Hi, we are Evan & Katie are a traveling couple based out of Portland, Oregon.
We started living in our van in June of 2017 with the fluid plan of traveling for about a year around North America.
Since the beginning of our relationship, we have dreamed of living on the road and downsizing our lifestyle. We really liked the idea of being able to bounce around and having the freedom to wake up every day and decide what we felt like doing, instead of planning every detail of a trip out.
Once we became more serious about making our dream a reality, we purchased the van. We continued to work full-time until we had saved enough money to live off for a while, then we quit our jobs!
Converting a van into a home on wheels was our way to achieve our travel goals, live life at a slower pace, and begin a life of minimalism.
Our van is a 2016 Mercedes Sprinter 144” WB High Roof. Our conversion took us about 6 months and we were able to do most of the work ourselves, with the exception of the cabinets.
We were lucky enough to have family help along the process as well, which helped everything move at a quicker pace. A big requirement for the build was having the proper tools, space to work on the van, and having the patience for all the small details in designing our home. The conversion happened in phases: installing the windows and the fan, wiring the electrical system, insulating the entire body of the van, putting up the walls/ceiling boards, etc.
The build of our van looks similar to any tiny home you might see.
We have a two-burner propane stove, a stainless steel sink, even running water. Our electrical system includes two solar panels on the roof, so all our energy is renewable. The fresh water tank is in the back of the van and requires filling usually once a week. Our “dirty” water from our sink and doing dishes drains to a grey water tank that we simply dump when it is full. We even have a tiny toilet that squeezes into the corner of the van.
Since everything is smaller in a van, our chores need to be taken care of more frequently than they would in a house or apartment, but we don’t mind. Dumping our water, toilet, emptying our trash, even deep-cleaning our entire home, can all be done in easily under an hour.
Once the conversion was completed, we purged a large majority of our belongings and moved into the van. We kicked off our trip with a bang and drove all the way up to Alaska, exploring the state for a total of a month.
Since then, we have slowly been making our way across the United States, exploring different National Parks, State Parks, and searching for the best (free) campsites our country has to offer.
Most days, we try to drive a maximum of 3 hours, sometimes not at all.
We usually shoot for the goal of settling down for the night by about 5:00 PM. We try to travel during the day but keep our nights to ourselves. Most of all, we enjoy “happy hour” with a glass of wine or a beer, cooking dinner at a leisurely pace, and finishing off our nights with some television or a movie, just like we would if we lived in a house somewhere.
Currently, we have explored and camped in over 30 states in America. Some of our favorite states have been Colorado, Michigan, and Montana.
All three states have beautiful scenery and really promote outdoor exploration and activities. Most of our free time in these particular states was spent fishing, hiking, swimming, and camping. These states also have an abundance of free camping, which we love. Since we are unemployed and traveling full-time, we definitely live on a budget and campsites can be super expensive. We spend a lot of time exploring BLM and National Forests for the most beautiful (and free) places to stay.
Another one of our favorite places we’ve visited is Wyoming. This gorgeous state is the home of Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.
Prior to moving into the van, we purchased an “America the Beautiful” pass, which grants us access to all National Parks in America. (We also have a Discovery Pass for Canadian Parks).
Both National Parks are located in close proximity to the remarkable area of Jackson Hole. Some of the most beautiful campsites we’ve ever experienced were in this area.
One of the most challenging things we’ve experienced since hitting the road is this constant worry that we’re not doing the most with our time and our trip.
At this point in time, we are not working so we have a fair amount of free time. With that being said, we hope that eventually, we will be able to work remotely but if those efforts fail, we will have to hunker down somewhere to find jobs and earn money again. With this possible deadline of a year, we want to make sure that we see everything on our list during this trip.
Sometimes, it can feel as though we’re in a race against the calendar, rushing from place to place and seeing ten places in a week. We’re still working on the balance of experiencing our trip to the fullest vs. slowing down our pace of life, the main reason that we moved into a van in the first place.
Traveling is completely possible – you just have to make it a priority.
We recognize that the idea of quitting your job and deciding to travel can be scary.
How will you make money? What happens if your mode of transportation breaks down? There are a million things that we could worry about and the crazy thing is, we don’t know where we will be in a year. That’s kind of the point though.
We could have waited to do a trip like this until we are retired but we have no idea what kind of physical shape we’ll be in then. But we wanted to do this long-term trip now when we have nothing tying us down and we are young.
We might not have a lot of personal belongings but we get to travel in the comfort and convenience of our home. Between the two of us and a way to explore new places every day, we’re more than satisfied.
Follow our journey online! Or send us an email with questions/to touch base.