Adventures in Wanderlust: Meet Jess and Mike @van.there December 27 2017, 0 Comments

Meet Jess and Mike, a newly married couple who made it a goal to simplify their lives and fill it with adventure. In April 2017, they embarked on a nomadic lifestyle in a self-converted 2013 Mercedes Sprinter van and started living their day dream!

Mike is an architect turned artist drawn to inspiring places. He sketches everyday, chronicling the places they explore. His artwork is available through his websiteInstagram and Etsy shopJess is a scientist who got frustrated with the lack of communication and outreach in medical research and now works as a consultant to help translate technical information for public consumption. 

Check out their interview below sharing their inspiration for the journey and their experience on the road. You can follow Jess and Matt as the document their adventure on Instagram @van.there.

Tell us a bit about your adventure…

We are a newly married couple who made it a goal to simplify our life and fill it with adventure, embarking on a nomadic lifestyle in a self-converted sprinter camper van before our first wedding anniversary. In April 2017, we hit the road and haven’t looked back.

As of December 2017, we have driven through 41 states (and parts of Canada), reaching all four corners of the U.S.. A big part of van life for us is about being present in the moment and trying not to plan out every next step, but we hope to complete 49 states by next Summer after our trip to Alaska.

What inspired or prompted it…

The decision to embark on an unconventional life does not come without fear and uncertainty. In the summer of 2016, we went backpacking in Grand Teton National Park and noticed a converted Sprinter van for sale on the side of the road. It was fully decked out with racks, off-road tires and looked amazing, but the asking price was way outside our budget. However, it sparked an idea inside of us that maybe we could buy a van, convert it ourselves and live in it for a fraction of what our mortgage was at the time. Throughout the 7-day hike, we kept talking about how we could make simple living work for us. When we got back to Baltimore we started researching vans and two months later we purchased a 2013 Mercedes Sprinter and got started building.

What were you most looking forward to as you worked towards starting this adventure…

The most appealing aspect of this lifestyle is the ability to break away from normal routines and find an adventure in the everyday. As we were finishing our van build, we were looking forward to traveling the U.S., exploring national parks, and the freedom to work on our own schedule.

How did your friends and family react as you announced this journey…

While some people were concerned about us taking a break from our careers, most people said, “I wish I could do something like that! Good for you guys!” With all the adventures we’d packed into every weekend before vanlife, it didn’t come as much of a surprise to people that we’d embark on such an alternative lifestyle.

Have you made any significant life changes to start/accommodate your adventure…

Significant changes we made in our life included quitting our jobs, minimizing our possessions, starting a small business.

What has been your favorite moment of your journey so far…

In August, we traveled to Wyoming and parked the van alongside a beautiful lake for a week before the total solar eclipse. The entire week and the eclipse itself was an incredible experience and one that we never would have had the opportunity if we were not living a nomadic life.

What have you learned so far on this journey…

First and foremost, we have learned a lot about each other and the many challenges of living in a small space with a partner. Not only living in a small space, but being together 24 hours a day adds new challenges to creating a successful marriage. Secondly, we have had a crash course on batteries and battery technology as we slowly tailored our electrical and solar system to fit our exact needs.

What advice would you give to someone with a similar goal or dream…

Plain and simple, we tell people to go do it. If living the vanlife seems appealing there really isn’t much standing in your way.  

Where are you off to next?

We will be traveling west along the U.S. and Mexican border to stay warm in January before hitting the mountains for some snow in February.