Couple Quit their Jobs to VAN LIFE from Alaska To Patagonia


I’m Dylan. I’m Tess. And this is our 1975
Volkswagen Rita. Well our first introduction to sort of
van dwelling was I had an old pickup with a camper shell just put a bed frame back
there and would do weekend trips around Alaska. From that spawned the idea to actually
get a real van that had a stove and everything in it for full time van living. After a summer of a lot of road trips and living out of the truck we thought
we wanted some more long-term travel. I was teaching full-time and Dylan was
working in an office job and we ran into a buddy who told us about this Caravan
trip down to Brazil for the World Cup in 2014. We were like, “that sounds pretty rad”,
so then that kind of morphed into, “let’s do a long term road trip” because we knew we liked that kind of travel together. We decided on the vehicle first which is
the Volkswagen Van, the classic bus. Once we found one for five hundred bucks
which was the only one for sale in Alaska. We bought it, towed it back to our
place in Anchorage, and just began working on it and thought we’d be on the
road in about two months. Took the cabinets out, realized that the whole
entire thing was rusted out, completely. We could have Flintstoned our way to South America. So
decided to weld new panels all around re-paint the whole thing and then re-power
it with a Subaru motor. About a year later like ten months
behind schedule we quit our jobs and then kind of just hit the road in February of 2015. This is Rita our 1975 Volkswagen bus
Westfalia. She’s in the Christmas spirit right now. This is our refrigerator. It’s a Engel compressor
fridge. Behind it we kind of use that for storage for some flat stuff like a grill
for the fire and saw store our outdoor table here. We have a big suburban propane furnace that
blasts heat out of it right here so we have to put like a metal plate against the
fridge but this whole area just a ton of heat comes out. Then we have a dual burner
stove. Our cabinets are just two main storage areas so we have like coffee and
tea and pots and pans utensils and then dry food storage. Five gallon water system with a little water pump up here. All of our toiletries are down in here. Here
we have the battery monitor for our auxiliary battery. We have two 100 watt
Renergy panels. The top panel comes on a, we have it on a hinge like that, so we
can face it towards the Evening Sun if we need to. We just have a little foam
barrier and then we have a second panel. This one’s on a thirty foot extension so
we can park in the shade and then put this in the Sun and when we were down in
Central America it was definitely utilized. We tried to park in the shade as much as
we could and throw the panel in the Sun and be set. Under here we have our safe
where we can keep our two laptops or cameras and all our lenses and this
folds out into a bed as well so we have two bed spaces. Upstairs and downstairs. So
this is the upstairs, our little nest. Yeah this is where we sleep most nights. It’s
like canvas material on the outside and we have windows on either side just kind
of gives us like a bird eye view of all around and we’re using like a three and
a half inch memory foam. It’s just on top of plywood but it seems to be pretty
comfortable. So since we have a Subaru motor we adapted a tablet to connect to
our engine so we can read all our sensors from our engines so we know
what’s going on with the engine at all times and to read any trouble codes or
anything like that. Bigger heater that runs off the Subaru
motor too. These old Volkswagens didn’t actually come with the heater and we
added some storage compartments underneath full of our sunglasses and stuff
that would normally just sit on your dash and clutter it up. We have our
propane tank attached underneath. Originally it came inside the bus. This is a
custom bumper and rack mount. We have a bike attachment that comes off here if
you wanted to have bikes and it just swings out. Pretty nice to have this open
because I use it as like a tool tray if I’m working on the engine. There’s the
Subaru motor then up top we have a locking surfboard rack that we can put
kayaks or anything really up there. It’s just on these metal strands so it holds
quite a bit so right now we have four surfboards. In the storage box we have
gosh, everything, yeah everything. It’s like a Mary Poppins bag it just keeps coming.
We have a few wetsuits, tent, sleeping bags, back packing backpacks. So it adds a
little bit of weight to the pop top but we added these assist shocks so these help push
the top up. It still it takes two of us but it’s not nearly as hard. I think we both just saw the
trajectory kind of of our lives of like “alright we’re in it and we’re in the
grind and we’ll be in this until we retire more or less”, and wanted to do
some sort of long-term travel or something to just kind of shake it up
before we set back into that so I know for me I’m looking forward to going back
and teaching. I think for Dylan this will definitely kind of change his direction
career-wise when we go back. We feel really fortunate that we decided to do
this trip before we got too stuck in you know with the mortgage and grown-up
stuff like that because we’ve just met such amazing people on the road and so
many people that are living really alternative lifestyles. When we head back
our life will probably look a little bit different than it would have before the
trip. It’s really, really changed how we want to live. I think the advice I would
give to people that want to do some van dwelling or long-term travel is just to
commit to do it. I think a lot of people really stress out about all of the
details and want so much lined up and structured ahead of time and the first mile
is the hardest. Once you get on the road everything will, it will fall into place.
Don’t be afraid to like quit your job and change your life. I think a lot of
people are in that spot where they think this lifestyle is so crazy and just out
of reach and it’s really not. It’s not that expensive. You can just transform your
life completely and change your perspective on on the world really if
you’d like to just don’t be afraid to leave the rat-race. Van life isn’t for
everyone but I think our generation there’s a big move of people that are
kinda saying screw it to the nine-to-five like I want to make a life that works
for me. A lot of people on the trip that we’ve run into are like, “oh I’m so
envious”, “oh I wish I could do that” and that’s I think the thing that it’s like
we’re two like totally normal people, you can do it. Anyone can do it if you if you want to. Do you want me to name them off? Alaska, Canada, USA, Mexico, Belize Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua,
Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru Bolivia, Chile, Argentina. Nice. I hope you enjoyed that video. Subscribe if you want to see more videos like that.
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I’ll see you guys next time. I’m in the desert by the way.

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