Jana and I talk about selling all of our stuff and living in a van just about every week. It’s not feasible for us right now, but we’re hoping that we’ll eventually be able to freelance enough that we don’t need a set address. Staying on the road, exploring, doing things by hand, sharing those experiences with readers through articles, podcasts, and photography; it sounds amazing.
I’m at my happiest when I’m on a road trip. Stick me in a car, give me a heading, and I’ll drive for hours. Give me a cup of tea, a yoga mat, and some home-made food in the evening, and I’m set. On the road, we replace TV with audiobooks. The internet with the outdoors. Wanting to have more with wanting to see more. Spending a couple years on the road isn’t just on our bucket list, it’s a part of our five year plan.
So what’s the lure with Van Living?
You’re Not Allowed To Have Too Much
As I mentioned in my donations article, I’m trying to cut down on what I own. As we all know, we tend to expand to fill whatever space we’re allowed to occupy, and it never seems like you leave a place with less than what you started with. The idea of setting that hard limit, making myself choose what’s really important to me, is enthralling. I don’t want to be lazy about what I own, and I see living on the road as a real test of that.
Travel Creates Narrative
I want my day to day to be from A to B, not sitting in the same place working the same hours every day. We go on trips, but those are interruptions rather than the norm. I want the opportunity to know the land around me, to experience different places, and to build my life’s narrative out of exploration and communication rather than disconnected labor. I want to earn a living while I work my way west, share my story with people as interested in exploration as I am, and then pick another direction and do it all over again. See what kinds of lives I can find.
You Have to Do Things by Hand
I’m big on knowing how to take care of yourself. Fixing things instead of replacing them. Learning to invest in the things you value. But it’s hard to do that when everything that’s marketed to us is made to be replaceable and disposable. Owning a home isn’t feasible for many members of my generation, but owning a van? Investing in it, repairing it, making sure it’ll last the journey? That’s something I can do. A big part of owning less is caring more. You can’t treat things as disposable, and you can’t make cheap investments, when you only have what you need.
We Learn By Doing
Growing up, I wanted to be an English Professor, then a journalist. For a while, I wanted to be a photographer. I still want to do all of those things, but rather than learning in a classroom, I want to learn by doing. I write for ten hours a day. I do my best to refine my craft, and to reach out to readers like you. But with the market we’re faced with today, we’re seeing fewer storytellers and more marketers. Fewer headlines and more endorsements. It’s not a good market to work in, and getting into can be hard. But why would I do things the conventional way? I want to learn by doing.
Experiences Are Worth More Than Money
Rent is skyrocketing. Wages are stagnant. More and more people are turning to freelance work, as it offers the security of a diversified income and the chance to own your time and productivity. We’re faced with the choice of cutting back on our lives in order to ensure our financial security, or living in a culture of debt in order to keep up with consumerism.
Or we can fight the paradigm, and do things our own way.
As I said before, living on the road isn’t just a dream for Jana and I. It’s a part of our five year plan, and we’re doing our best to save our money, establish our careers, and find a way out. We’re not there yet, but we will be.