Inspirational Travel Van Life

A Letter to Myself Made me Decide to Live in a Van

To move into a van is to give up space, comforts, and solid ground. I assume people choose this life for many reasons, and I can’t speak for everyone, but for me it’s simple.

I recently moved “home” after quitting my job in NYC and spending 2 months backpacking around Asia. That trip was such a satisfying and reassuring time for me, because I remembered why I love traveling, why I’m a nomad at heart, and that my passions are too strong to ignore.

My life has never really been conventional, but moving to NYC was my big attempt at “settling down.” It clearly didn’t work.

I adore Manhattan and all it offers, BUT…

I need to be close to nature, near hiking trails that lead to waterfalls, near mountains with climbable cliffs, under a night sky with visible star constellations, I need time and inspiration to write, amongst wildlife and landscapes to photograph, and most importantly I need freedom and I crave simplicity.

So I’ve spent the last month and a half knowing those things, but not knowing how to proceed. I kept hearing a voice telling me “you have to be responsible, go back to NYC, look for another job, and get back into the grind.”

Then I found the letter that made me realize I don’t have to.

I was going through old boxes that were in storage when I saw an envelope addressed to myself from myself.

I opened it up and found a letter that I wrote when I was 17-years-old, to be opened by future me. I won’t tell you everything in the letter because it’s deeply personal at parts, but I will tell you the conclusion.

In the future, I hope to be well traveled, independent, and preferably in love.  With any luck, I won’t be living in the U.S. or at least not in the Arizona suburbs. I don’t care how much money I have as long as I’m writing. I hope to make a documentary and finish writing at least one of the books I’ve begun. Life is unpredictable, and inevtiably the longest thing we’ll ever know. I hope I’m always happy, original, and surrounded by people of the same nature.

P.S. I hope the ups are worth the downs.

Sincerely,

Anna”

I thought about what I want out of my life, what my short and long-term goals are, and then I re-read the letter.

I folded it back up and sealed the deal. I decided to take the plunge, pursue my passions, and live the nomad life in a van full-time solo as a female.

After five years of exploring foreign countries and cultures with just a backpack, it’s time to explore my own country. What better way to do that, then to bring all my possessions and mode of transportation with me?

Living in a van means I am free to go anywhere (that has an accessible road), to wander as I please, to create my own schedule, to have unlimited time to do the things I love, and it means I never have to stress about accommodation.

Of course there are logistics to consider.

So I thought about my living space in New York City, where my room was 12 x 6 feet.

Then I considered how many possessions I truly need and care about. That was easy since I’ve spent a lot of time backpacking over the years and I am more than capable of fitting my life into a backpack.

Then I considered finances. I am currently bartending at a quaint restaurant in a small mountain town to replenish my bank account. When that runs out, there is always WWOOFing (where you work on a farm and learn agricultural skills for free room and board). Beyond that, I am going to do my best to try to monetize my blog.

I don’t have it all figured it out, and I could fail miserably, but I don’t see why that should stop me, because it will make one heck of a failure story.

Luckily I also have an extremely adventurous and supportive mom. So once I decided I wanted to live and travel solo in a van, she was eager to help out and donate her time and labor!

This goal finally started to become a reality two weeks ago, when my mom and I went out in search of my first house. We looked at and test drove various makes, models, and qualities of vans, until we hopped into “Casper” (a 2016 Ford Transit Cargo Van) and decided it was the one.

And then the planning began…

I started a Pinterest board called “Van Visions”  to help manage and store all my dreams and visions for Casper.

I watched countless Youtube videos of other van life people for inspiration and tips.

I started a list of necessary supplies, gathered the materials I already had, and started shopping for the rest.

So far, we’ve spent two long visits at Home Depot wandering the aisles, and built and installed the floor (post coming soon).

Converting Casper into a camper will be a long journey that I plan to work on all summer. It won’t be easy. In fact it will be a lot harder than most Youtubers make it look (as I’m already discovering). But I do think it will be worth the labor and long hours in the end.

I could not be more motivated and excited about my transition into life on the road. Maybe van life isn’t for everyone. But if a nomadic lifestyle sounds at all appealing to you, then take a closer look at your life. Chances are it’s possible if you just say yes to adventure.

I’ll be vlogging about the journey on my Youtube Channel, so be sure to subscribe.  Also, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter so you know when new posts are published.

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Anna French

Anna is an optimist with pessimistic tendencies who enjoys making a short story long, her coffee black, and watching Friends re-runs. These days you can catch her in her natural habitats wandering through forest roads in her van or hiking to a waterfall.

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