Why van life?

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When we decided we were going to quit our jobs and move into a van, a big question from friends and family was just “why”? Leaving the stability of a job, the comfort of a home, and a strong community to live just the two of us in an 80 square foot home on wheels in our first year of marriage sounds a little strange to say the least.

So in our first post about van life we just wanted to outline a few reasons we chose this lifestyle.

Finding happiness while backpacking Broken Top, OR

1.     We needed a change.

Prior to quitting our jobs, we both worked as nuclear engineers at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington. Kyle had worked there for almost 7 years and I (Lindsey) had worked there just over 3 years. While overall we enjoyed our time at the shipyard we knew that we weren’t going to make a career of it.  Prior to even dating we had both toyed with the idea of taking a gap year between the shipyard and whatever was next for us. When we got together and realized we were with the person we wanted to marry, taking a gap year together just made sense.

2.     We wanted to downsize.

Traveling light: In 2017 we spent 4 weeks in SE Asia with 30 liter packs, and we found the minimalism liberating!

Living in a van required us to strip down our everyday needs to the bare essentials. After living in Japan for the greater part of a year while working for the shipyard, we experienced how minimal the Japanese lifestyle is and wanted to emulate it. Yes, we do have some stuff stored in Kyle’s parent’s garage for our eventual permanent home, but stripping down what we have to fit in this small space will inform our decisions as we eventually “settle down” and buy a house. Less stuff, less clutter, less comparison, more experiences, more life.

3.     We were living for the weekends.

Especially for me (Lindsey), my 40 hours a week at my desk felt so lackluster and tiring that I put an unhealthy amount of pressure on myself to make the weekends really count. If the weather was crappy (hello Seattle winters…) or if plans changed, I would stress to the point of anxiety, which is just so not me. This ties in to the first point, but I thought it was important to highlight. I had a life that I was proud of for 3 days a week and then felt like I was stuck in the 9-5 rut the rest of the week. Classic case of Instagram vs. reality right there.

4. Road tripping was already part of our weekly life.

We were already spending the weekend’s road tripping around the PNW in Kyle’s Subaru Outback, sleeping in the back and getting up early to adventure as far as we could. The idea came up of “what if we had a vehicle we could sleep more comfortably in and also stand up in?” So we bought our sweet Louella in November of 2017.

5. We had travelled internationally together but had not seen a HUGE portion of our own country.

Together we have travelled to Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Nepal, and Canada. Separately, we have travelled to over 20 different countries. But when we look at the long list of states and national parks in our own country that we have not yet seen, it’s clear that we have some exploring to do. What better way to see the country than from the road in our little home on wheels?

6.     We don’t really know what’s next.

Trekking on a 3-week trip in the Himalayas in May 2018.

In an ideal world, we’d be able to tell you exactly what we wanted to do next, but realistically, we have no set plans. I have ideas of going back to school and getting a teaching certificate, Kyle has ideas of getting a masters in mechanical engineering or finding a job working for a gear company. We don’t know where we want to live, we don’t know exactly what we want to do, so our short term plan is to figure out our long term plan as we travel. Long drives and long hikes to think through our options and decide what’s next. Part of our goal with this trip is to find where we want to put down some roots. We love Washington but we also are loving Idaho. Maybe Colorado? Maybe Montana? Who knows. But being on the road allows us the freedom to choose what’s next on our own terms.

7. Because we can.

Together we have been saving aggressively for this trip for the last year. We skipped eating out and drinks at bars (for the most part!), saved on rent by living with a friend (thanks, Marcus!), Kyle worked a bunch of overtime, we vacationed super cheaply (SE Asia is the bomb), and sold a bunch of stuff. While we are fortunate to have the life circumstances to make a trip like this happen (no kids, no house, good paying jobs, etc), we worked damn hard to make this trip a reality. We have so much more living to do than is possible from behind a desk.

Happy campers backpacking in the Sawtooth Mountains during our third week on the road. 

So there you have it. Why we’re doing what we’re doing in 7 bullet points. Will we stick with this lifestyle for the full year? The cool thing is that we get to choose. We are continuing to choose this lifestyle because it serves us right now. If we ever feel that we need to make a change, we have the freedom to make that choice.

 

 

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