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Why I Started Living in a Van


1/2 YEAR

For the past 6 months, I’ve been living in a self-made van conversion, traveling around the USA, photographing different landscapes, meeting different people and learning new aspects of myself I never knew existed.

This journey has awoken and inspired a drive in me to share my experiences of living life to the fullest with the world, whilst continuing my journey as fully as possible. I have taken huge steps in breaking free from what I used to consider a normal and safe life by quitting my job, living in a vehicle, not depending on money for my happiness and enjoying the sacredness of interpersonal relationships without the usual undertones of trying to get something from someone.



As I was preparing my mind to live in a van by myself and travel around the country, the most invasive thought was: how long can I do this? How long can I live a life without a job, apart from the norms of society, in a cargo van, without the usual “comforts” of life and be at peace with the idea that this will drastically change the rest of my life (either positively or negatively).

It was a huge gamble that pervaded the entirety of my mind as I spent the better part of 6 months converting a cargo van into a living space and simultaneously working a full-time job. The idea of doing this not only sounded crazy, but also unsustainable. But, thank God, I’m writing this on the other side of half-a-year on the road without any arrests and with all of my limbs.



It’s been a crazy ride (some pun intended) and the greatest lesson so far has been: freedom isn’t bought, learned or inherited but rather, experienced. What I mean by that is, you have to not try and change your environment and living conditions in order to experience freedom, but instead, change your mind: the rest will follow.


I’m a huge believer in the notion that there is no such thing as coincidence; God has His hand in every part of every person’s life on this Earth. And, with that being the case, we have the ability to inquire about His trajectory for us.

So, I do a lot of asking. Because, as any woman whose ever been in my life will probably tell you, I make mistakes from time to time.

The biggest mistake I did NOT want to make was quitting my job in order to pursue a seemingly better lifestyle; I was much more prepared to work a job I hated with a mentality I loved. This is because I firmly believe the freedom we all want from our lives come not from external changes but the internal ones: figure out what matters most to you in life, and put EMPHASIS on it everyday! That’s how you obtain it in a real and tangible way, a way that isn’t dependent on any circumstance but your mentality.



I came across vanlife through a series of downgrading my lifestyle choices from buying a house and living the traditional American way, to looking to buying a piece of land and building a tiny-home in order to lower my commitment to a work-to-live relationship, which eventually evolved into the ultimate and quickest way to “live free”: buy a van and build it into a home (or RV).


But, as I was considering this newfound option, I knew one thing for a fact after living on this earth for 30 years: you can’t simply run away from your problems. And so, as I was slowly and more surely pursued this vanlife thing (researching vans, floor plans, watching how-to videos), the consistent conversation I had with God was: if the most profitable life-experience was for me to stay at a job I hated and continue to foster mental freedom in lieu of a physical change, show me that…and HELP ME to do it (because that was going to be HELL!)

But as I prayed that, and furthered my decision-making, I received more confirmation & clarity and was eventually knee-deep into building a vehicle into a home.



But, that doesn’t mean your way will go or should go according to that blueprint. I’m sure you’re reading this right now with the intent of following a similar path. So let me say what I’d consider to be the best of piece in this type of situation: sometimes the path isn’t clear, you just have to make a decision and be prepared to live and die by the results.

Who knows if it’ll be best to stay in your current life, and change how you mentally process the world around you or if it’s necessary and best to likewise change your environment? Sometimes experience, mistakes and redirection are the greatest life-lessons and life constructers.


Don’t stress on the outcome and on the gravity that potential mistakes bring, because anyone willing to make decisions to better their life will always adjust in a positive and elevating way. Just always choose progression as your ambition and you can’t lose!

The next hurdles, from my experience, become the hardest: normalizing something that isn’t normal. But then, you realize that YOU define what is normal.


Mike Brown