Our First Van: Dreaming Big in a Small Rig

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Our first "van" only looks like a 2005 Ford Escape XLT because...it is. While we were saving serious money for our actual van, Angie (named after Angela Montenegro, thanks to Renee's obsession with Bones) was our main mode of transportation to all things camping and nature related, and though she's no longer used as a regular camping vehicle, we still love her.

However, we did start The Van Lifers when Angie was all we had. It was nerve-wracking at first: could we be "vanlifers" if all we had was an SUV?

Our conclusion: for us, "van life" was and is about more than just having a van. We think it's about freedom; being free to travel in an effort to appreciate the beauty of the world. It's about having less "stuff" and more time -- time to focus on the relationships you cherish, time to do the things you love, time to explore the world around you. It's about reconnecting with nature (and with yourself) and finding joy in adventures instead of working jobs you hate to spend money on things you don't necessarily need (we're getting into minimalism...can you tell, or no?). It's about keeping an open mind and an open heart as you create and value the communities you become a part of. That's our perspective, anyway (you can check out our mission statement below for a clearer picture!) :)

The first time we got a taste of this life, it was in the spring of 2017 when we drove across the country in Nick's Jetta and camped along the way, which just goes to show that you can embody the essence of van life in any vehicle (but we won't lie, it's nice to have standing room). We're so glad that all we had was Angie when we started The Van Lifers. It was a fun build that now stands as a lovely reminder to dream big even when you start small. That's something I hope we never forget.

Check out Angie's "build" here, and our current real-actual-legit van here!