LIVING the VANLIFE as DIGITAL NOMADS in a VW Westfalia (Utilitarian Vehicle)

I’m Emily. I’m Corey. And this is our van, Basha. ♫Music Playing♫ We’ve been on the road for five years.We were in Nicaragua on a surf trip and we actually ran into Foster Huntington.
He just kind of mentioned at one point, “you guys should check out this van
life thing. You guys would probably enjoy it.” At that point Emily was a
website developer. We had that ability to take work on the road. We were really
inspired by the simplicity of the lifestyle down there. Going with the flow
and being immersed in nature, being more disconnected from technology. It
began as like an experiment really. Can we work nine to five and merge that with
this like nomadic, adventurous lifestyle that we envisioned? We soon learned that it was definitely possible. We kind of look at work in two forms.
You can be a Digital Nomad where you’re working constantly, always checking in.
Or you get to compartmentalize your work and your travel, where you get
to work for a bit of time and then slowly focus on travel. Yeah and I think
that was one of our largest challenges in the first like three years. We had
to be connected all the time. As a web manager, anything can happen so you gotta like be there for your client. At this point I like being able to
compartmentalize I think. It’s a balance, to work really hard and then be able to go. ♫Music Playing♫ This is our 1987 VW Vanagon named Basha. It’s a Westfalia, full camper, pop-top, full
kitchen inside and it sleeps four people comfortably. Basha is a fairly modified
two wheel drive Vanagon. We have been working with GoWesty; we upgraded our
engine, which was a huge thing. When we did that we redid the cooling system, the
exhaust is stainless steel now, upgraded cooling pipes. We have bigger wheels and
tires. Fox suspension up on front. It’s a two
inch receiver hitch, but allows us to carry our hi-lift jack up here and
hopefully some sort of small dirt bike in the near future. To give us a little
shelter from sun and rain we have an ARB awning, bolts right on to the van. They
make like rooms for these and screen rooms too so you can really like outfit
yourself for some serious glamping. The pop top is just like one of the key
things that makes the Westfalia so noticeable and so amazing. Gives you
essentially an 8-foot ceiling for the cooking area. We’ve added a couple strut
systems that allows us to carry a full roof box. I can push it up and down
super easy by myself. David Harrison, Vanagon Life, makes these these vents
and this allows us this is actually auxiliary out to be wired up so we can
plug in different devices to get power out of our battery, and on the other
side the same vent lets us charge our battery with our solar panel. We have a
50 foot cord attached to this 100 watt flexible solar panels. One that GoWesty sells. The bumper setup that we have is made by GoWesty. This was a pretty big game-changer for us. So this allows us to carry three bikes. I can put
a third one over here. I also have my bike work stand there. On this side we
have our drinking water so we have four gallons outside, four gallons inside.
Spare wheel, beside the wheel there we actually carry snow chains. To have a
vehicle with this small of a footprint though you can put this much stuff on and still has like off-road capability which these things do. I mean the clearance
is super high you know having Fox suspension and bigger wheels and
all-terrain tires, they’re pretty unstoppable. This is another Vanagon Life product. It replaces the glass window and allows you to carry tools. You can also
put like max tracks and you could also put your hi-lift jack on this. I choose to have a shovel and an ax for the moment. Emily found out it’s the perfect spot for a hula hoop so my man zone kind of got taken over here. It’s all good though. This is actually a
shower that runs off our propane tank and off our 12-volt auxiliary battery.
This whole like shower unit fits in this little box, which is pretty sweet.
We bought the van like pretty much everything has like been touched or gone
over. This is like the last relic from the previous owner,
it’s a PA system and plays like animal sounds and sirens. *Cows Mooing* So that’s kind of creepy, for sure. ♫Music Playing♫ Welcome to the inside of my home, Basha. This is the downstairs bed and let me
show you what it does. Fold it up like this and then pop the couch up and have a
seat in the living room. I can swivel the table out. So this becomes the
office. It’s a really beautiful table that was made by a friend at San Diego
Urban Timber. When trees are taken down by the city or they fall due to a storm,
they come in and they take it and they divert the trees from the landfill and
they make functional art with it. We eat here. We eat dinner, we eat breakfast and lunch and work so love love love just truly love this table. I really really love this table. This is a Bose speaker and we have been using our…basically, this van is really old and everything is kind of broken and so we’ve only had one speaker and the speakers been on the right door and it like does weird things,
and often doesn’t work at all, and so we finally splurged a couple months ago and
bought a post speaker and it’s actually really amazing. So there’s two doors. This
is my door and this is Corey’s door. So when you hook the fruit basket we
wrap it around this post here and we hook into that loop. Underneath of the couch we have
more storage space. We have our battery to help jump the car and it also has a
compressor on it too. Let’s go this way. So we have a closet in here, but we
don’t actually access it through this door, we had an upgrade and got this
door here which is like a total game changer because we can actually get into
our closet. This is our closet, welcome to my closet and Corey’s closet. We have the
heater. This is our Propex heater dial. You turn it on, turn it to the right, and we
have heat. We didn’t have heat for the first three or four years on the road. We’ve got these lights. These lights are really great because they like, well first of all, they’re really great because they’re blue. They’re very portable so they can snap on anywhere. Let’s cruise around a bit of the van. Hmm here. This is the kitchen.
This is a cutting board right here. My dad actually made this for us and when we
travel and we drive, we store it behind the seat. And we swivel the arm around. It really helps to have this, like
ergonomically right, this is a little bit this is okay, but it’s better for us to sit here. Comfortable seat, really great for cooking, we can talk, we can cook. We have a two burner propane stove. We have an electric sink, we actually don’t have water in the tank right now so nothing is coming out. When we wash dishes, we dry them here. When we drive, we just lower the lid. Here, let’s go underneath of this thing actually. This is our blender. It’s a smoothie wand. It takes up very minimal
space and it’s very easy to use. You simply plug in…ta-daaaa. We have
a smoothie. Close the door. Oh food, food pantry. Here we go. This is the food pantry. We go grocery shopping when we’re traveling and not on the farm and eating food from the garden. We’re filling this about once a week. We do like a big grocery shop and get produce and stuff it full and Corey is
very, very good at packing. Okay, let’s go up top. Well, there’s
nowhere to really go, but this, this up here is the top. It’s the loft, it’s our second
story and right now it’s storage space because we’re living the farm life, but
we often sleep up here especially when it’s really hot at night. We sleep up here because there’s more ventilation. These windows zip down and really open up the airflow in here.
There’s one on the front and one on the side too. And, how do we actually make it into a bed? We, well we clear all this stuff off,
and we put it into the back over here and then we flip it down so it folds
down and becomes about maybe eight feet long and then we hoist ourselves up. So we like come over here, step on the refrigerator. In the summer we sleep more upstairs and the rest of the year down. Or if Corey and I really need some space from each other, one can be down, and one can be up. That’s a possibility too. ♫Music Playing♫ Anything is possible when you put your mind to it, and nothing is guaranteed. I would say like not waiting around, like taking charge of what you want to do in your life. We are creating this lifestyle for ourselves. We’re creating our worth.
And you really just got to be proactive and get out there and make it happen if
you want to live this lifestyle because there’s really no template. There’s no
Rule Book. You can have a lot of freedom and a lot of fun, but it definitely takes,
also takes, like preparedness and hard work. Go for it. Just do it. Stop thinking
about it. You’re always gonna have doubts that pop into your mind and that’s being human. So just keep moving and hold your vision and step forward. And it’s interesting to see we were born
in this time where it was like a really materialistic mindset and we’re
kind of going back the opposite way and I don’t know if that’s just because what
we saw when we were growing up. I think that happiness definitely wasn’t
found through those means and that happiness has nothing to do with, with material things.

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