EMMA & JACK, the vagabond couple
5/5 committed to their flexlife
10/10 feel confident they are living the lifestyle they want everyday
9 months and running
Worked to save up before they left home
Inspired by @briannamadia @adventures_in_huck_phinn @onechicktravels
Follow along ➡ @midwest_vagabonds @campstovechef @jackslezak @emmakbrant
Jack and Emma were born and raised in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, but they never felt truly at home there. They were always searching for a place that valued individuality and adventure and didn’t find that until they started living in their van. While there are many places like this in the United States and beyond, they found Moab, Utah to be their place.
People value being genuine and sharing with others. They learned to rock climb simply due to the kindness of a stranger who is now one of their best friends. They also skateboard and surf and therefore the coast of California also draws them in with its perfect weather and laid back culture.
Planning was the most important step of this journey for them in terms of creating their flexlife. While they don’t live a super structured life on the road, before they left they had to save a bunch of money to make this life possible. They also have to be aware of their spending on a daily basis. They don’t go out to eat or pay for unnecessary things (like campsites or water, they find those for free!). Doing this has allowed them to live in the van without jobs for longer than they thought. They also faced a huge learning curve as they tried to use power tools for the first time to build their home! They watched a lot of YouTube and made a lot of mistakes but at the end of the day it’s perfect to them because they made it themselves!
Emma is most interested in meeting people on the road and hearing their stories. She says:
“While we all live very similar lives in the vanlife community, we all got to this point in such different ways. My favorite thing to do is cook a meal with the people we meet. I find that this is the best way to get to know someone and creates a more intimate setting that allows complete strangers to become best friends. Being a cook and culinary student back home, I love sharing what I’ve learned with others on the road.”
#WORDSTOLIVEBY “I’d say it is so important to just take a leap of faith. If you really want to life a flexlife, you’ll find a way to make it happen. The first step is the hardest, but don’t give up because it’ll all be worth it.”
Jack and Emma bought and converted a 2006 Sprinter van into a tiny home on wheels. They bought the van a little over 1.5 years ago and spent 8 months converting it at home in Chicago. They were only 20-years-old when they bought the van, and it was their first house of their own and their first house together. It was nerve wracking when they first hit the road in June of 2019, but after the first night in the van they knew this was the life for them. Since then they’ve made it to Alaska and back and have explored more than half of the U.S.
Jack & Emma’s lifestyle is unique because they can go where they want, when they want. While they don’t hold jobs currently on the road, Jack has an immense passion for photography and Emma loves to cook. While these have become parts of their everyday, they are working on chasing their passions everyday no matter where they are at the time.
#MASTERTIPS “Don’t let others hold you back! Do what’s right for you because only that will truly make you happy.”
A day in the life of a van dweller is never the same. Emma & Jack have chores like filling up water, getting gas, and finding campsites, but the best part about this life is that you are free to do whatever you want on any given day! They’ve woken up a dawn to go rock climbing with new friends and they’ve spent the whole day at a beach surfing. While not everyday is this easy and carefree, vanlife lends itself to letting you explore the places you’re in unhindered by “normal” person things.
When asked if they’ll ever go back, Emma says:
“So far, we honestly have not. Even on our worst days we would want to live in our van together over living a conventional lifestyle. Vanlife keeps us on our toes and gives us the nudge we need to keep exploring and to chase our passions.”
Emma says she’s most grateful for the freedom to go where ever they choose and to be able to experience new things every day.
They are currently dreaming of all the places they have yet to explore! After making it to Alaska, they can’t help but think, “What’s next?”! They hope to eventually visit all 50 states and then hopefully work their way to Mexico and beyond!