YOUNG WOMAN Starts Full time VAN LIFE


Hey, I’m Lisa and I’m from Austin Texas
and this is my van Free Bird. She’s a 2012 Nissan NV 2500. I found out about van life when I
started researching ways to travel around Europe that were gonna be
affordable. It’s so common in Australia and Europe for people to rent vans and
travel and I realized that people were doing it here and I saw how beautiful these
vans could be and, I just, it clicked. I found out about it on a Friday night and
by Sunday afternoon I was forcing a deposit check into a guy’s hand to buy
Free Bird. The van used to be a chicken catering van. I had a partner at the time. The two of us worked on the project for four months, finished in October of 2017. We lasted for two weeks. I decided to depart and be a solo traveler. I left in March and I’ve been doing it for six months. I started doing law. I had such a
narrow understanding of success. I just was kind of told that that was what I
was supposed to do. I started flipping houses on the side to have some sort of creative outlet and I was really just doing air streams and tiny homes, and
then when I realized that I could have a tiny home that moves, that was, that was
the end of it for me. I’d been working remotely for several years, just staying in one spot, and so once I discovered van life it was pretty easy for me to
transition into this. To me, van life is a way to connect with my creative soul. I started taking some screenwriting classes. I have a short screenplay that’s
in a film festival next month. I started saying that I was a writer and now people are paying me to be a writer. What else do I want to try to be in this
world, you know? And kind of see if I can make that happen. This is Free Bird the van. She’s a Nissan
NV 2500 high-roof. V6 engine 2012. Got these Hankook Dynamo ATM light off-road tires . I’m able to go on all the dirt roads and check out all the hot springs. One of my favorite solutions was fitting the Dometic fridge up here. Not only can you get a snack if you’re driving, you also have so much more
storage space in the rest of the van. It’s much more than I just need for one
person. It’s everything that I need and more. I’ve started to document my travels
up here right above the front seat. Postcards and notes that people have written for me on the road. A place to put them so I can remember them. I bought some sound deadening spray and that actually has really helped a lot from the outside coming in. I added this ladder for easier access to get up on the roof. I have AC unit and my WeBoost cell repeater which helps for internet. So for the first five months that I was traveling I did not have solar. If I didn’t drive every two days or so my fridge would turn off. Right before I went to Burning Man a few weeks ago a friend of mine installed solar. I have one two hundred and forty watt panel on the roof and that baby has changed everything. I miss the space on the roof a little
bit because I used to sit up there a lot and stretch, but it’s, it’s worth it. I went ahead and added these two small slider windows in the back. One more slider in the kitchen and then a fixed window in the sliding door. When you’re standing up at the kitchen cooking you can see outside. And this is just so nice
for air circulation. Didn’t want to make the windows too big because I didn’t
want to sacrifice storage space inside, so this was a pretty good balance. This is a 30 amp plug. If I have to run my AC I would need to be plugged in. And then this is also solar here so solar charger, which is really nice. Welcome to the inside of my tiny home on
wheels. This is a pretty luxurious three burner stove. I have used all three burners at once and this has been really wonderful to have. I also, to have extra counter-top space, this folds out. This is the kitchen storage I just really just
have two of everything down here. I have dedicated trash and recycling. If I want
to cook outside that’s always an option because I’ve got this little counter-top
right here. So this thing it sticks to anything and then when it gets like this
you just rinse it with water and it becomes sticky again. Perfect for holding
my plant in place. This is a pot that I made back in the day when I used to just
do some crafty stuff. Some hanger chips from friends I’ve met on the road and
things from Burning Man. It’s nice to have some mirrors in the van too. The
insulation is wool and I really wanted to do something that was going to be
very insulating but also non-toxic and chemical free. Wool is antimicrobial and
water resistant so it’s really good, it lets the van breathe. All of this wood is
from a barn outside of Austin, Texas. This is my closet and all of my clothes fit
in this space and usually I have a lot of my clothing in separate bags so that
I’m able to find what I need, but sometimes it just gets a little crazy in
there. This kind of acts as a little bit more like my office. I have a lot of
documents in here, camera gear, and then all my bedding is stuffed in this last
one here. Usually during the day I have the table set up. This back piece here
becomes a tabletop and so you can put the table here or you can put the table
back here depending on where you want to work. So these little pieces here, these
hinge pieces, I have this because benches are really comfortable when they’re at about a 15 degree angle, so it may seem like a small little thing
there, but it actually makes a pretty big difference with comfort. The back pieces just stack up in the middle and I have these velcroed on and they actually stay in place really well. This is four inch latex, non-toxic material, and it fits pretty perfectly across and then I actually have two more little cushions that fit
right here so when I close the doors they hold this in place and I’m able to
have a queen-size bed back here. I have more storage. This is some more cushions, an electric heater that I could use if I was plugged in somewhere. It’s really
nice to have this side access for this back storage here. You can just grab
things like your yoga mat, pull it right out and not have to lift up the benches.
I have my propane tank here, some water. These are the cartridges for my toilet
and then these are extra window coverings for the front. Got my inverter
here, 800 amp battery, all my switches, control panel. My solar panel is kind of
stuck down here and I just got my sewing machines shipped here. I really like my little banana hammock. *Laughter* This is great, it’s a really good storage for fruit and, and everything. These tiles I got from my
travels outside Guanajuato in Mexico. Everyone’s gotta have a junk drawer,
right, so this is my junk drawer. This is a Laveo dry touch electric toilet. It is
the simplest, easiest way. The toilet was I want to say it was six hundred dollars
and then the cartridges are $50 for three. If you use it more sparingly, it
can last for a couple weeks. Since I have no water bill and no electric bill, paying
for toilet cartridges is not really that big of a deal. A five gallon freshwater tank. This is metal, plastic doesn’t seep into my
drinking water. It stays cool and it’s just like a really nice thing
to have. The brand on this is Danube. And then just a regular jerrycan for my
gray water. I think the five gallons probably last me about four or five days.
Moen sink, I got it on Amazon, made for RVs. I have a water pump that I turn on
and off. This first switch here, this is for the LED lighting, overhead lighting.
This is for the outside light, I have a little porch light outside and then this
one is for the water pump. I’ve got like, you know, cleaning supplies,
tons of food. When I was doing the storage, I actually measured my items.
Like I measured like how tall is my tallest olive oil. Be really cognizant of the things that you use in your life to make
sure that you’re creating a space that’s perfect for what you do. There’s so much
storage space above the cab of most vehicles and when van conversions don’t
utilize that storage I’m just like, you’re missing out on so much. I’m able
to fit tons of stuff in here. I made these to fit perfectly over every
window. These have magnets on them, they’re for the back doors, but the other ones
just fit right into the window frames and you can feel the difference between
inside/outside dramatically with these. I made these curtains; this thermal fabric
actually makes a really big difference. I can have lights on in here, I can do
whatever I want, and nobody has any idea that anyone’s in here. So having the door open this way, now I have a little vanity. All my girly stuff here; my curling iron and
makeup and I can brush my teeth and kind of fix myself and feel like I have a
real space for that. So I did get this AC setup, I have never used it. I mean, since I live on the road, if it’s hot, I just go where it’s not hot.
My fantastic vent fan, if you open two of the windows, the air circulation is awesome.
Charge controller for the AIMS inverter that I have. I have a 4000 watt inverter
and it’s also the charge controller that shows how much the battery is charged
from solar. Lights, the fan, the fridge are all 12 volt so I only need to turn this
on if I’m gonna be using the outlets. The floor is marmoleum. Very, very, very
thin which is great. It comes in these long sheets and so I actually bought one
whole sheet and cut to the exact dimensions of the van floor so this is
all one piece. This little guy just goes with me everywhere. I bring him to the
front seat, bring him to the back. I mean it’s just very convenient and this is my
sound system in life. I think the first thing is to start acting like you’re living in a van. Stop spending money and stop buying stuff. Just really become
aware of what you consume in your daily life. Think about your interactions with
people. Become more intentional about what you’re doing now with your
resources and start saving up in order to shift over to this lifestyle. And for
me it’s much more about being in this moment. It’s not so much where I’m going
or my destination. So for my first day I drove for 30 miles and stopped. I didn’t
want to try to go to any destination, I just wanted to start appreciating the
moments that I’m in now.

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