On May 14th, 2018, I bought a 1997 Chevy Gladiator for $5,000 with the goal to convert it (mostly by myself) to a nice, livable space by August for under $5,000 (no, my parents did not pay for any of it). I ended up spending $4,765.21 on the conversion and I'm now doing a little road tripping in the van for a few months... and then who knows what after that.

I had know about van life for about 1-2 years before doing this and when I first learned about it, it seemed like a terrible way to live. The first people I saw doing it just basically had a mattress in a van and like a cooler for food. But after a while I discovered people who's vans were actually really decked out and looked like nice places to live and travel in- they had insulation, walls, floors, beds that weren't directly on the floor, fridges, stoves, and all that other stuff. It was then that I really started to become interested in doing it myself. 

Since I was probably 16 at the time, I had to wait a while before actually being able to buy and convert a van so I spend months doing as much research as possible and watching hundreds of videos on van conversions and van life in general. 

My goal was to start looking for a cargo or passenger van in April and hopefully find one within the month and then have about 3 months to convert it and leave in July or early August. I didn't end up actually finding a van though until mid-May because of reasons explained here and I also wouldn't be able to leave until August because of reasons explained here.

So for about 3 months, I worked on converting the van and set out on August 15th 2018.

Some of the reasons I wanted to do van life:

  • I'm out of high school and don't know what I want to do with my life and don't want to waste money and time and stress in college trying to figure it out.

  • It's a good way to save money because I don't have to pay rent or for accommodation.

  • I do not enjoy the area that I live in and have never felt any sort of connection to it nor have I ever felt like I would live there as an adult. I don't like cold winters, there's not many like minded people in my area, there's not a whole lot to do, all that kind of stuff.

  • I think it's a great way to go out of my comfort zone and learn a lot about myself, life, people, different places in the US.

  • Like most everyone, I love traveling. And nature. I think going on road trips is kind of in my blood because my grandparents and parents have driven all over the US and Canada.

  • Intuition. I just had this feeling inside me that it's the right path to take and every other time I've listened to that feeling, it has led me in what I feel to be a good direction.

  • I could die any day so I'd rather travel while I'm younger instead of tell myself I'll do it later when I might not even be here later- or if I am I'll be all wrinkled up and have no energy.

Not a reason I want to do van life:

  • Because I'm super naive and think that it's gonna be fun fun fun 100% of the time and life is just gonna be me sitting in my bed on the beach with my back doors open watching the sunset every night like #vanlife pictures on IG.

I promise I am well aware of how difficult and uncomfortable and unfamiliar a lot of the experiences I'll have will be. While I am excited, I'm probably a lot less excited that you might think honestly. There's a lot of things that I don't think are gonna be super fun but I plan to learn how to accept the less desirable aspects of living in a van and I think they'll give me a much greater appreciation for many of the things I've previously taken for granted in life.