Our Journery So Far (The First 3 Months in the Van)

  • AOU
  • September 20, 2022

It has been three months since we quit our jobs, sold (almost) all of our belongings, and hit the road to travel America in our converted van. We never knew that 3 months could go by so fast, while simultaneously feeling like a century has passed. Every single day on the road brings new challenges and problems to solve, but we wouldn’t have it any other way!

In April, we quit our jobs and began the process of downsizing from a 3 bedroom apartment to a single van. It was a daunting task which we faced with courage and perhaps naive excitement. In May, we took an Amtrak from Boston all the way to New Mexico, and what a way to begin. Sleeping on a train for 2 days, eating microwaved meals, overpriced alcohol, it all seems rudimentary now that we’ve been on the road. We look back on that and think, wow, we had no idea what we were in for!

alter-text (Chan’s entire downsized wardrobe!)

In June, we set off from New Mexico to begin our journey. We had a rough idea of where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do and see, but at the same time, we knew nothing! We wanted to focus on hitting national parks and outdoor spots, but there are so many incredible destinations, it was overwhelming to try to narrow it down. We logged a few things into a map, did a little research on some campsites, and hit the open road. Below, you can see the route we have traveled so far:

Trip map created using Wanderlog, for making itineraries on iOS and Android

We estimated the rough stats from our trip so far:

  • 🦬 12 national parks visited
  • 🛣️ 5500 miles driven
  • 🥾 200 miles hiked
  • 🌎 6 states
  • 🗺️ 2 countries

From BLM land, to campgrounds, Airbnbs and Hipcamps, to dingy, cigarette-smelling chalets, and Walmart parking lots, we have certainly experienced a lot - but there’s always more to come. We’ve learned the luxury of flush toilets and a hot shower, how good a hot cup of coffee tastes on a crisp morning in the mountains, and the heart-stopping fear you experience when the sound of a deer walking by your tent sounds like a grizzly to your ears. We’ve woken up with cows outside our van, chickens walking by our tent, and over-friendly chipmunks running across our laps. We’ve met wonderful people in the most unexpected places, and have come to know the camaraderie you feel with your fellow nomads. What a wonderful experience it has been.

To look at the stats and think about the days when we were both so drained we wouldn’t even leave the house makes us realize how much we needed this change. We wake up every morning now excited and invigorated, knowing that we get to choose how to spend the day and have the freedom to go wherever we want.

Before setting off on this journey, we had no idea how it would go. We took a giant leap of faith, trusting that we had each other so everything would work out in the end. We left our jobs, our security, and our possessions behind, yearning to take back our freedom and regain our zest for life.

The van had been stationed in New Mexico with my brother, while we were in Massachusetts. That meant, aside from some pictures and a video walkthrough, we had never seen it in person. We had no idea if we would like this lifestyle, if things would go disastrously wrong. Yet that was part of the draw. The uncertainty made us feel alive again.

At some point, we both started to feel like we were living life on rails, to get to some predetermined definition of success. We had strived our whole lives to get to this place, and the closer we got to it, the more we realized that it wasn’t what we wanted.

After making the decision to take this leap, we were faced with the task of paring down 90% of our things. It was difficult at first, but as we purged more and more, we started to feel free, weightless. You don’t realize how many empty possessions you’ve accumulated, until you have to figure out if you have room for it in a Chevy Express… The less things we had, the more we could prioritize, and figure out, what really matters to us.

Every moment we get on this planet is precious, and we want to be able to spend it enjoying the many precious things - like each other, our loved ones, the beautiful natural wonders of the world. We are certainly not seasoned nomads as of yet, but we have recognized that the challenges that come with living this way are challenges that we welcome with open arms. These are the challenges that make us grow, force us to problem solve and work together.

In 3 months, we have grown so much. Kyle lived in Massachusetts his whole life and hadn’t gotten a chance to explore the country much, so this road trip has opened up a whole new world for him. While I moved around a lot growing up, many of the places we have been to so far have been new for me, as well. Getting to spend so much time in nature has been therapeutic - it is our new addiction. It has given us a new appreciation and respect for just how wonderful this planet is.

We’re not sure where this adventure will take us, or how long we’ll be on the road, but we know that we want to live our lives with meaning and intention. Part of the motivation for starting this blog was to have a living journal to share with others and our future selves, but we also hope to contribute something positive to the world.

We are headed to our first van meetup this week, the Northwest Nomads event, and are excited to meet some other like-minded people, hopefully make some friends along the way. From there, we will head into California, on to Utah and Arizona, and head back to New Mexico for a quick recharge with family for Thanksgiving. So much has already changed in 3 months, we can only imagine what the next 3 has to hold - and we can’t wait to find out!


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