Van Life Ladies - Part 2
Updated: May 22, 2021
Check out these fab five Van Life Ladies who left the house but kept their spouse or kids in tow as they hit the open road.
Sharing space can be tough with the best of friends, families, or partners. SQueeze everyone into a tiny house on the road, and you potentially have a whole new set of problems or adventures at hand. We checked in with these five fab women to see how they manage work, life balance, boundaries, and relationships on the road.
Kara & Nate
Kara and Nate are adorable high school sweethearts from Nashville, Tennessee. They have been traveling internationally for over four years. As newlyweds in 2016, they embarked on a trip to Tokyo. They planned to travel the world for a year before returning home to Tennessee to settle down. They were bit by the travel bug -- and the rest is sky miles history.
Before the switch to van life, Kara and Nate had reached their goal as they had traveled to over 100 countries, including Mexico, Switzerland, and India. The two achieved that goal moments before the global shut down.
After being holed up in an expansive AirBnB in Tennessee for months, they hatched a plan to hit the road in a van. They bought the new ride in July. Their converted sprinter van also happens to be the first car/house they own as a married couple!
With international travel on hold, the ever-charming couple visited several states since buying their van, including Oregon, Kansas, and Colorado. Nate got on two wheels with a mate and tackled the intrepid Colorado trail. Kara operated the van on her own, meeting up with Nate at the end of the track.
With nearly 1.9 million followers on YouTube, the road has served them well. Their following has grown since van life, as they are always shaking up their adventures, approach, and content.
Last week, they tried out other tiny house alternatives, including a houseboat in Seattle and a renovated bus in Olympia, Washington. You can follow Kara and Nate on their YouTube, Instagram, and blog.
Bianca and Carter, Off the Grid with a Kid
Bianca, of "Off the Grid with a Kid," is a single mom to Carter, her eleven-year-old son. She is also a life coach, public speaker, and teacher to her son, who is homeschooled -- all from their van!
Bianca and Carter live in a 1989 Ford Econoline and have been on the road since 2017. In the past three years, they have traveled to the United States, visiting National Parks, campsites, and festivals throughout the country.
Bianca lays out three core values for her and Carter's lifestyle on her blog: learn, engage, and give back. These values entail learning about the people and places they visit, engaging with those communities, and making positive social changes. Biana states that their van is "a symbol of our freedom and service in various communities."
Her transition to van life began after returning from overseas stays in Thailand, France, and Africa. She realized that while she and Carter had had adventures in foreign countries, they had never explored their home country. This notion, combined with the financial benefits of living on the road, is what motivated Bianca to choose Van Life -- or as she calls it, a "Lifecation."
She found her van on RVTrader.com. After messaging the seller, researching the van, flying from St. Louis, Missouri, to Buffalo, New York, and only getting a ten-minute tour of the van -- she knew this was the perfect home for her and Carter.
On the blog, Bianca outlines her experiences in homeschooling, working, and teaching on the road. Each blog post is a helpful resource for anyone (primarily single moms) looking to transition to van life, homeschool their kids, or travel the country. You can follow Bianca on her blog, Off the Grid with a Kid or her Instagram.
Naomi and Dustin of Irie to Aurora
Naomi and Dustin have been living on the road in their Volkswagen Westy since 2016. Aurora, a spunky German Shepherd, joined them in 2019. Their journey started in New Orleans to travel to Alaska and back, visiting every National Park along the way. A few months into the adventure, Dustin and Naomi realized how liberating van life is and kept going.
Before van life, Naomi worked as an environmental biologist, and Dustin worked as a construction manager. Since converting to the van life, both Naomi and Dustin have switched careers to what they call "Digital Nomadism."
They define a digital nomad as "an individual who uses technology to earn an income while traveling." While this definition encompasses a wide range of careers and lifestyles, Naomi and Dustin provide a handy guide to digital nomadism on their blog and explain how nearly anyone can become a digital nomad by applying their skills and interests online.
Earning an income online/on the road has become increasingly popular in the last decade, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Naomi and Dustin provide resources like a sample budget and job sites for remote work and freelance jobs. They have also created guides to marketing yourself online, earning a primary and secondary income, and starting your business on the road.
There is certainly a lot to consider when thinking about the transition to living and working on the road, but Naomi and Dustin's blog lays out the steps to help you, too, can become a digital nomad! Even if you aren't considering moving to a van full time, their resources benefit anyone looking to expand their online presence, start freelance work, or work remotely.
You can follow Naomi and Dustin on their blog, Irie to Aurora, on Instagram at @IrieToAurora and @Diversify.VanLife, or on their podcast, Diversify Vanlife.
Kristen and Siya of Hopscotch the Globe
Kristen and Siya are parents to Kai, their baby girl, and Atlas, their adopted mixed breed puppy. Kristen started the blog "Hopscotch the Globe" in 2010 when she began what was supposed to be a ten-month-long international trip. Ten years later, she has started a family with Siya, and the two haven't stopped traveling since.
The Hopscotch the Globe blog features van life travel guides, must-see destinations, and national and international travel tips with a baby and dog. Their six-step guide to planning your van life adventure breaks each element into bite-sized pieces and makes the planning process much more manageable, whether you are traveling by yourself, with your family, or with your furry friends.
Kristen and Siya have created a welcoming and inclusive online community through their blog, social media, and Facebook group! Their Facebook group, Hopscotch the Globe Community, is a place for "travelers looking to get advice and support, share tips, suggestions and connect."
While van life with or without travel companions may seem isolating, this Facebook group is an example of how van life communities form online. Kristen and Siya emphasize that these online connections often grow into in-person meetups and interactions.
The Hopscotch the Globe blog features personal accounts of Kristen and Siya's adventures, and their YouTube channel features vibrant vlogs from their travels to Malta, Ecuador, Iceland, and more. You can follow Kristen and Siya's blog at Hopscotch the Globe, Youtube at Hopscotch the Globe, and Instagram at @HopscotchTheGlobe.
Birk Haaland of The Minimalist Plan
Birk Haaland is an electrician, van builder, and van lifer from Norway who explores the world with his partner, Sara Teigen, in their custom-made van. Their van is a 2007 Volkswagen Crafter, and the two have been on the road for nearly five years now.
Birk's story with van life begins in 2015 when he quit his job in the oil industry to pursue something with more financial, entrepreneurial, and physical freedom. He remodeled his first van, a 2011 Ford Transit, and loved van building's creative aspects. While he used this first van for personal living and travel, he started branching out and took motorhome building classes to gain more experience with van builds.
As word spread about Birk's talent for van builds, the Norwegian rental company @Cabin_Campers reached out to him about remodeling vans for the company. This project sealed the deal for his business in van building and remodeling, and he now remodels vans professionally. Birk has now rebuilt nearly 25 vans for living and travel.
His website features a Motorhome Construction course for individuals hoping to remodel their vehicles. The course takes you step by step through the processes of buying your vehicle, installing proper insulation and electricity, utilizing space for kitchens and beds, and more!
You can find even more information about van builds, layouts, and remodels on his YouTube channel, The Minimalist Plan. He showcases other travelers' van layouts on his Youtube channel and explains how to build different styles of beds, ovens, and storage in your van.
To read about van builds, see photos from Birk and Sara's surfing adventures, and get inspiration for your van travels, you can follow the two at his website, YouTube channel The Minimalist Plan, and Instagram @The_Minimalist_Plan.
Written by Julia Bodolay