In the summer of 2011, I was supposed to go on a vacation with my fiancé to a trailer park in Croatia. After driving for about half an hour, we got the news that someone else would be in the trailer with us. Disappointed, we decided to go home, pack a tent and some camping equipment and go on a road trip.
We drove down the entire Croatian coastline from Zadar to Dubrovnik. On our way back to Slovenia, we explored the National Park Krka and Plitvice Lakes. We stayed in a different campground every night. Sometimes we slept in the car.
It was one of the best vacations we ever had. From then on, it was the only way we traveled. We road-tripped in our car around Italy, Austria, Bosnia, Eastern Canada, most of Ontario, and half of Manitoba.
Imagine if we had a van back then.
I can't remember how or when I first heard about van life, but I know for sure I was hooked from that first photo I saw on Instagram. Converting a vehicle into a tiny home on wheels sounded like the best possible lifestyle. So I followed everyone I could find online that lived in a van. We kept sending awesome rig photos to each other and dreaming about us living in a van one day.
However, that was right after we moved to Canada on a 1-year working visa. We had some savings, but we used them to settle in the new country. As temporary residents, we weren't eligible for a loan and worked minimum-wage jobs. We were broke and far away from the van life dream.
Fast forward to January 2020. For the first time, they extended our visa for two years instead of one. The opportunity finally came, and we took it. We still had no savings and were not able to get a loan. But we found a dealer in Toronto that let us finance the van. By March, we had a Promaster parked in our backyard.
As soon as we got the van, we terminated our lease. We had five weeks to convert the van into a home on wheels. In the first 10-days, we finished the floor and insulation. Then the pandemic hit, and we went into lockdown on March 17th. We couldn't go to the stores anymore to buy materials. Everything had to be ordered online, and it took days for delivery.
April 30th was the deadline. We ran out of time. The build wasn't finished yet, but we had no other choice. We packed all our things, filled up the van and a car we still owned, and drove to the nearest park where we slept that first night.
In the past two and a half years of living in a van, we finished the build, found mold, tore everything out, and built it again. We almost got stuck on the road twice and paid over 10k in repairs. So far, our van life journey has been far from cheap or easy, but we love it and can't imagine returning to a 'stationary' home anytime soon.
We live in the city and hardly ever travel. I create van life content for my website, Youtube channel, Instagram, and Tik Tok, and Gasper has a full-time job that covers our expenses. We live regular lives in the city with jobs, activities, and entertainment.
But our house is on wheels, we shower at the gym, sleep in a different part of the city every night, wash our clothes at a laundromat, and escape into nature every chance we get.
The city van life.