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

on life.

Neal Eisler


Andrew Martyn

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.


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In This Issue








Why I’m Quitting

Corporate Life for Good.

One Question

Why did you choose

to live in a van?



Accidents that

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

Editorial Staff

Chief Editor and Contributing Writer

Lee Eel Eisler


App Review

Top 4 Free

Camping Apps


Cooking Section

What can go wrong while

cooking in your van



Van Life:

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

Neal Eisler

Artist, Video and Photography

Andrew Martyn

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

Corporate Life

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.

Feature Story

for Good.

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.

9 10

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

supposed fantasy?

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.

11 12

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

pre-determined definition

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

perfect...Stealth parking

sucks...Unforseen problems

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.

The payoff

was worth it.

13 14

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!

15 16

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.

17 18

So, why am I really quitting

corporate life?

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

feeling fulltime.

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…

19 20

One Question?

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

Detroit, Michigan


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

actively living.”

23 24

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

Vancuver, Canada


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

Lexington, KY


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

Northern California


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.”

25 26

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

31 32

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

Camping Apps

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.

#1. iOverlander

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

of campsites

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

it mentions.


35 36

#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

your trip.

All in all free campsites is a great app to use to find

free camp spots and its a free app!


#3. RV Parky










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

two apps.


#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



37 38

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

your young.

39 40

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.”

41 42

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

pretty quickly.

For sure man. Maybe we’ll see you out here!

For more on Joe follow his YouTube and Blog.



43 44

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

new grill.

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.

49 50

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.

51 52


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.

This photo

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

this anymore.

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!

55 56

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

in Orange,


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

flooring previously

used. If I were to

redo this, I would

get flooring that

wasn’t ridges although

there are

advantages and


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

bed mode.

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.

While everything

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

for it.

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.

57 58

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

things clean.

65 66

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

began experimenting.

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

30-second exposures,

shining my

light at the van for

different amounts of


After a bunch of

trial and error, I got

this photo that I was

happy with.

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.

69 70


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 cool.

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.

73 74

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

was cozy.

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.

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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.

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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

left turn.

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.

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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!

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