• Hilary Bird

Why I decided to try vanlife


I'm guessing anyone doing vanlife knows their "ah ha" moment that took the idea to a real commitment. Mine had been brewing for over a year and finally, at 28 years old, I reached my breaking point.


I went into work and made my yogurt with nuts breakfast combo like I do every morning. I sat down at my desk, booted up my laptop, took a bite of my yogurt and completely started panicking. My heart started pounding, my vision went white, my palms got sweaty and I felt this overwhelming impending doom. I now see that I had a little panic attack. Fun!

This was my body's way of saying, "you aren't doing enough to live the life you want to live, so now I'm gonna scare you senseless into doing it". Thanks body for having my back! (Pun intended). It worked.

Picking Out the Camper Van

I reached out to an old coworker who had quit the corporate world to travel around Asia and teach yoga. I asked her, "know anything about picking out a van to live in?" and she said, "weird, my friend just reached out to me asking if I knew of anyone interested in buying her built-out camper van. Let me connect you guys."


Fast forward a month and I'm flying to Toronto from Salt Lake City to pick up this girl's van. I'd had a couple video calls with the girl to get a sense of the condition the van was in. I had booked the flight and quit my job without telling my parents because I knew they'd talk me out of it–not because they didn't want me to live my best life, but would want me to think it through more thoroughly.


That being said, I chose this path because I knew I had to make a decision right away or I would not end up doing it. This was a MASSIVE gamble and I'm not recommending it as the way for picking out a van.


After I told my parents that I was flying to Toronto to pick up this van, my dad insisted he meet me there. He'd be flying from New Hampshire (which is much closer to Toronto than Utah). In hindsight, I'm so grateful he met me there because I seriously underestimated the challenge of navigating to this girl's house in another country.


It was nighttime by the time we got to her house–think dark and very, very cold and windy. Just about the worst conditions for evaluating a van to buy! But did that stop me? Of course not! My dad checked under the van for rust and snapped exhaust manifolds (a common problem in Ford Econolines) while she gave me a tour of the van interior.


About an hour later, we sat in her family living room filling out paperwork and making the official payment. My dad was very quiet–refraining from how badly he wanted to tell me to wait and find a better van...ha!


We made the 11-hour drive back to New Hampshire, me driving throughout the whole night in order to beat a storm right on our tails. It was a long night but I was running on adrenaline and excitement and nervousness.


And then, the next day, New Hampshire blessed us in all its winter glory. Watch me attempt to clean off my van:




Stay tuned for the next installment when I cover yet another epic decision that was not thought-out and led me to living with my parents for almost six months!

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