Atticus and Lina (@soitrolls)
Our love of traveling began when we studied abroad in Europe during college. We were set on visiting Amsterdam and Berlin, so we organized a small Euro-trip and had the time of our lives. Since then -- it was certain, another significant trip was on the horizon.
After graduating and working for a few years, we were getting the itch to go on another big trip. The feeling of "it's now or never" started setting in and we wanted to take advantage of the fact that we were still relatively young and had no major commitments (like a mortgage or kids). We started the very early stages of planning and while Europe or Southeast Asia sounded great, we also realized we hadn’t explored any of the good old USA. We were greatly inspired by the whole concept of living in a tiny house so we started saving, and after a year and a half of tightening our belts, we finally bought the van and quit our jobs in January 2016.
With a March 1st departure date set, we began coordinating our moves out of our respective apartments and into the van. We sold the bulk of our larger belongings and stored the rest in our parents’ garages.
Our entire renovation took about 2 months of consistent work. Our van was built in the late '90's and, while all the basic amenities were already installed, it needed a major update and refresher. We kept the plumbing (which supplies a sink, toilet and outdoor shower complete with water heater!), the electrical and solar set-up, the fridge, and the couch. We totally gutted the rest, added a few items like a pullout bed, and made the aesthetic and design our own. As part of our van design, we built his and her storage areas for our clothes and had dedicated areas for pots, pans, dishes, food, books, and camping equipment. This made it easy to visualize the amount of stuff we could bring. Looking back, the renovation itself was just as fun and fulfilling as our life on the road. The day after we completed our van build, we packed our entire van and left that same night. To our surprise, everything fit perfectly and we actually had an entire cabinet that we had forgotten to fill up, giving us some extra space for a “junk cabinet” that was very handy on the road. It was a long and chaotic day that was filled with an immense sense of accomplishment. Our 2 year long dream was finally a reality!
Our planning and saving for 2 years enabled us to save a good amount of money while working. Once we decided our big trip was going to be an American road trip, we did some rough budgeting that included the van cost and monthly cost of living (food, gas, lodging, etc) and used that to come up with a goal amount to save. Once we hit that goal, we quit both of our jobs. We got luckiest with finding a perfect van for the right price. But once we had that, we got to work and hit the road a few weeks later. Lina used her fancy Excel skills to create a monthly budget that we update at the end of each month so we can be sure we’re keeping on track. Of course, our plan wasn't perfect, but ended up be close enough for use to keep on living in the van.