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Why vanlife


Why vanlife? If you’d have asked us this question a year and a half ago, we’d have given you a very different answer.

(First published in Issue 2, October 2020) We’re Hayley and Jake. Along with our pup Finnley, we’ve decided that we wanted to work less, live more, and see the world. Welcome to our adventure! We met in January 2019 and immediately started planning our life of adventure together. Six months later, we were ready.

A happy couple with their dog standing in front of a classic 1985 Dodge B250 van on a dirt road in Texas, with clear blue skies and desert landscape in the background.
Hayley, Jake & Finnley in Texas - @hayleyandjake 10/2020

It was the summer of 2019. Jake had just left his engineering job, and Hayley was about to start a two-week-on, two-week-off position as an engineer at a remote site. On short notice, we discovered that we were going to have two weeks of glorious freedom. But where could we plan a trip to in July with only two weeks’ notice? Our chosen destination? Iceland!

We put our pup Finnley in a dog sitter, rented a small camper van, and flew to Iceland to begin our first vanlife adventure. The van was very bare bones: two front seats, a bed, a water jug, and a small camp stove. We loved it. The ability to explore new places at our own pace, and to have everything we needed under one roof was a game changer for us.

A couple enjoying a meal at a portable table with chairs next to a white Renault Kangoo van, parked in the Icelandic countryside with cascading waterfalls in the distance, lush green hills, and overcast skies.
Camping in Iceland - @hayleyandjake 10/2020

We came back to Canada and a few months later bought a van of our own. Meet Vincent VanGo, a 1985 Dodge B250. With his age, quirkiness, and one cracked mirror, we felt that the name was a perfect fit. In late September we decided that we wanted to see the world-famous fall colors of New England. That’s why, for our first trip, we drove 4,740 km from Vancouver (on the West Coast of Canada) to Vermont (near the East Coast of the USA).

Talk about easing into it. After Vermont, we had planned on returning to Vancouver, but an early onset of winter changed our plans for us. Jake and Finnley headed down through South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia, with Hayley flying back and forth between work and each destination. We eventually reached Florida and spent a sun-filled month exploring the state all the way from Pensacola to Key West (the southernmost point of the continental US). From there we went to Louisiana and Texas. It was in Big Bend National Park, in the Texan desert on the Mexican border, where the pandemic forced us back to Canada; six months and nearly 20,000 km from where we started.

A smiling couple with a black dog standing on a rocky trail at Lake Louise, with the vibrant turquoise lake visible in the valley below, surrounded by majestic mountain ranges and a dramatic sky with patches of blue and cloud cover.
The trio on a hike at Lake Louise - @hayleyandjake 10/2020

We came back to Vancouver in the spring, sold Vincent, and bought an empty Ram Promaster 159 Extended. Meet Rambo VanGo!

We love this lifestyle, and we’ve been working hard to make it our full-time reality.

We are in the middle of building our van, renting out our house, and downsizing all of our belongings to begin the migration towards full-time tiny living in Canada. Even though we have a long way to go in our conversion, we’ve already begun to make short trips and hit the road. With international travel currently closed, we cannot wait to explore this beautiful country. Did you know that Canada has 38 national parks, 10 national park reserves, and 14 national marine conservation areas? We didn’t, but we’ve now made it our goal to see every one of them.

A man standing by a Ram Promaster 159 Extended van parked on the Icefield Parkway with dramatic overcast skies above and rugged mountain scenery in the background, conveying the majestic and wild nature of the Canadian Rockies.
Exploring the Icefields Parkway with Rambo - @hayleyandjake 10/2020

So, some may ask “Why vanlife”? Because traveling is our passion. We travel to see and experience and to feel alive. To enjoy each day and live our lives to the fullest. Whether you’re a vanlifer, a backpacker, a weekend road tripper, or anything in between, we hope to see you on your next adventure. See you on the open road.

About the author
Hayley and Jake are two engineers who embarked on a journey of exploration and adventure. Since 2020, they've continued to embrace the van life, undertaking extensive travels, including an epic trip from Vancouver to the Yucatan.