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Van Dwelling Couple Sell Everything to Travel Long-Term

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This van dwelling story is a guest post by Mat and Danielle – share yours here!

We’re Mat and Danielle – two Canadian, minimalist nomads who are exploring long-term travelling, house sitting, and living/working in our 2002, Ford E-150 conversion van. We’re sharing our ongoing lifestyle experiments on YouTube and on our blog: Exploring Alternatives.

We started travelling 2.5 years ago after selling our house and quitting our jobs. We travelled to Costa Rica, California, Australia and Thailand for almost a year, using our savings and the money we made from the sale of our house. Then we secured online work that allowed us to keep moving for another year, so we travelled to Iceland, Germany, Spain and the United States.

We officially moved into the van several months ago and are travelling across Canada. We’re working in cities/towns during the week, and camping/hiking on the weekends. We stealth camp, sleep in Walmart parking lots, park in the driveways of friends and family, and camp in provincial parks.

Couple Decide to Live Adventurous Van Dwelling Life

Exploring Alternatives - Van Life 1

Images © ExploringAlternatives.ca

Exploring Alternatives - Van Life 2 Exploring Alternatives - Van Life 3 Exploring Alternatives - Van Life 4

We’ve installed a 300 watt solar system to power our laptops so that we can work in the van, and we made our own curtains, drop leaf table, and soft storage to make living in the van more comfortable.

Exploring Alternatives - Van Life 5 Exploring Alternatives - Van Life 6

Images © ExploringAlternatives.ca

Video: Nomadic Couple Living/Traveling in Converted Van Full Time

We try to keep our lifestyle and van setup as simple as possible, and so far it’s going better than we could have hoped!

Learn more: http://www.exploringalternatives.ca/


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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Matt
    August 10, 2015, 7:59 pm

    Oh the E-150….takes me back to my band days lol

  • Ruth Ruddock
    August 10, 2015, 8:28 pm

    You guys are awesome in how you are doing this! Really have enjoyed seeing this video today. Wondering if you are in the US right now?
    We are going on a trip to my homestate (Wisconsin) and will need someone to housesit for us…includes taking care of our cat, Izzie…is it possible that you would be in the upper western corner of Nebraska in the coming month? Just a thought.
    Best to you!
    Ruth and Gary

  • Ruth Ruddock
    August 10, 2015, 8:31 pm

    Forgot to check the boxes so that we can get comments by email.

  • alice h
    August 11, 2015, 1:14 pm

    Looks like a pretty comfy setup. The only things I’d have trouble with are the toilet and the kitchen, both easy to do differently if you so wish. They make it work just the way they like so it’s perfect. I’ve spotted the odd person stealth camping in my neighbourhood but as long as they’re behaving responsibly there’s no problem. They usually behave better than some of the regular residents.

  • Mame
    August 12, 2015, 12:56 am

    I have so enjoyed your video and do envy your chosen lifestyle, only achievable because of your outlook and ability to focus your energies toward what is important to you. Not sure I could do it now, as I’m into retirement — which is crazy because it’s when people have time and less ties but, alas, aging is merciless 🙂 Hope you’re able to continue, and of course to enjoy, this for a very long time!

  • Linda Connell
    August 12, 2015, 9:18 am

    I loved reading this have not watched the video yet but will. My husband and I travel in our van also we sleep in there too. We do own a house need the home base for kids and grandchildren. I love it. People think we’re crazy for sleeping in our van. I say it’s better than a tent any day. Oh and we own a small a.per a d still take our van instead lol

  • Renee
    August 12, 2015, 10:34 am

    thoroughly enjoyed this video, thank you for sharing your lifestyle with us. I hope you are able to continue this as long as you can, this would be something I would love to do with my husband. I have signed up on your blog for updates, I am looking forward to hearing more about your way of life.

  • Cynthia Taylor
    August 12, 2015, 3:20 pm

    I have a 2013 Nissan Quest. I live in my van. Where can I buy the solar panel you use that bends and what else do I need for a DVD player and cell phone to charge them? I have a new Crusar potty from Amazon. It is a potty for the car and a 90 day supply of food, bottled water, batteries, a solar windup radion/flashlight, toiletries but have to go to Starbucks or the library to charge my electronic devices. What else do I need other than the solar panel to get this to work?

    Cindy Taylor

    • August 12, 2015, 7:34 pm

      Hi, check out the The Wynns (RV) videos on youtube. They offer advice on products and the like. They live in a 33′ RV and have solar panels and a natures head compost toilet. One of their videos suggested the flexible solar panels start cupping so may not be the best solar choice. You can get solar chargers for small devices. Perhaps the Public Libraries or the local Y would allow you to also charge your devices. I know some people join a cheap gym (like $10/month) to take showers and such. namaste’, rachel

      • Comet
        August 12, 2015, 8:37 pm

        There are quite a few posts on INSTRUCTABLES on how to do the solar panels and other energy alternatives; one good feature of that site is when you find something to look at there are similar posts displayed on the right hand side of the page for you to go see.

        There are also several good RV sites that have LOTS of info on how to’s and where to’s –I think one is called Frugal RV?

        Google is your friend!

  • August 12, 2015, 6:51 pm

    I’ve seen this couple’s video before, but here I am, watching it again. It’s a nice peek into the mobile life. I find myself often wishing I too had a friend/partner to share adventures with, but for now I’m alone with my critters to keep me company. We’ll cram into my Tiny truck home and hit the road soon.
    I hope I find as much joy in my travels as these two have. 🙂

  • Rev Buck
    August 12, 2015, 6:52 pm

    Permanent Traveler here. So often, I hear older folks telling me they wish they went OTR decades sooner. Just go!

  • Maureen
    August 12, 2015, 8:55 pm

    Thanks for all the details:). I get it about how you handle # 1. How do you handle #2?

  • Peter Piper
    August 12, 2015, 9:56 pm

    I can see how you might want to travel all the time in a van if you had a serious accident in which people died. So sad. I would probably not be able to drive again in my life.

  • Julie J
    August 13, 2015, 11:04 am

    I am so jealous. I would kill to be able to do something like they are doing. Unfortunately, I have had four spine surgeries, and have a one hundred pound Service Animal. It would be way too crowded for the two of us. I also sleep on a special bed that needs more room than a van could provide. I have had the wandering spirit of a Gypsy since I was a kid. Good luck on your fantastic life journey. My heart will be with you every single mile. Please keep us updated.

  • John Mauldin
    August 13, 2015, 1:37 pm

    I recall very vividly the many trips I made in a dodge van that looks like yours. 19 miles a gallon with a 318 c.i. engine pulling a 20′ travel trailer that I bought for less than half a year after the person bought the trailer new. The trailer leaked at every corner and in between in the least rainstorm. By comparison, the dodge van ran and ran and never failed us. Consequently, we often spent most of our time in the van and only used the trailer to cook in or sleep. Thanks for the memories! Enjoy your lifestyle and don’t let anyone try to persuade you to change. John M. / http:// TrailerSupply.com

  • October 21, 2015, 8:27 pm

    I am greatly interested in this type of living. “off grid” Not sure which way is the best way yet, whether it be rv or tiny home, but truly looking forward to viewing my options very soon. I just wish my husband was still alive to live it with my son & me. He would have loved this!!

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