Vanning Ain't No Joke Magazine Issue 1 Sept/Oct 2019

After 4 years of living in a van, many people have told me they live in vans because of me or that I have changed their lives. That’s where this magazine comes from. I thought to myself. If I could change peoples lives just from living my own life and show it on Instagram then how can I do this on a bigger scale? Not only do I have tons of stories and information to share but I know lots of people who also do.

After 4 years of living in a van, many people have told me they live in vans because of me or that I have changed their lives. That’s where this magazine comes from. I thought to myself. If I could change peoples lives just from living my own life and show it on Instagram then how can I do this on a bigger scale? Not only do I have tons of stories and information to share but I know lots of people who also do.


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A message from the Editor<br />

“<strong>Vanning</strong> Ain’t <strong>No</strong> <strong>Joke</strong>.” This is all my friend Brad Parker said to me after showing him<br />

photos of this 1978 Dodge Tradesman 200 I was going to buy to live in. I had no idea what<br />

this meant at the time. I had no idea what I was doing. That little saying stuck in my head.<br />

I didn’t know why he had said that originally but I sure do now. Living in a van forces you<br />

outside your comfort zone. You are constantly learning and growing. You are always facing<br />

problems you have to overcome. You are always moving, always going...<br />

<strong>Vanning</strong> definitely Ain’t <strong>No</strong> <strong>Joke</strong>!!!<br />

After 4 years of living in a van, many people have told me they live in vans because of me<br />

or that I have changed their lives. That’s where this magazine comes from. I thought to<br />

myself. If I could change peoples lives just from living my own life and show it on Instagram<br />

then how can I do this on a bigger scale? <strong>No</strong>t only do I have tons of stories and<br />

information to share but I know lots of people who also do.<br />

I called my brother Neal Eisler and my buddy Andrew Martyn and asked them if they<br />

wanted to start a van life magazine with me. We could change peoples lives I told them.<br />

After getting them on board, we got to work to make something we could be proud of...<br />

something that could not only change peoples lives but change peoples mindsets. I am really<br />

excited to share this first issue with everyone and can’t wait to share future issues<br />

we haven’t written yet.<br />

.<br />

Enjoy and remember....<strong>Vanning</strong> Ain’t <strong>No</strong> <strong>Joke</strong>!!!! - Lee Eel Eisler<br />

Meet The Team<br />

Lee Eel Eisler<br />

My name is Lee backwards it’s Eel. I have been living in a van<br />

since August 2014. In <strong>Sept</strong>ember 2015 I adopted the best<br />

doggy ever, and I named him Wander.....or Wander the Stubborn<br />

Sniffer! I used to do the normal thing. Renting rooms in<br />

an apartment or a house before living in a van. I was looking<br />

for an escape from the rent trap when I saw my friend move<br />

into his van. I made a pros and a cons list and decided I had<br />

nothing to lose. I could try living in a van, and if I didn’t like<br />

it, I could go back to doing what I was doing before. I got a<br />

van and started living in fully roughing it with nothing in the<br />

van. The thing barely drove at first. “Am I doing the right<br />

thing?” I thought to myself. Well, its 4 years later and I<br />

don’t think you could pay me to do what I was doing before.<br />

I’m living more than I ever lived before and doing the things<br />

I used to dream of.<br />

@Freedom_The_Van<br />

My name is Neal. I’m a former business guy turned van lifer.<br />

How did this all happen? After 4 years of Product Management<br />

and Marketing for a software company my dissatisfaction<br />

level was at an all-time high...bored with my life...the repetitive<br />

cycle....work, work, 3 more days of work...all for the<br />

payoff...a 2-day weekend. The funny thing is when I actually<br />

enjoyed my job it was worse. Work never stopped. And, how<br />

did that pay off? One word, ‘Burnout!’ My apartment was<br />

no better. How could it be the dream to have someone living<br />

above, below, to the left and to the right of my floors<br />

and walls?? I felt trapped...when my brother, Lee, found out<br />

2-months before my apartment lease was set to end, he did<br />

all he could to push van life on me. With no plans to renew<br />

and no clue where to go, my brother succeeded. He found a<br />

sprinter van on Craiglist..the exact buildout I described. That<br />

day I sold my Lexus. Later that week, I bought a new lease<br />

on life.<br />

Neal Eisler<br />

@TheVanlifeAdventure<br />

Andrew Martyn<br />

My name is Andrew. I grew up in Pacifica California, its right<br />

by the ocean. I love going surfing, cooking, and living in my<br />

van on the road. Growing up the ocean was refuge for me,<br />

from school and the daily grind I just wasn’t a fan of. I<br />

dropped out of college for mechanical engineering to do art<br />

and embark on a road of self discover. Living all over the Bay<br />

Area and most briefly Los Angeles. Living in a Van is the best<br />

choice I have made to make my dreams a reality. Surfing and<br />

cooking by the ocean keeps me grounded through it all. <strong>No</strong>t<br />

much else to say, I’m here to live my life while I have it and<br />

go with the flow, but mostly surfing, surfing is life.<br />

@VandrewMartianDude<br />

3 4

In This <strong>Issue</strong><br />


9<br />


23<br />


39<br />

73<br />

Why I’m Quitting<br />

Corporate Life for Good.<br />

One Question<br />

Why did you choose<br />

to live in a van?<br />

29<br />

Van-C-Dents<br />

Accidents that<br />

happen in a van<br />

Interview with Joe Howley<br />

He played in the NFL for 8 years...<br />

<strong>No</strong>w he lives in a van<br />

Support Traveling Artists<br />

Interview with Alejandro Blanco<br />

Editorial Staff<br />

Chief Editor and Contributing Writer<br />

Lee Eel Eisler<br />


App Review<br />

Top 4 Free<br />

Camping Apps<br />

35<br />

Cooking Section<br />

What can go wrong while<br />

cooking in your van<br />

55<br />

47<br />

Van Life:<br />

The Real Life Survival Game<br />

Van life Essentials<br />

Tools for the Road<br />

63<br />

How I Took This Photo with a<br />

GoPro Hero 4 and a Headlamp<br />

80<br />

67<br />

Here’s All The Way’s Water<br />

Can Spill in Your Van<br />

Head of Design and Contributing Writer<br />

Neal Eisler<br />

Artist, Video and Photography<br />

Andrew Martyn

It’s the same thing now but<br />

through social media.<br />

Many people are living their dreams,<br />

but even more are not. Watching the<br />

lives of others...living through their<br />

adventure...working towards an endless<br />

means. I mean…once you are in<br />

debt, you are screwed and once out<br />

of debt, put yourself in more debt.<br />

Why I'm Quitting<br />

Corporate Life<br />

It’s a never-ending cycle that forces<br />

you to work until 60, 70...or...your entire life.<br />

This really sucks if you don’t like your job.<br />

Feature Story<br />

for Good.<br />

By: Neal Eisler<br />

Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Toy Story all have one thing in<br />

common. Okay, maybe two (now, they’re all owned by Disney).<br />

For me, it was about the adventure. I grew up watching and<br />

admiring the likes of Luke Sky Walker and Buzz Lightyear.<br />

Indiana Jones was my favorite. A real life adventurer!<br />

<strong>No</strong>w I see how funny it is. My whole life, I’ve been viewing<br />

reality through 2 different lenses. Out of one, I see a movie<br />

screen of sorts. Some of the biggest excitement, for me,<br />

lived through the experience of Indiana and those other adventurous<br />

heroes played out on a screen.<br />

You sit behind a desk, labor behind machinery, stand behind a<br />

counter…One day it hits you…maybe it’s when the back gives<br />

out, a near-death experience, trauma…CRACK! The reality hits.<br />

You realize how much time you’ve spent doing so little with your<br />

life. Lack of experience (real ones), lack of substance, lack<br />

of everything that makes life worth living…your time, close to<br />

half of it, working to help someone else achieve their dreams.<br />

I’m not saying this is the case for everyone, but it is for me.<br />

9 10

The other lens is<br />

the one I’ve been<br />

trained to see.<br />

What most people<br />

in Western culture<br />

grow up learning<br />

the definition of<br />

success to be.<br />

What are we supposed to achieve with this<br />

supposed fantasy?<br />

My whole life set up. Kindergarten, First grade, Second...Our<br />

school system, a perfect example. I followed it to a “T”. Worked<br />

hard. Got good grades. A college degree from a prestigious<br />

university. Wound up with a pretty good job in Software doing<br />

Product Management and Marketing. It all sounds great on paper.<br />

By society’s standards, a near perfect life. But, what the<br />

fuck is that? <strong>No</strong>, seriously.<br />

11 12

<strong>No</strong>thing is ever perfect.<br />

When we think things are perfect…<br />

a perfect order, perfect way of life…<br />

perfect???<br />

Thinking like this closes<br />

off our mind. Even so, society<br />

pushes us towards their<br />

pre-determined definition<br />

of perfect. They want us to<br />

believe it’s possible. Move<br />

up the career ladder. Make<br />

more money. Buy nice things.<br />

Then buy a house. Get married,<br />

have kids, retire,<br />

grandchildren...It’s so set<br />

up and so played out. I hear<br />

people refer to the 80/20<br />

rule. 80% of what we do is<br />

for that 20% gain. This is<br />

how we treat our lives and it<br />

doesn’t have to be that way.<br />

There is a reason lots of people<br />

reach a mid-life crisis,’ and<br />

it’s not because they’re out of<br />

their minds. A lot of us become<br />

entrapped doing something<br />

for survival. To pay our rent…<br />

to support our partying habits,<br />

our eating out habits, our<br />

car lease, mortgage…for the<br />

majority of people around the<br />

world, just to survive (imagine<br />

that).<br />

At some point, you may ask the question,<br />

is this all there really is to life?<br />

We as human beings stop growing when we stop learning, but<br />

learning doesn’t need to stop. Unfortunately, it does. For so<br />

many of us, we fail to even recognize when it happens. <strong>No</strong> longer<br />

living, only doing.<br />

I always hear, “you’re living the dream...I wish I could do<br />

the whole van life thing.”<br />

Lee (my brother), tells me he often hears that too. To be<br />

honest, anyone could do it. An open mind, a few sacrifices (regarding<br />

comfort) and a step (okay, maybe a leap) into the unknown<br />

is all you need.<br />

I’ve lived in a van full-time<br />

now for 10-months. You<br />

can call me a weekend warrior<br />

because I’d work my<br />

corporate job during the<br />

week and adventure on the<br />

weekends. It’s far from<br />

perfect...Stealth parking<br />

sucks...Unforseen problems<br />

occur at random..And, space<br />

is limited. However, with<br />

the right persepctive, it’s<br />

not that bad. I’ve endured<br />

much, much worse…and, you<br />

get used to it.<br />

The payoff<br />

was worth it.<br />

13 14

I’m quitting my corporate life for good<br />

because after turning 28, I’m over doing<br />

what I’ve been told to do my whole life<br />

and starting to live the life that gives me<br />

freedom today rather than tomorrow.<br />

During the weekends and few vacations I could get, I slept<br />

in the most incredible places, went on the wildest adventures<br />

and met so many unique people, all willing to share...stories,<br />

knowledge, insights, you name it. Time was my time. I truly<br />

felt free. That feeling of freedom, however, was extremely<br />

limited. 2-weeks of vacation is the average of what we get<br />

in the United States each year. My first year, I got none.<br />

It’s been 5 years since I entered corporate life…there’s been<br />

highs, and there’s been many more lows. Mostly though, I’ve<br />

been overworked, put through pointless efforts on projects<br />

that were doomed from the beginning, and had countless<br />

hours wasted sitting through meetings and conversations that<br />

served no purpose…I’ve had enough and I’m over it. For good!<br />

15 16

What’s the point in<br />

continuing to do something<br />

when it no longer serves a purpose??<br />

I mean, moving back in with mom after 4<br />

years away at college is almost as uncomfortable<br />

as it gets.<br />

Any privacy, any freedom…snatched away. If you went to college<br />

and lived on campus, remember what your freshman dorm<br />

room felt like?? Well, van life is a hell of a lot easier!”<br />

My older brother never thought<br />

I’d even consider this lifestyle.<br />

Heck, he’d been doing it for 4<br />

years. To me, he was smart to<br />

do it. He was living the life of<br />

adventure I always wanted.<br />

<strong>No</strong> college degree necessary. <strong>No</strong><br />

mortgage necessary. Just a van.<br />

It took a lot of work to pay off my student loans, but I am<br />

debt free. I was lucky enough to be able to move back in with<br />

my mom after college and pay off the loans by the time I<br />

turned 26...but...I wish I had known about van life then. <strong>No</strong>t<br />

everything is comfortable at first, but you get used to it.<br />

You’re forced to get creative with ways to improve your situation<br />

to make it more comfortable and little by little you get<br />

accustomed to that new way of life.<br />

When we have too little comfort…like an invasion of privacy…<br />

freedom ceases to exist. Too much comfort…like a nice apartment<br />

or home in a gated community…and complacency easily<br />

sets in. To some people that’s awesome. To me, it’s not. I was<br />

bored to death in a luxury apartment, with a nice car and good<br />

paying job...van life offered an easy escape.<br />

17 18

So, why am I really quitting<br />

corporate life?<br />

1. Sitting, sitting, and more sitting<br />

5. To live freely<br />

Seriously, fuck the 9 to 5. My CEO gave me a few months to<br />

taste what working remotely could feel like. <strong>No</strong>w I want that<br />

feeling fulltime.<br />

My body is not meant for<br />

this. In 5 years I’ve developed<br />

sciatica, and I can’t<br />

imagine what will happen in<br />

5 more. Working at a desk<br />

until my body is too old to<br />

use sounds like an awful idea.<br />

2. Pointless projects where I learn<br />

nothing<br />

I spend more than half of my week at work...but, these<br />

days, everything I learn is in the time I’m not at the office.<br />

3. Office politics<br />

When I meet people with different<br />

perspectives on the<br />

road it serves as a constant<br />

reminder of why I hate the<br />

office. I’m tired of not being<br />

able to have completely open<br />

and honest dialogue. How can<br />

you hope to grow this way?<br />

4. Meetings and discussions that go<br />

nowhere<br />

6. Van life<br />

I have no rent, no utility fees or HOA, no rules (well except<br />

the street signs). And, outside the city, I can live more freely.<br />

My home is where I park it (there are no street signs).<br />

So, I’m quitting my corporate life for<br />

good. What now? What next? We’ll have<br />

to just wait and see…<br />

19 20

One Question?<br />

Why did you choose to live in your van?<br />

Dimitri Dupont, 22, France<br />

@dimitri_ppj<br />

Living in Pompon Jaune for 2 years<br />

“There were so many reasons that I<br />

chose this nomadic lifestyle: Living in<br />

a van is a very economic way to travel<br />

and is perfect for going on adventures.<br />

I wanted to experience new cultures<br />

and meet new people. I really loved<br />

the idea of creating my own rolling<br />

home and living minimalistic. But I<br />

also wanted to be more connected to<br />

earth and learn more about myself.”<br />

Betsy, 27 and Justin, 29<br />

Utah and Oregon<br />

@wandering.woods<br />

Living in a van<br />

for 1 year, 2 months<br />

“Well, our journey to van life started<br />

with one of our cars being stolen.<br />

We needed to replace it, and<br />

we’d already been toying with the<br />

idea of converting a Sprinter as a<br />

camper, so we went ahead and purchased<br />

a used Sprinter from FedEx<br />

as our replacement vehicle. After a<br />

while, the thought came to us that<br />

maybe we should convert it into a<br />

home and move in as a way to expedite<br />

paying off Justin’s crushing<br />

medical school student loans. We’ve been in our van full-time for a little over a<br />

year now, and I’m happy to report that we’ve saved a lot of money which has really<br />

enabled us to speed up the loan repayment process.”<br />

Tim Moore, 32<br />

Detroit, Michigan<br />

@timberwolf.moore<br />

Living in a van since <strong>Oct</strong>, 2017<br />

“Van life started for me when I separated<br />

from a long-term relationship.<br />

We were living together, I moved out,<br />

and I already had the campervan, so<br />

it just made sense to sleep in it. I did<br />

not intentionally move into the van for<br />

it to be my full-time residence. I work<br />

full time, traveling 15-20 days a month<br />

where I drive a company truck and<br />

sleep in hotels, so 10-15 days a month<br />

in the van is easy.”<br />

Laysea Hughes, 25, Florida<br />

and Koda the doggy<br />

@gypsealaysea<br />

Living in Nessea the Westy<br />

for 4 years<br />

“I started living in my van primarily<br />

to travel, but I stayed in this lifestyle<br />

because It encourages conscious living.<br />

Living, thoroughly enveloped<br />

in the moment. The need to choose<br />

where to sleep, eat, work, daily<br />

actively living.”<br />

23 24

Dane Faurschou, 33<br />

and Sara Bengtsson, 33<br />

Australia and Sweden<br />

@holidayfromwhere<br />

Living in Cinnamon the van<br />

for 8 months<br />

“Umm, why was probably more<br />

out of convenience for me I<br />

think. I travel constantly, and<br />

the cost of having a house and<br />

traveling just seemed silly so. I<br />

decided to pack it all down and<br />

move it into a smaller space that<br />

I can actually travel in.”<br />

Jamie, 28 and Kelly, 26<br />

Cork, Ireland and<br />

Vancuver, Canada<br />

@out_for_a_spin<br />

Living in a van since May, 2018<br />

“We decided to build and live in our<br />

van because we planned to use it as a<br />

vessel for traveling through Mexico,<br />

Central America, and South America.<br />

It has been a dream of ours for quite a<br />

few years now, and it’s awesome to be<br />

living out that dream now.”<br />

Griffen Apple, 25<br />

Emily Appel, 23<br />

and Luna the doggy<br />

Lexington, KY<br />

@captain_vantastic<br />

Living in a van for 1 year<br />

“We chose life in a van to escape<br />

the expectations that this world<br />

has put on people to live the same<br />

life as everyone else. It’s not easy,<br />

it’s not luxurious, it’s not always<br />

comfortable. BUT it takes you<br />

to new places to do new things<br />

with new people and experience<br />

this amazing life on this amazing<br />

planet with less distractions. WE<br />

LOVE IT!”<br />

Ashley Van Meter, 29<br />

<strong>No</strong>rthern California<br />

@ashleyandthevan<br />

Living in Stan the van for 1 year<br />

“I chose to live in a van to pursue my<br />

dreams of being a photographer. I like<br />

to shoot wildlife and landscape, but it’s<br />

all about being in the right place at the<br />

right time. Living in a van allows me to<br />

chase those sunrises and sunsets that<br />

I couldn’t do as well when I lived in<br />

one spot. It’s also the perfect home for<br />

a traveler like myself. I’ve always had<br />

wandering feet, and the van allows me<br />

to satisfy my wanderlusty soul.”<br />

25 26

Thomas Kofron, 31<br />

San Louis Obispo<br />

@van.ninja<br />

Living in a van<br />

for 2 years<br />

27<br />

When I first moved into a van I<br />

had been a wildland firefighter<br />

for 5 years. I would work 9 month<br />

seasons and then get 3 months off<br />

each year. During those 9 months<br />

I was at work a minimum of 3<br />

days(72hrs) a week but often would<br />

be assigned to fires for weeks at a<br />

time. During my 3 winter months<br />

I would be traveling the state,<br />

out of state, and across the world<br />

for various reasons that included<br />

climbing, diving, backpacking and<br />

general exploitation. It dawned on me that I was paying almost $1000 a month just in rent and<br />

utilities to store my gear in a rented room and only be home a couple days each month. Also, the<br />

constant driving home to pack/unpack gear for my various adventures was becoming a hassle.<br />

After a short time thinking about van life, I committed by buying my first empty sprinter van<br />

and with having no knowledge on what I was getting myself into I started Building it into my<br />

Want To Be Included In Next<br />

Month’s One Queston Section?<br />

E-mail responses to:<br />

vanningaintnojoke@gmail.com<br />

Next Month’s Question<br />

Do you ever miss the life you<br />

lived before you turned to van<br />


Van-C-Dents<br />

Accidents That Happen in a Van<br />

By: Neal Eisler<br />

I’ve hit my head a lot in life…<br />

never as much as in my short time living in a van…<br />

Most common, on the shelf above my doorframe.<br />

I live in a Sprinter Van with shelves lining my<br />

walls. As awesome as they are for creating extra<br />

storage in such a small space…it’s not awesome<br />

when you consider all the times I’ve woken up to<br />

a forehead collision.<br />

As shitty as it sounds to wake up hitting your<br />

head, it got me thinking.<br />

How many van lifers experience this problem too?<br />

<strong>No</strong>t just this one, but other unusual accidents<br />

that only happen in a van.<br />



Last month, I took my van up and down<br />

Big Sur…what an epic trip! Also had my<br />

craziest Van-C-Dent to date.<br />

It felt great to be there…today was going be awesome!....<br />

bzzzzz….bzzzzz…bzzzzz….awesome...until the flies...they were<br />

everywhere. Over me, my mat, my back doors, pillows, blanket…I<br />

lit some Palo Santo hoping to solve the problem (smoke<br />

them out)…yeah, if it were only that simple. The back door<br />

needed to be wiped down with a towel. My blanket and pillow<br />

patted down…it took the rest of the day to get rid of each<br />

and every last one.<br />

This Van-C-Dent just one of many. …<br />

It was late in the day…about time to find a spot to call home<br />

for the night…boom…omg…that turnout…perfect! I turned<br />

around, then in. A lot of patience and keen eyes made this<br />

happen.<br />

After settling in, I caught an incredible sunset and made a<br />

nice dinner...As it got dark, it also got cloudy. Stargazing was<br />

out of the question so I passed out early to the sounds of<br />

waves crashing down below.<br />

The next day I woke up excited…opened my backdoors…<br />

walked around to roll out my yoga mat. It was incredible...<br />

The view. The Weather…I could not ask for anything more.<br />

Want to share your Van-C-Dent???<br />

Accidents happen to everyone, but accidents in a van are<br />

different. Everyone has a story, some to share.<br />

Learning from the mistakes of others helps us be better<br />

prepared to prevent our own. As funny as Van-C-Dents<br />

can be, they prove that <strong>Vanning</strong> Ain’t <strong>No</strong> <strong>Joke</strong>.<br />

Share your Van-C-Dents on Instagram for the chance to be<br />

featured in our next issue.<br />

Use #VanCdents and tag @<strong>Vanning</strong>Aint<strong>No</strong><strong>Joke</strong><br />

31 32

These photos are photos of some of the places I have stayed<br />

for absolutely free. They are also some of the best campsites<br />

I have had. I found them using apps. Here’s my reviews on<br />

the top 4 free camping apps.<br />

<strong>No</strong>w there’s not always a science and these apps don’t have a solution for every<br />

single place you are going to go. I have had a great deal of “winging it.”<br />

A lot of van life and finding free parking spots is about finding loopholes. I have<br />

parked lots of places that said no overnight parking. <strong>No</strong>t sure what the future<br />

of the night held for me. I have made it through so many nights in these kind of<br />

spots I couldn’t even put a number on it.<br />

<strong>No</strong>w every once in awhile you might get asked to move by a forest ranger, police<br />

officer, or whatever jurisdiction controls the area. As long as your respectful to<br />

the officer and respectful to the area (your trash isn’t everywhere), then you will<br />

most likely only be asked to move. I have even had some cool conversations with<br />

cops or forest rangers asking me to move. I never got a ticket or had a bad experience.<br />

Some of the best campsites I have been to were totally free. Here’s how to find<br />

them.<br />

By: Lee Eel Eisler<br />

Top 4 FREE<br />

Camping Apps<br />

Campsites are not always cheap. Paying for campsites every night is not very cost<br />

effective while you are travelling and lets face it. Finding a campsite you pay for is<br />

easy. Finding a free campsite takes a little more work. Especially as places become<br />

more populated with people more and more regulaions get put into place.<br />

Don’t worry thiough! It’s possible. Actually, in 4 years of living in a van, I have only<br />

paid for one campsite ever, and I have received one parking ticket in the 4 years of<br />

living in a van. That ticket was in San Francisco. It was my fault for not knowing<br />

the rules on this particular street had changed since the last time I parked there. I<br />

didn’t look at the signs. Always look at the signs.<br />

#1. iOverlander<br />

I love iOverlander.<br />

com! If I were to<br />

choose a favorite,<br />

this would be it. It<br />

is easy to use, and it<br />

has the biggest database<br />

of campsites<br />

that I have found.<br />

As far as campsites<br />

it lists them by free,<br />

paid, permit or research.<br />

That’s not all it<br />

shows. It also includes hotels, restaurants, mechanics,<br />

water refill stations, propane fill up stations and<br />

even mechanics...not to mention all the scenic stops<br />

it mentions.<br />

www.ioverlander.com<br />

35 36

#2. Free Campsites<br />

I was using free campsites before I was using iOverlander.<br />

Honestly now I use a combination of all the<br />

apps mentioned. Free campsites is my second go to.<br />

They have a useful database of free camp spots. The<br />

only thing I dont like is that it doesn’t populate as you<br />

move the map around. You have to change your location<br />

in the search area to see the camp spots in a<br />

different area. The trip planner feature is really really<br />

cool. It helps you figure out where you can stay along<br />

your trip.<br />

All in all free campsites is a great app to use to find<br />

free camp spots and its a free app!<br />

www.freecampsites.net<br />

#3. RV Parky<br />




RULES!!!<br />






RV Parky is geared more towards RVers which is<br />

obvious by the name. It has information like height<br />

clearances through areas and some other useful info.<br />

I usually us RV Parky to find out which Walmarts<br />

allow overnight parking. Overall it is a good place<br />

to check if you haven’t found anything on the first<br />

two apps.<br />

www.rvparky.com<br />

#4. Rest Stops<br />

When all else fails you are always allowed to<br />

stay at rest stops up to 8 hours. I have stayed<br />

in lots of rest stops. They get a little noisy<br />

sometimes, but it’s a safe spot to get in some<br />

zzzzz’s.<br />

www.usareststops.com<br />

37 38

An Interview with Joe Howley<br />

He played in the NFL for 8 years...<br />

<strong>No</strong>w he lives in a van.<br />

You played in the NFL for 8 years and now<br />

you live in a van. What got you wanting to<br />

start living in a van?<br />

I think everybody who has travelled has thought<br />

about doing some sort of road trip across the country<br />

visiting 48 states so this has always been a thought<br />

and a dream of mine. Obviously on social media the<br />

van life community has become kind of a big thing<br />

and with social media it’s easy to have access to all<br />

this different information. I just saw all these people<br />

who were actually living the van life and traveling and<br />

doing their thing so when my career was coming to an<br />

end I thought it would be pretty cool to give it a try. I<br />

had a rare opportunity because I was retiring from a<br />

sport and I had a little bit of money. I knew I could get<br />

a van and go see what it was like for like a year or maybe<br />

longer. I’ve been on the road for like 3 months now.<br />

How are you liking it so far?<br />

Interviewed by: Lee Eel Eisler<br />

@ManVanDogBlog<br />

I’m having a blast man! I’m not completely living out of my van. I’m visiting a lot of<br />

friends. I’m staying in hotels occasionally. I just got done with this baseball tour. I stayed<br />

in a hotel most of the time for that but the ability to go where I want and not have to be<br />

tied down anywhere and just travel in the van has been this sense of freedom that I’ve<br />

never really felt before and the journeys kinda just getting started. I’ve already experienced<br />

so much that I didn’t even realize and I just know that the journeys just going to<br />

continue to grow and by the end of it I know I’m going to have some crazy experiences.<br />

Are there any things that have happened to you that have been<br />

pretty unexpected so far?<br />

I think the coolest thing has been the ability to share my journey and my story on social<br />

media, creating a community of people who are like minded and really inspiring people<br />

to live with less so they can experience more. It’s not all about material things. So I went<br />

on that baseball tour and I met a bunch of people at all these different baseball games<br />

and I meet these people at these campsites and rv parks I’ve been staying at. I would say<br />

that just meeting the people throughout the country and creating those relationships and<br />

hearing other peoples stories. That’s the part that I like the most and am having the most<br />

fun doing. If I would have done this 10 years ago, 20 years ago like it would have been a<br />

completely different experience. It would have been a more soul searching, individual,<br />

solitude kinda going out and figuring it out, but being able to create a community with<br />

social media and share the experience and have those relationships is awesome. It’s the<br />

best part of it for me.<br />

I’ve watched all your youtube videos and it shows that you really enjoy<br />

sharing the story because the way you share your story in those<br />

videos is really well done and interesting.<br />

Thank you. I appreciate that. I never really needed a lot of really nice things and I think a<br />

lot of people get caught in the hustle and bustle of the world and what society tells them<br />

they need to be, they need to get a job and then they end up miserable. Some people thats<br />

for them, but some people I feel like thats what they have to do because society tells them<br />

it needs to be, so to be able to show an example that theres other ways to live your life it’s<br />

not just 9-5, buy a house get into debt. You can go experience the world, especially when<br />

your young.<br />

39 40

One thing I liked about watching<br />

your videos was your dog Freedom.<br />

Dogs are the best. What’s your favorite part about your van build,<br />

and what’s your least favorite part?<br />

Yea she’s awesome.<br />

I watched your story about her<br />

but let’s hear the story about<br />

how you ended up with Freedom.<br />

When I started this trip and the idea started<br />

growing on me. I knew I wanted to bring<br />

a dog with me for obvious reasons. I didn’t<br />

want to be lonely on the road and I knew that<br />

having a companion and having a dog with<br />

me would help the process of being on the<br />

road just go a lot smoother. I wanted a rescue<br />

dog. I went to a shelter a few times. I didn’t<br />

really find the one I wanted. I was trying to<br />

get a puppy but they go so fast at these shelters<br />

because everyone wants a puppy. I saw<br />

Freedom in her cage. She was curled up in<br />

the corner of her cage and she just looked really<br />

miserable and sad and depressed.<br />

All these other dogs were jumping up on their cages like pick me, pick me, take me<br />

home and she was just like not happy at all. I felt so sad for her, so I tried to do a play<br />

date with her where you can take the dog out. You go in this little play area and see if you<br />

guys get along and she didn’t even look at me, she just sniffed around. I tried to come<br />

play with her and she just walked away from me.<br />

“For some reason, I had<br />

this feeling this dog would<br />

be so grateful to get out of<br />

here.”<br />

She just looked so miserable so I told<br />

them I’d take her. I took her home<br />

and as soon as I got her home she<br />

jumped on me, started licking me<br />

and she just really attached to me.<br />

I can tell that she’s just so grateful<br />

to me for helping save her life and<br />

we’ve developed a really tight bond.<br />

I’m so thankful that I have her.<br />

I love it so much. I’ll start with my least favorite part. The biggest decision I had to make<br />

was whether I wanted a high top or a pop top and I decided to go with the pop top because<br />

of my height and my size. There are some points in my trip where I wish I had the<br />

high top and I could just pull up somewhere and get in bed and not have to worry about<br />

setting it all up. Then I can do more discreet camping or undercover camping in cities but<br />

I can’t really do that with my van. There’s a little bit of a set up to it. My favorite part would<br />

probably be the way it drives. It’s such an easy thing to drive. It’s diesel and it handles a<br />

lot better then I think a big van should. There’s a lot of other things I like about it. I mean<br />

I’m in love with the van but that’s one thing I kinda think about sometimes is being able<br />

to pull up like those sprinter vans that just have the beds in the back. People can just pull<br />

up wherever and just hop in bed.<br />

That’s a nice feeling. Something<br />

I like to ask people is about accidents<br />

they’ve had in their van. Like<br />

we are doing a thing about water<br />

spills. All the different ways you<br />

can spill water in your van. Have<br />

you ever had something like that<br />

happen?<br />

I actually just had a dog bowl full of water<br />

while I was driving. My pillow hit it and it<br />

went everywhere. I spilt a coffee in there.<br />

That was kind of a mess to clean up. Also, I have a little pull behind trailer. I blew a tire<br />

out going through Indiana because there’s a lot of potholes. Make sure people know to<br />

dodge the potholes when they’re going through the midwest because they come out of<br />

nowhere. It’s all been good though, smooth riding.<br />

“I’ve got it all taken<br />

care of and I think that<br />

people need to know<br />

that things are gonna<br />

happen when you’re<br />

out on the road but it’s<br />

all about the attitude<br />

you bring to it.”<br />

41 42

Where do you see the future of yourself with the whole van life thing?<br />

Honestly, people ask me what I want to do when I’m done. I want to do this for at least<br />

a year, but I don’t really know. The cool part about my journey is I don’t really have any<br />

roots anywhere. I grew up in California and my parents moved to San Antonio. I played<br />

a little bit in Atlanta, that’s where most of my friends are but I don’t really feel like I have<br />

any roots anywhere to go back to. I’m kind of using this journey to find out where I<br />

want to be and I feel like there’s going to be opportunities that come up that I can’t even<br />

comprehend at this point so I try not to think too much about the future. I’m just gonna<br />

kind of let the process work itself out and see what happens.<br />

Do you have a favorite place you’ve been so far?<br />

I would say my favorite part of the trip was the baseball tour I did where I did 13 games<br />

in 14 days and seeing all the different baseball stadiums. I went to Daniel Boone national<br />

forest and I did a hike there called natural bridge which was pretty cool but I’ve been<br />

really looking forward to getting out west. I know there’s a lot of things I’ve been looking<br />

forward to seeing out west so that’s where I’m headed now so I’m getting excited about it.<br />

Your kind of like a bigger guy.<br />

Yea, 6 foot 3, 240 now.<br />

A lot of people who are your size<br />

kind of worry about that going<br />

into a van so hows that work for<br />

you?<br />

Well, the reason I went with the pop top is<br />

because I wanted the extra room so when I<br />

do set up the camper and I pop the top up, I<br />

actually have plenty of room. It hasn’t affected me too much. My bed is a bunk on top<br />

and I got a little roll-up foam Tempurpedic mattress that I put up there. I’ve figured it<br />

out. It’s been a process but most of the time when you go somewhere you’re not spending<br />

a lot of time in the actual van. You’re usually going out meeting people, going out on<br />

hikes and doing stuff, so you’re not spending a ton of time in the van. I would say the<br />

only problem I’ve really had is when it rains a lot and I am stuck in the van it does get<br />

a little bit tight. I think the key is to keep the van clean and tidy and pick up regularly<br />

because it does get messy<br />

pretty quickly.<br />

For sure man. Maybe we’ll see you out here!<br />

For more on Joe follow his YouTube and Blog.<br />

www.manvandogblog.com<br />

@ManVanDogBlog<br />

43 44

Cooking Section What can go wrong while cooking in your van?<br />

By: Neal Eisler<br />

Everything that could go wrong will go wrong while cooking in<br />

a van. If it hasn’t happened yet just wait...of course, that is<br />

assuming you do indeed cook in your van.<br />

It wasn’t long ago that I remember cooking in an<br />

apartment...on a 4 burner electric stove...with an oven<br />

(yeah, an oven. I’ve only ever once seen an oven in<br />

a van once. That was my brother’s.).<br />

The craziest thing is that I actually cook more<br />

now than ever before. When’s the last time I<br />

went out to eat?? <strong>No</strong> clue.<br />

And, after hundreds of meals cooked in<br />

a van I’ve experienced a lot...<br />

Let me tell you, there is<br />

a lot that can go wrong<br />

while cooking in a van.<br />


1. Fire as a result of wind<br />

If your van interior consists of a lot of wood, this could be a<br />

problem.<br />

This happened to me on my first trip out at Joshua Tree, a park known for its<br />

desert winds. <strong>No</strong>w I have a reminder of this every time I cook. That memory of<br />

my home catching on fire is still as vivid as yesterday…Mid-way through boiling<br />

a pot of water, one of my friends yelled “FIRE!” I look over, and my home is<br />

burning. I turned off the stove and blew air out of my mouth with all the force<br />

in the world. Without a fire extinguisher, my options were limited. Had it been<br />

30 seconds later, this might not have worked. Fortunately, it did. <strong>No</strong>w I have<br />

a friendly reminder every time I cook to consider wind conditions and shut my<br />

doors. I also have a fire extinguisher.<br />

2. Fire as a result of a gas leak<br />

Check for any hissing sounds. If you risk it, watch out for<br />

plumes of smoke.<br />

This also happened on my first trip to Joshua Tree. It was one day later from<br />

the wind incident...I turned on my gas stove ready to grill and could hear a hissing<br />

noise…Even smelled a little gas. But, I was hungry. Next to my van, James,<br />

a dirtbag climber, was sitting in his car watching Netflix and boom! My hair almost<br />

caught on fire…My head almost got fried…James had no clue what he was<br />

watching anymore. But, my home survived. That’s when I knew it was time for a<br />

new grill.<br />

3. Stabbing yourself while cutting an avocado<br />

Whack it, don’t stab it.<br />

Okay, this happens to everyone. It’s way more common than you think (I’m serious...).<br />

People end up in the hospital for avocado cutting incidents all the time.<br />

In my case, I had stopped at Malibu Creek State Park to make a nice salad for<br />

lunch. With my avocado cut in half, it was time to take out the core. I’ve always<br />

stabbed at it and this time was no different. Except, it was different. Instead<br />

of stabbing the core, I missed the core and stabbed my hand. Blood gushed out.<br />

Clutching my hand, I rushed to the ranger’s station and explained what happened.<br />

They wanted to call an ambulance for a hospital 4 miles away. I thought,<br />

“that’s crazy.” It ended up only being a minor cut; but, the lesson I learned is to<br />

put the avocado on the table whack at the core and twist it out.<br />

49 50

4. Knocking over your pots and pans<br />

Watch yourself. More importantly, watch your food.<br />

I cannot explain how many times and how many ways this has happened. A neighboring<br />

van’s guest jumping back and forth, turning around to prep food, bending<br />

down to pick up scraps knocked on the floor, being parked on a tilt, trying to<br />

do too many things at once, the list goes on…The outcome has always been the<br />

same…a big mess of food, water, and spices on the floor instead of in the pot or<br />

pan on the grill. Always make sure to watch your food.<br />

5. Smoooooookeeeeee. Dont smoke yourself out<br />

Turn on some fans, open, a window or a door.<br />

I love it when I get a great sear on my vegetables and meat, but it sometimes<br />

comes at a price. One time, I was cooking stealth in a parking lot and, “damn,”<br />

my pan was hot. 5-minutes after throwing some Brussel Sprouts on it to grill, I<br />

could smell burning. Oh yeah, it was getting really smoky too...And, than….”BEEP…<br />

BEEP…BEEP!!!!” Oh, “god,” my fire alarm was going off. It took a whole minute<br />

messing with that thing to get it to stop. My spot was blown, and so was my food.<br />

<strong>No</strong>w, I’m way more careful with the temp at which I cook anything.<br />

6. Burning yourself in every way<br />

you can imagine<br />

Really think. Really, really, really, really think before you grab<br />

at or touch things.<br />

Most of my burns have been born of impatience. Some have not. I’ve burnt my<br />

hands trying to clean the stove to shortly after cooking…touching a hot pan…My<br />

mouth has been burnt tasting food right off the stove before letting it cool. But,<br />

the worst burn I’ve ever experienced was in an accident with my aero press (a<br />

French press single serve coffee making device). I was making coffee the way<br />

I always do. With the aero press sitting on my cup, I poured over boiling water<br />

from my pot. As I started to press the water through, I knocked my cup over…<br />

coffee and hot water flying everywhere…My left hand got covered. I wound up<br />

with a 2nd-degree burn. If you do get burned, get cold water on it immediately.<br />

But, it’s best to consider ways you can burn yourself to prevent them from ever<br />

occurring in the first place.<br />

51 52

53<br />

7. Oil Spills<br />

Getting this up is a crummy predicament.<br />

<strong>No</strong>t all containers are made equally. 2 coconut oil spills and one olive oil spill later,<br />

this lesson is one I will not forget...And, the culprit is always the same. The<br />

top either not being appropriately shut or not capable of being shut properly…or<br />

maybe, these things are just not meant to sit sideways. I’ve learned you can seal<br />

those suckers and pray or just stand them upright.<br />

8. Having to start over<br />

If any of the problems above occur, you most likely need to<br />

start cooking your meal all over again. That sucks.<br />

Cooking in a van is no joke. You’re in a small confined space and have a lot to get<br />

used too. Accidents happen...when they do you deal with them...The worst part is<br />

not the cleanup but the fact that you most likely need to restart your meal from<br />

scratch. Hopefully you didn’t get to far along.

My first van. I<br />

ended up calling it<br />

the Mystery Machine.<br />

This photo<br />

was taken the day<br />

I bought it. If you<br />

look really closely,<br />

you can see the guy<br />

I bought it from<br />

getting his stuff out.<br />

VAN LIFE:<br />

The Real Life Survival Video Game<br />

By : Lee Eel Eisler<br />

Is van life attainable for everyone? What if you don’t have enough money to buy a built out van?<br />

What if you can’t afford to pay rent and support your van build at the same time?<br />

That was me. I was tired of paying so much money in rent that buying food was a struggle. That’s<br />

no way to live. Long story short I made a pros and cons list and decided to try living in a van. It<br />

was an experiment at first. If I didn’t like it, I would go back to doing what I was doing before.<br />

When you have no bed. Then you<br />

get a bed. You appreciate it a lot.<br />

This was my first bed in a van<br />

ever! It folded all sorts of different<br />

ways. They don’t make stuff like<br />

this anymore.<br />

I froze my ass off in this van while working and living in<br />

Lake Tahoe for the winter. Snowboarding every day. It was<br />

awesome but cold. Then my van broke down in the middle<br />

of a gnarly snowstorm, so I went to sleep. I woke up to a<br />

snowplow hitting my van. It put a big hole in the van. I ended<br />

up selling it.<br />

I stopped paying rent and loaded all my stuff into a storage locker. With nothing set in place,<br />

I lived out of the storage locker, my Toyota Corolla, and various couches, mostly my parents.<br />

After 3 months I had $1,500 saved up. I had been browsing craigslist looking at vans I couldn’t<br />

afford for the entire 3 months. Basically, I was dreaming about living in a van, waiting until I had<br />

enough money to afford one. I was getting antsy.<br />

That’s when it happened. A $1,500 1978 Dodge Tradesman 200 that drove popped up onto craigslist.<br />

This thing had some style. I called within 5 minutes of it being posted and went to look the<br />

next day. I told myself that if this thing actually does drive, I’m buying it. It actually did drive,<br />

and it actually had a ton of power and seemed to be running pretty good. My new home on<br />

wheels. The back had nothing in it at all. It was a blank slate but my new home. <strong>No</strong>t only my<br />

new home on wheels but the start of some of the best times of my life and I wouldn’t trade it for<br />

anything. As my brother would say, I had just purchased a new lease on life.<br />

The day I bought that van was the day I turned my life from boring and dull to exciting and adventurous.<br />

I didn’t just take a step outside my comfort zone but a giant leap. This leap caused me<br />

to learn. I learned about myself. I learned about life. I learned how to live more simply. I learned<br />

how to stop and smell the roses. I learned how to keep going outside my comfort zone to expand<br />

and grow myself.<br />

Then I got this van for $3,000.<br />

A new home on wheels. After<br />

not having a van for a little<br />

getting this van just felt like<br />

I got my freedom back. I<br />

named it Freedom the Van.<br />

Freedom the van is a 1996<br />

Dodge Ram B2500. It was<br />

a Primetime conversion van<br />

so the back seats already<br />

folded flat into a bed and<br />

it was super comfortable.<br />

Initially, I really had no idea what to expect from van life. I was conditioned to live a certain way,<br />

and by moving towards van life, I was going to have to relearn how to live. <strong>No</strong> unlimited power<br />

source. <strong>No</strong> Water. I didn’t even have a stove for like the first month. I had no plans really. I just<br />

jumped right into van life and figured things out along the way. It’s 4 years later, and I’m still<br />

figuring things out.<br />

The day I bought that van was the day my life turned into like this crazy survival video game but<br />

in real life. What do I mean by this? Well, we all know how video games work. You improve your<br />

situation through a variety of different ways causing you to “level up.” Well instead of playing<br />

video games I began living a video game. I started out van life with the van. It was time to figure<br />

out a bed situation. Time to try to level up.<br />

I remember getting these seats my coworker had taken out of an old van. They folded every<br />

which way. Became two rows of seats, a bed or they could fold so they were facing each other. I<br />

had leveled up!<br />

55 56

I’m not writing all this to scare you. Well, maybe I am because moving into a van is scary! I was<br />

not sure I was doing the right thing. Good news is it’s 4 years later. I’m still living in a van and<br />

loving it! I would not have traded any of it for anything, and I would not have done it differently.<br />

The amount of knowledge, power, and self-sufficiency I have gained in the last 4 years could not<br />

be taught in school….well unless you are in the school of life! I have no idea what level of van<br />

life I’m currently at. Sometimes you pass levels. Sometimes you fail. Van life isn’t just all fun and<br />

games. After all. <strong>Vanning</strong> Ain’t <strong>No</strong> <strong>Joke</strong>!<br />

One thing to note when your looking at these pictures of all the changes Freedom the van has<br />

been through is that these changes happened over the course of years doing what I could as I<br />

could. I slept on the floor of this, and I built a few different beds for this van. One valuable lesson<br />

I learned about living in a van and building it while you live in it is you need to understand shortterm<br />

solutions for things. Sometimes those short-term solutions become long-term solutions.<br />

Enjoy the journey!<br />

I lifted the van and<br />

put bigger tires on<br />

it thanks to the<br />

help of Greg at<br />

G&M Diesel Services<br />

in Orange,<br />

California.<br />

The next thing<br />

I did was add a<br />

roof vent. I went<br />

all out on this as<br />

this is important.<br />

<strong>No</strong>t just for me<br />

but for Wander<br />

the doggy also.<br />

I moved the jack to the side of the van and<br />

then I realized I could also put my shovel<br />

and pickaxe there. SCORE! Also installed<br />

lights all around my van.<br />

Building a wall and bed frame. I ended up<br />

changing the side my bed was on several times.<br />

Thanks to my friend Merlin for showing me a<br />

thing or two about woodworking!<br />

I ripped everything out of the interior to install a<br />

more weatherproof adventure floor as opposed to<br />

the carpet that existed.<br />

Then I Installed<br />

garage flooring to<br />

replace the carpet<br />

flooring previously<br />

used. If I were to<br />

redo this, I would<br />

get flooring that<br />

wasn’t ridges although<br />

there are<br />

advantages and<br />

disadvantages.<br />

Cedar planking and a backrest to<br />

the bed! Just this part started making<br />

this van feel so much more homey.<br />

It goes from couch to<br />

bed mode.<br />

I built this kitchenette<br />

but later ended up<br />

changing it out for an<br />

oven from an old RV.<br />

I got a used roof<br />

box. It was silver,<br />

so I went to<br />

my buddy Mike’s<br />

house, and we<br />

painted it using<br />

the plant in front<br />

of his complex as a<br />

stencil. Later I attached<br />

two 30 watt<br />

solar panels onto<br />

the roof box.<br />

While everything<br />

was stripped out of<br />

the van, I screwed<br />

stuff in everywhere.<br />

I put the jack here<br />

on the hood then<br />

decided it was not<br />

the smartest place<br />

for it.<br />

After painting the<br />

roof box, I decided to<br />

paint my whole van<br />

the same way. This<br />

took way longer and<br />

way more paint then<br />

I originally expected.<br />

57 58

This van has been through so many more changes then what I can show in these pictures. A lot<br />

is unfortunately undocumented except for in my mind and memories. Van life is whatever you<br />

make it. It can be expensive or inexpensive. You don’t need a $20,000 Sprinter Van all decked<br />

out to live the van life. The good life can be had for pennies on the dollar if you just live your<br />

life more simply and spend less money.<br />

I knew nothing about working on a car, woodworking, electrical or any of the other skills I have<br />

acquired from living the van life. The point is anyone can make this happen, and it’s fun to learn<br />

new skills. The only way to grow is to step outside your comfort zone. See you all in the real-life<br />

video game I call van life!<br />


Van life Essentials<br />

Tools For The Road<br />

By: Neal Eisler<br />

63<br />

Before I moved into a van fulltime my brother shared a<br />

list of things to prepare me because as he always said,<br />

<strong>Vanning</strong> Ain’t <strong>No</strong> <strong>Joke</strong>! After 4 years of van life he had<br />

made a lot of mistakes. Lucky enough for me, he passsed<br />

on the knowledge of what he learned so I could be ready.<br />

I would have never thought to buy some of these tools but,<br />

most often in life, there are things you don’t think or<br />

even know you need until you need them.<br />

In this article I’ve shared...<br />

5 of my van life essentials that have been lifesavers on the road.

1. Baby Wipes (to stay clean)<br />

Keep these handy to wash<br />

dirty hands or a dirty<br />

bum. You’ll find so many<br />

uses for baby wipes in your<br />

van. I’ve used them to wipe<br />

down countertops, clean<br />

dirt off dishes and silverware,<br />

wash my face in the<br />

morning and hands after a hike, to clean pants when I’m really desperate<br />

(no laundromat for miles and miles)…you name it.<br />

2. 7-Gallon water container<br />

(so you don’t die of thirst)<br />

3. A big shovel<br />

(to dig yourself out of ditches)<br />

These containers cost less than $30,<br />

take up little space, and provide a way to<br />

quench your thirst and survive through<br />

any situation. I’ve got two of these and<br />

have gone weeks without stopping to refill<br />

water. It’s helped out others I’ve traveled<br />

with and strangers in need.<br />

What happens when you get stuck<br />

and there is nobody around? You can<br />

sit there and wait for the next car (that<br />

could be days) or whip out a shovel and<br />

dig yourself out…I say whip out that<br />

shovel… I’ve been stuck once. It was in<br />

Joshua Tree at night. My headlights gave off enough light for me to<br />

see the dirt change color in front of me…I could tell it was soft and<br />

wet but drove right into it…stuck…stuck in the mud…5 minutes later,<br />

shovel in hand, I got out. My passenger was worried, I was not. Get<br />

a big shovel. You’ll never know when you need it.<br />

4. A fire extinguisher (to put fires out)<br />

Fires can start in so many different ways: cooking, engine overheating,<br />

gas leaks…I’ve had the cooking kind. If my friend hadn’t<br />

spotted it in time for me to blow it out, my van (and home) would’ve<br />

burned down. <strong>No</strong>w, I always carry a fire extinguisher. I’ve also installed<br />

a fire alarm. You don’t think these things can or will happen<br />

to you until they do. Be prepared.<br />

5. Trash bags<br />

(for your shit)<br />

Literally your shit.<br />

Sometimes you parked<br />

off the edge of a cliff,<br />

in a city, or someplace<br />

that there is just nowhere<br />

to go. Get trash bags<br />

for that and any other<br />

waste. These always<br />

come in handy. If it’s<br />

your trash or someone<br />

else’s, you’ll always keep<br />

things clean.<br />

65 66

How I Took This Photo With A<br />

GoPro Hero 4 And A Headlamp<br />

By: Lee Eel Eisler<br />

Freedom the Van<br />

Bishop , California<br />

Gopro Hero 4<br />

30 second exposure, 800 iso, 10<br />

seconds of headlamp light<br />

Photography is a creative process. It is<br />

an experiment. It is a work of art. I have<br />

not had much experience with night<br />

time photography. Well, you never know<br />

what you can do until you try.<br />

I busted out my GoPro Hero 4 and<br />

began experimenting.<br />

It’s important to note that this photo<br />

probably took me an hour of messing<br />

around, changing settings and changing<br />

the amount of light I was hitting the van<br />

with.<br />

Well, my first challenge was that I didn’t<br />

have a tripod, so I found some rocks and<br />

balanced the GoPro on the rocks.<br />


I soon found out is that it is important<br />

to connect your GoPro<br />

to the GoPro app on your phone<br />

so you don’t have to touch the<br />

GoPro once you have it balance<br />

and pointed the way you want.<br />

The next thing I needed to worry<br />

about was how I was going to<br />

light up my van but not provide<br />

too much light pollution, so I<br />

could still capture the night sky.<br />

Basically, I grabbed my headlamp set the GoPro up for a 30-second<br />

exposure and pointed the headlamp at the van. I kept trying<br />

different things, but the headlamp being aimed at my van was<br />

washing out the stars.<br />

I wanted to keep the GoPro shooting a 30-second exposure<br />

with an iso of 800 to capture the maximum amount of stars, but<br />

even with the dimmest light, I had the sky was getting washed<br />

out by the light. My solution to this was to only shine my light<br />

at the van for part of<br />

the exposure time.<br />

So I began shooting<br />

30-second exposures,<br />

shining my<br />

light at the van for<br />

different amounts of<br />

time.<br />

After a bunch of<br />

trial and error, I got<br />

this photo that I was<br />

happy with.<br />

The final formula? I had the GoPro on night mode with an exposure<br />

of 30 seconds and an iso of 800. I ended up shining my<br />

headlamp on the dimmest mode at my van for 10 seconds.<br />

The point is photography isn’t easy. It takes time to get the<br />

shot. <strong>No</strong> one gets it the first time. Next time you see an amazing<br />

photograph think about what went into it.<br />

I also wanted to point out that photography is a form of art<br />

and expression. There are no rules. Make it into what you want,<br />

have fun and experiment.<br />

69 70


An Interview with Alejandro Blanco<br />

Interviewed by: Lee Eel Eisler<br />

So, would you say you’re going to do<br />

van life long term then?<br />

I would like to. I will probably always have a van of some sorts or<br />

mobile living space, but there are certain things I’m just kind of<br />

learning about. I’m learning about different places and what my<br />

options are. I’d eventually like to get my art to a point where I can<br />

put up a studio somewhere. I’m probably going to stay somewhere<br />

more long-term, eventually, but right now there’s nothing stopping<br />

me. I guess until I find something that ties me down to a place…….I<br />

guess if my van life broke down I’d probably just stay somewhere<br />

long enough to save up and get another van. (Laughs) I think I’d<br />

always do the mobile living thing.<br />

Haha, right on!<br />

I don’t know. I’m trying to think. I mean. Some people would say<br />

well if you had a family or something and like...I think I’d just get a<br />

bigger van and throw them in there too.<br />

@travelandarttravelandart<br />

First of all, how long have you been living in your van for?<br />

Let’s see. I got the van about 5 years ago. Then I kind of lived in it. I Drove across the country and kind of got the<br />

feel for it. Then I went over to Europe for a couple months and then I came back in the van for a few months…Then<br />

I went overseas again. That’s when I went to Australia, and I was there for a year. I had another van while I was in<br />

Australia. Then I got back to this van <strong>No</strong>vember or December.<br />

It’s been on and off coming up on 5 years now.<br />

That’s cool.<br />

That’s a long time<br />

compared to most of<br />

the people I’ve met.<br />

Yea. It kind of helps because I’ll stay and work<br />

for a while. It will be like. Half van life, half<br />

crashing in someone’s driveway you know.<br />

Then I have at least some amenities like being<br />

able to use people’s showers and what not, but<br />

everything’s still based in and around the van.<br />

Why do you choose<br />

to live in a van?<br />

It’s just because it really sucks to be tied down by something as<br />

expensive as rent and not even be able to enjoy your time off. I<br />

spend a lot of time working, but when I’m not on the clock I’m in<br />

my happy van space, and I can go drive to the beach or go to the<br />

park. I can go wherever. When I have a day off, I can go fuck<br />

off and drive hundreds of miles and always have everything I<br />

need on me. I was surfing a bit too when I was living in Ventura,<br />

and that was so easy. I was always at the beach. I always had my<br />

surfboard, my towel, my wetsuit right here. The convenience of<br />

having everything on me and always being ready to go is the best.<br />

I’ve seen that a bunch of times!<br />

Do you support yourself mostly on your art?<br />

Well. It helps with a lot of things. Especially when people are like-minded or if they are all stoked on it. They’ll help<br />

me share my art. I’ll make a few hundred bucks here and there. For the most part though I’ll stay somewhere and<br />

work for a month or so doing a gig and I’ll save up that way. I’ll bartend, do construction, build a fence and whatever<br />

else. I got a little trimming gig I’m gonna be doing. It’s little gigs here and there. I got blueberries I’m doing<br />

next month in Maine. I’m gonna be picking blueberries. For the most part its side jobs here and there but the art is<br />

definitely the constant. That one I’m always doing.<br />

Yeah man. You do like a sacred geometry kinda art. I really<br />

like it. How’d you get started in that style of art?<br />

I was into art and painting when I was a lot younger. I took some art classes and felt like I kinda had a knack for it<br />

but when I really started getting into sacred geometry was when I went to Spain to visit my family when I was like<br />

22 or 23. My friend had shown me this video on Sacred Geometry.<br />

I think the first thing I started with was just pencil and pen. Then I started with watercolor and then I got more into<br />

more detailed acrylic painting. I did a lot of wood burning too which was a lot of fun. Then I started getting tattooed<br />

a lot more. I started following these artists that did some of the craziest mind-blowing art that was based<br />

off sacred geometry. It was so detailed and intense. It’s really mind-blowing stuff, so I started researching more<br />

artists and stuff. When I would go get tattooed by them I would pick their brains. It kinda just went from there<br />

and turned into the style you see. Then I started to incorporate more organic mandala shapes. <strong>No</strong>t just this strict,<br />

hexagon, straight line geometrics. I try to incorporate more ornamental, eastern, mandala type of art and put my<br />

spin of the 3d looking prisms. Since I got back into art probably 4 or 5 years ago its been just strictly geometric.<br />

Even now when I try to do something that’s more freehand or organic you can see that I still apply a lot of the strict<br />

geometric aspects into it.<br />

73 74

So I’ve seen your van, and it’s pretty simple compared to<br />

a lot of other people’s vans. What’s your favorite part<br />

about your van and what’s your least favorite part?<br />

I mean. The principle of van life just jump in and go. That’s my favorite part. I don’t think I have a least favorite<br />

part I really don’t. I don’t know. Well, I’ve had about 10 other people live in my van with me at different times here<br />

and there. Different people. Sometimes that can get a little annoying, but that’s just because we’re sharing a very<br />

small space and somethings not right where I left it, and you’re digging around, and they are like. It’s right here, but<br />

that happens with roommates also. It’s really not that big of a deal. Sometimes your van mate will start snoring.<br />

Right now you’re actually traveling with someone right?<br />

Yea, I’m with my girlfriend now, but that’s better because I’ve been with like 2 other dudes before driving across<br />

the country and like you said. My van ain’t that big. When I was in Australia, there were about 4 of us in a van that<br />

was this size with a full-size mattress.<br />

Oh man. That must<br />

have been a good<br />

adventure.<br />

It was actually kind of cool. We made<br />

it work. It was like. 2 with our legs facing<br />

one way and the other two with the<br />

legs facing towards the middle too so<br />

everyone would lay at an angle and<br />

everyone had their space. Well….not<br />

really, but I liked the little van tribe. It<br />

was cozy.<br />

One thing I always ask people about<br />

is ‘van-c--dents’. Accidents that<br />

happen in your van. Have you ever had<br />

anything like that happen to you?<br />

(Laughs) I do that shit all the time like your van is your ‘vanpanion’. Like<br />

it’s your companion but it’s your van, so it’s your ‘vanpanion’ (Laughs<br />

again) I mean. ‘Van-c-dents’ happen all the fucking time like when you’re<br />

going 80 down the highway and you’re trying to piss in a bottle…..oh no…<br />

(Both laughing) Well, what are some of your most memorable<br />

ones? I think you had mentioned something about an<br />

accident with deodorant before?<br />

oh yea. That happened to my girlfriend. So it must have been like 100 degrees outside. We came back to the van<br />

and it must have been like 130 in there. When she went to go open the deodorant, it was like liquid, and it went splat<br />

everywhere...It looked like jizz all over the fucking van. That was bad. Or like. Everyone knows it in van life man. You<br />

open that slider door, and it’s like pots and pans clink clank clank. Skateboards…bags. Just everything falls out of<br />

the sliding door.<br />

Do you have any memorable road trip moments?<br />

Anything that stands out?<br />

When I drove down to Baja a couple years ago. I was<br />

sitting there with one of my best friends on the beach.<br />

We had tacos and like 30 beers next to us. We were<br />

camping for either free or for like $5 a night depending<br />

on where we stayed, and it’s just like. Yea. We<br />

fucking made it. I’m doing exactly what I wanted to<br />

do. You never get that feeling when your working for<br />

someone else. <strong>No</strong>t really. <strong>No</strong>t that amount of fulfillment.<br />

The thing I really like I mean. I had never even<br />

been across the country, and now this is my 5th time<br />

driving across the country. So I love the adventure. I<br />

know my friends back home who are still doing the<br />

same job that they did and they are still saying. Oh, I<br />

wish I could do that kind of thing. I’m just like, well I’m<br />

actually doing it. Oh and the thing about really memorable<br />

places like when you’re in national parks and<br />

you’re looking at the fucking Grand Canyon or you’re<br />

Looking at the Sequoias. Or your In Joshua Tree or<br />

wherever the hell you’re at it’s like. Man. I am out<br />

here. I’m out here with the van doing whatever the hell<br />

we want. Making plans. Accomplishing goals. That’s a<br />

big thing you know. It’s awesome.<br />

75 76

As far as people wanting to do this lifestyle is there anything<br />

you want to tell them?<br />

Yeah. I would just tell them obviously anyone can do it. If you say your goal is to live in a van, that’s very attainable.<br />

Anyone can do that and if that’s really your goal in life…Man your lucky because you can do that. You can say. Oh<br />

man, I wish I’ll win the lottery and you’re probably never going to win the lottery but if your dream is to live in a van<br />

save up a couple thousand bucks. Get a fucking van and go. Also, people are like...Oh, you have no worries and no<br />

responsibilities but no. I definitely still do. I had to pay for that rebuilt transmission. That shit wasn’t cheap. I had<br />

to get a new radiator for the van. I got new tires I have to pay insurance and other shit that comes up all the time<br />

but guess what. It’s things you have to deal with when you live in a house too you know. That’s the thing too. It’s not<br />

just glamour van life. I’m not just fucking off and having no responsibilities. <strong>No</strong>, I definitely have responsibilities. We<br />

have a system. Especially when we set up camp every night. We have to cook our dinner every night. <strong>No</strong> one’s going<br />

to cook for us. It’s just about being independent. Raising that level of independence.<br />

YeAh, I think people always mistake it for being a free lifestyle,<br />

but it’s really just an alternative lifestyle. It’s<br />

definitely not free.<br />

Yeah, it’s definitely not free, and that’s another<br />

thing too. When I was paying rent and had a<br />

car, I was like. Man. That sucks. It’s like paying<br />

rent twice. I’ve done a lot of downsizing too.<br />

When I first moved into the van, I had things at<br />

all these other people’s houses and stuff. Random<br />

things like furniture, a bed, kitchen supplies<br />

and stuff but through the years of going<br />

back and forth you just realize it’s all stuff<br />

you don’t need and that’s why my van looks the<br />

way it looks now. It looks open and minimalist<br />

kinda. I use everything in here. There’s nothing<br />

just taking up space. A couple things maybe<br />

but for the most part everything in here is very<br />

functional I use it almost every day.<br />

A lot of people are like. I want this just in case or that just in case.<br />

I think having a house just makes you want to over prepare or<br />

prepare for the worst. It turns them into hoarders and distracts<br />

them from what they actually need and actually will use that day.<br />

It’s like. When you look in someone’s garage and they have 3 coolers<br />

sitting there. Like. Why the hell do you need 3 coolers? Or when<br />

they have a box for every holiday to go decorate their house and<br />

its like. Yea, but all of this is just junk you know. Then what do you<br />

do with it? <strong>No</strong>w you need to pay rent for a garage to store the shit<br />

that you don’t even use.<br />

Yea,H it doesn’t make sense.<br />

YeaH, I mean I went to Ace and bought $3 portable<br />

Christmas lights, and we had Christmas lights in the<br />

van. I even had a little one-foot Christmas tree and<br />

it came with ornaments on it and everything.<br />

Dang! Living lavishly!<br />

Yeah! It’s not like I’m telling everyone they should<br />

throw all their shit away and go live in a van. It<br />

works for a lot of people to feel comfortable, have<br />

their bases covered and feel like they’re prepared<br />

for any situation. I mean I have a first aid kit and<br />

jumper cables and stuff, but other people look<br />

like they’re prepared for the apocalypse or something.<br />

An extra kitchen supply of stuff that’s just<br />

gonna go bad, and they end up throwing it away.<br />

There’s just a lot of wasteful tendencies when it<br />

comes to owning a house.<br />

I agree. My philosophy is that<br />

life is simple but people<br />

make it complicated.<br />

oh yeah. I think that’s what the van helped me with is realizing what I don’t need and what I do need. I need to take<br />

care of my vehicle because It’s also my home. I need to be responsible for the things I want to do. I don’t know. I<br />

think when I was paying rent and had a house and stuff like that I was just detached from actually living a fulfilled<br />

life. I thought I was doing all the stuff I was supposed to be doing, but it wasn’t actual true fulfillment. It wasn’t true<br />

satisfaction. It was more to just prove it to myself I think. I moved out when I was 16 and was like. I have to prove<br />

them wrong. I have to work 2 jobs. I have to graduate high school. I have to be responsible and do all these things they<br />

told me that I wasn’t gonna be able to do and I was like. Nice, I fucking did it. I got a roof over my head, I’m paying<br />

rent, I’ve got 2 cars, I’m saving. I was like. Yea, I fucking did it. But then almost immediately I was like. Well, that’s not<br />

what I want to do. That’s just what I wanted to prove to other people that I could do it. I mean just from working in<br />

restaurants and working my ass off I made like almost $50,000 that year when I was 22 or something. I was paying<br />

rent, and I was like where did all that money go? When I was doing the math and I saw that about half that money<br />

gets handed to other people. For rent or for your car which is crazy.<br />

Alex was driving and his maps interrupted us<br />

right there but he is a talented artist.<br />

Check out his work at...<br />

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TravelandartShop<br />


It sounded like a<br />

waterfall. What the<br />

hell was that noise?<br />

Whatever it was, I knew a<br />

major cleanup would be<br />

needed for this one.<br />

Pulling into Sender One, my rock climbing gym in<br />

Santa Ana, California; I jumped up, turned around and<br />

saw water gushing out of my 7-gallon water container.<br />

My first reaction, <strong>Vanning</strong> Ain’t <strong>No</strong> <strong>Joke</strong>! Second,<br />

pick up water container now! Third, laugh about<br />

it (somtimes I react to shocking situations with<br />

laughter...this being one of them). And, finally, I<br />

had to get 3 towels to dry up all the water.<br />

That was my first van water spill<br />

and definitely not my last.<br />

80 81

I’ve logged all the water spills<br />

10-months of van life. Which one<br />

Spill #1 - Water container knocked over going up<br />

curb, then entirely upside-down going over a speed bump.<br />

Result - Water flooding van floor from front to back.<br />

3 towels required for cleanup.<br />

Spill #2 - Water container knocked over on a sharp<br />

left turn.<br />

Result - Water flooding back of the van where I moved<br />

my container to in hopes that this wouldn’t happen again.<br />

1 towel needed for clean-up.<br />

that have occured so far in my<br />

will you repeat or have already?<br />

Spill #3 - Knocked over hydro-flask without the<br />

top tightly sealed.<br />

Result - A big puddle of water on the floor. All I needed<br />

were a few paper towels for the clean-up.<br />

Spill #4 - My container of disposed sink water<br />

overflowing. This happened twice.<br />

Result - A nasty odor along with gross water I had to<br />

deal with. Way too many paper towels, soap, and water,<br />

were used to get this mess up.<br />

83 84

Spill #5 - Water flooding my entire countertop<br />

due to a loose seal on the sink facet.<br />

Result - Had to tighten the seal and wipe down the<br />

counter with some paper towels.<br />

Spill #7 - Knocked over a boiling pot of water<br />

trying to do too many things at once.<br />

Result - Hot water flying everywhere. Drying everything<br />

up required some paper towels and helping hands.<br />

Spill #6 - Water container tipping over in the back<br />

of van leading to the sudden formation of a waterfall.<br />

Result - <strong>No</strong> mess was made as all of the water poured<br />

out the very back of the van.<br />

I’ve experienced a lot of water spills in my<br />

tipping over. Extra security measures have been<br />

but it does. As recently as a few weeks ago<br />

It’s a constant reminder that no matter<br />

Spill #8 - Pressed Aero Press too hard on cup<br />

violently knocking it over.<br />

Result - Coffee splattered everywhere covering my entire<br />

countertop and wall. I used some soap, water and paper<br />

towels to clean-up this one.<br />

van especially as a result of water containers<br />

taken to ensure this doesn’t keep happening,<br />

even (I kicked my brother’s dog bowl over).<br />

what you do, <strong>Vanning</strong> Ain’t <strong>No</strong> <strong>Joke</strong>!<br />

85 86

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