Why We Chose #VanLife

Why do you want to live in your car? Won’t you miss your home? Where will your kids sleep? What will you eat? What about school? Don’t you need a job? What about a doctor? Where will you get your mail? Is this safe? Is this healthy? Wait- You have dogs, too?! Are you crazy?

These are just a tiny fraction of the questions we were asked when we decided to start this journey. That is, to move into our Landcruiser and travel fulltime as a nomadic family. As we travel, the same questions in many variations resurface over and over again. We enjoy the conversation most of the time, encourage the questions, are even pleased to share our viewpoints. Occasionally there are people that we must laugh at or simply walk away from. But, overall, it is fun to let people in on the big mystery.

Yes, we have thought this over. Talked it over. Analyzed it, reanalyzed it. It was not a light decision that we just woke up one morning and decided to move into our “van”. We have carefully scrutinized every tiny detail, imagined the worse possible scenarios, recognized the scrutiny we will receive, AND decided to do it anyway.

WHY? Because we genuinely believe that this is the best fit for our family. This list chronicles our answers to the biggest questions.

  1. We Don’t Settle

Literally. We have tried it out for years, it just doesn’t fit. Suburb life, small town life, rural life, beach life. No matter how grand the place, how great the house, nothing lasts forever. We love everywhere. We want to try it all, live it all, experience it all. Staying in one place, in one house, just doesn’t suite us. Settling down is not the right life for us. But, moving in and moving out, selling, renting, whatever… it is all rather exhausting. We see this life as a path for skipping all that hassle. We are nomads, moving as slowly or quickly as we like. Lingering when we love it, passing when we don’t, hanging around as little or as long as we see fit.

2. Anti-Attachments

We don’t do “stuff”. Not anymore. We did that once. We felt tired, overwhelmed, and exhausted just looking at the stuff. Forget cleaning it, organizing it, and remembering we had it. All of the money and time we wasted on it. We are sick of stuff. We took a stake in minimalism when we first moved abroad. Not on purpose. It happened by accident. It was so liberating to have only what we needed and to stop “needing” more. Teaching our kids the concept has been rewarding, too. They are 3 and 4, but they get it. We are all happier with less. More creative, curious, adventurous, and spontaneous. None of us have any one thing that we are particularly attached to. In fact, much of what we still need; we really wish we didn’t.

3. Natural Therapy

We are not anti-medicine or anti-doctor, but we are pro-independence. We will use a doctor if we need it, go to the hospital when necessary. However, we do not wish to live our lives dependent on prescriptions, physicals, and programmed check-ups or injections. We love to learn about and practice natural medicine, gaining as much knowledge as possible to treat daily ailments with the same methods of our ancestors. The world is full of alternatives to pharmaceuticals, ancient practices that pre-date medications. We aim to learn as much about them as possible.

4. Money Matters

We both have “jobs” that are location independent. However, we don’t work much because we don’t need much. This lifestyle costs LESS than a traditional one! Yes, you read that right. Traveling full time as a family costs us less than it did to own a home and new car and all of the expenses that go with it. We don’t pay any costs associated with owning a home like electricity and plumbing, HOA’s, lawn care, cleaning costs, appliance maintenance, insurance, etc. We also don’t pay for health insurance. In South America, health care is affordable and good quality. Insurance is not necessary or required. It is important to note that we are economically minded travelers. We are not paying for flights or hotels, taxis, or high-end restaurant foods. We drive, we camp or stay at low cost venues when necessary (in Ecuador, hostels cost an average of $8-20 per night). We eat like locals, shop like locals, live like locals everywhere we go. We typically avoid tourist traps and focus on authentic experiences instead. Incredibly, they are always a fraction of the price. Realizing that traveling would be cheaper than staying in one place, was a huge factor in making our lifestyle decision.

5. Schooled By the World

“Not all classrooms have four walls.” This is a simple way to sum up how we feel about our children and their education. Although our children are not yet old enough to be enrolled in school, we have already begun a learning a system that we intend to practice for as long as it is working. It is a home-based education principle that relies heavily on interest-based learning. We intend to teach them through the world and their environment over workbooks and curriculum. We hope to instill in them that learning is not related to an age, grade level, testing success, or any generalized standard. We want them to love learning and for this, we aim to teach them in natural ways that interest them at the time that curiosity strikes.

6. Safety Concerns

We are aware that the world is not a perfect place, and therefore there can be no perfect destination. We are not looking for perfection, we are looking for real life. Every location we visit is well researched and every risk completely calculated with the best interest of our entire family in mind. Thus far, we have learned that the greatest risk to any of us, is to let fear interfere with our discovery of incredible places and perspective changing experiences. We travel to get of our comfort zone, to immerse in diverse cultures, and to gain an intimate understanding of the world. Ultimately, we have learned that world is not as bad as it seems. People are mostly good and the planet most beautiful in the places we are afraid to look.

7. A Close-Knit Family

People wonder where we get our alone time, who babysits the kids, how the children will have their own space, etc. The truth is, none of that exists in this life. We choose to be together all the time. That literally means every moment. It has been this way from the beginning. We are happiest this way. There is no babysitter, no school hours or working time. We are together 24/7 and we truly struggle to function when we are not. Our kids get along very well, usually better together than with other children. We have raised them to be team mates. When they have their moments or days of adversity, they have learned how to separate from each other. They understand how to negotiate duties, space and time. Sometimes with a little help from us and other times on their own. As for intimate time between parents, there is plenty of room for spontaneity and creativity. No room for routine or a schedule. We like to believe this is the way nature intended it to be!

8. Dogs Love Travel

If people tend to think we are strange for traveling with young children, they tend to think we are completely insane when we mention our dogs. It is not easy to travel with dogs, but it has surely has been worth it. For us, it simply was not an option to leave our dogs behind. They have been with us before our children, they are a definitive part of our family. For us, it was not feasible to simply discard them when we chose to move abroad and then to embrace full-time travel. Fortunately for all of us, both of our dogs travel very well. In fact, they genuinely seem to thrive on the road. Just like the rest of our family, they seem content so long as they are with us. We always choose destinations based on their needs. If they are not welcome or accepted, we simply do not go. Luckily, most of what we like is complimentary to traveling with dogs and we rarely encounter a problem.

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19 Replies to “Why We Chose #VanLife”

  1. This is awesome. My family of five (and one pound puppy) spent 18-months as full-time RVers. It was difficult at times but so rewarding. The kids are now grown and my husband and I are ready to hit the road again. We’re gearing up to take a few short trips in our mini-van turned van camper. I can’t wait!

  2. You know one of my things to do is take my young family and get outdoors in the ute and head into the forest and explore, or head to the beach and go driving on the sands. It is a heck of a lot of fun, I can see you guys had a ball yourself travelling in the Van. Well done and good to see.

    1. Oh yes, we are having a great time and just getting started really! It is such a great avenue for exploration..and the opportunity to see this part of the world has been incredible!

  3. Sounds great, and it sounds like you have found your way to happiness. On a longer travels, I always start missing home at some point, so I’m not sure if this life style would be for me but I do envy the freedom you guys have. And you kids will learn so much just by seeing the world.

    1. Thank you! We always keep in mind that if one day this wanderlust isn’t so wonderful anymore…we will just stop where we are or return to our favorite place. But, only time will really tell how far this journey will take us. So far, we are not missing the traditional life at all…and are only now aware of just how bored we really were. Freedom is the truth and everyday we find ourselves relaxing more into this life and everything about it just feels so right. So long as we are happy, we will keep going some way, some how!

    1. It is definitely a small group of people who travel this way, at least in South America! For us, it was the best fit for our family and our interests.

  4. I am impressed that you are a minimalist family who loves to travel. Your kids look friendly, happy, simple, and healthy.
    After watching the Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. I have realised that we can live with fewer things, be happy, and feel fulfilled. Your family is a good example. = )

    1. Thank you, Iza! We have not seen the movie, our minimalism was not a planned event. It just works better for our family for so many reasons. but, we are honored that you think of us as a good example 😀

  5. Living in a van and traveling around really looks appealing. Being a free bird is something most of us dream of, but never really achieve that status. It is really commendable that you have been able to manage this and that too with the kids. I am sure it has its share of challenges but at the end of the day if you are enjoying it, that is what matters.

    1. Yes, of course we have our challenges. But, nothing that doesn’t make the choice worth it! We are all enjoying our freedom and hoping to show our children a different way of life, one of limitless possibilities! 🙂

  6. This is great! I’m moving to Australia soon and I’m seriously considering giving van life a go! What a way for your kids to grow up, so cool!

    1. Thank you, Chiera! I think if you’re already considering it, give it a whirl! It’s nothing you can’t go back on later, but if you’re anything like us..it will just inspire you to go further!

  7. I love to hear stories like this where people are challenging the conventions of the world. Normal is exactly what you make it, and I love the real-world education you’re providing your kids.

    1. Thank you! We never meant to make a story of it, just wanted to pave our own path. Our kids our happy, we are happy…and this is working for us! We hope to inspire others to create their own journey in life, whatever it may be!

  8. You’re so right!!! The biggest risk is “to let fear interfere with our discovery of incredible places and perspective changing experiences”. I don’t think I’m quite ready for life out of a van, but this definitely opened my mind to the possibility of it. Great read!

    1. Thank you, Jas! This way of life is not for everyone, but I hope you will try it one day 🙂 We feel blessed to have found the right fit for our family!

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