Travel Fuels Life Podcast and Show Notes
Living the #VanLife (Ep. 26)
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- What is your favorite thing about living the #VanLife?
- What is the thing you found most challenging about living the #VanLife?
This Week's Show Notes
Imagine selling everything you own, fixing up a van and driving with no firm destination. Brie and Shawn are two thirtysomething's that did just that.
- Lake Powell and the Instagrammer missed photo spots
- A GenXtravel Chat about the #VanLife turns into an interview
- What is the #VanLife? Cars and RV's included
- How they became Van Lifers
- Getting buy in from your partner
- Cost of starting the #VanLife
- Fitting comfortably into a van
- Selling off everything vs keeping a home base
- Hardest thing to give up
- What to take with you
- Dealing with dogs in the #VanLife
- How to cook and store food
- The importance of filtered water
- YouTube tool kit (Eamon and Bec | Vanessa & Adam)
- The first five minutes
- The path they've taken over the last couple of years
- Fall in New England and Key West Beaches
- Lone Pine, California (Google Maps)
- Uinta Brewing, Salt Lake City, Utah
- The impressive unimpressive mountains of Grand Tetons
- The National Parks "As We Ran" Music Video
- No rhyme of reason
- The Northwest and the Evergreens
- Canada and Mexico for #VanLife
- Cheating on the #VanLife with a hotel
- Getting clean
- Strategic memberships
- Finding free campsites (FreeCampsites.net)
- Stealth camping
- Getting mail on the road
- Why #VanLife is possible now
- Occupations that work
- How long do you keep going?
- Taking time for yourself as a couple
- The upper GenX and Millennials
- Couples vs solo #VanLife
- Hello Cleveland!
Hi, I am Sean, and I'm Bree. We are full-time Van lifers and you're listening to Travel Fuels Life.
Hello everybody and welcome to Travel Fuels Life, the show where we share stories, tips and inspiration to help you live a travel lifestyle. I'm your host, drew Hanish, and imagine selling everything that you own, fixing up a van and driving with no firm destination in mind. Well, that's what Bree and Sean are doing. They're two 30 somethings that they did just that. They sold all their stuff, they hit the road with their two dogs, and now they have the potential of waking up in a new location every single morning. This my friends, is known as the Van Life and on today's episode, we're going to learn some of the ins and outs about getting started, the challenges you're going to find on the road, getting a buy-in from your partner to do such a thing, and that wonderful and maybe even scary feeling of being untethered from a single landing spot. So from the comfort of my own home here in Greenville, South Carolina, I'm going to pull out the laptop, connect to the worldwide web, and for the very first time reach out to two people I'm interviewing from their van. Yes, you may hear a little road noise in this episode. Bree and Sean, welcome to the show.
Hi. Thanks Drew. Thank you.
So I guess the appropriate first question that I would have for Van Lifers is where are you today?
Today we are on our way to the Grand Tetons. They're having a van life gathering. So right now we're somewhere in Utah, Sean, Southern Utah, not too far north of Lake Powell area. So
Did you get a chance to hang out in Lake Powell and do the Instagrammers love to go over to the Antelope Canyon and get their pictures taken down there and all of that? Is that something you guys did while you've been in the area or what did you do there? Anything?
So we were at a blog house, a conference, and we are rushing all the way to the Teton. So we stopped in Powell to stay the night and to do a little night photography, but we pretty much woke up, enjoyed the View, had our coffee and started heading north. So unfortunately, no, we don't get to make our Instagram followers happy today I guess.
Did you get to Horseshoe Bend?
No, no. I feel like we often miss the big ones. We try to go to some of the smaller more B L m land style, just different kind of areas.
Well you don't have to deal with as many tourists and people hanging out and trying to bump shoulders with people. That's close to my heart. Stay away from those crowds.
Yeah, I don't think Horseshoe Band needs any more visitors.
Yeah, actually when I was there last time, they were talking about they're probably going to start putting up restrictions on people and how many people can go in at a time. Oh wow. Yeah. So all this overt touristing that's going on in certain places, it is good to find those hidden gems and take advantage of that as much as you can. Yeah, we actually met Bree and I met on a chat with Susan Dakota farrier on her Gen X travel chat and you guys were doing a theme that I wasn't sure whether I was going to want to take part in or not because I knew nothing about it. And that is the van life. And for people who are listening to this going van life, what is that? How would you define the van life?
Oh wow, really? It could be anything. Mainly it's just say long-term travel in your means. It could be a van, it could be a rv, it could be a car. Really, it's just kind of getting out there, exploring a little bit. Van life to us is we made home on wheels that we could take anywhere. I mean we're pretty self-sufficient inside our van and we get to travel and work as we go and just see all the places we wanted to see.
Nice. So how did you come about this decision? Had you seen somebody else do it and you were kind of inspired to try it out or how did that all come about?
Oh, it's kind of a long story. I love telling this story.
Sure. I'll try to give you the shortest version I can of my favorite story. So we had been wanting to travel, we had kind of caught winds that, hey, it's possible to travel the world and it doesn't matter that you graduated college, you don't have to have a nine to five and do all that. And so we were trying to save for Europe, but we had dogs, which meant you can't just go be like a 22 year old backpacker, you need to save the quote, the 50,000 and do all the things. And we would have to take our dogs over on a boat. And so we were like, okay, we're going to somehow save 50,000 while living in Seattle making just an average wage, which means it's impossible to save up that much money. And so we decided to go on a little road trip for Sean's birthday one year and I think it was 2017, 16, and we were on the road trip and we pulled over to this beautiful viewpoint and the dogs, we let the dogs out, they were running free and the air was crisp. We were on the mountains so you, it was a chill in the air. It smelled beautiful. And I looked around and I was like, why can't it always be like this? And then something clicked and I was like, well, why can't it be always be like this?
Then on, I literally was like, so Sean, we're going to live in our car. I was done. I knew at that moment we were going to make it happen.
Okay, Sean, so when she says we're going to live in the car, what was your first reaction?
Honestly, my first reaction was extreme excitement. When I was in college, I wanted to buy a cargo van, throw a hammock in the back and just hit the road with my dog and I never got the chance to. And when I had pitchy idea idea Bri before, she was like, oh, I would never live in a van. That's not me. So the whole time I'm thinking, okay, how do I be cool about this and just let her finish, finish explaining this dream she has and hoping and praying this will really work out. That's pretty much I was holding all the excitement in.
I thought he didn't want to do it the whole time. I was like, oh my gosh, he doesn't want to do it. I'm going to have to try to talk him into this.
Was this the movie Inception where they, Sean kind of just secretly planted this in your mind somewhere?
Yes, I think you
Did. That's definitely what I did years before.
I'm okay with it.
That's great. So you both just kind of clicked on this thing and I mean how soon after that did you make the decision that yep, it's time to do it?
That night I think we arrived at our destination. It was a little kind of a bungalow in the base of the mountains along a river. I think it was more geared towards dog retreat and stuff. We sat there that night after we arrived and talked it through and we're like, alright, let's do it. And that next week we started looking for vans.
Wow. How much does it cost to get started on the van life?
Honestly, that's a varied answer. You can do Van Life. In our first van, we did it in a van that costs $2,000. You can go all the way from doing a minivan to some people, I dunno if you've seen those commercials, they did it in a Prius. You can do it in the car, you can do it in a truck with a camper. So it really ranges from buying it for 2000 and just getting on the road or doing what we did in our second van, which was a sprinter van, which can cost anywhere from around 10,000 to 60,000 if you want four wheel drive and then building it out. So I wish I had a better answer for your listeners, but it really just depends on what kind of lifestyle you want. Yeah,
It does. And also the size of the van we opted for, it's a full high top so we can stand up and everything, but it's not real long. So we could park in a normal spot and those tend to be a little cheaper than a full length fan.
So you're not like me, I'm six foot six, I don't know any way I could stand up inside of a van.
There are some Ford makes one, the transit, the super high roof. I think you could barely stand, I want to say it's a six five.
Might have to squat a little.
So when you're sleeping, are you stretched out or do you have to curl up to sleep? In this thing?
We can stretch out. We're not six five by any means. We're five five with shoes probably. So we have plenty of room to sleep in.
So one of the other things that you'd have to consider is are you going to keep the house that you're in or the apartment that you're in, or are you just selling off everything and hitting the road with just what you can pack in the van?
We definitely got rid of everything.
We were just like, we don't need to have things tie us down. Let's just get rid of it and take what we need and figure out the rest of the road.
Okay. So what was the hardest thing for you to give up knowing that you were going to have to sell everything off?
Me was all of my toys, like golf clubs, Frisbees, I had three or four different types of beach chairs or whatever. It was just the things that you're like, oh, I have a need for this. I could use this somewhere, I could do this with that on the road. But really it was just after thinking about it, I wouldn't have all that much time and I can enjoy where I'm at with just minimal things.
Yeah. How about you Brie? I
Was fine. I was fine. I was so excited. He says that we decided one night, but I swear it took a week for him to finally tell me that he maybe would do it. So I was so willing just to give up everything. I was so excited to, I was just take it all. I don't even care, I need nothing.
Yeah, actually it was hard for her to get rid of clothes. I
Guess that's some of my clothes. I do have the bigger closet. That's true.
Yeah. So what kind of allotment of clothes do you take? Do you just plan out maybe four days, five days worth of clothes and then say we have to hit a laundromat every four or five days or how do you work that out?
So we have our winter stuff and then our summer stuff and then of course you just layer in between and so we have room underneath our bed. We have a suitcase that we're able to have our jackets and our winter stuff. So we definitely have, I would say still a normal amount of clothes. I wish I could say we were super organized and I was like, you get five shirts of this and two pairs of hands, but really it was like this is your closet space, this is the space underneath and you get to cram as much you can in there. Although Sean, Sean's is very organized, mine is definitely crammed in there.
I will say they're not like monster suitcases either. I had a rule we have to have travel or carry on suitcases in case we want to fly somewhere. We don't want to have to check a bag and that just like we'll make a store more things. So we each have a carry on sized suitcase and that's where we put our winter stuff when we're in summer or summer stuff when we're in winter. And other than that, minimal things, five, six pair of undergarments and then maybe seven normal t-shirts, a couple of button ups, a couple pair of pants.
So if you are, say you decided that you wanted to go fly somewhere, you actually have those dogs are with you, right?
How do you work with dogs in a van? I know if you're driving around, if you're going to someplace that's pretty hot, you probably can't leave them in the van when you're out doing things and that sort of thing. Do you kind of have to work your schedule around trying to figure out, hey, if we're going to go here, we're going to do this. We need to figure out what we're doing with the dogs.
So we built the van so that you have a bed and then it turns into a table. And so a lot of the time we're able to just work inside the van. We have a little Verizon jet pack and we use our phones as hotspots for wifi data so they can just hang out beside us. I will say if you don't have dogs and you want to do van life, although dogs are amazing and they bring on a whole new aspect, it would be a ton easier not to have dogs because then yes, if we wanted to just go to a nice restaurant or go to just any coffee shop and not worry about whether we could bring them in or not, that would be nice. But it's really not too bad. Most places are at least dog friendly on the patio and the van's insulated and there's a fan, and so half of the time if you're in a van, you're probably not going to be hanging out in 90 degree weather for very long, not on purpose. So most of the time, even 75, 80 with the fan going in insulation, it's completely cool in here. So they're completely fine as long as they're wore out.
So do you do cooking and all of that stuff in there or how do you handle that? Do you find camping places that you can go to and use the grills or how do you get your food?
So we actually have a way to cook in the van and we have an induction cooktop. It's powered from our solar panels. We also have a three and a half cubic foot refrigerator to store our food. And then we have, when the sun say we're in the northwest or something and we don't have a whole lot of solar, we have a Coleman foldable propane stove that we can cook on as well. We're fully sufficient here. We're completely can be off grid if we need to be. So yeah, we have a sink with 14 gallons of fresh water.
Filtered water. Yeah,
Yeah, we'll definitely point it out. One of Bri's big things is we have to have a filter for our water. So we have a seven stage water filter.
I get that. I mean some places that you travel to, you worry that you don't want the one thing that gets you sick to be the water that you're drinking in this place,
So what about keeping things cool? Do you have a refrigeration system of some form that you can use?
Yeah, we have a three and a half cubic foot, kind of like a dorm refrigerator.
It's a magic chef.
Yeah, we opted for one that was a normal house plug. It is a ton cheaper than a 12 volt super energy efficient. We haven't had a problem with it. It runs off of our solar batteries and I think it fits our needs pretty good. We probably go to the store once a week and then if we're stocked, we're good.
How much time did it take for you to build out this van and who built it out? Did you guys do it yourself or did you get assistance from somebody or how'd that work?
Yeah, so our second van, so we had our first van in Seattle and we drove to North Carolina and hung out there for about a year to save to get the sprinter van. Our first van was small and we realized it was not reasonable for us. So we were there in September and let's see, I guess we bought our van in February of 2018 and we started kind of tinkering on it and finished it in August, but we did have the whole month of July, or excuse me, June and July to work on the van. So it did take quite a bit because we built it ourselves. And before that Sean had built a speaker box like a square and I had built nothing. So we had no idea what we we're doing.
A lot of YouTube research.
Okay, yeah, YouTube is very handy. Isn't it
So handy? We could not have done it without YouTube. It took hours and hours of just sitting there watching them doing it and then going to do it and be like, wait, what did they do again? How do we do this?
So are these people that are posting these videos? These are people who are also living the van life and showing you you're not just watching general maintenance videos on things. You're watching people who actually are doing this for their lifestyle.
So there's quite a few, some really good ones. And Beck was a big inspiration, Adam and Vanessa and who else? There was a couple others too. There's quite a few of people that have built out a couple vans now and they have the process on there and so you're able to literally watch them so that you can kind of learn from that.
I also did a lot of Instagram searching just for inspirational layout and stuff and kind of see what we liked and what would work for our lifestyle and that helped a lot.
So talk about the, because you said North Carolina was the first place that you went to when you started this out.
Well, we moved in with my brother. He said, come to North Carolina, it's way cheaper. You guys can work, stay with me, run out of room and build out the band there.
So would you say that when you took that trip, even though you were in a van and going in that direction and it wasn't the van that you were going to be using going forward, would you say that was kind of that first moment that you felt like, yes, we are doing this van life or was it more when this newer van got completed that you felt like, okay, we've made it, we're ready to go?
So honestly, when we left in our first van, we thought that was going to be the van we wanted. We had done a weekend trip and it was doable, but then we drove across country. It took about a month, month and a half, and during that we realized it wasn't big enough. So when we got to North Carolina, that's when we started researching to find a bigger van and that's kind of how that happened and it took us a little while to find the right one. So we researched, let's see, it took what, five months about to find the right van for us.
Alright, so describe to me the feeling that first five minutes when you hit the road for the first time headed to North Carolina, was it kind of like gulp, what have we done or was it just a liberating feeling? What was that feeling like?
Oh man, it was very liberating. I want to say we had some folky lumineer song playing and we were just jamming going down I 90 and just taking it all in. We had the windows down. It was a nice warm, crisp day. It was very free filling. It's the freest I'd ever felt until we left in our second van.
Nice. So tell me some of the places that you've gone to since then now. So you've been on the road since August of last year. Have you headed back to Washington state or have you pretty much just been cruising about and nonstop with no real place to plant yourself?
Oh man, I wish We have not been to Washington state yet. It's almost like we're waiting. We started in North Carolina and so we went ahead and went up to the east coast. We wanted to see the East coast in the fall. It was a big thing and we ended up in Salem, Massachusetts around Halloween, which was pretty cool. There's a bunch of festivals and it was just very witchy, which we loved. And then we went to Maine and we went to Acadia National Park, which was absolutely gorgeous. Some of the leaves that started to fall, we got there probably around November and it was still absolutely beautiful. We had to Portland, Maine, which I feel like that's somewhere we could definitely live. It's a very small town with just a big personality. I think they have a lot of tourists, so they have that big town vibe even though there's really not a ton there.
And then we went ahead and started heading, went to Florida for a little bit, went down to the Keys, which was absolutely incredible. They have such a, it's for vacationers, right? So everyone's in a good mood. Everyone's just slow and just happy and smiling and there's beaches. And then we were like, okay, this was great. We love the east coast, but I feel like for a lot of Van Lifers, the West coast area is kind of like the promised land. We're like, let's go. It's turning winter, we don't want to be cold. And so we went to California, we hung out in San Diego, which is a really popular destination for Van Lifers. And we've seen, let's see, we went to Yosemite and we've hung around Utah, salt Lake City and the Eastern Sierras is a lot of fun. I will say the town of Lone Pine is an extremely cool town. It's where they film a lot of western movies and stuff. So when I was a kid I loved watching Western movies, so that was very cool for me to check out and see just the landscape and the colors. It's kind of arid and deserty, but still cool. I really liked that.
Did you get, because in a great spot right now, I mean Lake Powell and that whole area, I went and did a drive from Zion National Park across to a town called Blanding, Utah, and I took the northern past Bryce Canyon and all of that stuff. If you guys had a chance to do any of that stuff yet.
Nope. No we haven't. Not yet. It's definitely on the list. You're
I know. We have to get to our band life gathering though.
Yeah. So you said you're going to Salt Lake City, so this will be the first time, I'm guessing all these places you're going to, this is really the first time you've been to any of them.
So we're headed up to actually the Grand Tetons, but via way of Salt Lake City, and this is actually our third time to go to Salt Lake City. The first time whenever we left Seattle, we went to Salt Lake City. Our favorite brewery UTA is there. And so every time we go, we visit February. It's like a short detour on our way to the Tetons. It's really like we go to the west side of
Town versus the east side of town, so we might as well stop off.
Well, I'm telling you the drive, if you end up taking the same drive that I did, I did that probably 15 years ago and drove from Salt Lake City up to Jackson Hole and up to Yellowstone and that drive through the corner of Idaho that you just ride along a river. It's just a beautiful drive through there. So you've got some, what's funny about the Grand Tetons and have you been to the Grand Tetons at all or is this will be your first time?
No. So hearing you say that makes me happy. We haven't driven from Salt Lake City North, so that would be really cool.
It's very nice and you go by this little light you just cut in the corner of Idaho. But what was interesting to me was that when I drove up towards Grand Tetons, I said, well, I've seen them in pictures before and I just, I'm ready to go to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons weren't really that high on my list, but you see them from miles away before you get to them and I could not take my eyes off of them as I was driving closer and closer. And it's one of those where you can't explain it, but for some reason it just impressed me so much that I wanted to just hang out there by the lake and stare at them and there were these storms coming across the top of 'em. It's just a beautiful area through there. So you guys,
That sounds incredible. I think there's actually a national Parks radio or band. They have a song about the Tetons, so that makes sense. You're not the only one that feels that way.
Yeah, it was totally a surprise to me. So you're going to a conference and I mean this is the thing that I find when I go to conferences. I had a chance to go to one in Rome and I thought, I don't want to fly all the way to Rome and then spend my whole time in a conference not getting to see things. You've got plenty of time after this to kind of explore the area, I'm guessing.
Yeah, we're thinking about just staying in the area, checking out Yellowstone for a week or so and then I think Washington's calling, we really want to get back to the northwest. Our favorite time in the northwest is this summer. So I think after we leave there we will probably head back up into Seattle area.
So you don't have any kind of schedule at all. Do you just wake up every day and go, God, I really love this place, I just want to hang here another day and just hang there until the next day you're like, I feel like going to San Diego. All right, I'll go there.
Correct, definitely. Yeah, we've had no rhyme or reason for where I've been because pinging ponged all over before her conference in Phoenix, we were in Denver, so visiting friends and it's like, we'll just go wherever.
So what have you missed that you feel like, Ooh, I got to get back there, or do you have something that's really high up on your bucket list that you're working towards?
So we just love the Northwest out of all the places we've been so far. And I feel like the Tetons might top them. We'll see there is something, if you've been to the Northwest, you know can go on a two mile trail and get to the top and your breath is taken away at how beautiful it is and I just feel like it's one of those special places in the US that you just don't get anywhere else. I think we're just excited to get back for that kind of awe inspiring, just green and mountains and beautiful peaks. So I think that's the main reason I want to go back to Northwest
Washington has so much to offer. You have mountains, you have a rainforest, and you also have the era desert style. So within a few hours in any direction, pretty much you could get it somewhere new and the beach, of course.
Yes. Well, it's definitely a place I want to get back to because I did a drive up the coast from San Francisco up the Oregon coast, which is beautiful. And then up to, I went to Mount St. Helen's and I went to Mount Rainier and I was driving back from Mount Rainier down to Portland, Oregon and I drove by this beautiful reservoir and it was one of those things where it just was calling me and I stopped the car and I just stood there staring at it. If I was going to retire, this would be the place that I would love to retire. Just so beautiful out here. The greens are so different than anywhere else in the world with those evergreen trees the way they are.
Yeah, they're so vibrant and beautiful.
Any plans on going outside the country? Would you sneak up into Canada or down to Mexico? You have plans on doing that?
Definitely. I think while we're in the Northwest, we'll definitely we've been to Vancouver with some friends in the past. We haven't done it in the van. We definitely want to check it out in the van. And then I'm pulling for Baja this winter when everywhere else is cold. I can go get some nice sun down there, but we'll kind of see. I've always been drawn to Baja though. I just don't want to really be there in the summer.
This will be the interesting part. How do you work getting across the border and what do you tell the border guy you say, we're just coming here to live for a little while and we'll be on our way out.
So as far as I understand it, and I've gone with a friend and her family member who goes often, and there's a certain area of Baja where you technically don't even have to check in, you just go through the border, but you can go and get a permit and it's not really a big, big deal to just go into the Baja area if you're going to go further. So if you wanted to go down into Central America or South America, that's when you have to get more permits and do a little bit more paperwork. But the main thing we'd have to worry about is making sure we have all the records for the dogs so they can get back in. It's really getting back in. That's the issue. It's not going,
Isn't that sad? I had that same problem trying to come across from Canada, the last trip that I took and every time I even had the global entry pass, which is supposed to allow you to just fling right through with no problem. And they still had me get out of the car and wait for 30 minutes grilling me with questions. So really that's
Yeah, that's, I asked that question because I'm thinking they're asking me why is this single person going across into Canada and you're not working, so you must be bringing something across you're not supposed to be bringing across. So that was the tough part. It probably easier for you guys because a couple and maybe raises less suspicion and they see that you live in the back of your van, so the questions then become how long are you staying there or that kind of thing. So do you ever cheat and say, tonight let's just go to a hotel?
Not very often. The only time we do it is, so I just went to the blog house conference and so we were at the Andaz Resort, which is beautiful and that was a nice little break, but it was very intentional. And so other than that, we haven't, unless a friend came to visit and it was only for one of us, then no we haven't, we have a $50 Airbnb gift card as an emergency in case something happens, one of us gets sick because no one wants to be sick in the van or if it were to break down or maybe knock on some wood there or something like that. But no, we really love the van and for me, I've found most of the time if we go visit family or if we do go have to stay in a hotel, it almost kind of disrupts the flow. And so I don't love it. I mean I love when I'm in it and in the moment, but then after we have to get back into the routine of the van and it just feels just not as good as just staying in the van, which we love. So it's our home and we enjoy being in it.
That's true. We've visited friends and family and just opted to stay in our van instead of in the house.
There could be something said for that. Don't. I'm thinking Ben Franklin's saying that fish and house guests both go bad after three days, something like that.
That's pretty accurate.
So what about showers? How do you deal with all of that? Are you always looking for RV parks that you can go into or how do you take care of that?
Showers, we just don't shower. No, we shower, so we use Planet Fitness as our shower. It's pretty popular. There's so many of 'em. You're usually able to find one. You may not be able to shower every single day and that's something you may have to get used to if you're one of those people that must shower every day. But for the most part, you can usually shower every three days or depending if you're out in the wild, it may be a little bit longer, but you can almost always find a plan of fitness.
Nice. So you have strategic memberships, places that can help you out?
Yeah, it can get kind of expensive whether you, because we usually do free camping, we don't do the paid camping. That can be 35 to $40 a night, which would be able to add up very quickly. And so we're able to find free camping, which usually means no showers, so we have to be a little more strategic about it, but it's really not difficult and I would say most van lifers do it.
So where do you find, and how do you distinguish between what's going to end up being free? I mean, again, you're not really planning this stuff out ahead of time and you're just heading in a direction. How do you locate these? Is there a website that lists off all the free campsites or how did you do that?
Yeah, there's actually a few apps that we use. One is I overlander. So pretty much people will submit places they found that are free. Typically it's business and land management. There'll be informal campsites and there's a filter on it where you can do formal, where you do have paid or informal where it's free. And then there's another one called Campin Dium. It's a similar style app. So we use both of those in conjunction with free campsites.net. It's a website that we use as well.
And do you usually find that these places are filled up when you get there or do you have to make reservations or how do you make sure that you got a place to park?
So it is first come, first serve, and for the most part we haven't had difficulty. Obviously it's June, we're coming into the busier season, so that might be more of an issue. But I will say a lot of it is so b l m land, which is just government land, which means you are free to use it for the most part. If not, then there'll be signs about saying no overnight camping if there's one spot, most of the time there's multiple spots so that one spot may be taken, but you can drive a little bit further down the road and you'll find another little spot that you can go.
What's the worst that's ever happened? I mean, would you consider having to sleep at a rest area as roughing it?
Yeah, I mean we do have to do that and that is, I think that a lot of times Instagram can make Van Life look like every single day we're in beautiful locations and that's nice, but that's not reality. We are in transit a lot very, very often or we need to be closer to somewhere with a little bit more signal. And so a lot of times we are in parking lots or Walmart's rest areas or the side in Philadelphia, obviously there's no B l M land inside of Philadelphia. We just parked on the street and just kind of did some stealth camping and we were completely fine.
So you don't shy away from cities. I would always think of Van Life being something that would be for the outdoorsy type, but you don't have any issues going into cities then?
So yes and no. For the most part, no. However, I will say that since Van Life is becoming more and more popular, especially in California, you do have to watch for the laws. There are some areas where they don't allow you to camp or to live in your van. It's very seldom we really haven't had that big of a problem. We're just usually aware of it. And if you get on those apps, you can find the areas and they'll say something, oh, it's illegal here, so you need to stealth. Or for the most part, we just try to avoid those cities, but it's really not, it hasn't been that big of a problem. We're usually able to just find an area and close everything up and go to sleep.
So you keep using this term stealth. Does that mean you have an invisibility cloak that you throw over the van? How does
That work? Yeah, I am Ken of Harry Potter and I got his invisibility cloak, so we're good to go. It's big enough for the band?
No, really it's, I mean the van looks kind of like a worker van or a delivery van white. I mean when you think of, oh, a white van, it's probably like a plumber or something and we have a blackout curtain behind our seats, shut that and then window covers and it just looks like we're a normal van parked overnight.
I'm just thinking of all the movies I've seen with the stakeout van, how many people might be a little paranoid if you park in the neighborhood? Who are these people staking us out?
We definitely try to avoid neighborhoods if we can.
Okay, so when we're talking about costs and dealing with all that, the first thing that pops into my head is how do you get your mail because you're going to have bills no matter what you're doing, and of course they're going to be less bills, but I mean your tax return has to go somewhere and there's probably certain legal documents or whatever that have to pass around or if you've got insurance and like that. So how do you work out getting your mail while you're on the road?
So there are multiple ways to do it. There are remote mailboxes that you can pay for if you want to, and they will scan it and they'll send it to you in an email and they'll just either delete or excuse me, not, I guess you don't delete heart mail, you would shred, excuse me. You would shred it and they would just send it to you via email. For us though, we send it to a family member's house and we keep our residency there and then if there's anything important, they'll let us know about it. And yeah, I mean for the most part everything's pretty digital so it's not too big of a deal. There's just those couple few things you've got to make sure you really keep an eye on. And we have on our, you can do something through U S P Ss where you get pictures of your mail. And so every day we know if we actually got a piece of mail so we can let them know, Hey, that's important, can you open that for me today?
That's cool. Could you see how difficult this would be if you guys tried to do this 20 years ago and wifi wasn't prevalent and nothing was really online that much? It was kind of just starting to get out there.
I would think it would be difficult. I feel like we work remotely and so this wouldn't have been a job that we could do. We would've either had to save or just be willing to work as we go. So it would be much more of an off grid experience than I think we're having.
I think it would take working with a season. So just find jobs that are seasonal in different parts of the nation and go there. Fingers crossed when you get there, they have a position for you
Because you can't see online.
Absolutely. So what kind of jobs do you guys do that you're able to just pick up and go?
Sure. We have a couple. So we do own our own business. It's a digital marketing company and we help small businesses with their social media basically getting page views to their website. And so we have that and that brings in money. I do have a travel blog that we work on and then we do a ton of different side jobs to supplement. So we've worked brand ambassador jobs, which basically if you've ever gone to a baseball game or any kind of football game, then you'll see people out there handing out free swag or if you sign up to give us your information, we'll let you spin the wheel. Those are brand ambassador jobs and they actually pay quite well and then they can work with your schedule.
Nice. And you can do these anywhere in the country then?
Yeah, I just go to Craigslist and go under gigs and you'll find it's called Brand Ambassador, just type that in or you can get on Facebook and there are Facebook groups brand ambassadors of Seattle or brand ambassadors of Insert City and they post jobs there.
Okay, cool. Well good. Well hopefully we're getting some people interested in something that they may not have even considered before because this is, like I say, it was brand new to me and I really had no idea how you would pull that off. And it's great to hear the stories that you had so far, the places that you've gone to and you don't sound like you're ready to slow down and dig in roots anywhere at this point. I mean, how long do you see this going on? Do you feel like you're just going to keep doing this until you either burn out on it or it's just something that you're going to feel like you're going to want to do forever?
We like to say we're going to do it until it's no longer fun. I think we may have sold that from another Van Lifer, but we're keeping it, so I think maybe we will do it through the winter and then maybe next year maybe go to Europe. I don't know whether that means we ship our van or we do Airbnbs, but I think the Nomad lifestyle is here to stay for a while.
It's true. So two people together in a van with two dogs. And is there ever a moment where you're like, I want to take a little time to myself or I mean you guys just very comfortable in always being around each other?
No, we're one of those couples that just never fight.
It's super important to recognize when you're building up to something and even if you don't know exactly what it is to take time for yourself. And I think we both value that. We'll say, Hey, I need an introvert. Can you handle the dogs for a bit? I'm just going to go for a walk. Or Hey, I'm going to take the dogs for a walk or something. Maybe I recognize she needs time and maybe she doesn't see it, but I'll be like, all right, I'm going to take the dogs for a walk, or vice versa. So it's something that we definitely didn't think about before moving into the van, that's for sure. It's something we figured out, but it's just about keeping each other happy and be sane.
Yeah, it's extremely difficult and I will warn people it, I mean, you're with someone basically 24 7, and so if you guys have anything you need to work out, you're going to have to work it out in the van.
It's true, you can't just jump out and start walking while the other one's driving. Just either you sit in silence and think about what you're going to say or just talk it out.
I tell you, I think you guys are doing something amazing and it actually kind of encourages me to think about something like that. I mean, it's funny about age groups because when we think about people who have retired, they'll get an RV and they'll go out and they'll live on the road for a while, but they probably keep their home and they don't detach completely. And the millennial generation seems to be a little bit more open to the idea of just cutting ties and going out and hitting the road. And that's why it was interesting that you were on the Gen X travel chat on Twitter, because I don't know that Gen Xers really think about this. We're kind of caught in between where it sounds really interesting, but then the older generation that brought us up instilled have that job and dig in, get a home, and it's just such a different way to live. I mean, what do you see when you're out there and meeting other van lifers? Are they mostly kind of in a younger age group or do you see all types?
I will say it is extremely popular among millennials, but we do see quite a few age groups. I will say there are still some Gen Xers that are in there. Maybe they're some of the younger, maybe what, 38 to 45, but on the road, yeah, I think you see a lot and you do see a lot of older people as well. But what I've noticed is it's interesting. I think a lot of the Gen Xers that are in that almost millennial forties age group, they're starting to consider it whenever we meet them, when we talk to 'em, they're like, that's so cool. I've always wanted to do it, but X I can't do it now. Or Oh, I'm saving up for it. So I do think it's definitely catching on because they're learning like, oh, I mean I could be remote, why not?
And do you see it mostly being couples or do you see some solo people doing it as well?
It's definitely a mix. You do see couples. I see a lot of solo people. I will say that the majority of Gen Xers I've seen are solo, and a lot of them typically, I don't know, maybe it's kind of back to what Brie said about I need to save up or I got to have a job. I think a lot of them will do seasonal work or they kind of have a job for a while and they find a new one somewhere else and travel a little slower. But
Yeah. Are you saying Gen Xers haven't caught up to the digital age? Sean,
Watch it now.
I definitely did not say that.
I just think they're more comfortable doing it that way. This is something maybe a little foreign to them.
Yeah, I think that'd be the hard part for me is just giving up a home base of some form. I mean, I feel like I need to have someplace that as I'm getting older, I have to fall back on when it's time to retire and then just go to taking smaller trips. But I at least have an invested in-house that I can rely on being there. And that's not a concern that was really hot for me probably 15 to 20 years ago. So you're still in that age group where you're not thinking about those retirement years quite as hot and heavily as I am. I crossed the 50 year mark and then all of a sudden it becomes very real.
Yeah, you have options though. I mean, you don't have to give up your home base depending on your income level or what you're willing to do with your home. You have tons of options. You do not have to give it all up to go Van Life. There are plenty of people, Kristen from Barefoot Theory, they have a home in Utah that they spend about four months a year at, and then they spend the other eight in their van and they keep their home and just, I believe they have a roommate. You have so many different options, you don't have to do it our way. And that's cool about it. And if you do want to do it our way, if you build up the van yourself, the cool thing about Van Life right now is it's such a trend that we could sell it for double what we put into it so we could make tons of money and then there you go. There's $40,000 to put down on a home or whatever.
Right. So it is an investment.
Well cool. Alright, good. Well, I appreciate you guys giving us the lowdown on what the Van Life is all about and your experiences so far. And it sounds like you've got some great travels ahead of you. The one question I have to ask you though, because I had this happen when I came back from Scotland, I went to Scotland for three weeks, and when I got home, I kept waking up in the morning thinking I was still in Scotland and I couldn't shake that. So are you kind of like the rock star, the old joke that the rock stars in Detroit and he's going, hello Cleveland. Do you sometimes lose track of where you're at?
Yes. Sometimes I forget what day it is, honestly. Yeah, it's happened.
You just catch up when you can. Right? So sooner or later you're going to see a sign somewhere that's going to tell you where you're at.
That's what your phone's for. That's why it's good we're in the digital aids. It's fine. It'll tell me
Right what time zone I'm in, all that fun stuff,
Millennial Siri, where am I?
Yeah. Well very good. Well thank you guys so much for being on the show. And if anybody wants to keep up with where you're going and the stuff that you're doing, do you have a web address they can go to and where you guys are at on social media, you're posting pictures and stuff like that?
Yeah, you can find us at Chasing the Wild Goofs on Instagram and my website. And then Twitter's Chase the wild one. Chase the Wild Goose didn't fit.
Ah, okay. And what's behind that name? Chase the Wild Goose,
Basically, I was on a phone call with my, and we were driving out to Seattle without ever having been there. We just knew we wanted to go. And he's like, ah, you're out there. You caught the scent. I'm like, what? He's like, you caught the scent of the Wild Goose. And I was like, I guess I did. He's like, yeah, sometimes I got that bug, but you're out there, you're chasing it. I'm like, all right. Just kind of stuck. I thought it was cute.
That's excellent. That's excellent. Well, thank you so much again, and I wish you guys safe travels and good luck going down the road.
Thanks, drew. Thank you so much.
Well, I love hearing all of these great ways that we can figure out how to live a travel lifestyle. And the Van Life is just one of those. If you are interested in that, head out to our show notesPage@travelfuelslife.com slash podcasts. Look for episode number 26. And out there I'll have links to Brie and Sean's chasing the Wild Goose website, their social media pages so you can follow where they're going. And I'll also have some links to some of the other stuff that we mentioned on the show, including the as we Ran video, the free campsites net website and those YouTube toolkits that they were talking about. So check all that stuff out and get out there and live that van life. And I also want to send out a special thank you to Susan Dakota farrier. She was the one that introduced me to Bree through her Gen X travel chat on Twitter.
You may remember Susan from way back in episode number six. So we're all just one big happy family and meeting new travelers through other travelers. And isn't that what's great about this whole travel lifestyle? And if you enjoyed today's show, make sure that you're subscribed on your favorite podcast app and that way you won't miss any episodes. And you can jump on twitter.com/travel Fuels Life and let me know about your plans for living the van Life or talk about just about anything. I'm out there manning that Twitter account. And be happy to talk to you and get a little conversation going. And until next time, have yourself a great week. Safe travels and thanks for listening to Travel Fuels Life.