I never set out to live in a van by myself.
But on the last day of October 2017 that became my reality.
All you fierce women out there, who love exploring but feel you need a partner to live out your dream, I’m here to show you differently. My words may touch you but I want you to look at my actions more. I am full-time living in a Mercedes Sprinter and I don’t have one feeling of fear or desire to stop.
I fought a year and a half to build and live in a van. I found #VanLife on Instagram early 2016 and spent most days fixated on how my van would look. Would I buy a new or used van? Do I want a platform or versatile bed? What is my design theme?
My version of #VanLife is better than I could have imagined. That is typically how life goes when you take risks.
I meet more men than ever before. Ladies, if you need help with dating, buy a van! Guys walk by and stop, asking to look inside the van every day (no exaggeration). They ask a dozen questions, not really listening to the answer, then like clock-work, I’ll get an Instagram message asking to hang out! *hoping you laugh*
I’ve also discovered: I can do anything a couple can do. Women have a way of getting what they want and not taking “no” for an answer. Right ladies!? Raise your hand if you’re with me!
If I must troubleshoot a problem, I ask a lot of questions. An annoying amount of questions. I call friends and go to two businesses to get opinions.
For example, my Sprinter pulled to the right. I went to an alignment shop and paid for an alignment. The shop foreman told me, my cantor alignment (there are three types of alignment: cantor, castor and tow) was off. The alignment shop said there is no fix. I called my friend Josh, @gratefulpursuit on Instagram, because he is a car and van genius. Then scheduled an appointment with the local Mercedes dealership. My van has less than 26,000 miles and isn’t a year old (at the time of writing this article). The Mercedes dealership fixed the pull.
Around the same time, my batteries started draining rapidly. I would drive for the alternator to recharge them, but the batteries were not holding a charge. I went to O’Riley Auto Parts and asked for the employee with the most battery knowledge. The voltage meter showed one battery was bad. The next day, I visited the store of purchase. The employee said his test showed the battery wasn’t weak. I demanded they take out the batteries, charge them seven hours, and put a load on the set. They were reluctant because that would be “a lot of work”. Turns out- the batteries failed the test and had to be replaced.
Look at the vast knowledge I now have as a result of both situations!
The question I am asked most often is, “where do you park in the city?” I will never tell you cross streets nor communities where I overnight park. One- for my own safety. Two- part of #VanLife is finding your own way. You must learn what towns fit you best. Three- I won’t ruin a neighborhood by blasting a location. Although, it would be fun to start a #SprinterCity!
Let me preface with this: you may prefer a well-lit parking lot over a city street… because you don’t run the risk of getting woken up by law enforcement. #VanLife is trial and error. Finding what you feel comfortable with.
I am a Salty Sun Hippie so I gravitate towards the ocean. I seek out higher-income beach neighborhoods. I find a quiet and most importantly LEVEL neighborhood street where residents park parallel. I try to blend in by parking in the midst of other vehicles. I park about 8:00 p.m. and leave before 7:00 a.m. I talked to a law enforcement friend about this theory- blending in, in the middle of a nice neighborhood- he agreed.
Most importantly, to live the single #VanLife, you must be confident in yourself and in your decision. I choose this. I don’t doubt myself. I never doubted myself. That would be killing my dream.
This article was written by Liz Bryant. You can check out her Instagram at @wildbythemile
If you’re a van lifer interested in writing an article for Outbound Living, visit our Become a Contributor page.