As you may know, I spent the better part of 2012 living in this beast here:
Yes – it says “Gone Fishin'” on the back. Yes, this van is awesome.
Armed with my laptop, climbing gear, and a trusty GPS, I set off to explore what the US of A had to offer. I had just started my business, and was hoping for this trip to be a way to dip my toes into the world of location independent work. I was psyched to get to climb + play outside as often as I wanted, work on my business, and be freeeeee!
My boyfriend and I packed up our lives in Toronto, I sold everything I owned, and we took off. We drove from the bustle of DC to the mountains of Colorado, through the deserts of Utah to cowboy country in Wyoming. We hit up Canada for a bit, exploring Vancouver Island. We ate our way through Portland and climbed our faces off in California and Nevada. We drove across endless landscapes – through scorching sun, torrential hail, green meadows and craggy mountains.
It was everything and nothing like what I thought it would be like.
What I Learned From Living In A Van
1. Less is more
Less stuff, for starters. Most of the crap you have cluttering your space – would you miss it if it was gone tomorrow? Chances are, the answer is no. Purge. Delete. Feels good to live within your means (especially when your means is a 20 sq ft mobile apartment).
2. Like minded communities are where the magic is
Birds of a feather stick together, and all that jazz. Nothing was more starkly apparent to me as how generous people are when they have something in common with you. That special bond that instantly makes strangers become friends, even when you haven’t showered in 10 days. Whatever your thing is, it will be so much easier for you if you band together with others who really get it. Who were the ones who took us into their homes as if we’ve been friends forever? The ones who had been there themselves. There’s power in surrounding yourself with people who get it.
3. Nothing is as far as you think it is
Sure, driving across the continent from DC to BC wasn’t exactly quick in the old van, but to know that we could be on the other side of this HUGE continent in just a matter of days was liberating. The world feels smaller when you travel. Things that were previously out of the question become more available to you. And you learn that what you want is way closer than you thought.
4. Dreams can (and should) change
My dream was always to be able to work + travel, on my own terms. And I made it come true! But funnily enough, nearing the planned end date for the trip, I wasn’t totally feeling it anymore. I was craving some stability, a dedicated space to do my work, and time to focus on the other parts of my life that had been pushed to the side for this trip. Life ebbs and flows, and we shouldn’t expect that our dreams will stay the same. Give yourself the flexibility and permission to change your mind and you’ll be a much happier camper (pardon the pun).
5. It’s never too late
I met two kinds of people on this trip. There are the ones who said to me “Do it while you’re young/don’t have kids/aren’t settled down” etc. Those people, they are the ones who have set boundaries for themselves about what is possible for their lives. The other kind? They’re the ones who were doing the exact same thing I was doing. In their 60s. With kids. With jobs. For 1 year. For 12 years. Alone. Married. They had no excuses, and they know, as I know, that living the kind of life you want is possible at any stage of your life. It’s never too late.
You never know what awaits you when you move into a van (or a job, or a relationship, or a whole new life for that matter). I am grateful each and every day for the ability to explore and to choose.
PS. Check out the Facebook page for more pics of the van trip!
Have you taken a big trip and learned an important life lesson? Share in the comments below!