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
“Vanning Ain’t No Joke.” This is all my friend Brad Parker said to me after showing him
photos of this 1978 Dodge Tradesman 200 I was going to buy to live in. I had no idea what
this meant at the time. I had no idea what I was doing. That little saying stuck in my head.
I didn’t know why he had said that originally but I sure do now. Living in a van forces you
outside your comfort zone. You are constantly learning and growing. You are always facing
problems you have to overcome. You are always moving, always going...
Vanning definitely Ain’t No Joke!!!
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.
I called my brother Neal Eisler and my buddy Andrew Martyn and asked them if they
wanted to start a van life magazine with me. We could change peoples lives I told them.
After getting them on board, we got to work to make something we could be proud of...
something that could not only change peoples lives but change peoples mindsets. I am really
excited to share this first issue with everyone and can’t wait to share future issues
we haven’t written yet.
Enjoy and remember....Vanning Ain’t No Joke!!!! - Lee Eel Eisler
Meet The Team
Lee Eel Eisler
My name is Lee backwards it’s Eel. I have been living in a van
since August 2014. In September 2015 I adopted the best
doggy ever, and I named him Wander.....or Wander the Stubborn
Sniffer! I used to do the normal thing. Renting rooms in
an apartment or a house before living in a van. I was looking
for an escape from the rent trap when I saw my friend move
into his van. I made a pros and a cons list and decided I had
nothing to lose. I could try living in a van, and if I didn’t like
it, I could go back to doing what I was doing before. I got a
van and started living in fully roughing it with nothing in the
van. The thing barely drove at first. “Am I doing the right
thing?” I thought to myself. Well, its 4 years later and I
don’t think you could pay me to do what I was doing before.
I’m living more than I ever lived before and doing the things
I used to dream of.
My name is Neal. I’m a former business guy turned van lifer.
How did this all happen? After 4 years of Product Management
and Marketing for a software company my dissatisfaction
level was at an all-time high...bored with my life...the repetitive
cycle....work, work, 3 more days of work...all for the
payoff...a 2-day weekend. The funny thing is when I actually
enjoyed my job it was worse. Work never stopped. And, how
did that pay off? One word, ‘Burnout!’ My apartment was
no better. How could it be the dream to have someone living
above, below, to the left and to the right of my floors
and walls?? I felt trapped...when my brother, Lee, found out
2-months before my apartment lease was set to end, he did
all he could to push van life on me. With no plans to renew
and no clue where to go, my brother succeeded. He found a
sprinter van on Craiglist..the exact buildout I described. That
day I sold my Lexus. Later that week, I bought a new lease
My name is Andrew. I grew up in Pacifica California, its right
by the ocean. I love going surfing, cooking, and living in my
van on the road. Growing up the ocean was refuge for me,
from school and the daily grind I just wasn’t a fan of. I
dropped out of college for mechanical engineering to do art
and embark on a road of self discover. Living all over the Bay
Area and most briefly Los Angeles. Living in a Van is the best
choice I have made to make my dreams a reality. Surfing and
cooking by the ocean keeps me grounded through it all. Not
much else to say, I’m here to live my life while I have it and
go with the flow, but mostly surfing, surfing is life.
In This Issue
Why I’m Quitting
Corporate Life for Good.
Why did you choose
to live in a van?
happen in a van
Interview with Joe Howley
He played in the NFL for 8 years...
Now he lives in a van
Support Traveling Artists
Interview with Alejandro Blanco
Chief Editor and Contributing Writer
Lee Eel Eisler
KNOWLEDGE & INSIGHT
Top 4 Free
What can go wrong while
cooking in your van
The Real Life Survival Game
Van life Essentials
Tools for the Road
How I Took This Photo with a
GoPro Hero 4 and a Headlamp
Here’s All The Way’s Water
Can Spill in Your Van
Head of Design and Contributing Writer
Artist, Video and Photography
It’s the same thing now but
through social media.
Many people are living their dreams,
but even more are not. Watching the
lives of others...living through their
adventure...working towards an endless
means. I mean…once you are in
debt, you are screwed and once out
of debt, put yourself in more debt.
Why I'm Quitting
It’s a never-ending cycle that forces
you to work until 60, 70...or...your entire life.
This really sucks if you don’t like your job.
By: Neal Eisler
Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Toy Story all have one thing in
common. Okay, maybe two (now, they’re all owned by Disney).
For me, it was about the adventure. I grew up watching and
admiring the likes of Luke Sky Walker and Buzz Lightyear.
Indiana Jones was my favorite. A real life adventurer!
Now I see how funny it is. My whole life, I’ve been viewing
reality through 2 different lenses. Out of one, I see a movie
screen of sorts. Some of the biggest excitement, for me,
lived through the experience of Indiana and those other adventurous
heroes played out on a screen.
You sit behind a desk, labor behind machinery, stand behind a
counter…One day it hits you…maybe it’s when the back gives
out, a near-death experience, trauma…CRACK! The reality hits.
You realize how much time you’ve spent doing so little with your
life. Lack of experience (real ones), lack of substance, lack
of everything that makes life worth living…your time, close to
half of it, working to help someone else achieve their dreams.
I’m not saying this is the case for everyone, but it is for me.
The other lens is
the one I’ve been
trained to see.
What most people
in Western culture
grow up learning
the definition of
success to be.
What are we supposed to achieve with this
My whole life set up. Kindergarten, First grade, Second...Our
school system, a perfect example. I followed it to a “T”. Worked
hard. Got good grades. A college degree from a prestigious
university. Wound up with a pretty good job in Software doing
Product Management and Marketing. It all sounds great on paper.
By society’s standards, a near perfect life. But, what the
fuck is that? No, seriously.
Nothing is ever perfect.
When we think things are perfect…
a perfect order, perfect way of life…
Thinking like this closes
off our mind. Even so, society
pushes us towards their
of perfect. They want us to
believe it’s possible. Move
up the career ladder. Make
more money. Buy nice things.
Then buy a house. Get married,
have kids, retire,
grandchildren...It’s so set
up and so played out. I hear
people refer to the 80/20
rule. 80% of what we do is
for that 20% gain. This is
how we treat our lives and it
doesn’t have to be that way.
There is a reason lots of people
reach a mid-life crisis,’ and
it’s not because they’re out of
their minds. A lot of us become
entrapped doing something
for survival. To pay our rent…
to support our partying habits,
our eating out habits, our
car lease, mortgage…for the
majority of people around the
world, just to survive (imagine
At some point, you may ask the question,
is this all there really is to life?
We as human beings stop growing when we stop learning, but
learning doesn’t need to stop. Unfortunately, it does. For so
many of us, we fail to even recognize when it happens. No longer
living, only doing.
I always hear, “you’re living the dream...I wish I could do
the whole van life thing.”
Lee (my brother), tells me he often hears that too. To be
honest, anyone could do it. An open mind, a few sacrifices (regarding
comfort) and a step (okay, maybe a leap) into the unknown
is all you need.
I’ve lived in a van full-time
now for 10-months. You
can call me a weekend warrior
because I’d work my
corporate job during the
week and adventure on the
weekends. It’s far from
occur at random..And, space
is limited. However, with
the right persepctive, it’s
not that bad. I’ve endured
much, much worse…and, you
get used to it.
was worth it.
I’m quitting my corporate life for good
because after turning 28, I’m over doing
what I’ve been told to do my whole life
and starting to live the life that gives me
freedom today rather than tomorrow.
During the weekends and few vacations I could get, I slept
in the most incredible places, went on the wildest adventures
and met so many unique people, all willing to share...stories,
knowledge, insights, you name it. Time was my time. I truly
felt free. That feeling of freedom, however, was extremely
limited. 2-weeks of vacation is the average of what we get
in the United States each year. My first year, I got none.
It’s been 5 years since I entered corporate life…there’s been
highs, and there’s been many more lows. Mostly though, I’ve
been overworked, put through pointless efforts on projects
that were doomed from the beginning, and had countless
hours wasted sitting through meetings and conversations that
served no purpose…I’ve had enough and I’m over it. For good!
What’s the point in
continuing to do something
when it no longer serves a purpose??
I mean, moving back in with mom after 4
years away at college is almost as uncomfortable
as it gets.
Any privacy, any freedom…snatched away. If you went to college
and lived on campus, remember what your freshman dorm
room felt like?? Well, van life is a hell of a lot easier!”
My older brother never thought
I’d even consider this lifestyle.
Heck, he’d been doing it for 4
years. To me, he was smart to
do it. He was living the life of
adventure I always wanted.
No college degree necessary. No
mortgage necessary. Just a van.
It took a lot of work to pay off my student loans, but I am
debt free. I was lucky enough to be able to move back in with
my mom after college and pay off the loans by the time I
turned 26...but...I wish I had known about van life then. Not
everything is comfortable at first, but you get used to it.
You’re forced to get creative with ways to improve your situation
to make it more comfortable and little by little you get
accustomed to that new way of life.
When we have too little comfort…like an invasion of privacy…
freedom ceases to exist. Too much comfort…like a nice apartment
or home in a gated community…and complacency easily
sets in. To some people that’s awesome. To me, it’s not. I was
bored to death in a luxury apartment, with a nice car and good
paying job...van life offered an easy escape.
So, why am I really quitting
1. Sitting, sitting, and more sitting
5. To live freely
Seriously, fuck the 9 to 5. My CEO gave me a few months to
taste what working remotely could feel like. Now I want that
My body is not meant for
this. In 5 years I’ve developed
sciatica, and I can’t
imagine what will happen in
5 more. Working at a desk
until my body is too old to
use sounds like an awful idea.
2. Pointless projects where I learn
I spend more than half of my week at work...but, these
days, everything I learn is in the time I’m not at the office.
3. Office politics
When I meet people with different
perspectives on the
road it serves as a constant
reminder of why I hate the
office. I’m tired of not being
able to have completely open
and honest dialogue. How can
you hope to grow this way?
4. Meetings and discussions that go
6. Van life
I have no rent, no utility fees or HOA, no rules (well except
the street signs). And, outside the city, I can live more freely.
My home is where I park it (there are no street signs).
So, I’m quitting my corporate life for
good. What now? What next? We’ll have
to just wait and see…
Why did you choose to live in your van?
Dimitri Dupont, 22, France
Living in Pompon Jaune for 2 years
“There were so many reasons that I
chose this nomadic lifestyle: Living in
a van is a very economic way to travel
and is perfect for going on adventures.
I wanted to experience new cultures
and meet new people. I really loved
the idea of creating my own rolling
home and living minimalistic. But I
also wanted to be more connected to
earth and learn more about myself.”
Betsy, 27 and Justin, 29
Utah and Oregon
Living in a van
for 1 year, 2 months
“Well, our journey to van life started
with one of our cars being stolen.
We needed to replace it, and
we’d already been toying with the
idea of converting a Sprinter as a
camper, so we went ahead and purchased
a used Sprinter from FedEx
as our replacement vehicle. After a
while, the thought came to us that
maybe we should convert it into a
home and move in as a way to expedite
paying off Justin’s crushing
medical school student loans. We’ve been in our van full-time for a little over a
year now, and I’m happy to report that we’ve saved a lot of money which has really
enabled us to speed up the loan repayment process.”
Tim Moore, 32
Living in a van since Oct, 2017
“Van life started for me when I separated
from a long-term relationship.
We were living together, I moved out,
and I already had the campervan, so
it just made sense to sleep in it. I did
not intentionally move into the van for
it to be my full-time residence. I work
full time, traveling 15-20 days a month
where I drive a company truck and
sleep in hotels, so 10-15 days a month
in the van is easy.”
Laysea Hughes, 25, Florida
and Koda the doggy
Living in Nessea the Westy
for 4 years
“I started living in my van primarily
to travel, but I stayed in this lifestyle
because It encourages conscious living.
Living, thoroughly enveloped
in the moment. The need to choose
where to sleep, eat, work, daily
Dane Faurschou, 33
and Sara Bengtsson, 33
Australia and Sweden
Living in Cinnamon the van
for 8 months
“Umm, why was probably more
out of convenience for me I
think. I travel constantly, and
the cost of having a house and
traveling just seemed silly so. I
decided to pack it all down and
move it into a smaller space that
I can actually travel in.”
Jamie, 28 and Kelly, 26
Cork, Ireland and
Living in a van since May, 2018
“We decided to build and live in our
van because we planned to use it as a
vessel for traveling through Mexico,
Central America, and South America.
It has been a dream of ours for quite a
few years now, and it’s awesome to be
living out that dream now.”
Griffen Apple, 25
Emily Appel, 23
and Luna the doggy
Living in a van for 1 year
“We chose life in a van to escape
the expectations that this world
has put on people to live the same
life as everyone else. It’s not easy,
it’s not luxurious, it’s not always
comfortable. BUT it takes you
to new places to do new things
with new people and experience
this amazing life on this amazing
planet with less distractions. WE
Ashley Van Meter, 29
Living in Stan the van for 1 year
“I chose to live in a van to pursue my
dreams of being a photographer. I like
to shoot wildlife and landscape, but it’s
all about being in the right place at the
right time. Living in a van allows me to
chase those sunrises and sunsets that
I couldn’t do as well when I lived in
one spot. It’s also the perfect home for
a traveler like myself. I’ve always had
wandering feet, and the van allows me
to satisfy my wanderlusty soul.”
Thomas Kofron, 31
San Louis Obispo
Living in a van
for 2 years
When I first moved into a van I
had been a wildland firefighter
for 5 years. I would work 9 month
seasons and then get 3 months off
each year. During those 9 months
I was at work a minimum of 3
days(72hrs) a week but often would
be assigned to fires for weeks at a
time. During my 3 winter months
I would be traveling the state,
out of state, and across the world
for various reasons that included
climbing, diving, backpacking and
general exploitation. It dawned on me that I was paying almost $1000 a month just in rent and
utilities to store my gear in a rented room and only be home a couple days each month. Also, the
constant driving home to pack/unpack gear for my various adventures was becoming a hassle.
After a short time thinking about van life, I committed by buying my first empty sprinter van
and with having no knowledge on what I was getting myself into I started Building it into my
Want To Be Included In Next
Month’s One Queston Section?
E-mail responses to:
Next Month’s Question
Do you ever miss the life you
lived before you turned to van
Accidents That Happen in a Van
By: Neal Eisler
I’ve hit my head a lot in life…
never as much as in my short time living in a van…
Most common, on the shelf above my doorframe.
I live in a Sprinter Van with shelves lining my
walls. As awesome as they are for creating extra
storage in such a small space…it’s not awesome
when you consider all the times I’ve woken up to
a forehead collision.
As shitty as it sounds to wake up hitting your
head, it got me thinking.
How many van lifers experience this problem too?
Not just this one, but other unusual accidents
that only happen in a van.
Last month, I took my van up and down
Big Sur…what an epic trip! Also had my
craziest Van-C-Dent to date.
It felt great to be there…today was going be awesome!....
bzzzzz….bzzzzz…bzzzzz….awesome...until the flies...they were
everywhere. Over me, my mat, my back doors, pillows, blanket…I
lit some Palo Santo hoping to solve the problem (smoke
them out)…yeah, if it were only that simple. The back door
needed to be wiped down with a towel. My blanket and pillow
patted down…it took the rest of the day to get rid of each
and every last one.
This Van-C-Dent just one of many. …
It was late in the day…about time to find a spot to call home
for the night…boom…omg…that turnout…perfect! I turned
around, then in. A lot of patience and keen eyes made this
After settling in, I caught an incredible sunset and made a
nice dinner...As it got dark, it also got cloudy. Stargazing was
out of the question so I passed out early to the sounds of
waves crashing down below.
The next day I woke up excited…opened my backdoors…
walked around to roll out my yoga mat. It was incredible...
The view. The Weather…I could not ask for anything more.
Want to share your Van-C-Dent???
Accidents happen to everyone, but accidents in a van are
different. Everyone has a story, some to share.
Learning from the mistakes of others helps us be better
prepared to prevent our own. As funny as Van-C-Dents
can be, they prove that Vanning Ain’t No Joke.
Share your Van-C-Dents on Instagram for the chance to be
featured in our next issue.
Use #VanCdents and tag @VanningAintNoJoke
These photos are photos of some of the places I have stayed
for absolutely free. They are also some of the best campsites
I have had. I found them using apps. Here’s my reviews on
the top 4 free camping apps.
Now there’s not always a science and these apps don’t have a solution for every
single place you are going to go. I have had a great deal of “winging it.”
A lot of van life and finding free parking spots is about finding loopholes. I have
parked lots of places that said no overnight parking. Not sure what the future
of the night held for me. I have made it through so many nights in these kind of
spots I couldn’t even put a number on it.
Now every once in awhile you might get asked to move by a forest ranger, police
officer, or whatever jurisdiction controls the area. As long as your respectful to
the officer and respectful to the area (your trash isn’t everywhere), then you will
most likely only be asked to move. I have even had some cool conversations with
cops or forest rangers asking me to move. I never got a ticket or had a bad experience.
Some of the best campsites I have been to were totally free. Here’s how to find
By: Lee Eel Eisler
Top 4 FREE
Campsites are not always cheap. Paying for campsites every night is not very cost
effective while you are travelling and lets face it. Finding a campsite you pay for is
easy. Finding a free campsite takes a little more work. Especially as places become
more populated with people more and more regulaions get put into place.
Don’t worry thiough! It’s possible. Actually, in 4 years of living in a van, I have only
paid for one campsite ever, and I have received one parking ticket in the 4 years of
living in a van. That ticket was in San Francisco. It was my fault for not knowing
the rules on this particular street had changed since the last time I parked there. I
didn’t look at the signs. Always look at the signs.
I love iOverlander.
com! If I were to
choose a favorite,
this would be it. It
is easy to use, and it
has the biggest database
that I have found.
As far as campsites
it lists them by free,
paid, permit or research.
That’s not all it
shows. It also includes hotels, restaurants, mechanics,
water refill stations, propane fill up stations and
even mechanics...not to mention all the scenic stops
#2. Free Campsites
I was using free campsites before I was using iOverlander.
Honestly now I use a combination of all the
apps mentioned. Free campsites is my second go to.
They have a useful database of free camp spots. The
only thing I dont like is that it doesn’t populate as you
move the map around. You have to change your location
in the search area to see the camp spots in a
different area. The trip planner feature is really really
cool. It helps you figure out where you can stay along
All in all free campsites is a great app to use to find
free camp spots and its a free app!
#3. RV Parky
BEFORE YOU GO
- PACK IT IN PACK IT OUT
- LEAVE NO TRACE
- DON’T FEED THE WILDLIFE
- BE SELF CONTAINED or KNOW HOW TO
USE THE BATHROOM IN THE WILD
RV Parky is geared more towards RVers which is
obvious by the name. It has information like height
clearances through areas and some other useful info.
I usually us RV Parky to find out which Walmarts
allow overnight parking. Overall it is a good place
to check if you haven’t found anything on the first
#4. Rest Stops
When all else fails you are always allowed to
stay at rest stops up to 8 hours. I have stayed
in lots of rest stops. They get a little noisy
sometimes, but it’s a safe spot to get in some
An Interview with Joe Howley
He played in the NFL for 8 years...
Now he lives in a van.
You played in the NFL for 8 years and now
you live in a van. What got you wanting to
start living in a van?
I think everybody who has travelled has thought
about doing some sort of road trip across the country
visiting 48 states so this has always been a thought
and a dream of mine. Obviously on social media the
van life community has become kind of a big thing
and with social media it’s easy to have access to all
this different information. I just saw all these people
who were actually living the van life and traveling and
doing their thing so when my career was coming to an
end I thought it would be pretty cool to give it a try. I
had a rare opportunity because I was retiring from a
sport and I had a little bit of money. I knew I could get
a van and go see what it was like for like a year or maybe
longer. I’ve been on the road for like 3 months now.
How are you liking it so far?
Interviewed by: Lee Eel Eisler
I’m having a blast man! I’m not completely living out of my van. I’m visiting a lot of
friends. I’m staying in hotels occasionally. I just got done with this baseball tour. I stayed
in a hotel most of the time for that but the ability to go where I want and not have to be
tied down anywhere and just travel in the van has been this sense of freedom that I’ve
never really felt before and the journeys kinda just getting started. I’ve already experienced
so much that I didn’t even realize and I just know that the journeys just going to
continue to grow and by the end of it I know I’m going to have some crazy experiences.
Are there any things that have happened to you that have been
pretty unexpected so far?
I think the coolest thing has been the ability to share my journey and my story on social
media, creating a community of people who are like minded and really inspiring people
to live with less so they can experience more. It’s not all about material things. So I went
on that baseball tour and I met a bunch of people at all these different baseball games
and I meet these people at these campsites and rv parks I’ve been staying at. I would say
that just meeting the people throughout the country and creating those relationships and
hearing other peoples stories. That’s the part that I like the most and am having the most
fun doing. If I would have done this 10 years ago, 20 years ago like it would have been a
completely different experience. It would have been a more soul searching, individual,
solitude kinda going out and figuring it out, but being able to create a community with
social media and share the experience and have those relationships is awesome. It’s the
best part of it for me.
I’ve watched all your youtube videos and it shows that you really enjoy
sharing the story because the way you share your story in those
videos is really well done and interesting.
Thank you. I appreciate that. I never really needed a lot of really nice things and I think a
lot of people get caught in the hustle and bustle of the world and what society tells them
they need to be, they need to get a job and then they end up miserable. Some people thats
for them, but some people I feel like thats what they have to do because society tells them
it needs to be, so to be able to show an example that theres other ways to live your life it’s
not just 9-5, buy a house get into debt. You can go experience the world, especially when
One thing I liked about watching
your videos was your dog Freedom.
Dogs are the best. What’s your favorite part about your van build,
and what’s your least favorite part?
Yea she’s awesome.
I watched your story about her
but let’s hear the story about
how you ended up with Freedom.
When I started this trip and the idea started
growing on me. I knew I wanted to bring
a dog with me for obvious reasons. I didn’t
want to be lonely on the road and I knew that
having a companion and having a dog with
me would help the process of being on the
road just go a lot smoother. I wanted a rescue
dog. I went to a shelter a few times. I didn’t
really find the one I wanted. I was trying to
get a puppy but they go so fast at these shelters
because everyone wants a puppy. I saw
Freedom in her cage. She was curled up in
the corner of her cage and she just looked really
miserable and sad and depressed.
All these other dogs were jumping up on their cages like pick me, pick me, take me
home and she was just like not happy at all. I felt so sad for her, so I tried to do a play
date with her where you can take the dog out. You go in this little play area and see if you
guys get along and she didn’t even look at me, she just sniffed around. I tried to come
play with her and she just walked away from me.
“For some reason, I had
this feeling this dog would
be so grateful to get out of
She just looked so miserable so I told
them I’d take her. I took her home
and as soon as I got her home she
jumped on me, started licking me
and she just really attached to me.
I can tell that she’s just so grateful
to me for helping save her life and
we’ve developed a really tight bond.
I’m so thankful that I have her.
I love it so much. I’ll start with my least favorite part. The biggest decision I had to make
was whether I wanted a high top or a pop top and I decided to go with the pop top because
of my height and my size. There are some points in my trip where I wish I had the
high top and I could just pull up somewhere and get in bed and not have to worry about
setting it all up. Then I can do more discreet camping or undercover camping in cities but
I can’t really do that with my van. There’s a little bit of a set up to it. My favorite part would
probably be the way it drives. It’s such an easy thing to drive. It’s diesel and it handles a
lot better then I think a big van should. There’s a lot of other things I like about it. I mean
I’m in love with the van but that’s one thing I kinda think about sometimes is being able
to pull up like those sprinter vans that just have the beds in the back. People can just pull
up wherever and just hop in bed.
That’s a nice feeling. Something
I like to ask people is about accidents
they’ve had in their van. Like
we are doing a thing about water
spills. All the different ways you
can spill water in your van. Have
you ever had something like that
I actually just had a dog bowl full of water
while I was driving. My pillow hit it and it
went everywhere. I spilt a coffee in there.
That was kind of a mess to clean up. Also, I have a little pull behind trailer. I blew a tire
out going through Indiana because there’s a lot of potholes. Make sure people know to
dodge the potholes when they’re going through the midwest because they come out of
nowhere. It’s all been good though, smooth riding.
“I’ve got it all taken
care of and I think that
people need to know
that things are gonna
happen when you’re
out on the road but it’s
all about the attitude
you bring to it.”
Where do you see the future of yourself with the whole van life thing?
Honestly, people ask me what I want to do when I’m done. I want to do this for at least
a year, but I don’t really know. The cool part about my journey is I don’t really have any
roots anywhere. I grew up in California and my parents moved to San Antonio. I played
a little bit in Atlanta, that’s where most of my friends are but I don’t really feel like I have
any roots anywhere to go back to. I’m kind of using this journey to find out where I
want to be and I feel like there’s going to be opportunities that come up that I can’t even
comprehend at this point so I try not to think too much about the future. I’m just gonna
kind of let the process work itself out and see what happens.
Do you have a favorite place you’ve been so far?
I would say my favorite part of the trip was the baseball tour I did where I did 13 games
in 14 days and seeing all the different baseball stadiums. I went to Daniel Boone national
forest and I did a hike there called natural bridge which was pretty cool but I’ve been
really looking forward to getting out west. I know there’s a lot of things I’ve been looking
forward to seeing out west so that’s where I’m headed now so I’m getting excited about it.
Your kind of like a bigger guy.
Yea, 6 foot 3, 240 now.
A lot of people who are your size
kind of worry about that going
into a van so hows that work for
Well, the reason I went with the pop top is
because I wanted the extra room so when I
do set up the camper and I pop the top up, I
actually have plenty of room. It hasn’t affected me too much. My bed is a bunk on top
and I got a little roll-up foam Tempurpedic mattress that I put up there. I’ve figured it
out. It’s been a process but most of the time when you go somewhere you’re not spending
a lot of time in the actual van. You’re usually going out meeting people, going out on
hikes and doing stuff, so you’re not spending a ton of time in the van. I would say the
only problem I’ve really had is when it rains a lot and I am stuck in the van it does get
a little bit tight. I think the key is to keep the van clean and tidy and pick up regularly
because it does get messy
For sure man. Maybe we’ll see you out here!
For more on Joe follow his YouTube and Blog.
Cooking Section What can go wrong while cooking in your van?
By: Neal Eisler
Everything that could go wrong will go wrong while cooking in
a van. If it hasn’t happened yet just wait...of course, that is
assuming you do indeed cook in your van.
It wasn’t long ago that I remember cooking in an
apartment...on a 4 burner electric stove...with an oven
(yeah, an oven. I’ve only ever once seen an oven in
a van once. That was my brother’s.).
The craziest thing is that I actually cook more
now than ever before. When’s the last time I
went out to eat?? No clue.
And, after hundreds of meals cooked in
a van I’ve experienced a lot...
Let me tell you, there is
a lot that can go wrong
while cooking in a van.
1. Fire as a result of wind
If your van interior consists of a lot of wood, this could be a
This happened to me on my first trip out at Joshua Tree, a park known for its
desert winds. Now I have a reminder of this every time I cook. That memory of
my home catching on fire is still as vivid as yesterday…Mid-way through boiling
a pot of water, one of my friends yelled “FIRE!” I look over, and my home is
burning. I turned off the stove and blew air out of my mouth with all the force
in the world. Without a fire extinguisher, my options were limited. Had it been
30 seconds later, this might not have worked. Fortunately, it did. Now I have
a friendly reminder every time I cook to consider wind conditions and shut my
doors. I also have a fire extinguisher.
2. Fire as a result of a gas leak
Check for any hissing sounds. If you risk it, watch out for
plumes of smoke.
This also happened on my first trip to Joshua Tree. It was one day later from
the wind incident...I turned on my gas stove ready to grill and could hear a hissing
noise…Even smelled a little gas. But, I was hungry. Next to my van, James,
a dirtbag climber, was sitting in his car watching Netflix and boom! My hair almost
caught on fire…My head almost got fried…James had no clue what he was
watching anymore. But, my home survived. That’s when I knew it was time for a
3. Stabbing yourself while cutting an avocado
Whack it, don’t stab it.
Okay, this happens to everyone. It’s way more common than you think (I’m serious...).
People end up in the hospital for avocado cutting incidents all the time.
In my case, I had stopped at Malibu Creek State Park to make a nice salad for
lunch. With my avocado cut in half, it was time to take out the core. I’ve always
stabbed at it and this time was no different. Except, it was different. Instead
of stabbing the core, I missed the core and stabbed my hand. Blood gushed out.
Clutching my hand, I rushed to the ranger’s station and explained what happened.
They wanted to call an ambulance for a hospital 4 miles away. I thought,
“that’s crazy.” It ended up only being a minor cut; but, the lesson I learned is to
put the avocado on the table whack at the core and twist it out.
4. Knocking over your pots and pans
Watch yourself. More importantly, watch your food.
I cannot explain how many times and how many ways this has happened. A neighboring
van’s guest jumping back and forth, turning around to prep food, bending
down to pick up scraps knocked on the floor, being parked on a tilt, trying to
do too many things at once, the list goes on…The outcome has always been the
same…a big mess of food, water, and spices on the floor instead of in the pot or
pan on the grill. Always make sure to watch your food.
5. Smoooooookeeeeee. Dont smoke yourself out
Turn on some fans, open, a window or a door.
I love it when I get a great sear on my vegetables and meat, but it sometimes
comes at a price. One time, I was cooking stealth in a parking lot and, “damn,”
my pan was hot. 5-minutes after throwing some Brussel Sprouts on it to grill, I
could smell burning. Oh yeah, it was getting really smoky too...And, than….”BEEP…
BEEP…BEEP!!!!” Oh, “god,” my fire alarm was going off. It took a whole minute
messing with that thing to get it to stop. My spot was blown, and so was my food.
Now, I’m way more careful with the temp at which I cook anything.
6. Burning yourself in every way
you can imagine
Really think. Really, really, really, really think before you grab
at or touch things.
Most of my burns have been born of impatience. Some have not. I’ve burnt my
hands trying to clean the stove to shortly after cooking…touching a hot pan…My
mouth has been burnt tasting food right off the stove before letting it cool. But,
the worst burn I’ve ever experienced was in an accident with my aero press (a
French press single serve coffee making device). I was making coffee the way
I always do. With the aero press sitting on my cup, I poured over boiling water
from my pot. As I started to press the water through, I knocked my cup over…
coffee and hot water flying everywhere…My left hand got covered. I wound up
with a 2nd-degree burn. If you do get burned, get cold water on it immediately.
But, it’s best to consider ways you can burn yourself to prevent them from ever
occurring in the first place.
7. Oil Spills
Getting this up is a crummy predicament.
Not all containers are made equally. 2 coconut oil spills and one olive oil spill later,
this lesson is one I will not forget...And, the culprit is always the same. The
top either not being appropriately shut or not capable of being shut properly…or
maybe, these things are just not meant to sit sideways. I’ve learned you can seal
those suckers and pray or just stand them upright.
8. Having to start over
If any of the problems above occur, you most likely need to
start cooking your meal all over again. That sucks.
Cooking in a van is no joke. You’re in a small confined space and have a lot to get
used too. Accidents happen...when they do you deal with them...The worst part is
not the cleanup but the fact that you most likely need to restart your meal from
scratch. Hopefully you didn’t get to far along.
My first van. I
ended up calling it
the Mystery Machine.
was taken the day
I bought it. If you
look really closely,
you can see the guy
I bought it from
getting his stuff out.
The Real Life Survival Video Game
By : Lee Eel Eisler
Is van life attainable for everyone? What if you don’t have enough money to buy a built out van?
What if you can’t afford to pay rent and support your van build at the same time?
That was me. I was tired of paying so much money in rent that buying food was a struggle. That’s
no way to live. Long story short I made a pros and cons list and decided to try living in a van. It
was an experiment at first. If I didn’t like it, I would go back to doing what I was doing before.
When you have no bed. Then you
get a bed. You appreciate it a lot.
This was my first bed in a van
ever! It folded all sorts of different
ways. They don’t make stuff like
I froze my ass off in this van while working and living in
Lake Tahoe for the winter. Snowboarding every day. It was
awesome but cold. Then my van broke down in the middle
of a gnarly snowstorm, so I went to sleep. I woke up to a
snowplow hitting my van. It put a big hole in the van. I ended
up selling it.
I stopped paying rent and loaded all my stuff into a storage locker. With nothing set in place,
I lived out of the storage locker, my Toyota Corolla, and various couches, mostly my parents.
After 3 months I had $1,500 saved up. I had been browsing craigslist looking at vans I couldn’t
afford for the entire 3 months. Basically, I was dreaming about living in a van, waiting until I had
enough money to afford one. I was getting antsy.
That’s when it happened. A $1,500 1978 Dodge Tradesman 200 that drove popped up onto craigslist.
This thing had some style. I called within 5 minutes of it being posted and went to look the
next day. I told myself that if this thing actually does drive, I’m buying it. It actually did drive,
and it actually had a ton of power and seemed to be running pretty good. My new home on
wheels. The back had nothing in it at all. It was a blank slate but my new home. Not only my
new home on wheels but the start of some of the best times of my life and I wouldn’t trade it for
anything. As my brother would say, I had just purchased a new lease on life.
The day I bought that van was the day I turned my life from boring and dull to exciting and adventurous.
I didn’t just take a step outside my comfort zone but a giant leap. This leap caused me
to learn. I learned about myself. I learned about life. I learned how to live more simply. I learned
how to stop and smell the roses. I learned how to keep going outside my comfort zone to expand
and grow myself.
Then I got this van for $3,000.
A new home on wheels. After
not having a van for a little
getting this van just felt like
I got my freedom back. I
named it Freedom the Van.
Freedom the van is a 1996
Dodge Ram B2500. It was
a Primetime conversion van
so the back seats already
folded flat into a bed and
it was super comfortable.
Initially, I really had no idea what to expect from van life. I was conditioned to live a certain way,
and by moving towards van life, I was going to have to relearn how to live. No unlimited power
source. No Water. I didn’t even have a stove for like the first month. I had no plans really. I just
jumped right into van life and figured things out along the way. It’s 4 years later, and I’m still
figuring things out.
The day I bought that van was the day my life turned into like this crazy survival video game but
in real life. What do I mean by this? Well, we all know how video games work. You improve your
situation through a variety of different ways causing you to “level up.” Well instead of playing
video games I began living a video game. I started out van life with the van. It was time to figure
out a bed situation. Time to try to level up.
I remember getting these seats my coworker had taken out of an old van. They folded every
which way. Became two rows of seats, a bed or they could fold so they were facing each other. I
had leveled up!
I’m not writing all this to scare you. Well, maybe I am because moving into a van is scary! I was
not sure I was doing the right thing. Good news is it’s 4 years later. I’m still living in a van and
loving it! I would not have traded any of it for anything, and I would not have done it differently.
The amount of knowledge, power, and self-sufficiency I have gained in the last 4 years could not
be taught in school….well unless you are in the school of life! I have no idea what level of van
life I’m currently at. Sometimes you pass levels. Sometimes you fail. Van life isn’t just all fun and
games. After all. Vanning Ain’t No Joke!
One thing to note when your looking at these pictures of all the changes Freedom the van has
been through is that these changes happened over the course of years doing what I could as I
could. I slept on the floor of this, and I built a few different beds for this van. One valuable lesson
I learned about living in a van and building it while you live in it is you need to understand shortterm
solutions for things. Sometimes those short-term solutions become long-term solutions.
Enjoy the journey!
I lifted the van and
put bigger tires on
it thanks to the
help of Greg at
G&M Diesel Services
The next thing
I did was add a
roof vent. I went
all out on this as
this is important.
Not just for me
but for Wander
the doggy also.
I moved the jack to the side of the van and
then I realized I could also put my shovel
and pickaxe there. SCORE! Also installed
lights all around my van.
Building a wall and bed frame. I ended up
changing the side my bed was on several times.
Thanks to my friend Merlin for showing me a
thing or two about woodworking!
I ripped everything out of the interior to install a
more weatherproof adventure floor as opposed to
the carpet that existed.
Then I Installed
garage flooring to
replace the carpet
used. If I were to
redo this, I would
get flooring that
wasn’t ridges although
Cedar planking and a backrest to
the bed! Just this part started making
this van feel so much more homey.
It goes from couch to
I built this kitchenette
but later ended up
changing it out for an
oven from an old RV.
I got a used roof
box. It was silver,
so I went to
my buddy Mike’s
house, and we
painted it using
the plant in front
of his complex as a
stencil. Later I attached
two 30 watt
solar panels onto
the roof box.
was stripped out of
the van, I screwed
stuff in everywhere.
I put the jack here
on the hood then
decided it was not
the smartest place
After painting the
roof box, I decided to
paint my whole van
the same way. This
took way longer and
way more paint then
I originally expected.
This van has been through so many more changes then what I can show in these pictures. A lot
is unfortunately undocumented except for in my mind and memories. Van life is whatever you
make it. It can be expensive or inexpensive. You don’t need a $20,000 Sprinter Van all decked
out to live the van life. The good life can be had for pennies on the dollar if you just live your
life more simply and spend less money.
I knew nothing about working on a car, woodworking, electrical or any of the other skills I have
acquired from living the van life. The point is anyone can make this happen, and it’s fun to learn
new skills. The only way to grow is to step outside your comfort zone. See you all in the real-life
video game I call van life!
Van life Essentials
Tools For The Road
By: Neal Eisler
Before I moved into a van fulltime my brother shared a
list of things to prepare me because as he always said,
Vanning Ain’t No Joke! After 4 years of van life he had
made a lot of mistakes. Lucky enough for me, he passsed
on the knowledge of what he learned so I could be ready.
I would have never thought to buy some of these tools but,
most often in life, there are things you don’t think or
even know you need until you need them.
In this article I’ve shared...
5 of my van life essentials that have been lifesavers on the road.
1. Baby Wipes (to stay clean)
Keep these handy to wash
dirty hands or a dirty
bum. You’ll find so many
uses for baby wipes in your
van. I’ve used them to wipe
down countertops, clean
dirt off dishes and silverware,
wash my face in the
morning and hands after a hike, to clean pants when I’m really desperate
(no laundromat for miles and miles)…you name it.
2. 7-Gallon water container
(so you don’t die of thirst)
3. A big shovel
(to dig yourself out of ditches)
These containers cost less than $30,
take up little space, and provide a way to
quench your thirst and survive through
any situation. I’ve got two of these and
have gone weeks without stopping to refill
water. It’s helped out others I’ve traveled
with and strangers in need.
What happens when you get stuck
and there is nobody around? You can
sit there and wait for the next car (that
could be days) or whip out a shovel and
dig yourself out…I say whip out that
shovel… I’ve been stuck once. It was in
Joshua Tree at night. My headlights gave off enough light for me to
see the dirt change color in front of me…I could tell it was soft and
wet but drove right into it…stuck…stuck in the mud…5 minutes later,
shovel in hand, I got out. My passenger was worried, I was not. Get
a big shovel. You’ll never know when you need it.
4. A fire extinguisher (to put fires out)
Fires can start in so many different ways: cooking, engine overheating,
gas leaks…I’ve had the cooking kind. If my friend hadn’t
spotted it in time for me to blow it out, my van (and home) would’ve
burned down. Now, I always carry a fire extinguisher. I’ve also installed
a fire alarm. You don’t think these things can or will happen
to you until they do. Be prepared.
5. Trash bags
(for your shit)
Literally your shit.
Sometimes you parked
off the edge of a cliff,
in a city, or someplace
that there is just nowhere
to go. Get trash bags
for that and any other
waste. These always
come in handy. If it’s
your trash or someone
else’s, you’ll always keep
How I Took This Photo With A
GoPro Hero 4 And A Headlamp
By: Lee Eel Eisler
Freedom the Van
Bishop , California
Gopro Hero 4
30 second exposure, 800 iso, 10
seconds of headlamp light
Photography is a creative process. It is
an experiment. It is a work of art. I have
not had much experience with night
time photography. Well, you never know
what you can do until you try.
I busted out my GoPro Hero 4 and
It’s important to note that this photo
probably took me an hour of messing
around, changing settings and changing
the amount of light I was hitting the van
Well, my first challenge was that I didn’t
have a tripod, so I found some rocks and
balanced the GoPro on the rocks.
I soon found out is that it is important
to connect your GoPro
to the GoPro app on your phone
so you don’t have to touch the
GoPro once you have it balance
and pointed the way you want.
The next thing I needed to worry
about was how I was going to
light up my van but not provide
too much light pollution, so I
could still capture the night sky.
Basically, I grabbed my headlamp set the GoPro up for a 30-second
exposure and pointed the headlamp at the van. I kept trying
different things, but the headlamp being aimed at my van was
washing out the stars.
I wanted to keep the GoPro shooting a 30-second exposure
with an iso of 800 to capture the maximum amount of stars, but
even with the dimmest light, I had the sky was getting washed
out by the light. My solution to this was to only shine my light
at the van for part of
the exposure time.
So I began shooting
light at the van for
different amounts of
After a bunch of
trial and error, I got
this photo that I was
The final formula? I had the GoPro on night mode with an exposure
of 30 seconds and an iso of 800. I ended up shining my
headlamp on the dimmest mode at my van for 10 seconds.
The point is photography isn’t easy. It takes time to get the
shot. No one gets it the first time. Next time you see an amazing
photograph think about what went into it.
I also wanted to point out that photography is a form of art
and expression. There are no rules. Make it into what you want,
have fun and experiment.
SUPPORT TRAVELING ARTISTS
An Interview with Alejandro Blanco
Interviewed by: Lee Eel Eisler
So, would you say you’re going to do
van life long term then?
I would like to. I will probably always have a van of some sorts or
mobile living space, but there are certain things I’m just kind of
learning about. I’m learning about different places and what my
options are. I’d eventually like to get my art to a point where I can
put up a studio somewhere. I’m probably going to stay somewhere
more long-term, eventually, but right now there’s nothing stopping
me. I guess until I find something that ties me down to a place…….I
guess if my van life broke down I’d probably just stay somewhere
long enough to save up and get another van. (Laughs) I think I’d
always do the mobile living thing.
Haha, right on!
I don’t know. I’m trying to think. I mean. Some people would say
well if you had a family or something and like...I think I’d just get a
bigger van and throw them in there too.
First of all, how long have you been living in your van for?
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
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
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
Australia. Then I got back to this van November or December.
It’s been on and off coming up on 5 years now.
That’s a long time
compared to most of
the people I’ve met.
Yea. It kind of helps because I’ll stay and work
for a while. It will be like. Half van life, half
crashing in someone’s driveway you know.
Then I have at least some amenities like being
able to use people’s showers and what not, but
everything’s still based in and around the van.
Why do you choose
to live in a van?
It’s just because it really sucks to be tied down by something as
expensive as rent and not even be able to enjoy your time off. I
spend a lot of time working, but when I’m not on the clock I’m in
my happy van space, and I can go drive to the beach or go to the
park. I can go wherever. When I have a day off, I can go fuck
off and drive hundreds of miles and always have everything I
need on me. I was surfing a bit too when I was living in Ventura,
and that was so easy. I was always at the beach. I always had my
surfboard, my towel, my wetsuit right here. The convenience of
having everything on me and always being ready to go is the best.
I’ve seen that a bunch of times!
Do you support yourself mostly on your art?
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
me share my art. I’ll make a few hundred bucks here and there. For the most part though I’ll stay somewhere and
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
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
next month in Maine. I’m gonna be picking blueberries. For the most part its side jobs here and there but the art is
definitely the constant. That one I’m always doing.
Yeah man. You do like a sacred geometry kinda art. I really
like it. How’d you get started in that style of art?
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
but when I really started getting into sacred geometry was when I went to Spain to visit my family when I was like
22 or 23. My friend had shown me this video on Sacred Geometry.
I think the first thing I started with was just pencil and pen. Then I started with watercolor and then I got more into
more detailed acrylic painting. I did a lot of wood burning too which was a lot of fun. Then I started getting tattooed
a lot more. I started following these artists that did some of the craziest mind-blowing art that was based
off sacred geometry. It was so detailed and intense. It’s really mind-blowing stuff, so I started researching more
artists and stuff. When I would go get tattooed by them I would pick their brains. It kinda just went from there
and turned into the style you see. Then I started to incorporate more organic mandala shapes. Not just this strict,
hexagon, straight line geometrics. I try to incorporate more ornamental, eastern, mandala type of art and put my
spin of the 3d looking prisms. Since I got back into art probably 4 or 5 years ago its been just strictly geometric.
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
geometric aspects into it.
So I’ve seen your van, and it’s pretty simple compared to
a lot of other people’s vans. What’s your favorite part
about your van and what’s your least favorite part?
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
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
and there. Different people. Sometimes that can get a little annoying, but that’s just because we’re sharing a very
small space and somethings not right where I left it, and you’re digging around, and they are like. It’s right here, but
that happens with roommates also. It’s really not that big of a deal. Sometimes your van mate will start snoring.
Right now you’re actually traveling with someone right?
Yea, I’m with my girlfriend now, but that’s better because I’ve been with like 2 other dudes before driving across
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
was this size with a full-size mattress.
Oh man. That must
have been a good
It was actually kind of cool. We made
it work. It was like. 2 with our legs facing
one way and the other two with the
legs facing towards the middle too so
everyone would lay at an angle and
everyone had their space. Well….not
really, but I liked the little van tribe. It
One thing I always ask people about
is ‘van-c--dents’. Accidents that
happen in your van. Have you ever had
anything like that happen to you?
(Laughs) I do that shit all the time like your van is your ‘vanpanion’. Like
it’s your companion but it’s your van, so it’s your ‘vanpanion’ (Laughs
again) I mean. ‘Van-c-dents’ happen all the fucking time like when you’re
going 80 down the highway and you’re trying to piss in a bottle…..oh no…
(Both laughing) Well, what are some of your most memorable
ones? I think you had mentioned something about an
accident with deodorant before?
oh yea. That happened to my girlfriend. So it must have been like 100 degrees outside. We came back to the van
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
everywhere...It looked like jizz all over the fucking van. That was bad. Or like. Everyone knows it in van life man. You
open that slider door, and it’s like pots and pans clink clank clank. Skateboards…bags. Just everything falls out of
the sliding door.
Do you have any memorable road trip moments?
Anything that stands out?
When I drove down to Baja a couple years ago. I was
sitting there with one of my best friends on the beach.
We had tacos and like 30 beers next to us. We were
camping for either free or for like $5 a night depending
on where we stayed, and it’s just like. Yea. We
fucking made it. I’m doing exactly what I wanted to
do. You never get that feeling when your working for
someone else. Not really. Not that amount of fulfillment.
The thing I really like I mean. I had never even
been across the country, and now this is my 5th time
driving across the country. So I love the adventure. I
know my friends back home who are still doing the
same job that they did and they are still saying. Oh, I
wish I could do that kind of thing. I’m just like, well I’m
actually doing it. Oh and the thing about really memorable
places like when you’re in national parks and
you’re looking at the fucking Grand Canyon or you’re
Looking at the Sequoias. Or your In Joshua Tree or
wherever the hell you’re at it’s like. Man. I am out
here. I’m out here with the van doing whatever the hell
we want. Making plans. Accomplishing goals. That’s a
big thing you know. It’s awesome.
As far as people wanting to do this lifestyle is there anything
you want to tell them?
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.
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
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
save up a couple thousand bucks. Get a fucking van and go. Also, people are like...Oh, you have no worries and no
responsibilities but no. I definitely still do. I had to pay for that rebuilt transmission. That shit wasn’t cheap. I had
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
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
just glamour van life. I’m not just fucking off and having no responsibilities. No, I definitely have responsibilities. We
have a system. Especially when we set up camp every night. We have to cook our dinner every night. No one’s going
to cook for us. It’s just about being independent. Raising that level of independence.
YeAh, I think people always mistake it for being a free lifestyle,
but it’s really just an alternative lifestyle. It’s
definitely not free.
Yeah, it’s definitely not free, and that’s another
thing too. When I was paying rent and had a
car, I was like. Man. That sucks. It’s like paying
rent twice. I’ve done a lot of downsizing too.
When I first moved into the van, I had things at
all these other people’s houses and stuff. Random
things like furniture, a bed, kitchen supplies
and stuff but through the years of going
back and forth you just realize it’s all stuff
you don’t need and that’s why my van looks the
way it looks now. It looks open and minimalist
kinda. I use everything in here. There’s nothing
just taking up space. A couple things maybe
but for the most part everything in here is very
functional I use it almost every day.
A lot of people are like. I want this just in case or that just in case.
I think having a house just makes you want to over prepare or
prepare for the worst. It turns them into hoarders and distracts
them from what they actually need and actually will use that day.
It’s like. When you look in someone’s garage and they have 3 coolers
sitting there. Like. Why the hell do you need 3 coolers? Or when
they have a box for every holiday to go decorate their house and
its like. Yea, but all of this is just junk you know. Then what do you
do with it? Now you need to pay rent for a garage to store the shit
that you don’t even use.
Yea,H it doesn’t make sense.
YeaH, I mean I went to Ace and bought $3 portable
Christmas lights, and we had Christmas lights in the
van. I even had a little one-foot Christmas tree and
it came with ornaments on it and everything.
Dang! Living lavishly!
Yeah! It’s not like I’m telling everyone they should
throw all their shit away and go live in a van. It
works for a lot of people to feel comfortable, have
their bases covered and feel like they’re prepared
for any situation. I mean I have a first aid kit and
jumper cables and stuff, but other people look
like they’re prepared for the apocalypse or something.
An extra kitchen supply of stuff that’s just
gonna go bad, and they end up throwing it away.
There’s just a lot of wasteful tendencies when it
comes to owning a house.
I agree. My philosophy is that
life is simple but people
make it complicated.
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
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
think when I was paying rent and had a house and stuff like that I was just detached from actually living a fulfilled
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
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
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
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
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
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
restaurants and working my ass off I made like almost $50,000 that year when I was 22 or something. I was paying
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
gets handed to other people. For rent or for your car which is crazy.
Alex was driving and his maps interrupted us
right there but he is a talented artist.
Check out his work at...
It sounded like a
waterfall. What the
hell was that noise?
Whatever it was, I knew a
major cleanup would be
needed for this one.
Pulling into Sender One, my rock climbing gym in
Santa Ana, California; I jumped up, turned around and
saw water gushing out of my 7-gallon water container.
My first reaction, Vanning Ain’t No Joke! Second,
pick up water container now! Third, laugh about
it (somtimes I react to shocking situations with
laughter...this being one of them). And, finally, I
had to get 3 towels to dry up all the water.
That was my first van water spill
and definitely not my last.
I’ve logged all the water spills
10-months of van life. Which one
Spill #1 - Water container knocked over going up
curb, then entirely upside-down going over a speed bump.
Result - Water flooding van floor from front to back.
3 towels required for cleanup.
Spill #2 - Water container knocked over on a sharp
Result - Water flooding back of the van where I moved
my container to in hopes that this wouldn’t happen again.
1 towel needed for clean-up.
that have occured so far in my
will you repeat or have already?
Spill #3 - Knocked over hydro-flask without the
top tightly sealed.
Result - A big puddle of water on the floor. All I needed
were a few paper towels for the clean-up.
Spill #4 - My container of disposed sink water
overflowing. This happened twice.
Result - A nasty odor along with gross water I had to
deal with. Way too many paper towels, soap, and water,
were used to get this mess up.
Spill #5 - Water flooding my entire countertop
due to a loose seal on the sink facet.
Result - Had to tighten the seal and wipe down the
counter with some paper towels.
Spill #7 - Knocked over a boiling pot of water
trying to do too many things at once.
Result - Hot water flying everywhere. Drying everything
up required some paper towels and helping hands.
Spill #6 - Water container tipping over in the back
of van leading to the sudden formation of a waterfall.
Result - No mess was made as all of the water poured
out the very back of the van.
I’ve experienced a lot of water spills in my
tipping over. Extra security measures have been
but it does. As recently as a few weeks ago
It’s a constant reminder that no matter
Spill #8 - Pressed Aero Press too hard on cup
violently knocking it over.
Result - Coffee splattered everywhere covering my entire
countertop and wall. I used some soap, water and paper
towels to clean-up this one.
van especially as a result of water containers
taken to ensure this doesn’t keep happening,
even (I kicked my brother’s dog bowl over).
what you do, Vanning Ain’t No Joke!