not getting better and not being able to do things that I loved. It and it really took a toll on who I was, but this experience made me realize that you never know when you could pass. So let me follow my dream. After getting back on my feet, I needed to recenter myself and bring happiness back into my life.

When I started looking into skoolies more and saw the community behind it, I slowly fell in love. I realized skoolies allow you to be within a state of comfort no matter where you are. It brings people together where they support each other, and to me, it was like a family I didn’t know I had. The experience of me being sick made me realize that I didn’t want to take my health for granted anymore, I wanted to follow my dream.

For me “tiny living” if you will, brings many things, but the major part is that it makes you realize what matters most. Your goals, your happiness, less clutter mentally and physically, and more opportunities for adventure and knowledge!

The nomadic lifestyle isn’t for everyone there are a lot of factors that come into play.

1. You have to make sure you can stay a couple of days with no shower

2. Your routine will never be consistent

3. You will lose friendships but gain more meaningful ones along your journey.

4. You’ll miss home and the comfort of a house sometimes.

And depending on the person, there is more! You just have to see if it fits your life. Being me, I love to adventure and explore so if I need to give up a shower for a couple of days I will do so!

@van_out_of_it – Augusto Hernández Ayala

Before choosing a nomadic lifestyle I tried working a job and spending money on things like restaurants and going out. I also got married, even though the relationship was not going the way a relationship should go for a couple to marry, I learned we have to make bad decisions in order to become a more conscious person.

It’s easy to be happy in certain moments, we associate happiness to things, sports, success, or money. This wasn’t working for me.

This is mainly why I chose van life. I don’t like routine very much and I wanted to make the greatest experience out of my time here. A couple of years ago I thought this kind of life was not possible. Removing mental blocks is essential to achieving your dreams.

A good friend asked me how many times I had thought about living nomadically? 5? 8? 12? So just go and do it, it’s probably what you really want, and if not, you will learn from the mistake. Let’s follow our instinct. I want it to be my guide!

So, if you are thinking about adopting a nomadic lifestyle, just do it. If you don’t do it, you may regret it.

A nomadic lifestyle doesn’t have to revolve around living in a van. I chose a van because I enjoy things I like, surfing, snowboarding, change, change, and more change! But if you like to settle a bit more, you could make this build a house on wheels and move it every year or so. The possibilities are endless.

If you want to follow my journey you can do it on Instagram, @van_out_of_it and this is my blog www.vanoutofit.com

What is your biggest take away from the experiences above? Let us know your craziest aspirations in the comments below!

Happy travels, friends!

Comments

  • Under Flowery Sky

    4 months agoReply

    It’s nice you started travelling with a van by chance. So many nice stories
    you have. Your little home everywhere.. Enjoy..

    • Tasha

      4 months agoReply

      It’s funny how things turn out! Thank you!

  • Angella

    4 months agoReply

    It is my dream to quit my full time job as a cancer nurse (burnt out from 11 years of it) & to live minimalistically by traveling the world & doing odd jobs/blogging. Your story is inspirational…thanks for sharing! Happy travels!
    https://www.simplyangella.com/

    • Tasha

      4 months agoReply

      You should go for it! I’m sure that job is very taxing! Thank you.

  • Carol Colborn

    3 months agoReply

    We did this for 8 years but now we have settled back into a settled life in a %%+resort lifestyle community. Loved it so that I wrote a book about it: Carolina: Cruising to an American Dream!

    • Tasha

      3 months agoReply

      That sounds amazing! Congratulations on your book! It’s a dream of mine to write a book someday!

  • Jeremy

    3 months agoReply

    Wow ! Lots of inspiring stories ! I’m not sure if I’m ready to give up the comfort of my bed yet. But I can imagine the freedom from financial commitments and burdens ! Maybe one day I’ll change my mind ? =p
    All the best to u three ! =)

    • Tasha

      3 months agoReply

      You can always have a bed in your conversion vehicle. It’s the bathroom that most people miss haha!

  • The Holidaymaker

    3 months agoReply

    I think it is wonderful to see so many people living out their dream. It shows us that if you truly want to simplify your life, you can do it. I applaud anyone who has the courage to follow their passion and joy in life.

    • Tasha

      3 months agoReply

      You absolutely can! The simpler you live the more room you have to experience!

  • Josy A

    3 months agoReply

    I love these kinds of stories. I don’t think I could quite manage to sell everything up and live in a van, for one thing, my cat Monty would haaate to move around, Still, it does have quite a romantic image.

    It’s great that you have found so many enthusiastic van-lifers!!

    • Tasha

      3 months agoReply

      We are very fortunate for the community we have found ourselves in!

  • Elizabeth

    3 months agoReply

    I love reading all of the stories! And I especially loved the photo of the dog traveling in the van, too. Living his best life!

    • Tasha

      3 months agoReply

      I know! We can’t wait to get our pups on the road! They deserve to experience as much as possible too!

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