I came across Sharon and Anthony's page, thebeardedvan, while cruising through the vast world of Instagram and saw that they were having great adventures in their camperized Sprinter van. As always, I was intrigued by their lifestyle and had to find out more, so I sent them a message and asked them how they manage to live in their van full-time. Sharon replied enthusiastically, telling me about how they achieved their dream and what they were up to during these wild pandemic times.
I asked her if she would be interested in answering a few Sprintrview questions to help us all learn a bit more about how to achieve this goal ourselves.
Here is what she said!
What made you want to take the leap to living full-time in a van?
I had never heard of vanlife before 2016 when Anthony started talking non-stop about how people sell everything they own and go traveling the world in these built out vans. I thought it was a crazy idea and prayed he would forget the whole thing! Imagine my surprise when one day he came rolling up our driveway with a 1986 Westfalia campervan! I was not happy with him, but I did admit she was cute. The interior was all original and in immaculate condition, but the exterior needed a complete overhaul. By early spring Anthony had finished the restoration and I had stalked enough pretty vanlife accounts that the whole nutty idea had started to grow on me. That summer was the most idyllic of our lives. Every weekend after work we would jump in the Westy, find a campsite, and fish all the amazing lakes Ohio has to
offer. We even took a ten day road trip up the east coast of Maine that changed our lives. It finally settled in my soul that for us, experiences would always be far more valuable than possessions. And if the east coast was this beautiful…Well, we were stoked to find out what the rest of America looked like! We committed to selling whatever we could to pay off our house. The goal was to be debt-free and put renters in our home. With that in mind, we decided to sell our Westfalia. She went to a wonderful family in Texas and we paid off our property! Debt-free and trying to stay that way, we bought two, salvaged, broken down, Sprinter vans and Anthony went about turning them into one dream #vanlife home for us. You can see that crazy part of our journey if you scroll to the beginning of our Instagram account. It was certainly the biggest project he’d ever taken on, especially rebuilding the engine and you know, the part where two vans become one?!! Finally, September 2019, we moved into our van full-time. The build was mostly finished when we left Ohio in December and headed down the Florida coastline. We traveled for four glorious months before the pandemic hit and forced us back home. Now, we sit and wait like the rest of the world, dreaming of the day we can roll down the road again!
What streams of income allow you to live nomadically?
We have always been advised to have multiple streams of income. So, we sold a lot of possessions, worked really hard, and paid off our house. When the property is rented out, it provides a small income for us. Definitely not enough to live on the road, but it certainly helps, and we are very grateful for it.
We will also pick up odd jobs while on the road such as, when we were in Florida, Anthony jumped at the chance to work for my cousin, hanging drywall and painting for a few weeks.
I manage the social media for a classic car restoration business. I love telling the story of all the cars they have restored.
I am also an independent consultant for a health and wellness company called Arbonne. It is a network marketing, social marketing style company. I love that I can do this from the road. We both use nearly every product they make including the vegan protein shakes, vitamins, greens, and probiotics. Since we are in love with the products, it is easy to authentically share them with others. I would never advocate for something that I don’t wholeheartedly believe in. I’m proud they are a certified B Corp company, meaning they have a commitment to be socially and environmentally responsible -that is hugely important to us both. The products are non toxic, animal cruelty free, and vegan. In other words, we don’t have to feel guilty when we shower outside because the shampoo and body wash we use is earth-friendly. To learn more about Arbonne, my website is: www.sharonmiller.arbonne.com
How many hours per week do you work?
Right now I work about three-five hours a week with Arbonne and it provides about 25% of our income. I eventually want to amp up that income and will then dedicate an average of fifteen hours a week to growing my business.
What aspect of being a nomad do you find challenging?
Working from the road isn’t always easy. Anthony loves fishing so we pull our little John boat behind the van. The beautiful lakes and bays we have experienced are unbelievable! It can be hard to step back and say, ok today I need to stay back in the van and dedicate “x” number of hours to work, rather than going out and exploring the waters with Anthony. To be able to push through that feeling and be responsible, takes discipline.
What are some pieces of advice you could give to aspiring digital nomads?
Have a vision - Having a vision of what you want your life to look like is vital. While we are currently cooped up, we plan to make a vision board of all the beautiful places we want to see someday. Having that in front of me will make it easier to be disciplined.
Have a routine and stick with it! I am a person that needs routine. My most productive weeks are when my mornings follow the same schedule:
Wake up by eight . Have a greens shot. Meditate. Walk Maverick. Do a HITT work out. (I like the 8fit app for that!). Read a chapter in a self development book. Have my vegan protein shake…
Once I’ve done my routine, then I’m ready to hit the computer knocking out any work I need to do. Those are the good weeks! I’m not going to lie, only about 25% of my weeks on the road look like that! Doing this interview is reminding us, it is time to be more consistent!!
Do your research - If you aspire to be a digital nomad, start researching! Write down all the things you can think of that you could possibly do to earn an income on the road and start looking into them. You can find out how to do anything online.
Be open-minded - It may not be a glamorous job, but if it helps fund your passion of traveling, it may be worth working it for a season.
Surround yourself with like-minded people - Find successful people who are doing what you want to do and ask them as many questions as they will let you! Ignore the doubters and the dream stealers. Decide what you want and go for it!
What are your favourite vanlife hacks?
Get a carpet - I’ve been really impressed how much more dirt we keep out of the van because we have a little carpet on the first step! It really helps!
Pee funnel - You will never regret installing a pee funnel!
Flaresides - Don’t compromise on sleep. We slept sideways for the first 6 months without a flare. But sleeping at an angle started hurting our backs. A week before we left, we couldn’t take it anymore, and Anthony added a flare that gave us an extra 6”. Now I would rather sleep in my van than anywhere else. With the right tools and skills you can make your own and save some major money.
Last, but not least, what is your go-to road trip song?
Our favourite road trip song is Free Falling by Tom Petty.
It’s been a privilege to do this interview with you! We can’t wait to meet your readers out on the road, living their nomadic dreams!
Thank you for sharing a bit of your journey with us!
Sharon and Anthony are a great reminder to us all that if you are determined to make a goal a reality you need to commit 100% - they paid off their house, sold non-essential possessions and learned new skills; and what do you know... they are now living their dream life because they committed to making a change.
I hope this window into Sharon and Anthony's success will give you some inspiration and motivation to get out of your comfort zone, ask yourself what really matters to you in life and commit 100% to living the life that YOU want.
Thanks for reading, stay tuned for Sprintrview #3 with @duocovery :)
P.S. If you are interested in learning more about what Sharon does for Arbonne she is happy to answer any questions - just send her a message on their Instagram @thebeardedvan
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