Van Life Q&A
You asked, I answered.
Hi, I'm Jane. I like long walks on the beach, good whiskey, better conversation and soft pillows. And vans. I've been living in a van full time since November 2015 and boy do you guys have a lot of questions about it. I've done this a few times in the past, but you always come up with more in the Q&A's so let's do it again. Thank you for your inquiries! I'm giving you fully honest answers here, some of which you might find surprising, but this is my life; I'm not going to butter it up at all. Being the most frequently asked question lately, let's start with income...
"How do you make money on the road?" "What exactly do you do?" Once I was asked, "How do you survive?"
Interesting question...like, how do I survive in life? Or just in a van, in life? Anyway, my answer to that realm of wonder...
1) I run a blog and online shop...this one, actually. Yes, I make money off the website. No, I do not make a living off the website. I hope to get there someday. Rock Meets Soil has become a passion project for me, an ongoing one at that, which continues to grow and evolve more every day into something that I am helpless to slow down. It's widening the circle of inspiration and has been spreading a lot of love out there, which is why I continue to give it so much of my time and energy...mostly for free. I actually get high on life (or love) after reading some of the responses you guys send me after a certain story is shared or something goes up on the blog; it's an addiction. You guys rock. I'm going on a tangent, back to the point. The shop is continuously growing and I have a lot of ideas for it, but it's still in its adolescence. I do make a small amount of money on writing, and hope to manifest more of this in my life, but right now it's minimal. So honest answer, I'm not making a profit off the website...yet. It has monetary potential in the future, but for now it's basically just my brain child of a project that has become a serious passion of mine, which is incredibly fulfilling so I'm going to keep doing it.
2) For the last four years I have been the production coffee roaster for Bonfire Coffee in Carbondale, Colorado. Yes, I said I have lived in a van full time for almost two years. No, I don't travel full time in said van. That's what I am working toward being able to do. But I have a real (part time) job that I do love, and when I am not traveling I am home in Carbondale roasting coffee, living in the van. With the act of roasting being a one-man job, my boss and I are able to take time off as we please, as long as one of us is around to roast the beans. This has allowed me to take multiple extended trips in the van over the last 22 months. And same for my boss; he's a badass and loves outdoor activities and getting out there as much as I do. We are both grateful for this flexibility.
3) Recently I have taken on another part time job at a local brewery to make some easy, extra cash. This is always a tough one for me because a primary reason that I continue to live in a van is for my freedom of time, in not having to work full time. But then sometimes I get an idea in my head, aka a travel plan, and it's all I can think about; so I took up one or two days a week at the brewery to plump up the bank account for a couple of months while I plan/save for my Winter trip.
That is how I survive. Or at least how I make money. It's not the most glamorous story and I don't make a lot of money. Everyone's story that chooses to live a different lifestyle is just that, different. Each person or couple has their own way of doing it. When I win the lottery I'll be in a different town every two weeks for the rest of my life. But I guess I have to buy lottery tickets for that to happen.
"How do you afford food, gas, repairs, etc?"
I think that previous answer mostly covered this. Repairs can be an unexpected expense sometimes, especially with older vans, so it's good to have some back-up in your bank account or credit or something. I can put all of my good energy into Teeg on the road, but sometimes shit just happens.
"R u taking applications for people to travel with you?"
Hah..no, I'm sorry. I am not taking applications. But if you are in your own van or other mobile home and our paths cross we can definitely caravan.
"What was your process when deciding what van to buy? How did you then go about starting to kit it out?"
When you don't have a ton of money to buy whatever you want on the market, you kinda have to go with whatever the universe puts in your path..and your price range. I wasn't technically looking for a van at the time I found Teeg as I was living in a different van with my ex partner. But then I found her behind a fence with a handwritten For Sale sign in a tinted window, and then the price dropped, and then I drove off with the keys to her on my birthday three days later. I guess I've been good lately and the universe decided to put something in my path and my price range. A month later my partner and I ended things and shit man, it's crazy how things work out sometimes; I had my own van to move into after that. Teeg was converted into the Tiger camper that she is sometime in the 90's and being in such great shape, I hardly had to do anything as far as the build-out goes. So I apologize..that probably wasn't the answer you were looking for, but that's how the story goes.
"If you had to move into a more conventional home tomorrow, what aspect of your van life would you absolutely miss the most?"
Ahh..good question. That's not going to happen, BUT if it did, I think the mobility of my entire home and life is what I would miss the most. Occasionally I get short house-sitting gigs and I was tempted to say the simplicity of life in the van because I get so distracted in a house, but when I'm house-sitting I find myself forgetting things at the house or wishing I had brought a jacket or had my entire kitchen with me or the electrical tape or the lake floaties or the...feel me? There are a million aspects of van life that I love, but the fact that everything I own and need is always right behind me is probably what I would miss the most if I was forced to move into a house tomorrow.
"How do you NOT buy all the cool stuff when traveling (textiles/art/etc)?"
Another very good question. I do hah, just not ALL of it I suppose. I only buy small trinkets and mementos and they have to be relatively cheap. And when you get to maximum capacity on wall space/clothing storage/etc, you must begin replacing one thing with another. That's how I am with clothing; anything I buy must replace something I already have. It's a great habit to get into in general.
"Where do you park the van?"
I'm taking this out of an interview I did recently...
Parking is somewhat of a game, especially on the road. One of the most important parts of van life for me is not being a burden to others or breaking rules or overstaying a welcome. I choose to live in a van for the simplicity of life; I don’t want to be mooching off friends or staying parked in the same place for the maximum amount of time. My van is my vehicle and home, so I am constantly on the move. Without giving away too many secrets, parking can vary between campgrounds and BLM land or down a dirt road with a pretty view, residential streets that already have campers, boats or other toys parked on them, a friend’s place, the back-up WalMart parking lot or other extended stay parking lot, or any quiet street by a park without parking restrictions or signs. I never stay anywhere more than one night. The answer to this question varies whether I am in Carbondale or on the road.
"If cost weren't an issue, what would be the thing you'd change to make your van life easier?"
4x4 no doubt. I would raise Teeg up and lift her a bit and put some sweet tires on her and make her 4WD. And add some engine power. The ultimate home on wheels for me would allow to me to go wherever the hell I want with my home.
"Where do you shower?"
Also taking this from a recent interview...
On the road: Campgrounds, hot springs, truck stop restrooms/showers (which are usually really nice), friends’ or family’s homes, good ol’ river dip, makeshift bucket shower, rec centers or gyms. You just have to get creative. Being one of the most asked questions about van life, it’s really not that hard to find a shower.
At home in Colorado: Either getting a hot springs pass, rec center pass, or trading friends good beer or dinner for a shower. I also get house-sitting gigs every now and then, which grant me the opportunity to deep clean myself and my van.
"I am obsessed with your set-up! Can I buy it off you?"
Thank you, but no. No you cannot buy Teeg. Teeg and I are soul mates, but I have full faith that you can find a van soul mate too if you put out the right energy.
"What's your least favorite thing about living in the van?"
I can't grow a garden.
"What was the inspiration to move into a van full time?"
My ex partner was my inspiration. After spending all of my early 20's constantly moving around, never staying in the same place for more than six months, I can't believe I never thought to buy a damn van to live out of. I would have saved so much money. But when I started dating my ex, he began talking about getting a camper van to travel in and possibly live out of. Two years, four vans, thousands of clocked miles and 22 months later, van life is just life now.
"How much clothing do you have?"
Compared to a closet in a bedroom, not very much. Compared to my previous van, sharing the space with a partner, a lot more now. I converted the bathroom in Teeg to a hanging closet and storage space, and then I have two small cabinets dedicated to pants, sweaters, shorts and tanks/hiking stuff. And a small bin of socks and undies. Shoes are in a weird, tall, skinny cupboard thing.
"Do you believe in extra-terrestrail life beyond Earth?"
Yes, yes I do.
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