AL and BRAYDEN, the vanlifer duo
4/5 committed to their flexlife
9/10 feel confident they are living the lifestyle they want everyday
10 months and running
Work locally in temporary jobs as they travel
Inspired by @overland100 @eamonandbec @trentandallie @thematneys_
Al & Brayden are a couple originally from Michigan who are in search of a more meaningful life through alternative living, travel, exploration, and experience. They are currently settling into the ever-changing landscape of life & pushing past personal boundaries to keep the stoke alive. They enjoy outdoor activities like snowboarding, hiking, camping, and sightseeing.
They self-built a 2015 Ford Transit into a tiny home on wheels so they could travel the United States (to start!) picking up part time/temporary jobs to pay bills along the way. They wanted to move towards a life of, “Work when they have to, play when they can,” instead of “work every single second of everyday and never have enough time to play.”
All the usuals like:
“What about a career?”
“What about how your resume will look with spotty job history?”
“What about your future?”
But Al says:
“Our close friends and family are really excited and happy for us. Everyone always says they wish they could do it too, or thinks it’s really awesome. We are really appreciative of the support and excitement from our peers.”
Each of them is most grateful for:
Brayden: “The freedom to go where we want at our leisure.”
Al: “ All of the opportunities and the unknowns ahead of us.”
Al & Brayden spent almost two years researching vanlife, before taking the leap. Al dove headfirst into the logistics of daily necessities (mail, address, jobs, how to maintain a life on the road) along with the lifestyle aspect presented online through other vanlifers. Meanwhile Brayden, who was already aware of this “vanlife” thing through the more sports-minded aspect of people he knew who were climbers and snowboarders, dove into the procurement of the van, comparing makes and models, tech, and mechanical aspects of the build and layout. They took on extra jobs and saved as much money as they could and “somehow made it happen.” Even after being struck with a string of bad luck CONSTANTLY over the 2 years of planning (i.e., totaled their car, had to buy a new car in the meantime with no savings or credit, car got stolen, dog ended up in the hospital, etc.), somehow the planets eventually aligned and they were able to finance a van that they found in their price range and VOILA, their vanlife began.
Al & Brayden’s lifestyle is unique because they are able to live anywhere and work anywhere they are willing. They are full-time vanners but unlike a lot of the people they meet they are NOT “digital nomads” - they are NOT traveling full-time. They are planting themselves in certain places for a few months at minimum and getting those temporary jobs to be able to immerse themselves in the community and have time to really get to know each place they visit instead of just being a tourist and passing through.
When asked if they’ll ever go back to a 9-5 life, Al explains:
“I think our idea is ever-evolving. We would love to be self-employed some day and own land and a stationary home but we aren’t in any hurry because there is so much to see and do and enjoy while we’re mobile and we can.”
They are dreaming of all the places they will get to go and see. Brayden has his sights set on the PNW, while Al is so excited to travel up the east coast and into Nova Scotia. They are both really excited for Canada. Just all of the travel, they never thought it would be as easy and possible to see the entire country and more, as it truly is now that they live this way.
#WORDSTOLIVEBY Don’t get caught up in being the coolest, having the nicest van with the spotless expensive build and trying to be a “creator or influencer”. Just try to be your best version of the mobile living dream you have and do whatever works for YOU.
They are most proud of THEIR HOME! As amateur builders, they managed to build a fully functional, cozy, solar-powered off grid HOME inside of a VAN!! And they did this basically on their own with the electrical and plumbing guidance of Brayden’s dad & brother and some man power of carpentry put in by two of their best friends. But to them that achievement is unbelievable.
#MASTERTIPS Don’t be afraid to finance your van if it provides you with a safe and reliable option as opposed to putting in time and energy and material into a van that’s going to fail on you down the road. Don’t get discouraged when your build gets difficult or when you hit a roadblock, just keep the wheels turning in your head and keep your dream alive.
AND SAVE YOUR MONEY BEFORE YOU HIT THE ROAD! You don’t have to move into the van and immediately start traveling. We lived in our van for 4 months in Minneapolis working full time to be able to afford our trip out to Utah!