#Vanlife – Los Angeles to Port Angeles

The next leg of our trip takes us from sunny southern California to the gloomy rain forests of coastal Washington. We’ve driven much of this stretch of highway before, but only in little bits at a time, never in one straight shot. Our route from Los Angeles to Port Angeles doesn’t run quite the entire length of the coast, but at 1,370 miles (2,204km), it’s pretty darn close. Along the way, we got to experience the beauty of nature, drink some tasty beers, and spend ten days with our amazing besties!

Map of the Western USA highlighting our route from Glendora California to Port Angles Washington. Stops along the way include San Francisco, Burlington, and Eugene. The Places We. Live #Vanlife Part 2

San Francisco, California

Jen at the Consolato Italiano San Francisco - The Places We LiveAfter a quick overnight with Josh’s dad in Bakersfield, we were on our way to our first major stop of our Los Angeles to Port Angeles adventure, San Francisco. We were in a bit of a hurry, so we took the freeway to get there. The total drive was 415 miles (667 km), with very little scenery to speak of. We arrived in the city a little before sunset and checked in to our private room at the Green Tortoise Hostel. The place was awesome with several free meals, friendly staff, and clean rooms.

The next morning, we were up and dressed early for the walk to the Italian Consulate for my Italian dual citizenship interview. I have been working on this process since 2011, so it was a very special day for me. The consulate was a mile walk from our hostel, up and down the iconic hills of San Francisco. Josh dropped me off with a kiss and a wish for luck, and then it was time for my long awaited appointment. The interview went really well and I was told that my acceptance would be emailed to me within a few months! We went out for pasta in Little Italy to celebrate before jumping right back on the road.

San Francisco to Manchester

We had driven the majority of Historic Highway 101 on previous trips, but not the portion through northern California. With the interview over, we had plenty of time, so we opted to take the scenic route on our way to Humboldt Redwoods State Park. All of my fellow travel bloggers promised that the drive would be long and slow due to the twists and turns of the highway, the ocean views would blow us away. They were right about it being long and slow.

California Coast Fog - Los Angeles to Port Angeles - The Places We Live

The wind was blowing, it was cold, and the view was shrouded in fog for most of the day. On top of that, HWY 101 is famous for its snakelike twists and turns. Although Josh enjoyed the physical driving part, I was challenged to keep my lunch down. After a long day, we opted to spend Night 4 of our Los Angeles to Port Angeles adventure in Manchester, California. It was no surprise to either of us that we fell immediately asleep upon arriving at the Manchester Beach KOA.

Manchester to Burlington

Four tasters sitting on top of a North Coast Brewery Co (Independent since 1988) menu

We woke up to a beautiful warm and clear day and hoped for the best. Our first stop was Fort Bragg, where we visited Glass Beach and North Coast Brewing Company. I wish I had planned a little better and had us spend a couple of days there. It was a really lovely town with quite a bit to do.

Glass Beach California - Los Angeles to Port Angeles - The Places We Live

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to visit Yosemite National Park along the way from Los Angeles to Port Angeles, but we were able to spend the night at the beautiful and wondrous, Humboldt Redwoods State Park. I have visited the Redwoods before and it blew my mind. Somehow, only a couple of years later, it did it again. These trees are some of the tallest in the world. Hiking among them truly makes me feel the power of nature.

Humboldt Redwoods State Park - Los Angeles to Port Angeles - The Places We Live

Eugene, Oregon

Much of our adult life was spent living in Eugene, Oregon and I hated it the whole time. It was too laid back, too wet, and too alternative. The moment I moved out, I missed it. It is so relaxed, so green, and so creative. Damn it, Eugene! I missed you! But even more, I missed all of my friends, especially my besties!

The Places We Live

We spent the week crashing at their home just outside of downtown Eugene. It felt so good to go back to our old routines together. Evenings were spent playing games, eating food, and going out. As they both went to work during the day, we camped out in the dining room and got our own work done. My favorite part of our quiet afternoons was the daily walks with our pug-phews. Parker and LP are so cute!!

Not only was this the perfect friend visit we were dying for, it was productive. Our buddy, Travis, is a digital artist. We got the chance to work with him on Josh’s upcoming book cover. So far it looks amazing! It has been really special to be able work with friends on a project that is so close to our hearts.

Port Angeles, Washington

It was a real challenge to leave my friends (again) and move on to Washington for the final leg of the Los Angeles to Port Angeles adventure. I don’t cry very often, but I have to admit I bawled my face off for a little while. One of the few downsides of traveling full-time is the loneliness. I’m so thankful to be traveling with my best friend and true love, but I miss my friends and family. I’ve taken too many nights of Catan and mixed opinions on music for granted.

But we are on to Washington for our next house sit. This one will be a little less than a week, but offers us the opportunity to explore the Puget Sound and Olympic National Park. We’ve spent a decent amount of time in Washington, but house sitting in Port Angeles will be a new and exciting adventure for us.

#Vanlife Diary: Day 30

Our short stay in Chicago has come to an end, and it’s time for us to be moving on once again. Today’s entry covers our trip to a winery in Hayfield, Iowa, with a quick stopover in Madison, Wisconsin to break things up a bit. We stayed at the winery for a few days, and it will have its own post coming soon. Meanwhile, let’s wrap up this latest section of our #vanlife adventure!

Jen from The Places We Live cuts purple grapes off the vine at a vineyard in Iowa.

Part One, Sub Two

I tend to have names and labels for everything. That summer in 2013 when I used practically all of my vacation days within the three months of summer became known as “Vacation Summer”. That time I bought the “52 Weekends in Oregon” card set and insisted on visiting ALL of them, was named “All of Oregon!”. This current adventure across the country in Darla is “#Vanlife”, and this particular portion (Florida to California) is Part One.

Up until now, our actual “van life” experience has been pretty limited. Sure, we’re putting miles behind us (4,000 to be exact) and occasionally sleep on the mattress we have set out in the van, but the key word there was “occasionally”. We have spent the majority of our time sleeping comfortably in homes while we house sit. That changes today. I think we are now heading into Part One, Sub Two: Actually Van Lifing It.

Chicago to Madison

#Vanlife The Places We Live. Map of the USA highlight our route from Florida to Chicago, then Chicago to Madison, Wisconsin.

We didn’t want to leave our beautiful home and cuddle buddy in Chicago, so we shuffled our feet a little bit. I’m not sure how often we “lost track of time” yesterday, but I know it was far more often than necessary. We didn’t end up hitting the road until nearly 5:00PM! We stopped at a dollar store and a Goodwill on our way out of town to grab our Level One cooking supplies (once again, naming everything). Level One is the bare minimum: 2 plates, 2 bowls, 2 spoons, 2 forks, 2 knives, oven mitt, sauce pan, tongs, and paper towels. Hopefully that will be enough to hold us over for a little while.

Once all of that was sorted, we drove the 147 miles (237 km) to Madison, Wisconsin. It was dark when we arrived at our reserved HipCamp, where we parked in the driveway of a horse farm and fell immediately and deeply asleep. When we woke up, the car was surrounded by chickens and ducks. I’m sure they were friendly (I’m usually a big fan of poultry), but it is hard to assume such a thing when they appeared to be so purposefully charging right at us. I may or may not have run to the bathroom, then jumped back in the car screaming, “Drive! Drive!”

Pictured: The farm’s true owners

Madison, Wisconsin

I remember “Josh’s Worming in Wisconsin” adventure of 2012. He went to Madison for a scientific conference (focusing on nematode worms) and spent the majority of our phone time raving about the city. So, it didn’t come as much of a surprise when Josh insisted that we drive the extra half hour to downtown Madison to explore. It also didn’t come as a surprise that he was right — it was lovely.

We drove through the big and beautiful campus of the University of Wisconsin, visited the capitol building, and walked the shores of the lake. Madison is a small city, but it seemed to be full of life. I felt immediately at home there even though I had never been there before. There was just something really welcoming and comfortable about it.

Madison to Hayfield

After our quick tour of Madison, we were back on the road again. This time, it was the final 250 mile (402 km) leg to Hayfield, Iowa. The majority of the drive was on the freeway, so it wasn’t particularly exciting. We had a great time continuing to listen to The Shining on Audible (Link Below. “Get it. It’s Amazing” – Jen Lowry). It got to the part where the spooky stuff started happening. “Unmask!”

The Places We Live #Vanlife. Map of the USA highlighting our trip from Florida to Madison, Wisconsin. Then from Madison to Hayfield, Iowa.

Once we finally left the freeway, it was back to what has become a common theme of our American road trip: farms and open fields. It was beautiful and peaceful. The flat plains of the Midwest were starting to make more and more of an appearance with fewer and fewer hills. Corn fields and cattle were more plentiful as well.

99 Bottles Winery and Vineyard

We’ll be spending the next two nights here at 99 Bottles Winery and Vineyard in Hayfield, Iowa. It is located on the only hill for miles and houses a small vineyard, a few steers, and a well-kept area for camping. We’re parked at the very top of the hill next to an “outhouse” with hot showers and flower decorations around the mirrors. I have a feeling we are going to like it here a lot.

Jen from The Places We Live sits on a camping chair in front of a fire pit and Darla the camper van.

We’re meeting the hosts shortly to do a wine tasting and discuss the terms of our stay, since we were offered the opportunity to camp in exchange for work instead of cash. The farm is beautiful, the hosts seem really friendly, and I have always wanted to experience life on a vineyard. How could I possibly pass up an opportunity like this?!


#Vanlife Diary – Day 23

We drove from Nashville to Chicago in two days. Yesterday (#Vanlife Day 22), we drove the 345 miles (555 km) from our house sit in Nashville to Lafayette, Indiana. It was another beautiful drive through farmland and tiny towns. We spent the drive listening to The Shining by Stephen King on Audible and looking out the window. One of our favorite bits of scenery was the large sections of wind farms that dotted the farmland as we drove along.

#Vanlife The Places We Live. USA map showing our first stop from Nashville to Chicago, Lafayette, Indiana.

Lafayette, Indiana

Lafayette is a small city of over 65,000 people, just northwest of Indianapolis. The city hosts Purdue University, which employs a good chunk of the locals. I didn’t choose this location for any reason other than it was conveniently located, but I’m glad we came through.

Darla, the white van from The Places We Live #Vanlife, is parked among a pine forest in Lafayette, Indiana. There are camp chairs and a fire ring in the distance.

Our home for the evening was Wild Things Farms. It was another HipCamp booking that hooked us up with a lovely parking space in a family’s backyard. Darla was surrounded by trees and the sounds of farm animals off in the distance. After a pleasant night’s sleep, we drove to the local Starbucks for breakfast and to mooch off their wifi for a couple of hours while we worked before hitting the road again.

Indiana to Illinois

#Vanlife The Places We Live. Map of the USA highlighting our route from Nashville to Chicago. This segment is Lafayette, Indiana to Chicago, Illinois.

#Vanlife Day 23, wraps up our drive from Nashville to Chicago. Today’s adventure takes us the remaining 133 miles (214 km) to Chicago, Illinois. Once again, we listened to our Audible book and a little bit of Nine Inch Nails. My first spotting of Lake Michigan was exciting. Everyone always said it was like looking at an ocean and they were right. The water met all the way with the horizon. I watched the people on the beach, playing in the waves or watching the sailboats in the distance. I could have sworn I was back on the beach in Florida.

They call Chicago the Second City and, once again, for good reason. I’m not sure why I assumed Chicago would be a small city. This place is huge! The city area is large and compact, the streets are wide, and the streets are bustling with activity. I don’t have much planned for our long weekend in Chicago and am now regretting that decision. I want to see EVERYTHING!

#VANLIFE Diary: Day Six

It’s Day Six and we’re back on the road! Today’s #vanlife adventure takes us 170 miles (274 km) through three different states. We had five days to kill between our house sit in Atlanta and our next one in Nashville, so we decided to make the 2.5 hour drive to Sherwood, Tennessee, for a little camping adventure.

The Preparation

#VANLIFE Day One gave us a short list of necessary items that needed to be purchased. I hopped onto Amazon and ordered a mosquito net (for the bugs) and a 12-pack of D-batteries (for the fan). Wary of shipping delays, I had them sent to an Amazon Locker, which was located at a nearby Whole Foods, instead of our house sit. This was the first time I’d ever used one of these, and it ended up being way more convenient than I expected. We simply stopped at the store on the way out of town, grabbed some road snacks, and picked up our order from the locker inside. It was super easy, and something we will definitely be using in the future.

Josh in front of the Amazon Lockers at the Whole Foods in Atlanta, Georgia. The lockers are black and say "Order at Amazon, Pick Up here." There is a computer kiosk to push in the code that was emailed to him. Then a small, locker door popped open with our shipment inside of it. - The Places We Live VanLife Diary
Pictured: The Editor, attempting not to look ridiculous, and failing. 

We also hit a small, local grocery store closer to Sherwood to purchase a big jug of water, some beers (I knew Josh would need a mood booster once he saw how far out of town we were), and some food for the week. Thankfully, we wouldn’t be needing any cooking equipment, since the campground offers use of a full kitchen.

Read #VANLIFE Diary: Day One 

The Drive

The drive was short and pleasant. The lush, green landscape took us both by surprise. We couldn’t come to an agreement on what our expectations of the South had been, but whatever they were, we weren’t prepared for all the verdant, natural beauty. The route took us through Georgia and into Tennessee, with a short detour into Alabama along the way.

Map of the United States highlighting our route from Atlanta, Georgia to Sherwood, Tennessee. - The Places We Live #Vanlife

We spent the ride listening to Nine Inch Nails, Miley Cyrus, and a list of Country Classics. I even forced Josh into listening to the entire Mamma Mia sound track. Understanding that the songs don’t make sense without the story, I graciously dictated the entire plot of the musical to him along the way so that he wouldn’t feel lost. He didn’t outwardly express his appreciation, but I know, deep down, that he really enjoyed my spoken word version of the movie.

[amazon_link asins=’B000VZFYDC,B00FHAB3HW,B001BWDG0W’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’theplacesweli-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ebd16364-a2f7-11e8-88b8-c19f9227ac93′]

Overnight #Vanlife Style

The next five days were spent at the Bolo Club in Sherwood, Tennessee. Located on a large farm in a valley surrounded by hills, the Bolo Club offers RV and tent camping, hiking, horse back riding, and more. Our HipCamp stay cost $20 per night and included hot showers, flush toilets, wifi, a full kitchen, an indoor and outdoor seating area, and our choice of parking spots. We chose a shady spot under some trees.

#VanLife at the Bolo Club Tennesee - The Places We Live.png

Rather than set the mosquito net up inside of the van, as I originally intended, we wrapped it around the open trunk door. This setup worked out great! It kept the bugs away while still keeping the inside of the van fairly cool. With the new netting, a working fan, and our computers hooked up to the free wifi, we were living the dream. I’m happy to report that we both slept very well.

Read about our last stay in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. ♥

The isolation of the Bolo Club not only gave us the opportunity to get out into nature for a little while, but it also created an incentive to focus on work. I’ll have more to say about our stay in rural Tennessee, but for now I’ll just say that we had a great time really digging in to #vanlife. Stay tuned!


The Places We Live: Atlanta, Georgia

Day Two of #VANLIFE takes us from our goat farm overnight in Lee, Florida to a northern suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Here, we spent five days house sitting two beautiful cats in a modern row house. We had a great time, and by the end of our first day, fell right back into our old routines again.

#VANLIFE - The Places We Live. Map of the United States showing an arrow from Lee, Florida in Northern Florida to Atlanta, Georgia.

Atlanta, Georgia

The U.S. state of Georgia is located in the American South and borders Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, the Gulf of Mexico AND the Atlantic Ocean. It was one a Confederate state during the United States’ Civil War and was one of the last states to return to the Union when the war was over. Now, Georgia is known as the Peach State and is the eighth most populous state, with about 10.5 million residents. Visitors flock to Georgia to visit its historical monuments, film settings (The Walking Dead is filmed here), and the bustling urban hub of Atlanta.

Atlanta is the capital city of Georgia, with a population of six million people. It played a major role in the American civil rights movement, being the birth place of Dr. Martin Luther King. The city is playfully called “the city in a forest”, and for good reason. We were amazed by the amount of greenery found interwoven among the tall buildings and suburban neighborhoods. We didn’t get the chance to explore much of Atlanta, but wished we had. There are so many fun and free things to do in Atlanta!

Map of the USA highlighting Georgia. Collage of Atlanta city skyline, Georgia Aquarium, and the World of Coca Cola. The Places We Live

Our Home

This time around, we stayed in a North Atlanta suburb called Brookhaven. We were in a gated apartment complex with a pool and fitness center. Nearby are a couple of lively new urban developments, a Whole Foods (our weird style of proof that it is a trendy neighborhood), and a university with some European-style architecture. The complex is only a block or two from a main road that connects us to downtown and some trendy shopping areas.

Check out our home in Hua Hin, Thailand. ♥

Our home is a one bedroom, one bath apartment. Other apartments of similar size in the community were renting for $2,000 USD per month. There is also a garage, living room, patio, kitchen, dining room, laundry room, and small office. I love the look and feel of this place. The design and decor is modern, simple, and comfortable; if I were the one decorating, this is how I would have done it. Needless to say, we felt right at home here.

Our bedroom at our house sit in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. The bedspread is shades of whites, browns, and blues. The night stand holds a CO alarm and a picture frame.

Our Family

We got a chance to meet the owner of the home only briefly, but felt an immediate connection. She is about our age and has similar interests. She is having us watch her home while she flies out to Florida to look for a new home on the beach. It looks like she might be moving into a place fairly close to Mom’s house, so I hope we will have a chance to meet her again later this year.

Our fur babies for the week are two Siamese cats. Huey, the older of the two, is clearly the boss of the house. He does what he wants, gets pets when he wants, and sleeps where he wants. We connected pretty quickly and really enjoyed each other’s company. Leo is a bit stand-offish. He spent a lot of his time sitting in the same room as us, but at the opposite end, where he could sit and stare at us with a look of confusion and disapproval. Although he never got out of this habit completely, he did eventually warm up to us (Josh specifically). He is very playful and full of energy.

Huey and Leo - The Places We Live.png

Our Lives

We set up our work stations on the couch and at the dining room table, and set about reestablishing our routines. I wrote and optimized two blogs, took part in several social media campaigns, and made housing reservations for a full month out. Josh started a new social media push, published a couple of stories, and made some progress on his novel. It has been a really good work week.

For fun, we took a walk through one of the urban developments and the nearby college, tried some new recipes, caught up on the new season of Orange is the New Black, and spent some time relaxing by the pool with a book. I am currently reading Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and zoologist Mark Carwardine. It is a true story of the time the two men traveled the world to check out some endangered animals. I’m really enjoying it so far.

Josh in front ot Lowry Hall at OU in Atlanta, Georgia, USA - The Places We Live

We did manage to set aside some time for one big adventure in Atlanta: the Georgia Aquarium. I bought our tickets online, which saved quite a bit of money, but we still paid $59 USD, well over our daily budget. However, it was totally worth it! Up until 2012, the Georgia Aquarium was the largest in the world, and they’re in the process of installing a new addition. My favorite exhibit was Ocean Voyager, which is the aquarium’s most famous exhibit. It houses a 6.3 million gallon tank (23.9 million liters) filled with thousands of creatures, including four whale sharks! I have never seen anything like it. It was a truly amazing experience I will never forget.

A post shared by Jen (@theplaceswe.live) on


Moving On

We both agreed that Atlanta was pretty awesome. Unfortunately, we didn’t see nearly enough of it, so I’m hoping we get to come back and explore again soon. Until then, we are off to Nashville for our next house sit and more #VANLIFE adventures!

The Amazon and Trusted House Sitter links are affiliate ads. I recommend and enjoy the products I am advertising, but I am required to tell you that those links are, in fact, an ad. Every time you click on them, I make money. It’s pretty awesome.

Buy EVERYTHING on Amazon! 

GET a trusted house sitter or BE a trusted house sitter! ♦

#VanLife Diary: Day One

It’s 2:00 PM on a sunny afternoon in Cocoa Beach, Florida. The van was just discharged from the mechanic with a clean-ish bill of health; how healthy can Darla really be at her age and use (that’s the name we’re trying out right now)? But the people of the Dodge dealership think that she will get us across the country without any issues. So we’re off. Let #vanlife begin.

Read about our #VanLife preparations. ♥

Cocoa Beach to Lee, Florida

The Places We Live #VanLife Day One Map. USA from Melbourne, Florida to Lee, Florida

Today’s #vanlife journey took us 269 miles and about four hours. We were so excited to be traveling again. About half of the trip was spent talking about our excitement, goals, and expectations. The other half was spent listening to music and singing along. Today’s playlist included Blink 182’s California, a Google Play radio station of popular karaoke songs, and finally an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience. We were pretty proud of our harmonizing skills while singing along with Blink 182.

[amazon_link asins=’B00R6OW286,B06XGS4NR9,B01NB1DD2P’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’theplacesweli-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’52c3602a-a0e9-11e8-b50e-6b000df27bc0′]

The drive through central Florida is exactly what we were used to. There were signs for beach resorts and Disney World everywhere. We got stopped by five toll booths, all within 15 minutes of each other, and got charged a total of $9.25. Once we got farther north, however, the scenery took a bit of a change. There were lots of small towns and farm land. It reminded me a little bit of home. I liked it.

Home Field Advantage Homestead

It is possible to overnight for FREE at a variety of truck stops, gas stations, and large commercial buildings like Walmart. As it was our first overnight in the van, we decided to book a camp site. I booked using Hipcamp.com. It is like AirBnB, but for camping. We ended up about 15 minutes off of the freeway on an adorable farm. The stay included a tour of the farm, free wifi, loaded fire rings, hot showers, flush toilet, and a couple of sinks with soap! It was an ideal place to crash for our very first #vanlife overnight.

Brown and white goat behind a fence at Home Field Advantage camp ground in Lee, Florida. The Places We Live #Vanlife

Our overnight was a learning experience. The average August temperature in Florida is 82°F / 28°C with 74% humidity. Needless to say, the temperature in the van was NOT comfortable. We opened the windows and enjoyed the cross breeze they provided, but then found ourselves in a rage from the needling buzz of mosquitoes. The mozzies in the USA don’t often carry disease, but they are still obnoxious as f*ck and Florida is home to A LOT of bugs. Our other idea was to turn on the car and AC to cool everything down every few hours. That didn’t work either. It would take almost five minutes to cool the van down entirely and then it would only last for about an hour.

The Places We Live van (Darla) posed in front of three red barn buildings at Home Field Advantage camp ground in Lee, Florida.

Our goal for #vanlife prep was to only buy what we know we need. We need a fan, more water, and bug repellent. Every day is a learning experience. I just hope our next lesson won’t be as uncomfortable. Tomorrow, we are waking up early to drive to Atlanta, Georgia.



#Vanlife Diary: The Prequel

We’ve decided to jump on the #vanlife bandwagon! We purchased a van, fit it with a bed, and are hitting the road, going coast to coast across the United States. I have broken up the trip into three segments. The first segment of the trip runs from August through October and will take us from Florida to California (3,000+ miles). The major stops along the way are scheduled to include Atlanta, Nashville, Chicago, the national parks of South Dakota, and Yellowstone National Park.

The Places We Live VanLife Adventure Segment One Map. Map of the United States with a yellow line highlighting our route from Melbourne, Florida to Chicago, Illinois. Then to Boise, Idaho down to Los Angeles, California. Finally, from LA to San Francisco, California.

Why Van Life?

We are still trying to stick our $200 per week budget. Without decent public transit or easy access to cheap accommodations, this could be pretty challenging in the United States. The average cost of a hotel in the USA is $130 USD per night. This compares with about $40 in Malaysia, $30 in China, and $58 in Australia. The cheapest options seem to be couch surfing which is free-ish and plentiful, but potentially awkward. Another option is house sitting, which you all know I am a huge fan of. Finally, there is the option of camping. Camp sites can be found for as little as $10 per night, and often have electricity, internet, and showers. So we’ll be doing our best to jump between these three options as we make our way across the country.

Then there is transportation. Budget airlines in other countries are also much cheaper than in the states; several of our one-way tickets were in the $30 range. In America, not so much. Trains are just as expensive and the destinations are quite limited. There is the option of taking the bus, but traveling with two passengers starts to really reduce the savings. The average price of gas is $2.54 per gallon ($0.67 per liter). Based on this price, the estimated number of miles, and the gas mileage of the van, I should be able to stay within budget. Fingers crossed.

USA Travel Costs listed with Hotel at $130 USD per night and Gas at $2.54 per gallon. The Places We Live #VANLIFE

Buying the Van

We found our van on Craigslist in Melbourne, Florida. It is a 2013 Dodge Ram Passenger Van with 187k miles and no back seats since it used to be a delivery van. But we didn’t want the back seats anyway, so that was kind of a win. There are several dings and dents and obviously the mileage is a bit high, but it seems to be in working order. After purchasing it, we took it to the Dodge dealership to get it a check up. They said it looked good, minus a bit of a transmission problem when backing up, a faulty tire pressure gauge, and old brake pads. We got the pads changed and called it good.

  • Purchase Price = $3,700
  • Form Fees = $185
  • Temporary Tags = $263
  • Insurance (six months) = $514
  • License and Registration = $400
  • Check Up and Repairs = $580

We are still below my arbitrary goal of $7,000 USD, but Jeez-Louise is this van getting expensive! Thankfully, the selling price was way lower than it deserves. If we can make it around the country without needing any major repairs, we may be able to come out of this without losing much money.  Wish us luck!

Jen posing in front of the new vanlife van. 2013 Dodge Ram Passenger Van in white. #VANLIFE The Places We Live

Pimp My Ride

Once we got the van home, and I had a chance to scream anxiety screams into my pillow for a little while, we started to get pretty excited. The van just needed a few things to get her road trip ready. So, I shopped Mom’s house.

Thankfully, Mom had just about everything we needed. I grabbed a three inch mattress pad, two sets of sheets, three pillows, and a blanket. We pimped out the storage area using milk crates she had in her garage and grabbed some camping gear left over from when my sister and I were kids. I even grabbed an ice cream tub from out of the recycling bin to use as a garbage can. We did end up purchasing a phone charger for $7, but otherwise decided not to purchase anything until we knew exactly what we needed. Minimalism is the name of the game!

Jen and Josh in the new The Places We Live VANLIFE van. Back seat is open with a mattress, brown blanket, pillows, and a stuffed dog.

Ready to Ride

We’re hitting the road tomorrow. It feels like the night before Christmas. I can’t wait to get on the road and start exploring again. I am not sure how I am going to handle the long drives nor how Josh is going to handle sleeping in a van, but hey, that’s half the fun!