Our Van Quest - Sprintrview #5
Jake, Gianna and their daughter, Luna, (@ourvanquest) are a young family embracing the adventures and challenges of life on the road. They started out in their beautiful self-built Sprinter van and are now working on building their dream home in a big ol' school bus! Jake and Gianna have been able to create multiple streams of online income based around digital marketing and private consulting. Being able to diversify their earning ability has made it possible to thrive in this alternative lifestyle. They have gained some very valuable knowledge on the pros and cons of van vs. bus life, the challenges of parenting on the road as well as, some useful insights into how you can achieve this life yourself.
Check out what they had to say below!
What do you do to earn an online income and how long have you both been full-time digital nomads?
We have been full-time digital nomads for a year and a half. We have multiple streams of online income: social media marketing, advertising, writing blogs, selling products on our e-commerce store and providing private consulting services.
We work for different brands by showcasing their products we use and sharing what we think others would benefit from. Gianna manages social media accounts and consults with people to educate them on how to grow an engaged and organic following that leads to potential income possibilities.
What is the biggest pro and con of living in a van?
The biggest pro to van/bus life is the freedom to travel wherever and whenever you want, together, as a family, with a lower monthly overhead to fund adventures rather than bills.
The biggest con is that it’s not always easy to receive mail on the road, so you have to plan ahead and be resourceful.
Another issue that we have had with our van which will be solved with our bus is water storage! Our van was only able to hold twenty-four gallons of fresh water - we filled up every two to three days max depending on showers and water usage. We are putting a one hundred gallon freshwater tank in the bus. This increase should last us much longer.
What has been the biggest unforeseen cost of van/bus life?
The largest unforeseen costs of bus/ van life are the random things that happen to your vehicle. We got in a vehicle accident in California and had to get a hotel room while our van was in the body shop for repairs.
We recommend that you have two to three months worth of expenses in savings just in case something goes wrong. There are always unforeseen costs on the road and it’s just something about the lifestyle that you have to accept and roll with.
Considering what you have learned over the past two years, what advice would you have given yourself at the start of this journey?
Patience patience patience. Trust the process and put all of your heart and soul into it. When we first started living and working nomadically, we had unrealistic expectations about how smooth this lifestyle would be. After a few unforeseen obstacles , we have come to realize that trusting the process and having patience is the only way to truly enjoy this lifestyle.
What are three main essentials you take on the road?
Water filter: It’s important to have an in-line water filter to purify all of the water you find on the road. Sometimes you get water from sketchy sources so ensuring that the water coming out of your tap is safe, chemical free and particulate free is important. We also have a Grayl water bottle that we take on hikes, which allows us to filter any water we find out in nature.
A good pair of boots: It’s important to have quality boots because you’re always on your feet, out in nature or working on your rig. We recommend buying all weather, lightweight boots!
An Emergency Toolkit: Being able to fix your rig on the road is key. Jake put together his own toolkit that has a 3lb sledge hammer, vice grips, small butane torch, pry bar, wire cutters, a crescent wrench, channel locks and screwdrivers - all basic items that are helpful and will get the job done.
What words of wisdom would you give to families considering making the leap to van life with kids?
It can be challenging adjusting to the needs of your child while being on the road and ensuring their needs are met. You can’t always go on the long car trips that you would do without a young child. You have to make sure that you take breaks and let your little ones out to run, stretch their legs and play. We make more stops than we would if it was just us adults. As far as educating our little one, she is luckily not in grade school yet, but she gets all kinds of life lessons by experiencing the different places, cultures, people, and foods. As well she gets to watch us navigate new experiences and how we approach them.
There’s nothing stopping you, but your own fears. It’s completely doable and very rewarding. That’s not to say that times won’t be tough or things won’t get hard. But it’s well worth it.
How many miles do you drive per month on average?
We probably averaged about 70 to 100 miles a day depending on our destination. We generally drive for a little bit and then find a great spot and set up camp for the night. We are always on the move and we like to chase 75°F weather rather than be stuck anywhere too cold. Currently, we are driving zero miles per month since we are building out the van at my parent’s house in Florida.
What is your number one road trip song?
Thank you both for sharing what you have learned from your experiences online and on the road! It is mind blowing to me that you have been able to accomplish all of this while raising a child and having another on the way! Check out their blog here
To anybody who is trying to make an online income or trying to make the leap to living nomadically, it is doable and you can do it too! Like Gianna said, the only thing stopping you is your own fears - be patient and commit to your goals and you will succeed.