Part 1- The First 30 Days Of Van Life: My 1st Day

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

After over three years of traveling full-time, we are officially starting our blog and sharing more pictures, videos, and stories that we haven't shared before. Our journey traveling the world on planes began in March 2017. We did not start #vanlife and vlogging about it until later that year when our brand "Off The Grid With A Kid" was formed on Instagram and YouTube. If you are new to the website, I'd like to encourage you to read our story in Good Housekeeping Magazine or meet us on The Tamron Hall Show and refer back to this blog for more depth about our experience traveling full time as we relive 3 years of adventures.

In September of 2017, (two weeks before we started van life) I lost sleep looking for the perfect van to begin my van life adventures. The idea to do van life had come after traveling full time on planes while visiting my family and feeling stranded in my hometown without a car. Ridesharing wasn't popular in St. Louis, and taking the bus was primarily frowned upon, unlike other big cities. I didn't want to venture around like a tourist, and I wasn't sure where I was going to travel to next. I was bored in my hometown, and I also grew tired of flight hopping and living out of my suitcase. Something else I had noticed was whenever we traveled outside of the country, locals would ask us about different locations in the U.S that we had never visited.

From having traveled full time primarily outside of the U.S and then two months in the U.S, I observed that traveling in the U.S was more expensive than traveling in most countries we had visited. I still wanted to explore the U.S, but I didn't want to fly, and Uber to hotels and Airbnb's all the time. I was tired of feeling like a part-time travel agent, but I want to stop traveling. I wanted more simplicity. This led me to wonder,

"What if we explored our backyard for a while?" "What if we didn't have to worry so much about reservation times or repack our suitcases every week?"

I then had a vision of a van with a bed inside of it. I thought about an old school van that I had seen somewhere when I was a kid.

"What if I could find the perfect van for our lifestyle?"

I started thinking about how much stress and money could be saved if we no longer rented cars or waited for rideshare costs or had to hurry and book the next hotel or Airbnb because our reservation was up.

I held that vision of a van we could stay overnight in, and I started looking through several listings on craigslist. Even though I didn't find what I had envisioned, I stayed up all night messaging sellers that had a van that I could at least convert. The problem was that everyone wanted more than what I had budgeted for a van, and I didn't want to convert a van myself or even hire someone to do it based on my budget of 5K. I was determined to find a good deal, so I kept searching, and I messaged a few friends and informed them that I was shopping for a particular van, and I asked them to keep their eyes open if they heard about one off the market for sale. A few days later, one of my friends messaged me back and sent me a listing for a van. I couldn't believe it; It was perfect!

As I reviewed the seller's listing on Rv Trader, it seemed too good to be true. Everything on the van was in mint condition, and the price was below my budget. ($4,900) After recognizing scams posts on Craigslist, I figured it was worth the shot to message the seller to see if the listing was legit. They responded right away and suggested speaking over the phone.

There was a catch...or two.

It turned out that the seller was an Australian touring throughout Canada and drove through the U.S and needed to sell the van to get back home in Australia. It seems logical, right? The catch was that I'd have to pay for the van and allow him to use it for another week or two while he purchased his flight, and it was time for him to fly out. There was something about the conversation that made me feel like it was too good to be true, but I wanted this van so bad. It had everything I wanted and even more than I expected, and I hadn't seen anything like it.

The other catch

Many other people had inquired about the van, and I had to be the first person to meet the seller at the border of Canada and New York if I was going to buy it. I had 72 hours to get