While onsite in the total eclipse path in Kentucky on the August 21st, I met an interesting couple who were living full-time in their Sprinter Van. As a #vanning enthusiast, I *thought* they might be full-timing. My friend, Adam, had already talked to Danny before I arrived and verified that they were traveling full-time.
Sooooo... I introduced myself to Danny when I saw him approaching the van. He was kind enough to give me an impromptu tour and to agree to be interviewed for my readers here on LivingSmall.com. A little later, Darlene came back to the van and I had the chance to talk to her as well.
Charming people! And they seemed so happy! (As most #vanlife folk I've met do.)
We have always had the travel bug. In 1997 we bought one-way plane tickets and moved to St. Thomas, USVI. After St. Thomas we bought around-the-world tickets and backpacked for 3 months. For the past 15 years, we worked in the corporate technology world, but a stress-related health scare a few years ago prompted us to put plans in place to make traveling full-time a reality.
We always wanted a "low profile" van which provided the flexibility to inconspicuously boondock in a neighborhood, hotel parking lot, etc. Since we rarely make camping reservations, we often do not know where we will be staying each night.
This van fell into our lap. We did not want to buy a brand-new vehicle so we considered Nissan High Tops, Dodge, etc. We had patience and waited for something to come to us. This van came on the market and we jumped on it. We were not focused on the type of van as much as used vs. new.
We both worked in marketing for various technology companies. Danny still works part time on a limited basis.
For the past 15 years we have been buying investment properties. When the rental income matched our monthly spend we decided it was time to travel. While on the road, Danny works remotely 8-10 hours/week.
We love to hike, mountain bike, climb, dive, surf and read. Our van is packed with all these toys.
We miss our core group of friends and family. Traveling is easy, but not seeing our friends and family on a regular basis is hard. Fortunately, while on the road, we’ve been able to meet up with old friends who live in different states.
I thought finding places to sleep/boondock would be a challenge, but this has been surprisingly easy.
On the nasty side, while in Chicago attending a Cubs game, we came back to the parking lot to discover our “home” had been towed. That was heart-stopping!
When you are living in a Van full-time, there are a few things you really need that often take up too much room. Not so in this van. The composting toilet is hidden under a seating section that unlocks to give access to the potty when needed.
It has been good. We are used to traveling with one another, so it’s easy. Not that we don't have heated discussions around timeframes, locations and what to do and when. Darlene is more structured than I am. She likes to have a plan and a checklist. I am a “fly by the seat of my pants” person.
Aside from traveling together we’ve also worked at 7 different companies together -- in fact that’s how we met! So going in we knew each other’s “work persona” & “home persona." Fortunately, there haven’t been any surprises on the road. We recognize when one of us needs “active time” or “alone time” and respect each other's differences.
“Oh, there they go again!” They have seen it before and were not surprised we’re doing this.
They all follow us on our closed Facebook group and they seem to enjoy it.
20 years ago, when we lived in St. Thomas and then traveled around the world, we didn’t have an effective way to share our adventures. Email was relatively new and digital cameras hadn’t been invented.
Now they see what we’re doing and can provide feedback & suggestions.
Right now, we are shooting to be on the road at least 1 year, but who knows this may change. We met an inspiring couple who had the same plan and they’ve been on the road for 7 years.
We want to experience the United States. We meet new people, mountain bike, dive, and climb in locations we have only read about, and LIVE.
With the divided political climate, this an interesting time to be on the road. We are discovering that people are people and they are friendly everywhere you go. We just need better communication between the parties and we should listen to the scientists.
For the next 7 months we are going to keep traveling. We will head up north for Fall Foliage, then down the east coast and winter in the Florida area.
We’d would like to visit the Bahamas and Cuba.
Live a minimalist life, figure out what you need to live on, focus on income streams, and/or the ability to work remotely and put together a 5 and 10-year plan to make it happen.
Trust your crazy ideas. Make a wish-list, and then put a plan in place to make your wishes a reality.
I'd like to extend a HUGE thank you to Danny and Darlene for being so gracious, for giving me the tour of your tiny house on wheels and for sharing your vanning wisdom with my readers. We all hope you continue to grow and thrive while you live and drive in your lovely van home!
Danny and Darlene are looking for people along the way to their next adventure that may offer them a place to park for a day or two. If you are on the way to (or in) the Bahamas, Cuba or places along the way, you can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
They are also happy to respond to questions or comments.